Electronic Distubances for Alter Globalization protests

The digital virus spreads through the datasphere the way biological virus spreads through our body. While a virus nucleus, its message, is covered  by”protein coat” ,  when it navigates, attaches and penetrates into the cells of the host body.

The protein shell of the media virus is the “meme” . It ca be an invetion,event,a music riff,visual image,system of tought,scientific theory etc.. as long as it attracts our attention. (Ruskoff, 1994, p. 11-12)The main element of the meme success is not irony but , to be mobile, easily replicable and well suited for the ecosystem that it has to travel.(Boyd, 2002)

Modern movement of social resistance have understood that the web is an instrument for spreading ideas and gaining global support but they had to become virtual organizations: without central office,archives or fixed membership.

They engaged in acts electronic resistance that differ from cyber crimes since they don’t destroy systems, but are programmed to disturb them. The Electronic civil disobediance, is a partecipative action from down below, that hits a software without anonymate and hyper sophistication.

FloodNet, is the example.It is a tool for web jamming created to support the 90’s protests of the Zapatistas  community claiming the indipendence of the state of Chipas in . The FloodNet(work) targeted the URL of the Mexican Governament website and by refreshing and reloading its page for several times per minutes , blocked th site for an hour.Several error log spammed on the website, including the names of the dead farmers . It encouraged interaction between individual protesters that could send their political concerns with justice or democracy to the server error log thus causing the server to return messages like “Democarcy not found on this server” or the Error 404 page.  8000 people have been registered reloading  on a Java Script.

Thanks to international partecipation on FloodNet Zapatistas farmers reached  support in the information space  that generated waves of protests from foreign journalist and activists .Zapatistas even received the support of the European Union that condemned the president Zedillo and invited him to re-initiate the peace process. The latest development laws like Plan Cañadas are focused on suppressing future upraisals of the area instead of improving quality of life, maybe is time for nother action of electronic civil disobedience .


Duncombe, S. (2002). Cultural resistance reader. 1st ed. London: Verso.

Thing.net. (2016). floodnet. [online] Available at: http://www.thing.net/~rdom/ecd/floodnet.html [Accessed 22 Nov. 2016].



Culture Jamming and the shifts to Conscious Advertisement




The idea that  unrelated concepts or events could be linked and remembered over time, was drawn from experiment’s fundings  of psychologist Ivan Pavlov, where a dog , salivated,to an object signifier rather than food signified  has sprawl among psychologists generating the job of many semioticists nowadays.

Corporations hire semiotics who can come up with fresh imaginary links that could generate stimulus over the latest can of drink or insurance deal. Overabundance has made of advertisement a technique for eluding the consumer that a certian product has satisfying power on our profound needs.


Different adverestisements promise the same things: not a soap, not a resturant, but Youth and Strenght






Best brands make the consumers rotate around an “Attraction Economics” whose communication inspires and irrational devotion. Hence our  future presents are wrappeds into  abstract ideas and symbols like power love and patriotism that replace genuine descriptions.

Responses are predicted through psychological, neurological findings,while verbal and tricks are used to harness repulsion. Presumptions, for example are definite descriptions ,iterative verbs and syntactic constructions. They confront with a dogmatic truth, supported either by a majority of consensus or an emotional cause.

Moreover the implicit and funny language of  advertisemant  works on a different level than the one of rational communication: by focusing on the mental links that animals build between unrelated items,it guides the consumer’s imagination to form intended meanings.

But the final meaning is not the only thing advertisement build on and hid. By constructing brand image, advertisement also create a bigger distance between the producer and the consumer. The screen to the production ethics and processes, that advertisement  is, creates a “unbalanced” relationship, in which people are subordinated to the needs and lifestyle advertised   that are in turn formulating ( factious) collective desires and needs.

The practice of cultural jamming and semiotic terrorism aims at freeing people from this subordination by subverting word tricks and logos to reveal the hidden reality behind the familiar bra-ad.


Adverisment Jamming in occasion of the COP2 last year, Paris















365dff3effb69cb254aa5cabb1773034Most jammings are protests,which use the informal power of advertisement to generate awakening toughs. Intrusive advertisement disrupting lifestyle and objects try  tocommunicate the need for getting out of the functional system and look at the ourselves as part of bigger world and its social and ecological happenings …promising physical and spiritual wellbeing instead of packacges of abstract concepts and (cheap) materialistic satifaction.




Protesting for a Prefigurative Community

The idea of a protest as a mass demonstration of dissent is changed in the twenty first century because the neo liberal system of the western world has developed way of commodifing everything from food to lifestyles. All the Citizens have been given the price of becoming better citizens, to dress up, make up and having expensive and perfect possessions. On the working environment they are encouraged to be individualist and entrepreneur as to gain sponsorship they need for making an impact on the world economy.

Maintaining the social system, as Brexit shown, is a predictable way that people would have taken as this makes them feel protected and confident. The same system had incorporated so many different cultures and countercultures is claiming nationality and building racist walls. The act that the cities her in the UK are completely controlled by CCTVs does make it more scaring s the culture is regressing they could become instrument of control over unwanted people and also future predicting machines that control opposition movements.

The people coming on the streets for the anti-Brexit march this July were 30,000 but did not achieve much since the new prime minister of the conservatory part, Theresa May, passed a new earing threshold of £ 35,000 that almost caused the deportation of a school teacher. Politics feel unbounded to economics as much as the beginning of the first industrialization but still incapable of embracing change for a deep renovation in society that could led to a prefigurative community either good or bad.

As Brexit will take place, control will just increase and a new ideology of closure spread. This is moment for artists committed to social political change to over think the traditional street protest and to curate a strategy for a prefigurative community which, quoting the reporter Margot Adler, enables people to acknowledge their bonds with other people and with nature, while political tactics are not communicating and systemizing one.


YouTube. (2016). HyperNormalisation by Adam Curtis BBC Documentary 2016 – Part 1. [online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U5IQevTbfa4 [Accessed 25 Oct. 2016].

Dpaonthenet.net. (2016). Seeing beyond the cameras: predicting movements in CCTV blind spots. [online] Available at: http://www.dpaonthenet.net/article/55545/Seeing-beyond-the-cameras–predicting-movements-in-CCTV-blind-spots.aspx [Accessed 25 Oct. 2016].

Matt Dathan, A. (2016). Anyone from a non-EU country living in the UK must earn more than £35,000 if they want to stay. [online] The Independent. Available at: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/theresa-may-urged-to-rethink-new-35000-earnings-threshold-for-non-eu-migrants-as-teachers-face-a6814841.html [Accessed 25 Oct. 2016

Duncombe, S. (2002). Cultural resistance reader. London: Verso.

YouTube. (2016). Tactical Performance: Thinking Theatrically for Powerful Protest: Larry Bogad at TEDxUCDavis. [online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=psRuhwkwt5Q [Accessed 25 Oct. 2016].



As a feedback for the meeting on the current state of artistic activism, Duncombe and Lambert decided to write a letter to art critics as it emerged the need to create a method of evaluation for the delicate theme of political art.

An artist committing his talent to a political cause has to think further than his mere technical possibilities and image his artwork as a campaign i.e. a piece which is functional to the aim of changing what people see of the world. Since the action of the people towards positive progress is what the political artist has in mind, an analysis of his audience is essential for laying the hypothetical ways in which his artwork could affect this people.

There are two different types of political art, one that represent reality and another one, to which Duncombe and Lambert refer, whose aims are provoking change and making sense out of this world, but only the latter is concerned with transcending the boundaries of the public’s culture. The art critic is bounded to the public too since the audience for political art is broader and their moral judgments have to be respected in order to really measure the effectiveness of the artist’s communication.

Political art history can be read through the histories of social movements and textbook on marketing, advertising and public relations, so the critic who wants to examine political art has to study history and ideologies in order to evaluate the medium. Political art is connected with the times and the social circumstance, thus its medium is a selected after political consideration on the audience to become the message.

The art critic must consider aesthetics to the extent they don’t compromise the message expressed but help it reaching popularity. Therefore the political art critic becomes part of the team by delivering instructive critiques that help the artist or stop him by achieving his cause and transform society.

ELISA MELODIA               


My choice of investigating the political art involved in world changing events derived from the readings over Greenberg’s critics on Dada and Bauhaus. I could not believe that Dada was a failed revolution because is saw its influences all over the 20th century history of counter culture posters and it has postmodern repetitions still. Moreover, the interest in the role of visual communication in political protests as well as at its service of propaganda helped me giving a meaning to the sketches I was doing for Vivienne Westwood ‘climate revolution’ magazine and personal poster-art. Photojournalism, photomontage, design and political art is nowadays so entangled into the newspaper that I am hoping to gain from this course relevant insight on how to use                                           art as a journalistic tool as well as an activist one.


Report and evaluation of the Interview “EL SEED’S NEW HOME” by Emily McDermott


EMILY MCDERMOTT: So I know you decided to revisit your Tunisian heritage in your teens. What sparked that decision?

EL SEED: It was an identity crisis. I was born and raised in France, but I never really felt French, so I needed to find something that I was more connected to. I used to go back to Tunisia every summer, but I was more into the language, my Arabic roots. I couldn’t know about my culture, my history, without learning the language, so I started learning Arabic—reading, writing. I used to speak Arabic before that, but Tunisian Arabic dialect. Step by step, I discovered calligraphy. I painted before and I just brought the calligraphy into my artwork. That’s how everything started. The funny thing is the fact that going back to my roots made me feel French.

MCDERMOTT: Really? How did it make you feel French?

SEED: In France, they make you feel that you cannot be two things at the same time. You can’t be French and Arabic; you can’t be French and Muslim. When actually, you have one identity made of different parts. Depending on where you are, at what time in your life, some things are higher or deeper. That’s what I understood later: that I’m French and Tunisian, and I’m accepting the French part of my identity.

MCDERMOTT: When was the first time you painted on the streets?

SEED: ’98 in France. [It was] just a small drawing, like a guy with hair. I wrote the name of a friend from my neighborhood. It was just a teenager piece.

MCDERMOTT: Was it around then that you created your name?

SEED: Yeah, “eL Seed” came at the same time. It was inspired by the French play Le Cid by Pierre Corneille. It was seeing “Le Cid” coming from the Arabic name “el sayed,” which means “the master, the man.” So I called myself like that because I was 16; I said, “Yes, I’m the man.” That’s how it started.

MCDERMOTT: As you grew older, did you consider changing it? What did you think about calling yourself “the man” or “the master?”

SEED: Oh no, I changed it. I used to write it “scid,” and I changed it a few years ago to “seed,” like “the seed,” going back to Arabic, getting back to my roots.

MCDERMOTT: So coming from France and having Tunisian heritage, how did you come to open a studio space at Alerskal Avenue in Dubai?

SEED: I was based in Montreal and then I left and moved to the region. I did an art residency in a place called Tashkeel. I noticed I liked the region, I like the energy, and I think Dubai is a good place. There’s this energy here that I was needing. I felt like I needed a studio, like I needed to be based here. I knew about this initiative Alserkal and this other space called d3 [the Dubai Design District]. Then we talked with Alerskal, I think a year ago, and it was just a conversation on and off. In September, I said “You know what, I’m just going to take this space,” and I decided to take it.

MCDERMOTT: How has Dubai influenced you? It’s such a global, transient place, and you work on such a global scale…

SEED: You meet a lot of people coming from a lot of different places. Even me, I’m always in transit. I don’t stay anywhere too long. I like the energy that I found when I came here the first time. I start knowing people, and people start knowing me as well. Then the opportunity, the support you can find here—you can’t find that anywhere else. It’s inspiring. I think to be in this kind of community, you have The Odd Piece opposite my studio, the Ikonhouse, and galleries—people in transit from one door to another door. It’s like somebody will buy something from The Odd Piece, and then they’ll come visit my studio. It’s a network that’s created.

MCDERMOTT: How do you select where you’re going to do one of your installations, and from that, what inspires the quote you paint?

SEED: It depends on the topic I’m exploring. I’ve been working a lot with identity and roots, being part of your roots. I went into this topic where I was trying to break the stereotype of Arabic language. The non-translation work, this is where I make the switch, where you don’t need to translate. Today, I’m more into the perception scope of a work; I’m exploring this concept of perception and how people can look at someone, look at the community, and put in so much judgment, so much stereotype, so much misconception. I’m trying to create artwork that makes people, and myself, think about judgment as a reflex. This is something that must be changed.

MCDERMOTT: You obviously draw many quotes from philosophical books and religious texts. What have you been reading lately that you find inspiring?

SEED: Right now I’m reading Colonel Chabert, a French book about this military guy who fights for Napoleon and that everybody thinks is dead, but then he comes back. I’m also rereading Orientalism from Edward Said. It’s a really tough book. I read it a few years ago and I’m trying to read it again. That’s the kind of stuff I’m into now. I was reading a lot about Coptic art recently because I’m working on a project in the Coptic community. Sometimes the reading is related to something I do, sometimes it’s not. I feel like every time I read something, there’s a quote or something that comes [into the work] later. There’s nothing that happens by coincidence. It’s fate, I would say.

MCDERMOTT: In your TED Talk, when talking about the fact that not everyone can read or understand your works, you said, “You don’t need know the meaning to feel the piece.” Can you expand upon that idea?

SEED: I’ve seen it personally that people have a natural sensibility to Arabic script. I don’t know it if it’s because of the shape, I don’t know what it is in this script that makes it so universal. But even if you don’t understand it, you still have this feeling; you can feel the piece of art in front of you. I say, “It touches your soul before it touches your eyes.” This is a true thing, because everywhere I’ve been, from South Africa to Brazil, people are connected to it. For me, art is a way to bring people together. You can put people on the same level, the perception is the same. You can bring a worker, like a cleaning guy, or the richest guy on earth, and they will have the same feeling or they would be able to feel the same. Art brings people back to their sensibility as human beings. This is the purpose of art: To bring people together and bring back the humanity as well.

Published 01/29/16



During Quoz arts Festival Emily McDermott visited the Mural artist El Seed to his new studio in Dubai where she could interview him after the visiting hours. She designed the interview in four phases.

The first part researches the personal identity and the history of the artist going beyond the artist as we know it. The interviewer aims at understanding El Seed’s design as a subject and investigates the roots of his art…. This way the interviewer draws a connection line between the reader and the interviewed as she did with the informal title “El Seed New Home” in which every reader could identify. Avoiding in this phase, to talk about the career, McDermott Goes into personal intimacy of the teenager he used to be with his insecurities over a mixed race and diversity.
The interest then shifts to the origins of the artist’s name and his public image; the interviewer dedicates two questions to the explanation of the artistic identity that as graffiti writer lies behind the invented name that is an alter ego brought up by his French education and the belonging to Tunisian Culture .
In the third phase McDermott, ask the artist his impression on his new house and to describe his lifestyle in Dubai; the intro explaining the occasion of her visit, the Quoz arts Festival, reveal an interest in promoting the venue and the event to a western public even if the interview is mainly on the artist profile. The interviewer probably edited the answer on Dubai in order to add dynamism, as it is a real concentrate of incredible places.

The Art works are finally examined trough design with a didactic effect on the public who learns how to look at the art work. The artist’s philosophy projects the reader into the future which seem sparkling as an external link to his last TED talk is included. Emily McDermott questions in a simple and informal way while she shapes a humble profile, for the artist to be closer to the people.


The contemporary role of the mural “Man at the Crossroads” by the Mexican artist Diego Riviera


Many are the  voices in history that are been shut by government rules, the meaning of the world terrorism has changed so much since then. The Utopian colonization by one same philosophy over the country was conceived as a mean to reunite people in united masses but the failure of this project provoked a radical change and the redefinition of peoples’ role in society and consequent rights.

Back then, when? In the black and white photographic history of the 20th century, a sparkling light of colour did attracted the attention to the developing welfare society. The world, divided by Ideologies followed the myth of a man, in totalized masses, against everything thus becoming extremely effective to attain to the order, which was so critical that managed to abolish discussion, as thought was considered a weapon. However these where years of deep beliefs and strong affirmations. Freemans were now writing for them self, big as the state, and thus feeling empowered to fully express their ideals. Figurative representation had rejoiced of the vibrant changes brought by the regimes, which reclaiming the rebirth of traditions gave artists and writers plenty historical “ideal” subjects on which to reimagine the modern men.

The development of this cultural impulse has taken different shapes around the globe. While is common the ideal men of totalitarianism as a strong father and a hero of the Roman history, the case of Mexican people remains unique because they were influenced by the Russian revolution of proletariat, which was taken as a principal subject for the art of the period.

Mexico lived one hundred years of revolutionary days that saw the fall of over sixty governments…Only in the first years of the 20th century the development of a strong thought, the empowerment of the proletariat, attempted to smash the only hope for the end of anarchy. Their official voice was Francisco Madero who eventually allied with the peasant too, the Zapatistas, , to organize a revolution against the long and undemocratic dictatorship of Diaz.

Madero is killed and his successor, Carranza, creates the constitution helped that a party that is conservative democrat. The latter orientation was far too conservative to include the Zapatistas in the plan, since they were far more radical and progressive. They grouped in Morelos that was later invaded by the government army. A classist dictatorship was reshaping and the disintegration of the army only, could have brought another wave of upraises. No much later Zapatistas and Alvaro Obregon with a part of the army allied with the support of the communist labour party. Obregon then becomes president and the Zapatistas win their causes. Revolution was integrated in the name of his party who saw brilliant leaders who committed then to social right, fighting organized criminality, improving education and welfar

064                         _dsc4516              Zapatistas were peasant warriors lead by Massimiliano Zapata ( right side photo)


Since the advent of the constitutionalists, the state agreed to free itself from European influences including the Roman Catholic religion. Symbols of faith and colonization were to be replaced with the “Mexican model” a common set of traditional means of expression that withdraw elements from the Mexican true culture: the Pre-Colombian one. Throughout the revolution was incorporated by many artisans who were brought together by the “Manifesto of The Technical Workers, Painters and Sculptors” Technical workers where linked to the art and so the arts where closer to their struggles. The proletariat became the subject of many sacral places which already had a function of speaking to the masses. The new beliefs fell on work, and community, therefore the holy trinity of the laic faith was replaced by the three entities of the worker, peasant and the Indian, of the revolutionary society.

The Painters of the Murals movement saw in the painting of walls the perfect place as mean to expressing an art that depicted the everyday life and the human struggles with the emphasis on the historical shaped by the action of the people. The location of the mural arts where the temples of history and the paintings means to liberate the masses from oppression. Diego Riviera a real popular Mexican artist and writer made politics the matter of his paintings and were themselves his ways of collaborating in the communist party.

Diego Riviera believed in the Mexican Model and was of the political idea that the nation’s culture was a product and a possession of the people. He read Marx, and followed the Russian revolution with a particular affection towards Lenin. Diego Riviera had painted churches and important institutes in Europe, Soviets and America with crowds and emblematic anthropologic symbols in the style of the pre-Colombian societies sculptures that emphasized virility and strength of the body. The events depicted did not lack of a hint to his politics.


Example of Pre colombian art whose features of the human body are much more different than the classical idols


The commitment to the revolutionary case which was continuously fervent strengthen his belief in the theories and (critiques) of Lenin who dedicated a series of speaks to the role of painting and literature in the communist revolution. Diego was then invited to America to paint some murals, first in Detroit and in New York. The modern industry sparkled there and Riviera had the occasion of visiting some factories from inside. He was fascinated by the American technological achievements but didn’t realized that the American society wasn’t based on the manufactural work of the people in the assembly line, but in abstract fluxes of money. In Detroit he painted the rumours of that new age of development: metallic wheels screeching and the production’s elements anthropomorphized in the meeting of the man with the machine as the ruling spirit of the future’s progress.

As a consequence Diego was eventually invited to New York, they flash light city, by Nelson Rockefeller to paint another of his murals. His experience of American glorious development seemed to be symbolized in the Rockefeller centre. He made a contract with Rockefeller, the sketches were accepted and he started the painting “The man at the crossroads” . Riviera did accept the conditions of the contract, strictly stating the impossibility of changing the sketches and so on…


Man at the Crossroads Looking with Hope and High Vision to the Choosing of a New and Better Future





Riviera wanted to trigger his power and depicted the face of Lenin, the rhetor of the revolution and of masses in movement, a brilliant terrorist whose talks on the rights of the masses were threatening to the capitalist power still setting and expanding the control of its members. When he was asked to delete the face he had preferred the physical destruction than the conceptual, so Rockefeller contented him by ordering an immediate demolition of the whole wall he was painting on.


The painting was a crowded representation of many stereotypical characters in society. The workers masses and the intellectuals of America were positioned on the opposite site of the canvas while, an ideal a man stayed in the middle surrounded by four ideological ellipses, evoking the spinning blades of a plane. The shapes contain complex compositions of contact gears, while the other two incorporate microscopic biological cells. He unites the machine and the working man with classical examples too, white statues one head missing with the fasces the other one with a book and no hands. A message of integration and peace, appearing to be sponsored by Lenin and Trotsky.

Diego Riviera career as a mural political artist changed almost suddenly, he dedicated himself to more traditional representation that could communicate the life of the indigenes to the modern Mexican people. And he eventually managed to reproduce the Manhattan mural in Mexico City where he added the presence of Nelson Rockefeller, next to syphilis cells, apparently to celebrate development in medical sciences. The American experience changed his life and his needs, and Riviera never painted political art anymore but the painting’s scandal became subject for the movie “the Crossroads” and was quoted in the film “Frida” , in Hollywood.

Riviera style of painting become revolutionary only outside his country and shocked the world with the walls as means of representation, capable of speaking to the people whose alienation could have been disrupted. Diego gave voice the thousands of people but the different reality he was working in didn’t recognize his wish for inclusion of the masses in the ruling system which he expressed by painting the face of man who spoke for the proletariat, in the chiasmus puzzle of the picture, as wish of good luck “for a better social organization” too. In the industry he saw the force of man’s action empowered and was fascinated by the results but also conscious of the importance of arguing for the respect of the working class.


The painting has an incredible force in its placement, a public space, helped by the conditions of the new constitutions could recreate public imagery and celebrate people’s culture. Political manifestations happening on the streets are always accompanied by symbolic features that are left along their passage. But Diego was not only a politician, -as he stated- but primarily a painter who’s duty was to represent the emotional and moral side of politics and society, thus being capable of moving hearts; This why it should have exactly where it was supposed to because, being in Mexico, it has become a mausoleum for the martyr painting. Is the first political mural to be so ostentatiously destroyed in the world, to show the active role of representation on people, thus empowering visual culture as a means to reach for rights and democracy. The fact it has been destroyed showed how the world was in fact not democratic still for its scope vanishes when freedom of expression is obtained.




Exhibiting and the Gestalt Principles



To put something in a vitrine means making it interesting while telling something about the history of the object and its cultural background means contextualizing it and justifying its relevance for the posterity. According to Michael Baxandall, the art historian who first developed a relation between art history and commerce, exhibition means construction around an object, its position, display and description. This format of information – decontextualized and re-contextualized by experts- permits appropriation of knowledge just like a book and its narrative. He sees exhibiting as an information tool.


An Exhibition that resembles a sensitive experience, like mostly happens nowadays, is conscious of different learning styles: visual, auditory and kinetical. Visitors are immersed in a certain environment that stimulates as much senses as possible often being involved into the making of the exhibition itself. The Tate Britain open galleries are disposed at the side of long atrium of typical Victorian architecture: hard stone and high ceilings. The space is hosting an invisible experiment by Susan Philipsz  “War Damaged Musical Instruments”. By placing several speakers on the four corners of the room the air is filled   with the art of sound, resonating magnificently in the long space and immersing the visitor into an ‘aural’ atmosphere that carries them around through the galleries where paintings and sculptures are disposed for contemplation. By installing powerful megaphones in the main atrium, the curators were able to maintain the situation of intellectual appreciation that we can breathe in a fine art museum, thus creating continuity all over the exhibition-experience path.


Furthermore, such fashion for involving the visitor senses brings the exhibition itself, closer to the human experience. Humboldt et lab (2013) displayed outfits and commo n objects in vitrine with the purpose to convey a half of an intelligible story and increase the imaginative thinking of spectators.

The Gestalt’s psychological principles formulated at the end of the XX century in Germany explain the way we make connections between things on the basis of six rules: simplicity, similarity, proximity, continuity, closure and symmetry. The experiment of exposing party outfits without the people that wore them, creates empty spaces that our brain is naturally challenged to fill, by the rule of ‘closure’. This reflections are particularly useful for filmmakers and writers who can imagine a whole story behind objects and outfits aside.

gestalt principles

The role of the curator hence is that of the guide and inspirer: as a frame she can create focus and distort attention but disappears behind the scenes, leaving the public to interact and respond to her narrative setting


It.wikipedia.org. (2016). Michael Baxandall. [online] Available at: https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Baxandall [Accessed 5 May 2016].

Tate.org.uk. (2016). Tate structure and staff: Tate Britain. [online] Available at: http://www.tate.org.uk/about/who-we-are/tate-structure-and-staff/tate-britain [Accessed 5 May 2016].

Humboldt-forum.de. (2016). Pictures – Humboldt-Forum. [online] Available at: http://www.humboldt-forum.de/en/humboldt-lab-dahlem/project-archive/probebuehne-1/pre-show/pictures/ [Accessed 5 May 2016].

Lupton, E. and Phillips, J. (2008). Graphic design. New York: Princeton Architectural Press.


The Top-Secret Archive in South London: a Word about 56 A

The Top-Secret Archive in South London: a Word about 56 A

Hidden but not so far, 56 A is a collective settled in S1 from the 80’. Members are of anarchist orientation, hence they avoided paying the rent until 2003 when most of their space was evacuated by the police. Nowadays the group organizes the remaining rooms selling books, keeping an archive, and helping people with their bikes. Although this kind of practices is now considered proper ‘hipsterism’ and new age, the collective distinguishes itself by accepting no founds and respecting the uneasy rules of a socialist living while committing to the memory of anarchism.

“I can’t say that I’m personally thrilled by the idea of anti-G8 protests or the Dissent! rented social centres but I can’t categorically say that something radical or worthwhile will not come out of them. I dont think the anyone would class these centres as ‘direct action’ but there must be an increased possibility of affinity or direct actions happening as a result of social interactions. Any of the famous counter-summit meetings of the last few years had a legal relationship to the State (permission to march, legal zones, sleeping places etc.) but it didn’t stop individuals and groups taking direct action from within these structures”

(Text by Nothing,2016)


The entrance to the collective is located in 56 Crampton Road, but has the guise of a D.I.Y bike shop where you can learn how to fix your bike and buy replacement pieces. As we get in, we find a small room where some people are sitting and chatting. The room is the Radical Archive, it contains publication covering anarchist theories, communist thinkers and living examples of political association that include the history of movements like Zapatistas, Situationists and Sindacalists.

The room’s walls are overcrowded with such dossiers categorized by country: France, Italy and Germany dominate. But the little space does not serves as a memorial to consult only, but also sells articles and books mainly concerning radical theories against capitalism, individualism and racism. They refer to as communists but the literature sold in the shop does not include the party system but remains on the side of associational socialism and community living against the empire and dominant state of government.


According to this belief, they sell independent magazines, known as ‘zines’ which illustrate social and environmental causes to the general public together with academic (but always radical) essays and posters, grouped by unusual categories: environment, punk movement, anarchism, communism, socialism, syndicalism, art theory, human rights, gender etc.


The collective is a multicultural community organizing gig’s, selling anti mainstream food products (as Zapatist coffee) and doing workshops for squatting. However, as we talked to the oldest member, we got to know that the group was facing a moment of decadence due to their submission to the rent and the scarce income from book selling. “Being completely unfounded, the kind man told, we are facing hard times”, and seemed less committed to the cause of decisive action because “I have no time for doing anything”.


This narrowed space is hidden jewel of persisting ideology, solidarity and inspiration for real radical thinkers. The fact they are now paying the rent does not mean that they have been absorbed in the system because the books they sell are unique and usually excluded by mainstream libraries and academies .Since squatting is approved by the UK law but what happens next (giving food and entertainment without license) is not, by keeping squatting workshops and acting as a network for squatters too, 56a promotes the humanitarian idea association and help hampered by rules of bureaucracy and economy.


56a.org.uk. (2016). 56aInfoshop. [online] Available at: http://www.56a.org.uk/rent.html [Accessed 30 Apr. 2016].

Oulipo : on Verbal Expressionism

When Virginia Woolf wrote Mrs Dolloway in 1925 she introduced the technique of the interior monologue,  which freed writing from traditional praxis and allowed a fluent recollection of past a present impressions, with such devices such as flashbacks and theme digression.

Hence, sentences  are really long, only 8 eight dots figured in the 300 word text, thus showing the fluent shifts between different thoughts but also the tendency towards obsession that is overthinking.

The book does not follow a chronological order. Instead, it floats through subjective time and switches location  as the character is reminded by something else by the sight of something.

And as she began to go with Miss Pym from jar to jar, choosing, nonsense, nonsense, she said to herself, more and more gently, as if this beauty, this scent, this colour, and Miss Pym liking her, trusting her, were a wave which she let flow over her and surmount that hatred, that monster, surmount it all; and it lifted her up and up when – oh! A pistol shot in the street outside!

(Woolf, Mrs Dalloway)


Virginia Woolfs attempt destabilizes the writing tradition and liberates content from the constraints of  chronology. It’s a modernist approach, the one she adopts, radically discarding the rules of the past. Her writing style, which employs the stream of consciousness technique, is charged with emotions and reactions that distort the world because show the view of character on universe with personal physical laws.

Although the book was inspired by the freudian theories of subconscious, Virginias’s anachronistic writing, is adherent to a the logic of dispersion: a set of rules and devices that the writer follows and employs for the construction of her narrative. Hence, the fact that the text does not appear logical does not mean that it is.

Virginia’s is a pillar to modernist explorations in literature: her example would have been followed by many experimental poets such as the futurists and surrealists. By cutting with representational language she opens up a new poetic of hyperrealism that exaggerates her space travels by focusing on particular words, their order, their position on the vocabulary and their lexical manipulation as method for composing verses.

In the post war period, following a violent repression of speaking rights and the imposition of totalitarian categories over written language, Europe saw the advent of a progressive group of writes and mathematicians , grouped under the name of OULIPO (Ouvroir de Litterature Potentielle) that decided to revolutionise structures of literary composition.

They came up with mathematical exercises that could have applied to language such as numerical succession and numerical patterns. One of the most delightful examples is the integration of the problem ‘Knight’s Tour of the chess-board’ and permutations with the  use of the vocabulary: the result was the exercise Oulipo N+7 according to which the second verse, starting from a significant sentence, would be the equivalent of the first one with its nouns displaced by the seventh word that is following them on the vocabulary.




Nowadays there is the ‘N+7 Machine’ a website that generates your second verse. By submitting the sentence

‘A prozac a day keeps the health service away’ (which is a new proverb invented by another Oulipo’s member Francois Caradec)

the server gives you over N+15 answers according to the Oulipian rule

as long as we go down sentences seem to lose any apparent connection to the first one until we get to answer number 15 where our verse is transmuted in

‘a prozac a dean leaves the heath sex away’

The Oulipo’s aim was to transcend traditional structural constraints such as sonnets and sestina in order to create new fixed structures of composition that the modern poet could have filled with their own material. As Virginia was imposing a structure with all the long sentences and surprising links and flashbacks so did the Oulipo proposed a new set of rules which where surprisingly logical and strict but created abnormal sentences without an evident link.

One of the most striking application of the group devices was made by George Perec in his lipogrammatic novel “A Void”. The Novel is really famous because of the absence of Es which make it still readable but create a sense of discomfort and lack in to the reader. Using the easyest of the arithmetical tricks, subtraction, the author convey the secret theme of the book, the lack itself.

The void is noir telling about  group of human looking for a missing companion (probably referring to vowels and the E). Perec’s dismissal of the vowel from the story has a meaning that goes beyond the history. When he was young he had to leave his parents due to the second world war, when he was sent to Paris to save himself from concentration camps. Considering that in french ‘sans e’ (without E) sounds like ‘sans eux’ (without them), it clear that the his trick, which may be discarded as mere disruptive, is the finest analysis of the word as a material which has  the guise of a work of  art : evocative and expressionist.




Woolf, Virginia. Mrs. Dalloway. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Co., 1925. Print.

Christian, Peter. “N+7: Generated Text”. Spoonbill.org. N.p., 2016. Web. 29 Apr. 2016.


“Oulipo: N+7”. Languageisavirus.com. N.p., 2016. Web. 29 Apr. 2016.

Mathews, Harry, Alastair Brotchie, and Raymond Queneau. Oulipo Compendium. London: Atlas Press, 1998. Print.

Narratives and Vision: Self Expression is never impossible


Screen Shot 2016-04-29 at 12.38.24 PM

“Checking each line, each variation,once, twice, increasingly the project was about keeping count and making sure”

Caroline Bergavall, a poet living in London, made an experiment on identity thought the translations of Dante’s Inferno first stanzas. She claims that the translations of the famous poem have become a sort of ‘cultural industries’ where she want to collaborate by creating a poem of her own that compares forty-eight interpretations of the same content thus showing the subjectivity involved in the act of recreating the ambient with different means of expression.



The expression “Creating an Ambient” can relate to the physical  sphere too. Different means of expression allow the atomization of feelings belonging to cultural history and people, but abstraction is the key: by elevating the sensible stimuli to the heights of our intellect and working with ideas, the possibilities of references and tool’s practical usages can expand infinitely and  of change the public’s perception of events .


The ways to reach a satisfying expression of a given context can be imagined before and taken into action later hence, categories of images,words,sounds and performance, can branch out in many direction for the idea to be communicated and understood. According to the study  by S.Grimaldi & al a narrative can be built on five complementary levels of requirements that are exemplified in Fig n.1 :

                            Representation of events
Causality or agency
                                                                                                                                                                                  Values and emotions
                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Conflicts & Climax






Fig. 1

Each level of narrative requires all the previous elements to be fulfilled and  when producing  complex narratives ( from D3 to D5) the author can emphasise one aspect  amongst the other, either enlightening the importance of the morale or insisting on the emotions of the character(s).

In the practice of design the narrative builds a relation between the product and the user but also can help the designer to get inspired by the user and its personal stories.Design can create a whole narrative which could evoke emotions to the user thus maintaining an emotional relation  trough time.

Objects of unpredictable outcomes, such a cash machines and card reader cannot help but  filling us with expectations and creating suspense for the moment of truth, when we get our money or find out we are broke. This object, even if not the most loved one, creates a narrative with its user who will remember of the time spent with the object and her feelings about it.

At a macro level, the design process can also be inspired by the history belonging to the client it is meant to satisfy. A striking example is city of Kiruna, built around a iron mine that provides 90% of iron to Europe. The heavy excavations put the stability of the city at a risk, hence when they decided to build it White Arkitekter planned a strategy for the removal of the whole city, house by house, to at least 20 km away from the mines.


Kiruna masterplan by White Arkitekter at the Venice Biennale, 2014 

Besides proving  a good balance between casualty and agency, a well-planned design strategy accounts of user’s feelings with ethical values, thus building a strong narrative between the designer and the people whose lives she is innovating.

kiruna plan

The city will be moved 20 km away from the expanding iron mines by the year 2033

Zooming in back to the microword we see that the system of objects can be simple and complex. When creating a narrative around a minimalist object the designer can emphatise with the user. The monotone stickers which were exposed at the Pick Me Up: Graphic Design Festival this year, are an example of user involvement with the designs that were then posted on a wall with the visitors’ own scribblers. A pack of Grayjam’s can be purchased for creating your own, unique stickers and put them around.

greyjam stickers

Whether it is to inform, inspire, educate and delight, an object with a narrative has a stronger influence on people’s life, here, more than now that we rely mostly on computers for our own education and information thus alienating ourselves from the everyday practice of learning trough experiencing.



“Masterplan By White Arkitetker For City Relocation Of Kiruna, Sweden”. Dezeen. N.p., 2014. Web. 28 Apr. 2016.


Grimaldi S., Fokkinga S., Ocnarescu I. (2013) Narratives in Design:’A Study of the Types, Applications and Functions of Narratives in Design Practice’,   Praxis and Poetics