Since embracing web 2.0 technology 18 months ago I have experienced a monumental shift in my practice, which is rooted in participatory arts. How I organise and promote myself; involve and interact with people; produce and share; and understand and value my work has completely changed. It has been a period of intense creativity where I have been challenged to re-evaluate what I do, where I am and where I’m going. Through exploring online spaces both as a participant (QR-3D and 52by52) and as a curator (We Found Art) I have experienced new ways of working and re-interpreted my respective roles.

As a MA Arts Management student I have viewed these experiences as the prologue to my dissertation which I have yet to write. I am interested developing this initial research to better understand how web 2.0 is changing the context of participatory arts practice and specifically how projects are being developed and interacted with, and who is involved. I particularly want to know what the challenges are from an artist/curator/arts organisation perspective and where the similarities and differences lie between on and offline practice. I would really like to explore participatory projects that evolve online and have a later offline counterpart and if such projects are encouraging new models of practice.

Much has been written about free and open art with ACE recently producing a comprehensive archive of material relating to Open Source activity in the arts. Although I anticipate a proportion of my research to be concerned with freedom and openness in the arts and more specifically, freedom to participate/collaborate, it is not my intention to focus on researching Open Source activity. Much of my offline participatory arts experience has been grounded in the everyday; using craft/DIY culture to connect and initiate creative interactions. I want to see how this type of activity translates online (beyond networks and forums) and this will form another facet of my research.

My thinking so far has been hugely influenced by David Gauntlett’s ‘Making is Connecting; The social meaning of creativity, from DIY and knitting to YouTube and Web 2.0’ and Charles Leadbeater’s ‘We Think’. Abstracts presented at the University of Westminster’ Transforming Audiences 3 conference
encouraged me to think more about

  • Absent present participants (Asa Stalh and Kristina Lindstrom, Malmo University, Sweden)
  • Motivations for content creation and sharing (Tim Riley, University of Westminster London)
  • Everyday creativity and wellbeing (Roni Brown, University of the Arts London)

I have also started to compile a reading list for my literary review: Reading

Initial research into how contemporary arts organisations, curators, artists and audiences are responding to the influence of web 2.0 on openness, participation and collaboration has led me to Cornerhouse’s action research project The Art of With (QR-3D, previously mentioned, is a micro commission and part of this research).

If you have read this and it resonates with what you do, whether you are a participant, artist, curator or organisation, I would love to hear from you. I am looking for examples of online participatory projects that involve craft/DIY culture and have an offline counterpart (exhibition, event, offline phase of participation for example). I would also be very grateful for recommendations for my reading list or of people that I should talk to. Please either use the contact tab above or the reply box below.

Thank you for taking the time to read this, it is very much appreciated.