‘The network is everlasting’ wrote Robert Filliou and George Brecht in 1967, a statement that, at first glance, still seems to be true of today’s world. Yet there are also signs that the omnipresence of networks is evolving into another reality. In recent times, the limits of networks rather than their endless possibilities have been brought into focus. Ongoing media debates about hate speech, fake news, and algorithmic bias swirl into a growing backlash against networks. Perhaps it is time to reconsider the contemporary reach and relevance of the network imaginary.
Accompanying transmediale 2020 End to End’s exhibition The Eternal Network, this collection gathers contributions from artists, activists, and theorists who engage with the question of the network anew. In referencing Filliou’s eternal notion, the exhibition and publication project closes the loop between pre- and post-internet imaginaries, opening up possible futures with and beyond networks. This calls many of the collection’s authors to turn to instances of independent and critical net cultures as historical points of inspiration for rethinking, reforming, or refuting networks in the present.