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A Colourful Ruse

It has been a while. But I must say I have enjoyed the break. Blogging since 2003 is not always easy, although it is mostly fun, rewarding, interesting and satisfying. Sometimes though, a break is nice and good to have. No matter how I turn it around, and how much technologies change the media sphere, still- communicating through autonomous channels is one of the key elements of a public sphere worth the word public.

The digital silence on memefest.org does not mean we have not been active. We have been, and very much so, but mostly we were off line. Although considering that Memefest is a collective/network and its members are living all around the world – it seems there is no way not to go online in order to stay in touch and do stuff together. But than again, this is not really true. So we are mostly busy this days with conceptualising the new Festival theme, we started working on some redesign issues of this website, we are building new networks and have made some new wonderful friends. There is more to say about this and other things and we will very soon.

One thing that made me thinking a lot lately is something I came across while reading an interview, a conversation with Hito Steyerl. (You should read her essay “A Thing Like You and Me” and you should also watch this http://www.ubu.com/film/steyerl_andrea.html) So, she is interested in post representational politics and claims that this is where true participation can actually happen. I wrote once a text “Beyond the Image and Towards Communication” in which I discussed the inability of visual representations to develop participation (http://tinyurl.com/nsn9ybj) and I liked what I was reading a lot. But what kept me busy thinking and felling about how we communicate for the last two weeks is when Hito Steyerl was talking about the pressures of the current dominant (media) culture “to represent and be represented”. This made me even happier for not posting things online for some time. And I think she is right- isn’t this what’s happening? And it happens in ways where both things somehow merge- we represent and are represented while representing. Seriously, I think this is a damn good description of what’s happening on Facebook and actually more and more in our every day life… and to be clear in alternative communication/design/media practices as well. The ghost of self promotion rarely is not hunting our actions, it is as if the act of representing ourselves is a condition for to be able to represent something we think is worth the effort and is important to be communicated. But self- promotion does not really describe completely what’s happening… it is also more than that…

The other thing that kept me busy thinking and made me smile with a serious face was the fact that Subcomandante Marcos, spokes person and de facto leader of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) has announced his end as a powerful symbol, a representation of global proportions and huge symbolic capital. In a speech commemorating the death of compañero Galeano he announced the end of subcomandante Marcos and the birth of subcomandante Galeano. Now, it is a old Mexican tradition to take on the names of fallen compañeros, José Doroteo Arango Arámbula did it also and became Pancho Villa. But this is much more. In 1994 the Zapatistas made Marcos the public image of their movement – for good and for bad, but the strategy they developed during the twenty years of the Zapatista struggle is nothing less than amazing. We know the Zapatistas became strong to a big degree due their use of the Internet and media in general. In that sense they were ground breaking and I remember how much the media activist scene was looking at them and learning from them. While realising what he or better his image, his representation has become, this very image is now being destroyed.

But in the process of destruction there is an act of deconstruction, not unlike the one theorised in the principles of Socially Responsive Communication, as one of the seven principles being: “It self deconstructs in the communication processes with the purpose to establish a critical distance of the public to the communicator. “ But when and how, this is the question. It seems it had to be twenty years for Marcos to become Galeano. First what needed to be done is the invention of Marcos as a media image or as Marcos puts it “a hologram”. The purpose, it seems, was to create a language that those who are blind- as corporate media are- could relate to: “They can only see those who are as small as they are. Let’s make someone as small as they are, so that they can see him and through him, they can see us.” A colourful ruse as Marcos describes his own character: “So then, as I mentioned, the work of constructing this character began. One day Marcos’ eyes were blue, another day they were green, or brown, or hazel, or black — all depending on who did the interview and took the picture. He was the back-up player of professional soccer teams, an employee in department stores, a chauffeur, philosopher, filmmaker, and the etcéteras that can be found in the paid media of those calendars and in various geographies. There was a Marcos for every occasion, that is to say, for every interview.”

His speech, which destroys and deconstruct creates a critical distance between the Marcos image and the close and far publics. He speaks to his own compañeros and through the media to a global public. And of course there is immediately misunderstandings, non -understandings by big media reporting Marcos has “stepped down”, as BBC did or Marcos has “retired” as Reuters did.

The whole speech is online here (http://tinyurl.com/pygsyzp), and it’s a fascinating read as fascinating as the images you will see that have been taken at the event are.

Marcos’ image became extremely strong as a pop cultural media icon. Not far from the famous image of Che Guevara. The bar I liked to go to in Brisbane had a huge 3m poster of Marcos on the wall and it was a Hipster bar.

Marcos as an image became problematic. As a common, it became too common and it therefore created a distance. Digested by the media machine, empty rhetoric’s of politicians, the standardisation through the surface of the designed image and commercial pop culture…and … the pressure to represent and being represented.

He came to this final act of his own visual identity with some new visual elements- have a look at the eye patch and the glove: ”If you will allow me one piece of advice: you should cultivate a bit of a sense of humour, not only for your own mental and physical health, but because without a sense of humour you’re not going to understand Zapatismo. And those who don’t understand, judge; and those who judge, condemn.”












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mascaro
5 years, 9 months ago

Actually, I'm working very hard!

oliver
5 years, 9 months ago

Comandante?

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