Week 1 essay | Open Source and the Artist

Not unlike the Dada performances at the Cabaret Voltaire during the early 20th century which revolutionised the roles of artist and institution, the open source system is our highly-connected and technologically-fuelled era’s retelling of this art historical narrative of intervention and opposition. Open source shifts the dynamics of art-making from vertical to lateral; anyone can be an artist, curator, participant and critic. It is an inclusive platform, not limited by space or traditional tastemakers.

Open source extends the social aspect of art-making further. Creators, netizens and our peers can provide constructive feedback and contribute to the creative process and product. The open source system can also be a channel of inspiration and learning as it heightens our awareness of contemporary issues and concerns, and allows us to witness ongoing projects by our contemporaries as they develop. This grants us insights into their creative process and methods which are equally, if not more valuable than the finished product.

Our school’s Open Source Studio (OSS) has helped cultivate this practice of sharing, collaboration and openness which are crucial today. Furthermore, OSS offers a comprehensive view of our practice. It does not separate or privilege finished works over ideation, work-in-progress, inspirations or potential projects. Instead, the OSS platform is an integrated reflection of our practice that serves as a portfolio, process log and archive simultaneously, all while remaining accessible to employers, our peers and practitioners all over the world.

7 thoughts on “Week 1 essay | Open Source and the Artist”

  1. Wonderful work Yi Xian. I enjoyed reading your article.

    Do you face any issues and concerns using OSS, especially since by offering a comprehensive view of your creative practice, the openness inevitably places your work under the glare of public scrutiny?

    I was asking Randall if the ADM students ever fail, because I only see outstanding work on OSS, and it seems to me that the undergrads are able to get it right from the onset. Lol.

    I wonder if OSSonauts are tempted to hide failures, and selectively reveal only the impressive parts of the creative process, in public. What influences significantly impact what you decide to put on public display? Or do you reveal everything — the good, the bad and the ugly — on OSS?


    1. Thanks for the feedback and questions Alvin. It can be daunting to put our works, and by extension ourselves, up on the net for all to see. But I think the benefits of the system ultimately outweigh these discomforts!

      Although OSS functions well as a process log, we typically don’t put everything up. Haha not because we’re hiding failures, but more so because some things become irrelevant as the project develops. IMO a good rule of thumb is to document anything that is worth learning from, failures included. Although it varies from user to user, I like to use OSS as a sharing and documentation platform, so I keep my posts a bit more finished and save the stream of consciousness stuff for a good old fashion journal 😉

      1. I see. The reason I asked, is that I wonder if this puts pressure on you and the rest to perform. We know Facebook friends don’t really lead perfect lives but by selectively curating their posts, it may seem so. Lol. How do you and the rest feel when you all read the entries of other OSS users?

  2. Hi Yi Xian, it is true indeed that OSS exists as an inclusive platform irregardless of status. Nevertheless, was wondering how OSS could further create a more inclusive network that heralds greater contribution and interaction between its users beyond the current commenting system. Just food for thought.

    1. That’s where Adobe Connect and various other computer supported collaborative platforms come in. You can see how in We are Nowhere, Adobe Connect was used to bring the discussions on OSS to life.

  3. Hi Yi Xian, great insight to know that it can also be a platform to know about our contemporaries! With the open source kind of gray-ing the line of what who is a curator, artist, critic or participant, it’ll be interesting to see how this would further develop in the future!

  4. I enjoyed the reference to the revolutionary tactics of the Dadaists, as there was a healthy amount of collaboration and cross-pollination of ideas. And of course the open source pioneers we read about in my article are also radicals in their own way, in terms of sharing and appropriating information.

Leave a Reply