Updated: Aug 3, 2018


An art evaluation mechanism, such as a museum, a biennial, a curator, a connoisseur, an art dealer, a gallery, establishes a value system, which determines the value of an art work, or more fundamentally, designating a work as a work of art. This happens by attributing a monetary value, by promotion of the work through legitimate channels (art magazines, shows, fairs, biennials, exhibitions, auctions, catalogues). DA has created its own evaluation mechanisms, almost spontaneously or autonomously, where the power of the networked society is employed to the fullest extent, and the user actions (like making a work a favourite, adding comments, etc.) play a role in establishing the value of the work. At a first glance, this effectively removes the need for expertise, and distributes the judgment over the community. However, a thorough analysis might reveal a power structure that has evolved to the current art world. Here the real question lies in the necessity of an authoritative structure to cultivate experts and a legitimization system to evaluate artworks, a 'gate-keeper' system that distinguishes between high and low art [Varnedoe 1990, Karp 1991].

To understand the social environment of deviantArt, and how it channels user behavior, I focused on one of the most characteristic features of the site, i.e. its Daily Deviations. A set of artworks are chosen by the community, and published daily on the main website of dA. The channels through which artworks are chosen are designed elaborately, and even though the system looks democratic enough, it still is very opaque for the average user. This establishment is reminiscent of the curatorial practices, and a closer look at the site reveals many channels devised like this that encourage the deviantArt users to curate their favorite works.


IN PUBLICATION. A field guide to analyze the curators of DEVIANTART.’ A.A. AKDAG SALAH. in Culture, Technology and the Image. Techniques of engaging with the visual, ed. by Jeremy Pilcher, Intellect Books.

2010. Performing Curatorial Practices in a Social Network Site: The Curators of DeviantArt. A.A. Akdag Salah. CHArt.

Author PDF

2010. The online potential of art creation and dissemination: deviantArt as the next art venue. A.A. Akdag Salah. EVA 2010.

Published version & abstract / Author PDF

Updated: Aug 3, 2018

The Internet is changing the way arts are produced and consumed. DeviantArt, launched in 2000, has become one of the largest art platform on earth. Based on the idea of sharing and displaying amateur artworks, this social website has turned into a digital platform that has about 40 million monthly visitors. Not a traditional curator or biennial jury, but a network of common people openly dissects, criticizes and improves this giant open museum. Arts in the twenty first century is digital, and this project is about understanding its new dynamics, and developing the set of tools to cope with them.

The category structure of deviantArt

To study a social network site such as deviantArt, we used complex network analysis as our main tool, and did an analysis of dA's network first. With the support of my Veni Grant “DeviantArt: Mapping the Alternative Art World”, I received a data set directly from DeviantArt, of about 100.000 members. Beside the standard complex network approach of analysing links between members, we focused on the category structure of the DA member network, which revealed an unexpected picture. We found out that aside from the category of Photography, most categories do not create clusters of their sub-categories, but rather form mixed clusters according to production techniques.

We furthermore made use of the idea of citation networks, and analyzed the impact of deviantArt specific cite metrics and how these change user behavior. In another study, we tapped into how information flows in deviantArt, and if we can use this as a methodology to follow the impact and spread of artistic styles & genres. A last study that focused on the network of dA was to suggest a new methodology that would combine the use of complex network tools with image analysis tools to get a better understanding of the dA in its entirety.


2013. Combining Cultural Analytics and Networks Analysis: Studying a Social Network Site with User-Generated Content. A.A. Akdag Salah, L. Manovich, A.A. Salah and J. Chow. JOBEM, 57(3), 409-426.

Published version & abstract

The high resolution images can be downloaded here: 1, 2, 3.

2013. Flow of Innovation in deviantArt: Following Artists on an Online Social Network Site. A.A. Akdag Salah, A.A. Salah. Mind and Society , 12(1), 137-149.

Published version & abstract

2012. DeviantArt in Spotlight: A Network of Artists. A.A. Akdag Salah, A.A. Salah, B. Buter, N. Dijkshoorn, D. Modolo, Q. Nguyen, S. van Noort, B. van de Poel. Leonardo, 45(5).

Published version & abstract / Author PDF

2011. Explorative visualization and analysis of a social network for arts: The case. Buter, N. Dijkshoorn, D. Modolo, Q. Nguyen, S. van Noort, B. van de Poel, A.A. Akdag Salah, A.A. Salah. Journal of Convergence, 2(2), .87-94.

Published version & abstract / Author PDF

  • google scholar
  • Researcherid
  • Researchgate
  • Academia.edu
  • LinkedIn Social Icon