Influence of Corporate Networks on Locative Media Participatory Art Projects

Ana da Cunha


Abstract: The emergence of mobile network technologies greatly enhanced the communicational possibilities of the Internet. With capabilities to communicate and establish collective and democratic mobile platforms, cellular networks may represent to some artists a significant revolution in participatory proposals. However, many sources dealing with these subjects do not acknowledge that nearly all wireless platforms are generally governed by commercial entities. Thus, this mercantile sovereignty can represent a significant obstacle to both art producers and the participant public, in terms of creative freedom, artistic expression and the effective participation of spectators. The corporate dominance of physical infrastructures and operating mobile communications can restrict the artist’s freedom and technical implementation when it comes to hosting and running their projects. Furthermore, a full control over data banks and digital filtering systems can regulate the content, restrain access, and generate participants with impoverished and colonized subjectivities, therefore limiting their participatory actions. This article presents these contexts and analyzes both the problems and possible solutions surrounding the influence of corporations in the production and public participation of locative media projects.



Several parameters defined in La era de la Información, by Manuel Castells (2002) [1] such as social formations based upon information webs and built around decentralized, momentary, and fluid connections of people with similar affinities, are being highly enhanced by the predominance of mobile communication. With the development of mobile technologies, activists, and artists envisioned a unique web of connected people that would help promote effective actions in the artistic field, and facilitate strategies against the governmental and economical forces in the established system.

The more optimistic artists understood mobile communication as an alternative possibility to produce democratized, cooperative, and participative art. Mobile technology is indeed able to join people from different places, translocally, and enables associations in both fixed and mobile virtual spaces, therefore increasing opportunities for the promotion of the artistic practice. The potential of participation in artistic proposals is increased due to discussions and contributions from mobile users.

Locative artworks involve people from different contexts, do not require physical participation, and are free from many other spatial and temporal issues. However, the effective performance and participation of spectators is hindered by an aggravating factor: locative proposals rely almost exclusively on their hosting on corporate networks. Communication networks are mostly provided by corporations, and may represent an obstacle when it comes to public participation in locative art proposals.

This article will address the influence of corporate networks on participatory artistic practices that use locative media. Topics such as the public participation in works using locative media, the colonization of subjectivity by communication corporations, and the quality of content will be explored. I will discuss about the real efficacy of art projects occurring across networks and between mobile devices. I will then point out some possible solutions to make contributions through locative medias more effective in practice.

Participation: Yesterday and today

Public participation in artistic proposals is not a new phenomenon. [2] Despite experiencing an enhancement in the 1960s and being reinforced in present times with the emergence of web communication technologies, the participation of audience in creative projects is evident at least as early as 1909, with the Italian Futurists’ serates—a new multi-disciplinary performing art, including poetry readings, concerts and exhibition of artworks, but strongly characterized by confronting the audience through direct provocation, in order to incite riots. Also, soon after this date, in 1916-17 the French Dadaist and Bolshevist schools emphasized participatory actions, contrary to concurrent modernist artistic manifestations. [3]

The motivation for creating proactive audiences was the objective of changing people’s political imaginations, which was inscribed in a context dominated by oppression, control, and warfare. In fact, this very political context induced the Futurist, Russian Constructivist and Dadaist artistic movements to foster artistic actions aiming at the awareness, education, and preparation of citizens to live in their actual realities.

However, in the former Soviet Union in 1921, some artists carried out a process of changing society based upon the ideas of Aleksandr Bogdanov [4] and Alexei Gam. According to Claire Bishop, Bogdanov’s concepts —except for those related to the industrialization of art— have persisted and survived in the actions of socially engaged art by contemporary interventionists and activists. Bogdanov conceived art as a tool to mobilize sentiments, i.e., strictly political sentiments. Bogdanov explains, “Art can organize sentiments the same way that ideological propaganda does (…).” [5] Henceforth, creativity in socialist Russia acquired a collective character instead of an individual one.

The Russian utopia of a collective, participative, and collaborative cultural production still survives in artistic movements involving social and political ends. In the sixties, some European representatives of artistic schools aspiring to the same purpose as above were: the Situationists with their Derivas, and Fluxus artists through their Happenings. Also, in the sixties and seventies, other Latin American artists working with participatory and collective ends were, Lygia Clark with her Relational Objects(1976-88), and Hélio Oiticica through his Parangolés (1965) and Tropicalia (1966-67), to name only a few practices. Different versions of so-called socially engaged art originating in the 1990s can also be noted, including “art as project” or relational aesthetics movements, among others. All of these artistic currents share a main goal. Namely, collective artistic production through collaborations based on social exchanges in a non-hierarchical structure.

With the advent of informational webs and digital technologies, many artists saw web platforms as instruments capable of generating favorable contexts for public participation in artistic proposals. Likewise, they could see that the electronic webs would be able to provide and increase the critical, political, and activist sense in society. As a result, many artists were rapidly keen on information technologies, switching to the digital language and informational networks as their activist and artistic tools. Among these artists are The Electronic Disturbance Theater, Etoy, The Critical Art Ensemble, among others.

Due to the development of web-based mobile communication the capacities of fixed webs were increased. The existence of a platform that allowed decentralized diaspora people’s connection and also offered the opportunity of translocal and mobile communication (to exchange, upload, and download information) represented for some artists an optimistic alternative for participatory proposals.

Participation and locative media

The reason for the participatory locative media proposals implementation is not based on the electronic web’s physical structure but on the web’s concept. According to Christine Paul, [6] locative media actions are more relevant because of their concept and subject rather than for their technology. Artists who utilize the electronic webs provided by the locative media explore this assumption. Paul draws attention to the fact that webs supplied by the locative media, such as cell phones, make people rethink the meaning of public space. The author states that these webs open new spaces for artistic interventions and bring about a new concept of ‘public art.’ Artistic interventions in non-institutional spaces (graffiti art, performance art, and participative actions), like those accomplished by Fluxus, find a new space for lodging on mobile media.

Paul also says that a public space promoted by the locative media allows the association of artistic actions on a web and, unlike the traditional public art, empower a translocal connection of people. Furthermore, locative media art projects enable public associations on fixed virtual spaces where the users can debate or contribute with information which can be exchanged, uploaded or downloaded.

Assuming that mobile technologies potentiate the web relations promoted by the fixed webs, some artists and activists believe that the use of mobile communication and the web can enhance collective, political, and artistic movements. [7] One example of this movement is the smart mob, a self-sustainable social community hinged by mobile devices and technology. Smart mobs are formed by people who gather via fixed or mobile informational webs such as blogs, chats, social webs, text messages, and other means. [8]

Recent smart mob examples are the 15M Movement (2011, Spain), and the Arab Spring manifestation,(2010-2012, in North African countries). Both manifestations were mediated by new technologies that helped gather thousands of people with common aims against political and governmental systems. Paraphrasing Amparo Lásen and Iñaki Martínez’s interpretation, in cases such as these the sum of mobile technology, people, and computers on the web creates a new hybrid politicized mass which disseminates information that is not available in the mass media. Thus, new technologies promote and foment a new political system that supports a politicized participation that is not yet fully acknowledged. [9]

According to Sfez, the construction of social formations based on informational webs, such as smart mobs, may act on spaces that transpose commodification boundaries. Today, the Internet is populated by weblogs, free software, wikis, indymedia, and other virtual communities, that allow people to act out of commercial and governmental established spaces that generally restrict expression and political freedom. All these forms of digital operation on the web in association with mobile networks cooperate in order to develop the collective and collaborative artistic projects. [10] Although it may sound utopian, Sfez believes that if practiced on a large scale the collaborative collective actions have the power to transform the economic, social, and political landscape of the world.

Analyzing the points of view discussed in previous paragraphs together with theories about the web from André Parente [11] and Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guatarri, [12] it is possible to imply that the web really does promote the connection of people, collective spirit, and participation. Furthermore, the theories related to social formation, complexity, and collective intelligence (Castells, [13] Maffesoli, [14] Mourin, [15] Levy, [16] etc.), arising with the Information Society associated with the concept of web, would be the perfect formula concerning art, activism, and locative media strategies.

We can find that network structures and contemporary social formations are favorable to the promotion of platforms that enable the connection of people and the shaping of democratic collectives, both with goals connected to politics and entertainment. In theory, these artistic projects, in this case participative proposals that make use of locative media, should be favored by the web concept and the social formations related to the Mobile Information Society. [17]

However, it is necessary to be aware that social formations and artistic works both intrinsically depend on the social, economical, cultural, and political contexts in which they are inscribed. It is essential to analyze all the fields related to new technologies to make possible one substantial conclusion about the real efficacy of the mobile technologies applied on locative media art projects. In the case of participatory actions that use mobile media, it is necessary to observe that several obstacles do exist: Corporate networks restrain public participation, and impair the full development of artistic collective proposals.

Among the significant obstacles that work against locative media artistic proposals, this essay is focused on one particularly relevant component with the aim of retaining some of ancestral Marxism’s utopias in the world of new technologies. This obstacle corresponds to the pervasive influence of communication companies on artistic creation and public participation in locative media art projects. Accordingly, it is necessary to think about some core questions. How can the mobile devices corporations’ power interfere with locative media art proposals? Might the mercantile forces change public participation habits, and how? Why could this participation be impaired and inefficient? What are the possible solutions for minimizing the corporate impact on informational webs?

Corporate barriers: Dominance of infrastructures, routing, content filtering, and personalization of search engines

Unlike the information webs that were created in the beginning of the Internet –which were supported by universities, independent groups and military forces– wireless webs were produced by corporations. While private companies became partners on the Internet after its creation, mobile webs started their activities through major corporations. The complete wireless structure is designed and manufactured by private companies.

The corporative structure of wireless webs has engendered the current communicational structural design, and in turn can control all the digital information that circulates on the mobile webs. Therefore, the sovereignty of capitalist institutions over mobile communicational media is capable of restricting and interfering on the actions of the web user. This kind of control can forbid the free and democratic use of wireless communication.

Today, Corporate organizations have almost total supremacy over the physical and technological infrastructure of the informational webs, including the maintenance of contents, formats, and systems. Furthermore, they also regulate distribution, access, and data control. This apparently harmless monopoly redirects content, restricts access to information, and suggests forms of consumption through digital filters and data tracking systems. Mobile communication corporations dictate formats, communication infrastructures, and digital operation systems.

We can clearly observe this situation as we understand the following mercantile strategies: i) the control of communication infrastructures by the mobile communication companies, ii) digital filters, iii) web digital markets of personal collected data and, iv) surveillance systems. [18]

Control of infrastructures

Understanding the way communicational infrastructure is controlled may disclose the reason why this commercial strategy complicates the full implementation of locative media participative projects. The artistic projects that employ wireless technology both as language and tool in order to produce artworks often rely on these commercial structures. As the mobile communication structures are usually driven by mercantile purposes, artists frequently feel the need to adjust their artworks to the principles of the corporative systems to get hosted and make their locative media projects available.

An example that illustrates this situation is the Grafedia (2004-05) art project, [19] conceived by the American artist John Geraci. The proposal consists of a platform that sends multimedia messages, such as images, videos, and texts diversely produced and altered by voluntary participants, via cell phones. Essentially, the Grafedia art project aims to remodel contemporary metropolitan invisible space through unusual and improvised landscapes that are composed by the users of wireless technology and the Internet.

However, in order to work on wireless networks, this art proposal needed to join Verizon and Cingular, two of the mobile carriers operating in the United States. The project, which was already working flawlessly on fixed networks, had to join these two carriers, since they were the only companies willing to host Grafedia and make it possible to work on wireless networks.

The most interesting point to be analyzed in the Grafedia case is that the purpose of this art proposal – to reach a collective of people developing a collaborative project – is jeopardized by its own rules. According to its website, in the written section related to Grafedia’s operation, one can read the following instructions:

Can My Phone View Grafedia?

Yes, your phone can view grafedia if:
– you have a phone that is capable of receiving and displaying picture messages
– you have an account with either T-mobile, Verizon or Cingular. (Sprint and AT&T do not allow for receiving picture messages from outside the carrier network. Other carriers, including carriers outside the U.S. may or may not work – try it and find out, and report the results back to me for inclusion here.)
– you have a phone plan that allows you to send and receive picture messages. [20]

When we analyze Verizon’s and Cingular’s operation rules, it is possible to understand how wireless corporate barriers affect artistic proposals such as this one. Geraci’s intention to build a democratic, participative, and collective project is limited by Verizon’s and Cingular’s policies as both carriers will not allow customers of rival companies such as AT&T and Sprint to access Grafedia. The example illustrates how the control of technological and communicational infrastructures by corporations can limit the operation of participative and collective locative media projects.

Artists whose projects use corporate mobile webs may have their artistic freedom of expression and choice seriously harmed or hindered. One way or another, their artworks may be subjected to the rules defined by the mercantile parameters, which comprise the control of structural platforms, the restriction to content, and the inclusion of advertising. Thereby, proposals encompassing culture criticism or micropolitics related to the use of corporate web may sound paradoxical as they eventually disagree with the forces inherent to the capitalist system. The use of a web dominated by sales strategies and advertising is a challenge for artists aiming to use wireless platforms as a tool for activism.

Content filtering and data market

In addition to the barriers created by corporate webs that hinder artistic expression and make difficult the diffusion of locative media projects, it is also necessary to discuss how the mercantile systems interfere with public participation. In this case, one strategy applied by companies is the use of digital filters and data markets to control and direct or route content and information.

Applied by information companies like Google, Facebook, Amazon and others, digital filters are capable to direct, suggest, and personalize the customers’ habits in cyberspace as personal data are collected when the user provides information. This commercial strategy actually leads to a standardization of the customer’s behavior.

Eli Pariser, an expert on informational web structures, demonstrates how the major companies use personal information to create a data market, and how the filters may personalize consumer’s habits and behaviors. According to the researcher, the most accessed webpages like Google and CNN have their systems equipped with digital filters with sixty-four data laden cookies and tracking beacons. It means that for each term that we search on the web more than 223 tracking cookies are activated on our computers. [21]

Through this process, other web pages can track our search profiles and suggest products by sending us content based on the information that is similar to those we provided on previous websites. This strategy turns the web to a guru-like entity capable of guessing our tastes and showing us exactly what we were supposedly looking for. Personalization also occurs when we use mobile devices. Each time users access the digital web through a smartphone or a tablet, or install applications, or fill entry forms, their personal data is collected and used to personalize content based on the provided information.

According to Pariser, this is the reason why search engines, such as Google, do not display the same results for the same terms if different computers are used for a task. The personalization of the searching systems is based on the information provided by different users, and this makes each computer significant in determining the needs of its owner. As explained by Eli Parisier,

As a business strategy, the Internet giants’ formula is simple: The more personally relevant their information offerings are, the more they can sell, and the more likely you are to buy the products they’re offering. And the formula works. Amazon sells billions of dollars in merchandise by predicting what each customer is interested in and putting it in front of the virtual store. [22]

So, while we think that we are getting online services for free by just filling entry forms, in fact we are providing free feedstock to a data market.

Filtering mechanisms customize our consumer profiles to entice us into purchasing items that we “would want,” but customization can also lead to a significant decrease in critical thinking and to limitations in acquiring new knowledge, even to the most conscious people. Because of this, our argumentative repertoire can be impoverished and our collective sense can be limited. Living constantly in a web environment designed for each of us as individual subjects hinders the ability to access some others’ worlds or interact with unknown territories that could enrich us by showing a world beyond our own. A customized world makes it more difficult to think about ourselves as a collective. This leads to an underdevelopment in viewpoints related to the common good, such as politics and culture.

This underdevelopment can also be reflected in the arts field when the public fails to engage, or engages superficially, in participatory proposals because of their impoverished collective and social spirit. Moreover, the lack of acquisition of new knowledge promoted by filter and customization systems can weaken the contribution of the public in proposals that require their participation.


fig 1. Hermes Renato Hildebrand, Jordi Sala and Efrain Foglia, AirCity:arte#ocupaSM (2012). Installation. Photo: Diego Torrico.

One case that may illustrate the limited participation and impoverished public involvement in projects with locative media is AirCity:arte#ocupaSM (2012). [23] Created by artists Hermes Renato Hildebrand, Jordi Sala and Efrain Foglia, the arte#ocupaSM proposal within the AirCity project series was developed in the city of Santa Maria in southern Brazil, in an old central administration of railroads built between 1901 and 1903. The project was formed by an installation comprising fixed and wireless webs that aimed to enable data (pictures, sounds, videos) from the past and the present of the old building and city, through public participation. The information was stored on a mapping system created by the artists and collected through testimonials, information, and images provided by the inhabitants of Santa Maria. The intention was to create, through the participation of the spectators, narratives between past and present memories and sensations about the city and the old central railway building.

The arte#ocupaSM had all merits for a strong locative art proposal in conceptual and technical terms, but in practice, it did not receive the expected success in public participation. According to Hildebrand, there was

an unwanted and observed aspect regarding the work community interaction. We noted, on one hand, that there was an engaged audience interaction with the work, but on the other hand, that this interaction was still confined to artists and academics, being present only a minority of the community that was interviewed and invited to attend the event. (…) even though the building where the installation took place is in the Belgian village, a well-known and frequented place in the past, that turned into an unknown space when it comes to art. (…) The people who were active in the construction of the work, chose to observe their implementation from the distance. [24]

Regarding the case of arte#ocupaSM, we cannot state that digital filters were to blame for the deficit in public participation. Following Pierre Bourdieu ideas, we already know that some kinds of art production [25] have always been, for the most part, a territory for a restricted public, which, in most cases, consists of intellectuals, art professionals, and artists themselves [26]. Yet, one can still predict that, together with the restricted public of the art, the colonization of subjectivity (through digital filters and customization of content) might further the divide between art and audience. That disconnect will contribute to the impairment of participatory practices, increasingly, through a superficial participation of users without an in depth knowledge. In the words of Eli Parisier,

“By definition, a world constructed from familiar is a world in which there’s not to learn. If personalization is to acute, it could prevent us from coming in contact with the mind-blowing, preconception-shattering experiences and ideas that changes how we think about the world and ourselves.” [27]

Conclusion: Alternatives to create efficient participatory projects and public on the media locative field by minimizing corporation and personalization influences

As observed above, the potential dominance of informational infrastructures, the control over information and the viability of an intentional routing to informational contents predefined by commercial networks, are capable of damaging both the artist’s attempt to employ mobile networks as a technology for artistic production and the public participation in locative projects.

However, we should not assume an extreme nihilist position against the established obstacles by thinking that locative projects are not viable. Instead, we should reflect: what can we do to make locative participative projects more accessible? How can the artists use mobile platforms to diminish or neutralize the corporate control? What alternatives do we have to expand the public implication and participation on media locative projects? How can we escape from commercial strategies?

Concerning artistic production, Giselle Beiguelman [28] states that we must think about cultural changes in a world dominated by informational webs and mobile devices. Accordingly, it is necessary to find a way to coexist with communication corporatations without losing our freedom of criticism and expression – while also seeking alternatives. For this reason, the alternative to artists could be to host locative proposals on free, open and citizen’s webs. [29] Another solution could be to find ways to subvert the corporative influences using the corporative constraints themselves for the sake of artistic criticism and expression.

An example that subverts the corporative rules is The Transborder Immigration Tool (2007), [30] a project by the group Electronic Disturbance Theater 2.0, [31] whose work establishes a dialectic relation between political borders and aesthetic boundaries. The collective calls itself “artivist,” (artist + activist) and created a system that connects art and activism through a platform that uses GPS systems and cell phones. The platform guides Mexican immigrants crossing the territories between Mexico and the United States of America, helping them to find spots free of police surveillance and locating places to obtain food, water, and basic services while on the Mexican desert. In order to activate the project, the collective used cheap and clandestine cell phones that accepted non-corporative algorithms and hacked GPS systems.


fig 2. Ricardo Domínguez, Transborder Immigrant Tool (2011). Media Locative Project. Photo: Stalbaumfig.

Mobilitylab (2009) [32] by Efrain Foglia and collaborators, is an example of a platform that works with projects hosted on the free and citizen’s web [33] It comprises artworks like AirCity (2011) and Drawing Angels (2012), both aiming to activate invisible and liquid narratives (memories, sounds, images, etc.) that inhabit the wireless spaces. According to Foglia, [34] all of the Mobilitylab proposals are conceptually and technologically designed for the free webs. He also states that this attitude is fundamental in order to be coherent with the open source and collective characters encompassed by the project. In parallel, Mobilitylab also works with the construction of free webs and open protocols in projects aiming to widely disseminate the proposals within the public.

As we can see there are still alternatives to produce art without suffering from the influence of mercantile power. Nevertheless, it is necessary to present another possible solution to increase public involvement in locative media participatory projects. This involvement should contribute both to make these artistic proposals efficient and to enrich individual and collective dimensions of the participants. This enrichment means the emergence of new knowledge, the exchange of experiences, and the growth of collective and political consciousness.

The personalization that is occurring in informational webs can isolate users in a narrowing world, making it more difficult for them to access wider realities. This situation can impair their ability to acquire new knowledge and to develop a sense of criticism and collectiveness. In a context characterized by serious educational and social issues, the participation of the audience in artistic projects may become quite partial. Thus, the use of free web structures could help prepare an audience to become fully engaged in the locative media projects.

Free webs have an independent operational system and work in parallel to corporate webs providing collective and democratic access to the internet. They do not filter or redirect content. According to Foglia, free webs have low cost and free transmission frequencies, which allow free connections, and independent and unrestricted structures that promote free exchange of content and information. In other words, free webs are collaborative platforms that enable exchange of knowledge, content, and information, and they are also built and maintained through cooperation between members. [35]

In a society profoundly influenced by controlled and routed information, where people are accustomed to pay for services and products, the use of free webs presents an alternative: one that promotes a socially active critical mass regarding the present-day situation of both communication and society. As information is not directed on the free web’s structure, participants in locative media may explore an infinity of relations between images, texts, and archives that may enrich the art projects. For instance, by accessing an image and freely relating it to a text with no apparent connection, participants may explore the possibilities offered by the digital space in a deeper way. In doing so, free webs favor the expansion of the participants’ critical thinking and horizons.

There are not fully effective methods to neutralize or annihilate the influence of market forces in our daily life. At the same time, there are not necessarily fully effective participative proposals nor highly-qualified audiences that take part in locative projects. However, there are ways to coexist with these partial realities and to work with what it is possible within them, as noted by Nicolas Bourriaud in Relational Aesthetics: “The art works do not aim to build imaginary and utopian realities, but to construct modes of existence, or models of action within the existing reality, whatever the scale chosen by the artist.” [36]

It is possible to reach great results having these considerations in mind. In order to accomplish that, we can follow the examples of The Electronic Disturbance Theater 2.0, of Mobilitylab, and of free networks such as This means working in a similar fashion, even in smaller scales, to increase the efficacy of the locative media participatory proposals and to enrich the sense of collectiveness in our daily life.


fig 3. Ricardo Domínguez, Transborder Immigrant Tool (2011). Media Locative Project. Photo: Micha Cárdenas.

Endnotes & Bibliography

[1] Manuel Castells, La era de la información (Buenos Aires: Siglo XXI, 2002).
[2] Claire Bishop, Artificial Hells – Participatory Art and the Politics of Spectatorship (London: Verso, 2012).
[3] We will use here Bishop’s reading of participatory art. She argues that participatory demonstrations were born in theaters and performances and not from fine arts movements.
[4] Bogdanov was an economist, philosopher, and physicist. He also was a writer and activist who identified gaps in Marxist theory, especially those about the proletariat as a revolutionary force and about building a new society.
[5] Claire Bishop, Artificial Hells – Participatory Art and the Politics of Spectatorship (London: Verso, 2012), 52.
[6] Christine Paul, Digital Art (London: Thames and Hudson, 2008), 216.
[7] Ibid.
[8] Howard Rheingold, Smart Mobs the Next Social Revolution (New York: Basic Books, 2002).
[9] Amparo Lasén and Iñaki Martínez de Albéniz, “Movimientos, ‘mobidas’ y móviles: un análisis de las masas mediatizadas,” in Cultura Digital y movimientos sociales, eds. Igos Sábada and Ángel Gordo, (Madrid: Los libros de la Catarata, 2008), 247.
[10] Lucien Sfez, Critique de la communicatión (Paris: Aubier, 1958), 47-49.
[11] André Parente, Tramas da Rede (Porto Alegre: Sulina, 2004).
[12] Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guatarri, Capitalisme et Schizophrénie 1. L’Anti-Oedipe (Paris: Minuit, 1972).
[13] Manuel Castells, The rise of the network society (Cambridge: Blackwell Publishers, 1996).
[14] Michel Maffesoli, A contemplação do mundo (Porto Alegre: Artes e Ofícios, 1995).
[15] Edgar Mourin, O Paradigma Perdido: A Natureza Humana (Lisboa: Publicações Europa-América LDA, 1973).
[16] Pierre Levy, L’Intelligence collective. Pour une anthropologie du cyberespace (Paris: La Découverte, 1997).
[17] Manuel Castells, Mobile Communication and Society (Cambridge: Mitpress, 2007).
[18] Surveillance is also an important feature of corporate communication networks, but it will not be used in this article. This is justified because the goal of this study is to show the influence of commercial powers. Important references on surveillance and its consequences can be found in texts by Christian Fuchs, James Curran, Des Freedman and Natalie Fenton.
[19]Grafedia official website,
[20] Grafedia official website,
[21] Eli Parisier, The Filter Bubble: How the New Personalized Web Is Changing What We Read and How We Think (New York: Penguin Books, 2012), 7.
[22] Ibid.
[23] arte#ocupaSM official website,
[24] Hermes Renato Hildebrand, Jordi Sala and Efrain Foglia, “Medias Locativas e cartografia urbana no projeto Mediacity,” in 11#ART Encontro Internacional de Arte e Tecnologia – Anais, n.11, (2012).
[25] Pierre Bourdieu, Alain Darbel L´amour de l´art. Les museés e leur public (Paris: Edition di Minuit, 1966)
[26] This sentence should be taken with reservations, because some artistic productions are very popular, e.g. cinema.
[27] Eli Parisier, The Filter Bubble: How the New Personalized Web Is Changing What We Read and How We Think (New York: Penguin Books, 2012), 15.
[28] Gisele Beiguelman, “Arte Wireless” in Razón y Palabra, n.41, (2004), (accessed January 10, 2013).
[29] The major free networks are: Consume, Free2air, London, Freifunk, Berlin, DiiRWB, Denmark and of Catalonia. The free and citizens’ networks are free systems that have democratic structures and do not suffer from the control and dominance of corporations. Their main features are: viral and open nature; function in parallel to trade networks; data exchange without restrictions; and sharing of Internet access in a collectively and democratically way.
[30] Corinne Rarney, “Artivists and Mobile Phones: The Transborder Immigrant Project” in, (2007), (accessed January 05, 2013).
[31] Composed by the artists Amy Sara Carroll, Brett Staulbaun, Elle Mehrmand, Micha Cardenas and Ricardo Dominguez.
[32] Mobilitylab official website,
[33] official website,
[34] Efraín Foglia, e-mail message, April 15th, 2012.
[35] Efraín Foglia, “Redes pararelas y cartografías detectoras – prácticas sociales y artísticas con medios locativos” in Artnodes: Revista de Arte, Ciencia y Tecnología, n.8, (2008): 16.
[36] Nicolas Bourriaud, Estética Relacional (Buenos Aires: Adriana Hidalgo, 2006), 12.


Acknowledgements: The author gratefully acknowledges useful discussions with the GIIP interdisciplinary group (, and with artists Efrain Foglia and Prof. Hermes Renato Hidelbrand. The author thanks support from the CAPES Brazilian agency through PhD scholarship number 1127/12-8.

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