Blows Against The Empire


  • Date: Friday, February 11
  • Time: 7:00-9:00 PM
  • Place: Nonstop Institute
  • Cost: $ 5
  • Bay Area media artist and curator, Craig Baldwin will present BLOWS AGAINST THE EMPIRE, an evening of tactical-media actions, pranks, culture jams, and interventionist art. The program is grouped into two halves–NO LOGO, on exorcising the global bane of corporate mind-share‚ and HOW TO POKE A WAR-PIG, a bracing survey of brave and brainy anti-war actions and images. Among the two-dozen smart-bombs of art‚ are pieces by the Yes Men, Rev. Billy Talen, Bryan Boyce, Animal Charm, Paper Tiger TV, Whispered Media, Billboard Liberation Front, WhirlMart, Critical Mass, and the Institute of Applied Autonomy.

    Mr. Baldwin, director of “Tribulation 99”, “Sonic Outlaws“, “Spectres of the Spectrum“, and “Mock Up On Mu”–four earlier critiques of corporate hegemony–will be on hand to introduce the work and his new short feature “Invisible Insurrection”. NY Times film critic Manohla Dargis recently stated the Craig Baldwin’s “work hits your synapses like a cluster bomb, assailing your tremulous gray matter with a barrage of cinematic fragments (most recycled, some newly shot), miscellaneous rants and ruminations.”

    Americans are certainly witnessing a radical surge in types and varieties of protest and street demonstration. Whole new modes of dissent have emerged–more visual, more gestural, more interactive, and much more humor-based than the tame and unimaginative democratic-centralist manifestations of the Eighties. These tactical interventions, or call them political pranks, are perhaps the result of a generation’s increasingly intense need to break out of the Coast-to-Coast corporate numbing of the popular will, as well as the very healthy growth of the anarchist and direct-action wings of the American Left.

    This new breed of activism has been the subject of many recent articles, books, conferences, and even college class offerings, as well as, of course, ambitious interdisciplinary exhibition initiatives from within the fine-art world. The explosion of creativity and dialogue affords a unique opportunity to appreciate this contemporary guerrilla theater against the histories of both agit-prop AND performance art (among many other cultural studies), and so it is that Craig Baldwin’s 2-hour video program rolls into town.

    ABOUT THE ARTIST

    Craig Baldwin is a California filmmaker, publisher, and educator whose work reflects the “Funk” or Neo-Dada aesthetic that threads through Bay Area art of the past half-century, as well as Situationist strategies of detournement and media intervention.

    Certainly, historical roots for this kind of collage can be traced even farther back than Conner, to Duchamp, Schwitters, Ernst, to John Heartfield and even Frank Capra, but this obsessive reclamation and diversion of images and their meanings has especial relevance in today’s absolutely media-drenched corporate visual culture, where semiotic agency is not just the prerogative of the artist or writer, but in fact a necessity for every citizen of the so-called New Information Society.

    His project, then, is double-edged (and it is a sword): not only a critical de-construction of received tropes and genres (including “the documentary”), but, more, their synthetic, imaginative re-configuration towards the narration of alternate histories…and futures.

    Over the past two decades, Baldwin has also been curating and screening thematic programs of radical documentary and experimental work in his weekly SF Other Cinema showcase. In 2003, the exhibition series grew to include a DVD releasing company, OCD. Much of the work presented and published could be characterized as collage films and compilation docs, media-archeological assemblages that often invert and subvert the original meaning of the mass-media and industrial source-material. This play with popular imagery and its ideology can be seen as part of a broad and diverse subcultural praxis known as ‘culture-jamming’.

    Mr. Baldwin is currently an adjunct faculty member of both the SF Art Institute and California College of the Arts, and has just finished the ‘collage narrative’ “Mock Up On Mu”.