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<nettime> Web 2.0 and the meaning of ART
juanmartinprada on Sun, 6 Jan 2008 22:12:57 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> Web 2.0 and the meaning of ART

Dear nettimers:

Apologies for cross posting and for this long post. It is an essay on
web 2.0 and artistic practices that I presented at "1st Inclusiva-net
meeting [New art dynamics in Web 2 mode], Medialab-Prado, Madrid,
Spain, july, 2007) http://medialab-prado.es/inclusiva-net Thanks! best

Juan Martin Prada

Juan Martin Prada

1. The inclusive logic of "Web 2.0"

The economic model for what is called "Web 2.0" is based on promoting
the desire to share and exchange things, an attempt to make profits
from the voluntary collaboration of its users and its potential for
compiling data and making them available to the public. The new
companies operating on the Internet base their role on promoting
cooperative communities and managing access to the data and files
contributed. This business model increasingly tends not to sell any
product at all to the consumer, but rather sells the consumer to the
product, integrating the user and the files he or she contributes into
the actual service being offered.

The user and his or her contributions are the main content being
distributed by networks. They channel and use as an economic force the
desire felt by a multitude of users to be part of social networks, to
share and make public their interests, to dialogue, to communicate
with others, to express themselves publicly, to feel useful, and to
cooperate. That is, what is exploited (if we can understand something
like that happening today in the field of networks) is users' capacity
to produce sociability and their desire to do so. Now the actual user
(instead of only his or her needs) is the true origin and destination
of new technological developments.

The inclusive logic of Web 2.0 is based on an elementary principal:
the more users there are, the better a given application or social
network will be. That is, there is a value to volume. The quantitative
becomes qualitative in this second stage of the Web. And since the
quantitative is one of the key elements of today's production, it
is understandable that the new companies on Web 2.0 are striving to
generate a need for belonging and participation, to stimulate our
need to feel tied to a group, a digital community, to collaborate
and contribute things to share them on the new social networks (be
they videos, photographs, comments, etc.). One thing we must keep
in mind is that even those people who do not want to contribute to
the conformation of these gigantic collective databases will do so
collaterally by using them, involuntarily increasing the value of
those applications because the routes they use will be offered as
orientative data for other users. For example, on many Web sites,
once a user has purchased something, he or she is offered information
about what products other people bought, what they were interested in,
and so on. The way Web 2.0 works is based on managing to add the user
to the available information. That is why it has been so often said
that today, we are all turning into software components or "bionic
software", and that Web applications "have people inside them". A
recurring simile is comparing Web 2.0 to the 18th century automaton
that played chess because a person was hidden inside it[1].

The "input" for the new Web is the users themselves; however, that
does not mean that there is open possession of the databases they
generate. Although the majority can be used freely, they are the
property of the company that manages them, which also holds the rights
to how they will be used in future. This has led to intense criticism,
leading to the inevitable development of an intense parallel movement
to the one for "free software": the movement for "free data".

The fact that the central axis of Web 2.0 today is the production and
management of social networks proves that it brings together social
and economic production. Companies on the new Web try to produce
social life, human relations, in an extremely profitable strategy
that does not distinguish among the economic, emotional, political
and cultural. The design of forms of human relations comprises the
instrumental base of production. The new businesses of today are the
new economy of the immaterial.

The promotion of collective experiences of users, the enhancement of
emotional interactions among participants, and making the aggregation
of information originating in those networks based on affinity groups
possible has required the development of huge efforts to advance
in "social software". That refers to software used to manage the
needs and potentials of aggregating data, exchanges and communicative
interactions among users in the on-line social networks.

In this respect, identifying art works as "social software", which
would seem to fit with what we may understand by the term "net.art
2.0", would influence the idea that the most committed art practice
would aim to reconfigure the ways in which personal and social
interactions take place on today's Internet Web. Of course, many of
the principles of what was called more or less improperly "Relational
aesthetics" are found, in fact, in the area of the new networks, one
of its best possible fields for future development.

2. Power 2.0

With the process of involvement and inclusion of individuals in
economic production and subjective systems which are part of the Web,
the new forms of power today are trying to organize our entire lives.
In the current network society, power blends into life, becoming
abstract. It is no longer exercised over individuals; instead, it
circulates through them (we all more or less consciously make it
circulate) with the result that it seems logical that the most
effective devices for the exercise of power are based on participatory
logic, on flows of social activity.

In contrast to efforts at homogenization, of treating everyone in the
same way, the economic logic of Web 2.0 is based on differentiating
and singling out each procedure or allowing each person to use it
their own way. The goal is for there to be nothing we can be against,
by offering a super-abundance of free choices and freely taken
decisions. There is a proliferation of constant strategic games of
personal initiatives and freedom. The system aims to correspond to
the multiplicity of singularities forming the connected multitude
by forcing the multitude into submission through its involuntary
conversion into a transmitter of the new forms of power.

However, in this second stage of the Web, we should speak not of power
but of the relations of power, given that dominion is not a unilateral
relation here, but rather it operates through power plays that are
mobile, unstable, based on diffuse circulation strategies and the
transmission of individual initiatives and freedom.

We could even say that in the context of the new culture of digital
participation, politics can only be conceived properly as the
organization of social interactions. Ideally, the most appropriate
political model would be that inherent to the connected multitude
itself, self-organizing its interactions in the full exercise of its
decision and participation possibilities. The autonomy of politics,
as a notion that implies separation or representativity, would thus
no longer have any meaning. This political and social model would
begin to take form today in those forms of organization distributed
in networks, in the multiplicity of all the connected singularities,
characterized by that Spinozan thought, where beings are constituted
through desire, through the pleasure of being alive.

3. "Amateur" creativity

If we look back in time to the beginning of the Internet network,
the contents it offered were generated by professional suppliers
who incorporated a variety of information on their Web sites, and
users were essentially consumers of that information. On Web 2.0,
in contrast, many service platforms such as Myspace, Youtube or
Flickr, allow their users to participate in community, collaborating
and sharing files, photographs, videos, etc. They even transform
and re-edit them (e.g., Jumpcut) in such a way that users are no
longer mere consumers of information but also suppliers of contents.
Therefore, ideally, Web 2.0 would be a Web "for" users and also
generated "by" users, on the basis that any of its services improves
if more people use it. Essential catalysts of this process are the
large blogs for uploading photographs and videos, as well as the huge
development of "do it yourself" platforms proliferating on the Web.

The fact that anyone can be a producer and distributor of visual and
audiovisual materials of all kinds has led to an unstoppable, intense
"amateurization" process of the creative practices that statistically
comprise a significant part of the contents available on-line.
This "amateurization" is clearly a contrast to the professionalism
that characterized the 20th century on all levels. In today's
world, that former concept of a given individual as the exclusive
location of "artistic talent" and the accompanying suppression of
that talent among the "great masses" no longer has any meaning. It
increasingly belongs to the past, following the extreme attenuation
of all divisions of work (which Marx saw as the main cause of that

Undeniably, many hopes have always been focused on the conversion
of consumers into producers of means. For Guy Debord, to cite one
example, there was no possibility of freedom in the use of time
unless one possessed modern instruments for constructing everyday
life. Only through their use, he said, could one progress "from a
utopian revolutionary art to an experiential revolutionary art"[2].
Hardt and Negri proposed the conversion of the multitude into an
autonomous agent of production and that could be channelled through
trying to achieve free access to and control over the primary means
of biopolitical production, which would also involve the production
of subjective means. Those are knowledge, information, communication,
and emotions which certainly constitute the primary elements of the
production fabric of our time.

An increasingly minor part of aesthetic innovations occur nowadays
in a professional or industrial environment. Many of those aesthetic
innovations occur in the "social fabric" formed by users; that is,
after industrial production[3]. That is why there has been talk of an
emerging process of "democratization of innovation"[4], or of "open
innovation"[5], related to the "customer-made" formula. It implies
an active connection between companies and users in the production
of goods and services. What is happening is that this way, consumers
are becoming producers of certain products, which means they are
both consumer and producer, giving rise to the newly coined term

The contradiction between producers and consumers is certainly not
inherent to current digital means. And while that is true for creative
fields, it is even more so in information technology environments.
The "blog phenomenon" is clearly the best example of the emergence of
massive "amateurization" of the production of information and opinion.
Almost all of the large information media include a section for
blogs or even what some call "citizen journalism" or "participatory
journalism". Spaces like Wikinews[6] have proliferated, where
information and articles are written by readers, and they can decide
what news they want covered.

However, many people see this growing hegemony of the amateur
as a danger, considering the cultural model of Web 2.0 to be an
"oclocracy"; that is, mob rule, one of the specific ways democracy can
degenerate[7]. These standpoints rest on the suspicion that society,
though it has all the media at its disposal, has nothing to say,
or worse, is "unable to make the necessary social use of them"[8].
Faced with these issues, it seems only sensible to view the field
of participation that was opened by the evolution of networks as a
horizon full of possibilities for achieving many of the social and
political objectives that Debord and Enzensberger, among many others,
set forth decades ago. Moreover, we can say that the Web today may
have reached a first stage of true fulfilment of its communicative and
social possibilities, offering us a glimpse of what may someday become
actual proof of Dan Gillmor's statement that identified "us" with "the
media" ("We, the media")[9].

At the political level, the new collaborative paradigm of the second
stage of the Web protagonized by that connected multitude that
expresses itself and shares on networks is one of the clearest steps
toward the effective existence of a social model that considers a
"democracy of the multitude" (in keeping with the thought of Occam,
Marsilius of Padua, or Spinoza, among others) as the absolute form
of politics. Accepting this standpoint, the connected multitude, an
infinite multiplicity of active singularities, could be considered
in its most emancipatory and creative potentials, as the origin of a
politics not over life but of life, that is, a clear example of the
introduction of "the power of life"[10] into politics.

The connected multitude poses no threat to individualism, given
that homogenization is not a part of its constitution. It is a
multitude that has nothing to do with the concept of "the masses"
which played a major part in political thought in the past. To the
contrary, we should consider its presence as our most efficient,
promising possibility for resistance in the face of attempts at
an undifferentiated unification, attempts at the destruction
of individual singularity that has always been the goal of the
traditional mass communication media.

However, one inevitably must admit that "amateur" creative production
is plagued with repetition and imitation, as examples of singularity
in that milieu are statistically extremely scarce in relation to the
number of participants. However, behind the repetition and what is
of no interest we should also be able to see the vitality underlying
that show of free creation and public sharing, as well as imagining
with Blochian hope all that it promises. For there is nothing sterile
about this intensification of creativity on everyone's part; nor about
the independence of their productions from any professional context
of receivers and any compensation other than that of making those
creations available to the public, free of charge.

On the Web, a whole new field of social opportunities is arising from
the creative and communicative potentials that are taking form in
the infinite number of social networks and cooperatives that make
up Web 2.0. This progressive indifferentiation between information
transmitters and receivers means, above all, that the production of
representation and the ordering and organization of contents is no
longer a monopoly of professionalized sectors.

Anthropologically speaking, the most important characteristic of the
majority of the images and videos we see on photoblogs and videoblogs
is that they do not depict other, possible worlds or even variations
and extensions of this one. Instead, the images portray the world we
inhabit. They are images of our life in this world, life that aims to
intensify itself through permanent self-representations and visual
records of events and pleasure. Millions of photographs and videos
of all kinds of things and moments have escaped from their former
privacy in private albums and are now available to millions of people.
A community is thus created of people taking part in a representation
that fundamentally is also a reflection of themselves.

Each photograph, each video that is uploaded onto the Web is a small
sample of its authors' lives. In sharing it, they are trying to
pass along their enthusiasm to others. Their aim, beyond publicly
communicating any particular experience, may be to feel a certain
kind of "communion" with many others in the experience they share
through that file. For all expressions of life, especially all images
of pleasure, always seek the confirmation of their experience through
the figure of the collective, and at this time that is completely

In this new context, the most effective criticism can only now be
conceived in terms of creating something new, as a production of
alternative imagined realms. Maybe we should even accept that we can
now only interpret the world by transforming it, recreating it. The
clearest foundations for the proposal are to be found, without a
doubt, in Foucault, for whom political resistance, conceptualized only
in terms of negation, would represent only a minimally effective form.
Thus, resistance should be understood as the creation of new forms
of life, of a new culture, where minorities should affirm themselves
"not only as far as their identity but also as a creative force"[11].
They also propose the development of an alternative ontological base,
centred and sustained by the multitude's creative and productive
practices, for its constituting force would be the product of its
creative imagination, which would configure its own constitution[12].

The development of the participatory possibilities of the Web today
has certainly facilitated the construction of new circuits of value
and meaning charged with great creative autonomy and a notable
subversive capacity. The creative potentials of the diversity of
the connected multitude hold great potential which is already being
activated. And that given the fact that almost all offers for
participation in the current Web are formed by a studied system of
economic management. The development of that huge power to create and
share is incomparably more important in the new stage of the Web than
anything that business parasites can obtain from it. The possibilities
of production of differentiation and singularity that appear on the
networks are much more powerful than the patterns of repetition and
imitation of stereotypical commercial and professional models which,
statistically, comprise the majority of contents on those networks.

However, many detractors of Web 2.0 see that interest in other
people's images, videos, experiences, opinions and private lives as
similar to what already happened with the "Big Brother" television
phenomenon. A certain fascination for what is not worth reading,
seeing, or hearing, which means the Web is being filled with records
of completely irrelevant events, following the overbearing logic of
"you are the information".

What is definitely happening is an abandonment of privacy at all
levels, perhaps because we are increasingly less able to understand it
and value it, given that it practically does not exist in our lives.
Today the multitude of users on the large participatory Web platforms
upload videos and photographs of their most personal experiences,
making them public, showing no hesitation but rather enjoyment in
giving access to images of their private life to anyone who comes
across them or looks for them. Perhaps an explanation lies in a
certain effect of a new stage in the process of exteriorization. In
the 1960s, McLuhan pointed out that people were beginning to wear
their brains outside their skulls and their nerves outside their
skin[13], and subsequently there was an enormous exteriorization of
memory through the development of personal digital storage systems.
Today that exteriorization has taken another step, where users store
things in memory systems they do not even own. That is, the collective
memories of the large Web 2.0 platforms that have become gigantic
files, eliminating any relation of necessity or dependence linking
privacy and a space that is private or with limited access.

A new challenge of the utmost importance in the field of "non-amateur"
creation is posed by the fact that much of the visual production that
is enjoyed and shared on the networks is not made by professionals
in image-making fields. We might say that today one gets a glimpse
of what Rousseau proposed in his Carta a d'Alembert (1758), where he
suggested that public festivities replace theatrical performances.
"Place a post crowned with flowers in the centre of a town square,
gather the townspeople, and you will have a party. Do something even
better: offer the audience as the performance; turn them into the

4. Art 2.0?

Admitting that Rousseau's idea fits the present does not mean that
the role of the artist has dissolved in the infinite stream of
unintentionally artistic, or purely amateur, images and visual
productions. At this point, in the field of the networks, the possible
differences between "art" and "not art" are a matter of nuance in
terms of the intensity with which each creation reveals and expands
upon the essential aspects and potentials of living and of the
critical consciousness possible in that connected multitude.

The most effective artistic thought would not be limited merely to
forming part of the expression of the vitality of the productive
multitude. It would also generate the most intense evocations of the
infinite wealth of differences that form the connected multitude,
while also revealing the multitude lying beneath each single subject.
In this sense, if the on-line multitude is formed by infinite subjects
that, like atoms, move and find each other according to "clinamens
that are always untimely and exceptional"[15], then perhaps it is
an essential mission of artistic practices to show the emancipatory
potentials that, still dormant, lie beneath the exceptional and single
nature of those clinamens.

What we could call "art" in the context of Web 2.0 is certainly
what most reinforces our belief in the potentials of the connected
multitude, in its possibilities for the free production of critical
thought and new life. That all means that art, the optimal form of
resistance in the context of the new networks, would be an extreme
herald of the constituting power of the multitude. That is, the
world that the multitude can build is foreshadowed in the best
artistic proposals, always manifested from the demands of interpretive
thought, of critical and meaningful communication. Through the most
interesting artistic proposals an attempt, at least, would be made at
a poetic reconfiguration of the social interactions of the connected

Given the above, an essential aspect in assessing the relative
interest of 2.0 creative productions would be the degree of intensity
with which the creations express and foreshadow a form of "liberated
freedom" as opposed to freedom as merely a business strategy, which
is what the majority of "amateur" creative production is subject
to. Thus, the success of any given artistic proposal in the Web 2.0
context would depend on its capacity to evoke in the interior of the
singularity of that specific creation not only abstract aspects of
the life of a global space but above all the tensions of renewal and
transformation, of critical thought, pleasure, more freedom and more
singularity that are inherent to the connected multitude.

That means in no case can we conceive of the idea of art on the
networks as an element transcending life. To the contrary, it must
be seen as an element able to penetrate life, affirm existence and
the power of difference, of the exceptional in each of the infinite
elements forming the infinity of connected lives. At the same time,
we must view it as what proves the common underlying that whole
world of singularities: a need to live more fully, with more shared
expressions of solidarity, of a life accommodated to others not
through homogenization but rather through an enjoyment of differences.
Accumulating evidence of that "common" through the celebration and
identification of the infinite singularities is, in a way, advancing
in a form of resistance that foreshadows what is affirmed in the
slogan "Another world is possible" and which, as Negri said, implies
"an exodus toward ourselves"[16].

5. Social networks and affectivity

In this second stage of the Web, we see how vital interrelations are
fully productive economically. A new theory of value must be put
into place given that the new informational economy, the production
of social networks, is based on increasingly immaterial work, almost
completely based on emotional production: on the manipulation and
management of emotions and sociality. Given that, we can affirm that
the nature of production mechanisms of collective subjectivity are
already intrinsically emotional today. That is why, in the emotional
application of social relations, the new cultural and entertainment
industries are expected to possess a greater transformative capacity
of the social as their major lucrative potential. That is why,
to a large extent, the artistic projects that explore the world
of the social networks, the places and the ways that encounters
occur, dialogues and exchanges on the Internet are fundamentally
approximations to the problems that arise in relation to the emotional
nature of biopolitical production.

It seems almost impossible to question that, in the context of the
connected society, the possibility of efficient political resistance
should be approached from the appropriation and recognition of the
emancipatory potential of the principles that form an essential part
of productive biopolitical dynamics such as affection, cooperation,
and friendship. The mission of the new resistance is to rescue them
from their domestication by companies. That resistance should make
the potential they contain for the production of a new community
clear, to generate an active set-up of the principle of the common.
And perhaps artistic creation (let's remember that traditionally,
aesthetic experience has been considered purely emotional) is one of
the best means for carrying out this rescue.

6. Filtering and "tagging"

Participation and synergy in real time is what this new stage in the
Web should ideally offer; that is, broadening potentials for acquiring
knowledge. No one knows everything but everyone, jointly, can know
everything. An extremely important step forward in collectivized,
mutualised knowledge. It is the arrival of a stage of broadened
"co-intelligence", of the reciprocal production of knowledge among
infinite persons, of a multitudinous cooperative development and
of the increasingly open possession of knowledge, all channelled
through inclusive systems, and not designed to prevent anyone from the
possibility of contributing. Undoubtedly, the potential illuminators
of "general intellect"[17] are none other than teleology of the
commons on linguistic interchange and cooperation.

This all leads to constant attempts to apply the free software
model to any field of creation and knowledge[18] and explorations
in relation to "Commons-based peer production"[19], are not few in
number either. That is, the study of modes of production based on the
cooperation of autonomous agents in coordinating the creative energy
of a huge number of persons, in which the efforts and pleasure of
a multitude of singularities are joined, and in which each of its
members has different abilities, very different knowledge, properties
that are added up and creatively complement those of others.

More so than in the field of collective creation, the requirements
for applying these models when the amount of available data of all
kinds circulating on the Web is so huge make the tasks of tagging,
filtering, and prioritization of the available information much more
crucial. In fact, applying the cooperation potential inherent to the
system of the connected multitude in this direction and specific
applications are one of the primary operating fundamentals on Web
2.0. We mustn't forget that what can be understood as this second
stage of the Web consists of "content generated by the user" as
much as "content filtered by the user"[20]. That is, its primary
action axis would be the implementation of strategies allowing
"collective intelligence" to act as a filter and engine for the
efficient organization of the available information, and that ordering
can be useful not only for the main flows on the Web but also for more
specific, particular ones. Going from the task of offering "data" to
providing "metadata" is a step forward that would also explain the
complementarity of the concepts of Web 2.0 and semantic Webs, based on
the incorporation of all kinds of metadata (descriptors, identifiers,

The essential character on Web 2.0 of activities such as classifying,
tagging, selecting, voting, scoring, etc. makes data organization
methods for the culture of the networks one of the areas of greatest
interest in on-line artistic creation. And of all the paths initiated
in the artistic themes of data filtering, identification and
assessment, those focused on "tagging" have generated the greatest
interest. Examples of this path are some of the initiatives of Les
Liens Invisibles and Jonathan Harris, among many other authors[21].

Undoubtedly, the relation between images and identifying terms, or
"tags", is linked in the field of the theory of contemporary art to an
old relation between image and word, and between art work and title.
The problematic nature of the relations established between text and
image, that were essential in conceptual art, have once again been
activated by the new dynamic of "tagging" as a practice of social
organization of the visual elements of the culture in which a huge
field has opened up for artistic reflection.

7. Blog art?

A key element of many blogs is that personal life, information and
opinions are not separate. One of its most interesting potentials is
its capacity to create collectivity through resources and positions
that in many cases are merely autobiographical; that is, through
subjectivity expressed, shared, and commented on. The blog phenomenon
is surely the clearest return to the "self" and to subjectivity itself
in the field of media, the activation of a certain "egology". It
is about reclaiming a democratization of the possibilities of the
expressive "self", of subjectivity made public, that is shown and
exhibited, as a catalyst of many other internal voices that will be
encouraged to follow the exercise of a "self", giving public voice to
personal consciousness that is expressed and investigated, practiced
in writing, in the collection and interrelation of things and aspects
that it finds of interest.

Obviously, many of the propositional, creative and expressive aspects
of the blog phenomenon make many of their authors define their
blogs as art works in their own right. Of course, many blogs show
extremely creative and poetic qualities that make them much more than
alternative systems for personal and interpersonal expression and
communication. Actually, the most interesting cases are true examples
of the possibilities of artistic thought to act in the reconfiguration
of models for communicative practices and of cultural and social
criticism of networks. In many of them, we see the huge capacity
that poetic activities have, through the interpretive demands of art
works, to effect an intense, efficient criticism of current processes
for the inclusion of the subject in the society of interconnected
media. Of course, the perverse irony that characterizes the majority
of "blog art" proposals actively collaborates in the suspension
(and even subversion) of the most deeply rooted expectations about
the communicative interactions that we consider to be informative,
normal, or useful in the present field of networks. The proposals of
blog art also constitute intense questioning of whether the world is,
as many blogs seems to show in their extreme intensification of the
presence of an ego, a correlate of what "I perceive", "I feel", and "I

Some of the most interesting results so far of "blog art" have emerged
from projects centred on studying the recording of time innate
to blogs. Only from the field of artistic propositions could we
understand, for example, the extreme degree to which life is subject
to recorded time in projects such as "Obsessive Consumption"[22] by
Kate Bingaman (2007) or the work titled "Eat 22"[23] by E. Harrinson
(2007). These two examples evoke the huge set of proposals of blogs
taken to the limit which are only comprehensible from the perspective
of conceptual art. They refer to the complexity inherent to the time
relationship established among the blog, the subject who "posts"
something, and the readers, which is none other than that relationship
of life itself in the shared recording of its passage through time.
These projects emphasize the fact that we are fundamentally shared
time (which is exhibited and recorded on media in today's world). Due
to the above, "blog art" can be said to be an experiment not with a
new media but rather of the artist in it (while being watched by many

8. Artistic practices in the reconfiguration of communicative

Of special value is creativity oriented to the production of
cooperative devices for activating and developing communities, of
means for free communication of the parasitic behaviour of companies
dominating the Web today. In fact, many of the most interesting
projects we can identify within the broad group of artistic practices
are centred on promoting the public domain, on how to facilitate the
voluntary provision of public goods that are communicatively and
experientially meaningful.

One of the traditional definitions of artistic creation has been
a critical experimentation in language or the invention of new
languages. Perhaps in this sense, many of its still to be revealed
capacities will reconfigure communicative interactions in the new era
of digital political activism. That is, provided that it is based on
the belief that it is possible to solve many of the new social and
political problems of new societies through developing a different
kind of public communication. It is reasonable to think that it
possesses a hugely valuable capacity to diminish the effects of the
colonization of communication by economic interests.

And perhaps we can affirm that the role of creation most committed
to social and political reflection in the new networks resides
in its capacity to overcome a certain incommunicable character
of the battles in the network society. There, everything seems
to be legitimated on the basis of principles such as progress,
communication, participation, etc., which seem to strangle all
types of effective dissention. Perhaps the critical thought innate
to artistic practices can help us immensely in gaining a better
understanding of what we can consider as truly social with respect to
some new technologies and applications that, as in the context of Web
2.0, are always presented to us as completely social media.

It is clear in the most interesting proposals of the new "on-line"
artistic behaviours that art can make part of the information and
data circulating on the networks not only consumed but also properly
situated in relation to their existential elements. That is, one of
the major commitments of the best artistic creations in the context
of Web 2.0 would be to design new paths for taking the interpretive
experience model inherent to artistic practices to the field of
social and communicative interaction. It behoves us to give intensive
thought to the possibilities of artistic practices in the face of
an ecological recomposition of communication.[24] This would be a
new attempt to overcome the imprisonment in the constant but banal
communication process inherent in mass media, and also to define that
refusal to communicate that Theodor Adorno considered as a measure of
the truth of art works in a cultural system where communication is
organized via manipulation in order to produce a given effect, where
the former would only have an alienated existence[25].

Due to the above, it is logical that nowadays there are quite a
few artistic proposals centred on the ways the new digital social
networks function. Their intention is to bring to the forefront of
public attention the ways language and communicative interactions
in general can be toyed with. That is, showing how the economic
appropriation of free communication and the desire to cooperate
is carried out, offering a poetic rendition of how the ideal of
interactivity is truncated. We can only imagine that ideal as giving
oneself linguistically to another, as an exchange of what one does not
have, that is, what one is. The great challenge of artistic creation
then is, in the boundary-crossing dynamics of human presences in
network environments, to build flows of value and meaning independent
of the logic of markets and corporate interests.

The fact that the most recent artistic proposals on the networks are
so ironic and critical instead of optimistic is because Web 2.0 has
been presented to us corporatively as an idyllic field of happiness,
joy, friendship, sharing, and communication, all increasing endlessly.
With networks today defined through these principles, there is an
assumption of a blanket neutral ideology. The most critical of these
art works and actions oppose the acceptance of that assumption, and
will do so repeatedly. The subjects of those art works and actions
coincide with specific ways the Web 2.0 works. Interpreting them
demands an interpretive, critical and political reflection of the ways
the Web works as well as the mediation mechanisms and socialization
control predisposed by the Web.

It is quite likely that the interpretive values of the new "on-line"
artistic practices are based on the important possibility of
opposing the disappearance o fan awareness of reality as a pace
full of oppositions and frictions. That awareness is becoming
increasingly difficult given that everything is veiled behind
continuous telematics, set out through principles and promises always
linked to communication that already impedes a perception of any
contradiction whatsoever.

This attempt would explain that a recurring purpose of artistic
practices is to reveal what interests are behind those business
mediators and how they manage to regulate communicative interactions
on the networks, in addition to merely making them possible.


[1] I refer to the false automaton known as "The Turk", built in 1770
by Wolfgang von Kempelen (1734-1804).

[2] Guy Debord, "Tesis sobre la revoluci?n cultural", in Textos
situacionistas sobre arte and urbanismo, La Piqueta, Madrid, 1977, p.

[3] See Johan S?derberg, "Reluctant revolutionaries -
the false modesty of reformist critics of copyright",
[Internet]. Journal of Hyper(+)drome. Manifestation.
[Accessed 20 July 2007].

[4] See Erik von Hippel, Democratizing Innovation, MIT Press, 2005.

[5] See Henry William Chesbrough, Open Innovation: The New Imperative
for Creating and Profiting from Technology, Harvard Business School
Press, 2003.

[6] <http://en.wikinews.org/wiki/Main_Page>. [Accessed 20 July 2007].

[7] See, in relation to these aspects, the book by Andrew Keen The
Cult of the Amateur: How Today's Internet is Killing Our Culture,
Doubleday/Currency, New York, 2007.

[8] Hans Magnus Enzensberger, "Constituents of a Theory of the Media",
in John Thornton Caldwell, Theories of the New Media, The Athlone
Press, London, 2000. p. 68.

[9] See Dan Gillmor, We the Media: Grassroots Journalism by the
People, for the People, O'Reilly Media, 2004.

[10] According to Roberto Esposito "if, as Deleuze believes,
philosophy is the practice of creating concepts appropriate to the
event affecting and transforming us, this is the time to rethink
the relationship between politics and life in a way that, instead
of subjecting life to political leadership (which occurred over
the last century quite clearly), introduces into the power of life
into politics". Esposito, Roberto, Biopol?tica and filosof?a, Grama
ediciones, Buenos Aires, 2006, p. 17.

[11] See Michel Foucault, Dits et ?crits, iv, Gallimard, Paris, 1994,
p. 741.

[12] Michael Hardt - Antonio Negri, Imperio, Ediciones Paid?s Ib?rica,
Barcelona, 2002, p. 43.

[13] Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media, McGraw-Hill, New York,

[14] Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Carta a d'Alembert, Editorial Tecnos,
Madrid, 1994.

[15] Seg?n Negri, "las multitudes son conjuntos de ?tomos que se
encuentran seg?n clin?menes siempre intempestivos and excepcionales".
Negri, Antonio, "El arte and la cultura en la ?poca del Imperio and en
el tiempo de las multitudes", [Internet]. Ediciones simbi?ticas, 2005.
: <http://www.edicionessimbioticas.info/article.php3?id_article=553>.
[Accessed 20 July 2007].

[16] Ibid.

[17] See, referring to this concept, the work of Pierre Levy, Aux
Origines de L'Intelligence Collective. Pour une anthropologie du
cyberspace, La Decouverte, Paris 1994; of James Surowiecki Cien mejor
que uno: La sabidur?a de la multitud o por qu? la mayor?a es m?s
inteligente que la minor?a, Ediciones Urano, Barcelona, 2005; and of
J. Heron, Cooperative Inquiry: Research into the Human Condition,
Sage, Londres, 1996.

[18] This would in fact be one of the basic premises inferred in the
expression "Free Open Knowledge of Production" (FOKP).

[19] See Yochai Benkler, The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production
Transforms Markets and Freedom, Yale University Press, 2006.

[20] Ross Dawson, Web 2.0 and user filtered
content, [Internet], 9 September 2006.
[Accessed 20 July 2007].

[21] Of the many existing proposals, the artwork titled "Subvert"
<http://www.subvertr.com/de> Les Liens Invisibles may be one of the
most clearly oriented to politically subvert the relations between
image and word. The application "10x10T" www.tenbyten.org, designed
and developed by Jonathan Harris, attempts to represent visually
each hour as well as, through 100 images and words, the collective
imagination of news at a global scale. It would influence more
than any other project the possibilities of artistic practice as a
visualization system of the relations of images to news events in the
era of globalized communication, of the forms of its repetition and
dissemination at a global level.

[22] <http://obsessiveconsumption.com/>. [Accessed 20 July 2007].

[23] <http://www.eat22.com/>. [Accessed 20 July 2007].

[24] See, in relation to this idea of an ecological recomposition of
communication, the interview by Futur Ant?rieur of F?lix Guattari
titled "Hacia una autopoi?tica de la comunicaci?n", [Internet].
<http://biblioWeb.sindominio.net/telematica/guattari.html>. [Accessed
20 July 2007].

[25] See Theodor W. Adorno, Teor?a Est?tica, Taurus, Madrid, 1992.

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