WE: met in a New York bar in 1999; moved to a pizzeria; upgraded to Eyebeam in 2000; produced the network performance cabaret Call and Response at The Kitchen; held the Warhol Hijack in SoHo in 2001; became a network with Vancouver in 2003; expanded to Montreal and Boston in 2004; crossed the Atlantic; kicked off a two city node in Glasgow and Dundee in 2005; held the 1st international gathering Show, Gather, Share in New York City in 2005; crossed the Pacific; connected through Antarctica to Wellington; wrote a mission statement; resolved to meet in Oklahoma City; grew from 10 to 21 nodes during 2006 including Johannesburg and 4 nodes in the Balkans; changed venues every month in Sofia; visited studios and ate Korean food in Chicago; gave birth to tiny noise; held the first ArtCamp in Vancouver; attempted to stuff the Nettime list into the Society for Arts and Technology during MUTEK in Montreal; explored Berlin; passed through Belgrade, Sofia, and Istanbul with HTMlles EXPORT2; celebrated Scotland’s first year anniversary with an Upgrade BIRTHDAY CAKE; held the 2nd international gathering, Do It Yourself, in Oklahoma City in 2006; made a catalog; experienced an ice storm and got chased by feral dogs; got stranded in an airport strike in Tel Aviv; lost luggage; shared underwear and socks; co-curated the net art exhibition D.I.Y. or Die with Rhizome and Turbulence; breakfasted; presented B-Side DIY Drive-in; inspired P2P videosharing; made great plans and failed to execute them; opened a Flickr pool; considered a post-national pavilion at the Venice Biennial; supported Critical Art Ensemble with a Cabaret Auction that included parking signs stolen from Montreal city streets; took Seattle from posthumanism to swans and back again; poured a floor of concrete and pure data in Salvador in 2007; screened P2P videos during the White Night in Skopje; reached consensus; made out in secret; doused a flame-war; organized a European tour for a Brazilian artist in a week; met in a Dutch art center café; discussed pros; discussed cons; invited curators and scientists to join art/tech discussions; met sporadically for loud glasses of wine in different countries and cities; paneled at Ars Electronica; lectured at PAN museum; summered at Belef in Belgrade; became electric in Melbourne; lunched at ZeroOne; sought the right place for the Second Life node on the world map; searched for collaborators in the Arab world, failed, tried again; agreed to hold the next international gathering in Skopje; felt network loyalty in São Paulo; streamed a 48 hour meeting during Economie 0 in Paris; debated cultural economy in the Balkan region; weighed art world failure against cultural success in Chicago; ate potluck; hibernated; came to life; had babies; lost friends; danced the carnival in Salvador in 2008; lived together as art; had A Day In A Life in Munich joined by Brisbane, Brighton, Sendai, Skopje and Curitiba; raised money; gathered more than 50 people, and arrived at Skopje for the 3rd international gathering, Chain Reaction.
Upgrade! is an international, emerging network of autonomous nodes united by art, technology, and a commitment to bridging cultural divides. Its decentralized, non-hierarchical structure ensures that Upgrade! (i) operates according to local interests and their available resources; and (ii) reflects current creative engagement with cutting edge technologies. While individual nodes present new media projects, engage in informal critique, and foster dialogue and collaboration between individual artists, Upgrade! International functions as an online, global network that gathers annually in different cities to meet one another, showcase local art, and work on the agenda for the following year.
Upgrade! Background: Since April 1999, a group of new media artists and curators have gathered in New York City. The first meeting took place at a bar in the east village with Tim Whidden & Mark River [MTAA], Mark Napier and founder, media artist Yael Kanarek. Upgrade! New York partnered with Eyebeam in March 2000.