On the first day of class, I was excited to see we’d be talking about Wodiczko. Looking over the readings, I remembered a blog post I’d written over a year ago about him (and what at the time I called to as “Guerilla media warfare”). I was trying to find out why his homeless vehicles weren’t still around – they were certainly made to last. I remember how at the time this was hard to find, so I thought I’d share what I found here:
… ”they were confiscated by the city when they were introduced on the streets because they brought so much attention to the issue” … A bit of digging found this [information is no longer present] which cites a defunct news article that said “A law was passed in New York City in 1999-2000 stating that any structure standing in excess of 3.5 feet above the ground that is capable of housing someone inside is considered a tent, and the use of this on city property is considered illegal camping.”
On that same page is an interview/talk with Wodiczko, which has this nice Q/A exchange:
Audience Member – I have a question. I read in one of your books that you defined the role of the artist as ‘someone who disrupts the regulation of everyday life’. I was wondering how far an artist can go, in your opinion, in disrupting that administration of everyday life? For instance, there are artists and activists who charge enormous credit card bills which they will never pay, nor do they intend to pay. But they do very good work and it supports them. Otherwise they would not be supported. So I wondered if you could say something to that, what do you think of that?
Krzysztof Wodiczko– Well, if you’re talking about the tradition of hackers and the old school parasites in the system, who disseminate something – it depends on the project.
Audience Member – Are there circumstances where it’s warranted?
K.W. – If its part of an artistic project and ultimately includes the act of being arrested and put on trial – then its all part of a complex project that will shift everyone’s imagination and perception – then it will qualify to be in the category of some situationist project. I still cannot judge though. We would have to use a specific example for discussion.
Dan Cameron – I don’t know if it’s what you have in mind, but the whole E-toy vs. E-toy a couple of years ago….. E-toy was a Swiss artists collective, 3 to 4 people who create challenged spaces on the internet and use the internet in an activist way. They came up with the name E-toy back in the dark ages of the internet and when the E-toy retail company emerged on the internet, one of the first things they did was to claim the activist E-toys web domain invalid and they filed a lawsuit. While this was being worked out through the courts, the artists group found themselves in a position to empower and activate a community around the world, people who would jam up corporate E-toys lines and computer systems, creating a form of economic terrorism against the company until they backed down. In fact, before the trial, the company did back down. That’s an interesting case of economic….
K.W. – maybe not ‘terrorism’.
D.C.– not terrorism, but economic damage where the free flow of capital is disrupted by a small group of artists.
K.W. – To disrupt, we have to have a good reason. We have to measure the price of the disruption versus what we gain. But one piece of advice, in case you are masterminding something, please have a lawyer.