HoopUp - About

HoopUp: How It Began?

The HoopUp is an art-educational-research project authored by Violeta Vojvodić-Balaž and Eduard Balaž members of Urtica art and media research group. It consists of online tool, original educational-research methodology, and workshops focused on symbolic communication and social impact of the artistic message.

The HoopUp emerged as a follow up of Urtica's project Social Engine (2004-2008), an Internet based artwork, art interventions, and workshops whose outcomes are now part of the HoopUp database. We started the Social Engine because we wanted to create awareness about how information circulates within society, how it is accepted and transmitted further on, and in which way those messages can shape the social landscape. There is also a question of personal responsibility, of what type of message you want to send to the world, because something which is said is not said in vain. Once it is propagated, it has consequences, it creates a cultural pool that will reflect on the future.

Note: More about the Social Engine project and Urtica's methodology at article “But First You Have to Trust”, An conversation piece made by Andrei Siclodi and Urtica, Social Engine - The Hybrid source book, büchs'n'books―Art and Knowledge Production in Context, Innsbruck, 2008 (page 42-65)

The Art-educational Tool: How Does It Work?

In order to scan socio-cultural environment by artistic means we developed the HoopUp art-educational tool and accompanying workshop. Its hybrid structure facilitates interconnection between virtual and physical environment, thus online tool serves as creation-communication-ground for the workshops which take place in the real world.

The HoopUp is unique collaborative environment for the experiences of different authors where they can reflect on current cultural and social transformations. If you are interested in symbolic communication and want to check your standpoints in communication HoopUp is a place for you. To create message of your own (visual symbol and textual expression) you should go to creation-communication track where you can start up new or join existing cluster/theme, invite your friends and discuss your creations with them. Or if you want to analyse uploaded messages go the stage where you can evaluate their dispositions towards social environment or group them into the constellations.

Please note that the HoopUp is an art-educational-research tool which needs your intellectual input to function. All uploaded content will be attributed to the respective authors and used only in promotional and research purposes within the framework of HoopUp project. None of your inputs will be used for commercial purposes. Please see Terms&Conditions

Demonstration video on how to use HoopUp tool

The Workshop: What Do We Do?

During the workshops we work at the same time on creating social awareness, i.e., the meaning and border effect of the message and on the enhancement of its artistic articulation. We do not give directives in the sense of final solutions; we question the process and moderate it. The approach to each participant is different. It depends on his or her personal abilities, affiliations, and the specific group context. It is like an interaction that takes place in real life. Participants have the task of defining messages which they want to send to the world and symbolically represent them (textually and visually). It sounds simple, but it is not an easy task. The workshop sets a blank playground, a field of numerous possibilities, so that one has to make a choice, a selection, and articulate the standpoint in an understandable and communicable way.

The process of the workshop takes place in the form of an individual work, work within the group and within the clusters, where through the head-on and hands-on processes, participants relate their ideas and question them. Interaction subverts absolute and anything-goes attitudes, analogous to the saying that truths go together while delusions go separately. It doesn’t mean that an artistic message can be judged as “true” or “false.” For instance, fuzzy or non-coherent expressions may appear as nonsense, but they can give information about the external and internal reality of the author. What we want to stress is that the meaning of the message depends on the context in which it’s communicated. And that there is a kind of responsibility―professional, personal, and social responsibility―that stands behind the artistic statement.

The Participation: What Do You Consider Important?

“If you could change something, what would it be? Everything, anything, nothing? What do you consider important for yourself personally? What is supposed to be improved in your surroundings, your life?
That were the questions Urtica were posing at the beginning of their workshop in the Kunstraum of the Leuphana University Lueneburg. Quite unfamiliar questions for me but very important ones at the same time. As a student of cultural studies and especially of cultural theory and art theory I am used to deal with questions which are relevant for society in general, to discuss different (theoretical) positions and to compare them. But usually I do not express my own opinion directly or reveal my own and individual thoughts about certain things. Urtica were referring to these personal issues, to my perspective on society and also, more detailed, to my feelings in relation to my environment, and wanted to bring them to light – as a symbol and a message.
For me the workshop was an intensive experience and I enjoyed these three days. I did not only get an insight into the artistic practice of Urtica but also learned something about myself. Though it sounds quite solemnly, I have to admit that I gained some personal insights into my understanding of society and of my environment with the empathetic assistance of Urtica, which have nothing to do with my studies. This was most valuable about the workshop from my point of view.”

A review of the workshop written by Stephanie Seidel, a student of cultural studies from Germany.

The Credits: Who are We?

Authors: Violeta Vojvodić-Balaž and Eduard Balaž members of Urtica art and media research group.

HoopUp production team:
Content Development and Architecture: Violeta Vojvodić-Balaž
Design and Interface: Eduard Balaž
Software: Ivan Blagojević

About the author: Urtica group specialises in the development of transdisciplinary projects that merge art, social science, and education. The group started to realise its projects in 1999. Urtica’s work ranges from Internet-based artworks and media actions to educational projects. They were awarded the UNESCO Digital Arts Award at IAMAS, Japan in 2003, and participated at numerous festivals and international group exhibitions such as Ars Electronica (Linz, Austria), FILE (Sao Paolo and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), ENTER (Prague, Czech Republic), Ogaki Biennial 2004 (IAMAS, Ogaki, Japan); “Moiré” at Kunstraum der Leuphana Universität Lüneburg (Germany), among others. Selected solo exhibition “Value Quest / Art of Fortune and Economy of Risk” at Salon of the Museum of Contemporary Art Belgrade (Belgrade, Serbia).

Town: Belgrade/Novi Sad; Country: Serbia

The Technical Specification

Hoopup.net is comprised of three functional layers, built on top of various open source technologies:

  • User interface, which is built as a set of static html pages
  • Web services, which process users' input and actions and return response in JSON and/or XML format
  • Thick intermediate layer, which serves as the bridge between previous two layers and is responsible for page workflow, UI features and invocation of web services using asynchronous HTTP requests