It's interesting to see how the best media art moved on from the idea of creating networks in the virtual world, to seeing how those networks could affect the real world. Early net communities were full of idealism; how far does that ability to change the way we interact with each other spill over into the physical?
Earlier this year I talked to Amy Francheschini about the way ideas from her art practice as Futurefarmers informed the creation of Victory Gardens 2008+ in San Francisco. On Friday I dropped into North London's HTTP Gallery, where media artists/gallerists Ruth Catlow and Marc Garrett have created the Feral Trade Cafe implemeting artist Kate Rich's Feral Trade network in their gallery space.
The cafe is sourced by real personal trade networks - artists bringing back Turkish Delight from Montenegro or discovering a source of honey in Rotherhithe. By using virtual space to record each trade route, every item you consume in the cafe comes with a narrative. the bland, impersonal act of trade can suddenly come alive with stories, showing us how the items we buy under the normal rules of trade disconnect us from the world in which we live.