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The boundaries between art and open source are thin

Launch of CORNERS in GdanskI Photo by Corners of Europe  (CC BY 2.0)
Launch of CORNERS in GdanskI Photo by Corners of Europe (CC BY 2.0)

What do art and software have in common? As any other medium before, artists seem to be fascinated by technology and its creative use. In the 21st century, digital art is a flourishing sector and digital media are a common way for artists to explore the boundaries of art itself. 

CORNERS is an EU-funded project that intends to create collaborations between artists from the 'corners of Europe,' the geographic boundaries of the European continent. The objective is to enable exchange across geographical, political and economic divisions. When artist and curator Dominic Smith and ISIS Arts approached us, we wondered… how can tools conceived for journalism be used for art?

As part of CORNERS, ISIS Arts and Dominic Smith have launched Corners Live, the digital extension of the CORNERS project online. And here is how Sourcefabric’s masterpieces came handy.

Dominic didn’t want to approach the challenges of building a digital platform as if he was building up another website. He rather “wanted to approach the project as making an extension for the artwork, not just documenting it. With Corners Live, we’re enabling the artwork to exist and for that, we wanted to have something with a continuous aspect, something which is not static, so that the audience keeps coming back to find out what’s new.” 

Storytelling and narration have played a significant role in contemporary art for quite some time. “By setting artwork against a story-like structure, the artwork becomes more accessible.” In Dominic’s opinion, “People are unsure of contemporary art because it can sometimes feel like a different language and they don’t understand what an artist is trying to achieve. Story-like structures help us overcome these barriers.” He considers storytelling to have an important role in art, perception of artworks and sharing the ideas constituting artwork. 

Even more in the digital age, the tools used in the process of storytelling can certainly influence the way the story is shaped. The technology influences the story in ways you could not imagine: “What’s really good about Storyteller is that it makes you think about the story and structure in it in an interesting way, so you don’t apply certain clichés and structures to the stories”, says Dominic. 

Corners Live aims to “minimise the representation of the artwork and increase access to the art itself, so people feel like they are having a genuine experience with the artwork and the artist.” When asked what makes a good art, Dominic says that “for art to be good art, it has to have a transformative effect on the viewer, it has to change the way you view something, or change the way you approach something in life.” He thinks this is possible to achieve with Storyteller: “it has such a minimalistic design that it doesn’t get in the way of the art. It lets the art breath and allows people who are viewing it to get a sense that they are genuinely engaging in the artwork itself.” Dominic is equally excited about longform journalism in general. “Longform stories are absorbing and immersive, they are an enabling remediation of traditional storytelling and technology.”

In 'Put Yourself in My Place,' the first project of Corners Live, two performance artists - one from Split, Croatia, and one from Umea, Sweden - decided to inhabit the each others' lives. How do you document such an interesting experience? With the help of a digital storytelling tool, Storyteller, the parallel swapped lives of Ida Hansson and Milijana Babić come to life on your screen through video, images and text. 

Have a look for yourself, as it appears, our software tools don’t have to be necessarily used only by journalists. Surprisingly, they can also serve very well as an artistic digital platform. 

ISIS Arts is a visual and media arts organisation based in the centre of Newcastle upon Tyne, UK. Since its launch in 1991, it has been focusing on developing projects physically and virtually crossing barriers while engaging culturally diverse communities. It has been also aiming at reaching audiences that might not otherwise experience contemporary art.

Storyteller is our latest Newscoop theme. It allows for multimedia storytelling without the need for coding.

Are you running a project that is in line with our organisation’s mission and could use our help? Send an email to contact@sourcefabric.org and we’ll see what we can do for you.