:: Monday, April 25, 2005 ::

Starting on May 4, Weekly Features will be posted on Wednesdays.

ORIGINAL POST: Thursday, April 21, 2005 BY Mark Hancock

Scrollbars at the MediaLounge

Jan Robert Leegte's latest work is installed at the Medialounge in Huddersfield, UK. "'Scrollbars' is a sculptural installation which references the architecture of software." At first sighting, these installations throw the viewer. The exaggerated size of them and the decontextualising stops you in your tracks. Once you've realised why, you begin to enjoy them even more.

Moving from a traditional structure to a more playful one, the sculptures become slightly more confusing to the eye. Fun, but with the ability to send you back to your browser with a renewed curiosity.

Other Cinema/Artists Television Access, San Francisco, CA
BY: Molly Hankwitz

The hilarious ˜The Yes Men" documentary (dir. Chris Smith and others) has been making waves since its release last year. Covering much of their travelling "identity
corrections" at unlikely academic and financial conferences around the world, the film depicts two artist/partners deeply engaged in political satire which dares the corporate-bias of mainstream media, its organizations, its pretensions of "truth" and alledged objectivity. Much like the marvellously unrealistic "yippie" calls to action-- such as dropping daisies over the Pentagon--the Yes Men's actions are poignant reminders that another world is possible.

The Bhopal, India/Union Carbide gas leak which killed an estimated 26,000 people on the spot and seriously damaged the health and welfare of over 100,000 more, still with out proper compensation from Dow Chemical, the umbrella corporation, has been one of their most daring media campaigns starting with a press realease picked up by the BBC which claimed Dow would accept full financial responsibility for the accident. In their videoclip, "Dow Hoax" Andy Bichlbaum appeared as Dow spokesman on a BBC broadcast and later "unmasked" in BBC interview. "Up Came Oil" is a homoerotic power-fantasy based on a song written for an Exxon-produced corporate musical celebrating the finding of crude petroleum in desert sands.

The Other Cinema show gave us an opportunity to revisit the work of the Yes Men as 'hacktivism' and tactical media. Early works of Mike Bonanno such as the Barbie Liberation Organization (pre-Yes Men) which received monetary support from RTMark were conceptual projects clearly informed by networked communications. The BLO prank took place in 13 cities, forming a distributed magnet for Big Media response further augmented by the sending of BLO "statements" to news stations. In a website copying effort, the satirical 'gwbush.com' website gained critical attention from CBS who called it 'cybersludging' as well as from the then governor of Texas, who is seen more than irritated in the video.

Closely allied to RTMark, whose mailing list and press release information was instrumental in the notorious 'etoy' victory, and which has been widely used to spread the recent story and call for funds for Steve Kurtz and the Critical Art Ensemble, the Yes Men are completely immersed in cyber politics, and playing on the "crimes and possible
punishments" attibuted to net culture today: hacking, infringement,"identity politics" and surveillance. Bichlbaum early hacked the Sim Cop video game with homoerotic blond boys in bikini briefs and became a name among the gay games industry. The Other Cinema show, at which Mike Bonanno was present to speak on various subjects from their pre-2004 election bus tour, the Holy Experience theme park in Orlando, FL and Kurtz'legal defense, raised money for the CAE DefenseFund, and continued the legacy of amazing underground media programming by Craig Baldwin, Other Cinema, and Artists Television Access. Check it all out!