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Re: <nettime> The Society of the Unspectacular
Mason Dixon on Sat, 16 Jun 2007 01:01:43 +0200 (CEST)


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Re: <nettime> The Society of the Unspectacular


Lets start with fragmentation of audience. Lets consider it an  
obvious mechanic operating in the current global theater.  What  
then?  How are we to look at the "symbolic and real battle space"  
without a tone of bitterness?  Has there not been a great failure  
here?  I would hope we can reach the end of the second Bush  
administration with at least a little dignity.

We must admit in all honesty, that we did not "turn the tide of the  
war".  The global power structure has remained relatively unchanged  
since before "virtual sit-ins" and "tactical media" were considered.   
New Media has brought no new social empowerment, and political art  
has had no significant global political effects.  We are not without  
our successes, as artists and as activists, but on the global scale,  
the human race did not shift much in the last 20 years on account of  
our efforts.

So then, to speak of the spectacular, we must take an honest look at  
the institutions that ARE effectively using persuasion within the  
global theater.  Who are these actors?  How can we use what we know  
of aesthetics to compete with them globally?  How can art enable real  
social change?

Advertisements, for instance, must convince the audience,  
specifically when the audience is NOT receptive.  They must lure,  
seduce, manipulate, even coerce their audience into agreement.  They  
create channels to deliver their messages on a mass scale and to  
precise demographics.  They collude with non-media actors to create  
(sometimes inaccurate) self-reinforcing hegemonies that maintain the  
success of their strategies over years.  They respond to the audience  
immediately, often becoming a sort of mirror to the demographics'  
testing patterns.  They utilize falsehoods as easily as truths.  They  
utilize exclusion as strategically as inclusion.  They are well- 
research and field tested.

On the other hand, most works in political art and activist media are  
rhetorical, satisfied to simply "raise awareness", not challenging  
nor seductive, preachy or merely themed by the work's political  
stance.  The best and most precise political art, eg. virtual sit- 
ins, would work even more effectively as quick support and response  
tactics, ie. as components of larger campaigns.

The most successful institutions on the global scale maintain their  
relative positioning through a structure of control which  
increasingly becomes informational, digitized and icon-ized.  These  
structures  are write-able or manufacturable by informational  
artisans, by those that make the most convincing of media. This is  
already how these systems operate: in advertising, in public  
relations, in business and politics, in war, and in "the matrix".   
Maybe a good place to start for artists, would be to consider how art  
works within demographics?  How does art "make life better" for each  
of our many fragmented audiences?


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