Politics, Civil Society and Participation: Media and Communications in a Transforming Environment

Title chapter: Negotiating creative autonomy: Experiences of technology in computer-based visual media production
Author: Julia Velkova
Keywords: creative autonomy, visual media production, free software, open source, experiences
Abstract: Media production is today heavily computerised, and as a consequence of this, profoundly reliant on software. At the same time software does not represent a neutral artefact - it imposes certain affordances, logics, structures and hierarchies of knowledge onto the media making processes. This chapter explores the ways in which visual media creators negotiate the choices between multiple technological alternatives, and the ways in which these negotiations relate to the degree of creative autonomy experienced by cultural producers in their media practice. Combining perspectives from media studies of work in the cultural industries, and science and technology studies (STS), the paper suggests that choices of technology lead media producers to experience creative autonomy differently, by making them labour either within post-industrial technological frameworks that they do not have ownership or control over, or conversely, allow them greater ownership on technology and possibilities to mould their tools, bringing their practice closer to forms of pre-industrial craft production. Creative autonomy, I suggest, can therefore be negotiated by artists and media creators not only in relation to institutions of employment, or nation state politics, but also through deliberate choices of tools, the digital technical toolset that they select and embed in their practice; an approach largely inspired and practiced by some forms of hacker culture.
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