Seminar: Tactical Media

The Rise of Low-Tech

Tactical media exists at the intersection of media, art, and activism made possible by the introduction of cheap tools previously monopolized by the state and media industries. Emerging in the 1990s with an increased awareness of gender, race, and post-colonial struggle, tactical media began as a challenge to the one-way street of mass media. Programmers, theorists, and activists inspired by an artistic sense of play and the cultural aesthetics of do-it-yourself punk created self-aware interactive media that is synonymous with net.art, hacktivism, open source activity, culture jamming, and citizen journalism. 

Class Content

Twenty years later, ubiquitous computing, web 2.0, and other interactive technology are as popular as mass media – what does this mean for the future of tactical media? In this class, we identify new practices of tactical media that transform with emerging technology, especially the challenges that arise from corporate innovations in interactive, participatory, and personalized media. There are three parts to the study: power, space, and interaction. In the first, we theorizes the powerful effects of media interventions. In the second, we outline a variety of tactical approaches to space. In the third, we problematize intervention itself.

Course Structure

The course is part seminar and part studio. The seminar component introduces students to a tactical approach to media while still maintaining the traditional role of critic familiar to literary theory, visual culture, and communication studies. This material is covered through weekly readings, in-class texts, and media objects that will be discussed in class. The studio component requires students to become active critic-practitioners that must synthesize findings and develop new critical questions while building their own media objects.