Activism/ Hactivism just depends on your attitude and your primary means of expression, computer or in the “real” world. People with something to say normally do it with their friends or surrounding individuals, but the hactivists take it to the radio waves to get their message across. Keith Obadike and his Blackness for sale website is a great example of a hactivist message being transported to the populace through an online garage sale called ebay. His page looks pretty much exactly like a real eBay page but there is a total difference. Nobody can really buy blackness, or can they? This page is a comment on racism and the struggle/benefits of being an African American in contemporary society. Overall, I believe this is a good hack because it looks realistic. I think that if you are going to riff on a pre-existent entity on the net then it should look damn close to the original. The idea is to confuse the viewer and make them question certain aspects of the society.
Another great version of hactivism is the laborious work being done by the Yes Men. These guys go out into the community and pose as very important people in the scene of world affairs in order to get their messages heard. For example one hactivist action they took was to pose as WTO members and gave a speech on how to remotely monitor laborers through a giant phallus. This is amazing because half of the crowd at the conference doesn’t even blink at the idea, although they must have known there were some subversive actions taking place. This is an extreme form of hactivism that demands many man hours and lots of research. Good job fellas.
There are many sites on the net that are complete mock ups of they originals and these are there to fool us into reading their material as legitimate info. A couple of people have set up the United States department of Art and Technology website. This site is extremely realistic and brings up the question, what exactly does the division of Art and Technology do with their government budget. Well you can look for yourself at http://www.usdat.us/archives/index_home.html. This site is meant to bring up issues that are considered not to be important in America, but that artist feel would make a difference. I think that the people behind works like this are extremely lucky to have their site still in operation. The messages they are able to relay to the public bring up some important issues of what exactly the role of art in the community can accomplish.
Craig Baldwin is on a whole other area of hactivism. He creates films that are compiled up of cuts from pre-existing video. His work takes found footage that is available to the world through archives or the digital frontier and mashes it up to tell a story that is personal to his own thoughts. I was lucky enough to have a private lecture from him and he was very into his work. His argument is that he can take a number of different found clips and mash them up in his own collage, and the end result has more a historical relevance than the original manicured movie. The hactivism here is the personal message being displayed to the public through movies and scenes that are already familiar to most people. He is just mashing them up in his own way in order to use the medias own power against them. He considers this a type of artistic jiu-jitsu.
On another form of hactivism I found interesting was found in a performance with one of the members of the Lucky Dragons. There is a device that they use that is considered a hack to audio controllers. This machine takes the electromagnetic field found within the audio box and allows for users to distort and create at the same time. With the aid of body parts, we as a group made music by touching each other. This was incredible for me to see in person. The music we were hearing was a direct result of human/human contact and this is the type of hactivism that will bring the world closer together. This work is amazing in the sense that a computer can be the mediator between physical human interactions. I see this as the antithesis to the social media so abundant in contemporary society, which uses the computer a mediator for human interaction, but can also promote solitude and hermitic environments. I just recently went to a lecture on “intuition, technology, and communication” at the conference of world affairs held at the University of Colorado at Boulder. There is one quote that stood out during this lecture, and it was that a hammer could either be used to “build a house, or hit yourself on the head”. The relevance of this statement in today’s society is impeccable. Technology is looked at in a multitude of ways, and in all reality, it is not going anywhere anytime soon, so for your own benefit, build that house.