Creating with computers means you are reliant on platforms. Artists working with computers often use proprietary software as tools to create new kinds of art. Such tools are vulnerable, however, as companies evolve and change priorities. Entire genres of art can disappear if their tools and platforms are no longer profitable for their parent company.   

Many people use computers and the internet to interact on platforms such as social media and video sharing sites. These platforms also change as they try to compete for audience attention. What are the risks for artists and audiences when using platforms? Artists, curators, and scholars discuss the risks and rewards of creating on platforms in the programs below.  

Section Glossary

Accessibility or access – Refers to the degrees of ease to which something can be had, used, or accessed. In many of these videos, accessibility refers to physical and virtual spaces as well as tools and knowledge. More information on accessibility and the MacKenzie Art Gallery’s Accessibility Statement can be found here. 

Affordances – What a space, platform, or object offers a user through its properties and what it can do. 

Historical Precedents – Situations, people, places and things from the past that provide ways for understanding relations today. 

Medium – The material, form, or technology used in a work of art (for example, painting, photography, video, or computer games). 

Modifiers or mods – Game modifiers or mods are add-ons to existing software and platforms that change aspects of their user experience. Mods are often created by fans of games to expand aspects of gameplay. 

Open-Source – Computer code that is not limited in how it can be distributed or modified, often created collaboratively by a community.  

Planned obsolescence – The intentional design of a product or service to have an artificial time limit for its use. This can be done through physical constraints such as fragile material construction, or through software upgrades that make older hardware incompatible. 

Platform – A space where users can produce and/or exchange information, services or goods. Digital platforms include social media, gig economy applications, and can also include tools for content creation and dispersion. 

Proprietary – The relationship between an owner and their property. When something is called proprietary, it often means that its users have limited access to it, that does not include opportunities to make changes or improvements without the direct involvement of its owner. Much digital technology is proprietary, meaning it is owned by companies that do not allow its community to change its function. 

P2P – Stands for “peer to peer,” the sharing of resources like files or information between people over a network like the internet. 

Software – Code used by a computer (“hardware”) to do things, like math, games, websites, communication, and more. 

Web 2.0 and Web 3.0 – Two different periods of history and technology in the development of the internet, characterized by interactive social media platforms (in web 2.0), and decentralized protocols that use a technology called the blockchain (web 3.0). 


Dragan Espenscheid, Jonas Richner, and Cyril Chen for Gone in a Flash

Gone in a Flash was a digital programs series focusing on the 2020 dissolution of the Adobe Flash medium. Since 1996, Adobe Flash introduced artists and audiences to interactive, animated, and web-based work. Why did Adobe dissolve this tool, and what is its legacy? In this panel, Dragan Espenscheid, Jonas Richner, and Cyril Chen discuss digital art archiving from their areas of expertise. Live-streamed November 28, 2020.

Paolo Pedercini (Molleindustria) for Gone in a Flash

Paolo Pedercini joins us to discuss his practice as an artist and educator and their intersections with the Adobe Flash software. Working under the project name “Molleindustria,” he produces videogames addressing social issues including environmental justice, religion, and labour and alienation. Many of his projects, including the viral 2006 “McDonald’s videogame” were built using Flash and are at risk through the software’s dissolution. In this program, Pedercini presents his work through a lens of culture and access, reflecting on historical precedents. . Live-streamed November 19, 2020.

Nathalie Lawhead (alienmelon) for Gone in a Flash

Nathalie Lawhead is a net-artist and award-winning game designer that has been creating experimental digital art since the late 90’s. They have been creating Flash work since its inception, including their IGF winning Tetrageddon Games. Lawhead presents their practice and its growth alongside the evolution of the Flash software, and considers how Flash experimentation paved the way for the popular independent game developers of today. Live-streamed December 3, 2020.

Cyril Chen: Saving your Flash Art from the Grave

In this livestreamed workshop, digital archivist and artist Cyril Chen demonstrates how to preserve your favourite Flash works. Using Rhizome’s free, open-source software Conifer, Chen demonstrates how to archive Flash pages for future audiences to continue accessing their favourite animations, artworks, and games beyond the December 31, 2020 expiry date. Live-streamed December 10, 2020.

What do we mean when we say content moderation?

In this video, Pegah Vaezi and Connor Turland discuss the expanded influence of content moderation through digital platforms. Focusing on how the use of common platforms narrows artists agency as creators, Vaezi and Turland explain what alternatives exists for empowering artists in the digital sphere. Live-streamed July 9, 2020.

Ender Gallery

Ender Gallery is an artist residency and exhibition series that occurs entirely on the video game Minecraft. In its inaugural year, the program hosted four artists who explored the platform’s potential for artistic expression. Over four exhibitions and more than a dozen events, these artists consider the affordances, expectations, and limitations of the Minecraft platform.  Exhibitions and programs ran March 8, 2021 – January 2022, 2022.

Cat Haines, Huidi Xiang, and Ender Gallery at A MAZE. 2021

Ender Gallery’s first and third artists in residence join co-curators Sarah Friend, Cat Bluemke and Jonathan Carroll for a panel discussion for A MAZE. Games and Playful Media festival. In the context A MAZE.’s hybrid media arts festival, the group considers Ender Gallery’s own practices for virtual programming and how artist projects can inform online spaces.  Live-streamed July 24, 2021.

Animation with After Effects

Want to get started animating, but don’t know where to start? This live workshop demonstrations basic motion graphics techniques using Adobe After Effects. Live-streamed April 16, 2020.

Livestreaming for Artists

Digital artists Erin Gee, Dianna Lynn VanderMeulen and Maya Ben David learn how to use the livestreaming software Open Broadcast System (OBS) in this live workshop. Follow along to discover the ways that this program can be of use to artists working in performance, sound, and new media. Live-streamed April 2, 2020.

Augmented Reality Makeup Tutorial

Famous new media artist Jeremy Bailey and John G. Hampton create new virtual identities for themselves in this beginner augmented reality tutorial. Follow along to learn how to use the Lens Studio software to create augmented reality filters with face tracking that can be used with social media and video calls. Live-streamed April 9, 2020.

Worldbuilding with Unity3D

Artists Hilarey Cowan and Simon Fuh learn the basics of creating and navigating virtual landscapes in the video game Unity 3D. Follow along to learn how to apply this powerful software to your own projects. Live-streamed April 23, 2020.  

Building a Virtual Gallery in Unity3D

Regina-based digital artist Ryan Hill discusses his virtual exhibit created for the Dunlop Art Gallery. In this live workshop create your own virtual white cube gallery with basic techniques. Learn how to present different media including sculptures, videos, and images, in an interactive 3D space created in Unity 3D. The workshop includes a discussion on the advantages and challenges about creating work in this format, and strategies for sharing it with audiences. Live-streamed May 14, 2020.


Things to think about

  • What digital platforms have you used before?
  • What digital platforms would you like to try?
  • Pick one platform. Make a list of pros and cons for using it to create a specific art project.
  • If you could invent your own digital art platform, what features would it have? What would it let you do? What kind of art would it make?

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