Distributed Authorship and Creative Communities


In its requirement, for both an author and reader, art can be considered a participatory activity. Expanded concepts of agency allow us to question what or who can be an active participant, allowing us to revisit the debate on authorship from alternate perspectives. We can ask whether creativity might be regarded as a form of social interaction, rather than an outcome. How might we understand creativity as interaction between people and things, as sets of discursive relations rather than outcomes? Whilst creativity is often perceived as the product of the individual artist, or creative ensemble, it can also be considered an emergent phenomenon of communities, driving change and facilitating individual or ensemble creativity. Creativity can be a performative activity released when engaged through and by a community and understood as a process of interaction. In this context the model of the solitary artist who produces artefacts which embody creativity is questioned as an ideal for achieving creative outcomes. Instead, creativity is proposed as an activity of exchange that enables (creates) people and communities. In his book Creative Land anthropologist James Leach describes cultural practices where the creation of new things, and the ritualised forms of exchange enacted around them, function to “create” individuals and bind them in social groups, “creating” the community they inhabit. Leach’s argument is an interesting take on the concept of the gift-economy and suggests it is possible to conceive of creativity as emergent from and innate to the interactions of people. Such an understanding might then function to combat an instrumentalist view of creativity that demands of artists that their creations have social (e.g.: “economic”) value. In the argument proposed here, creativity is not valued as arising from a perceived need, a particular solution or product, nor from a “blue skies” ideal, but as an emergent property of communities. This paper seeks to articulate these issues, identifying a set of core questions and describing the context within which they will be addressed, indicating how these questions are at the centre of the pan-European Electronic Literature as a Model of

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Preferred Citation
Biggs, Simon; Travlou, Penny: Distributed Authorship and Creative Communities. In: Dichtung Digital. Journal für Kunst und Kultur digitaler Medien, Jg. 14 (2012-08-30), Nr. 1, S. 1-17. DOI:
 author = {Biggs, Simon and Travlou, Penny},
 title = {Distributed Authorship and Creative Communities},
 year = 2012-08-30,
 doi = "\url{}",
 volume = 14,
 address = {Basel},
 journal = {Dichtung Digital. Journal für Kunst und Kultur digitaler Medien},
 number = 1,
 pages = {1--17},
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