Big Kiss Goodnight, or joetalk100 by Dominic Gagnon
By Bas van de Kraats
Angry men are a known phenomenon on the Internet since the beginning of YouTube, and they come in various shapes and sizes. One of the first angry men was Chris Crocker, who wanted us to leave Britney alone. Then there was a red headed angry young man, who wanted us to know he has a soul. However, all these men look rather pale compared to the angry visionary man. This man sees the world in a way the other men fail to understand. He looks through the lies that media, politics and society tell him, and he is very angry about this. There is a wide variety of men like this available on YouTube, but one man stands out when it comes to the extent of his anger and the frequency with which he supplies his viewers with new material. This man is joetalk100.
Joe prefers to express his anger while driving his car – an anger that has enormous proportions. Do not expect to be done with him in a few minutes; Joe has absolutely no problem ranting for up to two hours. Ordering iced coffees at local drive-throughs (‘light, with cream, one sugar’) and smoking cigarettes, Joe explains to the world that the end is near.
Canadian director and performing artist Dominic Gagnon used joetalk100’s material during his residency at Impakt to make the film ‘Big Kiss Goodnight’. The still unfinished result of this work was shown last Thursday night July 5 at the Impakt Headquarters. The audience was treated to an hour long expression of fury and social discontent. The hypnotizing visuals stayed the same throughout all of the film; a man driving his car around, not going anywhere. After a few minutes it is impossible to stay focused on the exact sentences Joe utters. What remains is a continuous stream of anger and negative energy. Gagnon combines the parts of Joe’s videos with YouTube comments made to these videos, placed on a serene white background. This way, the director allows the viewers to breath for a moment, before they get thrown back into another minutes-long compilation of Joe’s rage.
During the Q&A following the screening, a lot of questions arose concerning Joseph Curto, which is joetalk100’s real name. His rants turned out to evoke many different reactions. Watching Joe was experienced as some sort of trip, in which the viewer went from experiencing contempt, anger and pitty, to even laughter. The audience seemed very interested in Joe’s intentions and motives, but during the Q&A the question arose whether these motives should be attributed to joetalk100 or to Dominic Gagnon. To what extent had the audience been watching a manipulation of joetalk100’s worldview? According to Gagnon himself, this film can be seen as one big manipulation of the truth. In his own words; ‘Cinema is about being a really good liar’. His editing, some of which had been done the night before the screening, constructed a very believable lie, judging by the response of the audience tonight.
Daniel Cockburn and all the mistakes to make.
Daniel Cockburn and all the mistakes to make
A report of Daniel Cockburn’s workshop script writing and his following anti-artist talk: All the mistakes I’ve Made – 1 december 2011
By Freyja van den Boom
At the Impakt headquarters students, artists, professional filmmakers and enthusiasts gathered for a workshop by filmmaker and video artist Daniel Cockburn. Having had his first feature filmYou Are Here successfully screened at the Impakt festival this year and being praised as a rare literary talent, I was curious to learn script writing from Toronto’s best new video artist.
Both funny and inspiring Daniel showed us some of his own works like his very smart and thought provoking short film Metronome, which is about a day in the life of a man who lives his day by a rhythm. By showing and discussing projects and films form other artists and film makers also he gave some insight into his own working process. His talk was not so much about the actual technique of filmmaking and script writing but more giving us an introduction and a sense of the many ways of using words and music and images in your own work.
Some examples that I found interesting were the conceptual video self-portrait Hand to Mouth by the American artist Michel Chevalier and The Thing That Doesn’t Seem Tasty – Wood Technology in the Design of Structures (or, How to Live Happily Ever After) by Eric Henry. You can read a text Daniel wrote about this video on his website.
During the day we discussed the meaning of texts and context, the use of found footage and original versus remake/interpretations. Daniel talked a lot about rhythm and text and showed us examples of how both relate to each other. Words can get a whole different meaning by changing just the music or sound, or by the way the camera is posed you are able to shift the attention of the viewer and alter the context. A good example of this are the clips of Spike Jonze.
All these elements are very interesting to play with when experimenting with video.
On Thursday we got to see some of the (un)finished results people had made for the urban screen festival. In the evening Daniel gave his anti-artist lecture. Again humorously, he explained why an artist should not confuse being lazy with being open minded and he warned the audience for the invasion of the self introduced term ‘zombie text’, and how these can crawl their way into film and music unnoticed. Watch the report of Daniel’s lecture here.
I can definitely recommend you go see Daniel Cockburns feature film especially if you love philosophical plots and science fiction films as much as I do.
The result of the workshops will be regularly screened on the urban screens by Dropstuff, from 23 January onwards. These are currently locted at Central Station Den Haag, Eindhoven and the Amsterdam Zuid station. More information following soon!
Blog: Workshop François Chastanet: Lettering in Public Space
De workshop en de presentatie van François Chastanet op zaterdag 12 november waren een groot succes. Vincent de Boer van het ontwerpers blog Vormplatvorm was erbij en schreef er deze blog over:
“Afgelopen zaterdag organiseerde het Impakt Festival samen met Hoax een workshop met François Chastanet. Een typografie-baas uit Frankrijk die jullie waarschijnlijk wel kennen, bijvoorbeeld van het boek Cholo Writing in Los Angeles, of van Pixação: São Paulo Signature. En anders wel van dit geweldige lettertype.
Het was een bijzondere dag die slechts door een klein groepje typografie-geïnteresseerden was bij te wonen. De dag begon met het maken van onze wapens, kalligrafie-kwasten van een meter hoog, die we deze dag zouden leren kennen en gebruiken in de openbare ruimte. Na wat oefening op een rustige plek verhuisden we naar de binnenstad van Utrecht, om daar met onze reuze-kwasten met water op de grond te schrijven. Het schrijven met water had twee grote voordelen: geen gedoe met de politie, en twee: na vijf minuten was er weer genoeg plek om een nieuwe tekst te kalligraferen. Al met al een zeer interessante dag, Impakt, Hoax en François bedankt!”
Het verslag is hier terug te vinden. Bekijk daar ook de vele foto’s die Vincent heeft genomen van de middag.
Nog meer foto’s van dit event (gemaakt door Pieter Kers) zijn te vinden op Impakt’s Flickr Stream.
Blog: Mercedes Bunz Interview by Nicola Bozzi pt. 2
Our interview with London-based journalist and academic Mercedes Bunz continues with the second and last part. Here we ask her more about the way the Internet is shaping the future of journalism.
I think your take on the technological turn of journalism is very interesting: feeds, automatic articles, all of these technologies might change what a journalist actually is. How do you envision the profession will become in the future?
Journalism will definitely become more automatized, but a good story will remain a good story. And research isn’t just a question of automatization, but also of knowing what to look for. I think being a journalist and using digital tools can’t be divided anymore. It will become a normal part of the profession.
As a contributor to established yet tech-savvy publications like The Guardian, how do you feel the new media journalism debate is perceived? Is it becoming more and more of a popular concern?
Not just the bigger news organizations, but also the smaller ones have understood that the internet won’t go away, and started to embrace digital technology. New media journalism is more and more simply: journalism. I think that is good.
How do you feel about citizen journalism? Do you think the democratization brought by social media is benefitting the quality of information? Are there any downsides?
With the internet, citizen journalism became more of a part of traditional journalism. On the other hand journalism in general is what we all do more and more – I think we can say by now that we do live in a publishing society. But we shouldn’t forget: Just because a platform is there, it isn’t used, or used in a right way. Like a garden needs a gardener, a crowd needs someone that produces it. It isn’t simply there. Crowd-sourcing needs a lot of effort, and it has to be taken really seriously. Ushahidi.com does a great job here, for example.
In between citizens and professional journalists there is a multitude of part-time digital journalists, figures that weren’t really possible before the Internet. How do you feel the Internet can help shape up future (economically-sustainable) careers?
I think the Internet is a normal tool. It isn’t good or bad, but what we make of it. So I don’t really feel it can help to shape the future. It is upon the people to use it in that way – do you know what I mean? Like … It helps some people to make a lot of money, and it automatizes other work flows. For sure, the government is as responsible to create economically sustainable careers as the Internet. What do you think, who does the better job at the moment?
Live blog: Panorama Event Night #4 – Bestiality
Op de zondagavond komt het Impakt publiek nog één keer samen voor de laatste Panorama Event Night #4: Bestiality. De avond wordt geopend door de animatiefilm Mac n Cheese van Tom Hankins, Roy Nieterau, Gijs van Kooten en Guido Puijk. Het afstudeerproject bestaat uit een korte achtervolgings scene die vrij snel meer dan een miljoen views op Youtube wist te vergaren. Onder de fans bevindt zich niemand minder dan 50 cent en dan weet je dat het met je film wel goed zit. Twee van de heren vertellen kort over hoe de film tot stand is gekomen.
Ze worden opgevolgd door een zeer komische, enigszins zwarte animatie film van David O’Reilly met een hoog WTF gehalte. De animatie The External World weet het publiek voor zich te winnen, ook al is er geen touw aan vast te knopen. De maker is niet aanwezig voor iets meer achtergrond en misschien maar goed ook, want dat zou de verwondering over deze absurde wereld mogelijk te niet kunnen doen.
Kevin Boitelle en Sander van Driel aka Opslaan als/save as houden een helder verhaal over de videoclip ‘Gustav’ die ze geregisseerd hebben voor de Utrechtse rapper Mr. Polska. Ze hebben een gelikte Making Off meegenomen die het ontstaansverhaal van de clip laat zien.
Het contrast tussen het hardcore Utrechtse hip hop geweld en de volgende spreker is vrij groot wanneer de bescheiden Britse kunstenaar Rory Pilgrim komt vertellen over zijn werk. Hij geeft een korte introductie in zijn werk, dat onder andere bestaat uit het ongevraagd samenbrengen van een stad in Engeland en Estland. Zijn meest recente project Love in Uganda gaat in op de passieve rol van de katholieke kerk bij de heksenjacht op homoseksuelen in Uganda. Op een komische manier stelt hij de weigering van de kerk om hier een standpunt over in te nemen aan de kaart.
Tot slot komt Zoro Feigl vertellen over zijn fascinatie voor beweging en geeft ons een inkijkje in de wereld van wiegende, dansende en stuiterende machines die hij maakt. Zijn verhaal had moeten starten met een charmant klein stoom machintje maar die heeft wat opstart problemen, het apparaat komt tijdens het verhaal langzaam toch nog tot leven en weet Feigl het publiek te vangen in zijn voorliefde voor beweging.
Live blog: The Right to Database
Op zondag staat The Right to Database, op het programma in theater Kikker. Deze middag is samengesteld in samenwerking met Stichting Kunst en Openbare Ruimte. Na een korte introductie door Annet Dekker, geeft moderator Bernhard Rieder, assistent-professor New Media aan de Universiteit van Amsterdam, het startschot met een crash-cursus database algoritmes. Meteen is duidelijk dat deze middag verder kijkt dan alleen de database. Rieder laat zien dat, door de achterliggende techniek en structuur te begrijpen, een abstract systeem als databases inzichtelijker wordt.
Na Rieders crash-cursus gaat deze middag verder in op de achterliggende sociale en politieke structuren van de database. Zo presenteert Graham Harwood van YoHa zijn onderzoekresultaten naar data entry van verloskundige rondom de geboorte van een kind. Hoe verhoudt de verloskundige zich tot de database? En op welke manier wordt er betekenis gegeven aan de gegevens? Graham laat met zijn onderzoek zien hoe de database een de sociale realiteit weerspiegelt bestaande uit protocollen. Daaropvolgend presenteert Linda Hilfing haar project A Public Domain, hiermee bekritiseerd ze de notie van internet als openbare ruimte. Het interessante van dit project is dat Hilfing gebruik maakt van de database met gepatenteerde termen en woorden van het handelsregister. Op het netwerk van A Public Domain worden al deze woorden blanco gemaakt. Door de inhoud van de database onzichtbaar te maken wordt juist de rol van de database erg zichtbaar.
Na deze presentaties wordt het fenomeen van de database verder onder de loep genomen aan de hand van een debat. Graham en Hilfing gaan verder in op de manier waarop ze omgegaan zijn met het verkrijgen en gebruik van databases voor hun projecten. Rieder legt de nadruk op het recht tot de database: wie bepaalt of je het mag gebruiken, waarvoor, en vooral wat is onze verhouding tot de database? Het debat wordt verfrissend onderbroken met de presentatie van Coralie Vogelaar over het project History is Yours!. Dit is een webshop waarbij de gebruiker T-shirts kan ontwerpen door een combinatie te maken uit een database van tekst en beeld. Met als resultaat: een unieke historisch (on)verantwoorde mash-up om in rond te lopen.
De zaal had iets voller gekund. Misschien schrikt de term database toch nog mensen af. Dat is jammer want, zoals deze middag laat zien zit er meer achter de database en is het helemaal niet zo droog.
Live blog: Daniel Cockburn #2: You are Here
Voel jij je wel eens verdwaald? Volgens filmmaker Daniel Cockburn voelt iedereen zich wel eens verdwaald, fysiek of mentaal. En daar draait zijn eerste lange film You Are Here (2008) om. Je kunt je verdwaald voelen in een onbekend gebouw, maar je kunt je ook, zoals bij the Archivist (een centraal karakter in de film, gespeeld door Tracy Wright), verdwaald voelen in een bekende omgeving, wat wellicht nog enger is. Impakt toont deze experimentele film zondag in Bioscoop ‘t Hoogt, waar Daniel Cockburn ook bij aanwezig is.
Ondanks de nieuwe technologieen, voelen we onszelf nog vaak verdwaald, ook in de wereld van media. Er is zoveel informatie die ons via verschillede kanalen wordt aangeboden, dat het maar lastig is om daar je weg in te vinden. Impakt haakt in op dit dilemma door het tonen van Cockburns film You Are Here.
You Are Here speelt zich af in een ongedefinieerde stad in een ongedefinieerde tijd. Cockburn heeft er bewust voor gekozen om een film te maken die niet te definieren is op deze twee aspecten, omdat het een universeel en tijdloos thema betreft.De film start met een beeld vol lichtgolvend zeewater. “Look at the waves”, vertelt een spreker, die nu voor het geprojecteerde beeld van de zee staat. “You see that red dot on the screen, the one bouncing between the waves of water. Follow it. On second thought, don’t. By ignoring your guide even as you follow it, you will go where you need to go.” De video van de toespraak van de spreker is een van de media-objecten die hoofdpersonage de Archiveerder heeft gevonden in de stad. Ze archiveert al deze objecten in haar huis en naarmate ze meer objecten vindt, lijkt het er steeds meer op dat elk object in verband staat met het andere: ze gaan allemaal over hoe je komt waar je heen wilt gaan. Maar ondanks de schijnbare verbanden, blijft het voor de Archiveerder een onmogelijke opgave een conclusie uit al haar gevonden objecten te trekken. Ze lijkt zich naarmate de film vordert zelfs te verliezen in deze onopgeloste puzzel.
You Are Here beslaat niet enkel het verhaal van de Archiveerder, maar de film bestaat uit een psychologische/filosofische puzzel van een aantal mensen die zoekende zijn in de stad waarin zij wonen. De puzzelstukken zoeken naar hun plek om samen een cohesief geheel te vormen. De auctoriale verteller begeleidt je als kijker bij de beelden van al deze zoekende personages, die allen door de verteller ‘Alan’ worden genoemd: “Your name is Alan, and you are on your way”. Als kijker ben je tijdens het kijken van de film voortdurend bezig met het oplossen van deze fascinerende filmische puzzel, wat ook na de aftiteling door gaat.
Een verhaal binnen de film die mij in het bijzonder aanspreekt, is de scene over het verdwalen in talige communicatie. Soms communiceer je met taal, zonder daadwerkelijk te begrijpen wat je zegt. In de film komt dit talige dilemma naar voren wanneer een man zichzelf in een kamer heeft opgesloten en een papier vol Chinese tekens onder zijn deur krijgt toegeschoven. Hij kent geen Chinees, maar gelukkig is daar het rode boek in zijn kamer dat de titel draagt ‘What To Do If They Shove Chinese Writing Under the Door’.
Daniel Cockburn weet je met You Are Here te verbazen en te verrassen. Het publiek bij Impakt is ook zeer enthousiast over de film: aan het eind krijgt Cockburn een luid applaus. Na afloop van de film is er nog de gelegenheid om Cockburn vragen te stellen, een gelegenheid die door enkelen uit het publiek met beide armen wordt aangegrepen.
Live Blog: YouTube Battle
After a week rich in musical and visual events, this year’s edition of Impakt appropriately culminated in a fired up YouTube Battle. Filmmakers and members of the audience alike engaged in a tight-paced competition, taking their best shots at surprising us with the most hidden gems of the popular video cauldron. Some of the clips shown were vintage 80s TV memorabilia, others meme mash-ups, others videoclips or YouTube-specific series, but they were all quite unique and hilarious. Check out some of the best ones below.
Some funny ads:
Adam and Eve Ad
Ojai Valley Taxidermy
Great dance moves:
Hedonism 2 with “Hedo Rick”
Un rayo de sol
Let’s paint, exercise and blend drinks
Shagged by a rare parrot
Food Should Taste Good Dance-off Winner
Slayer, Angel of Death in Church
Art Thoughtz: How to be a Successful Artist
And the winner:
Breakdancing at an Iranian Wedding (in 1991)
Some people just couldn’t get enough of this, and the YouTube Battle led its own life on Facebook after the festival was over: Proof
You guys should try having a YouTube Battle at home yourself, it’s pretty fun. See you next year!
- Videoblog: The Trouble Ahead - Author:
Videoblog: Banned Videos
Check out the videoblog of Remko Dekker. Enjoy the highlights of Dagan Cohen’s Banned Videos last saturday.
Live blog: conferentie Getting Rough with Media
Het symposium Getting Rough with Media, samengesteld door Stephen Kovats (transmediale 2008-2011, McLuhan in Europe 2011), vult de zaterdagmiddag van Impakt. Gecentreerd rondom hacktivism, openheid en protest wordt de dag, door respondent Chris van der Heijden, samengevat als een zoektocht naar een nieuwe maatschappij. Naar mijns inziens ging het echter niet specifiek om de zoektocht naar een nieuwe maatschappij, maar vooral naar alternatieve structuren. Het ging om de steeds minder ruw wordende randen van het internet met als centraal vraagstuk: wie heeft nu de controle en macht?
Sunil Abraham bekritiseert juist de huidige manier waarop er openheid gepredikt wordt. In India zijn modellen zoals creative commons juist een propagandamodel voor de elite en midden klasse. Hij ziet daarom een beter alternatief in Sharism, later uitgelegd door Christopher Adams. Rui Guerra daarentegen biedt een concreet alternatief en bouwt in dertig minuten een open gedecentraliseerd netwerk. De macht en controle bij decentralisatie ligt niet meer bij één persoon en/of bedrijf maar in het netwerk. Alejandra Perez Nunez laat, daaropvolgend zien dat dit protocol ook van toepassing is in de fysieke wereld. De studentenprotesten van middelbare scholieren in Chili kennen geen gezicht. Net als de globale occupy beweging, krijgt het zijn kracht door een decentraal protocol en specifiek mediagebruik.
Na een korte pauze, gaat Christopher Adams verder in op het concept van Sharism. Aan de hand van een rol stickers en het publiek laat Adams zien hoe sharism in zijn werk gaat. Hierin speelt het netwerk en de onderlinge verdeling een belangrijke rol. Het kenmerkende van al deze voorbeelden is dat ze uitgaan van decentralisatie. Daarnaast ligt hun oorsprong in de hackersgemeenschap. Tatiana Bazzichelli gaat juist verder in op het businessmodel achter deze ideologie van openheid, decentralisatie en DIY. Alejo Duque vat uiteindelijk de dag samen aan de hand van zijn open source projecten in Columbia en Barcelona. Hierbij stelt hij de centrale vraag: waar ligt de controle en de macht van het internet?
De middag sluit af met een mooi kunstproject Watching revolution through a hole in the wall van Foundland, tevens te zien in de tentoonstelling van Impakt. Foundland geeft inzicht in de rol van Facebook in de Arabische lente van Syrië. Dit project vat de middag goed samen omdat het laat zien hoe tegenwoordig mainstream media succesvol is en dient tot protest. De lezingen zelf bleven soms hangen op een erg abstract niveau. Zoals Chris van de Heijden als reflectie aangaf: “the last story was the only one I understood word for word”. Toch was het een enerverende middag met veel nieuwe inzichten.
News: Impakt in De Volkskrant
We were happy to see a great report by Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant last monday morning. It describes what the festival was all about really well.
- Videoblog: Panorama Event Night 3 – Breaking Bad - Author:
Live blog: Contemporary by Elodie Pong
I’ve just seen Contemporary, a movie by Swiss artist Elodie Pong screened at ‘t Hoogt theater. The movie is a fragmented portrait of our time, narrated through discussions with a group of people, mostly friends of the artist’s. The protagonists, most of whom are either actors, artists, or students, share personal anecdotes and views about topics that range from postmodernism to their favorite bird, as well as their two cents about capitalism and death. The interviews alternate with studio sketches where the same people are playing iconic figures (Marilyn Monroe, Karl Marx, Batman and Robin etc.), reenacting famous dialogues from either their characteristic quotes or other sources.
Although the movie deals largely with postmodernism – everything is a reference to something else and everything is already said and done – it comes across as surprisingly human and sweet. Each person speaks in his or her own native language (be it English, German or French), sharing personal convictions and doubts, at times even dancing. You can tell the author has a personal connection to most of them.
A patchwork of cultural references, feelings, and compelling statemens,”Contemporary” is a funny, smart, and touching view. Highly recommended.
Live blog: Chokepoint
Internet is een complex netwerk en de mannen van het Chokepoint project zijn bezig met het in kaart brengen van internet. Zo willen ze de zwakke punten zichtbaar maken en alternatieven bedenken. Dit bleek echter geen makkelijke opgave. Internet binnen Nederland is nog wel vrij helder, maar zodra je internet in landen als Syrië in kaart wilt brengen komen er opeens allerlei problemen boven tafel. In de Chokepoint workshop leggen ze uit hoe internet werkt en waar technische en wettelijke zwakheden zich bevinden.
De eerste helft van de workshop bestaat uit een houtje-touwtje uitleg van de werking van internet. Het touwtje is in dit geval zelfs letterlijk aanwezig. De deelnemers krijgen allen een ‘hoed’ (de heren zitten duidelijk meer achter de computer dan achter de naaimachine) met daarop termen als ‘home server’ of ‘internet service provider’. Bij een meisje met de hoed ‘laptop’ begint alles: ze vraagt een internetadres op. Vervolgens wordt met een touwtje de weg die deze aanvraag aflegt naar zijn bestemming duidelijk gemaakt. Met enig gepuzzel van de deelnemers worden ze aan elkaar geknoopt tot de route die het websiteverzoek over het internet aflegt met een touw duidelijk gemaakt wordt. Zo is zelfs voor de grootste ‘noob’ de werking van internet op een simpele manier inzichtelijk gemaakt. Vervolgens wordt dit abstracte menselijke netwerk terugvertaald naar internet. Met behulp van de site networktools wordt een concrete route van een opdracht getoond en is te zien welke stations deze opdracht passeert.
Met een beter beeld van de werking van internet in het hoofd, vertellen de mannen van Chokepoint over de bedreigingen van vrij en veilig internetgebruik. Zo werd bijvoorbeeld duidelijk tijdens de revolutie in Egypte dat de staat het internet uit kan zetten (iets waar onder andere de VS ook wel geïnteresseerd schijnt te zijn) of kijk naar China waar bepaalde delen van internet geblokkeerd worden. Maar zelfs dichter bij huis: in Frankrijk is wetgeving ingevoerd die het illegaal downloaden wil aanpakken. Wellicht begrijpelijk, maar realiseer je wel dat het niet anders kan dan dat alles wat je download bekeken moet worden. Als dit al kan, wat is dan de volgende stap? Ook wordt duidelijk gemaakt dat het met privacy niet zo best gesteld is. Ongewenste personen kunnen vrij makkelijk inhaken op de weg die je gegevens afleggen en je wachtwoorden ontvreemden of de route ombuigen naar een richting die voor hen gunstiger, zodat je uitkomt waar zij je hebben willen. Met een simpel voorbeeld van een nep Facebook wordt dit zichtbaar gemaakt. De workshop wakkert een kritische houding tegenover internetgebruik aan. Na een aantal tips voor veiliger internetgebruik worden we weggestuurd met de boodschap dat je niet bang hoeft te zijn, maar “some paranoia is reasonable”.
Live blog: WE-tube-o-theek
Een avond waarin de kracht van de hedendaagse beeldcultuur en vooral de rol van de zapcultuur centraal staat, kan niet beter beginnen dan met een reclame uit 1959. Revolutionair! Een afstandbediening met zeven functies voor je kleurentelevisie, meer heb je niet nodig zou je denken… Nu, meer dan vijftig jaar later is het begrip en de functie van televisie als medium dusdanig veranderd dat een variatie van zeven allang niet meer van toepassing is. Tegenwoordig wordt er per minuut meer dan 48 uur aan videomateriaal op Youtube geplaatst. We zappen niet meer maar scannen door het gevarieerde landschap aan (gemanipuleerde) beelden.
Kunstenaar Johan Grimonprez staat bekend om zijn scherpe reactie op de huidige informatiemaatschappij. WE-tube-o-theek is het vervolg op Youtube-o-theek en valt in dezelfde lijn als Grimonprez’s eerdere invloedrijke projecten zoals dial H-I-S-T-O-R-Y en Double Take. Grimonprez laat, aan de hand van geselecteerde videofragmenten, zien hoe onze realiteit gecreëerd en gevormd wordt door de grote hoeveelheid aan beelden om ons heen. We worden overspoelt met distopische angstbeelden en gemanipuleerde werkelijkheden. Waar ligt de waarheid en de macht nu angstbeelden even consumptief zijn geworden als reclamespots?
WE-tube-o-theek biedt in alle opzichten ontwrichtende overconsumptie. De afwisseling van hilarische reclames voor o.a. magnetronmaaltijden, diepvriespizza en handcrème; gemixt met politieke speeches, angstberichten, complottheorieën, de zoektocht naar de waarheid achter 9/11 tower 7 en fragmenten uit cartoons als de Simpsons en Beavis & Butthead, maakt de avond fragmentarisch, kort en krachtig. Het mooie van de compositie van Grimonprez in zijn ‘We-tube-o-theek’ is dat hij de kracht van het medium gebruikt. De vluchtigheid, de beeldkwaliteit en het repetitieve zorgt ervoor dat de kijker in hap klare brokken ondergedompeld wordt. Hiermee creëert Grimonprez een context waarbij hij de kijker achterlaat met de vraag; waar ligt de macht, de waarheid en de hoax?
De WE-tube-o-theek is onderdeel van de tentoonstelling van Johan Grimonprez die vanaf 14 oktober te zien zal zijn in het S.M.A.K. in Gent.
Live Blog: Field Trip – Nachtelijk Buitenspelen
I’m not going to go into details because it’s not kinda legal, but just a few words on last night. Moustaches, (glowing) rabbits and Super Mario. We played last night. Wondered the streets and beautified it. But we weren’t the only ones, there where fellow spirits out to play who created a spider web out of yarn hanging from the side of a bridge. This is a part of a cult-collective performing small acts of guerrilla intervention, but there are also individuals who join in with their own projects. Having fun in the urban space. For all who hold on to their childhood, think the world is a bore or have a spirit for mischief (you know who you are creepy mustachio).
When you come back in the morning and see the results, it leaves you with satisfaction. You’re in the know, just look down at the street and see a story. A story about a fish and a boat on elephants all resting on the back of a turtle. Come with and beautify the city, but don’t tell anybody about it…sshhh it is our secret…
Live Blog: Panorama Event Night #2 – Let’s get Physical
‘Let’s get Physical’ – the physicality in a variety of performances and presentations. Here a round-up of events:
Emil Trier/Torgny, a project that crosses documentary and music video. “The only Game,” is on kids from the rural area of Norway, obsessed with vintage Volvo’s. The cars from the axes of their social realm. It is the stage of heavy patting and smoke creating wheelies. All guided by the tunes made by Torgny.
Mine Kafon How to make a toy from childhood into a means to combat the destruction of one’s playground (but not in the way one would think). Massoud Hassani’s childhood consisted of playing in the deserts near Kabul filled with land-mines. It was the practice to make objects that were perpetuated by the wind and would run over vast fields. It now translates to a project with serious possibilities of ridding the world of landmines. The construction which consists of a collection of legs with flexible plunger-like ends can roam the desert and track down areas of mass destruction. And after some serious due-diligence did Hassani receive the cooperation of the Dutch department of Defence for this project.
Our Autonomous Life? Stemming from an anthropological research that aimed to unearth the hierarchy of a squatters community, by Nazima Kadir. Finding who actually is in charge in such an seemingly anti-authoritarian community through looking at who is being talked about in a sexual connotation. Gossip is the tool of an anthropologist to locate the hidden dynamics in a social group. In this case the leaders was the person who was talked about as a desirable sexual object. Discussions regarding the sex or sexual preference in general told a lot about the standing and hierarchy. In entering these groups the important this is to achieve squatter capital, through presenting squatter skills (like breaking a door), construction skills, being able to cook/bake, activism (from organising, publishing press-releases, managing skills) and most importantly random ‘acts of rudeness.’
Now Nazima Kadir, together with Maria Pask made it into a sitcom, in a communist/communion way – using the thesis and distilled archetypes as a point of departure for group writing.
<Intermezzo by Eindbaas>
The Authentic Boys Their work stems from a playing. From their recent Threesome to the hilarious Idiophone, we see a different assessment of sexuality and physicality. The three people in Threesome fetishize parts of the other that aren’t traditionally considered to be deemed as erotic. From licking finger that are being put in buttonholes to sucking someone’s beard.
Another screening from the Emil Trier/Torgny trilogy: “Big Day” – following graduation feast for upper-class girls. Ending on the girls looking into the camera, what is left after the partying is done. After the excitement, mischief and face painting.
Ten seconds of magic for Niek Pulles in the new clip from dupstep icon SKREAM. Pulling heavily printed lycra-like fabric from the an Adam-like body. What started as a graduation project has now led him to a great couple of days in the production of this clip.
As a Special/Spontaneous treat the evening ended with a small presentation by Daniel Cockburn. Fuelled by the presentation of ‘The Authentic Boys’, Cockburn noticed a similarity to his feature. Namely, people doing strange things that don’t exist in our reality, but underneath they want to be touched. Although there is only one person in his film who actually gets touched and that is a dead person. Which leaves me with one grand tip: come see Cockburn’s feature “You are here” on Sunday!
Sadly we ran out of time to see the third Emil Trier/Torgny screening “I Came Here”…luckily there is always Vimeo.
Live blog: Hidden Riddims 2: Footwork Freak Out
Na een paar dagen stilzitten tijdens filmvertoningen, workshops en lezingen is het tijd om het lichaam weer eens te laten werken. Tijd voor een feestje! Impakt haalt de opkomende Chicago Footwork muziek naar Utrecht om de voetjes van de vloer te krijgen. Een stijltje waar we in Nederland nog niet echt kennis mee hebben gemaakt: Amerikaanse hyper beats omkleed met rammelende samples en hip hop vocalen. Speciaal voor deze gelegenheid is de grote zaal van Theater Kikker omgetoverd tot club: stoelen aan de kant, bar erin geknald , muziek aan en gaan!
De producer Krampfhaft draait een geweldige set waarmee hij de redelijk ontspannen zaal flink weet op te zwepen. De opkomende Utrechtse held beweegt zich tussen allerlei genres in, maar echt footwork wordt het niet. Dat mag de pret niet drukken, hij slingert van Death Grips naar Rustie en hier en daar glipt er een goedgeplaatste eigen plaat tussendoor. Het is een set die de hele zaal in beweging krijgt. Er zijn weinig footworkinvloeden te horen, maar de hip hop vocalen die volop aanwezig zijn in de set maken het toch een goede opwarmer voor Dj Rashad en Dj Spinn.
Deze Amerikanen laten vanavond hun geluid aan het Impaktpubliek horen. Een verrassende performancce, aangezien Nederland nog nauwelijks bekend is met footwork. Footwork is te zien als het Amerikaanse antwoord op de Europese dubstep. De stijl is vrij kaal en wordt gekenmerkt door hyperige beats met een hoog bpm en hoog gepitchte hip hop en r&b vocalen. Bij deze muziek hoort ook de dansstijl footwork. Tijdens deze footworkavond wordt weinig aandacht besteedt aan deze dansstijl. Een gemiste kans: juist op deze introductieavond van footwork zou het een mooie toevoeging zijn om zowel muziek als dans te combineren. Dit had bijvoorbeeld gekund door middel van visuals. Ondanks het ontbreken van beeld, weten de stijve Hollanders uiteindelijk hun draai te vinden en wordt er ook meegebouncet op de stuiterende beat. De sfeer is prima en de footwork fever is succesvol aangestoken, nu de dans nog.
Live blog 2011: Panorama Event Night #1: Amazing Discoveries
Het publiek komt tijdens Panorama Event Night #1 te weten welke verrassende ontdekkingen vijf kunstenaars de afgelopen tijd hebben gedaan. In de grote zaal van Theater de Kikker staan klapstoelen en –tafels klaar om gebruikt te worden door zowel het publiek als de kunstenaars. Deze intieme opstelling geeft gelijk een knus gevoel met een laagdrempelig karakter.
Het meest intrigerende project van vanavond is het Face-to-Facebook-project van Ludovico & Cirio. Zij zijn de makers van datingwebsite Lovely Faces, waar ze de vrij toegankelijke data van 250.000 Facebookprofielen voor hebben gebruikt. De twee Zuid-Europeanen tonen vanavond een duidelijk overzicht van hun project en de hevige reacties die daarop voortvloeiden van nationale en internationale media, de maatschappij en bovenal ook van Facebook. Nadat ze Lovely Faces offline moesten halen van Facebook, hebben ze alles rondom het project gearchiveerd. Een slimme zet, want het project had als doel de mensen bewust te maken van de hoeveelheid vrij toegankelijke data en Lovely Faces was het middel om daar aandacht op te vestigen.
Floris Kaayk toont zijn nieuwste video die hij ontwikkelde met Machinefabriek. Na een project van drie jaar, heeft Kaayk bewust gekozen om een video te maken die qua productie minder tijd in beslag neemt en minder wordt gedragen door de computer. Het resultaat is een video waarin een tiental gekleurde acrobatische figuren in elkaar verstrengeld raken. Fascinerend door het kleurgebruik, door wisselingen van kleur vestigt Kaayk de aandacht telkens op een ander deel van de groep acrobaten.
Leuk aan Panorama Event Night is dat je de kans krijgt om vragen te stellen aan de kunstenaars. Op deze manier wordt kunst niet een eenzijdige wijze van communiceren, maar ontstaat er interactie tussen toeschouwer en kunstenaar. Na deze succesvolle eerste Panorama Event Night, is het met smart wachten op de volgende drie die de komende drie dagen nog zullen volgen.
Live Blog: Hidden Riddims #1 – Sacral Ceremonies
Uit de boxen komen ceremoniële klanken die je in een hogere staat
van bewustzijn proberen te brengen. In Theater Kikker vond op
donderdag avond het eerste deel van Hidden Riddims plaats,
genaamd ‘Sacral Ceremonies’. Het muziekprogramma staat in het
teken van spirituele muziek waarmee men op zoek is naar het
goddelijke, het bovennatuurlijke. Deze transcedente muziek wordt
gemaakt tijdens ceremonies van onder andere Voodoo, Candomble en
Winti. Dat deze ceremoniële klanken ook goed combineerbaar zijn met
hedendaagse muziek, bewijzen vanavond de twee producers van
Niet iedereen is even bekend met deze spirituele muziek die zijn
oorsprong vindt in Afrika. Om die reden start het programma met een
presentatie van Stuart Baker, oprichter van Soul Jazz Records. Vanuit
eigen interesse is hij een project gestart om spirituele muziek uit
allerlei delen van de wereld op te nemen en te bundelen op platen. Hij
duikt vanavond in de achtergrond en klanken van de speciﬁeke
Caribische en Afrikaanse tradities waarmee ‘goddelijke muziek’ wordt
gemaakt. Met ﬁlmpjes en muziekfragmenten wordt zijn verhaal van
een context voorzien en krijg je als bezoeker een duidelijk beeld van
de oorsprong en invulling van deze intrigerende muziek. Baker blijkt
niet de meest charistmatische presentator te zijn, toch is zijn
presentatie intrigerend door de interessante informatie en de goede
balans tussen woorden, muziek en ﬁlm. De documentaire van Maya
Deren (The Divine Horsemen: The Living Gods Of Haiti) die later deze
avond wordt getoond, complementeert het verhaal van Baker goed.
Na de verhelderende presentatie van Baker wordt een sprong gemaakt
van traditie naar vernieuwende, exploratieve muziek. Demdike Stare
combineert de klanken uit het koloniale verleden met drones en
gefragmenteerde dub. Het resultaat is sfeervolle, langgerekte muziek
die versterkt wordt door de mystieke visuals die een gevoel van angst
in je lichaam zaaien. Ondanks de regelmatig beangstigende visuals,
brengt de luistermuziek van Demdike Stare je als luisteraar tot rust. De
kans is groot dat deze rust zich ontpopt tot een muzikale trans waar je
jezelf met liefde in wilt verliezen.
Live Blog: Panorama Screening #2 – Cooking up the Big Bang
Mijmeren over de menselijke conditie, het destructieve, de duisternis, het tragische, de dynamiek van dienstbaarheid en liefde. Hoogtepunt Babel (2010), door Hendrick Dusollier en Forgotten Column (2010), door Xiaohu Zhou. Ik had in aanloop naar het festival Babel al getipt als een must-see en ik ben nog niet op deze mening teruggekomen. Dit werk vertelt een verhaal zonder gebruik te maken van woorden – net zo als Forgotten Column dat doet – en beweegt de kijker na te denken over het menselijk bestaan. Waar Forgotten Column de destructie die de mens aanricht om vervolgens met het verworven materiaal iets nieuws te bouwen, is Babel een magistraal epos van ongeveer een kwartier.
Een andere film in deze selectie, Púlnoc (Midnight)(2010), handelt over hoe de mensheid omgaat met de duisternis. Van wat zichzelf 5 dagen opsluiten in een compleet donkere ruimte met je doet, tot een verhandeling over de onnatuurlijkheid van een verlichte straat. Zij is een verhaal van het menselijk project van verlichting. Als maar vooruitstreven, maar vergeten dat zoiets als een gloeilamp het menselijk bioritme danig in de war brengt, dat zich nu een chronisch oververmoeide maatschappij aandient. De problematiek en boodschap van deze film is wel degelijk interessant, maar het werk deed mij verlangen naar het einde. Wat niet wil zeggen dat het slecht was maar dat hij zonder een aantal fragmenten ook had gewerkt.
Mocht je ‘Babel’(2010) nog willen zien hij is iedere dag van het festival (van 17.00-23.00) op de Videowall bij de Stadsschouwburg
Live Blog: Field Trip – Hosted by a Public Domain
The field trip through the maze of the public domain with an expanding group of people. Linda Hilfling had invited a bunch of people to present or give a workshop at some ‘public’ locations throughout Utrecht on the subject of the public domain. From the hectic Utrecht Central/Hoog Catharijne, to a corner in the library, a corridor in City Hall accompanied by people needing to pass by or use the copy machine, a parking construction to finally turn to the heavens at the observatory.
It all started at the meeting point underneath the big blue screen. Linda Hilfling was supposed to give a presentation on her ‘a Public Domain’ work at the frantic shopping mall Hoog Catharijne, however her interventionist network got constantly thrown-out by all the other networks in that area. This is why we diverted to Theater Kikker for her presentation. Linda Hilfling questions the ownership of language, especially the dynamics of trademarks. Her project consists of a free – seemingly normal – wireless network that anyone can log-on to. However when you browse through a site there are words missing. In actuality you haven’t logged-on to a server that directly connects you to the internet but you are passing through Hilfling’s computer which filters out all the trademarked words from any site you might visit.
When she first started the project in Denmark she tried to get excess from the local Danish trademark office to use their information, however the people there were reluctant and only offered the (public) information against a notable amount of money. Hilfling opted for a different route and used an program to obtain the data. After collecting the data, she needed to create a new code and her own (local) network.
This piece of intervention is one that presents you a legal world, one in which you’re not infringing upon someone’s word. It gives you the words that are for all, in other words public domain.
If you want to create your own public domain you can visit Linda Hilfling’s site and download a package.
French artist Aymeric Mansoux brought us to a corner in the public library, where next to a book sorting machine, he gave a workshop on the meaning of the word common. A small booklet called ‘A Common Dictionary’ included three words that needed a definition and a question ‘Is YouTube an Open System? Why?’ at the bottom of each page. First you had two minutes to give a definition to: Public Domain/Common/Creative Common, after which you needed to join-up with another person and come to a consensus on the different definitions, when that was finished you needed to join with another team of two and come to a final consensus. In order to create a dictionary on the common. Conclusion: creating a definition on the common in a community is nearly impossible.
Tucked in a corridor between a coffee and copy machine, art critic Fredrik Svensk gave a lecture inspired by Hegel’s work and Garrett Hardin’s 1968 article ‘The Tradegy of the Commons.’ The principle being the tragic nature of being in a state or community, presupposes an sacrifice of the very thing you want to uphold by forming this community. In order to survive and have freedom we form a bond of the state, which in turn asks from us to give in freedoms. This freedom by limiting your freedom is, according to Hegel, a higher freedom then the one the initial, solitary person, possessed, because the collective can create more than one single individual could, thus making all more free. In the realm of the public domain debate the question is: isn’t it a type of tragedy that is immanent to the sphere of the state? The utopian idea would be that all is public however as we have seen in Linda Hilfling’s project this isn’t the case, language is owned. This ownership is the state at this moment in time. We could all move to a cabin in the forest or up in the hills and leave the state, but is this really a way out?
In a concrete parking construction our group experiences an almost religious experience through the mesmerism’s of Goodiepal aka the Århus Warrior. Sitting in a wheelchair, because of an accident he got involved in while biking from Moscow to Utrecht, he started his tale at a hypnotic pace. The act of giving. A story. A performance. An experience. All going out on a whistle.
It is difficult to transcribe in words, as one of the other people on the trip commented: ‘just write Awesome’, but even this wouldn’t suffice the experience.
Ending it with the stars. Alejandro Duque shared with us a self-made antenna which he had kept in his backpack during the entire trip around Utrecht. And tried to find an ancient satellites [read an US-military satellite from the 80’s] that Brazilian truck drivers use to talk with each other. In the observatory under a clouded nights sky he discussed the last frontier of free public space: outer-space. Apparently these antennas are easy to make yourself and a free way to communicate, so whenever you’re planning to start a new revolution but communication systems are shut down you can always turn to the good old antenna.
With tired feet and dazed by the experience the fieldtrip ended there in the observatory looking over the City we had just passed through.
Festival update: Foundland replaces Sami Ben Gharbia at the summit: Getting Rough with Media
One of the guests in the Impakt summit ‘Getting Rough with Media’, Sami Ben Gharbia, unfortunately couldn’t make it. But curator Steven Kovats found a very good replacement just in time: Foundland.
Ghalia Elsrakbi and Lauren Alexander from Foundland will concentrate on their strategy and raison d’etre vis a vis creating essentially fictitious projects such as Looking at syria through a hole in the wall.
Watching revolution through a hole in the wall
While President Bashar maintains that mysterious “armed groups” are responsible for the widespread killing of civilian protesters in his country, he can only prove this by showing reporters images of the perpetrators. Meanwhile Western media, although not allowed to enter Syria, report that Bashar has in fact hired armed gangs to shoot at protesters for the purpose of photographing them in action. A powerful and ruthless regime needs to be media savvy in a time when it’s resilient and fearless citizens maintain the power to report events through social media to the rest of the world. Finding out the “truth” behind what is exactly happening becomes a complex investigation of eye witness accounts, rumours, confessions and lies. Foundland member, Ghalia Elsrakbi (Damascus, 1978) closely followed the events of the Syrian uprising through the Internet and personally experienced her Facebook account transform into a battleground of political opinion and a vehicle for propaganda, both pro and against the Bashar regime.
Live Blog: Openingsavond Impakt Festival
Vlak na de opening van de tentoonstelling Free State in de Academiegalerie afgelopen woensdag organiseerde Impakt een speciale openingsavond in Theater Kikker. Aan aanloop geen gebrek. De grote zaal van het theater zat letterlijk tot de nok gevuld met volk. Daar werd een mooi overzicht van het complete festival gepresenteerd in talkshow format, gehost door Impakt programmeur Pim Verlaek.
Daarna kon het publiek getuige zijn van de audiovisuele performance van The Oceans Academy of Arts en Stellar OM Source. Dat deze samenwerking tussen de dames Ola Vasiljeva en Christelle Gualdi prima werkt, bleek al uit de show die ze afgelopen september samen lieten zien bij VJ op de Dom, georganiseerd door de Vrede van Utrecht in samenwerking met onder andere het Impakt Festival. Daar projecteerde Ola haar felgekleurde videokunst op de Dom toren in Utrecht en bezweerde Christelle het hele Domplein met haar bedwelmende synthesizer klanken. Samen zorgden ze toen al voor een prettige audiovisuele totaalervaring.
Dat kunstje doen ze op deze openingsavond weer. En helemaal niet onverdienstelijk. In Ola’s beelden zijn duidelijk de contouren van de Dom toren nog te herkennen, destijds met behulp van videomapping op het gebouw geprojecteerd. Op het twee-dimensionale scherm hier werkt het minder goed. De beelden stuiteren met wilde kleurflitsen en sensueel dansende silhouetten over de toeschouwers heen, die dit keer gedurende de hele avond in de comfort zone van de blauwe stoeltjes blijven zitten. Gedanst wordt er helaas niet, hoewel Christelles electro het best toestaat. De arrangementen die ze uit de kluwen effectapparatuur tovert, klinken aangenaam op zichzelf, maar af en toe vormen het wat loshangende fragmenten. Daardoor komt haar set soms een beetje zoekend over en het verklaart ook de afwachtende houding van het publiek. Maar het geluid opzich dat meandert tussen disco, electro en hier en daar wat subtiele acidklanken maakt veel goed.
Live Blog: Jailbreak #1 Het geloof in het potentieel van de technologie
Het eerste programma van Jailbreak van Florian Wüst bestaat uit een serie films die duidelijk laat zien hoe we de afgelopen 100 jaar hebben geloofd in het potentieel van de technologie. Een serie films uit 1939 tot en met 2010 toont de omgang met nieuwe ontwikkelingen.
De eerste drie films zijn een lofzang op televisie, de magneetband en de computer, op dat moment het nieuwste van het nieuwste. De films roemen de nieuwe mogelijkheden die technologische progressie ons bieden kan. Tegenwoordig dient technologie minder als symbool van vooruitgang als in het begin van de 20e eeuw, de focus bij nieuwe ontwikkelingen ligt tegenwoordig meer op wat het betekent voor de mens als autonoom individu. We zijn de afgelopen decennia steeds individualistischer geworden, maar technologie vormt tegenwoordig meer dan ooit een middel om mensen bij elkaar te brengen. Daarnaast zijn we niet enkel meer passieve consumenten, maar actieve gebruikers, denk bijvoorbeeld aan de apps die mensen zelf ontwikkelen voor hun smartphone. Deze sociale potentie en de relatie maker/kijker wordt in de jaren ’80 onderzocht in relatie tot televisie.
De film over het Qube Project van Jaime Davidovich laat zien dat er in de jaren ’80 door enkelen over televisie wordt gedacht als een democratisch medium voor wederzijdse communicatie waarin de relatie tussen maker en kijker door elkaar heen loopt. In Qube krijgt een willekeurige beller de complete regie van het tv programma in handen. Tegenwoordig is het enige dat de kijker op televisie nog te zeggen heeft, een stem uitbrengen wie er door moet gaan naar de volgende ronde in een van de vele talentenjachten (waar de kijker dan zelfs nog voor moet betalen). Het zegt iets over de wijze waarop dergelijk technologisch potentieel langzaam uit de handen van het publiek glipt en in handen van partijen met eigen belangen terecht komt. Discussie over de relatie tussen publiek/prive, maker/gebruiker of zender/ontvanger lijken echter met de opkomst van internet als nieuw democratisch platform opnieuw opgelaaid. Het internet lijkt de nieuwe autonome zone die televisie ooit voor sommigen was. Voor televisie lijkt deze discussie wellicht afgesloten en heeft het publiek weinig te zeggen over wat en hoe televisie gemaakt wordt. Toch is dit wellicht niet helemaal waar.
De film Satellite, As Long As It Is Aiming At The Sky uit 2010 over een Iranese televisiezender in Amerika is niet alleen zeer komisch, maar ook een voorbeeld van hoe televisie tegenwoordig nog steeds groepen mensen bindt en dient als een spreekbuis voor het publiek. Het tv programma fungeert als een soort forum op internet waar iedereen zijn verhaal kan doen. Zo worden de presentatoren opgebeld met de vraag waarom het geluid van de tv het niet doet of door een vrouw die gewoon even over haar gevoelens wil praten. Iedereen wordt even serieus te woord gestaan. Toch blijkt in de loop van de film dat politieke inhoud wel degelijk gestuurd wordt door de programmamakers. Een beller met een politiek statement wordt weggedrukt en een ander programma wordt gebruikt om met beelden van een protest, de protesteerders met afwijkende opvattingen op te sporen.
Bezoek het tweede programma van Jailbreak, aanstaande zaterdag in ‘t Hoogt om 19:00 uur.
Live Blog: Panorama #1: Rediscovering The Cinematic
Het opnieuw ontdekken van cinema, ik en de andere bezoekers in Theater ’t Hoogt mogen onze ogen de kost laten geven tijdens de zes korte films waarin filmmakers cinema exploreren. Een experiment met cinematografische illusies, voer voor filmfreaks.
Dat ‘voer voor filmfreaks’ staat als slotzin bij de introductietekst over dit programma. Voorafgaand aan Rediscovering The Cinematic, dacht ik dat dat deze zin vooral te maken heeft met de thematiek: niet iedereen is geïnteresseerd in de hededaagse vertaling van cinematografische oerelementen. Na afloop van dit programma blijkt dat deze slotzin te maken heeft met de vorm. De films blinken namelijk uit in abstractheid; de films bestaan veelal uit herhalende scenes waar de filmmaker slechts subtiele veranderingen in aanbrengt. Zo exploreert Peter Tscherkassky in ‘Coming Attractions’ (35mm, 2010) cinematografische veranderingen door de snelheid van afspelen en bewegingen van de acteurs te manipuleren. In ‘Das Gespenst Des Glucks’ (2010) toont Max Phillipp Schmid de vastgelegde rolverdeling in man/vrouw-relaties door oude en nieuwe beelden van een omhelzend stel te combineren. Daarnaast exploreert Schmid cinema door dezelfde gebeurtenissen via verschillende hoeken herhaaldelijk te tonen en de snelheid van beweging te manipuleren.
Een van de filmmakers, Björn Kämmerer (Gyre, 35mm, 2010), is vandaag aanwezig en komt na de vertoning van zijn film ‘Gyre’ het podium op om vragen te beantwoorden. Zijn abstracte animatie bestaat uit subtiele veranderingen van licht, en de afstand en hoek van de camera. Het is leuk dat Kammerer de tijd neemt om uitleg te geven over ‘Gyre’, omdat de film vrij abstract is en je door zijn uitleg meer begrijpt over zijn intentie en de context van de film.
De ene getoonde film tijdens Rediscovering The Cinematic is een lastiger cryptisch visueel gedicht dan het ander. Doordat er een aantal vrij abstracte films tussen zitten, is dit programma vooral een uitdaging voor filmkenners, omdat zij over de benodigde voorkennis beschikken om de nuanceverschillen te kunnen ontdekken. Gewone filmliefhebbers zullen snel afhaken, omdat het gewoonweg moeilijk verteerbaar is. In de zaal wordt tijdens de filmvertoning ook al snel duidelijk wie filmkenners zijn en wie filmliefhebbers: de filmkenners blijven van begin tot eind geboeid naar het scherm kijken en de filmliefhebbers hebben moeite hun ogen open te houden en kiezen er voor om voortijdig de zaal te verlaten.
Live Blog: Free State Opening
Het Impakt Festival opent met een strakke, scherpe expositie als warming up voor de rest van de week. In de Academiegalerie zijn een vijftal projecten verzameld die met een eigen insteek het thema op de horens nemen.
Tot de meest fascinerende projecten behoort Watching the revolution through a hole in the wall van het Foundland Collectief. Door de ogen van een anonieme vrouw toont het collectief hoe informatie wordt ingezet tijdens de Arabische lente in Syrië. Het regime gebruikt internet als propaganda 2.0 om een eigen beeld te schetsen van de huidige situatie, terwijl de bevolking juist internet gebruikt om deze bubbel door te prikken. Internet wordt zo een gat in de muur van het gesloten Syrië waardoor de rest van de wereld kan zien wat er gaande is. Met een aantal scherpe en mooie voorbeelden wordt de rol van internet in deze revolutie duidelijk gemaakt. Zo wordt bijvoorbeeld duidelijk dat iets kleins als de keuze van een profielfoto op Facebook veel kan zeggen over iemands politieke overtuiging.
Maar Facebook heeft meerdere kanten, iets dat Alessandro Ludovico en Paolo Cirio met Face to Facebook op komische wijze aantonen. De kunstenaars maakten een datingsite met profielen die zijn opgebouwd uit Facebook informatie. We geven ons graag bloot op internet, maar het risico dat dit internet exhibitionisme met zich meebrengt is dat je niet in de hand hebt waar deze persoonlijke informatie terecht komt. Je weet nooit wie er met je persoonlijke informatie aan de haal gaat en wat deze persoon er mee gaat doen. De presentatie bij Impakt toont naast de wijze waarop de datingsite is opgezet vooral de nasleep van het project. De site is zelf niet te zien , maar is meer de aanleiding voor de getoonde installatie. Fascinerend is de briefwisseling tussen Facebook en de kunstenaars. Hierdoor krijg je een inkijkje in de wijze waarop Facebook ‘zijn’ informatie beschermt. Ze beschermen hiermee de privacy van hun gebruikers, maar vooral hun eigen naam. Naast een platform voor discussie en communicatie, blijkt Facebook vooral ook de eigenaar van onze persoonlijke informatie geworden.
Naast deze twee projecten zijn er ook nog een aantal ‘spin-offs’ van andere Impakt Festival projecten te zien die smaken naar meer. Het warmlopen is met deze expositie goed begonnen, de denkspieren zijn losgeschud en klaar voor verdere discussie, precies wat we de komende dagen nog kunnen verwachten.
Blog: Impakt Highlights – Studio Smack and the DEUS Screening Program
Chilling outdoors and watching cool videos are pretty amazing things by themselves, but if you combine them the result is an augmented urban experience you don’t wanna miss, if only for a quick break in between other events. During the festival, Impakt will once again team up with DROPSTUFF.nl to bring its DEUS presentations to several urban locations across the Netherlands (Neude Square in Utrecht, the central stations in Den Haag and Eindhoven, and the Amsterdam Zuid Station). The rich program features a variety of shorts (see the full schedule here), which include a few award-winning gems by Dutch video makers Smack Studio, like this pretty impressive walk through the typography-ridden layer of our daily reality. Quite trippy, huh?
Go check out their portfolio for a peek at what they’ve done, and make sure to catch them around the city squares!
News: Impakt Festival on Drawing Daily
What an honor! Cartoonist Steven Kraan devoted a post on his Drawing Daily Facebook page to the Impakt Festival. Because we are all big Drawing Daily fans here, we recommend you to visit his Facebook page and receive his funny comics every day.
Blog: Impakt Highlights – The Right to Database Debate
Nowadays the data out there is simply too much to handle, the content so rich that merely to filter it and organize it is a creative act in itself. But for every action taken on a vast amount of information there needs to be a back-end layer underneath: the database. Impakt Online, in collaboration with SKOR NetArtWorks, will host a very promising debate on the subject.
The discussion will be hosted by Bernhard Rieder, assistant Professor of New Media at the University of Amsterdam, and will feature experts like Graham Harwood and Matsuko Yokokoji (YoHa – who will try and investigate the gap between the public perception of the social reality created by data and the actual databases – and Metahaven) – who have participated in the Impakt Online program with their Cloud app.
Check out the official page for more detailed info and reserve a ticket for free here.
We’ll keep you posted!
Blog: Impakt Highlights – Choke Point Project Workshop
Impakt is not only art, music, and screenings. Among the festival events that you should definitely check out, in fact, is the Choke Point Project workshop: your chance to actually bring something home (read: skills) and claim the right to know in person.
According to WikiPedia, a “chokepoint” is “a geographical feature on land such as a valley, defile or a bridge, or at sea such as a strait which an armed force is forced to pass, sometimes on a substantially narrower front, and therefore greatly decreasing its combat power, in order to reach its objective.” Given the emerging need for infrastructural strategies, called for by the infamous attempts to shut the Internet down in areas of political unrest, some practical knowledge about the material geography of our informational environments is more than useful. With a “no-nonsense, hands-on, participatory” approach, the Choke Point team (Paz Domìnguez Ara, Javier Arturo Rodrìguez, and Chris Pinchen) will tell you everything you need to know about how the Internet works and how connectivity can be distributed, along with tips on security and encryption.
Blog: Dansen zoals ze in Chicago doen bij Footwork Freakout
Vrijdag 4 november vindt er een unieke clubavond plaats tijdens het Impakt Festival. We zullen gaan dansen op de clicks, breaks en samples van Chicago Footwork pioniers DJ Rashad & DJ Spinn en de op juke geïnspireerde Nederlandse producers Krampfhaft en Astroposer. Chicago Footwork is een gloednieuw dance genre uit Chicago, dat in Europa nog betrekkelijk onbekend is. Het was het muziekmagazine Gonzo (circus) die er vorig jaar al voor het eerst in de Benelux over berichtte. Hier een fragment uit het artikel van Martijn Vennekatte dat verscheen in Gonzo (circus) 99.
Martijn Vennekatte, Gonzo (circus) #99
Grimmige dansmuziek uit Chicago
Dansend het respect winnen van de tegenstander op straat of schoolplein. Daar draait het in Chicago nog steeds om. De soundtrack is allang geen hiphop meer, maar een mix van techno, ghettotech, hiphop en r&b. Grimmig en energiek: footwork.
Footwork is een energieke mengeling van ghettotech, techno, hiphop en r&b, waarin trage en extreem snelle ritmes met elkaar vechten. Dit om de dansers tot het uiterste te testen. Ook footwork is namelijk eerst en vooral dansmuziek. Al snel spreekt men in Chicago ook niet meer over juking maar over footwurking. Geen oppervlakkige beats meer, maar abstracte ritmepatronen die even spannend als opmerkelijk klinken. De jonge producers creëren de tracks met Fruityloops en een drumcomputer op de zolderkamer. Het gevolg is een geluid dat even eenvoudig als inventief is, waarin over de krankzinnige ritmes eindeloos vocalen uit de r&b en hiphop worden herhaald. Footwork is 21e-eeuwse samplemuziek die alle (ongeschreven) regels aan zijn laars lapt.
Met name het medium YouTube heeft een belangrijke rol in de verspreiding van footwork. Producers – genegeerd door radio en labels – kunnen eenvoudig de tracks delen met de achterban. Daarnaast worden er vele evenementen georganiseerd waar jongeren bijeenkomen om in competitieverband of geheel vrijblijvend het footworkgevecht aan te gaan. Wala Williams, een 38-jarige promoter, footworkfanaat en scout, organiseert in buurthuizen, op schoolpleinen en andere locaties vele events, en onderhoudt een levendig YouTube-kanaal genaamd ‘Wala Cam’, waar vele battles op terug te vinden zijn. Daarnaast is er het Battlegroundz-event, een open clubavond iedere zondag in Chicago, waar in een wat grimmige sfeer jongeren bijeenkomen om op de dansvloer de geschillen uit te vechten. Geheel volgens de breakdancetraditie is er een cirkelopstelling en wordt er solistisch tegen elkaar gestreden. Hoe footwork er precies uitziet is lastig te omschrijven; het is een explosieve dans, waarbij het bovenlichaam voornamelijk stil gehouden wordt, terwijl de voeten en benen een bijna zwevend spel spelen boven de dansvloer, en waarin tussen het groteske tempo door subtiele balansoefeningen en stijlvormen uit de breakdance en electric-boogie worden beoefend.
Nathan Clark aka DJ Nate is een van de pioniers van footwork. Het twintigjarige talent uit Chicago heeft lang een mysterieuze status gekend. Enthousiastelingen kwamen dankzij YouTube en MySpace zijn muziek op het spoor, maar de man zelf was moeilijk te traceren. Inmiddels is hij opgepikt door Mike Paradinas van Planet Mu, die in de herfst van 2010 zijn debuutalbum zal uitbrengen en hopelijk zal zorgen voor meer overzeese exposure van footwork. (Ging het zo ook niet met de Detroit-techno?)
Daarnaast zijn DJ Rashad, RP Boo en DJ Spinn belangrijke namen uit de lokale scene, al maken de meesten van hen (net als DJ Nate overigens) ook r&b-gerichte tracks. En niet alleen Mike Paradinas heeft footwork ontdekt, ook Headhunter (zie artikel Gonzo #98) heeft – onder zijn alias Addison Groove – door footwork beïnvloede tracks geproduceerd, al hebben die, anders dan het werk van de eerder genoemde producers, duidelijk ook dubstep-trekken.
En zo voelt footwork eigenlijk ook, als het Amerikaanse antwoord op de (voornamelijk) Europese dubstep. Met dezelfde ingrediënten, maar dichter bij de hiphop en r&b dan bij de ravecultuur; grimmiger in geluid, chaotisch en abstract en bovenal vele malen sneller. In Europa is techno alleen maar trager geworden (minimal), en heeft het snelle drum-‘n-bass het moeten afleggen tegen de trage dubstep. In Chicago niets van dat alles; daar wordt door de zwarte jeugd weer gedanst op onnavolgbare elektronische muziek.
De vraag is echter hoe deze niche zich gaat ontwikkelen. In Chicago leeft de footwork-beweging volop, maar dat is te danken aan de populariteit van de dans, niet aan het levendige productieklimaat – dat is er namelijk niet. De situatie waarin Footwork zich bevindt heeft veel weg van de begindagen van de hiphop, toen lange tijd de deejays het geluid bepaalden door middel van turntablism, pitchen, samplen en mixen, en pas later de platen met het juiste geluid werden geproduceerd. Footwork kan als genre pas groeien als de muziek mee ontwikkelt.
En wat de rest van de wereld betreft: het is afwachten of het uitbrengen van het album van DJ Nate door Planet Mu ertoe zal leiden dat deze tot nu toe lokale muziek- en dansbeweging internationaal voet aan de grond krijgt. Dat zou in elk geval terechte erkenning betekenen voor de jonge beatmakers uit de windy city, die op geheel eigen wijze de roep van de dansers hebben beantwoord, met een geluid ver weg van alle modegrillen, even hypnotisch als opzwepend.
Wil je meer lezen over de geschiedenis van dit bijzondere nieuwe genre? Ga dan naar: www.gonzocircus.com. Hier kan je tevens kaarten winnen voor onze beide music nights, plus de originele Impakt Festival 2011 T-shirts!
Blog: “When I hear the word ‘curator,’ I reach for my pistol”: An Interview with Data Machinery Curator Stefan Majakowski
The films in the Data Machinery programme “undermine” the “sacred belief” in the visibility of reality. This is interesting given the fact that the films are documentaries, a form so often treated as a direct portal into reality. How do these films trouble this traditional conception of documentaries as pictures of truth?
In that sense they aren’t traditional documentaries. You could say generally in the whole documentary tradition from early on there are two strands: one of which pretends to pervade the truth through visibility, however dubious that may be. And that starts with Flaherty filming in the igloo [for Nanook of the North]. The other strand starts with Vertov and already questions in a polemical way that so-called truth aspect. So the filmmakers I’m presenting don’t just fall out of the sky. They are part of that self-reflective tradition. Certainly Videogramme of a Revolution, with its spectrum of found footage, at the end of the day conveys the fact that just one more bit of found footage is not going to give you anymore truth—that film, at the end of the day, is about filmmaking. Let’s say that the other Farocki film, Images of the World, constructs a complex web of interlinked mechanisms from the history of optical measurement through the general fascination we have for images. And, without highlighting the point too much, the film seems to say that there’s this collusion between man and apparatus that is in itself fetishistic, which has little to do with some ultimate drive towards the truth. It’s more like: well, we get along with machines, so let’s have fun with them. Even though Farocki is well known as an essayist, I think he would admit the ultimate fascination is just a love of machinery. Who says that human beings are searching for the truth? That’s just an incorrect assumption.
All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace is the most far-reaching statement on reality at the moment. You could say within this strand of self-critical documentaries it’s the least self-critical. It’s as if the filmmaker has decided well, times are just too dangerous to go on with any kind of self-referential insider’s slant on filmmaking. It’s time just to tell people how it is. In that sense it’s quite shocking documentary filmmaking, which doesn’t criticize its own oration.
Right, because it is an active critique of humanism, challenging not only its tenets or ideals but also its ability to fully comprehend the role that technology plays in our lives.
Right, and the filmmaker feels like to go on and also question the medium of filmmaking is just a bit much. He has a very highly developed rhetoric to get his point across.
Videograms of a Revolution represents a very specific example of a revolution caught on film, since the Romanian demonstrators actually occupied a television studio in 1989. Do you know anything about the process behind how this final film came out of the 120 hours they broadcasted during that occupation?
It’s not just hours of broadcast, it’s also hours and hours of home movies there. There’s a lot of people just filming from their window or sitting at home watching television…I have a feeling that the point of departure was actually to even travel around Romania and use the film as an educational thing.
How does this sort of project resonate (or not) with the protest and occupation movements of today? The idea of occupying a television studio does not translate to today the same way it did in 1989.
This is typically something that was the obvious step in these old-fashioned Soviet set-ups. It was so obvious that television was the main source of power for controlling people that the first thing you would do is go to the television studio. Television has a questionable influence on people these days. If you were going to occupy a television station, first of all you have commercial television and national television. Do you go to these commercial stations and occupy them—why? If you went to national television, I guess you could—it would be fun. Certainly it would be a great symbolic act. So many of those stations advertise themselves as operating so blatantly in the national interest. So it would be wonderful for protesters to occupy television. For the same reason, the documentary filmmaker always takes the moral highground: “What I do is always justified by the end, by the goal I achieve.” Television also has that attitude of “whatever we do, our moral point of departure is the national interest.”
In Wolff von Amerongen, Did He Commit Bankruptcy Offenses? the urban landscape seems to function in an important way. Without giving too much away, how does Friedl incorporate cities and geography in this experimental take on the historical effects of Germany’s financial system?
We get a sense that civilization, as Walter Benjamin said in his essay “Experience and Poverty,” is a fiction. We get a sense that humanity has dreamt itself up. What’s a better example of that than cosmopolitan life? Early on [in the film] we see a U.S. military airport, then cityscapes from all over Europe; we get a sense that this wonderful thing we call civilization is just a decor behind which the reality is different. It’s a very ironic film in that sense…it isn’t going to tell you more truth than that. It’s just this sense that it’s all very plastic, and he leaves it up to the viewer to place himself in that world.
All of the films in the Data Machinery program might be considered deconstructions of dominant narratives about our relationship with technology. Was this a conscious curatorial move?
I’m very skeptical of mainstream movements in general. With all this enthusiasm about Wikileaks and all this hope regarding the internet, and having witnessed so many mainstream movements that flounder, I think my contribution is if there isn’t the wherewithal within the population to attack the source, which is I feel, corruption and career mentality and lack of collectivity, I don’t believe that the media is really a cornerstone. And I don’t believe that internet as part of the media gives anything more than a very tiny spark, and otherwise it’s very self-fulfilling. So I’m a huge fan of the filmmaker Peter Watkins, whose whole œuvre is devoted to questioning politics and the media. He believes very strongly that TV is evil and TV people are an evil race. I don’t think television is the source of anything except maybe a distraction. But I don’t think television or the internet is going to change anything. For years we’ve been hearing about how the internet is going to usher in new narrative forms, but I haven’t seen them. It’s basically extremely textual, even though people are screaming about how visual we are. I’m skeptical about this mainstream enthusiasm and the films I’ve chosen I think demonstrate a kind of need for action.
How would you describe your programming process? Is it an art, a science, or both?
I don’t consider myself a curator. I make documentaries and teach documentary and I am involved within the documentary tradition within what I feel is critical originality. I think of curation and programming as a kind of off-shoot of managing—whether it’s managing people’s time or filling in program slots—[it] is a disease. I think curation is a term that comes from the art world and the more or less opportunistic way that the audio-visual media has been infiltrated by the art world is detrimental. When I’m asked to show films I show films I’m passionate about. If you asked me to take part in a festival of cooking, I would probably show the same films.
So you probably don’t agree with Frederic Jameson’s statement that the curator is the new artist.
What I do believe in is certainly the more or less old, collectivist idea of erasing borders between those that create and those that receive. I believe really that everybody should try their hand at filmmaking and I believe in the democratization of the arts. But that is different from curation, which somehow mystifies everything. Michel de Certeau talks a lot about the disease of the expert and how the media takes someone who is a specialist and turns them into an expert. So suddenly when I’m interviewed I’m not just one voice, I’m suddenly the spokesman for a whole field—which is so dubious. A curator is just somebody who for a specific moment is doing something, but he’s not the last voice. And in the art world organizations are only interested in getting bigger and more important than one another. So the art world doesn’t present me and say here is one voice among thousands of others, they say: here is our expert. With curation—what’s the illness that’s being cured? When I hear the word “curator,” I reach for my pistol.
Your own art frequently involves mixed-media. Do any of the selections in the Data Machinery program reflect your interest in the intersections of film and music?
I kind of developed my sensibilities at a time when avant-garde music was very important. I am very heavily influenced by a composer like Stockhausen, the broader approach to form and relationship of form to message. And generally I am allergic to creative work which doesn’t show some sort of inventiveness in dealing with form and method. I think somehow we have lost some of the lessons from those magical days of the 60s and 70s when for some reason music and sound came to the forefront. If you think of a composer like John Cage or Alvin Lucier, these are creative minds that bridge various disciplines: space, architecture, literature. And when you look at their work you develop a critical faculty for who deserves a podium. On one hand certainly everybody should develop their own expression and their own creativity. But on the other hand of the profession of creativity has been so devalued that there’s very little bonafide inspiration. And this is due to the business of management because every curator wants to score and every organization wants to have its premieres, etc.
Blog: Impakt Highlights – Impakt Online. A Few Flashback of Past Editions
In case you don’t know, Impakt Online is a series of Internet art projects that the festival commissions to some of the most talented new media artists around every year. We’ll have more info about this year’s edition really soon, but for the time being we’d like to share some of the old stuff with you, just to get you in the right mind frame.
2010 – Claudia Bernett, Tall Tales
Last year Impakt was about “The City as Interface”, so American artist Claudia Bernett picked up an old Surrealist game and managed to extend it to both the Utrecht streets and Twitter. For more info check out the project’s website and this interview.
In the context of “The Slow Web”, artist Constant Dullaart went deep into the shady world of Internet domains, presenting significant parked domains as updated Duchampian “ready-mades”. See the project online here.
With “Time” being the central festival topic, architect Theo Deutinger (together with Michael van Schaik) put together a time-based interactive infographic, a multi-layered “snapshot of globalization” exploring working patterns of the world population. You can see the result here.
More info about this year’s projects soon!
Blog: From “Test Tube” to YouTube
Welcome back to the eighties in a mirage of VHS quality. In Test Tube we see an experience of the artist in the era of the mass media, a happening of bright colours in test tubes. The gritty VHS quality has managed to survive the forces of disintegration. In a cross between a laboratory and a bar it considers what kind of attitude that an artist should assume in order still to be effective in a culture which is overloaded with mass media images and values.
Test Tube, by the Canadian group General Idea and made while in residence at De Appel in Amsterdam. Is not only a testament to a plight that was relevant during the eighties but seems as relevant today with the expansion of mass media in cyberspace. What is the role of an artist within the confines of this newly constituted world? Are contemporary artists doomed to compete with Youtube fads and overly marketed brands? Or should they embrace these elements and work with them to create a higher form? Revisiting this work form 1979 might provide us with an answer or deepen our discussion.
This video is part of the Jailbreak Programme 2, on November 5th , but as a warm-up check out this 30 second fragment:
Blog: Zapping through reality
‘I searched the room looking for a prop, a weapon.’ A man has a strange encounter on a film set, a meeting one of them will not survive. The man in question is Alfred Hitchcock. And the man sitting opposite him also is. This short story of Tom McCarthy, based on a work by Jorge Luis Borges in which the author meets his twenty-year old self, is the heart of Double Take (2009), the second feature film of the Flemish artist and film maker Johan Grimonprez. His main character is Hitchcock, Master of Suspense. His co-star, and double, is the culture of fear, which arose with the introduction of television, coinciding with the Cold War era. These two fear dealers come together in footage from the television series Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Grimonprez draws abundantly from this source of dry comic footage in which Hitchcock shows a fine feeling for self-mockery and black humour: ‘Television brought murder back in the living room, back where it belongs.’
To Grimonprez, our visual culture is one big Memory game, with all images being a repetition of each other. You only have to look for the images and arrange them in a different order. Similar to a television viewer who is zapping between channels so quickly that he starts to see the link between a football player running over the pitch and a zebra on the run from a lion, Grimonprez exposes structures hiding beneath the enormous stream of images, that we have to cope with each day, year after year. His way of zapping between images is performed by means of the editing table on which he re-arranges reality, fiction, commercials, found footage and his own film material until the images represent what he sees.
In 2001, real life provided a wry sequel to Grimonprez’ first feature film, Dial H-I-S-T-O-R-Y (2003). This work also consisted of an endless stream of images meticulously edited by the maker into one whole. This film revolved around the role of the media in respect of the sudden increase of aeroplane hijacking in the 60s and 70s. Cast as the main character of the television news, the hijacker was ascribed unprecedented powers. The images assembled by Grimonprez – ironic, depressing, revealing and downright absurd images – were alternated with fragments from the work of the author Don DeLillo. The purport of one of his texts is that the act of the terrorist makes the author’s role redundant. Dial H-I-S-T-O-R-Y was released in 1997; four years later, on 11 September 2001, the film became more relevant than could ever be imagined. With the attacks on the United States, the film became the prologue to the ultimate icon of our present image culture: two aeroplanes, two burning towers.
Both films of Grimonprez deliver a statement about present society. Now that YouTube and other Internet sites have brought our image culture to its absolute boiling point, it is practically impossible to ignore our contemporary image culture. Grimonprez reacted to this present situation with a so-called “YouTube-o-theek”, Maybe the Sky Is Really Green, and We’re Just Colorblind. This on-going project shuffles and shares images found on the web, either manipulated or not by means of editing techniques. A sequel to this project, the “WE-tube-o-theek”, will be presented at the Impakt festival. Our reality is defined by ‘buffering time’; images of climate change, wars and international crises provide a new, contemporary digital enchantment. With his “WE-tube-o-theek”, Grimonprez creates a platform for disobedience. The programme shows dissident opinions and subversive images from the Western world, the Near and Far East and the Arab world. This work is also part of the special Grimonprez’ exhibition on show this winter at S.M.A.K. in Ghent, Belgium.
In his work, Grimonprez evokes a universe of look-a-likes, a universe in which every person, every image, every event is a mirror of another. A universe in which you can kill with a prop as easily as with a gun. On the television screen real or fake has no meaning.
Sunday at 20:15 on Canvas a report on the Johan Grimonprez retrospective in S.M.A.K.
Blog: Interview with Mercedes Bunz (part 1)
London-based journalist and academic Mercedes Bunz gave an interesting talk in Utrecht last week. She talked about the way the Internet is changing several aspects of society – from education to journalism – and how this affects the public. We spoke with her and asked her a few questions about it, which you can read below. Since the interview is a bit too long for one post, we had split it into two parts. Stay tuned for the second!
You make it clear that there is a difference between a private company like Google and a public service, even though you focus on the democratic and political potential of platforms like Facebook. As these tools become more and more efficient, what do you think are the implications of those companies coming to replace public service and infrastructure?
Oh no, not at all, they will never replace public service and the infrastructure. I think we urgently need to stop addressing digital sphere as something that is ‘replacing’ what has been before. That’s so nineties, don’t you think? The virtual world isn’t replacing anything, but it is – and there you are right – definitely changing the setting. Here we need to be alert.
The good thing is: Our society has a lot of experience with private companies serving the public – newspapers and television are partly private. In the past, media have watched each other and the public has been aware as well. I think, if we continue this habit with social media, we are on the safe side. But we need to make some effort, analyze what’s going on, and we can’t accept everything, that’s for sure.
I thought the example of the Public School you made during your presentation was very interesting. How do new media enhance and democratize access to a (recognized) education?
I am glad you mention it. I think this is right: There are treasures of knowledge that are already on the web. And we also can now organize ourselves with the new digital tools much better, to get to the knowledge and educate each other. All of that hasn’t been talked about enough. Sometimes I wonder why.
Our politicians usually address the digital sphere as an industrial park. But it has greater potentials for society than just boosting our economies. And the Public School is one example of using the web for a very good autodidactic experiment.
In Egypt people were really fed up with their government, enough to endure a very hard occupation. In most of the countries where social media are very popular, though, people are still relatively happy and change needs to happen differently. Which do you think are the main differences?
Well, you nailed it. In the Western world, the situation is very different. The political idea of change seems to be lost. Still, people don’t seem happy – depression is on the rise, the pharmaceutic industry is making as much money with antipsychotics as with cardiac pill for heart problems. People are afraid of losing their jobs, young people don’t really see a future for themselves. There are problems, and it seems we don’t have the right words and concepts to understand what is going on and address them. Or to put it differently: At the moment, theorists have a lot of work to do. From talking to people that do theory, I can say that they are already trying to deal with this issue – from Alexander Garcia Düttmann to Alex Galloway, from Peter Hallward to Kathrin Thiele and Brigit Kaiser to give you some names you might wanna look further into.
Stay tuned for the second part of our interview with Mercedes Bunz. Don’t forget to follow her on Twitter!
Blog: Between Art and Cinema with “Babel”
Following the paths of two peasants taking on the big adventure of Shanghai, from a simple rural life to the carnivalesque spectacle of an urban reality. A change of scenery from the mountains to a sky-scraper in the making. Hendrick Dusollier’s Babel is a fairy-tale that inhabits the space between art and cinema, using pictures, film footage and animation set to a soundtrack by Jean-François Viguié.
This dreamscape will sometimes turn to the grotesque while the male protagonist tries to find his girl and realise ‘the Chinese dream.’ It’s a spellbinding 15 minutes that is just one of the films to be screened during the Panorama #2: Cooking up the Big Bang, on November 3rd as well as featured on the Videowall at the Stadsschouwburg.
Watch this interview with director Hendrick Dusollier made by Christophe Chauville for My French Film Festival, to learn more about the project.
Blog: Talking Jailbreaking with Curator Florian Wüst
Interview with Jailbreaking Curator Florian Wüst
Florian Wüst is a Berlin based artist and independent film curator who works on issues concerning the history of post-war Germany and modern technical progress. For this year’s Impakt Festival, he curated the Jailbreaking programme, which combines historical and contemporary works of video art, experimental and corporate film. Jailbreaking is defined as the process of overriding software limitations in computer systems, and gaining root file access in smart phone and tablet devices in order to execute modifications and install third-party components. In a recent interview, Florian told us about the two Jailbreaking programs, which reflect on the potentials and limits of reciprocity in our information and media driven society.
Can you flesh out this idea of jailbreaking and talk about why you chose it as a theme for the program? What should audiences at Impakt expect when they come to the screenings?
When [Festival Director] Arjon asked me to contribute to “The Right to Know” Festival I thought that [jailbreaking] would be a great starting point as a metaphor. It doesn’t relate directly to the theme of the festival, but the programme creates a reference to historical and contemporary artistic interventions into the media mainstream, from television to the internet. It takes jailbreaking as a background metaphor to discuss the potentials and limits of reciprocity in our information-driven society.
It seems like the program is specifically interested in approaching jailbreaking from a historical angle. Can you talk more about that?
The program combines films from 2010 with films back to early the 1930s. Not only that, it also combines different genres: experimental film, video art, and also corporate films that were made for promotional reasons to document not only production processes but also to promote the technologies in the first place. Hans Richter’s Europa Radio is about the potentials for radio. Another one that’s about early television is the RCA presentation Television from 1939. It explains how television works technically, and of course wants to introduce TV as the media of the future, as a totally new culture of information dissemination and entertainment. A really interesting example is Das Magische Band, about the magnetic tape from the late 50s. Das Magische Band is not an industrial film in the classical sense of the genre, but rather an essayistic reflection on the benefits of magnetic tape for modern society. For instance, it philosophically discusses sound, the nature of hearing, the nature of recording—instead of bluntly documenting the manufacturing of magnetic tape in the factory.
How does jailbreaking resonate with the Impakt theme, “The Right to Know”?
It’s a lot about the ambiguity of the current situation. On the one hand you have the seemingly unlimited access to information, everything seems to be out there. On the other hand there’s a new dimension of restrictions that restrict that type of access. The question is how you access it and how it’s controlled or not—and of course that’s something that becomes very clear in this moment of jailbreaking. The program wants to reflect on how media is produced.
There is a wide variety of films in this program, spanning many decades and produced in many parts of the world. Can you talk about this variety and how the films work together in the program?
What I’m generally interested in in my short film program is that the films contrast each other but [simultaneously] they create a multiplicity of perspectives on a theme, by nature of their different genres and different intentions. I hope that the composition of these various perspectives creates an interesting trajectory for the audience to blend in with their own knowledge, experience and ideas about the respective subject. Besides, you always communicate the shifting of film aesthetics, which is related to all kinds of social and technical processes and advancements over the decades. We’re obviously in a very different world today than in the 1950 and 60s when television became a mass media.
The first programme “looks at the realities behind the production of media content.” How does jailbreaking expose these typically concealed processes, and what do we do once they’re exposed?
The role of art is not so much to provide solutions, but to raise the right questions and to look behind the business-as-usual face of society. [For example], take Babak Afrassiabi & Nasrin Tabatabai’s piece, Satellite, As Long As It Is Aiming At The Sky, from 2010. They just create glimpses of Iranian satellite TV production in L.A. from a different angle, literally from the side, and without any comment. They show what’s usually not seen…this reality which is unknown or hidden. Then it’s up to the audience to do something with it.
The theme of the second program concerns the “constantly shifting power relationship between users and owners, producers and mediators, individuals and corporations.” Does this power flux look any different in the older films vs. more contemporary entries in the program?
Now we have a much more horizontal media. Through the internet there is the possibility to post whatever you want…which on the other hand is not a guarantee that anyone sees it or how long it exists on certain media channels. That’s a different situation [than before] and it creates a different reality…almost a hide-and-seek game. You put things out there and others chase them down. It’s very different from the limitations of TV, where there are only a certain number of channels and frequencies. Dominic Gagnon’s work Rip in Pieces America reflects very interestingly on this theme, [with] all these apocalyptic and conspiratorial visions of these people. At the same time it shows how content on the internet nowadays is produced.
The wide variety of content in the program is also reflected in the wide variety of the films’ original formats: 35mm film, digital, video—what is the significance of the technological medium for jailbreaking? Do different formats afford different possibilities for jailbreaking?
Definitely. The work always communicates its format, its aesthetic. Of course today 35mm projection makes a huge difference. Then the quality is almost similar between a youtube clip and 80s video art, because the 80s video is quite low res for contemporary professional standards. So that definitely plays a role and I hope that’s one thing that people get from this program…to see how certain projects or contents go in loops.
Do you have a methodical process for programming or do you simply follow your gut?
I see a film and take it as a starting point. I have touched on this subject quite a lot, of technical progress, the subject of industrial film, computerization in the twentieth century. I do have quite a lot of material in that field. At same time I always try to do new combinations and watch films over and over again.
You are an artist yourself. How would you contrast the process of making art of your own and the process of curating the art of others?
At the one hand it’s not too different because my artistic work also deals with these same materials and re-appropriates them. That’s also what a film curator does. [Even] if it was from last year, you can see the film as a historical artifact. You put it in a different context with other films. But the method and how you present it is totally different.
Blog: Videogramme einer Revolution
In 1989 there was revolution in the air: from the crumbling wall in Berlin and acts of civil resistance throughout the Eastern bloc right down to protest in Tiananmen Square. Although this last act didn’t manage to affect any real and durable change in China, it did produce iconic images of civil disobedience which inspired other revolts and revolutions.
The Romanian Revolution of December 1989 took place under a spell of violence, ending with a short two-hour televised trial and execution of their dictator Nicolae Ceauşescu. The major components that history has placed at the root of these events were: 1. The suffocating and ever-present secret police (Securitate) bent on annihilating any subversive element. 2. A rigid austerity program which caused frequent power outages and shortages of food, clothes and electricity, primarily because the government would exchange these goods for foreign currency. 3. Grand projects of self-glorification set up by Ceauşescu, which only fueled resentment among his people.
During the upcoming festival, Impakt will screen Videogramme einer Revolution by Harun Farocki and Andrei Ujica, from 1992, featuring among other footage, images of demonstrators occupying and broadcasting from the television station in Bucharest.
The act of occupying the television station and broadcasting continuously for 120 hours stands in stark contrast to what was the norm during the Ceauşescu regime, which would only broadcast for two hours a day on the country’s only channel. It is an image that speaks to the fantasy of a nation starved for attention and desiring a voice in the world. On a first viewing it might look a lot like what might occur when a camera crew is filming on a street and a random passerby jumps and gesticulates in the background hoping for his ’15 minutes.’ However, the events were far more dire. It is the record of a country crying out for bread and television.
Videogramme einer Revolution shows the metamorphoses of a peoples moving from the realm of the oppressed mute masses to the joyous anarchy of a broadcasted revolution, however short-lived the revolution may be. There seems to be a similar mood currently, on a live stream, going on around the world of revolution and civil disobedience.
The most notable parallel are the recent events in Libya. The parallels between Ceauşescu and Gaddafi are rather overwhelming; not only did both turn violently against their own people, both were received and lauded by the major players on the world stage before their people turned against them. And finally both received a quick end, shrouded in a mist of injustice and possible conspiracy. So much so that there are still stories written about the possibility of the peoples revolution in Romania actually being a coupe orchestrated by power hungry political rivals of Ceauşescu. Only time will tell if the same abundance of conspiracy will be directed toward Gaddafi, but what is already clear is that conflicting stories exist regarding his death.
Come and see if you can find these parallels and others between Romania 1989 and Libya 2011 in these Videograms, going to be screened on November 6th. Or just come to see this testament of history.
Blog: Ethical Hacking, The Art of Hacking, The Right to Know
There is nothing that represents “the right to know” as well as the hacking movement. In the purest meaning of the term – beyond the conventional media suspicion – a hacker is somebody who critically looks into things, figures out their structure, is able to modify them and actively take part in a knowledge creation process. The artists invited at The Art of Hacking, the exhibition currently on show at NIMk, all share an hacking-oriented approach: they analyze systems, expose their bugs, creatively interact with them. Some hack into technological interfaces (Moddr and the Albert Heijn Bonuskaart, for example), others into bureaucracy and publicity (Heath Bunting and his multiple identity project, the Yes Men and their famous Dow Chemical declarations). Some, apart from producing artworks per se, additionally guide visitors into the practice with videos and materials (Cornelia Sollfrank, Übermorgen.com). Generally, The Art of Hacking is a selective overview of some of the most interesting Internet artists around, from net.art pioneers to contemporary mediactivists, with additional in-depth looks provided in documentary form (WikiRebels, Hippies From Hell). You should definitely go check it out.
Alongside the exhibition, NIMk has also organized a few collateral events: workshops, screenings, and a conference. The talk, which brought a very promising roster of personalities to the table, discussed the increasingly crucial topic of Ethical Hacking. In turn, renowned hacker Rob Gonggrijp, writer Karin Spaink, cultural activist Patrice Riemens, and artist Heath Bunting answered questions from the moderators (Italian hacker Jaromil and journalist Cecile Landman) as well as the audience.
One of the main knots in the discussion, and the most tightly-related to “ethical hacking”, was the temptation for hackers to tamper with democracy. As a security consultant, Rob Gonggrijp (who has also collaborated with WikiLeaks in the past) played an important role in pointing out the fallacies of the voting machines the Dutch government was using for the elections. The following uproar showed how data security is an increasingly popular concern for the general public. When Jaromil asked Gonggrijp if he didn’t think of changing the election results himself, though, the hacker answered that he still respects democracy – which he defined “the best shitty thing we have.”
Heath Bunting’s “Identity Bureau” project was also at the core of an extended conversation. The Uk-based artist described his identity manufacturing practice, which is apparently – in case you were wondering – perfectly legal. From Bunting’s art project the debate moved onto Facebook’s face recognition resources and the subsequent surveillance paranoia that derives from it – e.g. you can be in the background in somebody else’s picture and be identifiable, even if you don’t have a Facebook account. When Jaromil asked whether there will ever be some kind of regulation of these issues, Karin Spaink pointed out that hackers need to collaborate with the government, training them to really use computers. Jaromil then mentioned the Pirate Party, which is gaining momentum by taking seats in governments and going beyond neutrality, to which Gonggrijp replied that those groups still have a long way to go politically, but things are getting better.
The hacker also made an interesting point about the centralization of the Internet. Since we’re losing the ability to run a mail server – Google does it for free – we’re letting few big corporations do everything, in a time when we’d have the right tools for decentralization, instead. Hackers, of course, can help: “If there is a disruption, I’m not sure the people running this world can boot it again.”
BLOG 2011: The Revolution Will Not Be Televised
Shortly after his first new studio release in 15 years: ”I’m New Here”, the poet and musician Gil Scott-Heron past away last May.Yet he shall always remain best known for his 1970 work “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”.
During the upcoming festival, on November 5th, Stuart Baker will screen his 1988 film in which Heron’s infamous song will be relayed line by line with a video-typewriter.
”The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” is an attack on apathy and the anesthetizing effect of the shiny television screen but moreover it is a rally towards the black community: You will not be able to stay home, brother./You will not be able to plug in, turn on and cop out./You will not be able to lose yourself on skag and skip,/Skip out for beer during commercials,/Because the revolution will not be televised.” There won’t be any change without uprising. The media and in fact the rest of the world will only perpetuate what already is. The revolution will not be shiny, easy or sponsored, trying to change society is hard. These sentiments have later on been explored by rappers such as Mos Def, Talib Kweli and Common, notably in Blackstar – Respiration ft. Common
In his interview with Gil Scott-Heron about this piece Skip Blumberg poses the question if the revolution will be televised in the nineties? We can now state that the revolution will not be televised, but live-streamed.
Blog: Hans Richter from modernist film to post-modern music video
Dadaist, filmmaker, self-appointed historian of the Avant-garde, and friend of Marcel Duchamp and Peggy Guggenheim, Hans Richter was an artist whose influence has extended far beyond his lifetime. As art historian Hal Foster once remarked, “One stands to learn less about Richter from modernism than one does about modernism from Richter; that is, ironically enough, while modernism makes Richter smaller, Richter makes modernism larger.”
As a young filmmaker, Richter sought to create a universal film form based on music. In fact, Richter’s first film, Rythmus 21, was originally called Film ist Rhythmus (“Film is Rhythm”). No wonder he took a commission from Philips to make a film about the experimental PCJJ shortwave radio station in Eindhoven. The product, Richter’s 1931 film Europa Radio will screen on November 5 as part of Jailbreak – Programme 2 curated by Florian Wüst (look for an interview with Florian on this blog next week!).
Richter’s ideas about the meeting point of film and music continue to influence artists today. Check out this music video by Emilski and Nick Duggins for the Fracture & Neptune song “Customtone.” When I met the artists at the Supertoon International Animation Festival in Croatia, they cited Richter as one of the biggest influences on their video’s style.
Did Richter’s eccentric music-infused film vocabulary make its way into Europa Radio? Come to the festival and find out for yourself!
Blog: Topography of (Self)Exclusion: the Controversiality of Geo-tagging
A few months ago, the news that Apple was tracking its users was all over the Internet. The company was indeed gathering location-related information on iPhones and geo-tagging all photos taken with the device by default, but after being sued they eventually released a patch that at least encrypts the file containing the controversial data. The incident shows how easy it is to underestimate privacy issues in locative media use, but also how easy it is to miss a key point about security. All iPhone users did in fact grant Apple the right to collect that information, when they signed the iOS4 software’s Terms and Conditions.
Similar security concerns have caused quite a stir around the popular Foursquare application. The software, thanks to the GPS technology in smart phones, allows people to “check-in” at their favorite locations, thus growing a reputation as savvy consumers and, in certain cases, earning themselves some sweet deals or discounts. However, after a couple stalking cases came to the attention of the media (read here and here) many started to consider the downsides of the service, which is increasingly widespread and is leading a diffused check-in revolution in social media (see Gowalla, Facebook Places, or even Twitter’s own geo-tagging).
Truth is, an app like Foursquare implies the person using it actually wants people to know where he/she is, plus there is still a certain control over who gets to see the updates. Users can choose whether to share their locations only with their Foursquare friends, or plug their check-in feed into Facebook and Twitter – which is what most of the stalking victims did. In order to demonstrate how much information is just given away to strangers via big social networks, sites like PleaseRobMe and ICanStalkU started to pop up. Along the same lines as YourOpenBook – where you can search through tons of public Facebook updates – the aforementioned websites are meant to point out how easy it would be to take advantage of users that don’t know how to set up their privacy and foolishly give their location away on public Twitter feeds.
As fellow Impakt blogger Lieke Kessels reported here, platforms like Flickr have been taking measures to make it easier for their users to control the geographical data which is increasingly often embedded into their photos. But, obviously, different companies might have different policies and priorities. Some will take measures only after they get sued, others will prevent any discontents by taking preemptive action. Those aiming at a quick expansion will encourage a wider sharing (Apple, for example, justified their location tracking saying that it helps connect faster), those that stress user control will act otherwise (Android phones have an opt-in geo-tagging policy). The following is always valid, though: the user cannot expect them to be more responsible than he/she would. If Foursquare allows you to share your check-ins on Twitter, that doesn’t mean you can’t know better.
If you guys are interested in the controversial geography of the so-called “Cloud”, hang around the Impakt website. This year, Impakt Online – the festival’s own platform for Internet art – will feature a very promising project by meta-design masters Metahaven: the Cloud app. With the premise that “ we send and retrieve information through a jurisdictional web hidden from us”, the software “aims to make visible the geographical and legal systems of the cloud.” We’ll keep you posted on this and the other Impakt Online projects, so keep checking the site!
Blog: ‘Right to Know’ Highlights 10/10-16/10
Until now I have written blogs featuring a news item that has caught my eye in the past couple of days. However, in the last week there have been so many that I can hardly choose and will have to share them all.
It all started with a comment made back in 2003 by one of the most sinister characters of recent history, Donald Rumsfeld. He claimed that Al Jazeera violated Geneva Conventions by airing and publishing the images of dead soldiers. And now years later, with a book to sell, the same Rumsfeld agreed on an interview with Al Jazeera. This interview confronts him with the truths of his own murky – subverting of the Geneva Conventions – past.
Then a little fun ensued when I read a story on BoingBoing on how peer-review matters for science. It featured a study that was never completed but only found its way in the ‘Letter to the Editor’ section in a scientific magazine. However, this small snippet of a hypothesis that failed to reach maturity fostered other studies. In other words, the publishing of something not really fit for publishing led to the creation of other published works.
Apparently the Germany authorities went into the business of spying on their own people. That never happened before. A group of hackers have stumbled upon a spy software. The group – Chaos Computer Club – claims that the spy software is used by German authorities, to what end I am not sure. What immediately sprang to mind were images of Das Leben Der Anderen(2006) of a very thin grey looking character that sits in a dark room tracking the lives of others.
Luckily, a first excerpt from God’s forthcoming Memoirs were released. In which the All Mighty stated that he did created Adam and Steve. After the 2007 documentary, For the Bible Tells Me So God apparently felt it necessary to make it once again clear that some people (and animals) are gay and this is how he intended it to be.
This happy news didn’t distract from the plight of Blackberry users who had trouble with their phone’s this week and in some cases had to resort to using old phones. The horror!
One last note: Christelle Gualdi a.k.a. Stellar Om Source, who played together with Ola Vasiljeva at VJ op de Dom, and will rock the synths again at the festival Opening Night Part 3, has recently received some well-deserved press by none other than the NYtimes/Herald Tribune, featuring the trend of women in electronic music.
In reaction to the recent press, she stated on her FB-page: All I can add is that I just truly love electronic music and hope to be able to continue making it! Thanks to all of you for supporting us. Some amazing times ahead!
I couldn’t agree more!
Blog: Wikileaks in 3 minutes
In the Right to Know blogs I have discussed a couple of news phenomena that all find their origin in the revelations made by Wikileaks. During the festival the course that secrecy and transparency has taken in recent years will be discussed during one of the talks. Where are the actual boundaries of transparency? And what is a virtuous secret?
Facebook updates make people anxious because one wants to protect what one shares and how. On a more global level this is the reaction of sovereign leaders who want to hold on to what they have and know.
To remind ourselves what was revealed about particular countries in `Cablegate`, here is a small recap in 3 minutes.
Our friends: cheap airline tickets.
Blog: Robot Journalism
More than a year ago I wrote an article for Masters of Media about automated blogs, a funny-sounding yet seriously irritating phenomenon of modern day Internet. Apparently there are some companies out there that promise, for a relatively cheap price, to get you a blog without the hassle of actually producing any content yourself. You’d think the only way to do that was the old HuffPost way – read: crowd-sourcing articles to a horde of unpaid contributors that do it for the glory – but there are quicker ways to start feeding Google’s spiders some quality, if second hand, material. All it takes is choosing your “area of expertise” and the plug-in will come up with related stories extracted from a database, gradually populating your niche blog with top-notch content. Of course the articles in the database are written by someone else, but mentioning and linking back to the author seems to be a good enough measure to create an “win-win” situation: they get the exposure, you get the traffic.
We’ve recently seen a similar trend on a micro scale, with paper.li hijacking people’s tweets to compose customized “newspapers”, albeit replacing the trite “Get rich quick!” rhetoric with some more naïve RSS-powered web2.0 enthusiasm. Despite the superficial similarity, though, paid-for automatic blogging tools claim to be better than RSS-feed-based services like paper.li or Yahoo! Pipes (a more creative but far geekier service that has recently rolled out its new engine), simply because they are able to provide full content items instead of portions or previews.
If aggregating other people’s painstakingly composed writing – whether for profit or mere sharing frenzy – might seem a bit lame, it will hardly be the blow that kills professional journalism, already agonizing for other web-related reasons. And things are not going to get easier for writers.
In a recent article on the New York Times. Thanks to a sophisticated algorithm, the company is able to convert data in journalistic stories written with a seemingly-human flow.The software has already been used to provide instant summaries of sport events, published online only minutes from the end – needless to say, Narrative Science’s clients have been enjoying a surge in referrals and Google page rank, putting them one step ahead of their competitors.
With a fast-dropping price of 10$ an article, money-wise the product is definitely more appealing than its slow-witted human counterparts, without apparently compromising too much on quality. Founders Kris Hammond and Larry Birnbaum go as far as imagining a future Pulitzer-winning algorithm, once their research is mature enough. However ironic such statement might be – so far sports summaries seem to be the most exciting application of the technology – let’s try and imagine what backdrops the evolution of automatic journalism might have.
Let’s consider the phenomena described above from the author’s point of view. Who will ever pay somebody to write something ever again, when you can either leech off somebody else’s work or have a computer do it for a fraction of the price? I’m being way too pessimistic here, but on the long run unpaid writing – that is a pretty much normal state of the blogosphere and an accepted stage in the career of most contemporary (web) journalists – might become a less controversial issue than algorithm-driven writing. Imagining a sci-fi scenario where the quality actually becomes indistinguishable – however unlikely this might seem – what will the journalist become? My guess is either a coding-savvy technician, feeding data into the machine, or a romantically unemployed luddite.
From a reader’s point of view, we might wonder if real-time information – at the root of Hammond and Birnbaum’s research – is really so important that we cannot wait for some guy to type it down in a decent prose. Thing is, with social networks and RSS feeds sharing and aggregating already seem to be more popular than producing, and I think the Internet’s information economy is bound to keep expanding like the financial economy does. In the fast-growing over-production of information, on which many of the most powerful enterprises in the world are based, the atrophy of journalism – or maybe it would be more correct to say “of journalists” – paradoxically makes more and more sense. What happens when the right to know becomes a compulsive reflex?
Blog: Banned Books Week
As you might have seen while wandering through the new Impakt website and exploring the program for the upcoming festival, there is going to be attention to Banned Videos.
Last week – from September 24th until October 1st – was Banned Books Week . A theme week aimed at celebrating all the books that have ever been banned, by a government or a school system, and the ridiculous cause for this action. The Huffington Post made an infographic of the top ten challenged books of 2010. The point of hilarity for me was the inclusion of Twilight, which apparently some schools and libraries wanted to ban because of its religious viewpoint. Although I haven´t read the books myself, it seems to me that people won´t lose their perspective on religion because of the splendor of Edward or the esoteric daydreams of Bella.
Other banned books are The Diary of Anne Frank, Where’s Waldo? and Black Beauty. In 1955 they banned Black Beauty (yes, the story about the horse) in South Africa because it had “black” in the title. The act of banning is as old as the practice of printing. Big piles of books have been burned because their content would subvert society. Books have been banned for lewdness, ungodliness or celebrating an immoral world. The main reasoning for modern day banning of books is that it would destroy the tender souls of children or corrupt the youth. In the context of schools and libraries a board will decide to censor particular books, such as a recent attempt to change a particular offensive word in Huckleberry Finn, because of its modern connotation.
During the Impakt festival, the Free State Exhibition will give a platform to banned audio-visual work. The collection of Banned Video’s from around the world show us what a society holds as abject.
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Blog: A # On Occupying
Some time ago I wrote about the oncoming global protest event named #YesWeCamp starting September 17th. As a form of anti-austerity protest. And although it hasn’t really taken off in Amsterdam the activities in the US seem to thrive. In the narrative of mainstream media it moved from “childish-worthless-losers” to “something-important-is-happening-here,” as noted by Glenn Greenwald on Twitter.
The great epicenter is around Wall street. Near the iconic statue of the Charging Bull on Wall Street, which ironically started life as a piece of ‘guerrilla art’ is now the stage of protest. Against what, the mainstream media aren’t clear, but if you follow the stream of information coming from the protestors themselves it is apparent. What they want is a right to real democracy, a real world order where corporations can’t get away with the huge scam they played, and still are playing, on the world.
Notable moment vary from support by people like Dr. Cornel West, Russell Simmons and Noam Chomsky , to the Pepper spray incident, when a New York City Cop pepper sprayed a couple of people on the side lines of the protest. It turns out that it wasn’t this cop’s first incidence of aggression against activism. However, Anonymous found revenge when the hacker made the cops phone number public. It was also the basis for a Daily Show joke in which Jon Stewart pitched an idea for a new police show, featuring Law & Order’s Christopher Meloni as rouge pepper spraying cop Anthony Bologna.
In the aftermath of the arrests hundreds of people took to the Brooklyn Bridge. In this ‘Battle of Brooklyn Bridge’ numerous where reportedly assaulted and at least 700 arrested. The whole thing has, in the last two and a half weeks, spread into a number of different #Occupy groups throughout the US, my favorite being @OccupyTheHood . It turns out to be an ongoing grassroots movement that won’t seem to quiet down. On a final note I would like to point to the ‘National Student Walk-out Day October 5th/ Occupy Movement.’
Blog: Media Square at De Balie, Amsterdam. Tactical Media and the Revolution
As promised, last Friday we went to De Balie, Amsterdam, to attend the Media Squares Symposium. The conference analyzed several uses of specific media that have contributed to (or are inherent to) the recent political uproar around the world. The presentations discussed tools like WikiLeaks, viral videos, citizen documentaries, activist plug-ins, and social networks from a tactical perspective, going beyond the “Twitter/Facebook Revolution” hype.
The first two presentations, which followed Erik Kluitenberg‘s introduction, focused on WikiLeaks and the post-Julian Assange era.
Metahaven‘s Daniel van der Velden, who worked with his studio on a new graphic brand identity for the initiative (“the Coca Cola of transparency”), gave an inspired talk that managed to be image-driven and yet effective in bringing up compelling issues. After introducing Metahaven’s work and the concept of Uncorporate Identity, the Dutch designer defended WikiLeaks’ key role and harshly remarked its critics (including OpenLeaks, that according to him is less transparent that Assange’s creature).
Revisiting the “Twelve Theses About WikiLeaks” he wrote with Patrice Riemens, renowned media theorist Geert Lovink pointed out the importance of its services as well, but also the need for Julian Assange to step back from the scene to stop fueling the celebrity economy that is currently overshadowing it. Listing and commenting on some of the most recent WikiLeaks-inspired projects (including HackerLeaks and certain actions by hacker group Anonymous, which caused some reactions from the audience) the Dutch scholar also showed a marked skepticism towards OpenLeaks, defining it the product of a “sleazy political agenda.” After the aforementioned analysis, Lovink highlighted the necessity of WL mirrors and called for more attention on the conditions of whistleblower Bradley Manning, who – unlike Assange – is the real Cablegate.
The third speaker, and the last before lunch break, was Danish artist Nadia Plesner. She presented her Darfurnica project (a Picasso-inspired painting about Darfur and the media, also featuring a starving child holding a Louis Vuitton bag) and gave an intense account of her past few years, marked by a vicious legal battle against the fashion giant. Plesner, who had used the controversial image (by that time gone viral) to raise awareness and support the Darfur cause, eventually sued the company back and won.
The afternoon speeches were mostly dedicated to the practical use of tactical media. The first two presentations focused on work related to the Egyptian revolution, but with very different approaches.
First, artist and activist Aalam Wassef talked about art’s power to seduce the public and spread political messages. He described several media projects, first focusing on the importance of not using a single, easily traceable identity (avatars are better, like his Ahmed Sherif and Muhammad Michael) and then on the need for a “multi-format” (rather than just multi-media) approach. He presented videos, songs, and even Google Ads as example of format-specific anti-Mubarak messages, pointing out how the government also used those media via a specific “electronic militia”.
After him, Palestinian-British filmmaker Omar Robert Hamilton of Mosireen / Tahrir Cinema explained how he and other professionals created a collective film studio to train and equip people to create their own documentaries in the wake of the Egyptian protest. If Wassef was using irony to exploit the viral infrastructure of the internet, Hamilton and his associates devolve their expertise to service the Egyptian citizens in publishing their own stories.
Following the two Tahrir-themed speeches, artists Florian Conradi and Michelle Christensen presented their Stateless plug-in. Coming from design and development studies respectively, the two produced a tool to transform the surfing experience in a different narrative, where certain words (marked by a black flag icon) are transformed into links to pages dealing with the subject of citizens without nations and asylum seekers.
The last presentation brought the attention back to the square, moving from Tahrir to Puerta del Sol and the Spanish Indignados movement. Live from Barcelona via Skype, two spokespeople from X.net and Democracia Real Ya explained the importance of social media in the recent protests, focusing on their rhyzomatic nature. When somebody from the audience asked what their potential short-term achievements could be, they replied it was to get the knowledge moving.
Overall, the symposium was a compelling and timely event, pleasantly heterogeneous in both subjects and views (the audience actively discussed with the speakers after almost every presentation). At times the media-specificity of the general discourse was a bit lost and general principles of “power to the people” took over the debate, but it was only in a few occasions.
With the European protests going on and the Wall Street occupation expanding to other American cities (with heavy consequences), I’m sure more events like this will pop up as well. We’ll keep you posted!
Blog: The Wikileaks Truck
And suddenly it appears, the so-called Wikileaks Truck, driving around the Capitol or in New York. He suddenly appears in the background of one of the many American morning shows.
The driver of this truck is Clark Stoeckley who is part of the Anonymous theater art group . He calls himself, among other things, a Wiki-prankster, referring to the Merry Pranksters of Ken Kesey who traveled around the country in a bus bringing mayhem and LSD. Whereas Kesey wanted people to open up their minds and spirits for the universe, Stoeckley wants to support the actions of Wikileaks and free Bradley Manning.
Driving around in a truck with slogans is a form of protest reminiscent of Chris Eubank’s anti-war demonstration. Eubank, a former boxer, drove around London on a couple of occasions with a banner on the back of his truck, directed towards Tony Blair. One of the slogans from 2007 read “BLAIR – Don’t send our young prince to your catastrophic illegal war, to make it look plausible!”
This manner of guerrilla protest isn’t necessarily new, but it is in the manner of combining local grassroots forms of protest into a large global scheme. The Wikileaks Trunk does this with a twitter account, flickr posts and other posts or photo galleries by Wikileaks-truck spotters.
Blog: Media Squares Symposium at De Balie
On Friday September 30th there will be a symposium on the different and new forms of protests and their corresponding media at De Balie in Amsterdam. This event will attempt to formulate a critical analysis of recent events on streets and squares around the world. From Syria to London, New York to Chile, Egypt to Tunisia. The discussions will be ‘disrupted’ by artistic intervention strategies within the social debate.
As we on The Right to Know blog have discussed a couple of these current instances of protest and revolt, we are very interested in attending this symposium and hope you´d like to join us.
Blog: The Right to the City: Urban Exploration
As promised, I am coming back from Den Haag with a report on Todaysart, a media art festival that animated several cultural venues in town and also injected some life in other normally depressing locations (starting with the otherwise dull Spuiplein, whose ugly buildings this time enclosed a vibrant meta-city, with spectacular light installations and lots of pop-up architecture). I had the chance to enjoy interesting talks, inspiring shows and live performances, but art treats were not the main reason why I went to Den Haag.
Last week we expanded on the notion of the “Right to Know”, discussing the social need for culture and art. This time we’re stretching it in another direction, touching the typically-Situationist issue of the right to the city. Bridging Guy Debord’s legacy together with subcultures like skateboarding, graffiti, and parkour, the practice of urban exploration has been generating a growing worldwide community. Built on collective meetings in underground locations and on an enthusiastic and dedicated blogosphere, the phenomenon is spreading and developing its geography and vocabulary.
In this year’s edition of Todaysart, urban exploration was the subject of a Q&A with scholar, filmmaker, and urban explorer Bradley L. Garrett. A former Californian skater and now a PhD student in London, Garrett has recently been working on a series of short documentaries titled Crack the Surface, the first of which can be seen below. The movie follows a group of urban explorers in their expeditions, alternating images of dark tunnels and construction cranes with short interviews featuring some of Garrett’s fellow European explorers. After the screening, Garrett and a fellow explorer from SilentUK.com answered a few questions. Read a sparse summary of the Q&A below, mixed with some of my own considerations.
Compared to skate or graffiti videos, the images and the risks associated to them might not seem very hardcore, but Garrett argues that – by visiting and documenting uncharted or forbidden areas – urban exploration is more political. Even if they’re not sneaking out any secret files, explorers do get arrested and sometimes face consequences that vary depending on the country. In some places the authorities have been restricting the practice, in others the local exploring community has even been able to dig its own tunnels.
Whatever the intentions of those practicing it, urban exploration is more or less directly connected to social phenomena that affect cities on a global scale. First of all, it can be seen as a response to the surveillance society that we live in, proving the so-called security – that, especially after 9/11, has become a priority on all agendas – is actually an illusion. Also, the increasing abundance of abandoned or decaying spaces, due to the economic crisis, has put explorers in front of an embarrassing paradox: on one hand they have more places to visit, on the other they have to face the fact that, while they’re taking pictures of decaying buildings with an expensive camera, there are people that actually have to live there.
Social implications aside, urban exploration is mostly a way to establish a stronger connection to a city, meet interesting people in unusual places, and feel a rush of adrenaline. As Garrett and his fellow explorer made pretty clear at the talk, there is no harm done and the perks (adventures, photos, friends) outnumber the risks by far. To get a feel of what they do, the best it to take a peek at their websites (silentuk.com and placehacking.co.uk, to begin with) and then follow the links to the other explorers. You can also find a teaser for the next Crack the Surface movie, in case you haven’t been inspired to grab a flashlight and dive into the underground just yet.
Blog: The Rights of the Ones We Kill
One of the most popular tweet relating to the #yeswecamp and @OccupyWallStNYC was one that originated from Ara Rubya and reads “I refuse to believe corporations are people until Texas executes one.” In a week where the discussion regarding capital punishment is refueled by a disputed case in Georgia, which questions were raised if the prisoner has actually done the deed for which he has now been killed, The Guardian has published an interactive graphic on all the Texan death row prisoners. I wonder, what are the rights of the ones society kills?
Historically, executions were a public spectacle. A feast for the whole family to enjoy. Whether it was in ancient Rome or in any old Medieval town. People would flock to the streets or a stadium to watch the gore and received it with a mixture of disgust and joy. I remember a more recent example in the hanging of Saddam Hussein, a highly successful viral that all wanted to see and denounce.
In the US prison system it is a practice to take away the rights of citizenship. Convicts lose their right to vote. Although almost all court documents are public, there is a difference between a file somewhere in a large storage facility and an easy-to-click-through file on the internet. Taking away someone’s life is a practice that shouldn’t be taken lightly and in this respect there should be transparency regarding who is about to be executed and for what. But these people – who still are people regardless of their or our actions – have rights too, haven’t they? Is a quest to discuss their situation openly the same as the right to know any other action that society takes in our name? Does their situation improve by us knowing who they are and what they did? Is open access a blessing or something that stands in a long line of voyeurism and entertainment in relation to public executions.
The Netherlands are particularly rich in media art festivals and conferences, but the Den Haag-based Todaysart (September 23-24) seems especially interesting to us. Not only because, strictly speaking, this year it also stretches out to Brussels (September 29-30, October 1st), but mostly for its focus on the adventurous exploration of urban environments.
We know Matrix City was last year, but we think a daring approach to architecture and public space in our cities is also part of that Right to Know we’re so curious about in the current edition of Impakt.
Todaysart has an articulated programme that involves several architectural dimensions: indoor (conferences, exhibitions), outdoor (public art), and collateral events happening in clubs and presented by local cultural initiatives. In particular, next week we’ll tell you more about the festival’s take on urban exploring and place hacking and any other highlights. Until then, go check their website for more details.
Blog: The Challenges of Data Journalism : Interview with Jelle Kamsma from NU.nl
One thing we haven’t properly discussed yet, here at the Impakt blog, is data-driven journalism. If websites like WikiLeaks and open data initiatives all over the world are making information more and more available online, it doesn’t mean the regular reader or citizen can make sense of it. For this reason we need data journalists like Jelle Kamsma, who has been enriching and illustrating the articles at NU.nl with specific infographics for a few months now. I met up with him for a lunch and a chat at the website’s headquarters, where he told me about what he’s doing and shared some interesting considerations on data journalism in general. Read on.
When you started working for NU.nl, were there many other online magazines in the Netherlands with a data-driven journalism department?
Well, certainly not online magazines. I know that NRC had a data journalist working for them, but I think NU.nl really was the first online publication to hire someone for that. Now it’s a bit different, because there is also Sargasso – which employed someone last week, and also works together with a news agency, ANP. It’s a really new territory, but it’s coming more and more now. And not just online publications, but also newspapers, or television broadcasters like RTLNieuws. But overall, in Holland, I think you can count them on one hand.
And it all started, say, within a year?
Yeah, I’m not sure when NRC started, but it’s a really new terrain. There is also no education for data journalism, and you need very specific skills, so everyone is kind of discovering it and trying out new stuff.
What was the hardest challenge when you started?
Well, there were a couple. First a technical one: you have a lot of different things you wanna do and a lot of technical skills to build up. Learning how to program, finding the right tools to use, and so on. That was the first challenge. Now that I feel I have some grip on that, that that is working, and I think the biggest challenge is to find actual stories in data. NU.nl is really focused on news, not so much background stories or future forecasts, but hard news. Data journalism is usually very suitable for background stories, to put news into context – which I’m also doing a little at NU.nl – but what they really expect from me is to find my own news and find new stories out of the data.
What kind of tools do you use?
My function is twofold. We get a lot of articles from press agencies, sometimes about statistics, and I try to find the relative data and make an appropriate visualization. I useFusion Charts for that, a paid software. For mapping geographic data I use Google Fusion Tables. It’s free and it gives you a lot of possibilities to map data. You can go on Google Maps and make polygons, paint them in different colors, import different shapes, work by province, city, even neighborhood or postal code. Lots of cool stuff.
Do you ever feel like these tools are not enough for the type of story you’re trying to tell?
What response did you get in terms of readers, comments, and so on?
Pretty good. People are happy we do more than aggregating articles, that we try to make our own news. Also, if you make a mistake in a graph, you get immediate feedback on it. NU.nl is very quick, you make something and you put it online, so we get a lot of feedback from readers.
Infographics are very easy to share via social networks these days and they’re all over Twitter and Facebook. Do yours get further exposure via social media in the Netherlands?
For Twitter we just have a counter in our articles, you can click that and you see all the tweets linking back. For blogs it’s harder, but they pick some things up. There are some that deal with data journalism, popping up also here in Holland, and they link to my articles. I was very proud that I made a visualization about the world population, using Impure, and when I checked their blog a couple months later I saw they referenced my article to show how I used their tool.
Do you think data-driven journalism has its limits? If yes, which ones?
Yes, first of all I don’t think we should look at it as an entirely new job. The skills I’m learning are becoming more and more important, but they will be integrated into the rest of the newsroom as time goes. I think data should be more part of the journalistic process than it is now, but the focus should always be on the stories. People are trying to disclose data and just put it online, but I think it’s really the journalist’s duty to find meaning in it. I do think you need to put the data online for people to check or look for further correlations, but the journalist has to find the story and write it down, even without a visualization.
Do you have any other developments coming up in your department at NU.nl?
The focus is to make your own news, we have a lot of contracts with press agencies, but we wanna find new people and make our own stories. For example I’m working with Lucas [Benschop], our political editor, for something about the government’s budget, which just leaked. You can apply data journalism to every field: politics, economics, culture… everything.
Thanks to Jelle Kamsma for his kind collaboration and interesting viewpoint!
Blog: Future Daily
A special edition of the Metro – a free newspaper in The Netherlands – is coming out on September 30th, filled with articles made by its readers. It is a thought experiment on what the world will look like in 20 years. This Future Daily will pretend to come out on 30 September 2031, when the king is William IV. In 2031 when the economic center of the world is somewhere in Asia, when all the youngsters listen to Rachmaninov, what will be the status of the right to know discussion then? Will everything be open access or only appear to be? Will be have returned to the age of the typewriters,moleskine notebooks and Walkman’s?
Articles that will be featured in the Future Daily edition are chosen based on the amount of ‘likes’ they get on Facebook and the quality of the articles. So in this type of journalism the question is how popular one’s work is before publishing. It is an attempt, in line with other actions by mainstream media, to incorporate the DIY-ethos of the internet. And at the same time it is an experiment to see what people think the future will look like.
Maybe it will be like Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s film World on a Wire (1979) . Only time will tell…
Blog: Yes, We Camp
On the 17th of September you are all welcome to join some urban campers near different stock exchanges around the world. There are going to be campsites in Madrid, Tokyo, London, Amsterdam and New York. They follow suit of other “Yes, We Camp” actions that have taken place around the world in the aftermath of the financial crisis, such as the protests in Spain last May.
The protesters want real democracy and oppose the position of the structures and institutions that have brought the world to economic despair. They are a voice against a system that rewards the cause of economic destruction. By going to the bastions of the real power – the capitols of finance and commerce – and creating a campsite, they hope to inspire other people to also join in. For a generation who supposedly has lost the means to demonstrate, they want to show the opposite and fuel a new wave of protests.
On September 1st there already was a minor trial-run at occupying Wall Street. It consisted of a couple of people sitting around, playing music, having discussions and giving Yoga lessons in the morning. It was a stark contrast against bankers and other suits who continue with something that has clearly failed some time ago. The demonstrators ask for a right to not only know what went wrong but also that something should be done with this knowledge.
Flickr has upgraded their privacy settings via a new ‘Geofence’ in order to protect your geoprivacy. Other than either disclosing or hiding your location information, you can now create different circles with a variety of privacy settings. For example you could draw a circle around your house or current location and restrict this to the ´Family´ group. From this circle you could create a ´Friends´ group that casts a wider net of privacy and so on and so forth.
This new way of privacy is like the feature of Facebook where you can limit some of your FB-friends from viewing all your pictures. In case you didn’t want your boss to see you drunk at a party. With the Flickr ‘Geofence’ you can limit your boss from knowing where you were drunk last night.
Here’s what to do when you’ve uploaded a picture to your Flickr account, let’s say from your new house and you don’t want everyone to come knocking at your door. You go to the privacy page and cast a net over your new digs. This way, your family can see where you live, but not cyber contacts or internet friends. It is a matter of protecting your location. This new upgrade from Flickr leads the way to consciously review what you share and with whom. As any user needs to know how the sites that they use work and how to protect yourself.
Although I wonder if you cannot still infer the location of a particular photo taken via minor hacking skills or simply by recognizing the spot. The ‘Geofence’ isn’t fool proof, as this information is still visible when people download the original picture. You can limit this by making your photos unavailable for download.
Blog: The Right to Art
So far we’ve been discussing the Right to Know in terms of information. There is usually some knowledge out there, some tools to extract it or filter it, and an eager public that is either being denied or empowered with it. Especially here in the Netherlands, though, another dimension of the right to knowledge maybe deserves to be explored: the need for culture, or at least the recognition of this aspect in public life. This year’s cuts to the state budget, which was keeping several valuable institutions alive, are the symptom of a wider trend forcing cultural professionals all over the world to find alternate ways to pay their bills.
The big majority of Richard Florida’s Creative Class – which, as a benign ghost, has been helping city officials a lot to pump up real-estate prices – is actually living off part-time day jobs or understanding parents. Before they can land a real job, creative professionals (and the art business is no exception) are forced through a series of unpaid internships that, while often proving crucial for experience and networking, can hardly pay back for a graduate education. Even when they already have a name, art workers often have to put up with the same do-it-for-the-glory kind of gigs.
With such a premise, it’s no surprise the rights of art workers – and their position in neo-liberal labor economics – are an increasingly debated issue. For a long time, politics in art have been a subtext in terms of content, but recently an awareness of its own politics in a wider context is emerging. Last month, for example, I reviewed the first issue of No Order, a semiyearly publication concerned with “art in a post-fordist society.” In two of the most interesting articles, director and independent curator Marco Scotini exposes the precarious and short-term working conditions of which the famous Manifesta biennial lives off, praising instead the 11th Istanbul Biennial and its more critical and reflexive financial transparency.
Recently, in the context of the Informality exhibition in Amsterdam, SMBA hosted a lecture by Joost de Bloois titled Making Ends Meet: Precarity, Art, and Political Activism. In his speech, the UvA lecturer addressed the notion of “precarity” and suggested that artists should associate with other groups, also sharing similarly undetermined positions. Consistently with this statement, in the same evening a representative of Domestic Workers Nederland spoke alongside artists, designers, and the Precarious Workers Brigade – a London-based collective of cultural workers that, as a policy, publicly shared information about their compensation.
While the idea of artists unions is coming back into fashion, in art like in other fields politics seems to become more and more about transparency, along with bottom-up organization. A recent project worth mentioning, and particularly fit as an example in this case, is the ArtLeaks platform. Launched by a group of art professionals as a whistleblower targeting the abuses of cultural institutions, the site is a call for mistreated cultural workers to share and denounce any injustices. Like in other sites there is a submission form and an “archives” section, but so far the leaks seem to take the form of open letters and articles rather than raw documents, with the editorial filter being embedded in the text rather acting as a simple preliminary filter. Also, secrecy seems to be less of a core value than in better-known whistleblowers.
Post-fordism is not going anywhere: rather than diminish, the creative class will keep growing and adapting to whatever working conditions it can afford to live with. The passions of thousands are not just going to disappear, while the frustration might get absorbed into a cynical realism. The future of such a confused and fragmented multitude is a social issue worth considering, but the aforementioned examples are just the beginning. In the coming years, we’ll see whether living to provide a certain knowledge is a right or not.
As with all types of dissertations, students first and foremost, have to understand the question and requirements set forth. Students have to find out exactly what they are supposed to do in their dissertation. Are they to write a dissertation by comparing different historical events or are they to write a dissertation? Students have to ensure that if they have any problems to consult with their tutors before proceeding.
Blog: Al Jazeera
I love Al Jazeera. I use it all the time for finding news reports that are different from the mass repetition we find in Western news outlets. As Al Jazeera uses different sources than CNN or BBC would use you are exposed to a different array of news. Furthermore, it has a different focus and perspective, thus providing news from places you normally wouldn’t hear anything about. Not only from the Arab world but also from Asia, Africa and South America. It opens up the realm of news information previously left untapped by the Western media. It now forms a reliable and legitimate news source.
However, it seems to be the victim of prejudices. In a recent blog by Brazilian journalist Gabriel Elizondo he reported that he got kicked out of a high school football game in Texas for being with Al Jazeera. Elizondo is on a road trip around the U.S to interview people about the way in which 9/11 has impacted them. When arriving at a high school in Texas he talked to the principal of the school, who initially greeted his project with enthusiasm. However this initial glee turned into suspicion and the principal asked the schools superintendent to deal with the situation. After which, Elizondo decided to leave the town and continue his road trip, concluding that the people were prejudiced against Al Jazeera.
Although, a reaction by the superintendent that was posted on another blog seems to imply that it was all a matter of misunderstanding.*
Question is, is this prejudice, hyper-sensitivity, or political correctness after the fact?
*Although maybe the the super-intendants reaction is a hoax.
Blog: Iceland and Democracy 2.0
In 2007, before the infamous financial crackdown hit the the country’s economy almost overnight, Iceland was ranked 1st on the United Nations’ Human Development Index. Unemployment was at 1%, energy was mostly green, and the banks – deregulated at the dawn of the new millennium – were making people richer than ever. A year later, the same banks that had been growing exponentially in the previous years were crushed under foreign debt, which led to unprecedented economic recession, currency devaluation, and dramatic drops in the Icelandic stock exchange.
Citizens took the streets, eventually forcing the right-wing government to resign, and replaced it with a new left-leaning one, in April 2009. It wasn’t enough, though. Through more protests and referendums, the Icelandic keep refusing to pay the debts contracted by their bankers – many of which were arrested – from the Netherlands and the UK.
If such tensions with foreign economies might go on for some time, it seems investors are faithful and the small country will get back on its feet. The fishermen converted to banking businessmen will get back on their boats, and life will go on. There are some other radical changes worth discussing, though.
The economic crisis has hit other countries since, but the reason why Iceland is still in the media (some of them, at least) is its 300,000 inhabitants seem quite convinced they don’t want to repeat the same mistakes. Many have been stressing the need for a new constitution since the crackdown hit, but now the writing of a new one is finally in the works. And, to everyone’s surprise, people are actually taking part in the process and creating what has been called “Democracy 2.0.”
After months of work and a continuous exchange of ideas with the Icelandic via Internet (Facebook, YouTube, Flickr), a Constitutional Council of 25 delegate citizens has finalized the first bill for the new constitution and handed it to the government. The document was the result of a tight collaboration with the population and is thus the first example of a “crowd-sourced” constitution. The importance of transparency, open data, and popular vote is of course one of the document’s main structural highlights. According to the bill 10% of the electorate can demand a national referendum on laws passed by Althingi and 2% of the electorate can produce a legislative proposal to Althingi. Also, the bill assumes that, from now on, changes to the constitution will be submitted to a vote by all who are eligible to vote in Iceland, for either approval or rejection. You can read everything about the process above on the official Stjornlagarad website.
Other countries have a few lessons to learn from Iceland’s so-called “Democracy 2.0”. First of all, that the right socio-political conditions can put social networks to their best use: an unprecedented experiment in direct democracy, powered by open data. It helps that the Icelandic are so few and used to live comfortably, so the sudden bump was a good motivation to react. Plus, the manageable size of the population allowed actions to be fast and coordinated.
My guess is Iceland will be fine – after a long and difficult recovery – and they will set a positive example, but the format might encounter some difficulties if exported elsewhere. First of all, it’s unlikely most governments would allow radical changes to their constitution before they hit financial rock bottom, like Iceland did. Second, citizens need to be educated to participation and open data might not be enough to involve the majority of the population in other cultural contexts.
We won’t have to wait too long to judge the concept’s success though. Stanford University has recently launched a website for Egyptians to comment on their new constitution as well, but a website is just the first step. In Morocco a private initiative has also created a crowd-sourcing platform, whose success affected the actual constitution committee and their draft.
In these cases the process has not been directly implemented by the authorities, so a few questions remain. Who is going to aggregate the comments, and how? Will specific platforms give way to a sort of tech-savvy editorial elite, as it has arguably happened with Wikipedia? The road to transparency might be shorter than that towards participation.
Blog: The Death App
Ever wondered how many murders and road fatalities have occurred in your neighborhood? Well there is an app for it . Its name is the death app. It features a map that shows you where the accident or murder has taken place. For now it can only be used in the UK, but you can follow the step laid out by MobileNation HQ to make an app that is applicable for your country.
Question is why would you? In the How to make the ‘Death App’ video, you hear that the information used is based on public police sites. So, if you were really keen on finding out about the murders and roadside accident in your neighborhood, you could just go to those sites and there wouldn’t be a need for an app like that.
Blog: North Korean Cyber Warriors
Ever since seeing the VICE guide to North Korea in 2009, I’ve been fascinated by the notion of going to this country. It might sound strange wanting to visit a rogue state, completely shut-off from the world. A country that is desperately working to maintain their alternate reality. All marching towards the glory of one man. But this is the thing that is fascinating. When growing up entrenched in the individual ethos, it is fascinating to go and observe a place that is completely different from everything you’ve ever known. Even more so, because there are few reports coming from this state, other than rumors regarding nuclear tests and malicious acts against its neighbor South Korea.
For example this article I read in the past week about the cyber warfare that North Korea is involved in. South Korea claims that North Korean hackers are the ones behind the crash of a South Korean bank last April, which blocked the usage of ATMs and online services for several days. The attack also destroyed key data on the bank’s servers. Western analysts have described it as ‘the first publicly reported case of computer sabotage by one nation against a financial institution in another country.’ Furthermore this “The bank attack was like shelling an island to create terror without attacking a high-value military target,” said George Wicherski, researcher with U.S.-based McAfee Labs. He made this statement in reference to the North Korea’s artillery attack on South Korea’s Yeonpyeong island last November.
Recruiting children with a talent for mathematics, coding and equipped with top analytical skills. They will go through a six-year elite program in Pyongyang and two years at North Korea’s top technological institutions and universities. After which they will be sent to China or Russia to complete their hacking and other tech skills. The hackers have access to decent housing (by North Korean standards that is), food subsidies and a proper stipend during deployment abroad. And although these people have complete access to the internet, desertion isn’t as frequent as you would think. Kim Heung-kwang, who was a computer science professor in North Korea, believes that the reason for this lack of desertion is the status and regard that exists for these hackers within the Party. These “cyberwarriors” serve in various warfare units, the most notorious being Unit 121. This unit was probably responsible for the blocking of some South Korean and U.S. governmental websites on July 4th, 2009. And also behind the attack on the South Korean bank last April. This might be strange in a country in which most of its citizens can’t feed themselves, moreover a place where few people have access to the internet. But it still manages to train and use hackers in this cyber warfare against the outside world. To quote the movieHackers (1995): “Hack the Planet!”
Blog: The Privacy Perils of Being on Facebook
Facebook appears to be an important part of our daily lives. When waiting for the tram or sitting alone in a café, you login and wander through status updates. You like a status of a friend you haven’t seen in 6 months, share an article or blog, upload a picture. The rare encounter with someone who is not on Facebook, other than your parents perhaps, might leave you flabbergasted. You’re fascinated by this alien creature who is able to exist without the use of oxygen, or so it seems.
But is Facebook really such a blessing?
It will happen from time to time. A friend updating their status in a panic, posting the following message:
“ALL THE PHONE NUMBERS IN YOUR PHONE are now on Facebook! go to the top right of the screen, click on ACCOUNT, click on EDIT FRIENDS, left side of screen and click CONTACTS. You will see all phone numbers from your phone (FB friends or not) are published that you have stored in your mobile phone. TO REMOVE, go to RIGHT column, click on “this page.” Please repost this on your status, so your friends can remove their numbers and thus prevent abuse if they do not want them published.”
8 hours ago • Like
A few comments later it turns out that these phone numbers aren’t public. It only happens when you yourself connected it to Facebook. And even then the phone numbers are visible for you alone. Nevertheless, Facebook still possesses the initial information. A massive database of phone numbers on top of the collection of names, birth dates, e-mail addresses and an assortment of likes and activities. Thus there are no guarantees for privacy.
It might seem that the odd people who aren’t on Facebook might be the lucky ones. Free from the hassle of security scares and mysterious updates. We could join them and collectively decide to stop. However, I don’t see this happening any time soon.
Blog: Impakt Tip: GOGBOT Festival 2011
GOGBOT 2011, DATA-PANIC/TRUE PLAY
GOGBOT 2011 takes place from 8th –11th September with this year’s theme: DATA PANIC – YOU-TUBE-Poop – JAPANOIIID!
GOGBOT is 4 days of art, music and technology in Enschede. From N-type to Nam-Shub from Enki, Doshy and a DJ set ofT. Raumschmiere. The Japanese electronic composer and media artist Ryoji Ikeda will perform a spectacular gig calledTest Pattern. Great festival where different disciplines come together. Where art and technology embrace each other and form a spectacular synthesis on energizing music.
Impakt’s tip: Symposium DATA PANIC / TRUE PLAY
Saturday 10th September | 14 hours | Concordia Cinema, 15 Old Market, Enschede | Free entry
The symposium focuses on the full spectrum of availability and processing of information. Starting from new social phenomena to Internet hoaxing and disinformation. Peter Oltshoorn is one of the speakers at this symposium. The historian and journalist is mainly concerned with the social implications of the Internet and the untruths in politics and media. He is the founder of Netkwesties.nl and Leugens.nl.
Oltshoorn wrote about the discussions concerning the issue ofDSK and the chambermaid, the agreements made by the BuZa regarding the “alleged” kidnapping case in which Mariko Peters (Groenlinks MP) was involved and a story about a dating sitethat connects students with sugar daddy’s but claims to have purely altruistic reasons for doing this.
In 2010 “The Power of Google” written by Oltshoorn was published, in which he makes an indept exploration of the Google-empire. In short an interesting thinker and a promising symposium, so go forth!
Blog: Catch the Bad Guys
In the night from the 21st to the 22nd of August there was a break-in at Mediamatic in the Duintjer CS building on the Vijzelstraat in Amsterdam. And it is not the first time that this happened! Mediamatic has now put the images of these thieves online.
This coincides with a current discussion in the Netherland regarding the privacy of the persons involved. As someone commented on the Mediamatic site: “Do you guys mind the privacy of these boys!” although this person subsequently notes that he wants these boys caught, rather sooner than later.
Is it understandable to release such footage when you have been robbed for the 10th time in one single month? Is it the price you pay when you commit such a crime, to be put online for what might be forever? It could help in identifying and capturing these persons, but to what price? Traditionally media art organisations took stand in favour of absolute privacy. Is this a turning point?
In the mean time, Impakt has decided to upgrade their security level.
Blog: Protests, Activism, Riots and the Transparency of Information
In my last post about WikiLeaks and Julian Assange I wrote that transparency seems to be a staple requirement in many platforms for informational activism. But another key ingredient is a certain degree of security and protection of sensible data (e.g. user identities), which is kind of the opposite of “transparency.”
While whistleblowers that submit secret material through platforms like WikiLeaks are well aware of the fact they might be prosecuted (hence the stress on identity protection), other Internet-using activists seem to underestimate the transparency/security ratio of the networks through which they operate. For example, Twitter and Facebook definitely enable an unprecedented organizational and informational power (in an easy-to-use and easier-to-share way), but their users can be tracked down by authorities without too much hassle.
In this year’s Egyptian revolution, which has been largely publicized as social media-ridden, the government crackdowns on Twitter and even cellphones highlighted the importance of those media, but also their ambiguities. Apart from infamously hijacking the Vodafone network to send anti-revolutionary propaganda, the Egyptian government also used the popular social networks to identify activists. Even Julian Assange, in his interview with Hans Ulrich Obrist, said the most popular guide in the Egyptian demonstrations was passed on in soccer clubs and clearly discouraged the use of Facebook and Twitter, for safety reasons.
The same double-edged potential has been discussed more recently on the media, concerning the UK riots. Protesters and looters used free-messaging networks to coordinate the attacks, but they have thus become easy to study for both social scientists and the authorities, which has in some cases led to arrests and pretty severe consequences. While media theorists like Christian Fuchs point out how the real responsibility for these abrupt unrests lies in the social inequalities and structural violence of neoliberalism, people are even discussing how likely a direct government intervention to silence social media communications might be in countries like England.
Anyway, if Egypt did turn off the networks, Western countries like the UK and the US are less likely to adopt such drastic measures. Definitely the libertarian interests at stake and the controversy that would most certainly follow are good reasons, but another factor to keep into account is that the government’s technology savviness would allow the authorities to be ahead of the game. In particular, the Pentagon has been buying spy software and even putting considerable resources aside for a social network-specific intelligence corp, through which it will be possible to both spread propaganda and control potential suspects.
The transparency of information is one of the deepest revolutions enabled by new media. Scholars have been discussing for a long time how these technologies also imply a tighter surveillance on citizens, paradoxically more and more voluntary and self-imposed. But most people haven’t read Michel Foucault or Gilles Deleuze’s Postscript on the Societies of Control, so this ambiguity doesn’t appear so obvious to the vast majority of the Crowd (or the Mob, as they call it when it gets bad). A single government, though, can only control communicational infrastructure to a certain extent, at a certain time, or for a limited period. It’s a big advantage, but in certain cases – when the need for freedom or revenge is stronger than that of information – it all boils down to slower and more effective forms of resistance/attack.
Blog: BART vs. Anonymous
I thought Bart was this loving cheeky character from the Simpsons but apparently it also stands for the Bay Area Rapid Transit, in San Francisco. On July 3rd a man who appeared to be drunk was shot and killed, on a BART platform, by the police. Footage later released by BART authorities showed that the man, Charles Hill, did throw a knife at the police but didn’t show how far removed he was from the police at the time. It is thus hard to tell if he posed any threat at all.
The subsequent action taken by Anonymous was entitled:Operation BART and entailed crowds of protestor assembling in the stations of BART, some with Guy Fawkes masks. During this protest the authorities unilaterally shut down phone reception in the station. Turns out that this wasn’t the best action on the part of BART. They might have prevented more people from coming down to protest during the first protest, but it has now led to more and more protests on the part of Anonymous. A protestor at one of the new events was wondering around with an retro-phone repeating : “can you hear me now?”
Beside police brutality there is the infringement upon free communication, so in fact they made matters worse. It even led to the creation of a song, which isn’t really the prettiest adage to the worlds playlist.
Blog: Street Art in Egypt After the Revolution
I started my week with the news that the blogger Asmaa Mahfouz was taken into custody by the military government in Egypt last Sunday (August 14th, 2011) for being too critical. One of the voices of the revolution is now being perceived as a subversive element, as critical notions are being shushed out. The turn after the jubilee of the revolution is now back at start, by imprisoning the people who stood at the front lines of Egyptian freedom.
Although there is hope as Cairo now possesses a lively street art community. The guerrilla artists produce their work under the gaze of anonymity, which can safeguard them from prosecution. Although some works are explicitly critical, others are merely decorative. However even these decorative pieces perform a vital critical presence by their very existence. As in the pre-revolutionary instance it was unthinkable of someone going out and defacing a public building of some kind. It is in the realization of freedom that the artist goes out to make his pieces. The ‘I was here’ instinct of human beings becomes a revolutionary act. Performing a message that speaks directly to the public and is publicly accessible. The only critics are public cleaners and/or the dust coming in from the desert. The speaker is completely free to make any statement he or she wishes without the infringement of others. Moreover, the pieces receive maximum exposure to any passerby. And as the public voices of the revolution are silenced it’s these practices that still perform the critical duties of an open society.
Blog: Riot Like an Egyptian
Today I read that UK Prime Minister Cameron comments about the possibility of Internet Censorship has received praise from China. Always good to know that China approves of your new policy initiatives to limit public access.
Kinda funny that not so long ago the same Cameron stated that the Egyptian revolution which had presence on the same social networks should be taught ”in our schools.” And now that the children of the UK are rioting in the streets it seems that he doesn’t think so favorable about social media and public action.
WikiLeaks has been around since 2006, but only since 2010 has it been so tightly identified with the abruptly famous Julian Assange. A founder and main spokesperson of the organization, the old-school Australian Internet activist has become such a public figure that it was voted Person of the Year by TIME magazine’s readers – an award the editors eventually hijacked to Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg. Assange’s charisma as a respected hacker and civil rights advocate – in 2009 he was awarded the Amnesty International Media Award – earned him a lot of sympathy through the accusations of terrorism and sexual assault, but eventually his own strong personality clashed against his own associates. Disappointed by the way he hurriedly handled the publications of the Afghanistan and Iraq documents, possibly putting some of the informants in danger, and by his secretive and solitary decisions, some of WikiLeaks’ most valuable members resigned and parted from the organization.
In January 2011 the site’s former German spokesperson Daniel Domscheit-Berg and Herbert Snorrason, an Icelandic student who had been working for it as well, launched OpenLeaks. The platform – which is not fully operational to this day – sets out to act as a community connecting whistleblowers and the press, in a secure and distributed way. If WikiLeaks had lost its openness in favor of a more editorial and centralized publishing process, OpenLeaks tries to achieve transparency by optimizing user control on the leaks submitted, putting him/her directly in contact with the desired news recipients anonymously.
Other leak-based initiatives that have sprung up in the past months are GlobaLeaks and HackerLeaks. The former has much in common with OpenLeaks: its goal is also to right the wrongs of the WikiLeaks system, by creating a more collaborative and secure platform for users to blow their whistle and making the editorial process more scalable. HackerLeaks, on the other hand, has a much more basic and vague website, which seems to follow a more secretive and centralized approach – more Assange-style. Along with these websites, it is also worth mentioning the Wall Street Journal’s very own platform, SafeHouse. In spite of its name, the service doesn’t grant the users a real anonymity – e.g. they will tell the government who the whistleblowers are, if asked – and apparently several security breaches have been discovered in its code.
If transparency of structure and member protection are the main values emerging from these examples, Assange’s heritage can also be found in other recent Internet developments. Many accused WikiLeaks of putting lives in danger, but the Australian activist has always claimed the people saved outnumbered the ones at risk. In the case of Anonymous’ spin-off LulzSec, the hacker group seems to have a similar tank-like approach to truth-spreading. Their attacks on security systems and merciless sharing of personal user information on the Web have become infamous – the Sony gaming network in particular – but according to some their apparently meaningless hits teach us all an important lesson. Internet security doesn’t exist and those who claim to provide it are hypocrites.
So, information is out there for people to take. The only problem now is: Who decides what is important? Assange asked that question and tried to answer it with WikiLeaks, a community turned editorial platform. Now the site’s heirs will provide the press with increasingly direct and targeted leaks, devolving the political sophistication to the leakers themselves. Without that central filter, actors will multiply and interact in new, unpredictable ways. It’s up to the media, now, to adapt and learn how to handle this flow, mastering those platforms and – possibly, hopefully – developing a true leak-specific journalism.
The history dissertation is based on a history subject. This means anything which happened in the past which has made an impact can be selected for their dissertation writing project. These dissertations can be written in many ways. Students can write their dissertations in a manner which provides information about a historical event, a place or a mile stone by writing an informative dissertation. On the other hand a narration dissertation can also be written on any happening or an event. The same can be adapted in to a commentary on a historical subject. There can be dissertations as to the impact of a past event or a period in history on various facets of human life.
Blog: Health Goes 2.0
When it comes to sharing personal information on the Internet, the first thing that comes to mind is the privacy issue. We’ve all frowned upon Facebook’s initial opt-out policies and many of us have shown half-hearted concert when discussing Google’s craving of personal data with our media-studying friends. But, along with the growing preoccupation about the monopolization of such information, the so-called web2.0 has also witnessed an increasing digitization of deeply personal data on a voluntary basis. I’m not talking about our taste in music, movies and causes, but health and genomic information. The stuff of our physical being, so to speak.
There are a couple of reasons why more and more people feel like putting these types of data online. First of all, some want to keep track of their health record, in order to own it and facilitate its migration from a health provider to another. When Google Health was launched in 2008, other platforms providing this kind of service already existed, like Microsoft Health-Vault and Revolution Health, by AOL-co-founder Steve Case. Obviously there was some level of controversy, given Google’s reputation as a data-hungry company and its freedom from the HIPPA obligation, but privacy concerns were hardly the reason why the service has been axed – and will eventually disappear in 2012 – since the application had its share of advocates.
Citizen bioscience and consumer genomics
Apart from health records, genomic data has been at the core of important and exciting developments in both the self-obsessed world of social networks and the scientific community. This has given way to the recent growth of two intersecting fields: citizen bioscience and consumer genomics. Both share the deployment of user-generated data – a lesson learned from the dynamics of web 2.0 – and the common tendency to de-institutionalize scientific research.
Citizen bioscience is exemplified by non-profit, crowd-sourced endeavors like DIYGenomics and the Personal Genome Project, which try to bridge an online community of genetics enthusiasts with scientists and scholars. Apart from practicing a more “wikified” research, these efforts aim at creating a more genome-aware citizen, responsible of his/her own code and willing to share it in order to learn from it.
Consumer genomics is the corporate side of the field and, for this reason, the most controversial. You have probably heard of 23andMe, a company co-founded by Anne Wojcicki – married to Google’s Sergey Brin – and famous for decoding your genome from a saliva sample, for a fast-dropping fee. When the service was launched it cost as much as 1000$, now it has hit 99$ and will probably fall lower in the coming years. Helped by a well-styled website and merchandising – like “I spat!” pins and so on – the company has been able to tap on the growing interest in genomic information to build a profitable business, also legitimated by its involvement in the publication of scientific papers. If you go read my interview with CESAGen researcher and author of The Genome Incorporated Kate O’Riordan you’ll find a more detailed discussion on the matter. Our talk included considerations about the actual utility of the information provided by the company for the consumers and a few guesses of mine about unlikely and dystopic scenarios for the near future.
We can imagine these phenomena might have long-term consequences on certain aspects of society. In her presentation at a recent MIT conference, University of Memphis’ Marina Levina outlined the traits of a Biocitizenship 2.0, a condition “embedded in the ‘free-labor’ economy of the network society” where people are empowered by both a more accessible scientific information and a new economic control over their genomic data. If consumer genomics is already promising “freedom from institutional power through corporation-enabled control over one’s genetic information”, for people to make money off their DNA information the actual pay-per-spit paradigm should be reversed. Given the growing interest in the fields mentioned and the fast-paced digitization of everything human, probably we won’t have to wait too long to see what happens.
Blog: Anders Breivik and Open-Source Warfare
Hours after the devastating Oslo attack and the tragic Utøya massacre, of which Anders Behring Breivik still appears to be the sole architect, the press started posting screenshots of a Twitter account with the Christian fundamentalist’s name. It already had 1,164 followers and only one tweet, published on July 17: “One person with a belief is equal to the force of 100,000 who have only interests.” After the tragedy the account was made inaccessible by the NORIA hacker group, but now it’s back on. The followers are up to 3,970 and the tweet has been replaced by a link to an “updated” version of Breivik’s now-infamous 1500-page manifesto: 2083 – A European Declaration of Independence. The .docx file contains the original cover, sporting a crusader cross, followed by an array of LOLcatz pictures. The replacement of the terrorist’s document is part of a strategy of the Norwegian Anonymous to not only ridicule the mass-murderer, but also destroy his legacy.
The Anarchist’s Cookbook
Regardless of Breivik’s mental health as an individual, it is a fact that his values and political agenda are not merely the vision of an isolated nutcase. Apart from the other mysterious extremist cells he mentioned during the interrogations, some far-right parties – initially condemning his solitary and violent endeavor – have been trying to blame liberal immigration politics for the man’s actions, while ultra-conservative politicians such as the Italian Lega Nord militant Mario Borghezio have gone as far as saying some of his ideas are good and sharable. Journalists have also compared the bloody events to others related to Christian fundamentalism, like the Oklahoma City bombing. The issue of the terrorist’s possible heritage, as tackled by Anonymous, is thus particularly crucial.
Despite the hackers’ efforts, though, 2083 – A European Declaration of Independence is still available online. If you leaf through it, among many other things, you’ll find pages and pages of pseudo-academic reports about Muslim propaganda in Europe and demographic strategies to counter the immigrant invasion. The manifesto, written in a good English, features bullet lists, logos, and quotes from conferences and articles. It’s easy to wonder what could happen if the wrong people read it.
Like Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf, the Unabomber Manifesto, or William Powell’s The Anarchist Cookbook, the book is a perfect example of controversy that will survive its author, or at least its author’s intentions. Hitler’s memoir is still generally available to the public, even if it cannot be legally sold in several countries, including the Netherlands. In the case of Powell’s Cookbook, instead, the creature remains in print because of its profitability. Its rights are still owned by the publisher, Lyle Stuart, and despite the author’s emphatic attempts to take it all back from the bookstores its content is still out there.
With 2083, the diffusion issue is medium-specific. Breivik’s is an example of “open-source” warfare – a concept which John Robb has been theorizing for a few years – and he proved himself a web2.0-savvy terrorist by spreading his mottos on popular social networks like Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. And, like it happens with the latest Madonna or Kanye West album leak, it’s very hard to utterly eradicate something off the Internet. Will Anonymous’ Internet-specific belittlement-by-diffusion technique be effective on the long run, eventually dwarfing the real document in a clutter of LOLcatz? Or will the manic Norwegian crusader’s ideas carve their own niche of online and offline extremism, in case they haven’t already?
Every week, you can read our blog about ‘The Right to Know’, with Nicola Bozzi and Lieke Kessels.