Over Easter weekend, I was able to relax a little from the stress of classes and take sometime to do something for me. My cousin was making a card for a friend and I decided to look on some DIY sites and find something to make. After accessing what I had to work with, which ended up being a LOT of paper products I found two things that I could mash together and make a project.
The first thing I found was a “Woven Junk Mail Valentine.” I really liked the idea of the woven design but I didn’t really want to make a card so I kept looking.
I then came across a design for “DIY Envelopes” with step-by-step instructions. I thought it was a great idea so I began making the stencil.
I decided to use the woven junk mail idea on the front of one of my envelopes. I looked for a bunch of green themed junk mail and made a woven pattern following the instructions. I then drew a tree on the front of a white envelope that I had cut out. I did not realize how cutting-intensive my design was until I began to cut it out. It took a while but I finally had my tree cut out. I followed the rest of the directions.
I also made 2 other envelopes (see pictures). I then signed up for each site and either commented on the post that I got my idea from and/or posted pictures of my envelopes. DIY is a completely relaxing thing that I found very rewarding. Now I just need to decide who I am going to send a letter to in my envelopes!
Due to the nature of this class, I have throughout the semester come across many things that I feel I would have never otherwise been exposed to. I think that this final blog is a good place to share ideas about this class and the implications it places on us as we continue to research the “alternative.” I have come to realize that individual people can make a difference. Through using media to make a point individual people can create change. By recognizing privileges and finding ways to use these privileges to aid those who are less privileged, our lives and those of others can become more meaningful. That is kind of a summary of what I have learned and come to a conclusion about through inspiration of artists and forms of media that are not just slight variations of corporate cookie-cutters. Guerrilla media to me is more creative and a step outside of the box which encourages people to take that extra step in order to keep up with what is happening in the world that we live in. The following is an example that I think is extremely inspiring and shows a lot about guerrilla media:
www.jr-art.net : I came across this website and was completely amazed by the size of his artwork and amount of impact it has. By browsing around on the website I began to really appreciate how JR is using his talents to make someone else smile and see the beauty in the world. Street art reaches much larger audiences than the art in a museum. I have nothing against art museums necessarily, but there are those people who do not have the access or the ability to visit an art museum their entire life. JR calls himself an “artiviste” combining artist and activist. His media of choice are large posters of raw black and white photographs which he captures all of people around the world. His latest project is titled, “Women are Heroes.” He has been traveling to the poorest of the poor slums in Kenya, Sudan, Sierra-Leone, and Liberia in order to take pictures and paste these pictures not only in the slums but also in populated cities such as Paris and Brussels. He has completed other projects and his website has many well put together videos and countless photos of his past and present work. His art is amazing and the ideas and stories of activism behind them show his great creativity and depth as an artist and a citizen of the world.
For the most part, we as Americans, (especially who are college educated at a private university) are in a position of privilege. In order to realize our privilege we must recognize those who do not have the opportunities that we have. I think that guerilla media speaks to those who are making the difference and to those who are positively affected by the actions of others. I am sure there are other examples similar to JR and it is our job to find these and share them. More people should be aware that other things exist outside of the mass media. The levels of creativity, expression and free thought in guerrilla media are not restrained by the boundaries that the mass media puts up. With the right aims and goals, less boundaries and restrictions can be very progressive and aid in positive change.
As alternative or guerilla media continues to be explored and redefined I have come to the conclusion that everything we have studied is and can be interconnected. Alternative medias are not small, underground movements that act separately from other types of media (alternative or mainstream). They are not subgroups but one intertwined network which operates both above and below the surface. For example, in order for an internet hack to be the most effective it needs to reach a larger audience than those who were “blocked” from visiting the website of their choice. This is where citizen journalists might be able to step in. Citizen journalists can then report about the hacktivism and include more background information that an unavailable website would be able to provide. As people read and hear about these actions they can then use the information to create their own forms of alternative media that are related to the original disturbance in corporate capitalism. The order in which the acts happen is not important. What is important is that people take the step to get involved. Inspiration can happen anywhere. With the many forms of alternative medias available, any number of chain reactions could possibly occur which ultimately could lead to change.
The anonymous aspect that is found in many forms of guerilla media allows people to relate to the activism and not be afraid of immediate repercussions. This is possible in part because profit is not defining feature of guerilla media. Money is not the motivation. Alternative media is arguably done for the good of the society. It gives an alternative view of what is commonly accepted without questioning. For example, a culture jamming group known as the Guerilla Girls remain anonymous in order to represent all women by placing a guerilla heads over the pictures used on their billboards, posters, and in live demonstrations. The issues they take up raise questions about the lack of females in the art world and in Hollywood. With real facts to back up their accusations, people are able to really think about world implications of such actions. When money becomes the main focus, the alternative side of media is arguably lost. Alternative media does not follow one set of rules, but through its common goals, multiple types of alternative medias continue to grow due in part to inspiration from each other and continue the production of viable alternatives to mass produced media.
When the unexpected happens a professional journalist or reporter is not always present. Some of the biggest news stories happen without warning which ultimately calls for the ordinary citizen to capture the moment. By preserving the event, ordinary citizens are able to publically display what they have observed into words or photographs. With technologies continuing to advance and become more available to the public, citizen journalism is able to reach new levels. Sometimes, these acts are so timely and relevant that they become the best bet for mainstream media to completely cover the story. In a recent example, a citizen journalist took a photo with his iPhone of the US Airways flight that made an emergency landing on the Hudson River. His photograph was used on the front page of multiple newspapers, even though other professional photographers’ pictures were available. This citizen journalist was able to receive such a massive response to his photograph also due to the fact that he immediately posted it on Twitter. Even before the picture was printed in newspapers the following morning, many citizens had seen it due to the connectedness of online communities. The combinations of such technologies are continuing to clear new paths that allow citizen journalists to get their story to the public.
Citizen journalism is not always so highly regarded or praised. Because of the reliance of unedited or “raw” news, people are able to say what they want in a fairly public atmosphere. There is a difference between being liberal, conservative or just plain incorrect. In response to a citizen journalist who posted a false story that the CEO of Apple, Steve Jobs, had been rushed to the hospital which had real negative effect on Apple’s stock, Jeff Jarvis wrote “Citizen journalism ruins the world (again)” . He is able to see the bigger picture look at the event from a broader perspective. In general citizen journalists lack credibility. Credibility happens to be exactly what professional reporters rely on when they make a mistake. As citizen and professional journalism continue to merge and become more hybrid, I feel that journalism as a whole will become stronger and give the people more reliable information faster.
While searching around on the internet, I also found this application for a “Best of Citizen Photojournalism Photo Contest”. The deadline is March 31st for anyone interested. I also searched around on WeSay (the sponsoring website) and found that it was a great website for citizen photography in general. Enjoy!
Advances in technologies also advanced the possibilities of memes. As a virus, they can now spread faster and in many different forms. Looking at the Meme Timeline, I noticed that the current memes listed are almost exclusively videos. They have transformed from simple internet pages and began to use new technology available to the average internet user. The ability to adapt to current trends and play of societies idea of humor at the given moment in time makes memes even more contagious. Not only has the type of memes evolved but the way memes are spread has also changed. With the invention of online social networks, memes can be posted and it is the users choice to click the link or not. E-mail is still relevant in the role of meme spreading but with more “friends” on Facebook than in most email contact lists, memes have more possibilities. Chain e-mails have become chain texts. What new technology might allow for the spread of memes to even more aspects of life? The “copy and paste” idea has lead memes to almost “copy and paste” themselves. With a few clicks, no matter what internet technology, a meme can be spread so fast that it is almost impossible to track.
Viral occurrences happen everyday. Viruses, when treated correctly also go away. Memes gather followings and when the event or topic becomes irrelevant the buzz dies down. It is all connected to Malcolm Gladwell’s idea of a tipping point. Arguably though, they do not go away. They are kept on the internet or in pictures. At any given time they can be found again. But has there ever been a revival of a meme? After the initial virus and spread, is it possible for a meme to gain as much attention again? I think this would be very hard considering the plethora of new information and humorous situations that have possibilities of being turned into a meme. But if you were part of a past meme when it was big, the possibility of you sharing it with someone who might have missed it is always there and most likely you will be able to find it on the internet.
When I was looking for memes I came across Susan Blackmore. She says that the basic definition of a meme is, “That which is imitated.” Her TED talk is about 20 minutes but has some very good points. She finds memes in everything. Even in the folding of toilet paper in bathrooms around the world. She connects the spread of the meme to the evolution of our brain. Her view of memes makes you think about why and what you look at and how it spreads. She calls the changing processes of technology memes “temes.” Temes make us do things we think we want to, according to her. The spread and growth of memes, temes and replication is still continuing.
Culture Jamming, like many other topics we have covered, brings up the issue of when alternative becomes a “sell out” or main stream. Naomi Klein acknowledged that advertisers do see culture jamming as profitable. The rejection of corporation’s money and marketing strategies seems to remain a strong hold for those established culture jammers who were provided as examples in Klein’s chapter that turned down the offers of money and fame from large corporations. These actions confirmed my belief that there is more than money and fame in making a statement. Everyday, whether we acknowledge it or not, we see thousands of advertisements and they affect our life decisions. No matter how hard you try to avoid contact with advertisements, it is not likely you will be successful. So why not make a statement? Why not advertise real issues that affect your life?
The term “culture jamming” was coined in 1984. But culture jamming is a much older phenomenon. Margaret Bourke-White’s 1937 photograph “At the Time of the Louisville Flood” which was mentioned in the article is, in my opinion, a remarkable example of culture jamming. The picture captures two distinctly different ideas of the “American Way.” The reality that life is not the same for everyone in every area has not changed. The connection Klein made between this photograph and the Diesel Brand O ads is also remarkable. The difference between the Third World and the United States is shown just as distinctly opposed as Bourke-White’s photo. The ideas and the images of advertising have a time and a place but all the corporations care about it making money. I argue that misplaced ads do not give realistic messages to their audiences and are working against messages of change and hope for the future.
Speaking of change. . . I also found it interesting how Pepsi’s new logo is being closely related to Obama’s logo. Coincidence? Pepsi seems to have no comment from the blogs and new stories I have read. I think that this connection in relation to culture jamming could be interpreted in different ways. Is it Pepsi’s attempt to alter a logo in their favor? Could this be considered a large corporation’s attempt at culture jamming? Or maybe it truly is just a coincidence.
The first concept in The Life and Death of Punk, The Last Subculture, that caught my attention was social change. When I read social change I immediately thought Gandhi. As I continued to read, I began to see that punk was a legitimate means of social change and that it had reshaped social norms and attitudes. I began to see “social change” the way punk intended. Punk, by no means, was trying to be like Gandhi, but they do have similarities. In order to follow my initial reaction, I kept Gandhi in mind as I read the article (and just to be completely sure I wasn’t way off base I did a Google search to see if anyone else had made the same connection. And I was not completely alone.) One of the things that came up in my search was An Anarchist’s Ethic. Gandhi quotes and sayings are found throughout the article. Most interestingly, which I did not think of as I read the The Life and Death of Punk, was the DIY connection. An Anarchist’s Ethic describes this relationship in point number 2: “Rely upon personal integrity instead of paternalistic authority.” Anarchy was mentioned numerous times in The Life and Death of Punk. Anarchy—a state of lawlessness and disorder (usually resulting from failure of the government)— was a founding ideology of punk. The anger and the rebellion of the youth all around the United States proved to be a culturally connecting ideology as well.
Unavoidable in society, consumerism attached itself to punk. In today’s society commodification, as Marx explored, is taking over and is in control. It seems to be a short matter of time before any given thing is picked up by consumer society. The target consumer is becoming younger and younger, but not to say that the older consumers have been forgotten. The United States relies on consumerism to maintain stability. When punk became packaged and consumerism brought it into the mainstream, it died. Or did it? The ideas of punk are still found if you look deep enough into any subculture. Having not grown up in the middle of true punk era I only see myself as an outsider to the real meaning of punk. Regardless, I can appreciate the outlet that was the subculture of punk from the troubles and inconsistencies of everyday life growing up. After watching part of American Hardcore in class, I believe founders and roadies of punk were doing what they loved doing. I think everyone can appreciate that, even if they don’t specifically love the music.
“It cannot be owned, it cannot be sold. It upholds the principles of anarchism, yet is has no ideology. It is called punk, yet it has no name.”