307 Articles

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The Revenge of Print 

In the wireless era, is the paper medium simply passé for the work of activists? Are zamizdat, fanzines and political magazines just good for historians? After the mid-nineties zine crisis due to a sudden rise of the cost of paper and the advent of the Internet, the actual role of magazines seems to be re-defined and still strategical for the circulation of ideas.

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    Notes on the Politics of Software Culture 

    Software has, over the last few years, increasingly come into view as a cultural technique whose social and political impact ought to be studied carefully. To the extent that social processes rely on software for their execution - from systems of e-government and net-based education, online banking and shopping, to the organisation of social groups and movements -, it is necessary to understand the procedural specificities of the computer programmes employed, and the cultural and political 'rules' coded into them.

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      Looking into the practice within the labs 

      To talk about the Cybermohalla project is to talk about concrete practices and how they relate to forms of knowledge. This is essential when we reflect on being producers of knowledge. What we are trying to follow and understand is the intricate web of processes involved in the development of a group - not just an aggregate of specialised selves. We also try to follow how this group generates within it a capacity for self recognition, for intersubjective recognition, for understanding the social biography of the neighbourhood and for developing a sense of and addressing diverse publics.

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        The 'art' of disappearing 

        Thereis no place in the Netherlands for the odd one out. Strangers can beassimilated or deported and sick people can be cured or euthanised, butthe dreamer and the bohemian will not fit in a straight-jacket. Thereare only paved roads to follow in this country and those who cannot orwill not follow these roads are doomed. Sooner or later that odd oneout will be given a choice: either he will lay hands on himself or hewill be lend a hand with his choice. After that he can rot in his graveuntil after long the time is ripe to memorise his peculiarity at astrictly limited occasion.

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          The People Want the Airwaves Back 


          This short essay was written in the run up to the fourth Next 5 Minutes festival of Tactical Media, which took place in Amsterdam September 11 - 14, 2003.

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            Transcending Post-Communism? 


            ?In Central and (South-) Eastern Europe the cultural landscape has entered the Post-Soros Era, while still awaiting the arrival of the widely expected EU patronage for the arts and the civil sector ?? (from the original description of the ?Enduring Post Communism? panel)

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              1 in 32 

              The Speculative Archive for Historical Clarification is a long-term project that produces documents that investigate the political and cultural implications of state self-documentation. Its work focuses on the processes through which covert government activities are documented, classified for reasons of national security, and, at times, selectively declassified. Founded in 1999 by Julia Meltzer and David Thorne, SAHC has recently completed a series of interviews with government officials involved in the regulation and release of secret government information. Below are excerpts from three of these interviews.

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                Cartography of Excess 

                Utopian ideas - like "Spaceship Earth" - are round, multidimensional, interrelated: their archetypal map is the Milky Way, the infinite constellations. But rational thinking is instrumental, linear, it distorts: and that's exactly the problem with the Mercator map, the most common world projection. Buckminster Fuller, inventor of the geodesic dome, created a "Dymaxion map" to undo those distortions. First the earth becomes a geometric figure, an isocahedron: its 20 triangles are then disjointed and laid flat, so the land masses radiate from a nexus in the north, without splitting continents or enlarging the polar regions.

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                As power becomes traceable: raising the stakes on critique 

                Among the many troubling and bizarre features of contemporary politics, the following apparent paradox can be found: Informationalisation has brought along enormous increases in the traceability of the doings and dealings of the powerful. But the disruptive power of the exposure of these activities to the public, today seems especially low. After information technology, the going about of those in power and their abuses, are increasingly documented, and the resulting records are increasingly susceptible to leakage to the public. Email is an obvious example. In the run-up to the last Iraq war, a message by an official of the National Security Agency (NSA), which requested ? aggressive surveillance ? of UN Security Council Members Angola, Cameroon, Chile, Bulgaria and Guinea, made its way to the newspapers.

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                  Constructing the Digital Commons 

                  March 2003

                  Democracy can be understood in two notably distinct ways. In the institutional view democracy is understood as the interplay of institutional actors that represent 'the people' and are held accountable through the plebiscite; public votes, polls and occasionally referenda. The second view on democracy is radically different in that it sees the extent to which people can freely assemble, discuss and share ideas about vital social issues, organise themselves around these issues, and can freely voice their opinions in public fora, as a measure for just how democratic a given society is.

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                  A Rift in Empire? 

                  The antiwar demonstrations of February 15, 2003 proved it: theself-organization of free singularities is possible on a planetaryscale. And that was an event, despite all that followed. In amanifesto-text written just after those demonstrations, I used thelanguage of Negri and Hardt to say that the multitudes could create arift in Empire. In a context where the Aristocracy (the greattransnational companies) had been weakened by a string of financialdisasters, where the Monarchy (the political and military command ofthe earth) had fallen apart in serious dissension, I wanted toencourage the democratic action of the Plebe, against the scorn of theAmerican, British, Spanish and Italian leaders. It was a moment thathad multiplied the world's political stages, overflowing thetraditional mechanisms of representation.

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                    Vectorial Empires 

                    01. These are precarious times. These are eventful times. Let us note some of the symptoms of this instability. There is September 11,and the prospect of a new form of American empire that uses September11 as its pretext. There is the global stock market slide, triggered by the collapse of American tech stocks, which altered the lives of chip-makers in Korea and Coltan miners in the Congo. These are instances of what I call weird global media events. They are events because they are singular. They are media events because they happen in a vectoral space of communication. They are global media events because they call a world into being. They are weird global media events because they defy explanation. They subsume every explanation as mere ripples and eddies in their wake.

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                    A Virtual World is Possible: From Tactical Media to Digital Multitudes 

                    I.

                    We start with the current strategy debates of the so-called 'anti-globalisation movement', the biggest emerging political force for decades. In Part II we will look into strategies of critical new media culture in the post-speculative phase after dotcommania. Four phases of the global movement are becoming visible, all of which have distinct political, artistic and aesthetic qualities.

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                    CAE: Framing Tactical Media 


                    Anyone involved with "tactical media" (TM) before its famed christening in 1996 at the Next Five Minutes had to know that naming this cultural/political tendency was going to have some very negative repercussions. The naming was the first step in doing what TM feared the most°Xclaiming cultural territory doomed to house haunting archives. Once given an official title, so many nasty processes could begin - most significantly, the construction of historical narratives. So many narratives already exist explaining this ephemeral, immediate, specific, and deterritorialized process of cultural production that seemed so urgent to so many radical subjects in the early 90s.

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                    The ABC of Tactical Media 

                    Tactical Media are what happens when the cheap 'do it yourself' media, made possible by the revolution in consumer electronics and expanded forms of distribution (from public access cable to the internet) are exploited by groups and individuals who feel aggrieved by or excluded from the wider culture. Tactical media do not just report events, as they are never impartial they always participate and it is this that more than anything separates them from mainstream media.

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                    The DEF of Tactical Media 

                    Campaigns and Movements Although a global conference, the first Next 5 Minutes, held six years ago(1993), was dominated by the first large scale encounter between two distinctive cultural communities. On the one hand, Western European and North American campaigning media artists and activists and on the other hand their equivalent from the former communist countries of Central and Eastern Europe, dissident artists and samizdat activists, still basking in the after glow of the role they played in bringing down the communist dictatorships. In the excitement of discovering each other, these two communities tended to gloss over their ideological differences,understandably emphasising only the shared practice of exploiting consumer electronics (in those days mostly the video camcorder) as a means of organisation and social mobilisation. We referred to these practices, and the distinctive aesthetic to which it gave rise, tactical media.

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