Tag Archives: open source

DIWO: Maker Culture

DIWO and Artware

“As an artist-led group, Furtherfield has become progressively more interested in the cultural value of collaboratively developed visions as opposed to the supremacy of the vision of the individual artistic genius.”

During the lecture, Garrett makes an indirect reference to this quote when he brings up how maker culture pushes creatives out of their comfort zone. Painters need not just work with painters, or media artists with media artists. He supported this with the example of how Picasso and Braque founded Cubism by looking at each other’s work. Another example that I could think of would be how Matisse and Derain, together, formed the basis of Fauvism. He is very for the narrative that an artist cannot just be an isolated genius. As with these gigantuan founding artists of indisputably important art movements who have worked together, it is intriguing to think that DIWO does have historical roots in these movements. Today, DIWO has taken on a new life and meaning with the advancement of technology.

This technology, here, would refer to a unique creation by Furtherfield: “artware”, which are software platforms for developing art that “rely on the creative and collaborative engagement of its users”. Unique “artware” created by Furtherfield include FurtherStudio and VisitorsStudio. This essay goes on to discuss projects that have come to fruition with the agency this artware brings, and how they relate to the concept of DIWO.

Of course, artware need not be specifically limited to that which Furtherfield has created – another example that would fit the criteria of “artware” would be the website built specifically for Jenny Holzer’s Please Change Beliefs.

Please Change Beliefs had a specific software platform built especially for users to modify truisms creatively and vote on truisms they agree with; in doing so collaboratively, DIWO is also brought to mind.

DIWO and the Third Space

In March 2006, 150 (Furtherfield) media arts projects took place in over forty London locations, as well as online in the form of exhibitions, installations, software, participatory events, performance-based work, and many other self-defining forms (from page 24, Ruth Catlow and Marc Garrett “Do it With Others (DIWO): Participatory Media in the Furtherfield Neighborhood,” 2007)

Its structure was inspired to some extent by the scale-free networks of the Internet, which, the science of networks tells us, maintain high levels of connectivity regardless of size.

Image courtesy of Randall Packer

Link to post: https://oss.adm.ntu.edu.sg/bala0043/ei-tele-stroll-a-tale-of-two-cities/

Here, the importance of the Internet and all the connectivity it has brought to us cannot be overlooked in the benefits – specifically, convenience – it has brought to DIWO. For example, the use of the internet in the Tele-Stroll micro-project, as well as Telematic Embrace project, enabled us to Do It With Others – a partner for the former, and a much larger number of 18 people for the latter – and create beautiful and innovative outputs we could not have done alone.

DIWO and Ownership

“BritArt’s dominance of the 90s UK art world-its galleries, markets and press-with a small number of high profile artists, delighted nouveau toffs but disempowered the majority of artists.”

DIWO supports the theory that there are no “supreme” artists, ala BritArt. This ties in directly to Open Source Thinking, where peer production leads to a multitude of talents working on a project, such as Linux. (See here for technological manifestations of peer production in an earlier essay).

Marc Garrett mentioned a piece that was particularly relevant to this section. Plantoid is a renewable, blockchain-based lifeform.

After scanning QR codes with mobile phones, the plant is fed with digital currency. Upon massing enough, it “enters into the reproductive stage”, in which artists physically make a plant (with instructions given). What is interesting here is that the artist does not have full control over the work – he or she follows a “contract … that stipulates the rules”.  Another aspect of DIWO that we wean from this work is the concept of giving up ownership of the work.

Closer to home, we personally gave up ownership and collaborated with the Exquisite Glitch project.

In the same vein as its namesake, Exquisite Corpse, we continued glitching over an initial image consecutively in our groups. Here, no single person claims sole authorship over the final product; as a collaborative DIWO effort, all the group members claimed equal stake.

DIWO and the Collective Narrative

The collaboration we observe in Doing It With Others enables us to not only give up individual ownership. This collective ownership enables the co-curation of the artwork, breaking down the power relationships between artist and curators (to be discussed further in section below). What becomes a direct product of this is a collective narrative that could not have occurred with a singular person curating the work – the diversity that could not have come from one person’s thought process alone is what makes the collective narrative such a visual pleasure to look at.

The shift from material to immaterial culture, and the explosion in the rate of copying, duplicating and redistributing of cultural artefacts, means that this culture is now open to the influence of not just ‘professional’ cultural producers.

Another point that this quote brings up about the collective narrative is this narrative is now open to the vernacular as well. The Furtherfield work, Seeds from Elsewhere, is a prime illustration.

Source: http://www.theyarehere.net/ongoing/seeds-from-elsewhere/

In his lecture, Marc Garrett mentioned that the project arose out of the interest in understanding the cultures of refugees living in the park. What conversations could arise? The project formed a collective narrative in the various different plants and produce grown, “contributing to a horticultural portrait of the group”. As an organization interested in grassroot culture, this project was socially conscious in being decisively inclusive – which Garrett mentions being an important quality – and not just art for the market.

DIWO and the Power Relationships

Between Artist and Viewer

VisitorsStudio, created in parallel to FurtherStudio, “gave visitors an insight into some of the artistic processes and concerns of resident artists by creating a social space online where they could experiment and learn together using some very simple audio-visual media mixing tools.”

This breaks down the hierarchical relationship between the artist and the viewer, instead, placing the role of the artist as mediator so that both artist and viewer could DIWO. By providing a creative space that connected more experienced practitioners with novices, Furtherfield supports learning on both ends. Another example of this would be Cut Piece (see here for notes on Cut Piece and DIWO).

Between Artist and Curator

Maker Culture breaks down the power relationships between the artist and curator, as well. We see this exemplified in the collaborative exhibition put on by Gretta Louw and aboriginal artists from Australia, mentioned by Marc Garrett in his lecture.

Image courtesy of http://www.metamute.org

These Warlpiri artists could not get curators and galleries to show their work in the UK, but Furtherfield worked together with them to put on a media art exhibition, a first in the UK. Here, they took over a space that showed their own artwork on their own terms, and have come to exhibit in other countries like Germany and Spain.

We, as students, get a taste of this co-curation with the Collective Body project as well. Source: https://www.flickr.com/groups/2128661@N24

DIWO and the Open Source Thinking

The fact that Furtherfield’s core activities (“of review, criticism and discussion”) have been sustained by its team, and its international group of users, on a mainly voluntary basis, truly encompasses the spirit of the open source model that I have written about previously. Indeed, the strength of peer production lies in its matching of human capital to existing information such that new information can be produced – “(exploiting) human capital as opposed to monetary capital”.

Open source encourages the opposite of this, as discussed by Randall Packer. He has written that the open source way may be viewed as a quasi-utopian form of peer production  – it is amazing to realize that this utopia has actually manifested in such a tangible way in Furtherfield. It then becomes not such an unrecognizable ideal, but a reality that we are able to access.

It is even more impressive is that Furtherfield has grown from a humble network to even receiving regular core public funding for some of its work. Furtherfield holds agency, here, which is what creators (myself included, as an art student), aspire towards one day. Open source culture need not be one that is viewed as against status-quo (as it has been historically) and that status quo can even come to support it.

DIWO and the Future

It was fascinating to hear about how DIWO has been taken even further, and interpreted incredibly differently, in the Blockchain community. Marc Garrett mentions that after the major bank crash in 2008, people explored other means that were less dependent on specific economies.

A brief overview of Blockchain: Blockchain is a decentralized database secured by different servers. Now, it is used to make art as well. As a very young piece of technology  (around 10 years old), Blockchain is still a mystery to many people. For comparison, Marc Garrett specifies that the Internet has been around since the 60s, whilst the World Wide Web has been around since the mid 80s. Evidently, there is much potential in Blockchain, and artists have much to explore.

Back to Blockchain and DIWO, it is incredible to see how people have come together to create entire communities. Marc Garrett mentions that in Barcelona (and other countries), 600 people have created their own country, and alternative economy with their own currency, Faircoin. This very strongly reminds us of Linux and Open Source Thinking, where undoubtedly, a number of people would have collaborated to create an entire community on their own.


He also mentions that China is setting up workshops around blockchain because of what it can do for communities – in the future, this could definitely create real alternative physical communities. In this sense, blockchain is not just seen as new economies, but as an entire Renaissance occurring, even more so because these technological tools carry with them the possibility to make art, not just money.

Marc Garrett also mentions that Furtherfield is going to work with Fair Co-op, and is thinking about making a currency for Furtherfield called the Culture-coin, purely for interaction with one another as part of Furtherfield. This is a very DIWO concept – this is about pulling everybody up with one another and creating a fairer society, and art.

Word count: *sweats nervously*


[EI] Open Source: An Introduction

We had our first experimental interaction class today! I decided to record down my notes from class and conduct some further research on the works we discussed, as Mr Packer mentioned that Cut Piece was a classic (it was mentioned again in the reading he gave us).

What we discussed in class
Yoko Ono – Cut Piece (1964)

  • The artist gives up control of the work – as a result, the role of the artist and viewer are reversed.
  • The work could be a commentary on women being objectified, and the male gaze.
  • How is the work social? It requires the active participation of the audience. The role of the artist and audience is reversed, in a sense – the audience takes on a much more active role than Yoko Ono, who sits passively (although her facial expressions do show how uncomfortable she is with how aggressive the audience is towards the end of the piece)
  • DIWO in the sense that the audience is doing it together, taking turns, and having a collective experience
  • Indeterminate: the piece is indeterminate in its outcome; you could have a rough idea but don’t know what exactly

Jenny Holzer – Please Change Beliefs (1997)

  • Art that requires the internet
  • The role of the artist is to be a designer of interactivity
  • The content of the work? Language, words, and communication
  • Space is global, not confined to a room, hence encouraging global communication
  • In terms of time, it is available 24/7
  • This piece also led us to a discussion about The Third Space, in which the local and remote can be together in a shared network space e.g. on skype, or the telephone.

I did some reading up on Cut Piece, too. The work remains a key piece within the Fluxus art movement due to how it engages with an artist’s body, as well as the way in which it mirrors life – with an obvious political gesture. I found that by the audience being implicated in the (potentially) aggressive act of revealing the female body bit by bit, Yoko Ono further challenges the neutrality of the relationship between viewer and art object. It does, in fact, depend on the audience’s willingness to participate – something to think about for my future projects, I guess – it’s important to consider how the audience would receive certain instructions as well.

In preparation for the essay, I printed the readings out, annotated them, and summarized them into this Google Docs document: do check it out for a summarized version!

Assignment 1

Sida Vaidhyanathan gives us an overview of the history of the proprietary model from the 1970s. Software vendors asserted control over their source code – Richard Stallman, in response to this, established the Free Software Foundation to fight for software rights to protect hackers and open source enthusiasts. Linux and the World Wide Web are other projects that arose from a community working together – prime examples of peer production.

The first minute of the above video explains why Linux, for example, is preferable to the proprietary model, which tends to be a closed system. Indeed, the strength of peer production lies in its matching of human capital to existing information such that new information can be produced – “(exploiting) human capital as opposed to monetary capital”.

Sida Vaidhyanathan mentions that the proprietary model asserts that innovation would not occur without monetary benefits, and that “fencing off” innovations is vital for firms to establish markets. A negative aspect of this would be that this model locks in the advantages that technologically advanced states have over less advanced ones, creating a stagnant culture.

Open source encourages the opposite of this, as discussed by Randall Packer. He writes that “Open source way may be viewed as a quasi-utopian form of peer production that inspires transparency, collaboration, collective process”.

An important concept in the history of open source is the evolution of the gesamtkunstwerk (total art), found in 20th century Art avant garde movements. Allan Kaprow as part of the Fluxus pioneered performance art through the “Happenings”.

The “Happenings” integrated all forms of media, action, gesture, spoken word, and artifacts. Decentralization of authorship, location, and narrative unstratifies forms of interactive media that expand and reorient the boundaries of time, space, viewer and artist to create new kinds of collective experience and social engagement.

The discussion of open source need not be limited to peer production. “Open source” techniques, such as appropriation, freely borrow from mass media. Its history is long, starting with Robert Rasuchenberg, who overlapped appropriated newsprint with painting and drawing.

Rauschenberg made mixed media collage work, using silkscreen process to overlay appropriated newsprint with painting and drawing,

Soon after, Nam June Paik used appropriation for his video work. More recently, the web has made it easy for artists to appropriate online materials. For example, Mark Napier’s The Shredder used the web as a vast open source archive.

In relation to open source thinking, the collective narrative is an open exchange leading to creation of voices. This can be traced back to the 20th century avant garde, for which social interaction was essential, for example, the Exquisite Corpse Surrealist game. More recently, the concept of trending (and social media sharing), whilst not a traditional narrative, is another type that is “compressed, often playful and multithreaded”.

Possibilities of peer to peer authoring of the collective narrative manifest today with Google Docs, Microsoft Word, and WordPress, all of which differ from the traditional act of writing with their potential to collectivize writing, which is often an intimate act on its own. Furthermore, they make it publishable, worldwide, immediately.

The open source model has expanded into other realms – the music and scientific spheres have attested to their commitment to openness with cultivating open-access journals. Programming, today, also often takes collaborative forms such as DIY events, hackathons, maker fairs, residencies etc.

440 words (I really tried to make it 250 words, I really did)

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