deviantArt + Culture

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