Author Archives: Eric

Tactical Media Connections update: May 1, 2015

A public research trajectory tracing the legacies of Tactical Media and its connections to the present.

Tactical Media Connections is an extended trajectory of collaborative research tracing the legacies of Tactical Media and mapping the relationships between its precursors and its progeny. The program is realised through a series of meetings and exhibitions, culminating in the publication of a Tactical Media Anthology with contributions and dialogues ranging across generations and territories.
Taken as a whole the project seeks to engage the many threads and practices that have emerged out of and relate back to the classical moment in the middle of the 1990s when Tactical Media was identified – not least through the renowned Next 5 Minutes festival series, when it came to be understood as a constellation of different yet connected cultures of contestation, operating at the specific intersection of art, media, technological experimentation and social/political activism. Central to the idea of Tactical Media was a nomadic movement between mainstream media channels, alternative cultures and dissident lifestyles by those groups who felt somehow aggrieved, misrepresented or otherwise marginalised in the wider public domain.

Unlike the “social turn” and other manifestations of community arts and post-studio practice, that emerged in the 1990s, Tactical Media has not become another an art-world genre. Its scope and significance has gone far beyond the accepted confines of the art scene. This lack of rootedness in a single discourse means it has largely escaped institutional capture. It has however paid a high price for avoiding any kind of strategic grounding with a bad case of historical amnesia. This widespread amnesia has meant that the scope and achievements of this movement are frequently forgotten or overlooked, rendering important lessons unavailable to subsequent generations of practitioners and activists.

In developing Tactical Media Connections, we have avoided fixed definitions, we are instead treating the moment when Tactical Media was initially named and described as a key reference point or rather a “point of lost origin”, a temporal vector enabling us to move in two directions at once: On the one hand we can reflect on the precursors, without getting lost in history. On the other hand we can look towards Tactical Media’s progeny and legacies, and their possible futures from an extended and more deeply informed perspective. As a framework it is designed to manage the extreme complexity we are unleashing. Exploiting this temporal vector we need no longer use the term Tactical Media to cover every practice that appears relevant. Rather this “point of lost origin” can be seen as one important moment of convergence in these evolving cycles of contestation and engagement, at a moment in time when anyone can ‘become the media’ at the touch of a screen.

Trajectory

The Tactical Media Connections public research project got underway with an international research meeting at Tolhuistuin, Amsterdam’s new cultural centre, in July 2014. The meeting was  combined with a public debate on “Art and Political Conflict”, organised in collaboration with Framer Framed, the gallery and exhibition agency at the Tolhuistuin. Since then activity has shifted to ‘behind the scene’ activities. In the past months we have been developing the different ‘components’ of our trajectory; the publication – a comprehensive anthology of Tactical Media; the first stage of a thorough upgrade of the Tactical Media Files online documentation resource; and preparations for a  series of public events and exhibitions to be organised in the Fall of  2016 and Spring 2017 in The Netherlands and the UK.

MIT Press confirmed as publisher for the Tactical Media Anthology

We are delighted that the MIT Press has agreed to publish the Tactical Media Anthology, which is scheduled to launch in the second half of 2016. The book as a whole will be ± 450 pages, as a full-colour edition, edited by Eric Kluitenberg and David Garcia in close consultation with Brian Holmes. Our ambition is to do justice to the full scope and significance of Tactical Media activity over the past three decades: connecting debates, controversies and experiences of various generations of artists, activists, media makers and theorists across different periods and territories, and relate these to the current situation, which might be described as the Post-Occupy / Post-Prism era. We see a particular urgency to revisit these debates and link experiences of different generations at this critical juncture.

The publication will include among others contributions by Michael Dieter, Brian Holmes, DeeDee Halleck, Tatiana Bazzichelli, Critical Art Ensemble, Mathew Fuller, David Garcia, Paulo Gerbaudo, Lev Manovich, Özge Celikaslan, Graham Harwood, Rodrigo Nunes, Saskia Sassen, Clement Apprich, Oliver Lerone Schultz, Caroline Nevejan, Daoud Kuttab, Konrad Becker, Brandon Jourdan, Seda Gürses, Cornelia Sollfrank, Geert Lovink, Marianne Maeckelbergh, Ned Rossiter, Eric Kluitenberg, Simona Lodi, Marcell Mars, Tobias Revell, Simona Levi, Heath Bunting, Nat Muller, Felix Stalder, Ted Byfield, Julian Oliver, Danja Vasiliev, Mike Stubbs, McKenzie Wark, and others to be confirmed.

Tactical Media Files website relaunched with reconstituted video archive

The online documentation resource Tactical Media Files, originally launched in the Fall of 2008, has been rebuilt from the ground up. While design changes have so far been minimal, important work has been done to ensure the longer term sustainability of the resource. The site is an entry point to the extensive collection of materials around the practices of Tactical Media in many different places and aims to make them accessible for current and future generations of artists, activists, researchers and the general audience. An important part of the resource are the materials sourced from contributions made over the years by visitors to each edition of the Next 5 Minutes festivals and held by the International Institute of Social History in Amsterdam, where the physical materials remain accessible in their original formats.

The most significant  aspect of this renewal process is that the extensive video archive of the Tactical Media Files has been restored and can now be freely accessed across different viewing devices. In the next phase of development the emphasis will shift towards an overhaul of the visual design of the website and a further extension of the functionality of the video archive. We are also keen on exploring more experimental approaches to the materials contained in the resource and aim to work together with curators, artists, technical developers and theorists on this as part of our on-going research trajectory. More about that in future updates.
www.tacticalmediafiles.net

Public event-series and exhibitions 2016 – 2017

Agreements are in place with a variety of partner organisations for a series of public events and exhibitions to be organised in the Fall of 2016 and early 2017, in The Netherlands and the UK. These events will include conferences and public debates, a larger screening event and public debate around the Global Uprisings documentary project, and two substantial exhibitions curated by Nat Muller and David Garcia in close consultation with Josien Peterse and Cas Bool, co-directors of Framer Framed in Amsterdam, and Mike Stubbs, director of FACT in Liverpool. The aim is to commission a number of new works which will  travel from The Netherlands to the UK and possibly beyond and will include screening events and workshops.

In the run up to the final series of events we aim to organise a number of local development meetings or Tactical Media Labs, in the UK and in NL. These will act as local connection points for researchers, artists and activists who want to engage more actively in this project. If you are interested to become involved in these meetings or the project please contact the projectors initiators Eric Kluitenberg and David Garcia.

Partner organisations

Partner organisations with whom initial agreements have been made so far include Cultural Center Tolhuistuin, Framer Framed, EYE Film Institute, the Institute of Network Cultures, The Showroom in London, FACT – Foundation for Art and Creative Technology, Cool Mediators Foundation (production), and Bournemouth University’s COLAB.

Preliminary Research Questions:

To guide this exploration we have formulated the following research questions during our initial meeting at the Tolhuistuin in Amsterdam:

•    How can we evaluate the remarkable developments in what we indicate as the post-occupy / post prism era? How do they relate to longer term questions of engagement in public culture and the formation of new politics giving voice to the voiceless, in pursuit of a more open and equitable future?

•    How resilient and comprehensive do the definitions of Tactical Media proposed in the 1990s appear in retrospect today? Were some aspects missed or distorted by the classic definitions? And how do they speak to the present and present generations of activists, artists, thinkers, theorists, researchers, media tacticians, out in the streets and the networks?

•    Does the extensive occupation of popular social media platforms in the 2011 uprisings (or ‘movement(s) of the squares’) signal an end of the “cyber separatism” of the Indymedia generation ? And does their extensive use of these platforms signal a new pragmatic populism for this generation’s media activists? Have projects with great public impact, such as WikiLeaks, neutralised the critique of media intervention as being trapped in networks of insularity and semiotic corruption?

•    What role can the idea of Tactical Media and its progeny play during the inevitable periods of latency in the cycles of protest ?  In this and other contexts can Tactical Media research help to identify new networks of resistance and change in the control society?

To take stock, discuss and debate, and begin a more collective appreciation of these questions is what this public research trajectory is meant for.

Support

The Tactical Media Connections project and the preparation for the Tactical Media Anthology  are financially supported by the Creative Industries Fund NL and the Mondriaan Fund.

Project updates are published a.o. on our blogs:
http://blog.tacticalmediafiles.net
http://new-tactical-research.co.uk

Campaigns, Campaigns, Campaigns!

Among recent events and projects documented in the Tactical Media Files we have included a number of highly visible, but also less prominent campaigns. The genre of ‘campaiging‘ or the ‘Art of Campaigning’ is still an important category within the wider realm of tactical media practices it seems. Besides addressing urgent social and political issues of various kinds, these campaigns from time to time also produce highly interesting engaging visual materials in their attempts to captivate the (media) audience.

Among the campaigns we documented are:

ArtLeaks, a collective platform initiated by an international group of artists, curators, art historians and intellectuals in response to the abuse of their professional integrity and the open infraction of their labor rights.

Misopolis, a new initiative unfortunately not by fashion brand Diesel to improve working conditions and to provide free abortion pills to its female factory workers, which could have been an appropriate gesture by Diesel. Diesel is one of the fashion brands that uses production factories that refuse to pay a living wage to their workers, violates their human rights and forces them to work in dangerous and unhealthy conditions.
Misopolis (www.dieselforwomen.com) claimed to provide free abortion pills to its female workers in order to set them free and to create a fun factory.

Free Pussy Riot – the high-proile international campaign for the release of detained members of the Russian performance art collective Pussy Riot.
Pussy Riot is an anonymous Russian feminist performance art group formed in October 2011. Through a series of peaceful performances in highly visible places, the group has given voice to basic rights under threat in Russia today, while expressing the values and principles of gender equality, democracy and freedom of expression contained in the Russian constitution and other international instruments, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the CEDAW Convention.

M2M – Migrant to Migrant – the campaign that claims that every migrant is a medium:
M2M means from Migrant to Migrant.
M2M is a meeting point for migrants.
Like a camp fire.
Every migrant has a story, a message.
Every migrant is a messenger between there and here
and here and there..
Every migrant is a medium.

Occupy Monsanto a Call to Action for a Non-Hierarchical Occupation of Monsanto Everywhere:   An expanding network of concerned individuals known as Occupy Monsanto, staging numerous protests at companies connected to the global trade of genetically engineered foods, also known as GMOs.

And the latest addition: GlobalNoise – a new intiative by activists involved in the Indignato, Occupy, #yosoy132, etc  movements, who have begun a campaign to create GlobalNoise, a worldwide cacerolazo, or casserole march, on Saturday, October 13th, 2012. The hope is that local Occupations and Collectives will take up the call to march, using the method of a casserole march to highlight whatever issues are the most important to their community.

It would seem the Art of Campaigning is not dead yet..

TMF Editors

A piece of tactical media history: The Tompkins Square Riots and the ‘Camcorder Revolution’

New York based media artist and media-activist Paul Garrin‘s video Man with a Video Camera (Fuck Vertov) has been available for some time on-line at the Media Art Net website – unfortunately only in grainy quality. We decided to nonetheless include this video in the Tactical Media Files, as it represents an important moment in shaping what would later be termed ‘tactical television’ during the first Next 5 Minutes festival in 1993.

Garrin’s video documents police brutalities in what is now known as the 1988 Tompkin Square Police Riot in Lower east Manhattan, leading on from anti-gentrification protests in the neighbourhood. Garrin more or less accidentally ended up in the middle of the riot with a video camera, and also got beaten up himself. He managed to air the video on several TV stations, resulting in police threats on his answering machine. When he contacted more prominent media with his tape and his story,  a media whirlwind was unleashed – testifying for Garrin to the power of video to contradict official but clearly false representations of social and political events. It sparked what Garrin calls the ‘camcorder revolution’.

 

As the video is already available on-line we  collected  other relevant background materials. In August 2008 The Shadow,  “New York’s only underground newspaper, publishing on the Lower East Side of Manhattan since 1989, as a result of the distorted mainstream media coverage in the aftermath of the infamous police riot in Tompkins Square Park on August 6-7, 1988“, devoted an issue to the ’20th aniversary’ of the events in 1988 that had spraked its own inception. The issue includes a collection of ‘riot memories’ by people directly involved in the events, including Garrin himself.

Thirdly Garrin’s short textThe 1988 Tompkins Square Police Riot – A Video Point of View” has been added that reflects on the media dimension of that hot summer night in 1988 in Manhattan’s Lower East Side.

Considering the proliferation of citizen media, on-line video, reality media (as nauseum) today, it is hard to imagine the almost entirely closed media landscape of the 1980s and the broadcasters insistence on ‘broadcast specs’ for (not) accepting citizen reports – still the fights over transparency and public representation continue, also today.

 

Darfurnica

And here’s another one in the category ‘Art Under Siege’: a particularly bizarre case of a major company, Louis Vuitton, prosecuting a young artist, Nadida Plesner, for ‘infringement on their intellectual property’ (for depicting one of their handbags in a rather controversial painting…

Read all about the background here.

And below the painting in question is a recent communication of  Nadia Plesener about the state of legal proceedings.

 

From: “Nadia Plesner” <contact [ a t ] nadiaplesner.com>
Date: April 13, 2011 1:27:17 PM GMT+02:00

As some of you might have heard, I am facing a litigation started by Louis Vuitton. LV is aggressively going after my painting Darfurnica, in which I depict a little Darfur boy holding a LV bag and Paris Hilton’s dog. They claim that depicting their bag in a work of art is a violation of their design rights.

Amazingly, they recently obtained an ex parte order from the court of The Hague against me, which forbids me from depicting the little boy with the bag, including in any work of art or on my website; there is a penalty of EUR 5000 per day for any violation (the clock is ticking since January 28, and the total amount is now 380.000 EUR today.

I refuse to remove the artwork from my website, instead I have countersued and we are preparing summary proceedings to have the court order lifted.

For more information I refer you to this blog (which includes an English translation of the court order):

http://www.mediareport.nl/persrecht/07032011/louis-vuitton-sues-danish-artist-plesner-in-the-netherlands-over-depiction-of-bag-in-art-work/en/

The first court hearing will take place Wednesday April 20 at 2pm in the court in the Hague, Prins Clauslaan 60.

I would like to invite all of you to come to the court hearing and support me and the freedom of speech.

My class and teachers are coming, but the more the better. Together we can show LV and other large companies that in a world of IP rights, there must be room left for artistic freedom.

There will be media people attending the hearing as well.
If you come, make sure you’re there in time, as there is also a security check you have to go through by the entrance.

I hope to see you there, and if you know other people who might want to support my case, feel free to forward this information to them.

All the best,

Nadia Plesner, BK2 Rietveld Academie

Support for Ai Weiwei?

On the Spectre mailing list for ‘media culture in Deep Europe’ an intense debate has erupted about calls for support for the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, who was recently detained by Chinese authorities. Below is the call distributed on the list. Please decide for yourself if you want to support this cause or not.

—–

“On April 3, internationally acclaimed Chinese artist Ai Weiwei was detained at the Beijing airport while en route to Hong Kong, and his papers and computers were seized from his studio compound.
Sign now! we need to reach 100,000 signatures!
http://www.change.org/petitions/call-for-the-release-of-ai-weiwei#?opt_new=f&amp;opt_fb=t

‘The members of the international arts community express their concern for Ai’s freedom and disappointment in China’s reluctance to live up to its promise to nurture creativity and independent thought, the keys to “soft power” and cultural influence.

The initiative has been taken working closely with Jerome Cohen, the leading Chinese human rights lawyer who is working on Weiwei’s case, and who believes that this action could be effective.
To support the petition you can link it on your website, on Facebook and Twitter sites, in order to quickly reach millions of people.’

We need to reach 100,000 signatures.”

______________________________________________
SPECTRE list for media culture in Deep Europe
Info, archive and help:
http://post.in-mind.de/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/spectre

Posted on the list: April 14, 2011 15:03:13 GMT+02:00