[ISEA2011] Paper: Pip Shea – Visualising Invisible Networks as Collaborative Arts Practice


The practice of collaborative art-making is interested in the “creative rewards of collaborative activity” (Bishop 2006). This paper explores the rewards offered by collaborative art projects that incorporate the practice of visualizing communications networks and networked objects. It does so by considering the following hypothesis: having knowledge of the underlying structures and dynamics of networks unveils the actors within networks (Latour 2005); and, gaining an understanding of the distribution of agency among network actors helps facilitate consciousness around participation in networks (Lovink et al. 2009).

It is a response to Bruno Latour’s (2010) recent call to action that “we need to invent new ways to represent networks and new ways to make sense of them”; and, recognition of Roy Ascott’s (1989) assertion that “making the invisible visible” was “the great challenge of late twentieth century art” (Ascott 2003, 222). The paper examines cybernetics and the field of telematic art to gain a sense of how collaborative art and design practice can respond to rendering invisible communications networks visible.


  1. Ascott, R. 2003. Telematic Embrace: visonary theories of art, technology and consciousness. Berkeley: University of California Press.
  2. Bishop, C. 2006. The Social Turn: Collaboration and its discontents. Artforum International.
  3. Latour, B. 2005. Reassembling The Social: An Introduction to Actor-Network-Theory, Clarendon Lectures in Management Studies: Oxford University Press.
  4. Latour, B. 2010. Networks, Societies, Spheres: Reflections of an Actor-network theorist. Paper read at Annenburg Networks Network, at Annenburg.
  5. Lovink, G., G. Coleman, N. Rossiter and S. Zehle. 2009. From Weak Ties to Organised Networks: Ideas, Reports, Critiques. In Hogeshool van Amsterdam, edited by I. o. N. Cultures. Amsterdam.
  • Pip Shea is a media researcher, designer, artist and educator. Her practice explores creative modes of sharing within networks. She is currently a PhD candidate at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT), Australia. Pip has participated in artist residencies at the Banff Centre for the Arts (Canada), Electrofringe Festival (Newcastle, Australia), and the Next Wave Festival (Melbourne, Australia); and has been a participating artist at ISEA 2009 (Belfast), the Light In Winter Festival (Melbourne, Australia), the 2002 Melbourne Festival, 2009 Creative Sydney Festival and was a speaker at the 2008 Alfred Deakin Innovation Lectures (Melbourne, Australia). She also makes art with boat-people.org.

Full text (PDF) p. 2232-2237