Culture Jamming the RNC

A group of programmers, bicyclists, RSS junkies, multimedia gurus and bloggers called screensaversgroup are using mobile projectors on pickup trucks, WiFi, SMS, RSS feeds, and other real-time media to blast political counterweights onto the sides of buildings and sidewalks during the RNC. They’ve even developed their own KeyWorx software to gather, process, and collage incoming public opinion in real time.

The work they’re doing is non-destructive to physical property, but one of the Bikes Against Bush riders was arrested anyway, while giving an interview to a journalist.

Using a wireless Internet enabled bicycle outfitted with a custom-designed printing device, the Bikes Against Bush bicycle can print text messages sent from web users directly onto the streets of Manhattan in water-soluble chalk.

Music: Edith Piaf :: Mon Dieu

5 Replies to “Culture Jamming the RNC”

  1. Love today’s image from nowhere…

    /me hums to himself

    La la la, la-la la la

    La la la, la-la la la

    One banana, two banana, three banana, four…

  2. This is a great example of why keeping the new technologies limited to online activism is inherently limited. You have to hack the real world.

  3. Given that some poor schmoe would have had to wash the chalk off the street, it IS graffiti, and arresting the bicyclist was appropriate. Contrary to what some parties currently in power would have you believe, correct political sentiment does not give one carte blanche over the law.


  4. From a brief read-around, it seems that cities determine for themselves whether chalk graffiti is illegal or not. If you watch the arrest video:

    With MSNBC reporter Ron Reagan present, it seesm that New York’s finest are in fact very unsure whether it’s illegal in that city or not. They have to call the Sergeant, who has to call the Captain…. the whole process takes 40 minutes (not to mention the fact that the officers say they saw him do it while the MSNBC crew maintains that they did not – a separate controversy).

  5. Tboils down to who gets to use public space. I chalked for years in college and whether I got hassled depended mostly on if they were upset by what I was writing. Suburban kids don’t get arrested for hopscotch.

    Chalk doesn’t damage anything, and you don’t Have to go and wash it off, so it doesn’t require any city labor. You could just leave it and it will diappear in a few days. Graffiti laws are related to destruction of public property, but are being used to keep people from having to look at things they don’t want to see. My taxes paid for the sidewalks, I can’t use them for non-destructive art?

    Similar issue at home recently, with a local community prohibiting posting of flyers, even for nonprofit community events, on telephone poles.

    “we” want our cities to be clean and free of unexpected messages, not a tapestry layered with evidence of other people’s lives.

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