Diamond, S. (2011). Mapping the Collective. In _Context Providers_, M. Lovejoy, C. Paul, and V. Vesna, eds. Bristol and Chicago: intellect.

Sara Diamond has a PhD in Computer Science, as well as degrees in new media theory and practice, social history, and communications. She is President of the Ontario College of Art & Design (OCAD), as well as founding Editor-in-Chief of horizonzero.ca. She researches and designs wearable technology and mobile media.

“A collective is a network that maps many points, including those in other planes of time. Maps of activism are in fact in the fourth dimension, with strings back in time and space, rather than linear movements forward” (222).

Media art activism collectives of the 70s and 80s were different from cooperatives–the latter were quasi- to fully legal entities, whereas the former were “viral, temporal, haphazard” (201). Those video collectives generally disintegrated, however, as individuals professionalized. Later media artists did have Internet presence, but by virtue of the network, they were in disparate locations. “The intricate mapping of social change was to be paved over by the information highway” (202).

Years later, new media collectives’ configurations reflect the “rhizomatic organization of the Internet itself, by theories of complexity, self-organizing systems, and Postmodernism” (204). Collaborative models privilege communication, distributed networks (e.g. the European Network of Cyber Arts [ENCART]),  and collective memory (e.g. Fabian Wagmister’s “dos, tres, muchos Guevaras” [2001]). In addition, unlike their video art predecessors, these collaborators create tools, specifically artist-developed software. “Artists’ tools run the range from intervention to invention” (215), particularly with mobile devices locative media, and remix culture. Critically:

“Collaboration requires that different forms of ego identity are allowed to emerge. Creativity seems to work best among those who have a sense of self that is strong enough to hold opinions but generous enough to allow skepticism and reconsideration. Collaboration requires a sense of maturity. True collectivity requires navigating ownership, sharing responsibility for failure and success” (221).


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Filed under Annotated Bibliographies, Media Arts, Minor Field, Research Fields


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