What Can and Cannot Be Felt: The Paradox of Affectivity in Post-Internet Art

  • Rita Xavier Monteiro Independent Researcher
  • Helena Barranha Instituto Superior Técnico, Universidade de Lisboa Institute of Art History, Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, Universidade Nova de Lisboa http://orcid.org/0000-0003-0250-1020
Keywords: Net Art, Virtual Space, Disembodiment, Affectivity, Post-Humanism, Post-Internet Culture


Focusing on the paradox of embodiment/ disembodiment in virtual space, and on the recent history of Net Art, this article proposes to go back to Roy Ascott’s metaphor of the ‘telematic embrace’ in order to examine different artistic and theoretical approaches to online affectivity. While the first generation of artists who founded the net.art movement was openly fascinated by the novelty of cyberspace as a medium, currently artists are adopting online tools to produce also offline works, revealing the presence of Internet culture in contemporary society instead of focusing on the nature of the medium in itself. In this scenario, marked by the current Post-Internet discourse, real and virtual worlds overlap, and hybrid artistic forms emerge. But are Net artists still reinterpreting the idea of virtual embrace? Or have they moved away from a romantic stance, highlighting the perils of the digital revolution in the so-called Post-Digital age? Adopting a phenomenological perspective, this essay aims to address these questions, exploring the paradox of affectivity in contemporary networked cultures through the analysis of emblematic artworks.

Author Biographies

Rita Xavier Monteiro, Independent Researcher
Rita Xavier Monteiro is a communications manager for the Teatro Municipal do Porto and the Festival DDD – Dias da Dança, responsible for the contents and press relations. She also works in the parallel programme for reflection, organising the meetings, the post-show talks and publications. She collaborates with Tiago Guedes teaching in the Contemporary Dance Post-graduate Degree at Escola Superior de Música e Artes do Espetáculo, Politécnico do Porto. Graduated in Philosophy (Faculdade de Letras da Universidade do Porto, 2008), Rita holds a Master Degree in Artistic Studies (Faculdade de Belas-Artes da Universidade do Porto, 2011). She was lecturer-professor of Aesthetics and Contemporary Culture at Escola Superior de Educação, Politécnico do Porto (2010-2014). As a FCT BI research fellow at the Institute of Art History, FCSH/NOVA she was a member of the unplace project - A Museum Without a place (2014). She works as a curator and develops research and performing arts criticism, publishing and collaborating with different cultural and academic institutions.
Helena Barranha, Instituto Superior Técnico, Universidade de Lisboa Institute of Art History, Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, Universidade Nova de Lisboa
Helena Barranha graduated in Architecture, holds a Master’s Degree in Management of Cultural Heritage and a PhD in Architecture, for which she submitted a thesis on Contemporary Art Museums in Portugal (Universidade do Porto, 2008). She is an Assistant Professor at Instituto Superior Técnico - Universidade de Lisboa, and Visiting Professor at the Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, Universidade NOVA de Lisboa, where she teaches Museum Architecture and Museography. She is also a Researcher at IHA - Institute of Art History, FCSH/NOVA (Museum Studies Group). She was Director of the National Museum of Contemporay Art – Museu do Chiado, in Lisbon, between 2009 and 2012, and responsible for the unplace project (http://unplace.org/), between 2014 and 1015. Her professional and research activities focus on architectural heritage, contemporary art museums and digital art exhibitions, and she has published widely on these topics both in Portugal and abroad. She is a member of Access Culture, Europeana Network Association and ICOM-Portugal.


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