Tag Archives: art

Fight the Power with Open Source

A few months ago I did a presentation at the CAA New York 2011 conference as part of the New Media Caucus panel: Fighting the Power – Open Source, Free Software, and Critical Digital Practices. My co-presenter Jody Baker and I were recently invited to do an encore for a symposium on online learning at Emily Carr University of Art and Design. It was great to be able to share our ideas and to listen to other presentations by fellow faculty and guest presenter from UBC, Brian Lamb (whom I always enjoy listening to). Here’s the slideshow from our presentation, followed by an abstract of our talk.
* slideshow includes some video clips, so use the play slider to move through it

Processing Digital: Opening up to a Space of Emergence in Art Pedagogy, by Heidi May and Jody Baker, presented at CAA New York 2011

Networked art practices share conceptual overlaps with current discussions about pedagogy, particularly those that encourage interactive and collaborative methods of meaning-making in response to contemporary digital culture. Decentralized processes of learning, which exist in participatory artworks and nonhierarchal art education, are embraced by the open source movement. In this paper, we argue that open source software can be used to demonstrate a quest for knowledge that is not representational but rather performative-based – a temporal epistemology that is about critical inquiry of media and the ongoing discovery of creative ways of interacting with, and remixing, our reality. This paper incorporates the above ideas into a proposal for a team-taught digital studio/theory course that explores the “remix” phenomenon, operating online and utilizing open source media. Drawing upon previous online teaching experience, the pedagogical intentions and anticipations for this course will be discussed.

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Data as Medium (or Being-With Data)

Recently I participated in a panel at the College Art Association conference in New York in which “data” was discussed as another medium for artistic exploration:

“As the art being made has dematerialized and the world around us is increasingly information based, using data as another medium for artistic exploration seems not only possible but culturally necessary. The same tools used by corporations and governments to track our interests, desires, locations, and personal information can and are being exploited by artists to criticize, explore, and find poetic moments within the stream of data. This panel explores current approaches being used by artists working with data but with an eye to the past and culture. Since the available data sources range widely from weather patterns to stockmarket trends to GPS locations and possible output spans all types of new and traditional media, this panel does not hone in one a specific issue but works as a survey connecting conceptual and critical points within this practice.”
CHAIR:  Jeff Thompson, University of Nebraska, Lincoln

> “Data and Its Expression,” George Legrady, University of California, Santa Barbara
> “From Kandinsky to the Database (Point, Line, Plane: Variable, Array, Table),” Brian Evans, University of Alabama
> “Web as Index and Archive,” Penelope Umbrico, Bard College and School of Visual Arts
> “Art that Decodes: Making Sense of Data Process,” Heidi  May, Emily Carr University of Art and Design, and University of British Columbia

Thomson & Craighead, London Wall, 2010

In response to the session’s description, I found that each of our presentations approached the topic from different angles, which seemed appropriate and very fitting for my own arguments. I chose to focus not on data as an artistic tool or medium per se, but rather on art that broadens our understanding of the notion of data through various means and media – perhaps by instigating questions about the data that makes up the work and/or our relations with data in contemporary culture. In some instances, the artists I discussed (including Ingrid Koenig, Aymeric Mansoux, Jon Thomson & Alison Craighead, Lucy Kimbell, Julie Andreyev, etc.) may not be all that interested in examining the precise nature of the data they use in their work, but more interested in creating questions about the data. By incorporating a self-reflexive tone into my presentation, I intended to extend this line of inquiry towards “data” and to ideally broaden our interpretation to include the spaces and relations that exist around the numbers and codes, similar to current writings in which I examine the notion of “network” as something we exist with rather than a separate entity . Once again, I am inspired by the philosophical writings of Jean-Luc Nancy (being-with) and Ted Aoki, fascinated by a verb-based understanding of our existence over a noun-oriented understanding of the world we live with.

Aymeric Mansoux and Marloes de Valk, hello process!, 2008

I must admit, however, that much of my theories involving data have merely been carried over from my doctoral research surrounding notions of network in art (both historical and contemporary), thus this paper was experimental in that I was curious if similar knowledge could be applied in each area when looking at contemporary art. Since I am arguing for art that acknowledges a more broad (and at times relational) understanding of data, I felt it necessary to show a wide range of artworks — those that materialize, transform, and perhaps highlight our relationships with/in data. Unfortunately, a twenty minute presentation only allowed for me to hopefully emphasize these larger ideas with the artworks (including drawing, painting, print-based, video installation, screen works, etc.) functioning as examples that depended on one another in order to illustrate my points. My presentation lacked specific analysis of each of the artworks, in terms of them being ideal examples of these larger theories I argue for, and was just the beginning of a larger conversation. For instance, having returned from New York I discovered the work of Zach Gage, which could perhaps be applied to these ideas I am writing about, maybe serving as a stronger example. What I have felt to be most interesting is how these artworks each touch on different aspects of what I am writing about, therefore I don’t feel one or two examples can effectively demonstrate what I am thinking. Instead what is most interesting to me is the ideas that emerge in and between these different artworks and how, when the discussion is centered around these questions of defining data, they can incite new understandings of network culture (maybe data itself) when experienced in the context of the other works. The longer paper written for this presentation is also something that needs more time and development, and could be aided by critical dialogue with others…

(above) desktop documentation of personal interaction with – Personas (2008) by Aaron Zinman

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Can Blogs be Art?

This is not a rhetorical question – what do you think?
Read this for more info > http://www.no-org.net/blogs/?itemid=34


ok…self-promotion > http://postself.wordpress.com + http://facebook.com/postself


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What is network(ed) art?

So…the writing and research process continues on…

I have not had the amount of time I would like to focus on this. I have been teaching 2.5 courses this term, all with new content. However, I did present at the International Digital Media Art Association conference in early November and exhibited artwork there as well. I was also informed that my SSHRC proposal made it out of the department for review, so that’s good news. Then there was the writing of 2 papers for presentations I will be doing at CAA in February.

Back to the PhD….
I still have to revise one of my comprehensive exam papers as well as continue to draft my dissertation research proposal. I have a meeting set up in January with my committee and I’m not sure how it’s all going to get done by then.

I have been mulling over the input I received at my last committee meeting in October and am now shifting my research focus (my main questions and approach) back to where it was in the summer, yet still informed by all of the ideas I have done since then. I think I was under some false impressions from my first committee meeting in the Spring when it seemed that I could basically make this all about art, as opposed to education….but now I’ve been reminded that this is an education degree, working from within the social sciences. Thus, I can’t just focus on art and then merely point towards implications for education….so I’m shifting back again in order to refine my methodology more.

I really need a pep talk at this point…and several pats on the back 🙂

Now, this is where you come in — well, anyone who might be reading this who has an interest in networks and art — or, if not, then this will basically exist as a digital archive of my mental brainstorming process…

I have been delving into philosophy and art history to get to a better understanding of the meaning of “network” in art. Now, here’s the longer version of the question:

For the past several months I have been thinking deeply about this. I spent the summer working on comprehensive exam papers for my current PhD program, in which I defined for myself a definition of networked art that I felt was perhaps a challenge to the mainstream notion of “network”. Without getting too much into the literature I based this on (ie. Jean-Luc Nancy), I argued that by using the word network, the Internet itself is predominant over any other associations we might have (see Sack, 2007 on “network aesthetics”) and that if artist educators focus more on what emerges within the relations and processes of a network, such as with Internet art, then we can perhaps gain new understandings of network culture that reflect more the sociocultural aspects as opposed to just the technological aspects. I refer to Fluxus practices, most specifically mail art, and the ideas explored by George Maciunas and Robert Filliou, connecting this to later relational art and participatory art practices. My interests pertain to aspects of what I am calling “relational learning,” thus I see these networked forms of art to be significant…yet not just in terms of individuals collaborating, but most importantly on the emergent knowledge that occurs in these processes. Continue reading


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defining my research > take 2

Processes, Relations, and Situations: Expanding Understandings of Networked Art

My research examines notions of network and learning in the production, dissemination, and reception of contemporary art. The relational aspects of a network are often overlooked in a society that has become dependent upon the electronic information systems of the Internet – the network of all networks. I propose an understanding of “networked art” that is not based on art objects, nor digital instruments, but on the relationships and processes that occur between individuals (Bazzichelli, 2008; Kimbell, 2006; Saper, 2001). Through qualitative research that employs hermeneutic methods of aesthetic analysis, I explore how networked art might make available new understandings of network culture, and what networked art can contribute to ideas of teaching and learning.

Theoretical Framework and Context
Understanding art today requires a conceptual shift away from the aura of the art object, to the encounter with the artwork and an acknowledgement of the social relations produced from this experience (Bishop, 2004, 2006; Bourriaud, 1998/2002). Networked art, sometimes described as participation art (Frieling, Pellico, & Zimbardo, 2008), consists of multiple connections made through generative processes, often, but not always, incorporating digital technology. In many cases, the production and dissemination processes become the artwork itself. Contemporary art practices like networked art share conceptual overlaps with current Continue reading

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in-between (new video work)

in-between (2010) is a reflection of the visually intimate, yet complex abstract experience we have with the media we encounter and interact with. It is an experimental video that merges still and moving images using a variety of techniques, from painted textures and 8mm film to slide projections and website screenshots. The layered results could be described as a painterly reenactment of how we perceive and participate with media today, the temporal moments of this process, full of remixed glances and repetitive movements. The essence of time is questioned, not only in terms of combining old and new media but in terms of our attention span. The viewer is expected to question the nature of the media forms in front of them, a hybrid of technologies from the past and present.

“Video poets (or as we know them, video remixers) find quality in selecting from pre-existing material, much like poets borrow from their respective literary traditions.” [source]

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defining my research > Networked Art / Networked Pedagogy

Most of my online mullings these days are located over on Postself and FB, but I like using this space for documenting ideas relating to my “research” at large…

I am in the midst of defining a new direction for my dissertation focus, which I intend to be working on towards the end of this year into next year. My expected graduation date is 2012…

I’ve had to narrow things down and really think about what I want to be working on for the next couple of years. Below is a proposal that I’m sure will evolve and change. At this point, I am really open to feedback and comments from anyone who might be reading this…


ped·a·go·gy \ Pronunciation: \ˈpe-də-ˌgō-jē also -ˌgä-, especially British -ˌgä-gē\ Date: circa 1623
the art, science, or profession of teaching; especially

net·work \ Pronunciation: \ˈnet-ˌwərk\ Date: 1535
: a fabric or structure of cords or wires that cross at regular intervals and are knotted or secured at the crossings
: a system of lines or channels resembling a network
3 a
: an interconnected or interrelated chain, group, or system <a network of hotels> b : a system of computers, peripherals, terminals, and databases connected by communications lines
4 a
: a group of radio or television stations linked by wire or radio relay b : a radio or television company that produces programs for broadcast over such a network
: a usually informally interconnected group or association of persons (as friends or professional colleagues)



Networked Art/Networked Pedagogy:
Examining the converging practices of the contemporary art professor

Contemporary art practices share conceptual overlaps with current discussions about pedagogy, particularly those that encourage interactive and collaborative methods of meaning-making. For example, networked art (sometimes labeled as participatory art) consists of connections made through participatory and generative processes, often, but not always, incorporating digital technology. One particular kind of networked art is work made to exist on the Internet. Since its beginnings, the Internet has served as a space for artists to create and disseminate work. The Internet continues to be used by artists critically engaged with new media and social practices. The genre of work produced by these artists is not always specific to a particular medium and the artists’ networked practices are often interdisciplinary.

My research study will investigate how networked art practices affect post-secondary art pedagogy and how pedagogy affects the practices of those who make networked art. Throughout my research I will consider these questions: What happens when an artist who Continue reading


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Catch + Release in Steveston

Amidst the reading and writing that has consumed my life, in addition to my Facebook project, I managed to get out of the house yesterday!

I went to see an exhibition on display at the Gulf of Georgia Cannery National Historic Site, out in Steveston (for those not on the west coast, it’s about 15 km south of Vancouver). Steveston is a small fishing village that attracts many tourists for its waterfront and quaintness, yet, similar to Richmond, has underwent a lot of changes over the years when its farmland was converted into a residential suburb. Until yesterday, I didn’t really know anything about Steveston’s history as a salmon canning centre. The salmon cannery now functions as a museum on a historic site. You can look through the cannery’s website for some information and this slideshow on the Virtual Museum of Canada (VMC) website, but of course it’s not the same as going there in person. Personal contact with objects in a museum can enrich the experience of learning historical information. However, museum displays can frame knowledge in a certain way that might prevent us from really understanding the history of a place and its people. Art can often represent historical narratives in a way that allows participants to enter into the conversation.

Catch + Release is the name of the current art exhibition in the cannery, created by Ruth Beer in collaboration with Kit Grauer and Jim Budd. The artwork is physically separated from the forms and Continue reading

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