Posts Tagged ‘art’

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Five Years On, the WikiLeaks ‘Collateral Murder’ Video Matters More than Ever

A still image from “Collateral Murder.” Soldiers arrive at the scene of the attack. (Credit:

This weekend marks the fifth anniversary of the release of the WikiLeaks “Collateral Murder” video which showed a July 12, 2007 US Apache attack helicopter attack upon individuals in a Baghdad suburb. Amongst the over twelve people killed by the 30mm cannon-fire were two Reuters staff. The video was part of the huge cache of material leaked to WikiLeaks by Chelsea Manning.

It is worth marking the anniversary of its release for a number of reasons.

First is the film’s enduring, haunting quality. I have written numerous articles and conference papers on Collateral Murder, which I consider to be the one of the most influential pieces of material released by WikiLeaks. Yes, WikiLeaks has made public a massive volume of written information, but the raw emotional power of this video is special. Every time I show it to students or colleagues it never fails to elicit a strong emotional reaction. Some people can’t watch. Some look away. Many are mesmerized. Almost all get angry.

In a statement by Manning made during her 2013 trial she outlined her motivations for the leak, stating (in relation to Collateral Murder) that one of the most disturbing aspects was the “bloodlust” exhibited by the US military. At one point we can hear members of the aerial weapons team begging a wounded Iraqi to pick up a weapon so that they would have a reason open fire on him once again.

This, as Manning put it, was “similar to a child torturing ants with a magnifying glass.” The violence in the video is both dehumanizing and grotesque, and serves to remind viewers of the perversity of the invasion and occupation of Iraq, as well as the subsequent deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians.

This brings me to the second reason why the video is so important.

In the film we see two Reuters staffers killed by US military cannon-fire, and the symbolism of this act is striking. The lead-up to the US occupation of Iraq was marked by a high level of government propaganda and disinformation, as well the failure of mainstream journalism in the United States to engage (in a critical fashion) with the claims made by the Bush administration that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.

So, to me, when those two Reuters employees are blown to bits on the ground in the suburb of New Baghdad, their deaths symbolized all state violence committed against those who search for the truth. In addition to the tragedy of human death, there is also the tragedy of what is symbolically destroyed. Transparency. Democracy. Knowledge. Critical thinking.

Finally, what makes Collateral Murder such a powerful video is not only what it shows, but also the knowledge of how it was obtained. This was classified material, seen by a US citizen who felt that it violated the things for which her country was supposed to stand, and so she leaked it (aware of what this might entail at the personal level) for all the world to see. If the content of the video illustrates the violent arrogance of power, then the leak of the video illustrates the potential power of dissent and courage. As we now know, such dissent is not taken lightly as Chelsea Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison as thanks for her act of conscience.

So, as Collateral Murder turns five, rather than looking at the video as a curiosity from a bygone conflict, we should watch it again and consider how the film continues to speak to us about the state of contemporary geo-politics, journalism and whistleblowing.

How much has actually changed?

Manning continues to sit in jail.

Snowden continues to sit in Russia.

Civilians continue to die in Iraq.

US drones continue to kill civilians.

And whistle-blowers continue to be targeted.

Happy Birthday..?

My photo gallery of the
Erich Marx Permanent modern art collection HamburgerBahnhof museen Berlin

artworks by:

Georg Baselitz,

Gunther Forg,

Andy Warhol,

Roy Lichtenstein,

Robert Rauschenburg,

William Kentridge,

Cy Twombly,

Anselm Keifer,

Thomas Struth

My photo gallery of the Dieter Roth exhibition

Dieter Roth HamburgerBahnhof museen Berlin

“And away with the minutes”. Dieter Roth and Music


Dieter Roth,

George Brecht,

Annika Kahrs,

Ragnar Kjartanssen,

Bruce Nauman,

Nam June Paik,

Marcus Sixay,

Die Todlich Doris,

and others.










Google Street Art Project: ‘We are not the mural police, we are the mural conservancy’

How the internet giant is helping to catalog thousands of pieces of street art before they disappear forever.

What some call vandalism, others call street art. Where some see criminals, others see outlaw poets, heroes of free speech taking their work directly to the people, bypassing galleries and auction houses, and democratizing the relationship between art and the public. That outlaw freedom jumped time and space last week when the Google Street Art Project announced it was doubling its worldwide database by adding 5000 new images.

Launched in June 2014, the street art database features roughly 260 virtual exhibits from 34 countries where you can browse art or hear guided tours. More than 50 organizations partnered on the project, southern California contributors being Wende Museum in Culver City, Pasadena Museum of California Art and the Mural Conservancy of Los Angeles.

Offering the best the street art world has to offer, the Google collection is an obvious boon for fans of the medium and benefits artists by giving them worldwide exposure. But cataloging, quantifying and curating run contrary to the street art ethos adhered to by artists whose ephemeral messages admonish and amuse people around the world.

“We are not the mural police, we are the mural conservancy,” says Isabel Rojas-Williams of the non-profit Mural Conservancy of Los Angeles, one of Google’s partners on the project. She defines a mural as “anything stuck to a wall that is a monumental piece of art”, an inherently judgmental definition, though Rojas-Williams chafes at the idea of curating.

“We really are not picking and choosing,” she contends. “My staff and volunteers and I get into my car, each of us with a camera, and we’ll go through the neighborhoods taking photos. Now we can have over 3,000, but unfortunately, for lack of finances and lack of manpower, we can’t put them in there [Google] unless we have the information, name of the mural, the artist, the exact location and maybe biography. But we are very fair about everybody having an opportunity.”

A longtime champion of public art, Rojas-Williams helped write and pass the city’s mural ordinance that dispensed with a moratorium lasting 10 years, leading to an explosion of public art, particularly in the downtown Arts District. For a work to have legal protection, it must be registered with the city for a $60 permit fee, hardly an option for artists who may be wanted for vandalism.

“I use the street to democratize art by putting art in places where people live and can easily access it,” writes Shepard Fairey in an email. Worth an estimated $15m, Fairey’s commitment to his work on the street led to an arrest while he was on his way to the opening of his show at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts in 2009.

“An outlaw will always be an outlaw,” offers artist David Leavitt about his friend, Fairey. “If they’re not chosen in the curatorial aspect, then an outlaw will just go out and do their shit, right?” Along with David Torres, Leavitt, aka Davey, makes up the two-man street art collective Cyrcle, based in Hollywood. Their installation occupied a gallery at the Google launch party last Tuesday where guests were encouraged to articulate their deepest secrets in a soundproof booth while their words were converted to sound waves projected on the wall outside.

“I do think that any genre that becomes popularized poses the problems that people are borrowing styles too much and it’s not creating enough originality. But how can you expect originality in an over-saturated market anyway?” wonders Leavitt. “The only scary thing to me about too much exposure is having something to do with success, and the only thing about success that is scary is the fear of it itself.”

While some might argue that street art is meant to be ephemeral, the entire community grieved when they awoke one November morning in 2013 to learn that 5 Pointz, New York City’s mecca offering 200,000 sq feet of murals by many of the world’s finest artists, had been whitewashed. A year later it was torn down to make way for a condo complex. And while everyone knows street art comes with a limited life expectancy, it didn’t make it any less painful. What did was Google documenting 5 Pointz before it was destroyed.

“Though I’d love for people to experience street art in person, the reality is that public art is ephemeral by nature,” says Fairey. “Google’s new project not only catalogs an artist’s work but archives it and allows people to see the art long after it has disappeared.”

Fukushima Pictures 4 years on With scarred skies, scratched negatives, shots of shattered railways and dead wildlife, Japanese photographers respond to the tragic events of 11 March 2011, when an earthquake led to a tsunami and nuclear reactor leak

A shot from Rasen Kaigan (Spiral Shore), by Lieko Shiga. Morning Glow, by Kikuji Kawada. Minamisanriku, Motoyoshi, Miyagi Prefecture, by Kōzō Miyoshi, who was among the first photographers to engage with the 3/11 disaster by travelling to the sites of destruction. Portrait of Cultivation, by Shiga Lieko. From the series Caesium, by Masato Seto, one of the few photographers to gain direct access to the nuclear plant after the disaster. Untitled, from the series Site/Cloud, by Daisuke Yokota. Another image from Rasen Kaigan, by Shiga Lieko. Onahama, Iwaki City, Fukushima Prefecture, from the series Mirrors in Our Nights by Takashi Arai. From the series Mushrooms from the Forest by Homma Takashi.

Into The Wake Exhibition: a Japanese response in pictures to Fukushima disaster.

(wrong country I know but I don’t care, it’s a good soundtrack to the photos) Pere Ubu – Chinese Radiation

How to Block a Surveillance Camera: A DIY Art Tutorial from Ai Weiwei


A wine opener usage George Orwell would approve of.

“When things get tough,” Neil Gaiman advised on in his fantastic commencement address on the creative life“this is what you should do: Make good art. I’m serious. Husband runs off with a politician — make good art. Leg crushed and then eaten by a mutated boa constrictor — make good art. IRS on your trail — make good art. Cat exploded — make good art.” One could easily extrapolate, “Big Brother on your ass — make good art.” Amidst recent outcries against the present-day surveillance state we live in, what else is there to do but make good art? Cue in celebrated Chinese artist, provocateur, and human rights championAi Weiwei. From Do It: The Compendium (public library) — the fantastic collection of famous artists’ wide-ranging instructionals for art anyone can make based on 20 years of legendary curator and provocateur Hans Ulrich Obrist’s project of the same title, which also gave us David Lynch’s tutorial on how to make a Ricky Board — comes this antiauthoritarian creative project from Ai Weiwei, a DIY way to stick it — spray it, rather — to Big Brother:

CCTV SPRAY How to make a spray device to block a surveillance camera: Do you feel uncomfortable, confused, disgusted, or even irate because of a surveillance camera fixed at the wrong place? To block its view, spray-painting would be the best choice. It is highly accessible, inexpensive, and effective. Moreover, it is a perfect gesture in presenting street culture. It is difficult to spray on a surveillance camera at a high place directly by hand. Instead of carrying a ladder on the streets, it is more practical to make an adjustable, easy-to-carry, and low-cost spray device. It is best to use materials easily found from daily life to create this tool.

He goes on to list the materials needed — a spray bottle, a wine bottle opener, a bike bottle cage, a bike brake bar, a screw, and a stick — with the instruction to “choose materials that are as practical and reliable as possible” and are also “cheap and easy to obtain.” He then moves on to the step-by-step “Production Procedure”:

First find a long stick of suitable height. Considering portability, a collapsible tree pruner is recommended. Then select a stable frame that can secure a bottle or a can. For example, a bottle cage for bicycles would be a good fit. After that, find a trigger and fix it at the top of the stick. A wine bottle opener is a good choice, because its flexible lever structure can reduce the force and distance needed to press the spray nozzle. We also need a linkage device to control the wine bottle opener at the top. A bicycle brake bar is an excellent choice. Finally, prepare screws and nylon ropes as needed.

Under “Usage,” he instructs:

First fix the wine bottle opener at the top of the tree pruner (a.01). Then set the spray can into the bottle cage. Make sure the handle of the bottle opener is affixed to the right position, where it gives easiest nozzle control. Use screws to secure the bottle cage (a.02). Fix the brake bar at the other end of the tree pruner (a.03). Secure the spray paint can and use a nylon rope to fasten the flexible shaft (a.04). Adjust the height of the stick. Then connect the handle of the bottle opener to the shaft of the brake (a.05–a.06). The homemade adjustable spray device is now complete.

Complement this exercise in creative civic disobedience with BBC’s excellent Ai Weiwei: Without Fear or Favour. Do It: The Compendium is superb in its entirety, brimming with similar irreverent gems by some of the world’s most acclaimed contemporary artists. Sample it here.

See also my ongoing blog “Subversives in Art”

These buskers are amazing!
It’s like an ode to the Thatcherite I’m Alright Jack Daily Mail reading selfish Briton that most people have Become!



Giorgio Agamben seminar on Gilles Deleuze RESISTANCE IN ART.




I’d like to thank you all very much for visiting my blog, Over Two Thousand Views in less than one week!
My recent photographs of the St David’s Day, People’s March For the NHS in Bedwellty Park , Tredegar, Wales have received over one thousand five hundred views, as well as the Michael Sheen fantastic address and Patrick Jones’ Healing House poem and Michael Sheen’s Valleys Rebellion documentary about the 175th anniversary of The Chartist’s Rebellion.


Hey there V@g1n@… a musical tribute celebrating International Women’s Day… Um…?


Here’s a bit of musical fun as an appreciation… Definitely not safe for work… unless you’re singing in your van?



Please visit IndymediaUK

MHRN speech given outside Maximus’ offices in central London and Balham on 2 March 2015 during the day of action against Maximus

I am from the Mental Health Resistance Network and I’m going to tell you a story.
One day, a friend of mine sorted out all the things that were outstanding in her life. The following morning, she left her home in London and made her way to the train station, checked the platform and times for her destination and boarded a train for Eastbourne. Once there, she asked strangers for directions to Beachy Head.
She seemed calm; didn’t do anything to draw attention to herself, at least not until she threw herself over the cliff onto the rocks below. Until her body hit the rocks, she was fit for work; at least she was according to the rules of the Work Capability Assessment, because she was functioning well, sorting out her affairs, getting up early, using public transport, finding her way around in unfamiliar places and speaking to strangers.This is the nonsense of the Work Capability Assessment and the idea that you can assess someone’s fitness to work by simply looking at how they can function in some situations sometimes. If someone is fit enough to kill themselves, then they are fit enough to work, or at least fit enough to lose their disability benefits, according to the Tories and their henchmen here at Maximus.

The Mental Health Resistance Networks demands an immediate end to the Work Capability Assessment. In a recent judicial review instigated by us, the Department for Work and Pensions fought tooth and nail against having to consider medical evidence when assessing people with mental health problems.

The original judgement, upheld at appeal, ruled that the DWP’s failure to obtain medical evidence placed people with mental health problems at a substantial disadvantage.

But still we are being dragged through this cruel, mock assessment, regardless of the disadvantage proven in court and whatever the state of our mental health, an assessment that they refer to as a medical assessment.It is no more a medical assessment than a two-line horoscope in a daily tabloid is a full psychiatric risk assessment. It is quackery, carried out by a bunch of money mad charlatans, first Atos, now Maximus; the same circus, different clowns.

Dr Bill Gunnyeon, the chief medical officer for the DWP provided most of their arguments against us in court.

In one statement, he said that giving consideration to medical evidence was precisely what they were trying to get away from!
It seems an unbelievable thing for him to have said, but it’s true, he said it.
Gunnyeon now works for Maximus. It’s a small world isn’t it?It’s personal for the Mental Health Resistance Network. We are being sanctioned even when we have been found not well enough to work; we are being forced onto Workfare when we are ill; we are threatened with forced treatments, treatments that can be unsafe.

There is the threat from the government that people living with addictions will be forced onto 12 step programmes; to hell with the fact that this compromises the principles of attraction rather than promotion stated in the Traditions of these programmes.
Just like they trashed the doctor’s Hippocratic Oath, they are ready to trash the 12 step programmes – nothing is sacred, nothing except profit.More and more of us are being driven to suicide. Coroners have cited benefit loss as playing a part in a number of suicides. Despite requests, the government continues to refuse to release statistics for benefit related suicides.

So it is personal, it’s a witch-hunt against us; they are waging a campaign of hatred against people with mental health problems. But we will never give up fighting. So I repeat, we demand an immediate end to the WCA and we will not give up until we get this. We will fight the government and we will fight the corrupt and greedy Maximus to the end; because it is personal.

And this isn’t about saving taxpayers money; after all, the taxpayers the Tories care about don’t pay tax.

They bank with HSBC and other dodgy financial institutions.
And it’s not even just about forcing people to take out income protection insurance, although Unum, the insurance company that designed the WCA, is no doubt making money from it all.
Certainly pretending to assess people’s fitness for work is a lucrative business too.But, ultimately, it’s about creating a cowed and insecure workforce in Britain who will eventually be prepared to let go of all of the workers’ rights that our grandparents fought for: a workforce that has no safety net when things go wrong and is therefore vulnerable, because ‘vulnerable’ is just how big business and their Tory representatives in parliament like to keep workers; insecure, desperate and submissive.

How are these bastards getting away with it?

Well, we all know that the public has been groomed for years by a propaganda machine that Goebbels would have been proud of.
And we need to be tackling this machine as well as Maximus, which is the mercenary branch of the operation.But forget the Daily (Hate) Mail for the moment because today is Maximus’s special day. Happy Birthday Maximus; we’re here today to let you know that we will be with you all the way. We will never leave you alone.
And we will never forget that Maximus is a very special company, renowned for disability discrimination and fraud; a member of that highly reputable industry, the financial services sector. No don’t laugh!

The very industry that is withdrawing disability benefits is the same industry that stands to gain from insuring people against income loss due to disability.

Maximus, you will be hearing from us again and again and again!

We won’t give up on you, we promise!

Peaceful protestor with cardboard coffin is arrested despite the Mayor, GLA and Met Police’s T.S.G being under judicial review for breaches in October – November & December. Democracy is Dead in Parliament Square.

Donnachadh McCarthy’s arrest happened as he held a coffin symbolising the death of UK democracy. The coffin carried the inscription “UK Democracy R.I.P. Killed by corporate billionaires.


Photo credit: Louis Mignot
  • Protestor holding a coffin branded “UK Democracy R.I.P.” arrested on Parliament Square
  • Despite Judicial Review police disrupt peaceful pro-democracy protests under the cover of darkness
  • Freedom of the press threatened as NUJ members threatened with arrest and five arrestees include independent livestreamer

Under the cover of darkness the Metropolitan police’s Territorial Support Group (TSG) officers, on instruction from GLA Wardens, disrupted Occupy Democracy’s monthly protest in front of the Houses of Parliament. This is despite London Mayor Boris Johnson and the GLA being under Judicial Review for their erection of fences in October, November and December.

Around 200 Occupy Democracy supporters were threatened with arrest and five arrests were subsequently made in which large numbers of police targeted and, sometimes violently, picked off peaceful protesters. 

These arrests interrupted what was otherwise a packed programme of speakers, workshops, discussions…

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