[-empyre-] empyre: circumventing and disrupting norms in art and in advertising

Renate Ferro rtf9 at cornell.edu
Mon Nov 9 05:25:49 EST 2009

Hi Shervin and welcome to empyre soft-skinned space.  Your examples are
ones that use social networking in the physical world to create brand
marketing.  Many of the examples that I chose in my last post did have
physically based elements as well that led to the internet sensations that
they became.

Your post reminded me of several historical examples of artists using
physical social networking and the media to display confusions between
what Tim and I called in our recent talk designing vs. de-signing.

 I'm thinking about the early networking of the Gorilla Girls who posted
thousands of posters in the 1980's to critically engage the art world
about gender politics.  Or perhaps Muntadas' Limousine from 1991 that
promoted anti-capitalist slogans screened on the windows of a black
stretch limousine.  As the limo was driven around the urban center, an
obvious symbol of corporate wealth and power, projections displayed
de-contextualized ads, headlines, or political slogans that were aimed at
reformulating the discourse of popular culture. Or the work of Critical
Art Ensemble who in 1994 in their project "Useless Technology" designed
pseudo advertisements for hi-tech weaponry and appliances for a newspaper
insert that was inserted into Sunday editions of major urban newspapers.
Or even Nancy Nisbet's exchange project, where she trucked the entire
contents of her personal belongings each with an RFID tag across the
borders of Canada, the United States, and Mexico to test the cross border
laws on exchange.

These examples used analog networking and/or media to deconstruct and
comment on the system that the project was embedded in.  The projects were
playful exchanges with critically hard political messaging.

The boundaries between artist, designer and critical activist seems to be
more slippery than it used to be in this economically precarious time. 
I’m hoping we will be able to talk about this over the next few weeks.


Renate Ferro
Visiting Assistant Professor
Department of Art
Cornell University, Tjaden Hall
Ithaca, NY  14853

Email:   <rtf9 at cornell.edu>
Website:  http://www.renateferro.net

Co-moderator of _empyre soft skinned space

Art Editor, diacritics

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