Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Check-in: Archive Bomb

Archive Bomb met Tactical Media, whose manifesto shares some desired qualities with the concept:
  • involved parties manipulate media "in a continual process of questioning the premises of the channels they work with"
  • activism characterized by mobility and flexible response (hit-and-run). The ability to move through different entities of "vast media landscape without betraying their original motivations"
  • results are "temporary reversals in the flow of power"
  • "an aesthetic of poaching, tricking, reading, speaking... Clever tricks, the hunter's cunning, maneuvers, polymorphic situations, joyful discoveries, poetic as well as warlike."
This match revisits the concept of artists being new archivists. Beeld & Geluid (B&G) can be the supplier for material for such interventions, and can facilitate participation on three levels:
  1. insider
    B&G can allow the broadcast system to be hacked. In a context where A/V will already be setup, for example an event in a public square during museum night, B&G can ensure the "back door" through which underminers can participate.
  2. hacker
    A team of archivists, dedicated to showing multiple perspectives can use the system themselves, as they are most familiar with the state of the collection. They could assume an anonymous identity, with a hidden link to B&G (Kounter Beeld en Geluid?).
  3. mentor
    B&G can encourage or participate in interventionist workshops, with specialized knowledge of broadcasting and A/V archives. Cooperation with historians could also be possible. (Hooray multi-disciplinary collaboration!)

Amalgamated Concept #1: historic re-enactments tying into current events
B&G can set up a platform that works with activists for the purpose of exposing patterns in media or social commentary, such as with the methods listed above. Through a combination of performance and A/V bombs, the public can be confronted with past events:
  • Purely analog (ex: performance troupe that translates a hate crime into a staged conflict on the train)
  • Augmented flashmob (ex: streaming old broadcast on the speaker system in addition to participants with previous instructions)
  • Techie dream (a disposable projection grenade: looks like a soda can, but it releases smoke onto which a one-time projection is displayed). While the "grenade" is still a few steps away (compact portable projectors are available, but definitely not disposable), a "landmine" could also be implemented: the material and structure are there, but detonation is triggered by a coincidence.

Amalgamated Concept #2: puzzlehunt
B&G can expose its archive through a pervasive game, such as an urban puzzlehunt. Teams of gamers sign up to solve rounds of puzzles - in this case media riddles could be featured, but in a public space context. Drawing from of the texts in "Space Time Play," this could be an ideal set-up:
  • Pervasive games mix everyday tangible space with closed information spaces. The rules and information network (game space) intertwine with the city space (play space).
  • "Temporary autonomous zones" are created by roleplay. In these zones willing players create a new set of rules, when imposed onto innocent bystanders, question implicit social interactions.
  • Because the real environment is used, there are real consequences. This removes the safety bubble of traditional play (where one can safely explore "what if" and what one cannot do in real life), but it also offers elements of psychogeography to come into play. The city itself can be enhanced by the game by encouraging players to see it through new eyes or to uncover stories to drive us.
B&G would curate the material used for puzzles, and gather data as done currently through web-based games. Material costs (if mobile-projection gadgets are to be used) would be more safely covered. The element of surprise still strikes non-participating passerbys, and they can also be used as part of the game. An element that could be interesting from the MIT Mystery Hunt is that the winning team wins the right to organize the following year's competition (rules, hints, everything).

An interesting part about creating these puzzles is to make it such that a Google search does not solve it. A good team could solve all puzzles to the end in about 48 hours (or that is a target). This is an example in which one deliberately tries to make the information not available, for a reasonable purpose.

Points for moving on:
  • Does the theoretical framework need more work?
  • Could storyboards of potential puzzles be a starting point, then see what happens when this game context is removed?
  • Is B&G's role clear enough such that the concepts are appropriate for them in particular? (Does it make an "appropriate" use of the content of their archive?)

New Readings since last time:
  1. Gregory Sholette - Dark Matter
    Raises discussion on the creative realm unrecognized by the institutionalized art world (and its importance), why it may not be accepted, and its connection to political art.
    • "What stabilizes the borders of the elite art market is the routine production of relatively minor differences."
    • Importance of connecting "'unblocked' moments of working class fantasy with the history, or histories of actual resistance to capital, patriarchy racism and nationalism. Rather than a smooth, linear narrative," it assembles "a montage of 'historical fissures -- crises, war, capitulation, revolution, counterrevolution."
    • Describes interventionist art groups that design objects of intervention as well as workshops that encourage this behavior.
  2. David Garcia & Geert Lovink - The ABC of Tactical Media
  3. Rui Guerra(!) - It's Not That Kind, guerilla projections & other projects that empower individuals to intervene with public spaces

To Read (mostly from INTK):
  1. Gregory Sholette - The Interventionists: User's Manual for the Creative Disruption of Everyday Life
  2. Krzystof Wodiczko
    Nowadays public space is occupied with the displaced, members of a nomadic culture. These spaces should be reclaimed as agoras for statements and discussion.
  3. Claire Bishop
    Participation in socially engaged art
  4. Markus Miessen - The Violence of Participation
  5. Chantal Mouffe - Artistic Activism and Agnostic Spaces
    Urge "for radical democracy of agnostic pluralism where all antagonisms could be expressed. In their opinion, ‘...there is no possibility of society without antagonism’; indeed, without the forces that articulate a vision of society, it could not exist."
  6. Michael Naimark - Arts Lab
    Proposal for a hybrid arts center and research lab

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