309 Articles

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The Avant-Garde Never Gives Up 

The avant-garde never gives up. And tactical media has produced (at least) three different theaters of operation to wage its struggle: media activism, pure tactical aesthetics, and net conceptualism. The first allows for "formal" net.art tactics (materialist, structural), the latter two allow for "real" net.art tactics (native presence, site-specificity).

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Frequently Asked Questions: Digital Work 

How does digital work differ from its analogue forms?

Although developed for military and corporate purposes, digital technologies also create oportunites for working people. With these amazing tools, we are not only able to invent new aesthetic forms, but also can work in more satisfying ways. Above all, digital technologies can allow us to rediscover the dignity of artisan labour without losing the material benefits delivered by the analogue working methods of Fordism. Over the past two centuries, industrialisation has slowly replaced skilled craft labour with repetitive factory and office work. In the Fordist factory, even the pace of working can be determined by the speed of the assembly lines. For most of this century, people have grudgingly accepted the boring nature of their jobs. In return, they have been given enough wages to buy large amounts of goods and services produced by Fordist industrialisation. However, once their living standards are sufficient, most people also want to enjoy satisfaction in their work. They don't just want money, but also respect.

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    Engineering of Consent 

    One of the major challenges facing citizen groups campaigning to prevent, minimize, limit or regulate socially-irresponsible or environment-degrading practices of transnational corporations is how to deal with the corporations' increasing call for 'dialogue' and 'cooperation'. Many transnational corporations say they have seen the error of their ways and have rectified their mistakes. Eager to do their best for 'our common future', they claim to be listen to their critics. Thus 'dialogues' with companies or industry organizations are frequently portrayed as the way ahead for citizen groups seeking corporate accountability, rather than 'confrontational' strategies such as boycotts. What are the dangers and limits of doing so?

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      How to make a point 

      It has been a preoccupation of mine in imagining the supermarket as a locus for political assembly. Clearly, it has already overtaken religious assembly. In the UK the big brand Supermarkets like TESCO and SAINSBURY are principle organizers of daily life. The ritualized relationship between customer and supermarket have been carefully constructed and maintained to a degree that compares to the construction of religious faith.

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        Information Devolution 

        As new technologies make it possible to move more information faster than ever before, we are dazzled by the millions of gigabytes that move across the world in nanoseconds. We are infatuated by bandwidth, digital television by gadgets and gizmos. Yet we hardly ask questions about the quality of the information: what is it that we are communicating? Is it relevant? Will it make the world a better place? And does all this information add up to knowledge?

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          Viridian Note 00029: The Interfund 

          From: Bruce Sterling <bruces {AT} well.com>
          Date: Mon, 14 Dec 1998 22:59:27 -0600 (CST)
          Sender: owner-nettime-l {AT} basis.Desk.nl

          Key concepts:  art movements, Internet, reputation economics, arts grants, Europe, Interfund


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          The Legitimacy of Illegality 

          Webcasting often is seen as an alternative for experiments which would not be able to get a licence for ethertransmissions. The difficulty projects and broadcasting initiatives encounter when trying to get legal airspace has caused a limited view of the possibilities of working within the ether as such. It is already clear that connections between networks like the internet and the ether can be most interesting, but this is of course not the only reason to have a look at the possibilities of broadcasting more closely. The ether is still the easiest way to reach large numbers of people fast. We should always be aware it is there when we need it.

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          Streaming Networks 

          We've had the camcorder revolution. It made making videoprograms cheaper. Audio-equipment is affordable, so radiomaking is possible for a large amount of people too. So for a long time already the masses are potential mediaproducers. There were only minor successes in accessing the broadcast channels both legally and illegally. But the efficient one-to-many distribution system (radio and tv) are chocked, regulated, hard to get access to. The Internet having the capacity for streaming media seems to promise new possibilities. Boundless access, for anyone making radio, and maybe in the near future TV. Some are pessimistic, and see these channels soon closed and regulated as well. What will this streaming media look like and who will be streaming?

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            Using the Media: the Clean Clothes Campaign 

            The existing use of media so far has been determined by the local, decentralized nature of the campaign. Local groups are adapting, editing and redesigning existing material like research results, lines of argumentation and logos, photos and slogans. The educational material, used by trade unions, schools and churches is very specific and "customized", and therefore cannot be used in campaigns which target the general public.

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            Small, Furry Mammals 

            The McLibel media strategy arose from a simple premise: this story has to be told. Most people have been affected by McDonald's in one way or another - working in a store, being nagged by children, stumbling through litter, suffering ill-health or enjoying their burgers - and the corporation's influence continues to increase as they relentlessly pursue their "global domination strategy" (to use their own words). Two people investing their lives to stand up to such a force has got to be a great story in anybody's book.

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            Electronic Civil Disobedience, Simulation, and the Public Sphere 

            What counts in the long run is the "use" one makes of a theory....We must start from existing practices in order to retrace the fundamental flaws.
            --Felix Guattari, "Why Marx and Freud No Longer Disturb Anyone"

            In 1994, when Critical Art Ensemble first introduced the idea and a possible model of electronic civil disobedience (ECD) as another option for digital resistance, the collective had no way of knowing what elements would be the most practical, nor did it know what elements would require additional explanation. After nearly five years of field testing of ECD by various groups and individuals, its information gaps have become a little more obvious and can finally be addressed.

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            30 Years of Tactical Media 

            This is a short text [1] which appears in "Public Netbase: Non Stop Future. New  Practices in Art and Media" edited by the fine people at the New Media  Center_kuda.org, in cooperation with World-Information Institute / t0. This book was presented at Transmediale 2009 in Berlin.
            http://nonstop-future.org

            Tactical media as a practice has a long history and, it seems save to  predict, an even longer future. Yet its existence as a distinct concept  around which something of a social movement, or more precisely, a self- aware network of people and projects would coalesce has been relatively  short lived, largely confined to the internet's first decade as a mass  medium (1995-2005).

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            Insular Technologies - A Civil Tactical Response to SIGNIT Communities 

            In the past four years we have been accustomed to receive information on the extent of global signit work that has actually been going on without the knowledge of civil populations, communications infrastructure users and developers and in many cases even governments. A very quiet debate has started around issues arising from the knowledge about the ECHELON system, which has now spread also into mainstream politics, and we should be very careful observers of this processes. One should also be aware of the fact, that possible ?sister" systems exist in the EU countries, Russia, France and China, although not much is known about them, except what can be gathered from each countries encryption regulations, which in this respect can be taken as an information on each of the countries civil rights and signit polices. We can also assume that Israel possesses strong signit mideast oriented capabilities.

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            Reclaim the Streets: The Film and Other Media Tactics 

            The Disorganisation

            Reclaim the Streets (RtS) cannot be understood as a campaign, although some of its methods are very similar. There are now RtS groups in thirty cities organising illegal street parties. Most of these groups only exist for the event, and many of the activists are involved in local campaigns during the rest of the year. There is no membership or official line although many would like to see a wider global strategy. As a movement, RtS is only four years old, and it could grow in unpredictable ways.

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            PGO - The Post-Governmental Organisation 

            One of the four main themes of the N5M3 is the 'Post-Governmental Organisation', a title that is meant more polemically than descriptively. The 'PGO' label raises the question of the practical, political and ethical impli cations of strong, potentially global, independent organisations. The theme will be approached from different critical, analytical and ironic perspectives in a public debate, and the PGO Design-Show ("Get Organised!").

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            Culture Board for Bulgaria 

            A Body for Cultures in Ruin

            For Whom It May Concern,

            We would like you to read this document and respond to this idea. It was our wish and motivation to consider a format which could accommodate certain situations in which countries and cultures find themselves in these days. Ever increasingly, we are witnessing the phenomena of ruined nation states, crashing financial markets and bankrupt governments. So far, this is only interpreted in the usual journalistic way of reporting the political and financial aspects of the crises. But we, cultural workers, know better. It is only perceived as 'news'. Arts and culture in this situation are the last to be considered contemporary, sensitive instruments that could express the 'signs of the times'. First of all culture is a prime target of budget cuts and this has become the only language in which officials can speak. Art, by definition, is always in a defensive role and cannot make demands. We do not like to further the culture of complaint, nor is this the right time to dream up new utopias. We propose to radically face current global economic forces. We want to intervene in their sphere. Culture should not be left out: condemned to compensate for and be at the receiving end of this trauma.

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            CHANCE 2000: Vote yourself! Just do it! 

            Germany 1998: 2 years before the New Millenium a new form of Political Party came into existence: CHANCE 2000 - The Party of the Last Chance. In the midst of an election that was one of the most important in postfascist Germany an artist jumped into the political arena to "make politics more aesthetic and aesthetics more political". The film- and theatremaker and talk show host Christoph Schlingensief started the Campagne: "VOTE YOURSELF!" In Berlin he started the project with an "Election Circus". Together with a famous circus-family from former East Germany and with his crew of actors and his family of handicapped performers he founded "CHANCE 2000 - Party of the Last Chance" in a circus tent in Berlin/ Prenzlauer Berg. The message for the Republic was: "Vote Yourself, we know how to do it!" Every citizen was asked to become an independent candidate for the new Bundestag. Manuals were sent out how to become a direct candidate. And many different people realized their chance to "prove that they exist" by bringing their name on the ballot sheet: "Chance Meier", "Chance Mueller", "Chance Schmidt". If you managed to collect 200 signatures of support in your political region you were part of the game and you could vote yourself. Why not voting somebody you know by heart, you trust and love?

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            Corporate Counter Campaigns - Introduction 

            Introducing the panel on Counter-strategies of Corporations against Campaigns Featuring: What are the modern-times strategies of present day companies? And: How can we respond to these?

            This part of the introduction includes a short outline of the themes to be discussed at the forum. Being used are examples from the work of the panelists and cases they have been working on. Also included are exerpts from recent articles on the corporate world's reaction to social and environmental cam-paigns, illuminating the main themes from different points of view. References are included below, if you would like to receive four further texts on this subject, please let me know: evel@xs4all.nl

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            The Art of Campaigning 

            The idea for the Art of Campaigning topic originates from the works of the McLibel group [www.mcspotlight.org]. Their type of net.campaign questions previous forms of activism, which was focused on the mass media and their ability to influence public opinion, by staging direct action (targeted at known media makers). Big NGO's such as Greenpeace have built up experiences with this model for decades. The scenarios they use have not changed much since the seventies. There is the usual PR material: official reports, books, folders, flyers, magazine and original video footage, shot on location. Campaigns are being planned long in advance. The way of working does not differ much from a campaign to launch a new product. Professionalism has taken over the task of volunteers. Their role is being reduced to that of a local support group, doing the actual grass roots work with the population.

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