Accepted paper:

Latin American revolutionary discourse in the age of new media (revolutions): the tactical media work of Fran Ilich


Thea Pitman (University of Leeds)

Paper short abstract:

This paper examines how one particular tactical media project, Mexican Fran Ilich’s server, positions itself with respect to traditional revolutionary discourse in Latin America, focusing in particular on its use of Digital Zapatista poetics.

Paper long abstract:

The discourse of revolution has arguably been the most obvious (and needy) subject of reinvigoration and/or resemanticisation in online cultural production, both because of the proven ability of networked digital media to bring about social change and because of the tendency to refer to both social and technological change with the same terminology. In this paper I briefly explore the association of Latin America, and by extension discourses of Latin American-ness, with the concept of revolution, before going on to examine how one particular tactical media project positions itself with respect to the Latin American revolutionary tradition. The cultural producer in question is itinerant Mexican media artist and activist Fran Ilich whose work to create a utopian online community via his own server is directly related to the ethos and practice of (Digital) Zapatismo. Although difficulties abound in the creation of contestatory projects online, my paper argues that Ilich's tactical media work does manage to retain a contestatory edge: despite its sometimes naïve reliance on the tradition of Latin American (and global) revolutionary discourse, my reading recognises Ilich's work as employing a poetics of Digital Zapatista 'semantic disruption', thereby offering a way of appreciating its more subtle and innovative aspects.

panel P28
Latin American digital culture