Seizing The Media
Immediast International - New York City / Amsterdam / Seattle
SEIZING THE MEDIA is a work in progress. The version that you are holding is the second to circulate. As Immediast thinking and strategy develops, this leaflet will grow and change, and new versions will circulate.
IMMEDIAST projects are against all forms of coercive communication, cultural monologue and media control. We acknowledge non-violent public insurgence as a legitimate response to sustained violations by media and state. We recognize the air as public property, and the signals that travel through it to be the domain of the public.
Seizing the MediaAsian philosophy instructs enlightenment. But given our daily exposure to a barrage of persuasive messages, monologues, sales pitches, come-ons, and uninformative hyper-sensational news, common sense and intimacy are tough enough a struggle to maintain.
We can each see how extended exposure to television and mass media dulls people with a sense of numbness and nausea. From every public space a monologue of coercion penetrates our senses and rapes our attention. Wherever we look, wherever we listen, wherever we go: the pornography of billboards, bus side placards, subway cards, glaring storefront signs and displays, the glut of junk mail, stupid fly-by beach planes and blimps, coupons, obnoxious bumper stickers and breast pins, embarrassing service forms, plastic banners and ribbons, absurd parades, street-corner handouts, windsheild wiper flyers, matchbook ads, business cards, screaming radios, the daily papers, every nanosecond of television, the package wrapped around everything we buyfrom the label in our underwear to the robot computer that calls us in our homesonly the upper atmosphere and the ocean floor offer any sanctuary from America's ecology of coercion. At every turn the monologues drone on, imbedding the psychological mutagens that coax us to become pathetic customers and unquestioning flag wavers. At every turn we are under subtle attack.
The media serve the interests of the State and other corporations, but never the interests of the public. The media's screen of aggression and seduction is designed to mesmerize and captivate the largest possible sector of population whose attention is then sold like scrap metal to advertisers and gang raped by their slogans, jingles, and manic images. Protected by an uncrossable media moat, agents of the State profit from war and relax behind a web of information laws, censorship powers, and vapid explanations that swat the public of detailed intelligence and mass resistance.
So long as we do not control our own government, our own state, and our own broadcast mediathe mirror with which we reflect on the reality of liveswe will continue to be forced to see fun-house mirror distortions of ourselves projected onto a dumpster of products that promise to make us each desirable, sophisticated, and correct. At every turn we are under attack.
Incest Of Corporations And The StateThe State controls information, debt, and violence and targets collective identity. Corporations control commodification, work, and media and target individual identity. Both deploy the same psychological strategies for embedding the public with their messages and directives. Never were their common strategies more transparent than when US disinformation and propaganga service, the infamous USIA, decided to step-up its psy-warfare campaign against the people of Cuba in the Spring of 1989. Until then, attempts to psychologically destabalize the Cuban people were concentrated in the broadcasts of Radio Marti, the Florida based, Government owned pirate radio station that to this day illegally transmits propaganda and disinformation into domestic Cuban radios. In the Spring of 1989, the USIA added images to their psy-war arsenal and began transmitting tele-broadcasts from a hot air balloon controlled from the Key West signals station. Sibling of Radio Marti, the project was dubbed TV Marti.
A few things are to be held in mind here. First, after the Creel Commission saturated Americans with pro-war propaganda during WWI, the level of public disgust was so intense that laws were enacted forbidding the State from ever subjecting the public to its propaganda again. Thus, the USIA's Voice of America propaganda broadcasts that we can hear today in Amsterdam, Berlin, and Prague, we are protected against hearing here on our own turf. Propaganda is so disorienting and confusing that Americans have actually passed laws forbidding it here in its crude verifiable forms.
The fact that we must now face and destroy is that advertising, entertainment, and news have become the government's Trojan Horse into the psyche of the public. What was TV Marti's first propaganda broadcast aimed at the minds of the Cuban people? MTV. Think about it: The USIA's first broadcast of tele-propaganda delivered MTV's corporate rock videos! At every turn we are under attack.State Private Media --------------------------------- ----------------------------- 1. Representation is reality. 1. Representation is reality. 2. Secrecy is security. 2. Ownership is identity. 3. Violence empowers the violent. 3. To consume is to connect.The Assault Of Spectacle Media is twofold: while immersing the public in a barrage of coercive messages, commercial media serves as an accomplice to political felony, murder, and treason by censoring the details and dimensions of State activity from democratic processes and public intelligence. Culture, awareness, and democratic power are what we surrender for an internal economy that is dependent on the relentless preparation and sale of public attention for penetration by corporate and State advertising. The Immediasts stand in solidarity with all groups and individuals who act in opposition to this situation and whose work assists omnicultural vocality, public production libraries, public media and an open state.
Methods of Mind ControlImmediast research has turned up two invaluable sources revealing State tactics of behavior modification, subliminal manipulation, and mind control. The first is the Psychological Warfare Manual authored and distributed by the CIA to the Nicaraugan terrorists, the Contras. The instruction manual directives state:In effect, the human being should be considered the priority objective in a political war. And conceived as the military target of guerrilla war, the human being has its most critical point in his mind. Once his mind has been reached, the "political animal" has been defeated, without necessarily receiving bullets...
This conception of guerrilla warfare as political war turns Psychological Operations into the decisive factor of the results. The target, then, is the minds of the population, all the population: our troops, the enemy troops and the civilian population...
Communication is a way to ask and give the answer to the same question.
The manual goes on to instruct its readers how to effectively deceive, blackmail, and assasinate individuals antagonistic to the imperatives of the State.
Our second source of documentation exposing State led programs of media subversion is found in the video documentaries and published articles of Fred Landis. Landis first discovered the presence of mind control tactics in commercial broadcast media by monitoring daily newspapers produced by the CIA in Chile in 1973. His resulting Ph.D dissertation outlined CIA tactics of subliminal manipulation and mind control and was used against the CIA in Volume 7 of the 1975 Hearings of the Senate Church Committee; "The CIA and the Media," and in the 1977-1978 Hearings of the House Intelligence Committee. Landis' observations and research exposed a now easily identifiable method deployed by the State to psychologically destabilize and subliminally coerce a given population. Based on the cross- cultural linguistic theory and research generated by Charles Osgood (funded by the CIA), the government deploys the following method, called Semantic Differential:
- First, media agents identify cultural symbols which have deep emotional associations within a target population's everyday domestic, cultural, and spiritual lives. Agents then use these symbols as in-roads to the people's unconscious and manipulate these symbols as subliminal imbeds which can be antagonized or resonated in accordance with situations being manufactured by the CIA. "Indirect attacks on government ministers employ the juxtaposition of photos of the targeted official with unrelated headlines, subliminal propaganda, and pre-selected word associations. By simply placing the key word near a photo of government leaders, a crude behaviorist attempt is made to condition new associations and new values to familiar personalities."
- "The combined effect of word associations (derived from the semantic differential) with subliminal imbeds is so strong that it displaces any other message"even ones which disprove the connotations and meaning of the effect.
State tactics of media control deliver subliminal and disinforming directives in the guise of news. Targeting deep psychological imbeds present in every culture, the State instills shock, terror, confusion, sexual arousal, awe or uncertainty by antagonizing or coupling these imbeds with sensational headlines associating such things as Satanism with enemies, and religious miracles and good luck with leaders implanted or puppetted by the State. The symbols change from culture to culture. During the US Supreme Court Nomination Hearings of Clarence Thomas, the New York Times ran a cover photo (Sunday 13 October 1991) of Senator Hatch holding up a copy of The Exorcist and associating it with Anita Hill! This was not an accusation, it was a psychological tactic. According to the semantic differential, the deep and negative feelings experienced in people by such associations outlast evidence which demonstrates their falsehood and perversion.
Immediast TacticsAsian philosophy instructs self-realization and awakening, but when under attack, Asian philosophy also instructs methods for overpowering an assailant with the force of his own assault. We herald this approach. Immediast tactics aim to neutralize the key images and text being imbedded into the public by the media and the State. Our work is the liberation of public space from the broadcasts of corporations, businesses, and departments of the State; and the abolition of public captivity as spectators to the ceaseless barrage of billboards, manipulative images, State constructed news and propaganda. The question is, how we can lockjaw the spectacle with its own force?
Returning all airborne commercial broadcast media to public direction, access, and control will naturally release cultural forces difficult at present to imaginethe mind turned inside out won't be a viral image slogan on a Gannet billboard, it will be living people on the airwaves and in the streets.
We interpret Freedom of Speech to mean the facilitated ability to both access and produce information and cultural material through the development of public production libraries where we can each and all produce cultural print, radio, television, and radio broadcast materials in library studios equipped with desktop publishing facilities, graphics technology, multi-track audio recorders, film and video cameras, and editing equipment. Freedom to broadcast can be in the power of the public. Corporations can be evicted from the airwaves. We can charge them staggering rent for the low-end frequencies if we want to. The State, under relentless public scrutiny, can be kept nude of its power to hide from, indebt, and subvert the public. Democracy can be as open and dynamic as our public libraries.
Of course we anticipate struggle on the part of the State and corporations. Let them struggle, doing so opens up new fissures and points of access. In the meantime, we call on you to engage in your own actions. We call on artists, writers, posterists, activists, and networkers from all countries to assist with our project. Vocalize your disgust. Speak up. Fight back. Liberate the public spaces in the zones that most need itthe ones in your everyday life. Organize Networker Congresses. Strike. Send to our journal, Noospapers, your statements, manifestoes, critiques, tracts, tactics, poetry, posters, collages, documentation, graphics and art. Together we can begin the liberation of public spaces and end our forced captivity in a spectator democracy.
Revolution And InsurgenceRevolution is the overthrow of government; our aim is to overthrow the media. Armed insurrection is unnecessary in so far as it is words and images which are shot at us, not bullets. But the words and images which keep us in bondage, which inundate us with the political muzak of disinformation, half-baked scandals, shock, empty desires, and subliminal imbeds are what enable State and corporate men to shoot bullets at people outside our borders, slaughtering people like you and me by the thousands in Iraq, in Panama, in Grenada, in El Salvador, in Libya, in Nicaragua, in Africa. With the media in the hands of the public, State agents who order secret wars, election riggings, destabilization programs and other covert actions will be forced into open view and the democratic control of the public.
The New Servant ClassEstablishing democratic legitimacy in America begins not with overthrowing our governments, but with diminishing them to the role of public servants. After all, in America, State agents are still employees of the public. The Immediast goal is to make government officials the only servants in our society, the audience of public expressions, the assistants of public cultures, economy, and the archivists of public histories. The legitimization of democratic government will come from multicultural public movements, not State initiatives. The airwaves are public domain to be used by and for the publicand public movements will converge through the establishment of national public medialiberation of the airwaves. This is our work for the 90s.
The Case Of USA vs. John PoindexterThe outcome of the federal court case USA vs. John Poindexter has pushed us from long standing civilian silence to insurgent Immediast action. Look carefully: North and Poindexter reversed their felonies by proving that extended media exposure destroyed case witnesses' ability to think independently of the words and images the media had saturated them with. This is now American history, a legal precedent. Admitting the mind-control action of mass media protected State felons from public law. The precedent of USA vs. John Poindexter thus establishes that:
Spectacle media serves as a moat protecting the National Security State from public participation and democratic scrutiny. Meanwhile, North and Poindexter, both felons, are back on the streets again.
- Spectacle representations derived from actual public events manipulate perception and control the natural outcome of our events.
- Spectacle media disables the public to think and perceive freely of the biases imbedded by exposure to mass media noise and images.
These crimes and their accomplices in the White House, CIA, NSA, CNN, DOD, ABC, USIA, MTV, CBS etc are too much to tolerate given the increasing violence, debt, recession, and systemic deception forced upon us every day by the government and consumer media.
Our drive to connect, to create, to love and make love, to play, to communicate, to share, to live freely, to participate or be left in peace, to represent our own desires and author our own cultures and live with meaning that we together create are under relentless invasion and constant assault. The time to change has come.
We no longer tolerate being besieged with manipulative messages that we don't want to hear and cannot respond to. We no longer tolerate an inaccessible State that censors, blocks, denies information to the public. We no longer tolerate the spectacle that ultimately serves to absolve criminals like Poindexter, Bush, North and their lickspittles from crimes of international violence and domestic debt. The time has come to turn the ecology of coercion on itself. The time has come to veto, overwhelm, and subvert the messages of all airborne commercial broadcast media until they are returned to complete public direction, access, and control. How long should we wait to liberate public spaces from the blister of billboards and advertisements? The air is public domain, and the airwaves are ours to hear our own voices, see our own colors, enjoy our own conversations, and celebrate in the vast community of cultures. Remember: dialogue offsets the hegemony, and intimacy empowers.
The time has come to restore the democratic power and public space that have been coopted and colonized by commercial media.
Celebrate public culture. Reconnect. Seize the media. The air is yours.
In 1992 we begin the work that needs to be done. Asian philosophy instructs enlightenment.
Towards An Ecology Of InformationThe Immediast Approach
0. Participating in the proliferation, cross-pollination, and consolidation of counter-commercial print, audio, visual, modem, activist, and correspondence media.
1. Documenting the basic sources, dynamics, and effects of corporate and State media control. Exposing methods of mind control, behavior modification, and image imbedding.
2. Openly discussing tools and methods that strengthen immunization and freedom from deceptive, disinforming, and subliminal media exposures. Upgrading public media literacy to decode, produce, and broadcast in all communications media.
3. Open cultural expressions, education, networking and resistance.
4. Reclaiming public sovereignty of the airwaves.
5. The liberation of all public space from government, corporate, and business messages.
6. Public takeover of all airborne commercial broadcast media and the creation of public production libraries.
7. Liberation as glasnost: the emergence of democratic public communications and media networks.
The Immediast ApproachThe Immediasts invision liberation changes in public access and cultural freedom. We draw from the powers of public domain and personal freedom to counter the systemic penetrations of commercial media into individual privacy through public space.
Our actions are exerted through immediate and unpredictable means. We believe that the institutional restraints imposed on social change drain cultural growth and momentum rather than nurture their innovations and initiatives. We recognize insurgence as a legitimate response to sustained violation. We experience decommodification of consciousness and liberation of public space as simultaneous projects, that occur together, side by side, and at the same time. Immediast activity releases public insurgence mounting to these ends, and works not only to reclaim the inviolability of public attention and intelligence, but to equip and serve them with the technology for cultural freedom and democratic power. This is not a theoretical exercise aimed at intellectuals and folk on the left, this is about equiping all sectors of the public to engage in the development of a public media and an open State.
- Civilization has known no golden age. When people organize to create powers greater than any one person's ability to manage or maintain, power is used to advantage the few and control the many. Remember that human slavery was a brisk business in the United States until little more than 100 years ago. Saudi Arabia practiced slavery until the 1960s.
- In industrial societies where people are organized into physical production, physical forces are used to control the public and, in turn, used by the public to vanquish over-concentrations of resources and power.
In Information societies where populations are subject to abstract economies and manipulated by a landscape of images, infotainment, and advertising, people can seize democratic management of their political, cultural, and educational lives by gaining control of media. Such is the heart of Immediast theory, art, and action.
- Revolution is the overthrow of government by its forced subjects; Immediaism is the seizure of media by its captive audience. The Immediast presence will amplify until all airborne corporate and commercial broadcast media are under complete public direction, access, and control.
Towards An Immediast InternationalI. Immediast actions, art, and insurgent networking reach their first sphere of realization in the development of public production libraries and the complete public seizure of all airborne commercial broadcast media. We believe that consummate upgrades in the structure of social, cultural and political life can only occur by public action outside the channels of delay and diffusion operative in State institutions. Remember USA vs. Poindexter. Remeber Dept. of Defense vs. The Nation, Village Voice, Mother Jones, The Progressive, and Pacifica Radio et all. Remember.
We have zero interest in passively watching the collapse of America's two-wing business party that markets Leaders as a set of images and vapid patriotic sentiments that can be grasped by a first grader through three word bumper stickers and 20 second prime time TV commercials. Our goal is to liberate public intelligence from such inane violations of space, time and attention. Our efforts rest when Leaders, business party or otherwise, are public servants whose every plan, project, and viewpoint is under relentless accountability and scrutiny to an uninhibited public press. Subscription government, public media, and an open state are what we're after.
By abolishing commercial imperatives, press pooling, and censorship, media accessed and directed by the public paralyzes State ability to conceal covert actions like Iran/Contra or the actions leading up to the invasion of Panama and the abduction of that country's figurehead. Domestically, we aim to collapse the ecology of coercion that depends on buying and selling public attention through advertisingand the stupor, numbness, bigotry, and general ignorance it promotes. When our work is done, advertising and billboards will fly beside the Soviet flag in the museum of dead totalitarian experiments.
II. Immediast projects advance cultural ecologies that facilitate public education, access and creativity. We support efforts to expand, defend, and upgrade public space as free space.
The real oppressiveness we experience is an oppression against our cultures, awareness, and democratic power.
Our revulsion with the violence of the State and coercion of the media restrains our impulse to employ like meaures against the people whose work it is to perpetuate the present system. It is our greater drive for liberation from these conditions and life in fuller freedom tht directs our actions towards systemic change rather than impeachment, incarceration, or execution of individuals, though these may inevitably occur by non-immediasts.
From the vantage point of public media we can strip State agents of all power beyond accountable public service, insuring that oppression has no voice and coercion no media. Public media can gently remove the trump card of "National Security" from the hands of the NSA, DOD, CIA, FBI, DOE, etc, and begin organizing a democracy while dismantling the warheads of America's covert State. As the people of the Russian commonwealth have vanquished the central monologue controlling their lives and culture, so too will we squelch the studios of coercion that prevent our democracy, violate our intelligence, disrupt our space, and sell our attention. This we will do by reclaiming the public airwaves.
Creating Public Production LibrariesAn Immediast ProjectIf literacy measures people's ability to read and write, people living in information societies are media illiterateunequiped to decode the effects of media on intelligence and intimacy and unable to write in the language of broadcasting. While the media's ecology of coercion assuages public desire to participate in the media by emphasizing the bottom-line significance of public polls, Gallop & its pathetic epigones merely totalize a few public neurons into the status of a collective brain. How many of your comrades and kin have ever participated is a Gallup poll, anyway?
Public seizure of all commercial broadcast media establishes what public production libraries nurture: liberation from advertising, the decommodification of public attention, the upgrade of public intelligence, the development of media literacy, the documentation of public productions, facilitated cultural expression, the termination of covert State action, violence, propaganda, and media control, and the inviolable ground for a public media and open state. Such are the aims of all Immediast plans and projects.
Public production libraries will be built in sisterhood with the public libraries that now exist. Within each production library will be the facilities to produce print, audio, visual, and database material. "Librarians" will serve as technicians, maintainance, and repair people. Production libraries will give people a larynx through which to speak. The media seized, corporations silenced, and the State under relentless scrutiny, we will reconect and celebrate who we are.
III. Regardless of their ostensibly radical message, alternative media have generally reproduced the dominant spectacle-spectator relation. The point is to undermine itto challenge the conditioning that makes people susceptible to media manipulation in the first place. Which ultimately means challenging the social organization that produces that conditioning, that turns people into spectators of prefabricated adventures because they are prevented from creating their own.Ken Knabbs, "The War and the Spectacle", Retrofuturism 15.
During recent years, artists and intellectuals have stopped talking about Orwell and have begun talking back to the real media. Collectives have formed and ink has flowed. With few exceptions, the main gripe articulated has been against media misrepresentation and censorship. Thinkers like Chomsky and Parenti have gone so far as to discuss the underlying mechanisms used by the media to control perception, "manufacture consent", and modify public behavior. Who, however, has presented any clear plans or proposals for overcoming the hegemony of US State and corporate broadcasting? The Immediasts are only the beginning.
Recent activist initiatives have begun targeting the public vulnerability to news, images, infotainment, and the pus of coercive images that we all wallow in daily. All such critiques seem to presume that a sudden outburst of free thinking and artistic disruption will somehow wheedle, cajole, or enlighten the snakes coming out of the media Medusa. With even less telos are those who devote their academic scrutiny to media watch-dog activity, vulturing over the lies and propaganda as our history is diswritten. Significant as their efforts, newsletters and intent are, media reform in response to public pressure will never and can never reorient the media's fundamental activity of preparing and commodifying public attention for penetration by corporate advertisers. Alternative viewpoints find airtime only if the corporate hegemons are convinced that they can captivate an untapped public sector. Its always about markets, never about movements.
While diligent media activism can and eventually will alter media representations of misgyny, racism, homophobia, and displays of violence, sisyphean is the hope that anything short of public insurgence can restructure the ecology of coercion systemic to our spectacle culture and Security State. Because advertising is persuasion and propaganda is news, "challenging the conditioning that makes people susceptible to media manipulation"to quote Ken Knabb's tract in the recent issue of Retrofuturism Magazineis like challenging the air to reject pollutants. People perceive that McDonalds and Burger King, republicans and democrats, coke and pepsi, are actually alternatives to one another because the imperatives of commercial media are to commodify choice, operate through immersion, and totalize public perception. There is no escape, no sanctuary, no retreat. Only deluge and bombardment, and the desire and addiction that come with embeds left by long term over-exposure.
Immediast tactics are not against challenging the conditioning that make people passive consumers of spectacle politics and a culture of coercion; we are against allowing our projects to stop at either personal immunization or watchdog activity which are both only defensive positions. The first asks us to mutate to the degraded environment, the second merely documents it. Implicit in both approaches is an inertia about media's fundamental activity of captivating, preparing, and selling public attention to advertisers.In the 20th century, he who controls the screen controls consciousness, information and thought. The screen is a mirror of your mind. If you're passively watching screens, you're being programmed. If you're editing you're own screen, you're in control of your mind.
Americans voluntarily stick their amoeboid faces toward the screen seven hours a day and suck up information that Big Brother is putting there. Americans spend more time looking at monitors than they do gazing into the eyes of family and friends.Timothy Leary
IV. The Immediast counter-offensive studies and exerts tactics that direct the spectacle against itself. Our rage and disgust are rooted in our bondage as captive audience and forced spectators. Every billboard is a repulsion to encounter. Every commercial that rapes our attention is no less defiling an experience than the tourniquet of yellow ribbons that strangled out American information and scrutiny during the 42 days the US slaughtered Iraqis.
Immediast tactics play on the immediacy of information systems and experiment with ways to direct them against themselves. Staggering as our situation has become, it is still only people and machines that maintain it; the first we will overcome, the second we will seize.
Stopping the spectacle involves engaging directly with it. Our preliminary work must neutralize the key images and methods of coercion repeated through the media and spectacle politics, while our final job is to silence commercial media completely. The Immediast International exists to provide these basic public services.
The insurgent tactics of ACT UP, Earth First!, Art Fux, the Sits, the Gorilla Girls, and the Weathermen are rich with lessons. We see now that in a spectacle society, paradigmatic cultural, economic, and social upgrades need not be spearheaded by revolution and violence. What we do need to do is orient our connections, critiques, cultural production, and collective action toward a state of democratic critical mass.
Insightful, artistic or illuminating as our discourse may otherwise be, without advancing the awareness and insurgence to take-over the media, our discourse will continue to be pre-empted.
Synesthesia mixes the senses.
The Networker, A New PerceptionIn societies where information and media are as inaccessible and undemocratic as the governments that run them, uninhibited public communication, expression, and cultural production are acts of freedom and defiance. Rooted in the drive to connect and exchange with others, Networkers' openly engage in international mail art, travel, copy-art, computer bulletin boards, fax art, cassette exchange, cultural disruptions, media hacking, pirate broadcasting, festivals, sex, and all forms of improvisational communication and direct action.
"Despite bountiful resouces, corporate profits and state security continued to prevail over public needs until..."
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