The Yes Men is a spectacular act of hijacking corporate culture and its exploitative nature. It is on the surface–all the things we might consider satirical and comedic, yet driven by an important “anti-establishment” “stick it to the man” resistant attitude that is meticulously and even sometimes artistically executed. By exposing the WTO and those alike for its complete disregard of its own citizens, environment etc. we see a type of performance that is definitely reminiscent of detournement and a type of post production enacted. How else do we hold our powers accountable? How do we escape the mundane realities that we so easily accept into our lives?
The Yes Men and artists alike work to keep these questions at bay, and try to point to a more hopeful answer when faith in much of our governing powers is lost.
The genius behind this is the fact that they are so detail-oriented in their presentation of their “identity correction” schemes. While it may seem like they are just joking around at how they are consistently able to pass as their alter-academic-corporate selves–they realize the platform they are given at each conference and do not take anything lightly. The playful names seem to mock the typical white american male in power. Why not give themselves absurd names for equally absurd displays of influence? They are extremely methodical and even tactical in their presentation of laughtivism–
“We call this sort of thing “laughtivism” because, well, it’s funny. And it’s activist: the theory is, we’ll laugh bloodsuckers into oblivion and thus save the world.”
However, the most interesting aspect of their M.O. is the complete lack of “correct” response from which their ridiculous and absurd acts receive. This failure to “awaken” even some of the most highly educated individuals in the world might not be exactly what The Yes Man hope for, but it is a perfect example of just how powerful corporations can be, and often are without our consent. We have passively “allowed” for obstruction of social justice, for vastly unequal treatment and compensation of labor, and The Yes Men bring this reality to the forefront of our imaginations.
Sometimes, I feel like subversive art and performance like this is the only way to “get through” to the masses. We are hyper-connected and hyper-aware that we’ve become consumers of information, not necessarily producers of culture (one that we are not in control of). So we need art, we need dissent in order to level out the playing field that is a capitalist democracy. Without people like The Yes Men, springing into laughtivism, I don’t believe we would be having this dialogue. We might live in a censored world, unable to think beyond the standards our own government sets forth. Perhaps The Yes Men didn’t know exactly what they set out to do when they began and that is the beauty of this art-activist work at play. We set out to achieve, to be heard, to make an impact– and the art that does this well is the type that entices us to think and feel a little bit uncomfortable. To invite us to question our own role, even our own identities in this entire ecosystem.
These are two instagram accounts that are artfully driven and seem to often remix not only image but ideas…
Postproduction, in line with Bourriaud’s work is almost reminiscent of open source culture, of postmodern, experimental art and work. It is re-editing, re-mixing, re-doing.
“Postproduction artists invent new uses for works, including audio or visual forms of the past, within their own constructions. But they also reedit historical or ideological narratives, inserting the elements that compose them into alternative scenarios.”
I think this element of production exists because consumption is a necessary aspect of the cycle–we are first consumers–of culture, of the labor of others, of art, of boring books and the material allure. This vortex is a precursor to [post]production. This distraction, anesthetization of with the way things are occurs and so, as a response we begin to grow uneasy and to compensate, we construct our own ideas and theories about these cultural happenings [exploitations] through art and art-making. We desire to participate in this culture because we make-meaning and form our own self-narratives around the influence of others and what we deem salient. “In generating behaviors and potential reuses, art challenges passive culture, composed of merchandise and consumers. It makes the forms and cultural objects of our daily lives function.” This functionality is necessary to make the mundane carry weight. To make sense of entropy and emotion.
We are in constant conversation with another’s work so that we form our own “narratives” around it. He compares the DJ & the software programmer as among the same culture because they both exist because of, on, and for the internet. The DJ is only a DJ by sampling and tapping into another’s “sound.” This is made more possible by technology. We are more enabled to create and appropriate because of the affordances of our media.
The same goes for the software developer– he utilizes the affordances of technology and media to not only program, but pull from the foundations of software that exists to build, to refine, to make seamless. Software programmers and DJ’s alike rely heavily on open source material to make their work meaningful. This is a common-ing occurring and they belong in the same realm of cultural production. The same economy of sharing. We choose to participate in this new economy because it empowers us to pave alternative pathways to the status quo. The software programmer feels a sense of belonging in this community of developers because they are able to do work better, and achieve more together. It is in this way, democracy is formed and peer 2 peer relationships form to generate more influence and cultural wealth.
On a different note, I think satire & comedy are good examples of culture jamming– comedians can make difficult, social issues more digest-able and easier to understand–often as a direct response to “bad things” happening whether in politics or culture at large. Comedy and satire disrupts power systems and is more able to widely criticize what we find intolerable or upsetting. This is a form of expression can be transformed into activism. Thanks to the first amendment, (despite was the President thinks) we are allowed to be tactical and instrumental in our dissatisfaction. Cultural jamming, whether through spoken word, art, or public media asserts itself as a major asset to the production and maintenance of a free society.
Remix culture relies on free culture; it relies on creative commons and an open source ideology. This aspect of freedom is of course, essential to remixing an collaboration because it lawfully dictates than an artist or individual can use open content at their leisure whether as imitation or explicitly in their own work. I believe this approach carries salience in culture at large because it does not infringe upon knowledge and information that could enlighten present and future populations. In academia as well as on the internet, information is the currency by which we rely on to grow and learn. Sure, without the existence of copyright, there would be no copyleft but I do believe that open source is hugely important to democracy. The four R’s make the advantages more obvious:
- Retain – the right to make, own, and control copies of the content (e.g., download, duplicate, store, and manage)
- Reuse – the right to use the content in a wide range of ways (e.g., in a class, in a study group, on a website, in a video)
- Revise – the right to adapt, adjust, modify, or alter the content itself (e.g., translate the content into another language)
- Remix – the right to combine the original or revised content with other open content to create something new (e.g., incorporate the content into a mashup)
- Redistribute – the right to share copies of the original content, your revisions, or your remixes with others (e.g., give a copy of the content to a friend)
I like the believe in the goodness of others and the expansive possibility of artistry. That a democratic society does not need “all rights reserved” because wealth can be derived by other means. Every moment those around us, even strangers who we shall never meet are “peering in” on a part of who-i-am online–in this way they are paying attention and so, value is still brought into a “free culture.” It seems naive to think that the internet should have restrictions imposed upon what is already “out there.” I am aware that an entity like Facebook owns more informations about ourselves that we would like to admit, so really we are already producing unpaid labor. *Think: Wages for Facebook
Indeed, the platform networks of social media has the economic interest for its users to consume, to share, produce, participate and collaborate whether in conversation or creation of content. In this sense, it might be in our best interest to restrict [governmental, public] access to personal information that we deem “private” but all else, all that is broadcasted on these otherwise public forums is in the commons.
In consideration of digital existences and digital-affordances, the concept of intellectual property & a conservative interpretation of copyright is weakened. Though we still have to pay for access to documents in the public domain or monetarily subscribe to academic databases, that may change simply because of the ecosystem on which the internet functions. Intellectual property is vulnerable to hacking simply by way of online publication. Reproduction becomes a by-product, fraught with copying and mass, instant redistribution. I think of the tragic display and demise of Aaron Swartz in this way and his call for open access & de-privatization of information in fear of an end to democracy and dialogue. He was made out to be a felon, 11 times over. Only to see his own end at 26.
I am uncertain about how to measure the labor of “originality” in a time when it feels fragile and easily compromised by another’s desire to appropriate or remix. I suppose copyright is valuable in the sense of protecting the laborer, but I think the laborer must be sensitive to the environment that he/she is producing in– do not post your work online if you fear it will be misused or reused. I refuse to be discomforted by “some rights reserved” because I know there are times when I wish to take freely and be inspired to work with something that has already been produced.
“The goal of US copyright law is to promote the progress of knowledge and culture. Its best-known feature is protection of owners’ rights. But copying, quoting, recontextualizing, and reusing existing cultural material can be critically important to creating and spreading knowledge and culture” (14.)
A lot of music I listen to is sampled from, or even sampled/mixed/ taken by other artists. Tokimonsta is an LA based DJ who does and inspires a lot of this. It seems more common & acceptable to sample from and share music among artists so less social & economic risk is at bay when nearly everyone participates in this practice.
a piece of outsourcing for education through image & text
I was not concerned with using most of this this material as I found that it is under the creative commons share alike license. I believe it is also deemed “fair use” if expressed or used in a way that is educational as well.
Describe what you think and image is
an image is a projection of what the photographer, the artist, the cartoonist, the cinematographer sees through his extensions of self.
How do you make images?
by taking a photograph, by putting brush to canvas, pencil to paper, setting a scene
What are images made of?
of whichever medium the artist uses
When you make an image, do you personally feel attached to it? why or why not?
not often, no. but i feel attached to the memories they evoke, the environments they reproduce, and the nature (human or earthly) they present.
How do you know when an image you have made is something MORE than just a redundant form of expression, i.e when it REALLY reflects or indicates some specific aesthetic style or meaningful communication that you want to share?
when i intentionally “set” the image to appear a certain way on camera. specific angles, light, and filter all manipulate the way in which the image takes on its own personality and signature, apart from others (of perhaps the same object, place or person). it becomes meaningful when i bring it into a context that is personal to me, usually accompanied with text.
Is the desire to construct / create / share an image already part of the program? has it already been coded into the apparatus so that you will obediently perform the program’s intended function?
desire is entirely subjective and i don’t believe any apparatus can evoke such a powerful feeling. every apparatus only gains importance/necessity by those who bring it into reality, who make it useful and relevant. i might only desire to produce & share an image upon learning the nature of a camera / photograph & response one can get from sharing, however positive or negative. Applications on smartphones only exist because of the nature of the smartphone. Instagram is successful because the phone has the capacity to also capture images. The apparatus does not create desire. The desire to be noticed does, the desire to be relevant…
How does one construct an image from memory? what exactly is that image made of? is the memory-image a re-creation of the past or is it a remix of source material (the past) into something new, vibrant, and in the present? something else?
memory is elusive, fallible, flawed and constructs images based upon notions of the past as it once was. when we “look into” an image, we are being re-minded; a smile or a sting– but we can never fully trace back. each day we are a new person–1% a cellular re-make of ourselves.
the image is composed of it’s material components; the image as it is constructed in the mind becomes nearly intangible the further we move from its re-membering. in this way, it is constantly being remixed into the present, each time something new. each time, mis-remembering as we bring new experiences into these images.
While watching Jenny Odell introduce here how she simply goes and walks around to observe her surroundings, to internalize her new environment– I found myself recognizing how I have a similar method of observation. I resonate with this idea that sometimes, it makes more sense to just step out and have a look around with a general curiosity for things whether they be about design or people or location. My mind remembers more about a place or city when I can stand on a corner and register that “this is the corner I live on” versus looking at it’s digital counterpart on google maps.
“Place” carries meaning when I am in “it,” and usually only thereafter. By this method is how I “map out” and discover fully, any new place that I enter. I can read maps and understand them, but they give me no more than indication or generalization of a certain space. All frame of reference on a map is suddenly lost when I turn 180 degrees… so I prefer to be up close, to know what it means to “enter a new space and suddenly all of the buildings look different” because that gives me sense of place by feel and movement, by color and mood or language and style. I can recall the size of a building, the shape of that one tree, or type the patio furniture of a cafe much easier than I could give you an intersection or address.
Ex) Despite traveling through South America IRL, as I moved across its 3D images on google for our most recent project, I became frustrated because I knew the image I wanted to harvest, but I did so with great difficulty; not fulling knowing how to navigate from “up above” or north to south rather than “by and through” in car or on foot, by sight and sense.
In another talk, Odell speaks to the experience of “using technology to augment elements of the human experience rather than flattening it or replacing it.”
I am inspired by her point here– how so much of technology can be easily criticized but she chooses, instead to let it empower her artistic drive. To provide the world with a more conscious reaction to these “media effects.” I believe I am in media studies for a similar reason. By understanding media & technology and how it functions to serve us (or not serve us) I am able to “re-enter” the world in a more informed way. I become more comfortable with technology because I know that it can be perceptible and detectible.
I immediately drew the comparison to my experience of wearing a hybrid prosthetic-orthotic piece of technology, my exosym. This device enables me a physical experience of the world that I might not otherwise have without it. It enables me a new identity. It enables me a new point of advocacy for people with disabilities. Technology is a perceptual prosthesis in every sense because it can provide us with the means to subject ourselves to new realities and new experiences. The same goes for my exosym. I am more abled-bodied as I wear it and when I put it on, I enter a new space and a new category of “disability” according to how others perceive me. I am “recovering” versus “congenital.” I am an “injured athlete” versus “one with CP.”
Had I “escaped” this new, bionic reality the moment it became too hard and difficult to process, I might never reached this comparison with Jenny Odell’s work and understanding over her own artistry.