Distributed Network Art: Protocol and Ritual


Session Title:

  • Collaborative Communities

Presentation Title:

  • Distributed Network Art: Protocol and Ritual




  • The material impact of the network on our everyday lives develops in us a heightened sense of that which is invisible: rather than focussing on objects as markers of reality we begin to understand the world in terms of processes and relations, change and interaction. And whereas tangible borders mark the parameters between objects, network artists have found it necessary to use protocol to call attention to and mark the borders between one set of relations and another. Network artists devise protocols that frame – in numerous ways – the activities of participants. Although protocol is a controlling mechanism, it also enables relationally-based art to be replicated at home, away from the gallery and away from the computer screen.

    It is through a consideration of different kinds of protocol that the artworks discussed here came into being, and in this artists’ presentation I would like to talk about possible relationships between protocol and ritual, and the emergence of a distributed artform whose transportability is based on fragile protocols.

    love_potion is a durational work in three phases that can be performed by anyone at anytime and in any location. It uses borage plants, seeds, magic spells, aural-visual trans-narratives and networked technologies. The work uses a magic spell renowned for healing rifts and nurturing compassion.

    Growing borage is the first phase of the performance, and involves seeding, tending, harvesting and drying the herb over half a year. The second phase involves preparing the magic potion and in the third phase, performers make a DIY installation from material on the artist’ website for themselves and others.

    November is a collaborative networked performance for four people, web cam, found text and prepared garlic. It is a calendric ritual that marks Samhain, Halloween and the changing of the season from summer to winter. Even when connected via webcam, a live trans-narrative developed as the performers listened attentively to the other at the same time as reading their texts, producing a rhythm which contracts, pulsates, ebbs and flows.