Upgrade! Boston (2005-2011) was a monthly gathering of artists, curators and the public that fostered dialogue and created opportunities for collaboration within the new media community. Each meeting consisted of one or two hour-long presentations interspersed with questions and comments from the audience. Theme-based panel discussions were organized once or twice a year. The events were informal, free, and open to all. U!B was hosted by Art Interactive, Massachusetts College of Art & Design, The Center for Advanced Visual Studies (MIT), and The Media Lab (MIT). In 2006, U!B began simulcasting in Second Life, which accommodated an international audience during presentations and discussions. Founded by Jo-Anne Green for Turbulence.org in January 2005, Upgrade! Boston was a local node within the global Upgrade! International (UI!) network.
Upgrade! International was an international, emerging network of autonomous nodes united by art, technology, and a commitment to bridging cultural divides. Its decentralized, non-hierarchical structure ensured that Upgrade! (i) operated according to local interests and their available resources; and (ii) reflected current creative engagement with cutting edge technologies. While individual nodes presented new media projects, engaged in informal critique, and fostered dialogue and collaboration between individual artists, Upgrade! International functioned as an online, global network that gathered in different cities to meet one another, showcased local art, and worked on the agenda for the following year.
Upgrade! International was invited to participate in Network Cultures Winter Camp, an event organized by the Institute of Network Cultures that took place from March 3-7, 2009 in Amsterdam. The other participants were Blender Foundation, Bricolabs, Dyne.org, Edufactory, Floss Manuals, freeDimensional network, Genderchangers, MyCreativity, Microvoluteerism and GOTO10.
Nodes included: Athens (Greece), Belgrade (Serbia), Berlin (Germany), Boston (United States), Brussels/Ghent (Belgium), Chicago (United States), Dakar (Senegal), East Midlands (United Kingdom), Eindhoven (The Netherlands), Indiana (United States), Istanbul (Turkey), Johannesburg (South Africa), Milwaukee (United States), Munich (Germany), New York (United States), Östersund-Stockholm (Sweden), Paris (France), Salvador (Brazil), San Diego (United States), San Francisco (United States), São Paulo (Brazil), Second Life, Singapore, Tel Aviv-Jerusalem (Israel), Tennessee (United States), Tijuana (Mexico), Warsaw (Poland), Zagreb (Croatia).
Organizations included: Eyebeam, Turbulence.org, i-camp, DCA, CCA,rg.net, NOMAD /santralistanbul, program angels/lothringer13, Line Initiative and Movement, Open-Node.com, t-u-b-e, C-M.TV, AT.joburg, University of the Witwatersrand, Ars Longa, BitFactory (Second Life), Melkweg, New Media Developers, I Love People, Vooruit, Okno, Emergent Art Center, Dream Addictive.
Upgrade! Background: Since April 1999, a group of new media artists and curators have gathered in New York City. The first meeting took place at a bar in the east village with Tim Whidden & Mark River [MTAA], Mark Napier and founder Yael Kanarek. Upgrade! New York partnered with Eyebeam in March 2000.