Navigating Online participation: Individual journeys and communities

Screenshot of the test page of Folders from Screen Walks. © Anna Konstantinova

In this research paper, the author analyses the implications of participatory art which solely exists in online spaces. Bringing conventional and historical theoretical perspectives on participatory art in general and combining them with contemporary research on digital cultures, the author builds typologies of online participation and dives deeper into specific curatorial methods of guiding participatory projects online. Contrasting the provided arguments to the present surge of digital platforms, the author tries to focus on the online-specific cases and examples, and argues that online as a space exists according to specific laws and mechanisms and should be researched separately as is, and not as a secondary space to the physical presence. The author distinguishes between individual interaction, where the viewer/participant aims at interpreting and creating a subjective experience of art, drawing a metaphorical map of their journey, and communal participation, where the participants are multiple, and the goal of both the curator and the participant is to collaborate and to connect. The author then continues to review the case studies of recent digital participatory projects that deal with different levels and intensities of engagement and navigate the participation through the use of the contemporary instruments and formats.

Anna Konstantinova is a curator and a cultural manager based in Zurich. Her professional interests include post-photography, process-based and participatory art and digital curating. She is a part of the Swiss photographic collective pool, the curatorial team of the contemporary photography collection of the bank Vontobel and the contemporary art gallery Lullin + Ferrari, alongside contributing to the programme “Screen Walks”. She holds an MA in Media Studies from the Russian State University of the Humanities and has recently graduated MAS Curating at Zurich University of the Arts in Zurich.