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<nettime> some notes on campaining
geert on Tue, 6 Apr 1999 05:23:46 +0200 (CEST)


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<nettime> some notes on campaining


For 'The Art of Global Campaigning'
Park of the Future, Amsterdam, April 14, 1999

A campaign is the highest form of mediated will, a virtual sociality,
fully aware of its vector within electronic space. Unlike previous
speculations about floating signifiers and media being the perfect
simulacrum, campaigns are determined to fuel the data with a mission. 
Yes, the networked society of the spectacle is merely producing empty
Information is a virus. If we stick to this dubious biological metaphor
for the time being we say that the success of a campaign will depend on
both program (set of commands) and design (visual appearance) of a
particular virus. The viability, necessary to survive in this hostile
environment, threatened by vast armies of clicking surfers, deleting
users, cynical editors, ugly censors and, ultimately, the bored readers
and zapping viewers, is determined by the richness of the social and
cultural environment in which this idea, meme, or concept has been
conceived. With a campaign, well under way, these early settings cannot be
corrected. In a constant process of being stuffed and unstuffed, the
symbol has to remain its clarity. The art of campaigning is about gaining
strength, spiritual power and social praxis, while undergoing severe,
speedy processes of alienation and virtualization. Until it is time to
leave the stage, unpull the plugs and transform into yet another history. 
signs. We have to study the Law of Media, and the current <condition
virtuelle>. Still, there are numerous ways to cut through the surfaces,
reverse signs, utilize the available facilities, play with the manuals and
restrictions of technology, until normalcy sets in and self imposed
regulations are in place. Campaigns are temporary, artificial
techno-social structures that come and go. Once its mission is defined,
the campaign builds up, performs and dissolves. 

Campaigning starts at the very end of the story. Longstanding
controversies, dispersed efforts of individuals and groups, doing
research, actions, formulating demands, drawing rough and primitive
imagery, all deliver elements for the later campaign. Unlike regular
advertisement, entertainment or reporting, campaigns cannot start without
a clear, and simple goal. This dense, dynamic form of expression cannot
invent a symbol at the spot. Symbols need to grow in time, in order to
reach the precious, dangerous balance between obvious simplicity and
hidden complexities. A campaign can only multiply and mutate its visual
power. We are not speaking here about promotion, which is just a stage in
the chain of research, development, prototype testing, then turning into
distribution and marketing of the actual product. This economic model,
obsessed by gains and returns, investments and profits, cannot deal with
the current complexities of virtuality, which is characterized by
ruptures, sudden crashes and explosions of growth in terms of attention,
trust, or even solidarity. 

Information is a virus. If we stick to this dubious biological metaphor
for the time being we say that the success of a campaign will depend on
both program (set of commands) and design (visual appearance) of a
particular virus. The viability, necessary to survive in this hostile
environment, threatened by vast armies of clicking surfers, deleting
users, cynical editors, ugly censors and, ultimately, the bored readers
and zapping viewers, is determined by the richness of the social and
cultural environment in which this idea, meme, or concept has been
conceived. With a campaign, well under way, these early settings cannot be
corrected. In a constant process of being stuffed and unstuffed, the
symbol has to remain its clarity. The art of campaigning is about gaining
strength, spiritual power and social praxis, while undergoing severe,
speedy processes of alienation and virtualization. Until it is time to
leave the stage, unpull the plugs and transform into yet another history. 
---
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