[-empyre-] Speaking of Fake...

Alex Juhasz Alexandra_Juhasz at pitzer.edu
Sun Jun 18 15:06:20 AEST 2017

Mark and s:

Thanks for this line of inquiry and for this chance to share the most current chapter of my long fake story as it comes with a need for more.
I browsed and read from the Fake Factory and from your class, Mark, with great curiosity and admiration.

As someone who both produced and acted in a fake documentary a long time ago (Watermelon Woman, dir. Cheryl Dunye, 1996), and then co-edited an anthology about the genre shortly thereafter (F is for Phony: Fake Documentary and Truth’s Undoing, with Jesse Lerner, 2001), I (perhaps like you) had begun to think that everything had been said and done in this field of inquiry, and that it was losing or had lost its radical traction (see my “The Increasingly Unproductive Fake<http://nomorepotlucks.org/site/the-increasingly-unproductive-fake/>,” 2009)

It has been one of the many awful surprises of this moment to have known, taught, made art and thought about this modality for years—to be an expert in fakery—and to still come up short about the uses, abuses, insanity and drama of Fake News today. That is why learning from each other, and what we have done and what we are currently doing seems beyond critical to me. So thanks again for initiating this, Mark, there are great things to read and do on your sillybus (I have struggled<http://scalar.usc.edu/nehvectors/100hardtruths-fakenews/external?prev=http://scalar.usc.edu/nehvectors/100hardtruths-fakenews/index&link=http://wp.me/p5i00-18T> a great deal with the use of humor in writing, teaching, and making in these dark times, I must admit.)

When I look at Bruce Sterling’s intro to your book<http://www.romaeuropa.org/macme/?p=482> from 2010, Salvatore, and he writes about how fascinating this project will be in fifty years, I feel very sad and perplexed. Seven years later what he breathlessly projected for the future has happened in some kind of horrific sick reverse. As is true for Sterling, the way that time and the digital are altering, condensing, accelerating the use of the fake remains of great interest to me. I would love to hear people’s thoughts about this.

In this time, I have been trying to think about and enact and make better use of what my colleagues and I know about fake news and other truths in a rather desperate real-time 100-part project, the first part of which I completed as a digital edifice (an online primer) to align with the current administration’s first 100 days: #100hardtruths-#fakenews<http://scalar.usc.edu/nehvectors/100hardtruths-fakenews>. Now I have pledged to take my effort partially off the internet and do something more useful with it. I am trying to figure out how to use this dense, rich, weird primer to initiate collaborative activist public intellectualism and community-based pedagogy: something that takes time, that embraces complexity, community, art and theory, as well as everyday people’s own knowledge of their own truths on/of the internet. It seems this is something you made happen, Salvatore, but now some years ago. How relevant do you think your project is now (not in its subject, in its tactics?)

Looking at your question at the top of this thread, Mark, I suppose that my project, to date, wants to do something different, or perhaps complementary to your approach, "teaching people to write Fake News as a response to Fake News.” As I know you know, while this is pretty close to what I did with Learning from YouTube<https://mitpress.mit.edu/authors/alexandra-juhasz> (not that long ago!), writing in and against an internet platform and vernacular  I believe my work on #100hardtruths-#fakenews is pulling me into the orbit of some of Fake News’ (and social media’s) many other reverses: the freedom from truth discourses allowed by poetry and art, the freedom from monetization allowed by unplugging and refusing to sell or be sold, the solid power gained from listening to and honoring each others’ internet truths. My 100-day experience was mostly bleak, ending with two (and more<http://scalar.usc.edu/nehvectors/100hardtruths-fakenews/external?link=http://wp.me/p5i00-1cH&prev=http://scalar.usc.edu/nehvectors/100hardtruths-fakenews/index>) self-penned dark truisms that leave me largely cowed by our own culpability: "fake news r us" and "virality is virility"

The inevitable macho weaponization built upon the cascade of all of our little internet truths leaves me wondering, as I often have, if taking our actions and products beyond and outside this space, genre, posture, product must be part of the project.

As I can see from the work you have both shared, radical tactics are needed to engage with fake news, and I’m glad to see what you have done. I look forward to hearing and seeing other interventions from this list, as well as any insights people might have into making live performance art pedagogy born from digital questions and their online solutions.

alex juhasz

On Jun 17, 2017, at 1:56 AM, xDxD.vs.xDxD <xdxd.vs.xdxd at gmail.com<mailto:xdxd.vs.xdxd at gmail.com>> wrote:

----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------

Anyone else have similar stories to tell?

a few years ago, we created a fake cultural institution.


The fake was so well done that they invited us at the cultural commission of the Italian senate, and the resulting conference was included in the list of EU's events on creativity for the year.

Eventually it became a book and a set of tools: an institution which becomes a DIY opensource toolkit :)


[MUTATION] Art is Open Source -  http://www.artisopensource.net<http://www.artisopensource.net/>
[CITIES] Human Ecosystems Relazioni - http://he-r.i<http://human-ecosystems.com/>t
[NEAR FUTURE DESIGN] Nefula Ltd - http://www.nefula.com<http://www.nefula.com/>
[RIGHTS] Ubiquitous Commons - http://www.ubiquitouscommons.org<http://www.ubiquitouscommons.org/>
Professor of Near Future and Transmedia Design at ISIA Design Florence: http://www.isiadesign.fi.it/
empyre forum
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---------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
Thanks Mark for your comments.

First, I believe it is critically urgent to teach ALL of our students how to create fake news. Why? Because this first-hand engagement with the manipulation of the truth is the best way, in my opinion, to understand the manipulative power of language to distort meaning. It is also a powerful way to demonstrate how fake news can infiltrate the real world of information.

The reason why fake news is so dangerous is because so many people lack the critical skills to differentiate between manufactured news and the real thing. When this criticality is introduced to our students, they become the front line to defend humanity against the tyranny of the fake. The reason why TRUMP was elected is because there were enough people in this country who lacked the skills to see propaganda and fakery being wielded by domestic and foreign sources. This is how tyrants rise to power: preying upon the emotions of a constituency that is unable to interpret the source of their manipulation.

So, I say, WE who are educators are actually on the front lines of a battle to protect the integrity of truth and meaning. Unless we instill the ability to discern the tactics of fakery in the next generation, perhaps by training them to render its machinations, we are truly sunk.


From: Mark Marino <markcmarino at gmail.com<mailto:markcmarino at gmail.com>>
Date: Friday, June 16, 2017 at 4:18 AM
To: Randall Packer <rpacker at zakros.com<mailto:rpacker at zakros.com>>
Cc: soft_skinned_space <empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au<mailto:empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au>>
Subject: Re: [-empyre-] Speaking of Fake...


That sounds like a perfect teaching moment, if a bit harrowing for you.  Sounds like both you and the student survived unscathed! It's interesting how fake stories flourish when they touch upon either likely content ("there they go again") or cultural panics.

What other assignments in fakery have folks on the list done?

I must admit that I have from time-to-time found myself in a little warmer water with some of my teaching antics.

One was the seemingly innocuous LA Flood Project, which imagines Los Angeles submerged under an epic deluge.  That project has a Twitter flood simulation side to it that occasionally crosses paths with folks who monitor either university news or weather news.

Some people get angry when they think we are in the Fony Fake territory, when we thought we were in the Fantasy Fake or Funny Fake land.  I suppose that just shows how subjective these realms are -- or to speak more to your experience -- how the partial attention we pay to and partial context we encounter on social media creates the perfect soup for misunderstanding.

Ah, misunderstanding soup.

Anyone else have similar stories to tell?

- Mark

On Mon, Jun 12, 2017 at 5:43 PM, Randall Packer <rpacker at zakros.com<mailto:rpacker at zakros.com>> wrote:
Greetings Mark and greetings list, I wanted to jump in here at the suggestion of how to teach fake news. Well, I’m not sure I have any real answers to Fake News Pedagogy, but I wanted to share a little story about my Internet Art & Culture class at the School of Art, Design & Media / Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.

Now Singapore may seem like an odd place to be infiltrating the academy with Fake News skills, but in fact my students embarked on a project to use Facebook Live to incorporate artistic fakery into their online practice. One of the students decided to stage a live broadcast from the student union as a fake reporter announcing that the university had gone 100% vegan. This seemingly harmless fake prank managed to get the attention of the university press office, and well in Singapore, you DO NOT WANT student parody to enter into the mainstream media (MSM) because people simply don’t do things like this and the press will think it’s the actual truth.

This little incident made it all the way up the administrative ladder until our Chair asked the faculty whose student this was and that they needed to attach a disclaimer. I eagerly said me, because I recognized a real teaching moment here for my terrified student. The fact is, my student had a first-hand experience understanding how fakery can make its way into the MSM, and just how corrosive and disturbing it is to manipulate or distort the truth. In our everyday social media life on the Net, we forget just how volatile and viral our fake utterances can be.

Of course, I have always believed that art should be dangerous and this assignment turned out to be the perfect way to educate the next generation of digital artists.

Yours “truly,”


From: <empyre-bounces at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au<mailto:empyre-bounces at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au>> on behalf of Mark Marino <markcmarino at gmail.com<mailto:markcmarino at gmail.com>>
Reply-To: soft_skinned_space <empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au<mailto:empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au>>
Date: Sunday, June 11, 2017 at 12:21 AM
To: soft_skinned_space <empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au<mailto:empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au>>
Subject: [-empyre-] Speaking of Fake...

----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
We continue our discussion of the art of Fake News and art and Fake News (etc.) with a somewhat unusual course.

At the start of 2017, launching on Inauguration Day, Talan Memmott and I offered a course through UnderAcademy College entitled, How to Write and Read Fake News: Journullism in the Age of Trump.  UnderAcademy College is a non-degree granting un-institution founded on the model of Black Mountain College.

The course offered to teach how to write Fake News (is my capitalization of that bugging anyone else but me?), although we may not have entirely been in bed with the devil.   Or if we were in bed with the devil, we were doing an awful lot of faking it.  And, consequently, were quite unsatisfied with his performance but had forfeited our right to blame other people for the bed we had made.  So you know, basically feeling like most of America. You can see the sillybus here:

All of the materials for this class are freely available online for your own adaptation and perversion.  And I should mention that this course, like all UnderAcademy College courses, is free and that I (still) have not been paid for teaching said course.

Our first lesson was: How to Fake News, which you can see here.

In that lesson, we introduced our (patent-pending) 80-20-10 method for writing Fake News.  Now, none of our 100-or-so students, real and fake, have reported back on whether or not this lesson led to them making mad money from their  Fake News writing, but most accounts suggest that in spite of (or actually because of) a growing awareness of the scourge of Fake News, there's big money to be had.

And in the age of Trump, what more evidence of a successful educational operation could their be than loads of money -- or at least lawsuits?

How do you feel about teaching people to write Fake News as a response to Fake News? Does that sound sophomoric or are you just being uptight? We realize those aren't the only two options, so we have an open essay response we're also accepting but probably won't count towards your grade.

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