SELF[n] (the networked SELF) is a two-week public project series that addresses the complexity of representations and awareness of the self in the age of distributed information, the social web, and globalized media.
Numerous current online practices use network communication and the web to generate an atomized meta-subject, where one’s individual contribution is not valued as in singular form but only in the plurality of other individuals who together produce a kind of emergent intelligence or expression. Practices such as “crowd sourcing” — where anonymous online users are asked to contribute to a large creative or industrial tasks, or “human computation” where online users make context-based matches which computers have failed to identify — require a new understanding of the self as a portion of a greater geographic, cultural, numeric whole. As a result, we see ourselves less as perpetual beings than as contingent propositions with respect to our identity, making for art practices that eschew content for context, and form for point of view.
Notions of self have a rich legacy in the history of art, where the self has been most routinely been associated with self-portraiture or with the equation of artist/self with a signature, identifying style. Both instances underscore the importance of authorship and attribution in how we understand art and determine its social value. While the social context for art has evolved, its discourse and production have been intrinsic, outside the realm of the social itself. But now that the same communication and media technologies are used by corporations, nonprofits, governments, and artists alike, art practice is tantamount to social practice.
Crowd Sourced Space (Ad Hoc Media Artifacts), 12–2 p.m.
Live gallery event with Stephanie Owens (Ithaca, New York and Delhi, India)
Art & Distributed Subjectivity – Telecast panel, 3–5 p.m.
Lane Reylea, Roy Ascott, moderated by Stephanie Owens
With the daily presence of communication networks, contemporary culture is increasingly comfortable with transient and fugitive cultural form. A work of art now, even if object-based or material, is often temporary, contingent, dialogic, systematic, DIY, multi-modal, and ephemeral. As we see ourselves as interdependent beings via a network of constructed social relations and online functions, the art we produce is likewise interdependent, made by a group or collective, and created from anywhere there is a persistent internet connection. Although this has undoubtedly complicated the historical understanding of the artist’s role in society, the question remains whether there is a casual link between the plurality of forms and mediums used by individual contemporary artists and the multiple logins, profiles, usernames, and identities that we now sustain as a part of life in an information-based society. This panel will discuss the impact of communication networks on artistic subjectivity and look at the way in which transitional forms of art and culture construct new notions of authorship.
Micro Media/Macro Selves – Telecast panel, 3–5 p.m.
Raqs Media Collective and Serpica Nero, moderated by Tanzeem Choudhury
Recent democratic uprisings in the Middle East and India have shown the speed at which local events in the streets can be conveyed to media channels all over the world and subsequently witnessed in nearly real-time by viewers across the globe. While there has been no shortage of commentary on the role that mobile phones and social-networking sites like Facebook and Google played in the success of many of the these media savvy civil wars, artistic use of the power of discreet, personal media to influence perception is more likely to be understood as social interventionist media rather than seen as investigation of the aesthetics of political form. As we extend ourselves into the farthest reaches of the globe and can impact life far from where we stand, we must confront techno-social configurations that are both inclusive and exclusive, reaffirming, and dismantling of existing social relationships. Panelists will discuss the forms of global media that feed the information economies linking people and nations, the role of media in their own work, and their participatory practices.
PlexUs – Live gallery event, 12–2 p.m.
Amitesh Grover with Khoj International (Ithaca, New York, Veracruz, Mexico, and Delhi, India)
PlexUs is a networked-based exchange where people separated by thousands of miles will play a real (not online) game, where participants strive to understand each other’s culture, language, and city surroundings through remote presence. The Ithaca “game” will be established by Amitesh Grover and he will connect with a group of artists/players gathered in Delhi, India and with another group in Veracruz, Mexico led by Antonio Prieto.
Each group is ‘present’ at the other event through a variety of digital connections: through Skype, email, SMS, Facebook, Flickr etc. The exchange seeks to put the audience member right into the middle of the ‘play’, provide him/her with a script-like framework of rules and objectives and throws him/her into the pit-like stage arena with strangers from other cities to perform.
The main idea of PlexUs is to transform the properties of a cultural space through play and through a digital window onto another place, using wi-fi and 3G networks within both spaces to forge multiple connections between the two locations. Ultimately, the goal of this experimentation is to invite people to use game design to invent new kinds of digital collaboration, intimacy, and connectedness. Grover’s social games, which embrace questions of mapping and territory, devise unlikely ways for players to communicate, and invite consideration of the physical, digital, and social environment of each space.