About 20 years ago, the ecology of media art practices proliferated in two domains: those that attached themselves to high technology labs or companies like Xerox PARC, and those that took advantage of personal computing to form collectives only loosely coupled to academic institutions or disciplines. In this essay, I closely examine the diverse epistemic cultures and diverse technical, political, and generational interests in such “cyber-anarchist” networks. I sketch the economy of knowledge in recent media arts and technology communities of practice in the wake of Open Source. I use as my lens the experience of creating a responsive media space called the TGarden, with a collective that gathered more than 26 artists and engineers from 11 institutions and 7 nations.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
See for example performances by Carl Stone, Michel Waiswisz, or Laetitia Sonami, enriched by decades of practice (Private communication, Laetitia Sonami, 28 October 2009).
Later when I formed the Topological Media Lab, I refined this by requiring citation practice.
For recent initiative treating this problem, I thank Niklas Damiris, Helga Wild, Marek Alboszta, Anne Balsamo and partners in the Capitalizing Communities project, begun in 2009.
This informed the ethos underwriting the Topological Media Lab’s present working practices.
In terms of budgeted FTE (full-time equivalent paid labor), non-commercial art production budgets in that context could amount to as little as one-tenth those of technology research and one-hundredth those of commercial production.
Pierre Bongiovanni was director of the CICV (Centre International de Creation Video) Pierre Schaeffer centre for art research and creation in Herimoncourt, France, 1990–2004.
CAVE is the acronym for “CAVE Audio Visual Experience” a computer-augmented environment developed by Cruz-Neira, Sandin, DeFanti, Kenyon and Hart at the University of Illinois, and reported in SIGGRAPH 1992.
Coase RH (1937, 1991) The nature of the firm. In: Williamson O, Winter S (eds) The nature of the firm: origins, evolution, and development. Oxford University Press, New York
Cruz-Neira C, Sandin DJ, DeFanti TA, Kenyon RV, Hart JC (1992) The CAVE: audio visual experience automatic virtual environment. Commun ACM 35(6):65–72
Dupuy JP (2000) The mechanization of the mind: on the origins of cognitive science. Princeton University Press, Princeton, New French Thought
Edwards P (1996) The closed world: computers and the politics of discourse in cold war America. MIT Press, Cambridge MA, Inside Technology
Foucault M (1972) The archaeology of knowledge. Pantheon Books, New York
Free Software Foundation (2011) http://www.fsf.org/
Galison P (1998) Trading zones, coordinating action and belief. In: Biagioli M (ed) The science studies reader. Routledge Press, New York
GNU (2011) Free software definition. http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/free-sw.html
Guattari F (1995) Chaosmosis: an ethico-aesthetic paradigm. Indiana University Press, Bloomington
Halpern O (2007) Dreams for our perceptual present: archives, interfaces, and networks in cybernetics. Configurations 13(2):283–320
Harris R (1995) Signs of writing. Routledge, London
Knorr-Cetina K (1999) Epistemic cultures: how the sciences make knowledge. Harvard University Press, Cambridge
Kreidler J (1996) Leverage lost: the nonprofit arts in the post-Ford era. Motion magazine. http://www.inmotionmagazine.com/lost.html
Latour B, Woolgar S (1986) Laboratory life: the construction of scientific facts. Princeton University Press, Princeton
Leroi-Gourhan A (1993) Gesture and speech. MIT Press, Cambridge
Ross A (2000) The mental labor problem. Soc Text 18(2):1–31
Shapin S, Simon Schaffer, Hobbes T (1985) Leviathan and the air-pump: Hobbes, Boyle, and the experimental life: including a translation of Thomas Hobbes. In: Schaffer S (ed) Dialogus physicus de natura aeris. Princeton University Press, Princeton
Stallman R (2011) Free software and free manuals. http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/free-doc.html
Traweek S (1988) Beamtimes and lifetimes: the world of high energy physicists. Harvard University Press, Cambridge MA
Watkins T (2001) The Transaction Cost Approach to the Theory of the Firm. Preprint, San José State University, Economics Department. http://www.sjsu.edu/faculty/watkins/coase.htm
I am indebted to Michael Century for trenchant observations and for the opportunity to write about the TGarden experience. I thank my colleagues in the TGarden consortium: Maja Kuzmanovic, Chris Salter, Laura Farabough, Evelina Kusaite, Nik Gaffney, and other members of the FoAM and sponge creative networks, as well as the many supporters of this experiment in autonomous cultural production.
Rights and permissions
About this article
Cite this article
Sha, X.W. Concerted knowledges and practices: an experiment in autonomous cultural production. AI & Soc 28, 133–145 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00146-012-0416-0
- Art and technology
- Science and technology studies
- Media art
- Autonomous production
- Responsive environments
- Open source
- Knowledge economy