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Tactical Media

In the Introduction to Rita Raley’s “Tactical Media,” the author espouses an interesting comparison between tactical media “as performance” and Paolo Virno’s theory of “virtuosity.” Raley believes that tactical media are similar to performance art pieces in that they are “performed” impromptu and require “the presence and response of a user to complete their signifying fields.”

I would argue that any sort of media, whether it’s a fleeting drama performance, an installation of a physical piece of art, a sidewalk chalk sketch or a full-feature film is incumbent upon an audience. Even the teenage girl writing furiously in her diary is writing for an audience: the inner self that she hopes to be. In fact, I think the very best media creator takes its audience into account BEFORE embarking upon the project.

Q: What do you think the role of audience is in tactical media and how does our “always on” culture and need for immediate resolution of any issue or problem inform the work you are doing?

Tactical media projects such as The Great Game and Black Shoals are necessarily targeted to make a point during a specific time and place. They, are, as Raley points out similar to a flash mob, only they exist as quick-charging virtual attacks on a specific policy, country, or political figure.

Q: Do you think tactical media producers have an obligation to create projects which outlast time and predicament given the incredibly rich technological advancements of the last ten years?

The “hactivist” activities that Raley describes throughout much of her book has created, as she so readily admits, “a massive private-and-public sector investment in monitoring and controlling risks related to computer use . . .” Indeed, Michael Darnell classifies some of this hacking as “information terrorism,”

Q: Is is fiscally responsible for tactical media activists to go to such extremes to “get the word out?” Isn’t this a little like pro-lifers seeking to kill abortion doctors? How much is too much? How far is too far? Where does “information terrorism” end and “Web activism” begin?

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