The Internet Is Here

Category : blogging · No Comments · by Mar 18th, 2015

The Internet is Here: Warms

The Internet is disappearing – from our screens into our stuff.

To try to think about it I have created 9 triptychs. A small start.

The central image is always a drawing made from observation of a thing I own, (including 2 drawings of screen shots of video calls (which are now a feature of my daily life)).

The left and right hand images are the results of two searches made using Google on 17th March 2015.

  • On the left is an image which is the result of a word search, based on an action ascribed to the thing drawn. This word is also the title of each triptych e.g. the first triptych is called ‘Warms’ because a my jumper warms me.
  • The right hand image is the result of a search using Google’s image matching function. You upload an image and it finds images that are visually similar.

And I am thinking harder now about what it will mean for art that we can now make so many different kinds of “things” act as the collection point for different kinds of sense data- heat, pressure, acceleration, radiation, tilt, sound, light, electric charge etc- and then use those same devices to redistribute the data in newly wrangled (as yet unknown) forms.

This emerging “Internet of Things” underpins torrents of rhetoric (from politicians, big-business and entrepreneurland) about all manner of things which are getting “smarter” as a result of these developments: homes, cities, shopping.

I’m interested in how they might also help people, communities, organisations, institutions to get smarter. And whether smarter is the right priority. Perhaps we need our homes, cities and shopping to be more equitable, loving, critical, philosophical, cooperative and wise.

Digital Arts Marketing or Digital Arts Marketing?

Category : blogging · No Comments · by Mar 16th, 2015

I wrote this blog post to mark the end of my fellowship with the CultureHive Digital Marketing Academy. You can find out more about the project here.

It has been hard to talk about this fellowship to my friends and peers in digital arts (also called media arts, new media arts, networked arts) because of a long-standing, but under-explored, antagonism between digital arts and marketing.

What do we prioritize when we talk about Digital Arts Marketing?:

1) Enabling more diverse people to access, co-create and appreciate artforms that take digital culture as their tools, subject and medium?


2) Deploying existing digital and social media to grow audiences and so increase the income for all existing artforms?

First to digital arts.

For over 30 years artists have been inventing and experimenting with new networked artforms that critique and extend the expressive and social effects of digital technologies. Artistic and technological developments influence each other. Since our computers shrunk many of us now carry with us devices that comprise an array of tools for communication, data sensing and capture. They are also portable entertainment systems with streaming media or games. They also enable us to participate in a hundred conversations at once. These devices are in our hands or our pockets, or our glasses; or we lie them on our pillows at night. Soon they will be inside of us, (or buzzing over our heads) and inside of every object in our houses and our streets, and these data points will be talking to each other. Our devices already have the capacity to draw data from our every movement, and every interaction, and algorithms wrangle this data and push it out again to shape our media, our culture and the physical world.

Read more

First Experiences of Reading

Category : blogging, Uncategorized · No Comments · by Feb 22nd, 2015

Last week Edward Picot asked “What are your first/most formative memories of reading and encountering books? Was it in a library, a bookshop, or exploring the  bookshelves at home?

He was first inspired by Code Poet Mez’s autobiographical account of early reading- which is quoted on the website.

I wrote: In the effort to remember my early reading experiences, I instead remember smells of places: the damp of my grandparents house in Clitheroe, the classroom in my primary school, the camper van in Devon. I can’t remember learning to read or write. I was read to a lot as a child, I love my parents for that. Such a variety – Spike Milligan, Lewis Carol poems and songs. Astrid Lindgren, Joan Aitken, Alan Garner. I also recall my younger brother (who had a strong sense of pathos) reciting from the book of Mother Goose Nursery Rhymes, with a forlorn look on his face. Later we went on long camping holidays and we would be read to in the evenings: Ursula Le Guin’s Earthsea Trilogy. Tolkein.These are some of the books I remember. What I know, is that I learned to read with books designed for the purpose: Janet and John; Topsy and Tim; the ladybird books of fairy stories.

I’m not very good at reading words off the page/screen and I’m a horrible speller. I am a pretty good listener though. Recently I signed up to an audio book club – and find I can “read” all sorts of things I had previously struggled to attend to. Last year I “read” Marx’s The Communist Manifesto for the first time, on the treadmill at the gym, and Emma Goldman’s On Anarchy, while driving 3 times a week to a particularly un-free workplace. Moving my body and eyes as I “read” audio books liberates me to make more connections, to comprehend the layers of meaning and tone.


Digital Culture : three events and a video

Category : blogging · No Comments · by Jan 18th, 2015
Digital Culture : three events and a video

A busy couple of weeks ahead. Here are details of three (imminent) media arts events and a video about Furtherfield…

Ruth CV 2015

Category : Uncategorized · No Comments · by Jan 10th, 2015

Artist and Co-founder, Co-director of Furtherfield


1990 BA(Hons) Fine Art Sculpture, Falmouth School of Art
2004 MA Networked Media Environments, Ravensbourne College of Design and Communication


Since 1997 Co-founder and artistic director of Furtherfield
Founded in 1997 by artists Marc Garrett and Ruth Catlow, Furtherfield is the UK’s leading organisation for art, labs, & debates around critical questions in art, technology and social change. Its thriving international, online community and programmes make network cultures more feelable and accessible to more diverse people. Exhibitions and labs tour nationally and internationally, strengthening the expressive and emancipatory potential of digital technology. Furtherfield is a non profit organisation and has been part of the Arts Council England National Portfolio of Organisation since 2005.

2011-2014 Head of School, Writtle School of Design (WSD)
2009-11 Course Scheme Manager, Digital Art and Design, WSD
1995-2008 Senior Lecturer in Digital Media, Ravensbourne College of Design and Communication
1991-2001 Violinst with Midas Touch, Traditional Greek Wedding Band.

Selected Artistic Projects and Exhibitions

2014 Play the Web We Want, commissioned by Southbank Centre as part of the Web We Want Festival; Play Peer2Peer Futures, Alt_Cph Assemble, Copenhagen;
Play South Westminster, commissioned by, Tate Britain & Peabody Housing Trust exhibited as part of The British Folk Art Exhibition

Since 2012- 2015 Play Your Place
co-devised by Ruth Catlow and Dr Mary Flanagan (Tiltfactor, US), this open, online artwork enables people to collaborate to draw, make and play multi-level platform games, that express their shared values and aspirations for the future.

2003 – 2015 Rethinking Wargames, Lo-fi Net Art Commission (2003) exhibited and played at The Baltic, Gateshead & Limehouse Town Hall, London; part of The Making of Balkan Wars- group exhibition by Personal Cinema, Athens & Madrid 2004. RISK, CCA, Glasgow 2005; now touring 10 USA venues alongside artworks by Yoko Ono and Cory Arcangel, as part of Free Play, an international touring exhibition organized by Independent Curators International (ICI).

2010 At Winter Equinox we burn The Sun, & Festival of Money short films created by Ruth Catlow and Marc Garrett, screened at Show Room Cinema, Sheffield, and at The Zone, The Hundred Years Gallery, Brighton, 2010 and Givon Gallery, Tel Aviv 2012

2009-10 Connecting Across Difference. Artistic director for an inclusive multimedia performance at V&A Museum of Childhood working with 6 artists and musicians alongside 70 children. Commissioned by Drake Music

2009 We Won’t Fly For Art, pyramid pledge and artworld intervention by Ruth Catlow and Marc Garrett, as part of Furtherfield Media Art Ecologies programme. Shortlisted and exhibited for the BASH, RSA and Ecology Sustainable Art Awards, London

2008 Driven- a Dilemma of Co-existence, net artwork by Ruth Catlow and Marc Garrett, Banff New Media Institute, Canada

2003 -09 VisitorsStudio, a realtime, online platform for audiovisual remix, for which Furtherfield was awarded the 2009 Grand Net Art Prize by Machido Museum, JA. Creative directors, Ruth Catlow, Marc Garrett and Neil Jenkins. Dissension Convention. VisitorsStudio performance by Ruth Catlow and Michael Szpakowski, Postmasters Gallery, New York 2004

Selected Curatorial and Commissioning Activity

2015 WWW TV, at Southbank Centre; Beyond the Interface installation for the Web We Want Festival, with Museum of Computing History, Cambridge

2015 The Netartizens Project and open online exhibition as part of The Art of the Networked Practice Online Symposium, presented by the School of Art, Design & Media, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

2014 Digital Zoo: Life from the world wild web, a touring exhibition to 5 UK shopping centres, in partnership with Land Securities and Culture Code.

2014 Do It With Others (DIWO), CLICK Festival, Culture Yard, Helsingor, Denmark

2011 Collaboration and Freedom – The World of Free and Open Source Art, online collection commissioned by Arts Council England Knowledge Bank, mirrored by the Foundation for Peer To Peer Alternatives

Furtherfield exhibitions include:
2015 The Human Face of Cryptoeconomies as part of Art Data Money
2015 Beyond the Interface
2014 Piratbyrån and Friends curated with Rachel Falconer
2013 Shu Lea Cheang and Mark Amerika; Glitch Moment/ums curated with Rosa Menkman
2012 WWW: World Wild Web; Being Social; Invisible Forces with Class Wargames
2011 Made Real by Scott Kildall and Nathaniel Stern; Art is Open Source, 2011
2010 If Not You Not Me by Annie Abrahams
2009 Feral Trade Cafe by Kate Rich
2008 The Jeremy Bailey Show; Open Source Embroidery with Ele Carpenter
2007 Zero Gamer: Sometimes We Just Like To Watch, as part of London Games Fringe Festival (also exhibited at Zero One)
2007 Do It With Others (DIWO): E-Mail-Art
2006 GAME / PLAY a national touring exhibition, curated with Giles Askham, also exhibited at London Trocadero as part of London Games Festival Fringe; Open Vice/Virtue: The Online Art Context by Andy Deck
2005 Abuse of the Public Domain by Stanza; Theatre of Restless Automata by Boredom Research;
2004 The Future Is Not What It Used To Be by Erkki Kurenniemi

Recent Conferences and Public Speaking

2015 Back to the Future, Closing panel discussion chaired by Jude Kelly, Artistic Director of Southbank Centre Web We Want Festival, Southbank Centre – May 29-30
2015 Hackathons: Grassroots Activism or Digital Sweatshops? Digital Shoreditch. Panel participant, hosted by Queen Mary University chaired by Becky Stewart Codasign 11 May
2015 Art, Technology, Human Existence, CLICK Festival seminars, Culture Yard, Helsingor, Denmark: Co-hosted and co-curated with Richard Stallman, Cory Doctorow, Jennifer Lynn Morone, Francesca Da Rimiini, Virginia Barrett, Shulea Cheang & Stelarc
2015 Play as a Commons: Practical Utopias & P2P Futures. Panel speaker, Transmediale, Berlin, January 2015
2015 PLAY: Respondent to McKenzie Wark Keynote, Transmediale, Berlin, January 2015
2015 Creating, Commissioning, Exhibiting and Collecting Art in the Digital Age. Panel convened by Ruth Catlow, with Steve Fletcher, Lindsay Taylor. London Art Fair, London, January 2015
2015 Activating the Public Space, Digital Utopias, Hull Truck Theatre, January

Recent participation on Boards, Peer Review

2014 Named by Foundation for Peer2Peer Alternatives in their list of 100 Women Co-creating the P2P Society
2014 Moderator for the Practice panel, Understanding Post-digital Cultural Forms – A Review Summit, organized by Transmediale in cooperation with the German Federal Foreign Office and hosted by the Haus der Kulturen der Welt, November 10th, 2014
Since 2008 Advisory board, Tiltfactor, critical games lab, Dartmouth College, USA

Selected professional Development & Training

June 2014 – January 2015 7 month Fellowship with the CultureHive Digital Marketing Academy for leading cultural practitioners. An experimental, evidence-based programme for digital marketing developed through a ‘lean’ methodology

June 2014 Creating Innovation from Collaboration. One day workshop by Creative Works London, Somerset House

2013 Multi Platform Business School (Scholarship). 6-day project-based, tutorial and consultation driven course, which focuses on the business aspects of creating cross-platform content. Ronda, Spain

2013 Pixel Lab (Scholarship). 6-day intensive development workshop for participants across film, TV, games, online, advertising, visual arts, publishing and mobile. Belgium

Since 2009 Ongoing professional development in teaching and learning in Higher Education, through participation in annual training sessions run by Writtle College.

Play the Web We Want – 4 new games!

Category : blogging · No Comments · by Dec 27th, 2014
Play the Web We Want – 4 new games!

More than 150 people made drawings to generate a collective vision for a better networked society View images of people…

Web We Want Festival – Play the Web We Want!

Category : blogging · No Comments · by Nov 30th, 2014
Web We Want Festival – Play the Web We Want!

Reblogged from an original post for the Southbank Centre, in advance of the November 2014 Web We Want Festival about…

Jeanette Winterson on why art matters now more than ever

Category : blogging · No Comments · by Nov 21st, 2014

Written before the 21st century had really demonstrated its commitment to war and the interests of the 1%. It’s surprising how little the questions have changed.
An American lady travelling to Paris in 1913 – the kind of American lady who will still be travelling to Paris in 2013 – asked Ezra Pound what he thought art was for. Pound replied: “Ask me what a rose bush is for.”

Europe was on the edge of war. Do rose bushes matter in a war? What can art do for us now, in the likelihood of another war?

I know there is a sneaking feeling, even among art lovers, that art is a luxury. While pictures, books, music and theatre are not quite handmade luggage or perfume, most people would not admit that art is essential. The endless rows over funding centre on an insecurity about the role of art in society. Nobody doubts that hospitals and schools must be paid for by all of us. Mention art, and the answer seems to be that it should rely on the marketplace; let those who want it pay for it.

Read on

where in mythology are there stories of collective endeavour that turn out well?

Category : blogging · No Comments · by Oct 15th, 2014

Train to London – through Westcliff

A golden bright morning

I remember I can make a decision

…decisions and the way we make them…

I remember because I have made this decision before

I can’t remember how well it stuck before

it is a choice

it requires me to let go a little of stories, reasons, anxieties, rightness, justification

in order to travel the beam of light, the golden current

life invites me

my 16 bits of consciousness are too narrow to carry counter conversations

the still waters

the coordinated flights of flocks of birds across the sands

the man in the seat in front from a victorian gothic novel

it’s not only to attend to the gold, to the feelings of elation but also to just what is


I have to write my public statement for the Web We Want

I am terrified

by the responsibility

that I will speak from the wrong part of myself with strangulated voice

rather than in polyphonic mode


there are oddnesses

to invite people to join me is to invite people to invest their energy and time in something for me

What is the story of the making of the web

is it the making of Babylon (for which we will all be punished)

where in mythology are there stories of collective endeavour that turn out well?


Fading revolt in the walled garden

Category : blogging · (1) Comment · by Jun 8th, 2014

I recently published Karen Blissett is Revolting, an interview described as “incendiary”, on New Criticals as part of their Lady Justice series.

It provoked quite a reaction on Facebook as people shared their disquiet about her new work and the political contexts that (she claims) necessitated its creation.

They also posted links to other articles and artworks inspired by her tactical use of multiple identity.

In a week where the breaking news was about the new European right for individuals to disappear from Google I was irked by the obverse effect. Whilst exchanges over email list, wikis or community blogs are usually retrievable, in FB the infinite scroll makes it very difficult to find  pithy insights and historical connections even only a week later. It’s also considered bad form to publish outside of FB what was shared within its walled garden. This has led me to reflect on the anti-historical and antisocial impact of dominant social media platforms.


Here are a selection of the comments (with permission from their originators) about Karen Blissett is Revolting.

Ricardo Ruiz: “In May 25 of 2014 at 02:08 he published a letter where he announced that that would be his last public appearance. He mentioned that the Subcomandante Marcos personality has been a hologram and the EZLN doesn’t need his image anymore. The letter is signed by Subcomandante Insurgente Galeano who died a few days earlier in an ambush. It is said that Galeano mentioned that he would’ve returned in collective form.
May 27 at 10:54am · Unlike · 2

“Against death, we demand life.

Against silence, we demand the word and respect.

Against oblivion, memory”

Ricardo Dominguez: I use to write art reviews under the name of Karen Eliot (a utopian plagiarist sign). Here is a rant review I just found by old KE (me) at in the 1990’s on the show “History of Sex”.
May 27 at 11:46am · Unlike · 3


Tim Waterman: My pal Ruth Catlow interviews the incendiary Karen Blissett – there is some really fiery stuff here. I can also recommend this because it is fascinating to read something written by an artist whose voice is inhabited by many others. Blissett – forgive me, Karen – is perhaps a little unrealistic about the reach of her work in places, but her anger is well aimed.
May 27 at 11:56am ·Unlike · · Share
You, Annie Abrahams and Karen Blissett like this.

Alan Sondheim: let’s not forget Antiorp –
May 27 at 4:41pm · Unlike · 4

Alan Sondheim: Something bothers me about the piece, I’m speaking from the U.S. which is vile – that it’s too easy, that it’s entertainment. Given the state of crisis pretty much everyone is in, with the rise of the right, I worry that all of our gestures that privilege art (and a gallery’s mentioned) – just collapse. I don’t know what the answer is but we have to do more if we’re going to keep at the very least gnawing at the edges of enclaved capital. The pain in the streets – take downtown Providence where I live – is palpable, particularly in a state with the highest rate of unemploymet and highest rate of dissatisfaction. I don’t think the video goes far enough – at least here it would be dismissed or treated as a joke. On the other hand the language of the video is brilliant and cuts as much as any militarese. –
May 27 at 4:52pm · Unlike · 1

Marc Garrett: Hi Alan, well the Karens have a will of their own & decide how they make the work. Although – I do know that it could be a matter of time when even more Karens come along pushing things further – the identity is there for others to explore
May 27 at 6:44pm · Like · 2

Jennifer Chan: wowww guide2seniormanagement is fab; how did i not know about this
May 28 at 9:01am · Unlike · 2

Jennifer Chan: kind of agree with alan on how there’s a huge (americanish) humilitainment vibe initially, but male-identified artists get away with making (ironic) detached work that pokes fun at corporate (branding) structures all the time I enjoy how there is little room for irony or ambivalence here, it really appeases the 99% haha
May 28 at 9:15am · Unlike · 3

Ruth Catlow Yes Jennifer Chan we could do with more artworks that appease the 99%. I also GET Alan’s point – but I think that there is a role for artworks that are passionately critical-I am utterly convinced by Karens’ feverish fury… and that this is not an indulgent, trivial, or self-regarding.
May 28 at 9:28am · Like · 1

Tim Waterman: As one of the appeased 99% I’d just like to say that this work by Karen Blissett hurts so good. It’s like having a safety valve for excess bile. On the other hand, it makes me feel justified in my own anger – and I want to start firing these sorts of salvos myself. It’s a nice, naked, raw bit of revolutionary art. With penises in it.
May 28 at 9:46am · Like · 3

McKenzie Wark via Marc Garrett
May 27 at 11:31am ·

Ruth Catlow: But why the penises?

Karen Blissett: We did think about vaginas but it had to be penises.