Redefining the city through social software: Two examples of open source locative art in Italian urban space

Federica Timeto


In this paper, I compare the work of the Guerrilla Spam collective (GS), which works mainly with analog technologies such as b/w manifestos that they stick up on urban walls, and the work of Salvatore Iaconesi and Oriana Persico (Art is Open Source, aka AOS), who work with digital platforms and open source software production. I show how space can be localized and mobilized at the same time, and how space is conceived as situated and generative by different technologies which share a bottom–up approach that creates new forms of experience of the urban, resignifying its everyday codes. For this reason, I adopt an analytical framework that, drawing on actor-network theory and non–representational theory, underlines the performative aspects of both space and information and helps redefine concepts such as location and software in a processual and performative way. Comparing the actions of GS and AOS brings to the fore the importance of horizontal social practices and sociotechnical associations without which cities could not be intelligent nor could technologies be smart. Through their artistic interventions, urban space is recontextualized and activated by means of multi–authorial performances in which ordinary codes acquire shared meanings that allow for collaborative and open source practices.

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