Thoughts on “the notion of art as virus in the context of a participatory culture”
In one of the videos posted at his blog Chris Mitchell suggests a metaphor of the modern humans as a type of Robots. Chris Mitchell states that a:
“Robot is a person that behaves or works as a machine. Robot seems to have become a perfect metaphor for the sort of a TV-watching generation that we are, we sort of become robots who learn the scrip, Download and then we become re-producers, copiers, co-modifiers, consumers, all these things that seems to make humanity increasingly passive and on the receiving end of the world rather than active interpreters of it” (http://www.williamstopha.com, accessed 09.02.10)
My own brainstorm If Humans are robots perhaps that the Internet is a Matrix like depicted in The Matrix from 1999 which can be defined as “an environment or material which something develops” (oxford dictionary) Within a Matrix a Virus, the infected particle, develops. A computer virus can be described as ” a piece of code surreptitiously introduced into a system in order to corrupt it or destroy data” (oxford dictionary) The Virus is not passive but active and spread given the right conditions and if art is a virus in the context of a participatory culture perhaps art can infect the human robots and reactivate or reprogram them.
In the article Data undermining by Anna Munster she describes artists who engage in questions related to Data-mining and Data-undermining. One example of data undermining Munster gives is “the Shift-Space project” which is a program and art-work using a Firefox extension — allows a layer of graphically displayed and designed text to sit over the top of any website. Shift-Space then becomes a platform where moderators (the creators and owners of WebPages) and the users can participate in dialogue. The user becomes active and “ not appropriated by mindless automatism” and Shift-Space: “facilitate alternative social-political spaces for knowledge generation rather than mere knowledge discovery (the goal of data mining)” Furthermore Munster describes Shift-Space to represent “ to Web 2.0 what HTML was to the web of the 1990s. Moreover, with something like the kind of activities and frenzy of further plug-ins that extend Shift-Space itself, knowledge production and meaning are redistributed to shared spaces that are not grid-locked by the aesthetics, ethics and politics of the network link-node form (as are social networking sites such as Facebook).” (Munster, Data undermining from The Network book)
In the (fantastic) lecture given by Chris Mitchell on the 10.02.10 he explained how he allows for others to participate and post artwork or interfere with his work on his webpage. I see this as a open and democratic form which can be used for either good (positive viruses) or bad when it comes to how we connect into other sometimes Robotic virtual lives.