This semester I am given the honor to teach a class on Culture Jamming as part of the Integrated Media Arts (IMA) MFA Program of the Department of Film & Media at Hunter College. Below is the course description and a list of assigned readings. Enjoy!


Course Description

This course explores a wide range of culture jamming and guerrilla-communication interventions both in the media and public space. The course will be comprised of three distinct and yet intertwined layers: theoretical, critical, and pragmatic. By examining historic avant-gardes such as dada, Surrealism, and the Situationists as well as concepts such as Brecht’s estrangement effect, the Situationist notion of détournement, Foucault’s order of the discourse, and De Certeau’s distinction between tactics and strategies students will first acquire the theoretical foundations necessary for a critical understanding of culture jamming. This approach will be coupled with the review of a variety of culture jamming techniques and practices such as fake, camouflage, détournement, overidentification, invisible theater, multiple-use names, subversive affirmation, subvertising, and cybersquatting. At the same time, students will have the opportunity to renew and reinvent culture jamming by working on their own projects both individually and in group.


Required Text:

Augusto Boal, Theatre of the Oppressed, New York: Theater Communications Group, 1985.


Optional Texts:

Situationist International Anthology, Ed. and trans. Ken Knabb, Berkeley: Bureau of Public Secrets, 2006 (Revised and expanded edition).

Guy Debord, Society of the Spectacle, Trans. Ken Knabb, London: Rebel Press, 2002.


Schedule of Classes, Readings, and Assignments


January 28. Course Introduction

Screening of Ceski Sen (Czech Dream), Dir. Vit Klusak & Filip Remunda, Czech Republic, 2004


February 4. Hacking the Order of the Discourse

Naomi Klein, No Logo, New York: Picador, pp. 279-309.

Mark Dery,  “Culture Jamming: Hacking, Slashing and Sniping in the Empire of Signs,” available at http://project.cyberpunk.ru/idb/culture_jamming.html

Screening of Sonic Outlaws, dir. Craig Baldwin, USA, 1995

Recommended Reading:

Michel Foucault, “The Discourse on Language.” In The Archeology of Knowledge & The Discourse on Language. Trans. London: Tavistock, 1972. 215-37.


February 11. The Politics of Aesthetics

Peter Burger, Theory of the Avant-Garde, pp. 47-82.

Jacques Ranciere, “The Politics of Aesthetics,” May 5, 2006. Available at www.16beavergroup.org/mtarchive/archives/001877.php

Paolo Pedercini presents La Molle Industria at No Space


February 18. The Soviet Theory of Montage

Sergei Eisenstein, “The Montage of Attractions” (1923) and “The Montage of Film Attractions” (1924). In Selected Works, Vol. I. Edited and translated by Richard Taylor. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1988. 33-58.

Gerard Raunig, Art and Revolution: Transversal Activism in the Long Twentieth Century, Los Angeles: Semiotext(e), 2007, pp. 149-169.

Screening of Man with a Movie Camera, dir. Dziga Vertov, USSR, 1929.


February 25. Costructivism, Productivism and the End of the Soviet Avant-garde

Walter Benjamin, “The Author as Producer.” In Reflections. Trans. Edmund Jephcott. New York: Shocken Books, 1978. 220-238.

Boris Groys, The Total Art of Stalinism: Avant-Garde, Aesthetic Dictatorship, and Beyond, Princeton University Press, 1992, pp.  14-50.


March 4. Estrangement Effect and Invisible Theater

Bertolt Brecht, “Alienation Effects in Chinese Acting.” In John Willett, Brecht on Theater, New York: Hill and Wang, 1964. 91-99.

Augusto Boal, Theatre of the Oppressed, pp. ix-xiv, 107-109, 119-155.


March 11. Situationist Détournement

Situationist International Anthology, pp. 14-24, 36-43, 49-52, 62-70.

or

Guy Debord & Gil J Wolman, “A User’s Guide to Détournement,” May 1956. Available at http://www.bopsecrets.org/SI/detourn.htm

Guy Debord, “Report on the Construction of Situations,” 1957 (excerpts). Available at http://www.bopsecrets.org/SI/report.htm

Guy Debord, “Theory of the Dérive,” December 1958. Available at http://www.bopsecrets.org/SI/2.derive.htm

Situationist International, “Preliminary Problems in Constructing a Situation,” 1958. Available at http://www.bopsecrets.org/SI/1.situations.htm

Watch Guy Debord, Society of the Spectacle, 1973 (Part I). Available at www.ubu.com/film/debord_spectacle.html


First Midterm Due


March 18. Jamming the Art System and the Public Sphere

Claire Bishop, “Antagonism and Relational Aesthetics,” October, No. 110 (Fall 2009): 51-79.

Greg Sholette, “Dark Matter: Activist Art and the Counter Public Sphere,” 2003.

Michel De Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life, Trans. Steven Randall. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984, pp. xi-xxiv.

Emily Forman presents CHAOS and Miles de Viviendas


March 25. No Class


April 1. April’s Fools

Joey Skaggs, Interview. In Re/Search #11: Pranks. Edited by V. Vale and A. Juno. San Francisco: V Search, 1987. 31-50.

Alan Abel, Interview. In Re/Search #11: Pranks. 103-109

Jenny Abel & Jeff Hockett present Abel Raises Cain, USA, 2006


April 8. Symbolic Exchange and Punk!

Jean Baudrillard, Symbolic Exchange and Death, London: Sage, 1993. Excerpts.

Dick Hebdige, Subculture: The Meaning of Style, London: Routedgle, 1979, pp. 1-51, 100-112.

Screening of The Filth and the Fury: A Sex Pistols Film, UK, 2000


April 15. Overidentification and Subversive Affermation

Slavoj Zizek, The Sublime Object of Ideology, New York: Verso, 1991, pp. 28-43.

Slavoj Zizek, “Why are Laibach and NSK not Fascists?” In Irwin: Retroprincip. 1983-2003. Edited by Inke Arns. Frankfurt au Main: Revolver, 2003. 49-50.

Inke Arns, Sylvia Sasse, “Subversive Affirmation: On Mimesis as Strategy of Resistance.” In Irwin: East Art Map. Edited by Irwin. London: University of the Arts London, 2006. 444-455.

Screening of Predictions of Fire, dir. Michael Benson, USA, 1996.

Second Midterm Due


April 22

Spring Recess


April 29. Faking as Mythmaking

Klemens Gruber, “Playing with the Media: Intermediality in Italy in the 1970s.” Unpublished.

Marco Deseriis, “Lots of Money Because I am Many: The Luther Blissett Project and the Multiple-Use Name Strategy.” In Theorizing Cultural Activism. Edited by A. Kuryel and O. Firat. Amsterdam: Rodopi. Forthcoming.

Screening of [V]ote Auction: Burden of Proof, dir. Ubermorgen, USA, 2000.


May 6. Culture Jamming in the Information Society

Tiziana Terranova, “Communication beyond Meaning: On the Cultural Politics of Information,” Social Text – 80 (Volume 22, Number 3), Fall 2004, pp. 51-73.

David Garcia and Geert Lovink. “The ABC of Tactical Media,” Nettime, May 16, 1997. Available at http://www.nettime.org/Lists-Archives/nettime-l-9705/msg00096.html.

Carbon Defense League, “Parasitic Media,” 2002. Available at http://english.neural.it/parasiticmedia.htm.

McKenzie Wark, “Strategies for Tactical Media,” Realtime, October 2002. Available at http://www.sarai.net/resources/event-proceedings/2002/tactical-media-lab/strategies.PDF

Screening of Spin, dir. Brian Springer, USA, 1995.


May 13. Hacktivism

Marco Deseriis, “No End In Sight: Networked Art as a Performative Form of Storytelling.” Available at http://deseriis.networkedbook.org

McKenzie Wark, A Hacker Manifesto [Version 4.0], ed. Joanne Richardson, subSol, 2003. .


Final Assignment Due



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