Blueskying a Social Media Platform for the Arts

Hosted by
the Social Media Narratives Class
Art and Technology Studies
School of the Art Institute of Chicago

Facebook and Google Groups
November 7 - 12, 2019

Deanne Achong
Artist and Designer

image of Deanne Deanne Achong lives and works in Vancouver. She works across disciplines, including digital and lens-based projects and installation. Her practice draws from history, literature, and digital culture. She has sat on the board of artist-run centers, including Other Sights for Artistís Projects, and has taught sessionally at Emily Carr University of Art + Design. Deanne has exhibited her work in Canada, the US, the Caribbean, and Europe. Her public art projects, include Pier D, a photographic installation integrating a massive QR code and a blog (commissioned by the City of Vancouver). Her works also include The Obsolescence Project, exhibited at the Vancouver Art Gallery for the International Symposium on Electronic Art (ISEA), and her app Lusca Mourns The Telegraph, presented at the Electronic Literature Organization (ELO) conference in Bergen, Norway. For more information, visit

Some random thoughts on
how to navigate social media as an artist

The first thought that popped into my head this morning while "multi-tasking" through answering emails / texts and dealing with a corporate deadline for a design project, was "Signal or Noise" ó Am I am contributing to the signal or to the noise?

Can I even tell the difference anymore?

Iím not an audio artist, so I can't elegantly describe the technical aspects of what that implies, but as a visual / media artist, I know at some level I'm very attracted to the noise. The patterns, the background, the nonsensical. All the errors in code, the glitch.

And yet, on social media, the noise feels like an endless hum conjured up by magicians in the back room, forcing us to respond, to reply, to like, like, like. And the hum created by those millions of signals is intentionally meant to be overwhelming. Engineering our decisions, our behaviour.

The Trouble with the Noise:

A few years ago I was lying in bed, scrolling on my phone, and feeling rather low. I was on FB. I felt driven to scroll, and was feeling worse and worse.

Later that day, I deleted the app. That worked to an extent. About 3 months ago, I finally deleted the profile altogether. [ At any rate, it wasnít under my "real" name, It was an homage to Marcel Duchamp:)]

This happened again with YouTube, not so much that I felt low, but that I was endlessly consuming more on more. I broke my addiction by deleting the app.

Iíve been on twitter for over 10 years. It's shocking how fast that blew by.

I joked the other day wondering if the time spent on those 4,489 tweets was worth it.

Answer #hellyes ó to potentially be revised when I calculate that as a unit of time.

And Instagram, well that's a whole love/hate relationship engineered by those same programming unitsÖ.

The Beauty of the Signal:

Last year I did a collaborative Instagram project using Stories which invited participants to respond to a couple of lineís from Robert Filiou / George Brechtís "THERE IS ALWAYS SOMEONE ASLEEP, AND SOMEONE AWAKE Ö" etc. I posted these as stories with drawings of my phone and any images contributors wanted to send. I felt the nod of approval from the ghosts of these conceptual artists and I *knew* that at least 50% of my audience did not know of that work, but they were happy (and DMed to say so, therefore it must be true) to participate. It gave me this sense of hope for the use of the tool. That one could pluck something out the noise, and create the signal.

Tools / Marketing

Not sure where most of you are in relationship to marketing, I know myself I have resistance to it, partly based upon the benefits of existing in a system where there has been a lot of government funding towards the arts (The Canada Council) but that is changing and although not corporate per se, has its own pressures that end up with artists needing to market their work. I know the marketing angle is something about instagram that I simultaneously loathe and admire. This business of selling the work, promoting, branding, and on and on. Again, this sense of being driven by the interests of the corporation, whose algorithms are too tasty to resist.

Looking Forward > A New Tool?

One of the biggest issues I personally face with social media, besides the first word ó"Social" (an introvertís nightmare), is the compulsion for speed.

Should convenience be the driving factor in how artists make things? Should we be adopting the "first to market" values of the system.

What is there was a social media tool that was deliberately slow? That didnít show likes. Didnít show your connections. Could be silent.
Didnít make you tired.

Where the ratio of signal to noise was something you could control. Where the suggestions of "who" you "should" connect with was based upon factors that you determined.

Utopic I know.

I havenít even touched upon all the other complexities inherent within this systems, issues of race, class, gender, socio-economics ... ALL THE FEELS.

Sometime I think I should delete all my apps, get a dumb phone, and persist in resistingÖ.
When I first began making net-art in early 2000s (hello hand-coded HTML!:) I used to say something like ďthe point of making art here (that isnít / wasnít necessarily seen as art) is to resist and to take up space and to occupy. Is this same true of social media?

Cheers, Deanne
Currently "active" on Instagram: @piquette + Twitter @deanneachong

Transcript of Deanne Achong's Google Docs conversation
for the Contemporary Social Media: and Creative Practice 2018 panel

Judy Malloy:
Introduction to the Panel

Overviews, Ideas, Histories, and Observations

from Artists/Designers

Deanne Achong
Artist and Designer

Tommer Peterson
Theatre Artist and Designer

from Policy Makers and Advocates

Juana Guzman
National Arts Consultant and Arts Advocate

Dal Yong Jin
Professor, School of Communication at Simon Fraser University

Richard Lowenberg
Founding Director of the 1st-Mile Institute, and of NM Broadband for All

Marisa Parham
Professor of English, Amherst College, Director of the Immersive Reality Lab

Ellen Sandor
Founding Director of (art)n, chair of the Gene Siskel Film Center

from: Artists/Educators

Adriene Jenik
Artist, Professor of Intermedia in the School of Art, Arizona State University

Tom Klinkowstein
President, Media A LLC, Professor, Hofstra University, Adj. Professor, Pratt Institute

Wendel A. White
Photographer, Distinguished Professor of Art, Stockton University

from Curators and Critics

George Fifield
Founder and Director of Boston Cyberarts

Isobel Harbison
Art Critic and Lecturer in the Department of Art

SAIC ATS Class in Social Media Narrative
Vee Nyah Culton, Terrell Davis, Adriana Guillen Santalla, Samuel Han, Xavier Hughes, Yoon Joong Hwang, Olivia Paige Johnson, Mara Iskander Mirzan, Keun Mok Park, Richard Park, Wayne P. Tate, Ruby Hana Williams, and July Yoon

SAIC ATS Part-time Faculty: Judy Malloy