'As If' - Fiction as Method: Instead of Demanding Change act as though Change has Already Occurred.
Talk by David Garcia, Professor of Digital Arts & Media Activism, Bournemouth University - http://www.tacticalmediafiles.net
Centre for Interdisciplinary Methodologies
University of Warwick
Tuesday 5 March 3–6pm
In 2017 David Garcia curated a touring exhibition entitled As If focusing on the artist or cultural activist as trickster. The method shared by these artists was to replace the act of demanding change with the approach of acting ‘as if’ change had already taken place. We called this fiction as method.
The exhibition revisited and reassessed a movement of the 1990s in which a group of artists, squatters and media theorists turned the city Amsterdam into an important hub for exploring a fresh approach to political activism we called ‘Tactical Media’. It combined the early internet with a new generation of digital production tools to generate experimental forms of transgressive media intervention, actions enabled the weak to momentarily turn the tables on the strong. The term ‘tactical’ was borrowed from the theorist Michel de Certeau’s concept of ‘urban tactics’ which we adapted to coin the term Tactical Media as a name for practices that had inadvertently opened up a previously uncategorised space, a strange ‘no man’s land’ that intersected the worlds of art, experimental media and political activism.
Although the origins of Tactical Media lie in the past it could be argued that bottom up media tactics have never been more vital as a means of countering the rise of today’s powerful strategic actors of the tech sector who combine media and cybernetics to create unaccountable platforms that are infinitely more coercive and opaque than anything previously encountered. However many on the left argued that our deep individual and collective entanglement with the new cybernetic regime renders bottom up media resistance futile, a mere displacement activity diverting political energy from the serious business of taking political power. This lecture will argue that the opposite is the case proposing that the success of the 'new right' or alt-right demonstrates that if the progressive left neglects the continued potency of transgressive media subcultures then the void which will be promptly filled by the malign alternatives of the populist right.
This talk is part of the Module Media Activism, for more information and supporting reading/viewings please contact Naomi Waltham Smith: Naomi.Waltham-Smith@warwick.ac.uk