300 Articles

article

The Invention of the Savage: Colonial Exhibitions and the Staging of the Arab Spring 

Watching a popular uprising in real time was indeed a dramatic experience. As viewers tuned in (or streamed in) to the violence, courage, and uncertainty of events in North Africa this year, many of them had the impression of witnessing the "actual" events, free from the framing tactics and analytical bias often found on the six o'clock news. A host of new media celebrities became household names as they reported live from Tahrir, and news outlets such as Al-Jazeera saw an unprecedented rise in viewership. Spectators were made to believe that a return to the event "itself" was once again possible after decades of being locked into what Jean Baudrillard called the hyper-real. The revolution in-and-of-itself seemed to unfold before our eyes, creating a fetish for real-time revolt.

Read
article

Fragmented Urban Topographies and Their Underlying Interconnections 

Topographic representations of the built environment of cities tend to emphasize the distinctiveness of the various socio-economic sectors: the differences between poor and rich neighborhoods, between commercial and manufacturing districts, and so on. While valid, this type of representation of a city is partial because there are a variety of underlying connections. Further, it may even be more problematic than in the past, given some of the socio-economic, technical, and cultural dynamics of the current era. One step towards understanding what constitutes the complexity of large cities is the analysis of interconnections among urban forms and fragments that present themselves as unconnected.

Read
article

Absorption and Exposure 

I am interested in a certain sense of wanting to be "in" something: to participate in it, to connect with it, to synchronize with it, to be caught up with it, rather than to visually possess it. The desire to be attuned to something that is happening, or that might happen at any moment -- not necessarily as a conscious thought, but as a vaguely felt expectation. The desire to move toward something that is (or might be) happening, in order to absorb its force, touch it, taste it, surrender to it -- rather than simply to observe it.

Read
article

SWARMACHINE 

Activist Media Tomorrow*

* BH: When I wrote this text five years ago, it really was not clear whether the swarming tactics of the counter-globalization movement would get a "second chance." But they have, and now the subtitle could be "activist media today."

What happened at the turn of the millennium, when a myriad of recording devices were hooked up to the Internet and the World Wide Web became an electronic prism refracting all the colors of a single anti-capitalist struggle? What kind of movement takes to the barricades with samba bands and videocams, tracing an embodied map through a maze of virtual hyperlinks and actual city streets? The organizational aesthetics of the networked movements was called "tactical media," a concept that mixed the quick-and-dirty appropriation of consumer electronics with the subtle counter-cultural anthropology of Michel de Certeau. The idea was to evoke a new kind of popular subjectivity, constitutionally "under the radar," impossible to identify, constantly shifting with the inventions of digital storytelling and the ruses of open-source practice. Too bad so much of this subversive process was frozen into a single seductive phrase.

Read
article

A Movement Without Demands? 

In this essay, we claim that far from being a strength, the lack of demands reflects the weak ideological core of the movement. We also claim that demands should not be approached tactically but strategically, that is, they should be grounded in a long-term view of the political goals of the movement, a view that is currently lacking. Accordingly, in the second part of this text, we argue that this strategic view should be grounded in a politics of the commons. Before addressing the politics of the commons, however, we dispel three common objections that are raised against demands during general assemblies, meetings, and conversations people have about the Occupy movement.

Read
article

Publication: Legacies of Tactical Media - The Tactics of Occupation: From Tompkins Square to Tahrir. 

Out now and available for download:
INC Network Notebooks 05 - Legacies of Tactical Media
Tactical Media employ the 'tactics of the weak' to operate on the terrain of strategic power by means of 'any media necessary'. Once the rather exclusive practice of politically engaged artists and activists, the tactical appropriations of media tools and distribution infrastructures by the disenfranchised and the disgruntled have moved from the margins to centre stage.

Read
article

Occupy and the Provision of Public Space: The City's Responsibilities 

The occupation of key public spaces by Occupy Wall Street, as a means of calling attention to more basic problems, raises questions of the role of public spaces that need to be urgently dealt with. The basic questions about the organization of society, democracy, inequality, social justice, public priorities are deep-going and require long-term answers. They should not be pre-empted by the immediate needs for space, not should any space be fetishized. But spatial issues need to be dealt with immediately and urgently. 

Read
article

The tactics of occupation: Becoming cockroach 

The global occupy protest movement is proliferating by "contagion, epidemics, battlefields, and catastrophes".[1] Furthermore, it materialises and disperses in multiple ephemeral processes of transformation that construct a common for the multitude of protestors. The common produced by the global occupy movement is not a mutually shared opposition to the capitalist crisis, nor a collective identity (of the "indignados" or of the 99%), nor a consensual political project (for real, authentic democracy). The common does not even embody an identical strategy of occupying public space, but rather to a series of becomings that question established categorizations and taxonomies that normalize the production of subjectivities and the organisation of life.

Read
article

Migrant Navigator Xtra Tools 

No borders = No nations? History of unification of the Europe is militant: Roman Empire > Napoleon's Empire > 3rd Reich. Economy is powerful weapon. Now this has all changed! Test yourself: Say at least three differences of the European Union with previous forms of European unification. Compare the results with your family, friends, neighbours and people you don't like. Than try it with the Migrant Navigator to see the difference!

Read