[ISEA2023] Panel: Joseph DeLappe, Laura Leuzzi, Martin Zeilinger, Jon Blackwood & Maja Zećo — Art, Technology and Social Change: Perspectives from The Digital Art and Activism Network

Panel Statement

Theme: NFT – Blockchains Sub Theme: Symbiotic Organizations

This panel addresses diverse themes and approaches towards engaging emerging technologies in the context of digital art and activism encompassing notions of socially engaged art and art as social practice from practice-based and theoretical points of view. In 2019, the Digital Art and Activism Network was launched-over the last three years the network functioned to investigate the state of art and activism utilising emerging technologies while consecutively establishing collaborative ties with international artists and organisations to lay the groundwork for future collaborative scholarly and creative projects. When the networking project began, the world was witnessing many crisis and disrupting phenomena: the rise of the alt-right, the refugee crisis in Europe, Brexit in the UK, the global emergency of climate change, and a constant attack of basic civil rights including freedom of speech, reproductive freedom and rights for the LGBTQAI+ community in many countries. What followed were the global crisis of COVID, State violence against minorities, the invasion of Ukraine by the Russian troops, the overturn of Roe vs Wade, the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, a worldwide energy crisis and all else.

The world continues to be in seemingly endless upheaval over the npast few years. We find ourselves fearful regarding what is yet to come – but at the same time motivated to continue to fight for change through the creative utilisation of new technologies and perhaps most importantly through connecting and working with others who share our interest in fostering positive change through creative action. This panel brings together five of the many participants in our networking activities over the past three years of conferences, workshops, and collaborative projects, in order to share their work and insights into the current state and future possibilities of digital art and activism.

Digital artist and activist author 1 will reflect upon his digital and social practice connected to memory and protest surrounding America’s drone wars and domestic gun violence; curator and art historian author 2 will discuss utilising a mixed methodology how video has become a powerful tool for feminist artists; scholar and curator author 3 will discuss the role of digital art experimentation in developing activist uses for blockchain technology; author 4 will assess digital strategies employed by contemporary artists and art-activists in the Republic of Belarus; author 5 will discuss sound-informed performance art as intervention in public spaces, further addressing issues of ownership, violence, and the trans- formative humour inherent in transgressing boundaries.

  • Joseph DeLappe (USA/UK) has been working with electronic and new media since 1983. Joseph DeLappe’s work in online gaming performance, activist/political art, participatory and social practice, sculpture and electro-mechanical installation have been shown throughout the United States and abroad. Joseph DeLappe has developed works for venues such as Eyebeam Art and Technology in New York, The Guangdong Museum of Art, China and Transitio MX, Mexico City, among many others. Creative works and actions have been featured widely in scholarly journals, books and in the popular media. In 2016 he collaborated with the Biome Collective to create “Kill-box”, a game about drone warfare that was nominated in 2017 for a BAFTA Scotland in the “Best Computer Game” category. In 2017 Joseph DeLappe was awarded Guggenheim Fellowship in the Fine Arts. http://www.delappe.net
  • Laura Leuzzi (Italy) is an art historian and curator. Author of articles and essays in books and exhibition catalogues, with research focused on early video art, European video art histories, art and feminism, and new media. Co-editor of REWINDItalia. Early Video Art in Italy (John Libbey, 2015) and EWVA European Women’s Video Art in the 70s and 80s (John Libbey 2019) and Richard Demarco | The Italian Connection (John Libbey 2022). https://www.lauraleuzzi.com
  • Martin Zeilinger (Austria) is a media theorist and curator, focused on artistic and activist experimentation with emerging technologies, mainly focusing on the blockchain and artificial intelligence. Martin Zeilinger’s work explores how these technologies enable radical reconfigurations of concepts such as agency, authorship, and ownership. Martin Zeilinger’s critical writing on the blockchain is widely published in journals such as Philosophy and Technology, and in books like Artists Re:Thinking the Blockchain. Tactical Entanglements, a monograph on AI art and creative agency, was published by meson press in 2021. https://marjz.net
  • Jon Blackwood’s (Scotland) interests have focused on the intersections of contemporary art and radical politics in the Western Balkans and in the former Soviet Union. Jon Blackwood’s focus is on non-hierarchical methods of organising, and protest. Jon Blackwood has curated shows in Sarajevo and Skopje as well as across the UK. Currently working on Balkan Futurisms with Jon Blackwood and new exhibition projects for 2023 in Scotland and Bosnia. https://jonblackwood.net
  • Maja Zećo (Serbia/Scotland) is an interdisciplinary artist whose practice spans performance art, digital art, sound, video and installation. As Maja Zećo works in different geographic and institutional contexts, the works are often site-specific and relational, negotiating personal and group narratives of identity and history. Maja Zećo has exhibited internationally. In 2019 they obtained a PhD in fine art, on sound and performance art practice. https://majazeco.com