Category Archives: media criticism

New Design Tactical Media Files + Reports & Documentation Amsterdam and Liverpool events online

We are very happy and proud that the new responsive design of the Tactical Media Files documentation resource is available online now, beautifully designed by Jeroen Joosse (who also delivered the visual design of the original TMF website), and implemented by developer André van Toly.

The main purpose of this redesign was to make the resource better accessible on other media devices and able to scale to virtually any size screen (hence a ‘responsive’ design). If for any reason someone would fee ‘nostalgic’ about the accustomed web-design we left that in place at the following address:

We will fine tune the new design further in the coming months, but meanwhile have been busy and there’s quite some other news as well, so do read on:

Documentation Videos and Reports of Amsterdam and Liverpool events online

Superflux, Drone Aviary (2015)

Superflux, Drone Aviary (2015)

While our exhibition How much of this is fiction. is still on at FACT in Liverpool, and will open at HeK in Basel on March 22, documentation and reports of public events in  Amsterdam and Liverpool are already available online:

• Report of the public debate Vox Populi and the Syrian Archive, at Eye Film Museum, Amsterdam on 21 January 2017:
• Video Vox Populi and the Syrian Archive:

• Report of the conference ‘The Society of Post-Control’, at Tolhuistuin, Amsterdam on 22 January 2017:
• Video of the conference ‘The Society of Post-Control':

• Video: Meme Wars: Internet culture and the ‘alt-right’
Lecture by writer / researcher Florian Cramer at FACT Liverpool, 2 March, 2017:
• Meme Wars: Post-lecture discussion:

We hope you will enjoy the new design and the most recent additions to our ever growing resource.

Eric Kluitenberg
David Garcia

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.


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.

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.


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:

Tactical Media Connections

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

Under the working title ‘Tactical Media Connections’ the editors of the Tactical Media Files, David Garcia and Eric Kluitenberg have begun an extensive public research project that seeks to trace and develop the connections between the phenomenon of Tactical Media as it was identified in the early 1990s, not least through the renowned series of Next 5 Minutes festivals and conferences on Tactical Media ( – organised four times between 1993 and 2003), and current critical practices operating at the intersection of art, media, activism, technological experimentation and political contestation.


‘The hand covering the camera’ – logo Next 5 Minutes 4 festival (2003)


Among the initiators and organisers of the Next 5 Minutes in the 1990s and within the wider constituency around these events, the naming of ‘Tactical Media’ as a ‘movement’ has always been and remains contentious. Nonetheless this designator did allow for a certain mutual recognition. It had become clear that a specific constellation of art, experimental media, and political activism was being practiced by large numbers of groups and individuals around the world to such an extent as to suggest that a relatively stable cultural compound had emerged which required a distinctive category. Some of us preferred to regard Tactical Media as an evolving cluster of practices developed out of the desire and need to insert ourselves into the cracks appearing in the edifices of broadcast media, (information) technology, and mainstream culture. In the process important new spaces emerged for dissenting views and dissident life styles, politics, and aesthetics.

The need for another ‘global’ edition of the Next 5 Minutes seemed to dissipate in the early 2000s with the arrival of ‘mass self-mediation’ through the proliferation of mobile devices that put  ‘the camera’ (as a metaphor for appropriated media and technological tools) not just in the hands of a select group of artists, community organisers and political activists, but literally in the hands of anyone who cared enough to make a statement in the media sphere. However, we continued to follow the destinies of these artist-activist desires through the changing media sphere. Our principal platform for this process of gathering and documentation was the Tactical Media Files (, an online resource started in 2008. We have subsequently held intermittent public gatherings connected to this resource such as the Media Squares symposium at De Balie in Amsterdam, September 30, 2011.

Pressure to revisit these issues in a more substantial and comprehensive way began to build with the onset of a series of ‘global events’ which started to take shape in the course of 2010, quite independent of the people and organisations originally involved in the Next 5 Minutes or identifying with the notion of Tactical Media. These events significantly shifted its context, giving it both new urgency as well complicating the political, cultural and wider public context in which the concept of Tactical Media operates.

Arguably this started with the release of the Collateral Murder video by WikiLeaks (April 2010), which suddenly seemed to renew the potency of media as a tactical tool, enabling apparently powerless actors to turn the tables on the powerful, cutting right across all the distinctions between mainstream, alternative, professional and self-produced media, mitigating the usual chasm between internet-based media and mass media such as print, broadcast, satellite television, and beyond. Though its origins were deeply rooted in internet and hacker cultures this intervention was certainly not limited to them. The ability of WikiLeaks to cut across these highly differentiated domains made it not only very effective in terms of public impact, but also (for us at least) instantly recognisable as ‘Tactical Media’.

One year on, however, WikiLeaks already seemed a distant and vague memory in the media-avalanche that was unleashed by  the deeply media saturated massive popular protests in different countries in North Africa and the Middle East, mirrored increasingly in other protests in Southern Europe against the disastrous austerity/ precarity policies that threatened to exclude an entire generation from a proper participation in societal life. This, of course in turn was followed by the wave of #Occupy protests in the US and their progeny elsewhere.  If Tactical Media seemed to have disappeared in the maelstrom of YouTube trivia by early 2010, it was back with a vengeance a year later!

This resurgence of mediatised contestation does not mean that the current context can be easily understood in terms of what has previously been learned from over twenty years of Tactical Media. In 2011 we saw that despite all the standardisation, simplification and attempted normalisation, the media applications rolled out by the corporations could be still be used molecularly to express highly singular utopian ambitions of equality, reform and even regime changes. They could be used for the self-organisation of demonstrations and occupations as well as tactical irruption in the mainstream media (TV, press). But this time, they were used on a massive scale. At the same time, the especially strong Spanish Indignados and US Occupy movements showed that new DIY inventions are still entirely possible. So tactical media reveals itself NOT to have been an Amsterdam invention and not merely a curatorial concept as one might have surmised in, say, 2005. Instead, it really names an epochal phenomenon which continues to evolve (in Brazil in the lead-up to the World Cup, for instance).

The massive scale of the popular protest waves around since 2011 has also not meant that contested political, economic, material conditions, and cultural and ideological conflicts are now en route to being resolved. If anything the political and cultural landscape looks increasingly fragmented. Political changes filled with hope have turned around bitterly (Egypt), and in some cases protests have descended into nightmares (Syria).

These contradictory phenomena have called the very efficacy of media intervention (and popular protest along with it) into question. Most notably the hope of using the interconnected distributed communications structure of the internet as a space of relative autonomy has been dashed by the on-gong revelations that broke with the Snowden / NSA files disclosures – the situation seems worse than ‘our’ darkest expectations. Is it true, as many a pundit has claimed, that ‘the internet is broken’? Beyond repair?

Preliminary Research Questions:

This situation sketch leads us to a number of preliminary research questions:

How can we evaluate the relationship between these remarkable developments in the last few years and the eternal 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?

And more specifically for those of us who have ‘lived through’ the experience of Tactical Media in the 1990s, how can we connect the invaluable knowledge and experience from that time to current generations of activists, artists, thinkers, theorists, researchers, media tacticians, out in the streets and the networks?

How robust 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?

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


We want to give focus to these questions and the exploration we intend to undertake through two tightly interconnected instruments:

First by developing this public research trajectory, which will result in a number of small-scale and highly focussed research meetings in the second half of 2014 and first half of 2015. The trajectory is started with a first exploratory meeting July 4-6, and a public debate on ‘Art and Political Conflict’ at cultural centre De Tolhuistuin in  Amsterdam, July 6 (14.00 – 17.00). These research meetings will lead up to  a number of public gatherings and events later in 2015 in the UK and in The Netherlands, organised with a variety of partners.

In combination with this public research trajectory we want to develop the plan for a collectively written/edited anthology of Tactical Media that intends to address the questions above and many more, and mark this significant moment in time in the 1990s when the concept was first identified and its vigorous resurgence in the 2010s.

Editorial Notice:

This text, as a starting point for the intended public research trajectory, has been written by Eric Kluitenberg and David Garcia in close consultation with Brian Holmes.

Online Resources:

For updates on the Tactical Media Connections public research trajectory  please refer to our blogs:

Documentation of the evolving practices of Tactical Media is collected at:

Further materials are collected in the website of Brian Holmes’ ‘Tactical Media Generation’ project:


Tactical Media Connections is supported by the e-culture program of the Creative Industries Fund NL.

Media Squares: On the new forms of protest and their media

We are very pleased to announce the Media Squares international seminar and screening event, to be held at De Balie, centre for culture and politics in Amsterdam, on Friday September 30, 2011. This event is part of our on-going research efforts around the Tactical Media Files documentation resource, and provides an opportunity for first-hand exchange of ideas, opinions, insights and disagreements.

Come join us on the 30th!

TMF editors

About the program:

Social protest has become almost inseparably linked to a plethora of media images and messages distributed via internet, mobile phones, social media, internet video platforms and of course traditional media outlets such as newspapers, radio and television. A popular category to have emerged recently is the ‘twitter-revolution’. In almost all cases (Iran, Tunisia, Egypt, London) the role of the platform turned out to be less than essential in retrospect. Protests mostly manifested on the streets and particularly the public squares (‘Take the Square’). Deeply rooted blogger-networks did however play a mayor role, preparing the protests that have now been dubbed the “Arabian Spring’. And internet played a crucial role in the organisation and co-ordination of the European ‘anti-austerity’ protests (Spain, Greece, UK, Italy).


This international seminar brings together theorists, artists, designers, activists and media specialists to develop a critical analysis of the new forms of social protest and their media dimension. The program is divided into two blocks. The first block focuses on an in-depth analysis of the evolving WikiLeaks-saga, while the second block will examine the remarkable string of protests in the Mediterranean region. These discussions will be interrupted at times by startling artistic interventions in current social and political debates.

Participants in the program are: Daniel van der Velden (Metahaven), Geert Lovink (Institute of Network Cultures, INC), Aalam Wassef (Ahmad Sherif), Omar Robert Hamilton (Mosireen / Tahrir Cinema, Cairo) Nat Muller (independent curator), David Garcia (Chelsea College), Jodi Dean (Hobart and William Smith Colleges / Blog Theory), & Democracia Real Ya – Barcelona, Gahlia Elsrakbi (Foundland), Nadia Plesner (Darfurnica), Florian Conradi and Michelle Christensen (stateless plug-in), Sami Ben Gharbia (Global Voices – tbc).

The seminar is part of an on-going research into Tactical Media, the fusion of art, media, politics and cultural activism, centred around the “Tactical Media Files”, an on-line documentation resource of Tactical Media practices world-wide.
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Doors open: 10.00
Start Program: 10.30 uur
End Program: 17.00 uur

Program Overview:

10.30 – Opening / Introduction: Eric Kluitenberg (Tactical Media Files / De Balie)

Part I – Repositioning WikiLeaks

Metahaven: Petri Collection (Image Economies)11.00 – 11.20 – Presentation: Daniel van der Velden (Metahaven)
11.20 – 11.30 – Responses
11.30 – 11.45 – Discussion

11.45 – 12.05 – Geert Lovink (Institute of Network Cultures)
12.05 – 12.15 – Responses
12.15 – 12.30 – Discussion

Jodi Dean (Hobart and William Smith Colleges / Blog Theory), David Garcia (Chelsea College of Art & Design)

12.30 – 12.45 – Artist presentation: Nadia Plesner – Darfurnica

Nadine Plessner - Darfurnica

13.00 – 14.00 – Lunch break

Part II – Revolution in the Mediterranean

14.00 – 14.20 – Presentation: Aalam Wassef (Ahmad Sherif)
14.20 – 14.30 – Responses
14.30 – 14.45 – Discussion

14.45 – 15.05 – Presentation: Omar Robert Hamilton (Mosireen / Tahrir Cinema)
15.05 – 15.15 – Responses
15.15 – 15.30 – Discussion

Ghalia Elsrakbi (Foundland), Nat Muller (Independent Curator), Sami Ben Gharbia (Global Voices – tbc)

15.30 – 15.45 – Artist Presentation: Florian Conradi and Michelle Christensen (stateless plug-in)

stateless plug-in

15.45 – 16.00 – Coffee break

16.00 – 16.20 – Skype session with & Democracia Real Ya, Barcelona
16.10 – 16.10 – Responses

16.25 – 17.00 – Closing Discussion


De Balie
Kleine Gartmanplantsoen 10

Admission: 5 euro (no reductions)


Tahrir Cinema:


Take the Square:

Democracia real Ya!:

stateless plug-in:

Nadia Plesner – Darfurnica:


Revolutionary Archives: Tactical Screenings from Tahrir

Screening & talk with Omar Robert Hamilton: Friday September 30, De Balie, Amsterdam, 20.30 hrs

In the midst of the Egyptian uprising Tahrir Cinema was started on July 14th by a group of film makers and artists, organising open air public screenings on Tahrir Square, of films that had something to do with ‘the Revolution’. Curation of the films was largely open source. The organisers asked people on the square for their footage, or what they wanted to see up on the screen – “a screen to serve the square”.

Tahrir Cinema screening

Out of this frenzy of media-activity Mosireen emerged, a new independent media centre in Cairo. During the protests Mosireen supported people on Tahrir Square to edit their materials, created DVDs with raw footage and clips, and set up an archive of the Revolution.

This special screening program organised in the frame of “Media Squares” program at De Balie will present a selection of videos and films from Tahrir Cinema in collaboration with Mosireen, Cairo. The screening will be hosted and narrated by Omar Robert Hamilton, one of the initiators of Tahrir Cinema, and Nat Muller, independent curator based in The Netherlands.


Tahrir Cinema:

Omar Robert Hamilton:



De Balie
Kleine Gartmanplantsoen 10, Amsterdam
Program starts: 20.30 hrs.

Admission: 5 euro (no reductions)