Culture Jamming: Subversive Movement

‘‘Jamming’ as Disturbing Practice’

Jamming is not a novel concept that comes into appearance as rootles. On the contrary the notion; cultural or political jamming has long-termed history which was derived from the beginning of twentieth century. In particular through subcultural movements with own subversive, interfering, sarcastic characteristics. The key function of culture jamming is subverting meanings that are produced by dominant forces and discourses through combining social, political struggles and art. Also, in this way it aimed at demolishing the elitist approach to art and culture via participation by individual or groups especially excluded one. While doing it, cultural jamming practices resistance in order to challenges dominant discourses via disturb it with some strategies.

As mentioned before, it is possible to this characteristic of jamming since the beginning of twentieth century, especially its disturbance characteristic manifests itself with the birth of Dadaism in Europe between 1915 and 1925. At that period, the rise of industrialization accompanied with mass consumption, mass production in brief massification in many sense, therefore Dadaism against this dehumanization aimed to shock, disturb society in order to make possible for society to see what is happening. In relation to Dadaism, Fluxus Movement rises as an avant-garde art movement in the second half of twentieth century through inspiring from Dadaism and Futurism. The main purpose of movement was abolish elitist attitudes for the definition of ‘artist’ and distinction between high and low art, thus it emphasized everyone can be an artist, it is not only peculiar to elites.  There, it is necessary to emphasize that, the influence of Dadaism and Fluxus movement still maintains its influence even today with similar strategies in the context of tactical media. At this juncture, the central tactic of it with the usage of art to break common places  for creating radical sense for realizing illusion of reality in the modern life.

As one of the example from Turkey: ‘Yıkılan Bellek Evleri’ ‘Destroyed Memories of the Houses’ project define itself in that way:

“This is a project which questions time and space. We find buildings which are going to be destroyed by the government as part of its efforts to ‘urban transformation’ in Turkey. We use this space to create art just before the government tear them down. This space is open for everyone with any kind of art. For us, the meaning of it is to reconsider urban transformation and the unbalanced economical situation behind it. We believe these buildings have symbolic meaning of the life which had changed by the hand of government and our aspect of art. It is because of the creation process is totally not cares any economical return of art and we know our works are going to be destroyed so it is the questioning of possession at the same time. In the other hand we believe art should be attainable for everybody. That’s why we use these free spaces which are going to be collapsed for art to create.”

‘Üret ve Git!’& ‘Produce and Go!’

Because of the its dada aesthetic sense and rebellious characteristic that against urban transformation by Government in Turkey, this project manifests itself as both political and culture jamming. Also, with the motto of ‘we believe art should be attainable for everybody’, it shares same concern with Dada and Fluxus movement. Apart from this, they bring together new media technologies and different art forms like painting, dance, sculpture, painting, theatre, performance and so on. As necessity of contemprary cultural jamming, this project use the internet for distribution its jamming practices.

Public Spaces as the Realm of Resistance

In order to completely understand the phenomena ‘culture jamming’ refers to what in today world, it is essential to comprehend contribution of Situationism especially Guy Debord with their tactic ‘Detournement’.  According to them mass communication formed the ideological ‘spectacle’ which conform dominant discourse again and again, so mass media productions has become prevalent. Therefore, there is only way to resist against the ideological ‘spectacle’ that when people construct alternative situation in their everyday lives, can disrupt the power of ‘spectacle.’ Above all with the use of hybrid tactics likewise tactics of Dada it can be possible. In particular the tactic of ‘Detournement’ refers to subvert the authentic meaning through montage, collage techniques in order to create novel works that give sense of situationist art. Art performances are most known used technique by situationist art and in 1968, the period of Civil Right Movements, there were many examples of art performance interventions in the public space. Through these performances, art returns directly forms of a political action.

 As one of the hybrid form of art performances is that pantomime. For instance, İlker Kılıçer as an activist performs pantomimes in public spaces such as public transport vehicles, streets and so on in İzmir. His performance generally relates with the coverage is excluded by mainstream media and social movements in Turkey. Likewise, Justice for Roboski, Say No Bloody Law, Occupy Gezi are some of titles of his performance. He disturbs his performance through Internet. However, while his jamming manifest itself in an autonomous and counter public spheres, at the same time after he was fined with ‘noise punishment’ by government, manifests his performance in the mainstream media, CNN Türk as mainstream public sphere. It shows us that rhizomatic approach and forms allows also interaction between new media and old media in the contemporary world conditions.

Street arts are also early form of cultural jamming as the realm of resistance. For instance,  Martha Cooper and Elle “Unextinguished” Installation project is one of the contemporary example of street art (2014).  Martha Cooper was the only women photographer in the 1970s ‘New York Post’ newspaper. Because of the men domination in hard news area, she had to perform her photojournalism in the area of soft news. However she fights against the patriarchy through resisting in streets with street artist Elle via combination of their skills under the project of “Unextinguished” .  They bring together old photographs and artistic interventions like merge of new ideas and old ones and through montage technique, this art form manifest itself as juxtaposition of styles in billboards and so on.

They define this project in this way: ““We thought this had to do with a sense of history, through different generations. My pictures are all from 1978, so we are using some old school pictures but re-invigorating them with some new school techniques – like splattering them with a fire extinguisher with a sort of abandon.”


Related Links

  • ‘Destroyed Memories of the Houses’ :

  • Pandomime, İlker Kılıçer:

  • Unextinguished: