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Charlotte Webb

Published date
29 May 2019

Towards an extra-subjective agency in web-based art practice

Chelsea College of Arts

How are the dominant techno-social relations of the web shaping the conditions under which the artist’s agency is enacted? What new forms of artistic agency emerge under these conditions?

In this practice-based project I define agency as a form of subjective capacity to make, acknowledging that our subjectivity is the very basis on which we are able to express our agency. I address my questions by developing a practice and theory of ‘extra-subjectivity’, a rhetorically useful concept deployed to explore how the web specifically enables expanded forms of artistic agency. I aim to describe some of the ways that agency, on the web, can extend beyond the conventional boundaries of individual authorship. Insofar as it can, I’m suggesting that agency on the web might have properties of extra-subjectivity.

I also attempt to develop a practice of extra-subjectivity by employing several artistic methods that disrupt or complicate my own authorship. By setting up scenarios of ambiguous or deferred authorship in my practice, I consider how it is configured in new ways on the web. My strategies include the use of computer programmes, the adoption and re-purposing of digital social research methods, and the appropriation of and interaction with content from online social networks.


Dr Tim O'Riley