Art of the Networked Practice

“Creativity as a social process is the common denominator… the act of creation is a social act… a node in a network of relations.” – Vladimir Hafstein

Mori, Internet-based sound installation, in collaboration with Ken Goldberg and Gregory Kuhn

In our globally connected society, the avenues for participatory engagement have increased exponentially in the arts, entertainment, journalism, education, etc. The age-old one-to-many broadcast paradigm is losing its grip. In its place is a many-to-many collective form of participation, new modes of social interaction, social media, and mobile connectivity. The impact is profound: with near unlimited channels of information via cable television and the Internet, Nam June Paik’s prediction of the information superhighway in the 1970s has become our present day reality.

This research explores the resulting impact of emerging peer-to-peer forms. Within the arts and sciences, we are seeing an explosion of Do it Yourself (DIY ), or Do it With Others (DIWO) manifestations in various cultural, scientific, and educational arenas. Socially-designed DIY events such as Hackathons and Maker Faires are emblematic of the surging interest in collective forms of creativity in large part catalyzed by the Internet and the World Wide Web. A growing number of artists who refer to their medium as “net art” or “art of the social practice” are engaged in forms of relational art that emphasize collaboration, collective narrative, and audience participation.

Open source forms of software and hardware are also essential ingredients of the art of the networked practice. The ideology behind open source thinking is that the benefit of the “work” is intended for the common good rather than personal ownership and profit. Those who participate in these collective forms and their social relations often take an activist stance against proprietary thinking, a radical position that stems from utopian thought and the vision of a freer and more open society. This argument is highly controversial within academic circles, in which educators argue the merits and limitations of protecting their intellectual property. The Open Source Studio project specifically addresses this issue by situating the contents of a course online, including student work, as an embrace of the Web as a medium for participation in the larger global network of shared information.