“Found Collaboration,” and the Art of Leaving Things for Others to Find and Use

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Tess Baxter


In my current practice-based PhD, my video art and printmaking both informs and is informed by the research. My research on creative communities online is tied to visual image practice within the virtual world of Second Life; however, I also bridge outside of the virtual space to reconsider the dynamics between realities and technologies. This approach rejects “digital exceptionalism” by playing with how the digital, analog and digitized have become defined, and by reworking their historic meanings across time. 

My video art practice is experimental rather than based on narrative or a simple record. The latter is what “machinima,” the name given to videos made within games worlds, has mainly become. My work uses found collaboration, where people make work available for reuse without knowing who might use it, or for what purpose. This is different from conventional collaboration, planned by a group of people with shared vision. Found collaboration uses material that crosses both time and space, deliberately playing with challenges, trying to make new connections, giving old ideas a new significance, and exploring non-realistic glitch and error. 

“Found collaboration” depends on the spaces outside of copyright, in particular Creative Commons and public domain. Creative Commons allows the work to have designated conditions for reuse, with an obligation for users to credit and apply similar conditions to the new work that has been made; ethical rather than commercial concerns prevail. Public domain allows free use of material, though the extension of copyright for commercial reasons has restricted its breadth. 

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