Institute of Network Cultures

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At the end of the 20th century, hacking was bleeding edge. When the ideas, practices and pranks of this experimental niche of technophiles attracted the attention of a handful of activists in Italy, they understood that information and communication were what would give shape and voice to social, political, and cultural processes in the near future. +KAOS is a cut and paste of interviews, like a documentary film transposed on paper. It describes the peculiar relationship between hacktivism and activism, in Italy and beyond, highlighting the importance of maintaining digital infrastructures. While this may not sound as glamorous as sneaking into ...
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In The Age of Total Images, art historian Ana Peraica focuses on the belief that the shape of the planet is two-dimensional which has been reawakened in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, and the ways in which these ‘flat Earth’ conspiracy theories are symptomatic of post-digital image culture. Such theories, proven to be false both in Antiquity and Modernity, but once held to be true in the Medieval Period, have influenced a return to a kind of ‘New Medievalism’. By tracing visual representations of the planet across Western history and culture, Peraica provides support for a media-based explanation behind ...
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Over the past decade, a growing number of artists and critical practitioners have become engaged with algorithms. This artistic engagement has resulted in algorithmic theatre, bot art, and algorithmic media and performance art of various kinds that thematise the dissemination and deployment of algorithms in everyday life. Especially striking is the high volume of artistic engagements with facial recognition algorithms, trading algorithms and search engine algorithms over the past few years. The fact that these three types of algorithms have garnered more responses than other types of algorithms suggests that they form a popular subject of artistic critique. This critique addresses ...
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Over 130 million images with the hashtag ‘selfie’ have been uploaded to the social media platform Instagram. In The Allure of the Selfie: Instagram and the New Self-Portrait, Brooke Wendt examines the significant hold that the ‘selfie’, or the digital self-portrait, has over self and society. Media theorist Vilém Flusser observed that society could become programmed to snap pictures for the sole benefit of cameras, as though under a ‘magical spell’, if photographs continued to be undecoded. Wendt examines this magical spell by analyzing users’ self-portraits on Instagram, one of the most popular contemporary platforms for image production. Marshall McLuhan’s reframing of ...
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As the revolutions across the Arab world that came to a head in 2011 devolved into civil war and military coup, representation and history acquired a renewed and contested urgency. The capacities of the internet have enabled sharing and archiving in an unprecedented fashion. Yet, at the same time, these facilities institute a globally dispersed reinforcement and recalibration of power, turning memory and knowledge into commodified and copyrighted goods. In The Arab Archive: Mediated Memories and Digital Flows, activists, artists, filmmakers, producers, and scholars examine which images of struggle have been created, bought, sold, repurposed, denounced, and expunged. As a ...
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Beyond ICT4D: New Media Research in Uganda is a collection of ethnographic reports from diverse perspectives of those living at the other end of the African ICT pyramid. Crucially, these texts refocus on the so-called “ICT4D” debate away from the standard western lens, which depicts users in the developing world as passive receivers of Western technological development, towards Ugandans whose use and production of technologies entail innovations from the ground up. It is this ‘other’ everyday point of view that is too often missing in the ICT4D debate: valuable voices that put technologies, projects and organizations into their proper context. Conducted ...
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C’Lick Me: A Netporn Studies Reader is an anthology that collects the best material from two years of debate from The Art and Politics of Netporn 2005 conference to the 2007 C’Lick Me festival. The C’Lick Me reader opens the field of ‘Internet pornology’. Based on non-conventional approaches and mixing academics, artists and activists, it reclaims a critical post-enthusiastic, post-censorship perspective on netporn, a dark field that has been dominated thus far by dodgy commerce and filtering. The C’Lick Me reader covers the rise of the netporn society from the Usenet underground to the blogosphere, analyses economic data and search engine ...
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How to conceptualize online sociability in the 21st century? To answer this question, Communities at a Crossroads looks back at the mid-2000s. With the burst of the creative-entrepreneur alliance, the territorialisation of the internet and the commercialization of interpersonal ties, that period constituted a turning point for digital communitarian cultures. Many of the techno-libertarian culture’s utopias underpinning the ideas for online sociability faced systematic counter evidence. This change in paradigm has still consequences today. Avoiding both empty invocations of community and swift conclusions of doom, Annalisa Pelizza investigates the theories of actions that have underpinned the development of techno-social digital assemblages ...
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Creative Networks explores the dawn of the Internet culture in the age of network society from the perspective of Eastern Europe. From a theoretical angle the networks are introduced and interpreted as complex socio-technical systems. The author analyzes the development of these networked self-organized formations starting off with ‘virtual communities’ of ‘creative networks’, which emerged during the early phase of the Internet, up to the phenomena of today’s online ‘social networks’. Along with the translocal case studies of Nettime, Syndicate, Faces and Xchange networks (as well as with the other important facets of the 1990s network culture in Europe), the ...
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For millions of internet users around the globe, the search for new knowledge begins with Wikipedia. The encyclopedia’s rapid rise, novel organization, and freely offered content have been marveled at and denounced by a host of commentators. Critical Point of View moves beyond unflagging praise, well-worn facts, and questions about its reliability and accuracy, to unveil the complex, messy, and controversial realities of a distributed knowledge platform. The essays, interviews and artworks brought together in this reader form part of the overarching Critical Point of View research initiative, which began with a conference in Bangalore (January 2010), followed by events in Amsterdam (March ...
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Culture of the Selfie is an in-depth art-historical overview of self-portraiture, using a set of theories from visual studies, narratology, media studies, psychotherapy, and political principles. Collecting information from various fields, juxtaposing them on the historical time-line of artworks, the book focuses on space in self-portraits, shared between the person self-portraying and the viewer. What is the missing information of the transparent relationship to the self and what kind of world appears behind each selfie? As the ‘world behind one’s back’ is gradually taking larger place in the visual field, the book dwells on a capacity of selfies to master ...
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Depletion Design suggests that ideas of exhaustion cut across cultural, environmentalist, and political idioms and offers ways to explore the emergence of new material assemblages. We, or so we are told, are running out of time, of time to develop alternatives to a new politics of emergency, as constant crisis has exhausted the means of a politics of representation too slow for the state of exception, too ignorant of the distribution of political agency, too focused on the governability of financial architectures. But new forms of individual and collective agency already emerge, as we learn to live, love, work within the ...

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