Digital Programme: Year in Review

Taking a look back at 2021 through the exhibitions and the events of the Digital Programme

An anime illustration of a person with pink hair and yellow glasses looking at screen captures of Google Street view

Digital Programme: Year in Review

Taking a look back at 2021 through the exhibitions and the events of the Digital Programme

Imagin(in)g Networks

With the gallery closed during lockdown, the year began with Imagin(in)g Networks, a year-long programme of events and commissions, exploring the existing and potential networks that use images to enable human and machine interactions.

Over the course of the last year, the digital programme examined the social, political, technological and environmental impacts of image networks through the following artist commissions, texts, workshops and events.

Three different faces follow the facial expression of Boris Johnson

Our first work on the Media Wall (once lockdown eased) was Tamiko Thiel and /p - Lend Me Your Face, a participatory deepfake artificial intelligence project. Go Fake Yourself!, an online participatory extension of the work was also available on 

The work asked members of the public to upload pictures of their face, to generate deepfakes based on speeches by public figures as primary media, including Boris Johnson, Greta Thunberg, and David Attenborough. The system only needed a few minutes of processing and a single photograph to animate a participant's features.

A blurred image of people overlapping buildings

Within the Terms and Conditions, Caroline Sinders

The programme on the Media Wall and online continued with Caroline Sinders - Within the Terms and Conditions, a documentary art project for Imagin(in)g Networks documenting conspiracy theories, hate speech, misinformation and disinformation on major platforms. The work questioned what is allowed to be online, stay online and spread online? And, who decides what is harmful, and when that content should be removed?

View the work here
Hundreds of small overlapping images of microprocessors and insects

The following work on the Media Wall and by Joana Moll set out to expose the links between the explosion of techno-capitalism, the acceleration of climate change and resulting decline of essential ecosystems. 

4004 - a title taken from the name of the first commercial microprocessor - opened with a dense series of images of insects. Over the two and a half months’ duration of the exhibition, the insects are gradually and generatively superseded by microprocessors. The subtle but continuous replacement of the natural order by technological advancement, reflects not only on the cannibalisation of ecologies, but also on the problematics of visibly representing climate change.

 Read a conversation between Joana Moll and Marloes de Valk here.

A screen capture of four Telegram channels offering a range of products for sale or exchange

On display since 14 October, Nestor Siré and Steffen Köhn’s work Basic Necessities shows the increasing digitisation of the informal economy in Cuba, exposing the images and interactions between Cubans buying and selling goods through online chat groups.

The video installed on the Media Wall is a visual record of the functioning and aesthetics of this digital black-market via four of the most active Telegram groups, documenting the interactions between some 300,000 users. The online extension, available to view on, allows visitors to search live through hundreds of Telegram groups. A recently published accompanying essay expands on the peculiar aesthetics of these groups, and their relation to data scarcity.

Imagin(in)g Networks also included a Flash Fictions Open Call resulting in a selection of 11 image-text short stories on Alternative Networks created using human-machine collaboration. The works playfully explore the potential of fiction to create a wide range of responses to real and imagined networks. 

The Flash Fictions were published via email. Some stories were sent in just one email, others in a series. At the end of the publication the subscriber received a colophon email with further information on all the contributors, both human and automated. The Flash Fiction publication was unfortunately suspended due to publishing issues with the platform provider, but it will soon be made available on a new website.

Imagin(in)g Networks also included a collaborative project initiated by Phoenix in partnership with BOM, Furtherfield, QUAD and Vivid Projects titled Careful Networks. 

A temporary p2p network was home to a series of new commissioned works. Each online work was hosted by another participant artist. Following the principles of coding to care and coding carefully from the Distributed Web of Care initiative, the network existed through a collaborative act of care and stewardship, into which the visitors were also invited to participate.

The participating artists included Larisa Blazic, Daniel Sean Kelly, Nisa Khan, Rhiannon Lowe, Emily Mulenga, Antonio Roberts, Ailie Rutherford, Christopher Samuel, Samiir Saunders, Shinji Toya, Nye Thompson and Lily Wales.

A taxidermy cat pokes its head through a square hole in the ceiling


The digital programme continued developing its ongoing research strands with talks, workshops and presentations throughout the year. 

In March, the digital programme hosted Between Camera and Network: Art Documentation in Post-Photographic Culture, a series of events exploring new approaches to documentation both inside and outside the museum. This included The Work of Art in the Age of Audience Documentation in July, followed by December's Negotiating the Art-Documentation-Industrial-Complex.

All these three series of events were part of the Documenting Digital Art project, which explores contemporary methods of documentation, addressing shifts in photographic technologies that have been central to the practice of art history.

The digital programme’s partnered with the Centre of the Study of the Networked Image to host their summer school, including a talk and workshop with Aymerick Mansoux and Roel Roscal Abbing looking into alternative social media platforms as Mastodon.

Satellite wather image above UK with pink cyclonic cloud

Climate Emergency

An ongoing focus of the Digital Programme is on exhibitions and public programmes that use photographic methods to raise awareness, educate, and uncover the climate crisis, while also critically interrogating the environmental impact of photography itself. 

Coinciding with, and following on from, COP26, we created a series of artist-made ‘how-to’ videos exploring sustainable photography practices, environmental storytelling, and collaborative satellite images of the planet, to online round table discussions, workshops, new commissions, and critical conversations addressing the human impact on our world.

Open-weather - a feminist experiment in imaging and imagining the earth and its weather systems using DIY community tools - questioned what it would mean to collectively produce an ‘image’, and reimagine the planet? To see its details and patterns from multiple perspectives and many situated positions? 

At the beginning of the conference, a network of people operating DIY satellite ground stations around the world - from London to Bangkok to LA to Kinshasa - captured a collective snapshot of the earth and its weather systems: a ‘nowcast’ for an undecided future.

A thick black arrow extends upwards above the clouds, creating a shadow on the cloud surface

Shadow Growth by is a series of online, interactive charts that compile data to show the ecological shadow or ‘counter-visualisation’ of wealth accumulation in different parts of the world. A central objective of the work is to produce useful alternative “photographs” of GDP to be used in daily online interactions. 

An accompanying article focuses on the urgency and strategic value of producing and circulating alternative models (and modes of description) to reframe the links between “growth” and ecosystemic crisis.

The face of a dog rendered in a textured green print

Green Hacks are an ongoing series of artist made how-to videos of DIY processes towards a more sustainable photography. The first videos include non-toxic analogue development techniques with Northern Sustainable Darkroom, and DIY lens upcycling to reduce unnecessary waste.

A glitched 3D object - a bust of a boy - sits in a glitchy background

Screen Walks

Throughout the whole year, we’ve continued hosting our fortnightly series of live-streamed artist/researcher-led explorations of online spaces and artistic strategies designed to illuminate a thriving – often overlooked – digital cultural scene. Our guests continued performing the networked image in a collaborative programme launched with Fotomuseum Winterthur just a few days after the first lockdown was announced in March 2020. 

We have had 21 Screen Walks in 2021, featuring the following artists: Clusterduck, Dina Kelberman, Constant Dulaart, Antonio Roberts, Corinne Vionnet, Gretchen Andrew, Jake Elwes Zizi and Me, Anna Ehrenstein, Morehshin Allahyari, Guido Segni, Winnie Soon, Aymeric Mansoux and Roel Roscam Abbing, Emma Agnes Sheffer, GTA V Photographer Bot, Total Refusal, Florian Amoser, Petra Szemán, open-weather, Marc Lee, Laura Paloma and Rosa Menkman.

They have taken our audiences to explore social media communities and aesthetics, video-game and anime narratives and politics and the materiality of digital infraestructures among many other topics.