Thinking through Digital Media

Transnational Environments and Locative Places


Chapter 4: Tactical Engagement through Gaming and Narrowcasting

This chapter examines two types of interaction that are potentially not overdetermined by corporate and state surveillance of data gathering. Here, interaction functions as critical or tactial engagement. It examines digital media projects that include counter-gaming, machinima (3D animation shot in a game engine), video performances, and documentaries that appeal to affective and subjective forms of knowledge and reject assumptions that objectivity and evidence are the only valid forms. 



Ethiopia/United States, 2011– 2012 | Ezra Wube

Hidar combines stop-motion animation and live-action footage. An adaptation of Hadis Alemayehu’s 1968 novel FeQir Iske MeQabir (“Love to the Grave”), placing art in interaction with the environment, where a cutout drawing of a person opens an actual door. The video reinvents the images and stories of the classical Amharic text about the journey to peace. Moreover, it visualizes a major work in modern African literature for a global population that has only recently come to appreciate African novels. Its play of textures, light, and color animate digital video that can often seem flat.



China/United States, 2010 | Xuan Chen

This animated video captures the geopolitics highlighted by anti-trafficking organizations. Its textured animation conveys the harsh lives of Chinese migrant laborers, deploying symbols of women, cities, and power that facilitate dialogue about human trafficking, labor issues, and the possibility of activating changes in the migrant worker’s circumstances. Rendered in black-and-white hand-drawn images of identical women living underground, the video counters the glitzy skyscrapers of China’s neoliberal modernization with the hand- made. 

No Woman, No Drive .jpg

No Women, No Drive

Saudi Arabia, 2013 | Hisham Fageeh

Telfaz11’s video reworks the 1974 Bob Marley reggae song “No Woman, No Cry” to criticize the ban on female drivers in a comedic mode. Dressed in Saudi-style white thawb, red-checked shemagh, and black egal, Fageeh and his friends Fahad Albutairi and Alaa Wardi perform as a band, some characters wearing hipster 1980s-style glasses. The video received nine million views within days of being posted.