Barging into the Collective Body of Images
The wish to
live, to live differently from the way we are forced to live
in our everyday existence, to discover different kinds of wishes,
is one of the more elegant definitions of art that exists on
the margins of politics. The Italian artist, writer and videographer
Agnese Trocchi in the MaMa net.culture club, Zagreb,
presented one of such possible alternative worlds to us. She
acquainted us with the activities of the so-called autonomous
group Candida TV. This audio-visual underground culture group
modelled its programme along the lines of creative unveiling
of the malignant manipulative power-holder: television.
Q: An important aspect of an independent television's
activity is the reversal of roles, turning spectators into creators,
a reverse engineering. As an answer to Berlusconi's media empire,
underground culture activities are intensifying in Italy. Wishing
to directly intervene into media space using the Do-It-Yourself
principle, Candida TV was established and it started to broadcast
in some city districts...
Trocchi: As a group working on the production
of independent video concepts, Candida TV was founded in 1999.
It was based on different experiences: street performances,
independent radio stations, occupied social centres or some
other revolutionary activities. Working together at the underground
film festival in 1999, we came to the conclusion that the moment
for taking part in the TV programme was favourable. At the local
TV-station in Rome, they asked us whether we had any material
that could be broadcast. We decided to accept a contract according
to which our material will be broadcast within the local programme,
for nine subsequent weeks, an hour a week. We called our programme
Candida show, wishing it to be more pop than the pop ones. It
is actually about some kind of supremacy of pop culture, intensifying
the language of television to the maximum, so that we could
take it to its limits.
Q: On the Internet site titled Subsol – conceived
by the philosopher and theoretician of new media Joanne Richardson
in order to explore new forms of cultural activity, usually
linked with concepts of artistic activism and tactical media
– there is also a link to the site of the Italian group Candida
Trocchi: The usage of tactical media means
the usage of the already existing instruments in order to send
messages or achieve goals different from the ones the medium
itself is used for. We do not use the medium, we are the medium.
Candida identifies with the instrument itself, we are television
and we circulate messages that disturb and change the spectators'
usual perspective. In this way we stimulate criticism, we create
visions of multiplied reality. Our programme is: make your own
television! to have the experience of communication, but on
the underground level, directly, socially. We create events
in the streets and the videos, short films etc. are based upon
them... We go into the streets and create television, we invent
happenings in which superheroes interact with passers-by.
build your own antenna"
Hackmeeting04. Candida TV interview LOA, Turin, June 2003
Geneva "Wsis? We seize!" event about the World Society
Information Summit. Candida TV with different mediactivists
all over the world setting up a video stream called "Highnoon"
A Vision of Possible Worlds
Q: When we speak about activist work, it is
usually associated with the need for depicting reality as faithfully
as possible. But in the Candida programme, instead of stressing
verisimilitude, the word is: reality fiction
Trocchi: Our production from 2002, called Super
Video >>> G8, (the well-known Genoa conference) is
a reality fiction, our intention is to show possible ways of
narrating reality. While documentary films want to display reality
as it is, we know that everything that is videotaped manipulates
reality, this is why we rather choose to tell stories, create
fiction and construct our own visions of reality. Our intention
is to open the door to everybody, so that everyone might be
able to broadcast his own, multiplied visions of reality. This
is the only way to surround a void, which is the essence of
things. So, reality and fiction are two elements interwoven
in our visual productions, creating visions of possible worlds.
Q:The Candida TV programme also included the
interview with Ricardo Dominguez, a representative of the famous
American activist group Electronic Disturbance Theatre. The
activity of this group is directed exclusively at the world
wide web, hacker performances like the Floodnet, electronic
floods that cause sudden server overload while browsing the
pages of big world banks or multinational corporations.
Trocchi: Meeting Electronic Disturbance Theatre
was very important for us, because it clarified certain elements
of our own work. We edited the interview with Dominguez with
the street actions scenes from previous years: they are as screenplays,
which use the city as a theatre. When power suddenly walks on
stage it shows itself for what it really is.So we create a fiction,
which incorporates different forms of power and makes them visible.
Electronic Disturbance Theatre has given us elements to analyse
our own work.
Q: One of the procedures in the Candida TV
programme is base on the practise of “reverse engineering”:
the way of using a tool is reversed. An important aspect in
the activities of independent television is reversing the roles,
turning spectators into creators with the intention to radically
remould the perception of media, which means eliminating the
prejudices about its non-interchangeability. Instead of one-way
communication, from one to many, Candida stresses the communication
going from many to many.
Trocchi: I would like to point out the importance
of laboratories for alphabetisation in audio-visual language,
especially among young people from the suburbs. We play the
game of television, it descends from its throne to the streets,
where it came from, because if television killed the streets,
we return it to the site of the crime. For a few months, we
have been doing workshops about the use of: TV cameras, editing
software… Together with those young people, we tried to imagine
what their television might be like. During that game we learned
to deconstruct the language of television and construct a new
one – our own language.
With the Telestreet network and the Guerrilla Marketing crew
the Sky project was carried out in 2002: a football match between
Roma and Lazio telecast by the Sky Channel was stolen and brought
back to the people by means of street television. This was actually
a Robin Hood style action, because something shut off and inaccessible
was taken and made available to the masses – because football
is absolutely a public matter. At the same time, this gave us
a chance to access the collective body of images, because everyone
watches sports and street television spots were inserted in
the half time break.
Manipulation as Creation
Q: Inheriting avant-garde strategies, the
group around Candida has put together a manifesto of battle
cries under the title Swarm declaration:
Television is a weapon. The
screen reality must be squatted. Weapons are in our hands,
beware! If there is a Big Brother, Candida is its Little Sister…
Trocchi: That declaration was written in
1999 as a playful, provocative manifesto. It is about very
broad and very underground cultural production, independent
press and radio…which together with Candida try to penetrate
into mainstream media space. This is a programmatic declaration
bringing into doubt everything, which is coming from the media,
everything people believed in.
Q: Considering Candida’s performances regarding
the exposure of the media manipulation strategies in the first
place, it is impossible not to notice the connection with
last century’s avant-garde movements like dada or surrealism.
In spite of the clearly expressed critical engagement, Candida
skilfully evades socialist-realistic dogmatism, charmingly
uncovering the political reality by nonsensical humour.
Trocchi: In Barcelona, at the CopyLeft conference
(April 2004), we discussed what audio-visual language represented
for us. We said we considered it something that manipulates
reality. The language of television is especially manipulative.
Because of that, we decided to manipulate reality in our own
way, to create our own reality without any shame. That evening
I talked to a Conference participant, who enthusiastically
followed our presentation, especially the discourse on manipulation.
She remarked: “If you manipulate with very clear intentions,
with a certain amount of humour and without a final goal,
that procedure does not belong into the realm of manipulation
anymore, it becomes creation, it is art.”
Activist and media artist, lives in Roma. Initiator of the
collective Candida TV