Many artists and curators working with distributed forms today, devise the systems, the platforms and the frameworks within which others participate.

Distributed art emerges with reference to the distributed network. It works a little like packet switching technology. Packet switching technology ‘allows messages to break themselves apart into small fragments. Each fragment, or packet, is able to find its own way to its destination. Once there, the packets reassemble themselves to create the original message’ (Galloway 2006:318).

Distributed art allows itself to be broken apart into small fragments: no longer centrally organised by the picture frame or the gallery, each fragment is held in distributed relation to another by protocol. The elements of a distributed work include: protocol, documentation, platform/interface, database, everyday performance and curated events. The various elements don’t come together in one place at one time but are spatially and temporally distributed.

Artists articulate and devise the purpose, the shape of the system; they devise the parameters within which the relation between system and enactment can emerge. Perhaps most significantly, they decide the particular kind of meta-frame that informs relations and processes within the system.

Participation, co-creation, co-curation takes place within or at least in relation to the system devised by the artist and curator. In some ways, the audience/participant become the artist, becomes the curator: but only in some ways. Probably, to be more precise, the role of artist, of curator, shifts towards devising the protocols of participation within which other create.

Just as a recipe details which ingredients to combine in order to produce a particular dish and provides a means by which culinary knowledge is shared, so distributed art practices make use of ‘protocols’ to mark the parameters of the work and enable its dissemination.

Protocol and distributed art work enable what might be called ‘everyday performances’ to be enacted in one’s own real time and place - away from the gallery and away from the computer. The platform (often a web site) provides an interface to the various elements. Because of the potential for subjective transformation to emerge through the process of enacting the everyday performances they remain outside the automating and aggregating logic of the work, and indeed offer a point of resistance, a zone of slight disturbance to the protocol and the meta-frame. Documentation is important but does not stand in for the performance itself.


To care for Cultural Capital contact Kate Southworth or Patrick Simons at

Curators' Documentation
26th February 2010 Ana Carvalho cared for the sour-dough starter in Portugal. and distributed the starter at an event which also celebrated 500 short stories written by Bronte Sisters on the blog(spot) Latido de Cachorro more    
1st December 2009 curator Zoe Shearman, Relational, Bristol cared for the sough dough starter during installation week of Arnolfini's Craftivism exhibition. (more...)  
19th September 2009 the sour dough starter was cared for by Ben Hyde at his bakery Trois Petits Pains in St Julien de Jonzy, France. (more....)  
During August 2009 Cultural Capital was part of ISEA2009 The Exhibition curated by Kathy Rae Huffman. (more....)   Kathy Rae Huffman
25th June 2009 Heather Lovelady and Laura Wild held an event with the community of Somewhere Else, Liverpool. (more....)  
28th May 2009 Joasia Krysa and
Geoff Cox
(KURATOR) distributed the starter at THE INFECTED SEMINAR. (more....)

May 15th 2009 Caroline Broadhurst organised lunch with her old colleagues on Friday and distributed the starter to them. (more....)


April 30th 2009 Alice Ladenburg distributed the starter at an event to celebrate her birthday. (more....)


April 14 2009 Michelle Kasprzak distributed the sour-dough at a dinner which was held to welcome Stelarc to Edinburgh. (more....)


3rd April 2009 Sarah Cook distributed the sour-dough starter on her journey to Edinburgh. (more....)


March 24th 2009 Beryl Graham distributed the sour-dough at an AHRC Research Training event on Digital Media/Curating. (more....)