David Garcia on Sun, 10 Nov 2002 17:47:20 +0100 (CET)

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Re: <nettime> From Tactical Media to Digital Multitudes

In their article In their article Florian Schneider and Geert Lovink declare
that "the new social movements (wrongly labeled anti-globalisation) are in
danger of "getting stuck in self-satisfying protest mode, running the risk
"of getting stuck at the level of a global 'demo design,' no longer grounded
in actual topics and local situations." They then ask the key question "how
to jump beyond the prototype?"

The answer to their question lies above all in specificity. In being able to
generalize effectively (with explanatory power) from the lived experience of
involvement in *specific* campaigns. In December Gregg Bordowitz will be
moderating a session in the New York Tactical Media Lab
<http://n5m4.org/index.shtml?118+120+2450> His text (below) suggests ways of
addressing a number of the questions raised by Geert and Florian including
the function and meaning of art in relationship to politics. I hope this
list finds Gregg's text as useful as I did on the recurring art question as
it takes us beyond the rather fruitless obsessing about the "electronic arts
sub-culture" and the demise of the dot.com era. (David Garcia)

I'm Gregg Bordowitz, AIDS activist, video maker, writer and teacher.
I will be facilitating the discussion at the December TML on Sunday
the 15th. It will focus on HIV/AIDS media activism. Planning for that
day is coming more into focus. Here are some of the ideas that I have
been thinking about that could come up within the discussion.

I am a long time activist who has made much work, both in video and
in writing that addresses the organizing problems specific to AIDS
activism. Here are some of the presumptions I make going into our
discussion. Be kind, these are rough working notes.

1) The AIDS crisis is still beginning. In the US there is much
fatigue around the issue of AIDS and a profound misconception that
the epidemic is contained. Around the world, in Africa, South
America, Eastern Europe and Asia, places where the epidemic is out of
control, there are growing activist movements. A particular hot spot
to look at now is South Africa. The issues that internationalist AIDS
activism currently focuses upon have the potential to explode and
alter a number of governing discursive and juridical regimes
concerning trade, industrial production and post-industrial
production. International AIDS activists are questioning and applying
pressure regarding the production and distribution of generic
pharmaceuticals. This is interesting to us for a number of reasons.
First, I am on the AIDS drug cocktail myself and so the issue is
potentially central to my survival. Second, the juridical regimes
that govern international patent law are the same whether applied to
pharmaceuticals, software or feature films. (The TRIPS agreement
covers all this.)  All of us have a stake in copyright law --
academics, media activists, software designers, people interested in
digital tech of all kinds. For media activists, the issue of
affective labor and the management of the production and distribution
of affective labor is an area of great concern in theory and practice.

2) You can't understand the global AIDS crisis without a working
theory of globalization and analyzing the global AIDS crisis is a
perfect way for forming a theory of globalization.  You can get to
almost any issue by way of an analysis of global AIDS -- poverty,
borders, modes of production, etc.

3) Think about. There are millions of people with AIDS around the
world, in every corner of the planet. What would happen if every
person with AIDS demanded immediate care and access to lifesaving
drugs? At the Barcelona AIDS conference this passed July, Nelson
Mandela encouraged every person with AIDS, no matter where they are,
what circumstances of poverty they live-in, to demand immediate care.
This was profound. Everyone else was talking about scaling-up --
increasing the scale of funding and infrastructure to meet the dire
needs of millions. That's an important discussion to have (
unfortunately now weighed down by bureaucratic infighting and the
apathy of governments). BUT, Mandela gave a revolutionary message
that addressed the individual,potentially millions of individuals.
This is what Hardt and Negri are talking about in the book Empire,
when they are trying to figure out "how to capture the multitude as a
singularity." How can one come-up with an articulation available to
individual use, an open, improvisational code, if you will, that
links millions around a common goal, but allows for differences of
context. (Yes back to the old problem of the Internationale. The
Internationale without the Internationale. Arise, ye prisoners of
international trade regimes and structural inequity!)

3) Politics and art. Media activist work must adopt the imperatives
of a movement as its starting point, not its end. The work of media
activism is not supplemental to any cause. it is its own cause. Media
activist work does not earn its guarantee of relevance or truth from
protests and activist efforts. Media activism must provide its own
guarantees through form. The politics in political art, are the
politics that occur when the work is encountered in real time. The
politics of media activism are not to be found anywhere but in the
work itself.  Lastly, we must talk about aesthetics. Yes, as media
activists, in particular our work must address questions of form. I
advocate the cross breeding of documentary procedures with poetry and
the concerns of structure usually reserved for conversations about

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