The Paradox of Digital Participation in Postdigital Participatory Art

Gyung Jin Shin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference abstractpeer-review


Over the past three decades in contemporary art, the co-authored and collaborative tendency of post-studio practices has been re-examined as it has diversified under the umbrella concept of participatory art. Artists working in this genre have recently embraced network-based participation through online crowdsourcing and social networking in a postdigital environment characterized by a blurring of the boundaries between online and offline. The purpose of this study is to analyse such “postdigital participatory art” critically with respect to the role of contemporary technology in conditioning the participatory aspects of art.
Today, the internet’s early promise of autonomous and active participation is being forgotten as the logic of cognitive capitalism and consumer culture takes over networks. The architecture of participation, initially designed to encourage constructive action, now serves to maximise the online giants’ profits through the conversion of the participants’ time, tastes, and consciousness into labour. The increasing reliance on algorithms further limits the space for autonomous engagement such that digital participation is becoming a kind of labour without employment. The focus here, accordingly, is on revealing through examples the paradox of digital participation under such circumstances and using it as a lens through which to evaluate postdigital participatory art.
This discussion includes such pressing issues in postdigital participatory art as the parameters of democracy in network-based collaboration, the distribution of authority power and hierarchies among the participants, and the ownership of co-authored artwork accessed through online platforms. The multifaceted analysis draws on the philosophy of technology, Critical Theory, contemporary art criticism, digital art, and social science research and extends to digital participation and digital labour in general. This study is intended to lay the groundwork for a broader assessment of experimental forms of digital art by demonstrating the potential of critical discussion of contemporary digitality to diversify or dismantle the concept of participation.


ConferenceArts and Humanities in Digital Transition International Conference 2023
Internet address

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts
  • Computer Networks and Communications

User-Defined Keywords

  • Digital participation
  • postdigital
  • Network-based participatory art
  • Critical Theory
  • digital labor


Dive into the research topics of 'The Paradox of Digital Participation in Postdigital Participatory Art'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this