next 5 minutes international festival of tactical media, September 11-14 2003, Amsterdam


- Download program (1 MB PDF)
- Schedule
- Deep Local
- The Reappearing Public
- The Tactics of Appropriation
- The Tactical and the Technical
- Urban Interventions
- Artist Installations
- Film Screenings
- Workshops
- Performance Programmes
- Media Production
- Media Library
- Tactical Autonomous Zone
- Post-Festival (& campsite)

The Reappearing Public

Interfacing with the public ?
There is no public, but where are our publics ?

In more than one sense, the practices and promises of tactical media are tied up with the idea that in the last decades we have witnessed the disappearance of The Public.

One big reason for this is the explosion of heterogeneous media and heterogeneous media practices, and the fact boundaries between media spaces have become increasingly porous (i.e. between media domains that are nationally and culturally distinct).

Another reason is that the idea of " normal people ", on which the concept of The Public relied, has been thoroughly undermined, not in the least part because these people increasingly came and put themselves in the picture, aided by media. (Thus, the differences among various not so normal people can these days no longer be easily airbrushed out.)

Funnily enough, also for those media practitioners, artists and activists, who feel enthusiastic about the disappearance of The Public, the question of the public is no less acute!

In situated media interventions, the particularity of context tend to take the foreground, and precisely not a disembodied generality such as "The Public".

Here margins count as a resource rather than as constraint, and they can and should be celebrated as such.

But when it comes to these kind of projects, the question of who exactly one is interfacing with often comes up as a pressing concern.

A totally eclipsed public, that is, an empty hall, an empty street, or empty chairs, many have found out, is not an ideal situation either. And when the public "just doesn't get it", we can't just dismiss the possibility that there may be a problem with the performance itself.

And what if one ends up "not liking" one's public?

More importantly, a constructive picture of who or what one is trying to prompt with a given media intervention, remains totally crucial. While The Public has disappeared, we thus keep and should keep asking where/who/what is the public?

In working with that question, the issue of the "erosion" of the public domain, especially with the rise to dominance of commercial mass media, and, it should be added, after the disappearance of The Public, inevitably comes up.

In this way, it is easy to get caught between excitement about the disappearance of The Public, puzzlement about appropriate publics, and resistance to the "erosion of the public domain".

But, that last diagnosis might also prompt us to go and look for the missing public, and try to conjure one up.

The question thus is, what are the techniques and tactics available, and which should be developed, to make a public appear ?

Testimony and Witness

From the moment that camcorders became widespread we have witnessed a dramatic (and progressive) increase in the possibilities of deploying video's forensic immediacy not only to capture evidence but also explore a host of expressive opportunities built on the possibilities accessing to new levels of immediacy and intimacy.

But after more than a decade of tactical surveillance and subject centred naturalism, things are beginning to look quite different.

To begin with developments in mobile transmission technologies, enhanced data bases and networks are creating new forms of flexibility and participation, whilst at the same time greatly complicating the task of locating the relevant sites of witness and testimony.

Simultaneously organizations such as Witness, Sarai, and Bards Human rights clinic are developing models of practice that go far beyond the merely reactive and event driven.

Programme Items

Presentation of WITNESS
Tactical Cartography: Diagrams of Power
The 1001 Politics of the Archive
Packing Geldershoofd by Archeopteryx
Escaping Oblivion (Bus trip) / Tactical Tourism