Social Media Week started off today with a bang thanks to Artconnect Berlin’s packed SMW Art Day at Naherholung Sternchen. Beginning at 10am with a chilled out, well attended networking breakfast creative people came together to discuss the important relationship between art and social media over tea and tasty morsels, followed by a talk by Konrad Lauten, founder of inkubato on crowd funding.
Lauten explained how he had a crowd funding background in club music offline, and had then seen the potential for moving online despite initially many people, Germans in particular, not taking advantage of the project. The concept was far from overlooked, however, and although many crowd funding projects have failed, many have also flourished such as the recent project by Mono.kultur for a book on Robert Montgomery’s latest artwork on Kickstarter, which way exceeded its required amount.
Lauten went on “crowd funding allows projects to be visible and therefore funded, although for arts projects raising money should be around 30% of why you start the campaign, it’s more a case of bringing people together for advertising and to show people your project/art space. People always think you just put the project online and money comes flooding in but it’s not like that…communication is the main issue, if you don’t tell people about your project constantly nothing will happen.”
Next we were treated to the performance ‘Text: A Play in One Act’ by Louis DeVaughn Nelson, which explored the way in which social media is impacting upon our relationships with others. Portraying the use of different forms of communication such as e-mail, Facebook and text conversations, it explored what our real time interactions with others would be like if it was based on our electronic exchanges.
This was followed by a lively talk by British artist Max Dovey on live art, social media and using social media sentiment in performance art, which is an integral aspect of his work. To demonstrate this we were indulged by a ‘Twitter Theatre’ performance, in which Dovey used real time content generated by the site (all tweets containing the word ‘sad’ to be specific) to create a live narrative, and we know he wasn’t cheating and using pre-loaded content because we tweeted him during the performance ourselves!
The result was a comical barrage of statements and emotions, bombarding our senses much in the way social media does in our everyday lives. Dovey considered the information being proffered more often than not discarded by viewers, saying “It’s all human expression being wasted by happening so quickly, by performing it or using it for an art basis it makes it live longer and not just disappear into the technical ether.” How otherwise we would make any use of this ridiculous amount of content is open to suggestion, as the amount and quality of the never-ending social media work is as Dovey aptly described, “like a hosepipe”.
This isn’t to say that companies are not eagerly monitoring such sites to harvest our information, on the contrary. Dovey acknowledges this and says he is “not trying to glorify Twitter but critiquing that mode of expression”, also however realising that by using such mediums he is driving traffic back to the beast he is tainting; arguing that at least his approach is offering an alternative in regards to the handling of the data.Dovey went on to lament the “divide between galleries and 2.0 culture” hoping more inventive ways for the two to interact will exist in the future, and don’t we all, Artconnect Berlin an excellent example of the marriage of creatives and the web.
Next up was a talk by Valeria Schwarz on the use of social networks to create a participatory artwork using inVESTIR as an example. inVESTIR is a inter-cultural project between Europe and North Africa, in which virtual art, politics and participatory performance in the public space are intertwined in order to create an intercontinental dialogue.
This was followed by a heated debate between artist Harm van den Dorpel and Chaos Computer Club representative Tim Pritlove on the future of social creativity. Moderated by Nadim Samman, the discussion covered a number of issues such as the anonymity between the hacker and social media communities and the Blinkenlights project by the CCC, which Pritlove was keen not to label as art.
Following a couple more talks and a workshop on strategies for creating media intensive performances by Mark Coniglio the day culminated with a panel discussion entitled ‘How social media is changing the way we see, make, and consume art?’.
Speakers included artists Max Dovey, Kate Hollet, Lola Lustosa, curator Tina Madsen, director of Import Projects Nadim Samman and was moderated by co-manager of Supermarkt Ela Kagel. Issues explored included to what extent each of the participants used social media in their profession, and the answers ranged from extensively – Kate Hollet tirelessly championing the medium saying “I’m all for social media, I think it’s an interesting tool to explore creativity.” – to in a limited capacity, Max Dovey countering “I don’t think I love social media…I’m for working with its content but disrupting its existing framework of corporate use.” Tina Madsen added – “It’s a good thing to use but you need to remember who your readers are.”
Other topics included ownership and content rights in regards to art on and with social media and the loss of a real identity on such social networks. Madsen argued we should avoid having a ‘digital DNA’ and shouldn’t give away too much of ourselves – a sensible notion when we consider the amount of data various companies are collecting about us through our online activities. This has alarmed so many people that as Ela Kagel pointed out there are now even websites such as Web 2.0 Suicide Machine which delete all of your online presence, not only deleting your information but giving you the incentive to meet people in -gasp- real life again instead of communicating solely online.
Also discussed was the all important topic of money and how it can be made by artists using social media as a tool. Kagel asked can artists still be depicted as the poor starving cliche if they now have this opportunity to market themselves using social media tools, but as Madsen pointed out, “There are a lot of institutions which still have lots of exhibitions in a very traditional way who are still developing their websites,”. Samman also added that “digital identity is structured by the frame you’re provided with,” thus limiting your options. Everyone agreed that a balance between online and offline interaction with others in a professional and personal capacity is always important, and on that note called it an evening, ready to go do some real life interacting.
An amazing day overall, the space was also enhanced by the humorous artwork of Felipe Tofani and garnered much positive attention.
Also on display was the work ‘untitled’ by Sam Hall. Lots of people attended and the day was a roaring success, even featuring on German television (watch here). A special thanks to Social Media Week for the opportunity to host the event, and hopefully we’ll see you all again next year!