Photo: Spanish Revolution
Photo: Spanish Revolution

ERROR 404 A Hemifesta 2011

Photo: Copyleft © 404
#spanishrevolution
Photo: Copyleft © 404

Error 404_Democracy Not Found
— #spanishrevolution (2011)

I think, therefore I disturb
— #spanishrevolution (2011)

Electronic Disturbance Theater (EDT) 1.0/2.0 have consistently created gestures that rupture the invisibility of the digital assembly line by making visible what is hidden in its own gaps and cracks via “Error 404 files/Files Not Found”—a core part of our browser-based tactics of electronic civil disobedience. We reload the question: “Is Democracy found on this .gov site?” and the .gov site responds, “Error 404_Democracy not found.” EDT has always sought to teleport the social histories and methods of the strike, sabotage, trespass, and blockage of civil disobedience and its codes of non-violence into the edges of post-contemporary technologies. EDT has also pursued performance, poetry, and distribution as key tactics that are essential to our gestures-manifestations. These experimental frissons have also called on us to construct ontologies of dislocation in relation to current wired ideologies. For instance, during the 1990s it was important to stage electronic civil disobedience as a counter to the opaque anonymity that was running rampant on-line by calling for and enacting a “radical transparency,” connecting our real bodies to our data bodies, an echo of the Gandhian method connecting the soul and body as a key to civil disobedience. In 2011 this dislocation has had to move from “transparency,” which is now a neo-liberal apparatus containment and control, to a mobilization of “translucency” as an (im)possible tactic now.

With the Transborder Immigrant Tool, we began with the basic question: what ubiquitous technology would allow us to create an inexpensive tool to support NGO projects of leaving water caches in the Southern California desert? Our answer was that $20 phones could be made useful for emergency navigation. Later phone generations—that don’t yet cross our price barrier but are getting closer everyday—are already fully useful as practical aids without even a SIM card installed or an available network service. With proper use, the GPS performance of newer phones equals any GPS designed for desert navigation, and prices of used phones are falling. Moreover, GPS itself does not require service and has free global coverage, courtesy of the United States government. In an emergency scenario, we trust these later mobiles to direct a lost person to a nearby safety site. The Transborder Immigrant Tool’s code is also available on-line to download at walkingtools.net, sans water cache locations, for any individual or community to use for their GPS investigations.

Photo: Copyleft © 404
#spanishrevolution
Photo: Copyleft © 404

Amy Sara Carroll comments: “The Transborder Immigrant Tool attempts to address these vicissitudes, but also to remember that the aesthetic—freighted with the unbearable weight of “love”—too, sustains. A poetic gesture from its inception, the Transborder Immigrant Tool functions by seeking to realize the possibilities of G.P.S. as both a “global positioning system” and, what, in another context, Laura Borràs Castanyer and Juan B. Gutiérrez have termed, a “global poetic system.” The Transborder Immigrant Tool includes poems for psychic consultation, spoken words of encouragement and welcome, which I am writing and co-designing in the mindset of Audre Lorde’s pronouncement that ‘poetry is not a luxury.’” http://bang.calit2.net/xborderblog/?tag=poetry

Across the arc of realities, artists and movements are creating geo-aesthetics, new platforms, protocols, and programmed visions that locate and dislocate bodies, space, time, and networks. This process grows from the dynamic qualities of each unique social space, emerges from specific everyday concerns, and is always based on communities’ issues. These elements then become part of circuit of a shared networks, shared earths—this is the biopolitics behind the distributed disturbances against the “Empire of Disorder” (the top-down markets, governments, media and military) and for humanity. We have now seen, heard, and felt this occur from Tunisia to the Revolt of Poetry Against the Drug War in Mexico to the #spanishrevolution: we are living in the spring of “lobal” revolts. “Lobal” stands against the “Global” and “Glocality” of neo-liberal globalization and for peer-to-peer localities that are distributed transversally—the local gone global=“lobal.”

Photo: Copyleft © 404
#spanishrevolution
Photo: Copyleft © 404

Michel Bauwens stated in his post “Spain is Ground Zero for the P2P Revolution” on May 29th, 2011: “When people agree on what they don’t want, i.e. a market dictatorship in the hands of a financial predatory class, but are open minded about the future, what should they ask for? The answer is very simply: true democracy, as this leaves all options open to create ‘other worlds.’ This is why the relative indeterminacy of the Spanish movement is not a bug, but a feature. It signals civil society forces have found a format for their protests, and a unifying platform, and this is why what happened in Spain is really Ground Zero for the start of a process towards deep transformation of our civilization and political economy. It’s early days, just green shoots, and the new generations have to be politically schooled as they face obstacles and repression, but, the tipping point has been reached, and something new has blossomed in the world.”

New media artivism/artivismo is a “bug”-as-feature in the system that constantly disturbs the frames of what art has been, what art is now, and what art can be in the days to come. It is the canary in the mine, a warning siren, and the blind probe into what is not yet visible, but also the construction of new forms of art that walk with those who must live and survive as they create new forms of life beyond the cloudy Empire of Disorder.


Ricardo Dominguez is a proponent of artivisim, tactical media, translucent hacking, and virtual sit-ins as performance art. Dominguez is a co-founder of The Electronic Disturbance Theater (EDT), past co-Director of Thing (post.thing.net), and past member of Critical Art Ensemble (CAE). His collaborations with artists, collectives and tactical media groups have resulted projects including the recent *Transborder Immigrant Tool* (a GPS cellphone safety net tool for crossing the Mexico/U.S border) winner of the "Transnational Communities Award" with Brett Stalbaum, Micha Cardenas, Amy Sara Carroll and Elle Mehrmand. Ricardo is Associate Professor at UCSD in the Visual Arts Department, a Hellman Fellow, and Principal/Principle Investigator at CALIT2 (bang.calit2.net).

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