[ISEA2011] Keynote: Christiane Paul – The Upgrade Path: Networked Art 1.0 > 2.0


For the past five decades digital technologies have produced profound changes for the function of art and the creation and dissemination of artistic productions in general. From the early 1990s through the 2000s networked art, in particular, has undergone a process of “versioning,” moving from its 1.0 to 2.0 release. While the corporate metaphor of Web 2.0 entails a fair amount of hype, marketing, and monetizing, it can also provide an interesting framework for outlining the ways in which networked art has initiated and responded to changes in concepts such as data spaces, identity, and collective production. These concepts have found different forms of expression in the 1.0 vs. 2.0 version of networked environments. Networks, particularly social ones, have evolved and profoundly shaped contemporary art and culture over the past 20 years.

One could argue that the data spaces of virtual environments—from Web 1.0, MUDs, MOOs and graphic chat rooms to MMORPGs, Second Life, Facebook and Twitter—have evolved parallel to and in connection with pervasive physical computing that senses and controls events in the physical world by means of computing devices. Both the virtual environments of “cyberspace” and ubiquitous, pervasive computing are surrounded by hype and invite a set of critical questions, among them, how can we classify their effects, which range from enhanced agency and participation to invasive tracking?

If dynamic data spaces—from networked data sets to mobile devices—are the “landscape” of contemporary culture, they also have to be seen as a context in which we construct our identity and define ourselves in virtual as well as networked physical space. Different forms of embodiment and disembodiment have been a central aspect of discussions about the changes that digital technologies have brought about for our sense of self and have been articulated in different ways in the 1.0 and 2.0 versions of networked art.

Virtual and physical data spaces and issues of identity merge in the forms of collective production enabled by “social media”—the user-generated content created by means of highly accessible and scalable publishing technologies that rely as much on Internet-based tools as on mobile devices for access and distribution. Social media networks have enabled both unprecedented forms of datamining and collective agency.

Artistic practice has both helped to initiate and responded to the move from the 1.0 to 2.0 version of networked environments and their respective articulation of data spaces, identity, and collective production. A tracklog of the different ways in which networked art has expressed these concepts can be a portal to the critical analysis of network culture’s evolution of over the past 20 years.

The video documentation of Christiane Paul’s keynote speech The Upgrade Path: Networked Art 1.0 -> 2.0 at ISEA2011 is available online in five parts. Please click on the the following links for Part IPart IIPart IIIPart IV, and Part V.

  • Christiane Paul is the Director of the Media Studies Graduate Programs and Associate Prof. of Media Studies at The New School, NY, USA, and Adjunct Curator of New Media Arts at the Whitney Museum of American Art. She has written and lectured extensively on new media arts. Her recent books are Context Providers — Conditions of Meaning in Media Arts (Inrellect, 2011), co-edited with Margot Lovejoy and Victoria Vesna; New Media in the White Cube and Beyond (UC Press, 2008); and Digital Art (Thames and Hudson 2003; expanded new edition 2008).  At the Whitney Museum, she is responsible for artport, the Whitney Museum’s online portal to Internet art and has curated the shows “Cory Arcangel: Pro Tools,” “Profiling” (2007) and “Data Dynamics” (2001); the net art selection for the 2002 Whitney Biennial; the online exhibition “CODeDOC” (2002); as well as “Follow Through” by Scott Paterson and Jennifer Crowe (2005). Other recent curatorial work includes “Eduardo Kac: Biotopes, Lagoglyphs and Transgenic Works” (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 2010); Biennale Quadrilaterale (Rijeka, Croatia, 2009); “Feedforward – The Angel of History” (co-curated with Steve Dietz; Laboral Center for Art and Industrial Creation, Gijon, Asturias, Spain, Oct. 2009); and INDAF Digital Art Festival (Incheon, Korea, Aug. 2009).  Links: The New School – Media Studies    Cory Arcangel: Pro Tools    Context Providers: Conditions of Meaning in Media Arts