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<nettime> A Reaction to Tactical Media

A Reaction to Tactical Media
By Sfear von Clauswitz

Tactics vs. Strategy

History is no more behind us than we can walk through time. There is no
destiny and no vanishing. Tactical media makes no promises.

The spectacle and spectacular media are forms of tactical media, even more
so now than in the future. Newer forms of media production and distribution:
computers, cameras, the internet, etc. are not tactical. They exist as
ballistics in the war of art, as does detournement and heretical
juxtaposition. How these armaments are combined in conflict constitutes

These tactical conflicts culminate towards strategic goals. Strategy is
defined by Clauswitz as a collection of battles in a war regardless of who
the actors are.

Thus, strategy exists outside of nation-states and other such boundaries,
just as Terrorists wage a war outside of such boundaries. As individuals
become empowered with the ballistics of nations, so strategy becomes more
useful for describing their activities. Individuals begin to enter the
global strategic theater.

Strategy is not political, and cannot be in opposition to tactics. Strategy
outlines a discourse of interactions, at times political, military, or

Tactics is no more a tool of resistance than a tool of the state. Isnt it
enough to say it is a tool, and begin to explore its uses? How can we
discuss the exchanges of tactics other than on a plane of strategy?

Artists & Hackers

While many artists and hackers use tactical media, the divorce of these
battles from the strategic and logistical landscapes renders such actions
less significant than similar tactics in use by national and business

EBN and Negativeland developed beautiful munitions (heretical
juxtaposition), and both Adbusters and RTMark expand arts reach and capacity
into new theaters. All of which is necessary for the expansion of art on the
conceptual landscape.

However, much of this work has been fueled by the political agendas and
affiliations of these artists. While alliance with the activist,
anarchistic, and anti-globalization syndicates has enabled these
developments, it has also created linguistic partisanship that prevents arts
expansion into the strategic and logistical theaters.

The Study of Tactical Aesthetics

As tactics, subversion of a dominant is no more valuable than submission to
a dominant, outside of a specific theatrical context. In this way, both
diversion and alliance, as tactics, might serve a particular end at a
particular time.

The super-empowered artist does in many ways resemble a Terrorist, but the
association is superficial in as far as it perpetuates the political roots
that modern aesthetic warfare technology was developed within.

Many noble sciences have been detoured by militaries to serve very different
political ends than their creators had intended. It is with this detachment
from originating political bias that aesthetic warfare must be studied.

Information warfare (future war) deals heavily with propaganda. Aesthetics
enables propaganda. Advanced practitioners of aesthetic theory should then
be adept at the creation of propaganda, whether they work for Indymedia,
themselves, or the government.

Propaganda neither hijacks the media, nor the deed. Deeds no longer exist
separate from information media. The process of recording mediates the
phenomenal and thereby defines informational theaters. Propaganda, tactics,
aesthetics, and strategy-all require a recorded or informational value.

Digitization is one trend that contributed to the passage of warfare from
the physical to the informational landscapes, but one of many. Death of
distance, identity fragmentation, mass mediation, the deconstruction of
language, and copyright law all contributed threads.

However, once all aspects of warfare can be translated into flows of
information, a language of aesthetics reveals the way that information can
be used as warfare. It is aesthetics that enables information. In this way,
tactical media is a form of aesthetic information warfare.

Artists are now in the best position to leverage their aesthetics to create
a technology gap between art and rival conceptual frameworks. Tactical media
may well be the most overt part of this larger process.

Modes of Warfare

Clauswitzs tactics enable both the weak and the powerful. However, by
embedding class opposition into the language of military art, de Certeau
destroys the usefulness of the terms describing modes of conflict outside de
Certeaus specific theater.

Clauswitzs strategem and Tzus war of maneuver are both useful tactics, in
their time and ours. An artifice of diversion is a method of using
information for tactical advantage. It is one of many tactics used by the
mainstream and many others, but to limit arts investigation of warfare to
one tactic, or to tactics as a dominant mode, limits arts ability to
maintain viability in the conceptual landscape.

The battle between the mainstream and the alternative cannot trace the full
spectrum of media tactics, but even if we were to concentrate our
investigation there, how could we foresee a victory or lasting resituation
without considering the strategy of this particular theater?

Also, the language of economics permeates our telling (and recording) of
this conflict, and yet the language of logistics is missing. Perhaps this is
due to de Certeaus politicizing of the modes of conflict, but then perhaps
we have just not looked hard enough.

The continued viability of tactical art does require global participation,
but it also requires a language to describe and refine that global
participation-how it is gathered and distributed, authorized and
synchronized. This language is the de-politicized language of strategy. A
language that must be developed separate from the paradigm and perspectives
of any specific theater, most of all the theater of activists, from which
the vast majority of its practitioners emerge.

The preconceived opposition forms an essential context within which to
discuss a particular theater. The specific economic and political
intensities of a theater do form the essential difference between tactics as
employed by different groups. Economic and political intensities are useful
and even essential when recording the story of a battle.

But while these intensities are valuable we do not seek a history of the
political winners. Nor do not seek a lexicon of potential media tactics.
What we seek is art, an art of war, the beautiful forms of information that
can be applied to shifting theatrical contexts. We seek a way to describe
the exchange of informational flows within the theater.

We seek these things because it is the only way art agents will be useful
actors in the quickly shifting landscapes of the future, and advanced
practitioners of aesthetic informational warfare and tactical media may be
the only way for art to remain a viable conceptual framework.



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