John Ewing is a digital media artist creating public art with an emphasis on community participation. He works on large sustained projects that often last several years. He has exhibited at the National Museum of Wales, FACT, and the Cambridge Arts Council, with upcoming shows in New York City and Shanghai, China. Previously he worked in El Salvador for two years, using the arts to organize and inspire dialogue about human rights. Other work includes projects in Nicaragua, Uruguay and Cuba, as well as various cities in the U.S. In 2009 he was a recipient of the Knight News Challenge Grant.
Chas Bowie wrote a really tight insightful essay for the show’s mini-catalogue entitled Total Money Makeover. Pacific Northwest College of Art’s UNTITLED magazine has just re-published the essay here. A choice snippet:
Originally written in April 2007. Minor edits: March 2010.
In the past 50 years the digital user-interface has become a major field of cultural production, since the innovations of Douglas Engelbart in the sixties (mouse/keyboard/video-screen) through the personal computer revolution in the eighties to the rise of the World Wide Web in the nineties and the wider trends for social web applications since the turn of the century. Producers of hardware and software systems have been attempting to develop interfaces that will direct the users to produce the interaction desired by the system they represent.
Recipes for an Encounter functions as a literary extension to the 2008 group exhibition "Kits for an Encounter" at Vancouver's Western Front, which consisted of work that actively engages the viewer by providing the necessary components for instigating or troubling the notion of an encounter. This collection of texts, diagrams, and illustrations provides further "how-to" instruction for relational projects in the manner of a recipe book.
Having elsewhere explored the dimensions of social and political control in electronic culture, the Critical Arts Ensemble here turns full frontal towards the body, arguing that utopian promises of virtuality are simple distractions from the real project: the deployment of biotechnologies upon the bodies of citizens in the service of the transnational order.
The Coming Insurrection is an eloquent call to arms arising from the recent waves of social contestation in France and Europe. Written by the anonymous Invisible Committee in the vein of Guy Debord—and with comparable elegance—it has been proclaimed a manual for terrorism by the French government (who recently arrested its alleged authors). One of its members more adequately described the group as "the name given to a collective voice bent on denouncing contemporary cynicism and reality." The Coming Insurrection is a strategic prescription for an emergent war-machine to "spread anarchy and live communism."
Most of the writers who contributed to the issue were locked up at the time in Italian jails.... I was trying to draw the attention of the American Left, which still believed in Eurocommunism, to the fate of Autonomia. The survival of the last politically creative movement in the West was at stake, but no one in the United States seemed to realize that, or be willing to listen. Put together as events in Italy were unfolding, the Autonomia issue—which has no equivalent in Italy, or anywhere for that matter—arrived too late, but it remains an energizing account of a movement that disappeared without bearing a trace, but with a big future still ahead of it. —Sylvère Lotringer
In the twentieth century, the media gave whistleblowers a voice, spearheaded the downfall of powerful politicians, and exposed widespread corporate corruption. How will the twenty-first-century media cope with its storied legacy as the watchdog of democratic society? Reclaiming the Media examines the sometimes tenuous, often fraught relationship between media organizations and civil rights in Europe. In sections devoted to citizenship, participation, contemporary journalism, and activist communication strategies, a panel of European media experts makes the case for deepening the media’s role in democracy.