Thinking through Digital Media

Transnational Environments and Locative Places

 

Chapter 1: Taking Things Apart to Convene Micropublics

Thinking through digital media highlights collaborative and participatory aspects of media practice to convene critical micropublics, yet it also highlights the potential for control and surveillance. One of the primary objectives of the hacker ethos of “taking things apart” is to understand the invisible and inaudible aspects of digital media as well as the larger networks that shape social interactions and productions of knowledge along with state and corporate structures that seek to contain them. 

 
 
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Invisible Threads

United States, 2007 | Stephanie Rothenberg and Jeff Crouse

Pan-O-matic’s Invisible Threads invites audiences to become participants by ordering custom-made designer jeans from a virtual sweatshop, called Double Happiness Manufacturing, located in the social-networking environment of Second Life. Rothenberg and Crouse have created tongue-in-cheek, DIY-style, video entitled, 10 Simple Steps to You Own Virtual Sweatshop, for “aspiring virtual entrepreneurs.”56 The tag line for the video asks: “Are repressive labor laws and expensive real estate getting in the way of owning your very own sweatshop?” 

 
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The Monsantra Project

Canada/United States, 2010 | Wendy DesChene and Jeff Schmuki

The Monsantra Project combines tactical and locative media to promote critical thinking and political action about GMOs. Rifting on the name for a corporation that makes the news mostly for destroying economies and facilitating poverty, it explores the unpredictable and often fatal consequences when GMOs become food. GMO plant hybrids are reengineered by grafting edible plants to robotic, remote-controlled bases. 

 
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Bomberman 2014

South Korea/United States, 2013 | Hye Young Kim and Tohm Judson

 Bomberman 2014 reworks a popular computer game from the 1980s by updating the implications of its gameplay for the 2010s around the place of urban bombings. Whereas Bomberman’s original iteration was set in an anonymous maze of Planet Bomber, Bomberman 2014 uses recognizable locations where bombers have destroyed property and injured and killed human and nonhuman life: Oklahoma City in 1995, Madrid in 2004, London in 2005, Mumbai in 2008, Boston in 2013.