CSNI (Centre for the Study of the Networked Image) is a research group based in the School of Arts and Creative Industries at London South Bank University. It brings together researchers from cultural studies, software studies, contemporary art, media and performance practice, who seek knowledge and understanding of how network culture transforms the production and circulation of images.

CSNI understands that the “networked image” is at the centre of a new global mode of reproduction and representation in which the visual image is paramount. We realise that what constitutes an image has been radically transformed, and with it the theories that allow us to study it. Although we have to date largely followed a historicity based on the photograph, we recognise the anachronism, and the need for an enlarged scope that can account for the image as a dynamic, distributed and computational object that unsettles received notions of space-time — no longer limited to traditional representation (what media artist and theorist Harun Farocki has called “operative image”*), and no longer necessarily visual at all. In using the term “networked image” — preferring it to operative image (or even post-photography) — we aim to emphasise the network as a descriptor of dynamic social relations as much as technological infrastructure.** Moreover our aim is to broaden the discussion of the networked image as a relational assemblage to address planetary scale computation, the politics of infrastructure, and wider ecologies that would include non-human entities and environmental concerns.***

CSNI’s approach to research is reflexive, sensitive to contemporary conditions: attentive to how it is constituted as a network of people and ideas, as well as reflected in a networked approach to knowledge production (so, in this sense, we are more a commons than a centre). Our list of partnerships support this claim, including our ongoing projects and events in collaboration with other research centres and cultural organisations, allowing us to study the networked image in action.

Joanna Chicau performing the CSNI website at its launch

CSNI supports the development of transdisciplinary research across a range of cultural practices, including — but not limited to — *computation*, *photography*, *performance*, *publishing*, and *curating*. Although our emphasis is on practice-based research our work is grounded in rigorous academic methods that are applied in real-world situations, aiming to connect cultural policy, practice and theory. The research problem we are concerned with is formed around understanding what the limits as well as the possibilities of the image are within, and across, different knowledge fields and practices. (The diagram below is our attempt to map some of these relations.)

CSNI’s current and future programme is organised through the following interconnected themes: (1) machine ways of seeing, algorithmic literacy, and the implications of machine learning on visual culture; (2) alternative and sustainable knowledge production through experimental publishing and infrastructures; (3) machine curation in the context of massified image production and planetary-scale circulation; (4) contemporary networked performance practices in relation to the non-human turn.

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Images: [upper] Joanna Chicau performing the CSNI website at its launch; [lower] Diagram of CSNI knowledge fields and practices.

* Some references that we are working with can be found HERE.

** For a longer elaboration of our research concerns, see “Affordances of the Networked Image,” The Nordic Journal of Aesthetics Vol. 30 No. 61-62 (2021): The Changing Ontology of the Image.

*** This website is hosted on a green server.