At the "Culture of ubiquitous information" workshop (see my previous text), Geoff Cox gave a talk about "Democracy 2.0" (pdf file) and presented projects by the hilarious and thought-provoking "imaginary italy-based artist duo "Les Liens Invisible's (the invisible links).
One example of their works is the website/performance "Repetitionr" (30 seconds long video that explains it all). The website looks remarkably much like a professional website that offers the ethically questionable service of generating fake signatures and support for the petition of your choice:
"Leave behind your out-moded street activism, public demonstrations, megaphones. Now activism can be carried out comfortably from your armchair.
Repetitionr offers the most advanced web 2.0 technologies to make participatory democracy a truly user-centered experience.
Embrace the new era of armchair-activism: just choose the campaign you want to promote and how many signatures your re-petition needs to reach its target.
The just sit back and wait: Repetitionr will do the dirty work for you."
The slogans are great ("Just a click and Repetitionr will fill your petitions with millions of self-generated fake signatures indistinguishable from the real ones", and the deeply ironical companion statement "A million people can't be wrong"). You have to admit it's a brilliant spoof of all the hype about the power and the world-changing abilities of social media. Looking at some of the petitions that had been created with Repetitionr, I came upon the truly wonderful petition "End fake petitions now!" The petition statement reads:
"Fake petitions - with unrealistic numbers of signers - are destroying us all. From now on, let's all exercise realism and integrity"
This petition (to end fake petitions) had no less than 100 027 signagures. Heh. On the Repetitionr website, it looks like the real thing. On the artists' homepage, you see it for what it really is, namely one of their "works". Here is a full list of their works, divided into the categories Net Art, Video pieces and Interventions.
You'll find their Flickr parody "Subvertr" (with SubverTags), their Google map parody "Google is not the map" and their Facebook-account virtual suicide site "Seppukoo" ("Impress your friends, disconnect yourself"). Their "A Fake is a Fake" project allows you to appropriate the form of prestigious media institutions like The New York Times, The Financial Times, The White House, Le Figaro, but insert and transmit any message of your choice. Perhaps the praise should not be take too seriously:
- "The most important revolution of its kind since the likes of Gutenberg" (Repubblica)
- "We can only guess that fake publishing will mark the dawning of a new information era" (The Financial Times).
Or why not check out their collection of invisible links?
Le Liens Invisible's deconstruction and anti-use of social media is really interesting. As an art group, they for sure succeed in provoking and making you think. They remind me of another great art duo, "//////////fur//// art entertainment interfaces" and their (again) hilarious and thought-provoking projects "Painstation" (Wikipedia entry), "////furminator" (their "First Person Pinball" machine) and the "Legshocker" (their "enhanced PlayStation2 controller") that lets you get kicked on your shin when you play a football game on the PlayStation 2 video game console.