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Electronic Village Galleries is an experimental platform that that supports arts communities to host new media art events in their local village halls. Collections of internationally recognised art works have been specially devised for the platform by a diverse range of curators all working within new media art contexts. Artists based in Cornwall will programme events based on the collections at three venues - Penryn, Zennor and Liskeard  - during April and May 2011.

Artists and curators have been long interested in finding ways that local communities in local places can actively engage with international artworks and the ideas informing it.

In 1968 the writer, activist and curator Lucy Lippard was in Argentina trying to organise an exhibition of dematerialised art in which all the exhibits fitted into a suitcase: the idea being that the suitcase would be taken from country to country by “idea artists” using free airline tickets. In some ways Lippard’s version of portable art that can be accessed in diverse geographical location easily and relatively cheaply has been superseded by the online distribution and exchange of network art through social platforms.

Distributed networks such as the Internet have been used as creative spaces for art making for over fifteen years.   In the 1990s frustrated with the centralised and hierarchical organisational structures of established art institutions, artists quickly realised that the Internet was conducive to the development of distributed models of cultural production, dissemination and consumption.  The Internet enables open, many-to-many exchanges in which every user is able to produce work and ‘post’ it online‘ and in which all work ‘posted’ is accessible to other users of the network.   Network artists have pioneered models of participation and online community exchange that now are an integral part of much contemporary culture.

Valuable as these online exchanges undoubtedly are, perhaps something of the specificity of the local is being lost in the process. Can another version of Lippard’s concept of portable exhibitions and events be imagined and realised: one in which artworks are distributed globally and enacted locally? What does it mean if an artwork is ‘distributed’? What does it mean if it is ‘enacted’ locally? What form does the work take and which aspects of it are portable?

Extending the notion of online platforms to take account of the specificity of the local, The Electronic Village Galleries is a pilot research project undertaken in the Department of Art at University College Falmouth and funded by Arts Council England. It aims to develop a distributed platform that links together local art communities within Cornwall and the South West of England with networked and new media art and its communities.