Forms of Resistance by Juan Martín Prada

9 04 2009

With the expansion of “social media”, the design of forms of human relationships has become the primary instrumental base of the new economic production. The companies that manage these media produce interpersonal relationships and social life in a highly profitable strategy based on the blurring of economics and communication, from which a new capitalism is emerging which could be called “social” or “affective”.

The management of sociability and personal interactions is one of the main drivers of the bio-political production inherent to the business model of “social media”, which enables the complex systems characteristic of the new, powerful “industries of consciousness” to be put into use. The policies of affection and their production, management and manipulation are actually the aesthetics that characterize the bio-power inherent to this second phase in the Network Society.

Therefore, power in networks has become diffuse, immanent in the connected social body, definitively located within it. We are speaking here not of power but rather of power relationships, as control is no longer a unilateral relationship. Instead, it operates through shifting, unstable power plays based on seductive, diffuse strategies for the circulation and transmission of communicative and affective pleasures.

The primary aim of the large corporations that promote “social media” is that there be nothing we can be against. To that end, they constantly foster the proliferation of strategic plays of liberties and personal initiatives based on participatory logic and pleasurable flows of communicative social activity. Consequently, there is an almost inevitable acquiescence to the economic interests the entire system rests on, given that they are based on the most inalienable aspects of life: interpersonal communication, friendship, contact among people, feeling close to others, etc.

However, resistance to the fascination exerted by “social media” involves first and foremost a political analysis of their operating dynamics, limitations and exclusions. For “to resist” is to reflect critically on the processes of inclusion of the individual in the new network economy and his or her adaptation to it, demonstrating the strategies and effects that characterize the process as corporative interests colonize the forms of human interrelations. And the top priority of new forms of resistance must be an attempt to rescue –although in a merely anecdotal or symbolic way- the principles that currently comprise the foundations of online economic production, which are communication, affection, cooperation, friendship, company, etc., from the control of business.

And as artistic practices may be the most creative dimension of the exercise of this form of dissention, it is logical that their most interesting approaches focus not only on the creation of works about the social conditions of what occurs and is managed in the field of networks, but also and above all on the presentation of the networks as a spectacle in their own right. They should aim to take part in actually structuring the systems of production and circulation of meanings and operating processes, exposing how the new forms of power act in them. As a result, the most critical artistic practices—optimal forms of resistance in the context of the new networks—would be an extreme forecast of the constituent power of the multitude. That is, the world the connected multitude could build at a time of “freed liberties”—that is, of freedom without economy as its parasite—is foreseen constituted by the most critical artistic proposals, always evidence of the demands of interpretive thought and critical and meaningful communication.

In sum, we must oppose the destruction of uniqueness inherent to the connected multitude. That is, stand against the coercive unification of the multiplicity of active individualities comprising that multitude, which corporate interests attempt to simplify to regulate it and adapt it to fit their business models. And perhaps only through this form of resistance will we be able to see what is truly “social” about “social media”.

Juan Martín Prada is the author of numerous articles and essays about digital aesthetics, and of the following books: La apropiación posmoderna. Arte, práctica apropiacionista y Teoría de la posmodernidad (published by Fundamentos, 2001) and Las nuevas condiciones del arte contemporáneo (Briseño Editores, 2003). He is a contributor to many printed and digital publications including journals such as REIS, Red Digital, Papiers d’art, A minima, Temps d’art, Transversal, Exit Books, Exit Press, Mecad e-Journal, or the newspaper La Vanguardia. He has been a member of the Art-Science-Technology commission at FECYT, the Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology. He has a PhD from the Universidad of Madrid (1998) and he is currently a professor at the Social and Communication Sciences School at the University of Cádiz (Spain). He has curated shows of digital media art and since 2007 he coordinates the platform “” at Medialab-Prado (Madrid).

Tagged with affection, biopolitics, resistance, social capitalism, social media.

Identity As a Multilayered Self in Web 2.0 Environments by Alessandro Ludovico

9 04 2009

The dissolution of the ‘identity’ as we used to know it (before the networks) has led to an ongoing fragmented and fast evolution. In the networked era identities can be formed by extremely varied and juxtaposed layers of the enriched self. This process derives from the constant mediation that internet applies to every identity through multiple platforms and standards such as the popular web 2.0 ones. This leads to multiple partial representations of the self in a multilayered form. What happens is that out of the ordinary physical life, our mind has already started to think in this terms.

We feel our identity not anymore as an indivisible whole, but as composed of different pieces that are deeply and reciprocally influenced by our online experience. Aesthetically wise these juxtaposed layers have different shades of transparency and they are redundant, hosting similar scattered bits of personal content. And the transparency of the self seems to be reflected in different cultural fields. Mainly aesthetically as in the pervading use of glass in public architecture or in the transparency textures of fancy dresses, or functionally in the continuous recording of every electronic move we do. We are then (voluntary and involuntary) coding new parts of our informational body. That’s why real persons can be undistinguishable from the character they should assume on an online platform. The avatar, for example, has evolved from an iconic pixelated representation of the self into only one of the many virtual layers on which we stratify our public presence. Online identities can be typified in a sort of “species” taxonomy. It’d be summarized as: the real person, a real person assuming a famous character and playing as him/her, a real person creating and playing a plausible fictitious character, and finally a computer generated and self-sufficient character. Cheating in an online profile is as common as the projection of a desire or an emotion on a networked environment, and in the end conscious and unconscious emotions are actively building the enriched self.

The emotion of triggering off a new or re-enabling an old human relationship, for example, is one of the most precious goods that social network platforms sell to customers. In a certain sense, it can be pushed to the extreme, as Ramsay Stirling does in his “Internet delivers people”, with user identities being analyzed as the final goods traded on the net. But it’s not only about emotions and meeting of individualities. It’s also about the intertwining of the different relationships that starts to move on the matrix where the loosely attached piece of the self move onto. The hundreds of Facebook “friends”, coupled with the offline ones, and the others scattered on the other different platforms are writing a sort of automatic narrative that can always be dreamed as “fatally wonderful” at some random point. In this sense “The Big Plot” by Paolo Cirio is a multifaceted plot that after creating the intertwining paths between its four protagonists let user create other characters that would interact with them in a quite engaging and complex narrative. This narrative involves the so-called “alternate reality game”, then actively implementing a part of it in real life as well. This “recombinant fiction” results then quite close to our multi-mediated and multi-dimensional self of the everyday. This injection of reality into the screen-based relationships is then definitely balancing the fictitiousness of programmable illuminated pixels with the flesh of reality. This definitely adds a stable character of fluctuation to the self, that varies continuously and in multiple forms the individual position in the contemporary mediated social landscape.

Alessandro Ludovico is a media critic and chief editor of the Neural magazine  from 1993. He is the author of several essays on digital culture, and he co-edited the ‘Mag.Net Reader’ book series. He’s one of the founding contributors of the Nettime  community, one of the founders of the Mag.Net (Electronic Cultural Publishers) organization. He teaches at the Academy of Art in Carrara  and is a research fellow at the Willem de Kooning Academy . He also served as an advisor for the Documenta 12’s Magazine Project. With Ubermorgen and P.Cirio he developed ‘Google Will Eat Itself’ (Honorary Mention Prix Ars Electronica 2005, Rhizome Commission 2005, nomination Prix Transmediale 2006) and ‘Amazon Noir’ (1st prize Stuttgarter Filmwinter 2007, Honorary Mention Share Prize 2007, 2nd prize Transmediale08) art projects.

Tagged with alternate reality game, facebook, identity, plot, web 2.0.

Tag Ties and Affective Spies by Daphne Dragona (exhibition curator)

9 04 2009

subjectivity – collectivity – production – consumption – exposure – surveillance – affection – exploitation – participation – resistance…

The social web, commonly known as web 2.0, is characterized by promises and contradictions. In the new public spaces of the social platforms, people meet, communicate, interact and inter-define themselves while they are being creative and productive, they spy and they are being spied . They make friends wishing to find common points of reference. They seek a feeling of “familiarity” and “belonging”. If as Virno has noted, the fear of the contemporary multitude is that they are “not feeling at home”, the social platforms of the web 2.0 suggest a model for new “common spaces” that function as a shelter. The users of networks such as the YouTube, the Facebook or the flickr upload photos, videos and comments in order to share beliefs and experiences, to communicate and connect and – above all – to form and support their own subjectivity.

The wishes and the needs of today’s users form and structure today’s internet. By tagging, linking and posting, a form of labour which is immaterial and affective develops the content and the navigation of the web. Folksonomies, today’s web taxonomies, which are based on users’ creativity, sociality and affection, phase out forms of objective hierarchy and static appearance. Everything becomes changeable, interconnected and rhizomatic; personified, exposed and exploitable. The controversial character of the social web brings out new questions: What happens when taxonomies and structures become social? How is the affective element exploited by the market? What is the role of the users who are producers and consumers at the same time?Such issues are tackled by the creators who are working on art and new media. A basic feature of their work is the utilisation of the medium itself for its subversion. The structures, the contexts, the features and aesthetics of the social web become the tools of this new form of art practice that are used in a playful, ironic and cynic mode in order to de-structure and redefine it.

Tag ties and affective spies presents a selection of online works that move in this direction and highlight the different aspects of the social web. They therefore refer to its human and affective character [We Feel Fine], to the way the networks feed and influence our everyday lives [L’ attente – the waiting] as well as to the inability of the users to transcend borders, prejudices and beliefs when forming their online identities [Folded in]. They question the actual possibility of the users to form the content [IOUs] and they present how the user still remains a victim of the companies, offering now his subjectivity as a product [Internet delivers people]. They point out how the social media themselves can record and reflect the current trends of the users using their own contributions [ A tag s life] and how they can also construct fake realities [The big plot]. With a sense of humour, they refer to the redemption of language by the internet companies [Dadameter] and they encourage users to escape the conventions and the formalisms the social networks cleverly impose [delicious – winning information, Subvert] .

These creative approaches are not romantic, nor utopian. Their authors, who work within the networks and are dependent on them, recognise and mark out that their heterogeneity and their multicultural aspects render them powerful and vulnerable at the same time. The aim of these practices, which has also been termed as net art 2.0, is not to condemn the social media but to instigate users, who share, exchange and invest their thoughts on the social web, to realise and contemplate the ways these networks function. In a way, creativity is being introduced once again to remind us, in the current social context, the right of disobedience that is crucial for the liberation of networking and interrelation from modes of surveillance, control and exploitation.

* Virno, Paolo. A Grammar of Multitude, Semiotext(e), 2004

** Prada, Juan Martin. “Web 2.0 as a new context for artistic practices”. Antisocial Notworking,

Daphne Dragona is a media arts curator and organiser, based in Athens. Her exhibitions and events the last few years have focused on the notion of play and its merging with art as a form of networking and resistance. She has been a collaborator of Laboral Centro de Arte y Creacion Industrial (Spain) for the international exhibitions Gameworld and Homo Ludens Ludens and of Fournos Center for Digital Culture (Greece) for the International Art and Technology Festival, Medi@terra. She is a also PhD candidate in the Faculty of Mass Media & Communication of the University in Athens conducting a research on social media and a member of the Media Arts Collective Personal Cinema.

Tagged with affection, participation, resistance, subjectivity, web 2.0.


9 04 2009

On-line exhibition curated by Daphne Dragona, organised by the National Museum of Contemporary Art – Athens, presented online and in the premises of the museum from March 18 to August 31, 2009.

Presented in Prague at ENTER festival with a kind permission of all the artists, the curator, the text contributors and the director of the National Museum of Contemporary Art – Athens, Mrs Anna Kafetsi.

Exhibition official site:


Tag ties & Affective Spies is a critical approach on the social media of our times. What happens when we are “tagging”, “posting” and “sharing” our experiences and opinions in platforms such as those of Facebook, YouTube, flickr or del.ic.ious? Are we really connecting and interacting or are we also forming the content and the structure of the social web itself? The online works included, highlight the controversies of the web 2.0, commenting on its constant balancing between order and chaos, democracy and adhocracy, exposure and exploitation.

Exhibiting artists:




















“A Tag’s Life” is developed to use the flickr, an online photo sharing platform, as an analytic and trend watching tool by visualizing the life course of tags. This visualization turns the user-generated content of flickr into a mirror of cultural trends. Whereas 2.0 websites such as the Youtube and the flickr mainly show the current popular trends, this project goes one step back by visualizing ‘historic trends’ on the Internet. With this, the tool opens up a kind of historic dimension and observes their development, their rise and fall within time and space.

The project is created by an interdisciplinary team of students from the fields of information science, arts and media of the University of Amsterdam.

Tagged with flickr, statistics, tag, time, trends.



Global index of the decay of the aura of language, the Dadameter aims at measuring our  distance to Dada. It was inspired by the work of the french writer Raymond Roussel and a game on language between homophony and equivocation. The project is a satire about the recent transmutation of language into a global market ruled by Google et al. and uses the most up-to-date technologies of control to draw cartographies of language at large scale!

Programming: Valeriu Lacatusu

Production: Rencontres Internationales Paris-Berlin-Madrid-Jeu de Paume

Christophe Bruno (FR) lives and works in Paris. His polymorphic work which includes installations, performances and conceptual pieces has a critical take on network phenomena and globalisation in the field of language and images. He was awarded a prize at the Madrid Contemporary Art Fair with the ARCO new media prize 2007, at the Prix Ars Electronica 2003 and the Piemonte Share Festival in 2007. His work has been shown internationally.

Tagged with capitalism, dada, google, language, semantic



What happens when the familiar associations between context and structure break down? When what you are used to recognise is not there anymore, and numbers, symbols and spaces have taken now over? – winning information rips off the categorizations, the forms and the semiology of today’s web. Navigation becomes difficult and chaotic challenging the user to find his own way out, offering this subversion itself as a spectacle.

Based in The Netherlands, JODI, Joan Heemskerk and Dirk Paesmans, were among the first artists to investigate and subvert conventions of the internet, computer programs, and video and computer games. Radically disrupting the very language of these systems, including interfaces, commands, errors and code, JODI stages extreme digital interventions that destabilise the relationship between computer technology and its users. Their controversial performances have been discussed in the international press and their work has been presented in museums, centers and festivals around the world. They have received the Jerome Commission from the Walker Art Centre, Minneapolis and an Honorary Mention from Ars Electronica, Linz. *bio courtesy of

Tagged with, detournement, w w w w w w w.



Folded in is a project about the notion of borders and their representation in the social networks of the web 2.0. User-generated systems like the Youtube show that users tend to reproduce in the web the same prejudices, superstitions and nationalistic beliefs of the real world and shape similar types of borders and even conflicts in the form of video wars. The project attempts a detournement of the representational space of YouTube, by transforming it into a gamespace, and by respectively turning the selected videos and the tags into game elements. Users are asked to cross tag – borders, conquer and map territories evaluating the data they watch. The Folded in project wishes to contribute to the semi utopian idea of the creation of the thoughtful gamer. What type of sociality does the ‘Social Web’ produce and for whom? Can it liberate ourselves from prejudices and beliefs through play?

Personal Cinema is a network active in the field of media arts. It plans and organizes projects and activities that encourage the critical stance towards the new forms of production, presentation and distribution of audiovisual products. Personal Cinema, anticipates cooperation with social and artistic networks, groups and individuals, that take a similar stance and consider necessary the creation of a visible space of debate; with those people that are engaged in constant inventions to render explicit and clear the ‘signal’ from ‘noise’, thus to say, the two unequal parts that compose the current pseudo-dialectic of information.

The erasers are a group whose work is based on the integration of various seemingly diverse elements such as: live cinema/ improvised music / performance_actions / the internet/ and installation techniques. The erasers are an open circuit: they are as few or as many as each project demands and they all function within the free association that the erasers are.  The erasers search for the possibility of presenting their work to an open and unbiased audience has led them to work under various pseudonyms, some of these being: the instructors and the curators.

Tagged with borders, critique, detournement, gamespace, YouTube.



“Internet delivers people” is an adaptation on Richard Serra’s and Carlotta Fay Schoolman’ s, Television delivers people from the 70s. By transcribing the original work and procedurally replacing only a few words, Stirling followed the “mash up” internet mentality to restructure content in order to convey a new message. Just like Serra and  Schoolman referred to television’s role as an instrument of corporate control, Stirling now refers to the reality of the internet where the user is a consumer, a producer and the product itself at the same time.

Ramsay Stirling lives/works in New York where he studies at Parsons the New School for Design. His work, that is internet based to a great extent, has recently been shown in the Chelsea Arts Museum and the National Art Museum of China.

Tagged with capitalism, consumer, internet, parody, producer.



IOU.s continually gets new user notes from the website., the popular social network that enables users to save and share their bookmarks, is an example of the ’social software renaissance’ phenomenon and the categorisation of information through tagging,  done by ‘the people’, not the ‘experts’. In the era of folksonomies, and not of taxonomies, IOU.s concentrates,  on the “user notes” that accompany the bookmarks and the tags and actually provide much more information expressed by the users. If you read several, you realise that the amount of product endorsement is quite striking. Maybe behind the “users”, there are also  several companies are tagging their own products.? What is happening in reality? What if the folksonomist is in fact a taxidermist? (sorry, taxonomist…)

Wayne Clements is a visual artist and a writer living in London. His poetry, prose and visual work are published in a number of magazines and books, and his sound poetry is included in the book and CD Homo Sonorus, An International Anthology of Sound Poetry, Moscow (2001). His artworks are featured on the and, ,and are also shown in many festivals and exhibitions of electronic art. un_wiki (2006) received the Award of Distinction, Net Vision, Prix Ars Electronica (2006), and was shown in Connecting Worlds, ICC Gallery Tokyo (2006), in a specially commissioned Japanese language version. He completed a practice-based Ph.D. degree in Fine Art at Chelsea College of Art and Design (2005). Currently he is Visiting Research Fellow at Chelsea College of Art and Design

Tagged with critique,, folksonomy, product placement, tag.



Taking internet flows as a starting point,  L’ attente – the waiting proposes the network inhabitants’ fiction. Not the life-story of one person or another but the story of the Internet machine that feeds on our lives daily. There is two kinds of those Internet twisted flows taking as a starting point realtime web users’ sentences. Random words are extracted from those sentences and traduced in images using flickr. In addition to the words and images the visitor sees pre-recorded videos of passengers waiting for the train in the Gare du Nord looking to the schedule or chatting together.

Grégory Chatonsky currently resides in Montreal and Paris.  He has worked on numerous solo and group projects around the world. In 1994, Chatonsky founded a collective,, and has produced numerous works for well known centers and museums.  Chatonsky’s body of work, including interactive installations, networked and urban devices, photographs and sculptures, speaks to the relationship between technologies and affectivity, flow that define our time and attempts to create new forms of fiction.

Tagged with flickr, internet, passengers, station, Twitter.



Subvertr is a parody of the popular social network for images, flickr.

“Bored by mainstream media? Tired of boring social tags?Subvertize! Don’t let anyone else put the hands on your imaginary. Just subvertize and manage it by yourself: collect, detourn, alter and share it with other people like you! Share Share Share … Share your pictures with your friends, family and everyone else. Your subvertized images are now visible to everyone.

Subvertag! Let your images finally be. Give’em a title, add any stupid notes and organize them into delirant subverTags: become part of an insignificant, collective, visionary escape from common sense.”

Les Liens invisibles is an imaginary art-group from Italy. It is comprised of media artists Clemente Pestelli and Gionatan Quintini. Their artworks are based on the invisible links between the infosphere, neural synapsis, and real life.

Tagged with detournement, flickr, share, subvert, tag.



“The Big Plot” is a romantic spy-story played on the info-sphere. It looks at the role of espionage in intrusions into people’s internet lives, the dysfunctional sociality that is being created by media communications, the political use and exploitation of social networks. Four characters will tell a story using dialogues shown on YouTube videos, blog posts, and via entries on their Facebook profiles. The cloned identity of a real spy will be used as a plot device for telling a story about the political and sentimental weakness of our era, which are accelerated by the compulsory use of personal media and social networking platforms. The compromised privacy on this kind of media and the political control over the Internet will be some of the most important issues of the story. Audiences will have an active role in the story as well they will be able to interact with the characters.

Paolo Cirio is researching into media, communication, politics and cultural anthropology. Radically and ironically, he controversially plays with semiotic vectors in order to involve the audience in thinking about the meaning of representations of reality. He has worked as media artist in various fields: net-art, street-art, video-art, public-art, marketing-art, software-art and interaction-design.

Tagged with activism, privacy, spy, storytelling, web 2.0.



Since August 2005, We Feel Fine has been harvesting human feelings from a large number of weblogs. Every few minutes, the system searches for occurrences of the phrases “I feel” and “I am feeling”. When it finds such a phrase, it records the full sentence, up to the period, and identifies the “feeling” expressed in that sentence (e.g. sad, happy, depressed, etc.). Because blogs are structured in largely standard ways, the age, gender, and geographical location of the author can often be extracted and saved along with the sentence, as can the local weather conditions at the time the sentence was written. All of this information is saved and a database of several million human feelings is formed, that can  can be searched and sorted across a number of demographic slices. We Feel Fine is an artwork authored by everyone that  grows and changes according to what’s on our blogs,  what’s in our minds.

Combining elements of computer science, anthropology, visual art and storytelling, Jonathan Harris designs systems to explore and explain the human world. He has made projects about human emotion, human desire, modern mythology, science, news, anonymity and language. The winner of two 2005 Webby Awards, Harris’ work has also been recognized by well known festivals and journals globally.

Sep Kamvar is a Consulting Professor of Computational Mathematics at Stanford University and the chairman of Wildflower Capital.  He founded Kaltix, a search engine that was acquired by Google in 2003, and Distilled, a clothing line and artist collective based out of San Francisco.

Tagged with affection, information visualization, language, statistics, storytelling.