We organise for inclusivity and equity in art and technology and advocate for their use in imagining and building real social change and positive environmental impact.
Our mission is to open up the tools and debates of the exclusionary realms of art and technology for collective action for collective good.
We invest time and energy in decentralised and distributed p2p practices, fostering new creative collaborations between artists and communities, as well as challenging debates about the role of art and technology in society
In league with our amazing international community of collaborators, partners, and funders (such as the British Council, the EU Creative Europe and Horizon 2020 funds, Goethe Institut, Innovate UK, the UKRI) we place value on: polyphony; politics and play; misfits and mayhem; inquisitive and imaginative kind in order to:
Down with the exclusive commercial art world and big tech companies that control and kill our cultures. We want disruption, democracy, decentralisation, distribution and diversity across art and technology now!
For over 25 years, through nearly 70 exhibitions, and over 125 national/international partnerships, we have developed alternative systems of co-creation and co-organisation across digital and physical networks.
An Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation, we are highlighted on the Piccadilly Tube Line map of key destinations – alongside Buckingham Palace – with buildings in the heart of Finsbury Park that facilitate arts activities that give people a shared sense of ownership of their creativity, identities, lives, and localities.
We originated as an arts organisation in London in 1996, as an extension of the networked artistic practices of Ruth Catlow and Marc Garrett. By building a thriving network of artists, technologists and activists, Ruth and Marc supported the creation, discussion and eventual exhibition of emerging online art practices benefiting from the collaborative affordances of early web technologies and interrogating often utopian beliefs around digital culture.
In addition to commons and peer-to-peer, one of our founding principles was DIWO (Do It With Others), a term (now commonly used across the socially-engaged art sphere) first coined by Marc to describe a collaborative approach to art activities since the Internet.
Early projects indicative of the DIWO philosophy include:
When we opened a physical gallery in Haringey in 2004 we began to develop co-creational artistic projects which intentionally straddled digital and physical space. For example, the DIWO Email Art project (2007) took the Furtherfield discussion listserv and turned it into an artwork submission inbox with work presented both online and in the gallery.
Finsbury Park Communities
After 15 years working this way and addressing themes including commons practices, gaming culture, and the environment, we relocated to premises in the centre of Finsbury Park. Here we launched a programme of gallery-based and touring co-creational projects with a distinct focus on placemaking, by working directly within communities and platforming the people and place of Finsbury Park. These include:
Alongside such work, and best evidenced by our Art/Data/Money programme (2016), we have continued to advance critical discussions of emergent technologies and their implications. For example we have led the way in terms of understanding what blockchain technologies mean for the arts and beyond by editing the first ever book examining the impact of blockchain technologies on art (2017); and co-developing the award-winning DAOWO initiative (2018-).
Combining DIWO with DAOs (decentralised autonomous organisations or rather tech-enabled member-owned, transnational communities without centralised-leadership), DAOWO (in partnership with the Goethe Institut and Serpentine Galleries) has provided a series of national and international workshops (and a ground-breaking participative grantmaking scheme) offering unprecedented opportunity to explore the possibilities for DAOs as infrastructure for peer-driven value systems in the arts and a critical interrogation of the social impacts of blockchain technologies more widely. Today our Decentralised Arts Lab DECAL heads up our research in this field and Ruth is an in-demand web3 expert – having recently been interviewed for the Art Newspaper, Flash Art, New York Times, and invited to panel discussions at the Venice Biennale and Documenta.
We are grateful to be recognised as a pioneer of critical media arts in the UK with work featured in the Art Newspaper, BBC, the Financial Times, the Guardian, Hyperallergic, the New Scientist, New York Times, and Wired, as well as in 100s of academic articles and books.
In 2018 Furtherfield entered a new era, with Charlotte Frost joining to co-direct the organisation alongside Ruth – freeing Marc up to work on independent collaborative projects, new books, and the forthcoming archive of the complete history of Furtherfield.
The People’s Park Plinth and CultureStake
Charlotte has refined the way Furtherfield operates as an organisation – leading for example on the redevelopment of our Finsbury Park offering. The new People’s Park Plinth project enables community curated digital public art in the heart of the park. Piloted in 2021 the project turns the whole of the park into a platform for mobile-first digital arts experiences and allows everyone a say in which one gets produced as the main project for the summer. Artwork selection for the People’s Park Plinth is powered by another new initiative, CultureStake, a collective cultural decision-making app (using quadratic voting on the blockchain) that will soon be available for community curation anywhere.
Alongside these Ruth and Charlotte have created a new service/partnership offering that explore the local and global consequences of advanced technologies for human and more-than-human interests through live action role play games. We work closely with partners to understand their research and carefully craft an imagined/futuristic scenario in which a group of players explore a complex socio-digital issue.
Art, Research, and Live Action Role Play
Since late 2020 we have been immersed in the massive Interspecies Treaty LARP as part of our participation in the EU Horizon 2020 funded CreaTures project. All participants advance more-than-human justice by playing the game as other species, representing them in Assemblies to discuss and plan an Interspecies Festival that will celebrate the signing of an Interspecies Treaty of Cooperation in 2025. Treaty was conceived by Ruth and Cade Diem, launched in Finsbury Park, and is now available to be fully adapted and played anywhere.