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    Media activism: creating new reality or re-designing public space

    | 2007-10-23 | 15:50
    temos: sociumas,taktinės medijos,VMS

    Let’s start from with a little joke about what is happening now in a globalizing world.
    Pessimists study Chinese
    Optimists study English.
    Realists only study the Kalashnikoff…

    If we try to export these rules for the current situation in the media sphere, especially in Belarus, we (as realists) will immediately begin to study tactical media and media activism. Not as a weapon, but as a technology for creating new public spaces.

    In my presentation “Media activism: creating new reality or re-designing public space”
    I will try to present possible answers to the following questions:
    1. What can be considered media activism today?
    2. Can we create a new reality in media sphere?
    3. How can local media activism be used to re-design public space?

    Media activism: What can be considered media activism today?

    I define media activism as a practice of participation in public life via the creation of different media products; that are alternative to mainstream media products (radio, television, or newspapers). It is the creation of media for non-formal and non-format based usage for example, video clips for YouTube.com or audio files for podcasting networks.
    Generally, I consider the filed of media-activism in relation to the following:

    Creating a new reality: On-line and Off-line
    We all aware of pronouncements that virtual reality and new technology endanger our traditional society. Though it’s hardly news that traditional societies resist innovation and modernization. Though this face-off can be productive in the case of new media. Opposition between traditional cultures on the one hand, and new digital media culture, on the other hand, can potentially produce cultural deviation or mutation. We can find here new cultural forms. And consider how new media can be accepted in traditional culture.
    We can understand theory as tool-box. And how we use these tools, or not, is our problem. And we can use technological potential only within the frame of existing cultural forms.
    New media proposes a lot of possibilities for the creation of virtual tools. Virtual we understand as different to practical oriented concepts. Virtual reality is mental a concept. It is an idea, however, which can be transformed into social power (according to Karl Marx in relation to “идея овладевает массами”).
    Before change something in practice we should change something mentally. We have some different slogans for this VMS session. And one of them is “What is in your head?” The most common answer, is that media composes the contents of our heads, our needs and desire, our ideas and points of view.
    We need dreams to create new spaces, but usually make them as clones of ready existence.

    How can local media activism be used to re-design public space?
    Today in Belarus we can hear about the troubles and difficulties facing the existence of public spaces in the broadest sense. The “State ideology apparatus” is present in all possible social activities and practices. As such we should be happy, that we have now have access to new communication technology, especially the Internet.
    If we recognize the Internet as a new dimension of public spaces we will meet with one (at least one) challenge. How to convert our on-line virtual reality into off-line activities?
    I will refer to this challenge in relation to ‘re-design’ in the same way web-designers ‘re-design’ web-sites. Usually, and the easiest way, re-design only changes lay-outs, but not some principal coding. The same situation we have in relation to the creation of alternative public spaces ion the Internet. I mean some probe to build territorial based communities, like some kind of off-line groups. At present the process of spatial social conversion on the Internet follows rules of regular social space; it is an act of re-design. We follow existing models.
    Flash-mobbing, however, is a good example in case of creation new social activities. I will now refer to two cases of media activism: the closing of EHU in Minsk and cinema “Lietuva” in Vilnius. It is difficult to compare them. But they both involve common phenomena of civic participation, and civics activation.
    Flash-mob is a good example of social technology that engenders a de-virtualization. How we can come from on-line to off-line. I can show some pictures form flash-mob on 2nd August 2004 in Minsk. Students came to the main square, sat down and began reading.

    Some words in conclusion
    Tactical media can make anybody visible in public spaces. Tactical media cannot change our practice suddenly, just in one moment. But tactical media can influence our habits and draw our attention to this problem.
    I hope, that activities and experiments with new media can propose some new frame or sketches for re-organizing or re-designing social spaces. Tactical media is not about a new form of traditional media, but rather about a new role for auditoria.
    My point of view is that, unfortunately, we cannot create new spaces, new public space, but only try to organize in web-space what we need, that doesn’t exist in off-line space.

    After the presentation in the discussion section of the seminar, some interesting questions were raised that I am yet to formulate clear answers for:

     

    temos: sociumas, taktinės medijos, VMS |

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