Tag "ben davis"

I would like to get back to Ben Davis’ use of the Semiotic Square. By using it he visualises 4 possible ways of classifying Social Media art – and then he more or less rules out both “New Media Art” and “Art Mods”. Leaving us with these two categories:

1. Art that uses social media.

My thoughts: This could be a type of “Generative Art” or “Data Art” .that is powered by social media data or merely be an artist that uses a social platform as place to showcase or broadcast their art.


2. Social Art collaboration

My thoughts: This could be art that is co-created or crowdsourced (what you might call af type of “Interactive art”). In this case the role of the artist would changes to be more of a curator/facilitator.


The problem: While both of these categories rightly can be classified Social Media Art, they are very different from each other.

Read More

I had a great Skype chat with Jonathan about my project + project proposal on the 12/12. Jonathan gave me several references for my proposal that I’m currently looking into. I would, however, like to post what I have wrtitten for my proposal so far. Bare in mind that it isn’t at all structured yet and I havn’t put it into context in any way.

Can art be social?

Exploring the boundaries between professional vs. amateur & public vs. exclusive in social media art.

We are living in a time of great change. With media platform becoming increasingly more social, what impact will this new openness have on what we consider to be art and the way it is created?

There is now doubt how huge an impact social media has on our current society, from the election of America’s first black president, to the Arabian Spring. Because of digital media, information and ideas can now flow freely across boarders and continents. To put it simple: Everyone now has a voice.

This is also true in a creative context. The Internet is bulging with unpaid “Makers” that create amazing content, not for money, but to seek praise from their peers. The Internet has changed the old rules of publishing. Everyone with an Internet connection can own a blog, a twitter account or a tumbler, thus blurring the boundaries between professional and amateur.

During my studies, I would like to create a social media art project that potentially evolves professionals and amateurs alike to contribute to a co-created art piece.

Challenges (as menitioned before): Can amateurs create meaningful art? Can co-created art projects be aesthetic? Who owns a co-created art piece result? What is the artist’s role in all of this?

Through my primary research (e.g. the article by Ben Davis) I have come across two different categories of Social Media Art. “Art that uses social media” and “social media art collaboration” The first is really part of what is already known as Generative Art. The artist collects data from social media users and translates it into art. This kind of art can be very illuminating and interesting but it is in my opinion not truly social, since it only uses social platforms to contract data – not as a way for people to interact and co-create.

“Social Media Art Collaboration” is art that is co-created by a community but is often curated by an artist. The weakness of creating art this way is that it is very difficult to quality control contributions. The more freedom given to the contributors – the bigger the risk of receiving bad work. However – it is also possible that freedom will inspire some more creative and surprising result. One should also consider ownership and copyright. I suspect that if a lot of freedom is given, a contributor will have bigger feeling of ownership. I would like to test this theory if I can’t find any data on the subject.

Read More

By reading the article by Ben Davis I became aware of two different types of social media art. And they are quite different from each other.

One is “art that uses social media” (e.g. data from social media users). Example: Don’t tell Ashton. This is really what one might call Generative art and not really that social when you think about it.

The other type is “social media art collaboration“. In this case the artist might actually become more of a curator, who sets a scene and some game rules on an online platform that people collaborate under to create a common art piece. Art collaboration is not new in it self. But social media enables unprofessional to join effort with pros and thus removing the boarders between professionals and amateurs. This is truly social, but one could question the results. It also opens the question about ownership… I will get back to this in a later blog post.


Read More

It’s a big question, and one that can be explored from many different angles. I am eager to explore social media – so that is the angle I have chosen for this post.

LOL CATS* as the stupidest possible creative act.

In social media guru, Clay Shirky’s latest book “Cognitive Surplus” he examines the ways that digital technology are changing our lives by enabling us to put our unused resources to use.Cognitive Surplus is the ability of the worlds population to volunteer tribute and collaborate on sometimes global projects – Or as he describes it in this TED talk from 2010:

Free time and talents + tools that enables us to create and share = Cognitive Surplus.

It’s basically the old web 2.0 story: New technology is moving the public from consumers to content makers…

One of the cases he uses are the everlasting LOL cats. If you by a slim chance you haven’t come across LOL cats, they are an Internet phenomen consisting of a picture of a cute kitty with a cute caption (always misspelled).

The LOL cats are inviting because of their simplicity, the concept CUTE KITTEN + FUNNY CAPTION IN A SANSERIF FONT is easy to understand and copy. They say “this is a game and I can join in”. The fact is that anyone with a computer and internet access can create and publish them.While Shirky admits that this phenomena as an art form can probably be classified as one of the stupidest possible creative acts, it illustrates the difference between doing anything and doing nothing. According to Shirky this act has both personal and communal value.

LOL Cats

* Bonus info: Clay Shirky thoughts about LOL cats in Cognitive Surplus actually inspired the name of my blog – So I guess it is fitting to mention him early in my process.

If you want to find out more about LOL cats this is the right place to go!

Watch the TED talk here:


Social Media art

Web 2.0 and social media enables these new possibilities in creative expression, so what should we call them? Social Media Art? Searching under that name I found this interesting article on Artnet.com by associate editor Ben Davis.

Davis starts his article out by trying to define the concepts “art” and “social media” for as he puts it:

“Maybe it’s worth noting that, of all the buzzwords of the present-day lexicon, “social media” is perhaps the only one that is more vaguely defined than “art.”"

An example of art that uses social media but does not really have a social dimension is Don’t tell Aschton, by Berghs School of Communication.

Davis points out that though contradictionary the two concepts aren’t opposites. There is a contradiction between the two concepts: Art is widely considered an exclusive, closed-in type of expression and social media is a relatively open, relation-based operation. Social Media Art has a lot in common with the “relational esthetics” tradition. The idea of art as “relational” meaning incorporation of social interaction. One thing I find very interesting was is he also notes that there are many art projects that involve social media but still don’t have a social dimension.

Davis starts out by defining the true opposites to “art” and “social media” …

  • Art  < vs > Amateur creative production 
  • Social media < vs > Non social technology

… he then places them in Greimas’ Semiotic Square to illustrate the large spectre Social Media Art lies within

Ben Davis graph

Ben Davis uses A.J. Greimas’ Semiotic Square to illustrate his point, I redrew the graph because the original was very low in resolution.

Ben Davis concludes that while the Semiotic Square helps illustrate the initial boundaries that the phenonmen lies within, it should not be taken to serious. In his own words:

… our Square is not a map of absolute possibilities. It is a chart of different possibilities to be explored and exhausted. It’s not a frame to think within. It’s a box that needs to be escaped.


My own thoughts

I found Ben Davis’ graph quite eluminating, and I am interested in exploring both “social art collaborations” and “art that uses social media”. I am not that keen on how “social art collaboration” is placed between “social media” and “amateur creative production”. The word amateur is in my mind very negative. While I admit that LOL cats definitely fit this label, I also find that talented professional creative often choose to use communal platforms also. Maybe we just need to think about the word “amateur” differently. According to Wikipedia “amateur” just meens “for the love of it”.

An amateur (French amateur “lover of”, from Old French and ultimately from Latin amatorem nom. amator, “lover”)

Examples as Flickr and Soundcloud show us that social media platforms can pull high quality contributors. Also, good curation is important for these kinds of projects. Ben Davis’ own example the Johnny Cash project is a brilliant example of this.


A few examples of Social Media Art projects

To round things up I have digged through my bookmarks and found some bookmarks of interesting Social Media Art projects, some are collaborative art projects and some are art projects that use social media. Note that these aren’t my own projects – they are just things I like!



This example is from the multiuser sketchpad blog



And finally this wonderful music video “One Frame of Fame”


Read More