Hello, World: Let’s (re)make networked art.

Kat Braybrooke
Jan 13, 2015 · 13 min read

Reflections from the Mozilla Festival’s first #ARTOFWEB community on the radical potentials of open, cooperative practices of [and by] the web.

Also, an invitation.

“As the hardwares and softwares of computers give us new capabilities… we have to learn to feel with them. If we can’t feel with them, they are only dumb metal claws. Therefore, the vistas of digital art are only as wide as our potential to grasp those possibilities with full human expressiveness.

— Jim Andrews, “Why I Am A Net Artist”, 2011


Chapter 1: Some byte-based context.

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Young makers print out ideas of themselves and paste them onto an Exquisite Corpse. Exhibit: Michelle Gay. Images: #ARTOFWEB.

In the open technology field, however, we worry that these liberatory potentials can be unevenly distributed based on unequal access to socioeconomic, geographic, technological and linguistic resources.

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Mozilla Festival 2014. Image credit: Mozilla EU.

Chapter 2: Net.art is dead, long live net.art!

It can be also argued that these kinds of concerns mobilized a group of artists, makers and thinkers around a term called “net.art” in the early 1990s.

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Screenshot of exhibit A Description of the Equator and Some OtherLands. Artists Felix S. Huber, Philip Pocock, Udo Noll and Florian Wenz, 1998.
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Screenshot of exhibit Net.art is dead, long live net.art. Artcontext.0rg, 2000.

These early net.art communities were rich, their message boards and listserves bubbling with enthusiastic discussion about tactical medias, hacking and creativity.

And then, just when everyone had agreed on its death, the movement re-awoke.

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An “e-occupation” of DAZED Magazine by Stephen Fortune (2013), inspired by “Occupy the Internet”, a project of Free Art and Technology (F.A.T.) Labs..
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Glitch-pixel artist MAX CAPACITY was one of the Webmaker Fellows asked to explore creative learning with open tools. as seen in the remixable piece “TV People: Bad News for Bumtown” (2013).

We wondered something: What might a people-focused movement of networked, creative digital exploration look like in the setting of a 2014 Internet?

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The TATE Digital Learning’s Luca Damiani explains how to remix or “re-curate” the gallery’s website using open digital collections. Image: #ARTOFWEB.

Chapter 3: A chaotic kind of homage.

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The unofficial tagline of the public #ARTOFWEB call.
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A very early #ARTOFWEB meeting on Google Hangouts, which we immediately “broke” when we hit 20+ participants.

Our group looked like the weird kid in the family — the kind of urchin who wears Doc Martens to her sister’s wedding.

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This kind Mozfest volunteer offered to man our welcome table, fielding many a query about the nature of the group’s work.
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Another valiant group of volunteers settled in help fold, cut and build 600 #ARTOFWEB minizines.

Chapter 4: The kind of place where everyone is creative, not just the artists.

What if no one came? What if no one wanted to take a risk, and create?

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Exploring the art of shared web narratives through Serendipidoodle, an exhibit by educator Amy Burvall.
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“Bots co-creating art with humans”, an exhibit built by the Turtle Bot project.
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An #ARTOFWEB participant dances with a set of 30 open culture GIFs.

Meanwhile, a Parapara installation by Japan’s Kenya Niino, Noriatsu Kudo and Daisuke Akatsuka streamed collaborative, user-created drawings onto the centre of a live under-the-sea environment.

There was just so much we ended up wanting to create together, and so little time to do it. I must say I really didn’t expect all of this,” a Dutch academic told us, shaking his head in awe.

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#ARTOFWEB gallery mix by selfie artist @alliself.
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Facilitators lead participants through the process of redesigning cultural heritage items with microcontrollers.
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Young artist Joelle Fleurantin sets up her interactive storytelling exhibit, “Threadbare”.

Chapter 5: When a bot comes alive, what does it become?

In between all the discussions, crayons, codebases, fonts, microcontrollers, digital medias, GIFs and bots, a real, fleshy movement had emerged in its own right.

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Chapter 6: An open ending, with [❤]

We may not agree on the exact manifestations of these kinds of critical, cooperative and creative energies in 2015 — but we do agree on one thing.

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Subscript: An invitation.

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