In Networked Conversations as Activism, digital artist Helen Varley Jamieson looks at the impact and effectiveness of online activism through cyberformance. She discusses the methods, processes, challenges, and results of the cyberformance projects “make-shift” (2010-12), and ”We have a situation!” (2013-ongoing) as examples of how creative uses of digital technologies can create new participatory spaces for critical thinking and active civic engagement. Both projects facilitated real-time networked conversations around urgent topics, between local and global, proximal, and online, audiences. The article concludes that the proto-political engagement and awareness raising achieved through this project is more impactful than comparatively passive forms of online activism such as petitions and “clicktivism”.
Helen Varley Jamieson is a digital artist, writer, theatre practitioner and producer from Aotearoa New Zealand. Her artistic work includes cyberformance, digital installations, playwriting, and various collaborations addressing social and environmental themes including disposability, waste, water pollution, the impact of technology on our lives and the environment, and the role of women in society. In 2003 she co-founded UpStage, a unique online platform where artists collaborate in real time using digital tools to present live online performances to global audiences (cyberformance). Helen has a long involvement in feminist networks and the open source movement and is the “Web Queen” of the Magdalena Project (international network of women in contemporary theatre and performance). She has organized numerous online festivals and events, as well as theatre and performance festivals in New Zealand and Germany. She holds a Master of Arts in Cyberformance (QUT, Australia, 2008) and a BA in Theatre and English Literature (Otago, NZ, 1992) and is currently based in Munich, Germany.