Introduction to the Art of the Social Practice


Week 1: January 18 – 24

Introduction to course topics, syllabus, Website, and the overall Open Source Studio (OSS) approach to collaborative studio art. We will review the OSS Getting Started Tutorial for Students, exploring specific techniques and strategies for online research and documentation. In order to work collectively in the OSS Website, we will cover a range of practices for working in the WordPress multi-site. Each student will learn techniques for organizing their work, designing their site, customizing the interface, and making creative use of the OSS database for the creation of collective narrative forms. We will establish user accounts in WordPress and social media sites, and discuss how these tools will be used for creative work, collective blog writing, Web-based research, online documentation, and methods of social media integration.  There will be an overview of artworks for critique, readings, and student work produced in the course, including: micro projects, research critiques, project hyperessay, and the final project, as well as additional opportunities for collaboration.


Due next week: January 25


Read this essay and reference in the writing assignment below:

(1) Vaidhyanathan, Sida (2005) “Open Source as Culture-Culture as Open Source,” The Social Media Reader. New York: New York University Press, 2012

(2) Packer, Randall, Open Source Studio, IEEE Spectrum, 2015


Write an approximately 250 word summary of the readings Sida Vaidhyanathan and Randall Packer on open source culture. Describe the history and concept of open source as explained in the essay. Some questions to consider: how is the method of peer-to-peer social interaction as found in open source practices a departure from traditional proprietary modes of artistic creation and production?

Create this assignment in OSS and illustrate your writing with the addition of relevant media (images, video, etc.) and hyperlinks drawn from the article or sourced from other sites using Google search. Be sure and provide captions for all images, with a brief description and the source.

I also want everyone to read and comment on one other post. This form of online discussion is fundamental to our work this semester and directly relates to the idea of DIWO, in which we are all engaged in a social space of interaction, commentary, and collaboration.

Here are instructions for the writing assignment:

  • Create a new post on your blog incorporating relevant hyperlinks, images, video, etc
  • Be sure to reference and quote from the reading to provide context for your critique
  • Apply the “Research” category
  • Apply appropriate tags
  • Add a featured image
  • Post a comment on at least one other research post prior to the following class
  • Be sure your post is formatted correctly, is readable, and that all media and quotes are DISCUSSED in the essay, not just used as introductory material.

Micro-Project #1: Tele-Stroll

In Telematic Stroll, we will explore how pairs of artist-broadcasters work with synchronized moments of collaboration that initiate collective actions and deep social interplay in the virtual commons of the communications sphere in two distinct locations. See Project Description for additional information.



Student introductions. Background on my work and approach to Experimental Interaction.

Experimental Interaction

A discussion of what we mean by “experimental interaction,” a new course designed for the second semester of Foundation 4D. This semester we will focus on the social in art, with an emphasis on the network, social media, maker culture, collectivism, collaboration, and performance as aspects of interaction.

We will be concerned with the group process, or DIWO (Do it With Others), a term used by Marc Garrett and Ruth Catlow from the Furtherfield gallery in London. (Here is the Furtherfield archived Website). We are interested in art and design that explores the social component using a variety of digital and physical materials as a means of interaction and interplay between artists, designers, viewers, and audiences.

Here is their vision statement:

We believe that through creative and critical engagement with practices in art and technology people are inspired and enabled to become active co-creators of their cultures and societies.

Art and technologies play a central role in the way we see and form our societies. And so it is important that their developments and productions involve more, and more diverse, people at a fundamental level.

We want to open up the black box of art, technology and social change so that more of us, around the world can get involved and make the magic happen for ourselves, our friends, families, communities and societies.

Art and technologies play a central role in the way we see and form our societies. And so it is important that their developments and productions involve more, and more diverse, people at a fundamental level.

We want to open up the black box of art, technology and social change so that more of us, around the world can get involved and make the magic happen for ourselves, our friends, families, communities and societies.

A regional maker center is the House of Natural Fiber located in Yogykarta, Indonesia, where they recently presented Transformaking2017, their annual new media festival. Here is the description:

Join us at Transformaking 2017: ALIVE as we trace the precarious path ahead through the lens of optimism. We ask vital questions on how new knowledge can be used to empower people in an otherwise exclusive system. On science, technology and innovation, we ask if is it possible to avert catastrophe through rational means alone. On society, we ask how to reconcile individual needs within the local and global collective. Finally, throughout all of this, we explore the significant role matters of dignity and personhood must play in critical dialogues in innovation.

Maker Faire Singapore

Finally there is the Maker Faire here in Singapore, which also celebrates the idea of DIY / DIWO and the art of the social practice.

From an article in Channel News Asia:

Do-it-yourself enthusiasts will get the chance to tinker with projects in science, art, engineering and technology – such as a cotton candy shooter and do-it-yourself drones.

The event is one of the key highlights of this year’s Singapore Science Festival (SSF), which aims to spark interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) among youth, and to encourage participants to use design and engineering to create new solutions for everyday problems.

Maker centers such as Furtherfield and House of Natural Fiber and Maker Faire Singapore are throughout the world, with an important history that derives from the transformational roots of the avant-garde arts during the 1960s and 70s, such as a media collective called the Videofreex, who pioneered the idea of “social broadcasting.”

From left, Videofreex David Cort, Bart Friedman and Parry Teasdale filmed kids’ programs and daily goings-on in 1973 at their Maple Tree Farm in Lanesville, N.Y

Here is what the Videofreex say about themselves:

Videofreex, start-up since 1969, was among the first video pioneers, spreading the new technology, producing thousands of video tapes about the utopian 1970s, multi-media events, video art installations, and a pirate TV station!

Videofreex, a start-up since 1969, was one of the pioneer indy production groups of early users that formed when consumer video was first introduced. Over their nine years together, the members produced several thousand videotapes, installations and multimedia events, and trained hundreds of videomakers in the brand new medium. They were part of a fast-growing alternative video network that captured many political and social movements and the counter culture. Decades later, the Freex early videotapes serve as a window into this unique era of social and cultural change.

Lets look at a few historical examples in the experimental arts of what we mean by the art of the social practice: first, we will look at a work by Fluxus artist Yoko Ono entitled Cut Piece (1964):

Some ideas to consider in regards to Cut Piece:

  • What is the role of the viewer?
  • Who determines the outcome of the work?
  • How does the artist incorporate the body as an object?
  • What happens when the artist gives up control of the work?
  • How is this work social? And how is it DIWO (Do it With Others)
  • Can you describe the interactivity in the work and how the interactive dynamic operates between artist and viewers?
  • In an interactive artwork that involves the human body and the loss of the artist’s control, how does it differ from more traditional forms of painting, sculpture, drawing, graphics, film, or animation, in which artistic control is essential?

Let’s take a look at another piece that demonstrates experimental interaction, entitled Please Change Beliefs (1997), a Website-specific work by Jenny Holzer.

Let’s discuss some of the unique aspects of Please Change Beliefs:

  • What is the role of the viewer?
  • What is the content of the work and who is creating it?
  • What is the role of the artist?
  • How does this piece involve social interaction?
  • What do we mean by a collective artwork?
  • How is this work Web-specific? What does the Web enable that is unique to the medium?
  • Where does this work take place?
  • How does it change the nature of the work for the viewers to be distribute in space and time?

Works such as Cut Piece Please and Change Beliefs set the stage for our study of experimental interaction with an emphasis on the social practice, the interaction between artist and viewer, between viewers, and among the creators of a work, which has a long history in the experimental arts and design.

Course Review

We will first review the course Syllabus, including: course topics, concepts, assignments, readings, and special events. Note that each week of the syllabus is divided into the following: (1) descriptoin; (2) assignments; (3) outline (lecture notes).

We will review Project Assignments and how they involve social acts of creation, design, and interaction.

We will review the About section of the OSS class site: course description, learning objectives, grading, attendance, participation, etc.

It is important that everyone is familiar with all aspects of the OSS class site and can easily navigate the site.  Besides OSS, we will make use of a written journal, and discuss how mobile phones and laptops are incorporated into our work.

Unlike the written journal, your OSS Website is part of a network of sites so everyone can see each others work and ideas. In this sense, OSS is a collective space, in which the sharing of ideas and work is essential to your growth as an artist. Most importantly, OSS reinforces the idea that we learn from each other through exposure to each others work.

IMPORTANT: the assignments always refer to the NEXT WEEK. All due dates are posted. Any late assignments are downgraded with points taken off. Each and every assignment is worth a certain number of points.

Open Source Studio (OSS)

An introduction / workshop overview of OSS. Although everyone already has an OSS site and knows how to use it, we will discuss methods for making OSS more social and collaborative. We will use OSS to complete an in-class writing assignment to review essential techniques.

We will review the following:

  • Completing the profile page
  • Settings: General – Site title / tag line
  • Changing theme: Appearance / Customize
  • Creating a post: Answer one of the following questions: How does it change the viewer’s relationship to the work? How does it alter the way an artist or designer create the work, when there is an interactive component? Include a relevant image and hyperlink to illustrate your ideas.
  • Note the use of typography in the edit menu to change font, font color, formats, alignment, blockquotes, bold/italic, paste as text, etc.
  • Navigating between your site and the class site.
  • The importance of commenting and critique in OSS. Take a few moments to comment on one another’s posts
  • Review the OSS Getting Started for Students tutorial if you have further questions.

The Journal

Although we are focused on electronic media and the use of online tools, the traditional journal is essential to artistic practice and integrates well with the use of all forms of media. It is the ultimate “mobile device,” portable wherever we go, no electricity, plugs, or technology, except a pen and paper. Here is how I want everyone to incorporate the journal into the course:

  • Always bring your journal to class, meetings, etc.
  • Keep your laptops closed during discussion.
  • No mobile phones are to be used in class unless required for a project or exercise.
  • Take regular notes during class, and especially during critiques (not on your computer or phone)
  • Each day you begin note taking, date the entry with the month/day/year so it easy to reference
  • Take notes in your journal when you are doing the readings and looking at artworks
  • I urge you to carry the journal wherever you go and use it, make it your best friend
  • You can use the journal for other classes if you like, it doesn’t have to be exclusive to Internet Art & Culture. When you work online, reference your journal for ideas, brainstorms, etc.
  • The more you give to your journal the more it gives back!

Micro-project #1: Experiment in Social Broadcasting

Group Broadcasting

The class will collectively perform a 15 minute socially broadcasted networked event using Facebook Live to create a collective audio-visual work. Everyone will broadcast in Facebook Live to the OSS Facebook Group Page (note link on the Main Menu). Everyone needs to first join the Group. See the Micro-project #1: Experiment in Social Broadcasting assignment for more information.

After the 15 minute broadcasts are completed, we will discuss the results, describing our impressions of seeing the aggregation. Some questions to consider:

  • How does the Facebook Live Video Wall alter our perception of networked space, or what I refer to as the third space: the collapse of distance via the network.
  • Although we are not able to see each other’s broadcasts during the performance, do the videos in fact interact with one another? What kind of dialogue is going on between the broadcasts?
  • How does this form of broadcasting constitute what I refer to as “social broadcasting,” and how does social broadcasting challenge traditional forms of one-to-many broadcasting?
  • In our socially-mediated, distributed lives, how does this project comment on our experience of the aggregation and juxtaposition of places, friends, events, media, etc., in the third space environments we inhabit each and every day via social media and the Internet?


For next week we will conduct a project called Tele-Stroll, in which we will break up into pairs and broadcast via the Facebook Live split screen, what I refer to as “co-broadcasting.” This allows two participants to co-exist in the third space via a split screen, while at the same time broadcasting out on their respective Facebook feeds. Unlike our first experiment in social broadcasting, co-broadcasting allows for interaction between the two broadcasters. We will run a test so that everyone knows how to participate.

Instructions for co-broadcasting:

  • One member of the pair initiates the broadcast via the OSS Facebook Page, invites a member of the group, then starts broadcasting.
  • The second member receives the invitation and joins.
  • The first member will see a prompt to accept the second member to join the broadcast.
  • From that point on, the two members will be co-broadcasting in split screen mode. You are now ready to go!

Summary of Experimentation in Social Broadcasting

How does social broadcasting constitute DIWO as opposed to DIY? How is the process of creation different when it requires working in groups or pairs, rather than working individually?

How does the art of the social practice constitute a more collaborative form, involving participants to work together, to create together, to make something together?

How are these project interactive, in which there is interaction between the creators of the work, as well as potential interaction with the viewer via Facebook? How might the viewer enter into the work using the Facebook platform of social media?

Next Week’s Assignments

Review the assignments for next week, including readings, research critique, and micro-project.