Rachel O' Dwyer on Thu, 27 Jun 2019 12:39:37 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Has net-art lost political significance?

What characterises media art interventions in the context of ‘surveillance capitalism’, platforms and the gig economy? Are these practices still meaningful or, as F.A.T. Lab claimed in 2015,  have they lost political significance in the face of global platforms?


 Can we still speak about ‘tactical media’ or ‘the exploit’, and if not is this because 

a) network activism has transformed so that these older descriptions no longer accurately describe net art and ‘hacktivist’ practices, or 

b) these art practices have stayed much the same, but they are no longer effective in the current political and economic context?


I’m wondering if anyone knows of any writing that attempts to theorise/frame media art activist work post 2012? Perhaps to speak about it as a set of practices discrete from theories of ‘tactical media’ or ‘the exploit’ that go before? Perhaps something on post-internet art and activism?

Or is it a case of looking at writing about activism in the face of defeat and what seems like a hopeless cause?

If you've read or written anything that you think might be interesting I'd love to hear about it,




A bit more detail about why I'm asking this question: 

I’m currently writing about various tactical and activist practices in the wireless space, including artistic interventions, software-defined radio communities who are reverse-engineering, hacking, sniffing and jamming signals, communities and activists who are building communal Wi-Fi and cellular networks and artists making work in or about the politics of the wireless spectrum – who owns it, how it’s controlled and so on. 

But I’m feeling a bit paralysed. 

I love these works; I love their inventive materiality and the ways that they exploit and reverse-engineer existing systems, but I don’t know what claims I can make for their political impact. And yet I feel that this work is still very worthwhile. 



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