"Ideas improve. The meaning of words participates in the improvement. Plagiarism is necessary. Progress implies it. It embraces an author's phrase, makes use of his expressions, erases a false idea, and replaces it with the right idea."So wrote Guy Debord, prominent member of the Situationist International and major instigator of the infamous Paris uprisings of May '68. In his most famous text The Society of the Spectacle, Debord articulates the belief that free trade of thoughts and ideas is not only acceptable, but necessary for the intellectual advancement of culture. He did not simply advocate plagiarism as a means of reference, but as an active way to critically engage and subvert dominant media images -- what he and his fellow Situationists referred to as 'détournement.' Put simply, détournement is the appropriation of these prevailing images for meanings in opposition to their original intent -- a strategy that has influenced generations of activists, academics, and artists. So when the estate of Guy Debord recently sent a 'cease and desist' letter to a group of American artists for copyright infringement, people familiar with Debord's oeuvre were rightly shocked. Beyond the obvious irony of the situation, this particular case has raised questions about the complexities of copyright, monetary compensation and the historical legacy of our anti-establishment icons.
The mystery genre is one of the most robust in literature, theater and film as it has a superior ability to involve the reader in the unfolding of drama. The group show "In the Private Eye," currently on view at the ISE Cultural Foundation in New York City, reflects this same level of engagement by inviting the viewer to join with six artists in the investigation of a series of crimes, cover-ups, and historical narratives.
"I suggest that game studies should...turn not to a theory of realism in gaming as mere realistic representation, but define realist games as those games that reflect critically on the minutia of everyday life, replete as it is with struggle, personal drama, and injustice."- Alex Galloway
In his book Gaming: Essays on Algorithmic Culture, Galloway tackles the notion of "realism" in video games. By distinguishing between representational and social realism in contemporary game culture, he illuminates how militaristic, political and social norms are both reinforced and challenged. For his current project, with the programming collective Radical Software Group ("RSG"), Galloway and his collaborators (Carolyn Kane, Adam Parrish, Daniel Perlin, DJ /rupture and Matt Shadetek, and Mushon Zer-Aviv) address realism in war games by creating their own- based on "The Game of War" designed by French theorist, activist, and iconoclast Guy Debord. Debord attempted to realistically represent the basic rules and relationships of war through a simple board game known as "Kriegspiel", a variant on chess in which a third party, either human or computer, acts as a referee and mediates the movement of the opposing forces. The game's end is often indeterminate and subject to the personality of those who are playing, which, given the current war in Iraq, certainly seems realistic and gives credence to Debord's assertion that, "with [some] reservations, we may say that this game accurately portrays all the factors at work in real war." RSG translated Debord's set of rules from French into Java, and has released it as an online war game called "Kriegspiel". Debord, as a man who's probably best known for his book The Society of the Spectacle, which closely examined the use of the mass media as a political tool, the fascination and reenactment of the war ...
Over the course of its twenty-year history the annual Berlin festival Transmediale has undergone multiple transformations. Originally an offshoot of the Berlin Film Festival, it grew into Video Fest, then Transmedia and now Transmediale- an evolution that reflects the trajectory of the medium from a specialized activity to a ubiquitous component of daily life. Organized under the theme of "CONSPIRE", this year's festival seeks to, "question, subvert, undermine and bypass the unspoken rules, hidden codes of conduct and assumed truths entrenched within our information driven communication cultures and ideological belief structures." A large and truly international exhibition interprets the conspiratorial through a series of thematic 'clusters' including "Bio-Organic Systems," "Twisted Realities," and "Alternative Science / Science vs Fiction." The annual conference and keynotes includes papers by an equally diverse cast. Of particular interest this year is the session "Web 3.0: Conspiring To Keep The Net Public," which will focuses on the question of "who controls the rights, identities of the users therein" and the increasing commodification of online data and personal expression. Moderated by runme.org co-founder Olga Goriunova, the panel is composed of an international group of theorists, activists and artists including Seda Gurses, Fran Ilich, Felipe Fonseca, Michelle Teran and Simon Yuill. In addition to the exhibition and conference, the festival also hosts a series of film and video screenings and performances. The conference as a whole will be streamed live for the duration of the festival. Transmediale runs from January 30th to February 3rd. - Caitlin Jones
Editor's note: Rhizome will run a comprehensive review of the festival next week by correspondent Michelle Kasprzak.
Reacting to rampant industrialization and increased division of labor at the end of the 19th century, a group of artists, designers and architects founded what would become known as the Arts and Crafts Movement. William Morris, Charles Rennie Mackintosh and others denounced the machinations of industrialized production in favor of the more romantic and socially responsible ideal of the craftsman. Although predominantly an aesthetic impulse, the ethos behind the Arts and Crafts Movement has inspired more overtly political and ecological movements in recent history. For example, in the 1960s and 70s, the suburbanization of the United States prompted increased interest in "back to the land" movements. The Foxfire community looked to the mountain culture of the Appalachians as keys to more sustainable and community oriented lifestyles, and the Whole Earth Catalog both advocated and provided tools for ecological and socially responsible living. In recent times, against the backdrop of globalization, unprecedented corporate control, and war, an interest in grassroots craft-based movements has emerged in full force. Shedding their predecessor's suspicion of technology, today's crafters realize the political benefit of the immediate access and increased connectivity afforded by new technologies. The New School for General Studies in New York City will examine the strategies of a new generation of craftsmen in the upcoming talk "Crafting Protest". Scheduled for Saturday January 26, panelists will discuss the "role of craft in forming national identities, especially in times of political turmoil or war; notions of patriotism; feminism and the domestic sphere; and economic models that circumvent conventional market models." Moderated by art historian Julia Bryan-Wilson, participants include Sabrina Gschwandtner, artist and founder of KnitKnit, a periodical that celebrates the convergence of craft and contemporary art, and Cat Mazza, whose software KnitPro was developed in opposition to sweatshop labor practices. Artist and Designer ...