[ISEA2014] Panel: Cornelia Sollfrank, Sarah Cook & Felix Stalder – Art in the Age of Networks

Panel Statement


Art in the Age of Networks – a response to Julian Assange. The panel Art in the Age of Networks takes up concepts introduced by the final key note of ISEA2013 by Julian Assange and aims at correcting Assange’s rather limited understanding of art by introducing a broad variety of socially and politically engaged networked art. Art is not a fixed     concept but rather continuously undergoes mutations on the basis of permanent social negotiations and media shifts. Since the end of the 20th century the modernist conception of art has been challenged through global networks. The increasing production and relevance of immaterial goods, the ease with which they can be copied and modified questions traditional notions of authorship, work and property and requires a new aesthetic toolset. A plethora of contemporary art practices no longer takes place in the white cube or in dedicated areas but plays an active role in designing and building a new society. By taking on an active function, these art practices expand what we consider as art and what the role and function of art is in society.The panel brings together outstanding experts in the field of digital networked art. Coming from various backgrounds (art practice, curating, network theory), the speakers are going to discuss the changing notion of art and its relevance in a digital networked environment. Instead of taking a modernist approach and looking at media specificity, the panel discusses networked art in the tradition of the historical avant‑garde understanding art as a forming element of society. The questions discussed include: How can art contribute to building a new society? How can the values from free software be implemented in cultural production? How do artists contribute to building independent infrastructures? The panel aims at contributing to a new understanding of art as an agent for social and political change on the basis of digital networked technologies.

  • Cornelia Sollfrank, UK, is an artist and researcher, associated with the Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design in Dundee, Scotland. She is a pioneer of net.art and has a long-standing experience in researching the possibilities and limitations of the networked digital space for art.
  • Sarah Cook, UK, is a curator of contemporary art, writer, new media art historian and Research Fellow at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design in Dundee, Scotland. She is the author (with Beryl Graham) of Rethinking Curating: Art After New Media (MIT Press, 2010) and co-editor (with Sara Diamond) of an anthology of texts about art and technology drawn from over a decade’s research at the world-renowned Banff New Media Institute.
  • Felix Stalder (CH/AT), Ph.D., is professor for network theory at the University of the Arts in Zurich and lives in Vienna, Austria. He also works as an independent researcher/organizer with groups such as the Institute for New Cultural Technologies (t0) in Vienna. His main interest lies in exploring the interrelation of society, culture and technology, in particular in new forms of cultural production and spatial practice.

Full text (PDF) p. 229-230