Can Jokes Bring Down Governments? Memes, Design and Politics =Могут ли шутки свергать правительства? Мемы, дизайн и политика
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Can Jokes Bring Down Governments? Memes, Design and Politics =Могут ли шутки свергать правительства? Мемы, дизайн и политика
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Metahaven is an Amsterdam-based design collective specialising in politics and aesthetics. Founded by Daniel van der Velden and Vinca Kruk, Metahaven’s work reflects political and social issues through research-driven design, and design-driven research. In 2010, Metahaven published Uncorporate Identity, a design anthology for our dystopian age, with Lars Müller Publishers. Vinca Kruk teaches editorial design at ArtEZ Academy of Art and Design, Arnhem. Daniel van der Velden teaches design at Yale University, New Haven, and at the Sandberg Instituut, Amsterdam.
Metahaven (Метахавен), Can Jokes Bring Down Governments? Memes, Design and Politics =Могут ли шутки свергать правительства? Мемы, дизайн и политика / Metahaven (Метахавен) , - 3-е изд., (эл.) - Москва :Стрелка Пресс, 2017. - 73 с.: ISBN 978-5-906264-05-3. - Текст : электронный. - URL: https://znanium.com/catalog/product/972487 (дата обращения: 13.06.2021). – Режим доступа: по подписке.
- 07.04.01: Архитектура
- 07.04.03: Дизайн архитектурной среды
- 07.04.04: Градостроительство
- 07.00.00: АРХИТЕКТУРА
- 07.03.01: Архитектура
- 07.03.03: Дизайн архитектурной среды
- 07.03.04: Градостроительство
Текстовые фрагменты публикации
МЕТАХАВЕН МОГУТ ЛИ ШУТКИ СВЕРГАТЬ ПРАВИТЕЛЬСТВА? МЕМЫ, ДИЗАЙН И ПОЛИТИКА 3-е издание (электронное) Москва «Стрелка Пресс» 2017
METAHAVEN CAN JOKES BRING DOWN GOVERNMENTS? MEMES, DESIGN AND POLITICS 3-rd edition (electronic) Moscow Strelka Press 2017
УДК 72 ББК 85 M54 Metahaven. M54 Can Jokes Bring Down Governments? Memes, Design and Politics = Могут ли шутки свергать правительства? Мемы, дизайн и политика [Электронный ресурс] / Metahaven. — 3-rd ed. (el.). — Electronic text data (1 file pdf : 73 p.). — М. : Strelka Press, 2017. — System requirements: Adobe Reader XI or Adobe Digital Editions 4.5 ; screen 10". ISBN 978-5-906264-05-3 Metahaven is an Amsterdam-based design collective specialising in politics and aesthetics. Founded by Daniel van der Velden and Vinca Kruk, Metahaven’s work reflects political and social issues through research-driven design, and design-driven research. In 2010, Metahaven published Uncorporate Identity, a design anthology for our dystopian age, with Lars Muller Publishers. Vinca Kruk teaches editorial design at ArtEZ Academy of Art and Design, Arnhem. Daniel van der Velden teaches design at Yale University, New Haven, and at the Sandberg Instituut, Amsterdam. УДК 72 ББК 85 The source print publication: Can Jokes Bring Down Governments? Memes, Design and Politics. — Moscow : Strelka Press, 2013. — 62 p. — ISBN 978-0-9929-1468-4. ISBN 978-5-906264-05-3 © Strelka Institute for Media, Architecture and Design, 2014
A Definition of Now, Metahaven, 2012
We have all seen how an appropriate and well-timed joke can sometimes influence even grim tyrants... The most violent tyrants put up with their clowns and fools, though these often made them the butt of open insults. — Desiderius Erasmus, The Praise of Folly, 1509. A bottle of pop, a big banana We’re from southern Louisiana That’s a lie, that’s a fib We’re from Colorado. — From: C.H. Ainsworth, “Jump Rope Verses around the United States,” Western Folklore 20, 1961, 121. Cited in Susan Stewart, Nonsense.
01. INTRODUCTION May, 2012. I’m sifting through a bunch of old records, and the smell of dusty cardboard and vinyl, softened by the summer heat, fills the decrepit record store. Passing through the same old Michael Boltons and Ultravoxes, I pause at an album by George Clinton, the legendary founder of Funkadelic. The album title is Some of My Best Jokes Are Friends. It was released in 1985. A few hours later, I’m browsing the internet looking for evidence of political reform in Europe after the financial crisis. There is almost nothing; it’s the same old system obsessively staring at its own growth, or the lack thereof. Except for Iceland. Its constitution was rewritten by “crowdsourcing” — a trendy word for getting direct input from as many people as possible. The country brings its own corrupted bankers to court, where it has some trouble getting them convicted. The mayor of Reykjavik, Jon Gnarr Kristinsson, is a comedian; his party, the Best Party, became popular by parodying ruling politicians. In a pleasant combination of dispassionate rationality and raving madness, Iceland — a state with the population of a small city — seems a laboratory for reinventing politics. In Italy, a new kind of populist movement is gaining ground, headed by the comedian Beppe Grillo. His slogan Vaffanculo (“Fuck off”) has hundreds of thousands in its grip; his performances are entertaining political rants that promote self-organization and human values. Grillo is against Italy’s — 7 —
participation in the euro currency and, by virtue of that position only, fits into Europe’s centrist-totalitarian media discourse as a “dangerous” politician. His weapon is comedy, and what makes it effective is its natural juxtaposition to both the pompous “common sense” of technocratic bailout rule and the perverted, corrupted oligarchy of Berlusconi. Yes, Grillo is a merciless populist; but that’s not why he is popular — popular enough to come third in Italy's February 2013 elections. On Twitter, I find an essay by the Deterritorial Support Group (DSG), a think tank band of London-based graphic activists. Goatse As Industrial Sabotage links perverse internet images to political graphic design from the 1970s. DSG's thesis is as strangely plausible as it is, in a political sense, hilarious. A friend reminds me of Ethan Zuckerman's “Cute Cat Theory of Digital Activism ”. It holds that a digital platform where many people exchange pictures of cute cats is also an excellent place for political activism: if the state were to shut it down, people would protest because they could no longer exchange pictures of cute cats. (More likely, if this did happen, they would find another platform to exchange pictures of cute cats). Zuckerman contends that it is inherently fruitful to embed messages of political activism within widely popular online platforms, so that subversive content can 't be easily isolated by authoritarians. A question shapes itself in the early morning hours. Is it possible that graphic design has only one thing left to do, which is posting itself on the internet? And — to go a little bit further — is it possible that jokes have an untapped political power, which was historically always present but never so useful and necessary as now? Could, then, the leftovers of graphic design be turned into jokes? Might — through this re-allegiance - design rediscover actual societal impact ? — 8 —
Can jokes scale? Can they supersize? Can we laugh so loudly at those in power that they fall? Can jokes, in fact, bring down governments? November, 2012. We are told this is a time for tough decisions and certainly not a time for jokes. Governments of liberals, centre-right conservatives and social democrats have declared austerity throughout Europe. Their policies are a cocktail of the once-opposed extremes of their respective ideologies: there will be reduced public services (hail neoliberals), and there will, at the same time, be higher taxes (hail social democrats). Injustice is now fair. Austerity is promoted and imposed by a techno-financial superclass of managers. The austerity elite does not live in the countries where its regimes are imposed, and it most certainly does not live in the social circles affected by it. Where its rule is the harshest this superclass goes by the name of the troika. Comprising the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the European Central Bank (ECB) and the European Commission (EC), this roaming triumvirate of experts specialises in summary judgments of EU countries. Austerity is potentially unlimited. It has no boundaries. No austerity elite is willing to say: until here, and no further. The humanitarian crisis of austerity is none of its business. In unleashing austerity on its constituents, the political superclass has opened up a Pandora’s box of disastrous consequences. It has awakened and emboldened powerful enemies. Not just of austerity, but of democracy itself. Politicians in Europe are more afraid of financial markets than of their own people. Financial markets exercise a form of “direct — 9 —
democracy” over our lives everyday via the stock exchange, the bond markets, the ratings agencies, the banks, financial service providers and their products. While people may have their say every four to five years in parliamentary elections, they produce - at best -parodies of regime change. When financial trader Alessio Rastani, in a BBC interview, famously asserted that “governments don’t run the world, Goldman Sachs does” it left the presenters in a real state of shock. Did it really? The BBC journalists were actually surprised that it is profitable to cripple countries, as Rastani assured them was the case. Indeed, as of July 2012, no less than five key European financial executives are former employees of Goldman Sachs: Peter Sutherland, the Irish Director-General of the World Trade Organization; Italian prime minister Mario Monti; Greek prime minister Lucas Papademos; Petros Christodoulou, who leads Greece’s national debt management agency, and Mario Draghi, the Italian President of the ECB. On November 26, 2012, Mark Carney was named head of the Bank of England. He previously worked at Goldman Sachs.[3J In 2009 British author Mark Fisher coined the term “capitalist realism” to describe this paradigm of government. In a (still) notionally democratic system a state of permanent crisis, either looming or actual, is normalized. Capitalism is then established as “the only viable political and economic system” to the extent that “it is now impossible even to imagine a coherent alternative to it.” Fisher ’s American counterpart, the anthropologist David Graeber, located the key financial-political problem in the phenomenon of debt. In his book Debt: The First 5,000 Years, Graeber observed that “the last thirty years have seen the construction of a vast bureaucratic apparatus for the creation and maintenance of hopelessness, a giant machine designed, first and foremost, to destroy — 10 —
any sense of possible alternative futures [...]” so that “those who challenge existing power arrangements can never, under any circumstances, be perceived to win.” This analysis is right on the money, literally. The political system, practice and governing ideology of capitalist realism functions as a frameset which forces its political opponents to “speak the same language.” By means of such a “discourse” - an interplaying set of words, meanings, symbols and implications (a system, indeed, of “making sense” of the world) - any alternative (by the oppressed) must first be rendered in the language and protocol of the oppressor. There is, at first sight, nothing too funny about the death of social democracy. “Luxury for everyone” is now “financial oligarchy against the masses”. Pretty much everyone except the occasional oligarch’s beautiful daughter is doing worse than their parents did, in terms of job prospects and job security, whereas social development is stifled by an over-regulated and monetised public sphere. In the Netherlands, for example, alongside grave austerity, and despite millions of square meters of vacant office space being available as part of this country’s real estate bubble, squatting has been declared a criminal offense. Countries the West looks up to for their economic growth, such as Brazil, Russia, India and China, invariably show much steeper rich - poor divides than any Western government of the past 20 years would have deemed acceptable. It is a statement of fact that we have entered a world of drastic inequality - its political compass pointed toward much more of it. Graeber’s “99%” vs. “ 1%” binary became one of the Occupy movement’s dominant motifs - exposing how fundamental social inequality has become to Western governance. Worse, this ideology of resource distribution cannot be expelled from there by the conventional political and media channels. — 11 —
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