Monday, October 1, 2012


One of the most interesting topics of this book is the relationship between free labor, excess of value produced by self-organized system, and the new dynamics of control and exploitation.
Starting from the assumption that the Internet produces excessive value and it also depends on massive amounts of labor, Tiziana Terranova points out two modality of control and exploitation.
One modality is related with the idea that Internet labor and value is collectively produced, but selectively compensated. According to the logic of venture capitalism, only some part is picked up by corporate distribution chains or cultural industries.
The other modality is related with the idea of abstract machine of soft control that builds on the “discovery of the immense productivity of a multitude. The soft control exists both at the beginning of the process in the selection of initial conditions and restrictions and at the end in the sorting and filtering of desired outcomes and variations.

These two modality of control and exploitation can be found also in the way contemporary artists relate to the Internet.

1. Many artists, whether or not they are declaring themselves as internet artists, are using the Internet as an endless source of inspiration, an infinite archive of free ideas that can be selected and transformed into art works. The basic strategy is to extract images from the vernacular culture of the Internet, and then to reposition them in an art context.
One of the most famous example is Maurizion Cattelan, a contemporary artist that just had a retrospective at the Guggenheim Museum. A recent article by Domenico Quaranta pointed out how many of his famous irreverent works looks like translation of Internet memes into physical sculptures.

2. A more interesting art practice is instead more close to the logic of the abstract machine of soft control, that takes as its operational field the productive capacities of the hyperconnected.
Following this logic some artists set up systems, and initial rules that take advantage of the turbulent creativity of the internet users, and at the end filters the outcomes.
One of the best example is Oliver Laric with his piece ‘Touch my body’.
Touch my body, (Green Screen Version), is a reworking of Mariah Carey’s music video. By masking everything in the video other than Carey's physical form with Chroma Key, Oliver Laric created a template over which others were able to edit further new versions of the video. After that, he posted back the video on YouTube, where the large public of the site adopted the piece and posted remixes of their own.
After some months Oliver Laric made a selection of all these versions and exhibited the piece in an art Gallery.

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