Cyber/art activism – a product of cyberculture PART 1

Blog Posts – Part 1

This blog post will outline the overall topic and my current research in this area for assessment 1, as well as briefly touch on some examples. This first blog will then assist in the presentation and the completion of the final assessment – research report.

Based on my experience in DIGC202, I knew that I didn’t want to undergo another digital artefact, therefore I have decided my final assessment will instead be a research report. Initially, I had absolutely no ideas at all… Though after some deliberation and research, I have decided to research into cyberculture more and narrow this topic down more specifically into my research. This will be considering the concept of cyber activism and associating this with art activism and contemporary art as components of cyberculture.

Within cyberculture are several other concepts, one being ‘cyber activism’. Cyber activism describes how people can use digital platforms and mediums to impact social and political change. (Amin, 2010). The fact that it exists online allows communities and groups to be formed and facilitate this activism. It also allows a global participatory, because its existing on the internet. According to Amin, social media platforms such as twitter are now serving as some of the most popular avenues where cyber activism is taking place (Amin, 2010). The ease and accessibility to platforms like this means that anyone is now an activist.

Cyber activism takes many forms; I will be focusing on the concept of (cyber) art activism. Cyberculture has facilitated the art world in contemporary art, post 1980s, immensely. Artists can produce work online, collaborate online, and display online. Audiences no longer need to go to a gallery to visit an artwork. This is the same for types of art activism, entire movements can begin solely online and within the cyberculture realm. As Harris puts it, “the intersection of arts and activism is not new, but social activist movements using digital media to cross between online/offline worlds are changing the way it gets done” (Harris, 2017).

The aim of artists of art activism is to “create art that is a form of political or social currency, actively addressing cultural power structures rather than representing them or simply describing them.” (Tate.org.uk, 2017). This form of art is about empowering individuals and communities (Tate.org.uk, 2017) and often takes place in physical public domains. Cyberculture and internet culture allow activist art to be spread and shared online, arguably enabling larger more powerful movements. No longer is the art exclusive to first hand viewers, but now available to a global audience.

For the presentation, I will attempt to break down the topics of cyber activism, art activism. I will then proceed to explore examples of art activism and how cyberculture has facilitated and powered specific movements and issues. In the final assessment, these examples be explored in-depth and will resemble a case study as a part of the research report.

Two specific examples of art activism that have been paramount for this research are the Women on Waves Foundation – a feminist art collective, and the provocative punk rock protest band Pussy Riot.

Women on Waves

The Women on Waves Foundation is a non-profit group of women that “blends social activism, contemporary art, political propaganda and media manipulation to empower women internationally” (Creativetime.org, 2017). The Dutch based group work to obtain safe and legal abortions aboard their ship by exploiting legal loopholes in international waters. They are activists for women’s rights and educating women on abortions. Some of their other works include appropriated fashion campaigns targeting the importance of safe abortions and women’s rights. Women on Waves’ work links into art/cyber activism as majority of it begins online through their images as well as their online communities connecting women to obtain abortions and health advice.

Pussy Riot

Pussy-Riot-via-critical-theory-com.jpg

Pussy Riot are another contemporary art group who employ art/cyber activist ideas. The Russian all-girl, feminist punk rock band create politically charged songs and protest clips targeting the Russian government and their ideologies and protesting for women’s rights. They perform in many public locations, filming this and spreading it online. In recent years, they have gained a lot of media attention internationally and gained a huge following – this is because of their music and videos being available online, again to a global audience.

Cyberculture itself allows for these type of cyber/art activism, which aids in sparking and leading social and political global change

Overall, my ideas and the structure of both my presentation and final assessment, will be further built upon in the next blog post. Additionally, the final assessment will include more sources and focus in more depth on the examples.

References

Amin, R. (2010). The Empire Strikes Back: Social Media Uprisings and the Future of Cyber Activism. Unlikely Leaders, 10, pp.64-66.

Creativetime.org. (2017). Women on Waves, Author at The Creative Time Summit. [online] Available at: http://creativetime.org/summit/author/women-on-waves/ [Accessed Mar. 2017].

Harris, A. (2017). Art, activism and our creative future. [online] The Conversation. Available at: http://theconversation.com/art-activism-and-our-creative-future-46185 [Accessed Mar. 2017].

McCaughey, M. and D. Ayers, M. (2003). Cyberactivism: Online Activism in Theory and Practice. 1st ed. New York: Routledge.

McGahan, C. (2008). Racing cybercultures. 1st ed. New York: Routledge.

Tate.org.uk. (2017). Activist art. [online] Available at: http://www.tate.org.uk/learn/online-resources/glossary/a/activist-art [Accessed Mar. 2017].

Worrell, M. (2017). Art Projects. [online] Women on Waves. Available at: http://www.womenonwaves.org/en/page/2585/art-projects [Accessed Mar. 2017].

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