Autoethnographic PhD of Furtherfield and DIWO Culture

I have just finished Chapter 3 of my PhD, and it’s called ‘DIWO (Do-It-With-Others): Co-creation and Decentralizing Artistic Practice’. In its original form it (still) exists as a peer reviewed published paper for the SEAD: White Papers, in 2013. [1] The new refreshed version has been quite a journey. Not only because of writing the thing it, but also because I continue to be deeply involved with Furtherfield, whether this includes activities in running the organisation, or being its main editor, or curating exhibitions, and being engaged in other projects. I’m also teaching on top of this. Which means I have three jobs including the PhD.  However, I’m glad I wrote it and feel that this new version offers a wider context of what DIWO offers. And yes, building your own creative and social contexts on your own terms and collaboratively with others, is definitely worth it.

A snippet of the intro…

“This chapter asks, what are the roots, motives and philosophies behind the growth of and interest in DIWO practices, and what are its links to DIY culture, the independent music scene, art culture, networked art, media arts and the politics of social change? To answer these questions the study looks at artists involved in DIWO style activities as well as related projects, their themes and motivations. As with the rest of the PhD this chapter is autoethnographic. It draws on personal files and Furtherfield documentation, as well as academic texts by others, referencing early and recent projects, events, activities in DIWO production. It presents where and how DIWO changes traditional artistic power relations, through curatorial, and co-creative practices; how by its situation in the World Wide Web it impacts authorship and ownership of the creative process; and the narrative and other associative connections to the collaborative art making experience. We look at the spirit of DIWO practice as initiated by Furtherfield and its legacy through examples of different approaches around the world.”

So the next step is to rewrite Chapter 1 for my PhD, called ‘Building Artistic Platforms and Venues In the Networked Age’. It of course will change but, “The first chapter presents the sociality and networked structures that have linked Furtherfield’s community together since it began on the Internet. It shows a mix of varied practices facilitated through Furtherfield’s digital platforms, in relation to art, technology, and social change. It takes us through a timeline of projects, the online neighbourhood with its digital communities for co-creation and its various platforms built in collaboration with the community. The chapter also presents the two gallery phases, the HTTP Gallery and the recent Furtherfield Gallery, within the park, in Finsbury Park, and then the Furtherfield Commons, which is also situated in the same park.”

“It traces some of Furtherfield’s on-line based artistic, projects and their technical developments. It also revisits Internet trends that over time have influenced the community’s relationship with its users and networked culture, such as the big shift from HTML to Web 2.0 based social networking platforms, Youtube, Google and Facebook. And it examines what it means to be, when you are part of an independent, digital community used to making its own D.I.Y software art, digital tools, and online platforms. It also discusses aspects of Hack Value inspired by Richard Stallman and the Free Software Foundation and how Furtherfield is an existing living example of what an alternative culture looks like in contrast to the dominant top-down economic driven culture of neo-liberalism. It explores artworks, pioneering projects and hacking tendencies with and without technology, and argues that hacking has been with us a long time before our use of computers.”

[1] Garrett, Marc. DIWO (Do-It-With-Others): Artistic co-creation as a decentralized method of peer empowerment in today’s multitude by , 2013, published by SEAD: White Papers.