Free Software Beyond Radical Politics: Negotiations of Creative and Craft Autonomy in Digital Visual Media Production

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-2439

Article | Open Access

Free Software Beyond Radical Politics: Negotiations of Creative and Craft Autonomy in Digital Visual Media Production


  • Julia Velkova Department of Media and Communication Studies, Södertörn University, Sweden


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Abstract:  Free software development and the technological practices of hackers have been broadly recognised as fundamental for the formation of political cultures that foster democracy in the digital mediascape. This article explores the role of free software in the practices of digital artists, animators and technicians who work in various roles for the contemporary digital visual media industries. Rather than discussing it as a model of organising work, the study conceives free software as a production tool and shows how it becomes a locus of politics about finding material security in flexible capitalism. This politics is ultimately contradictory in that it extends creative and craft autonomy of digital artists but does not mobilise a critical project. Instead, it nurtures further precarious labour. Empirically, the article draws on ethnographically collected material from the media practices of digital artists and programmers who engage with two popular free software production tools, Blender and Synfig.

Keywords:  Blender; craft autonomy; F/OSS; media tools; material politics; media industries; open source software; post-Fordism; Synfig

Published:   11 August 2016


DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/mac.v4i4.693


© Julia Velkova. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.