METAHAVEN: CAN JOKES BRING DOWN GOVERNMENTS? MEMES, DESIGN
AND POLITICS


Author: Metahaven
Published by Strelka Press
94 pages
Softcover
English
Price: 70 lei


These are serious times, or so our governments keep telling us. Strangling economies with their austerity policies, they assure us that they have no choice. In a world where “there is no alternative,” how do you dissent? Once upon a time, graphic designers would have made political posters and typeset manifestos. Today, protest has new strategies. Enter the internet meme. With its Darwinian survival skills and its viral potential, the meme is a way of scaling up protest. Hackers and activists have learned to unleash the destructive force of a Rick Astley video. They have let slip the Lolcats of war. Pranks have become a resistance strategy. As the rise of Beppe Grillo in Italy testifies, this may be the hour to fight nonsense with nonsense. Jokes are an open-source weapon of politics, and it is time to tap their power.

Excerpt: “Could the leftovers of graphic design be turned into jokes? Might design rediscover actual societal impact? Can jokes scale? Can they supersize? Can we laugh so loudly at those in power that they fall? Can jokes, in fact, bring down governments?”

The work of Metahaven consists of filmmaking, writing, design, and installations, and is united conceptually by interests in poetry, storytelling, digital superstructures, and propaganda. Films by Metahaven include The Sprawl (Propaganda about Propaganda) (2015), Information Skies (2016), Possessed (2018, with Rob Schr?der), Hometown (2018) and Eurasia (Questions on Happiness) (2018). Publications include PSYOP (2018), Black Transparency (2015) and Uncorporate Identity (2010). Their work is screened, published, and exhibited worldwide.

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