For over 17 years Furtherfield gallery, London, has been working in practices that bridge arts, technology, and social change. As its physical and online territories expand to include a new 'Commons' lab space curator, director and critic Marc Garrett reflects on the gallery's rich history, arguing that art from beyond the mainstream exhibits an ever burgeoning oppositional agency. [prev-iously]
After Forbes magazine declared Dayton, OH, one of America's " fastest dying cities," a group of local media makers created Reinvention Stories. The interactive film/multimedia experience rolls out this month in three acts.
Avatar Activism, The Harry Potter Alliance, and Pop Culture Fandom as the gateway to Social Activism
Back in February 2010, Palestinian activists dressed up as Na'vi and Avatars to bring more attention to the weekly protests against the West Bank barrier. Video of the costumed protest was edited to blend with Avatar footage, to emphasize the protesters' message. In another pop-culture world, The Harry Potter Alliance have run campaigns that tie themes from the stories to real-world issues, in an effort to translate the energy of fans into energy to get active in civil engagement, including a a fundraiser in January that raise raised $34,000 to support Haiti relief efforts. These efforts have been labeled "Avatar Activism," as discussed in a a recent Le Monde diplomatique article and a related piece on NPR. [more inside]
The Haystack application aims to use steganography to hide samizdat-type data within a larger stream of innocuous network traffic. Thus, civilians in Iran, for example, could more easily evade Iranian censors and provide the world with an unfiltered report on events within the country. Haystack earned its creator Austin Heap a great deal of positive coverage from the media during the 2009 Iranian election protests. The BBC described Heap as "on the front lines" of the protesters' "Twitter revolution", while The Guardian called him an Innovator of the Year. Despite the laudatory coverage, however, the media were never given a copy of the software to examine. Indeed, not much is known about the software or its inner workings. Specialists in network encryption security were not allowed to perform an independent evaluation of Haystack, despite its distribution to and use by a small number of Iranians, possibly at some risk. As interest in the project widens and criticisms of the media coverage and software continue to mount, Heap has currently asked users to cease using Haystack until a security review can be performed.
Are You Generic? "Giving Brand-America the finger since 2001." The folks at Are You Generic have a few basic demands: "natural, unprocessed foods; ad-free space; trustworthy news sources; a healthy body image; promotion of the independents; and the spread of knowledge." They're getting their message across by means of "culture jams." Their first target was Starbucks in 2002. Some more recent actions are listed here, including Confessions of a Generic Magazine. But they have stuff for sale, so some might argue that they're not that much different than those they mock. Either way, their site does have a great collection of international street art.
The aim of Fada'íat No Border Temporary Media Lab is to remain as a permanent public media interface, part of the counter hegemonic cyborg that we imagine at the gate of Mediterranean sea. A bunch of media-activists, members of social organizations, artists, video/film-makers, programmers and architects from Europe and North Africa, establish a WiFi connection across the Straits of Gibraltar and do stuff. And there's a java interface of some sort.
Sunday the National Conference on Media Reform featured the first public speech by Bill Moyers since he left PBS. "I always knew Nixon would be back, again and again. I just didn’t know that this time he would ask to be Chairman of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting."
"What can be done by media outlets to help save lives and make a difference? Here are seven ideas to start." Mediachannel.org argues that the media have an important role to play in combating AIDS -- and if you are a weblogger, this means you.