Our 21st century media environment has grown more immersive and predominant with the invention of communication technologies such as telephones, satellites, video cameras, and computers. We are all now electronically connected, able to communicate, observe, and react to what is happening anywhere in the world in an instant. How do we make sense of and trust these myriad electronic messages and their messengers, or even know or under- stand who or what is behind the code that creates and designs our mediated reality? More importantly, how can we have agency to disrupt and change the mainstream media’s dominant control over most of these messages?

Aesthetics of Activism Interactive Screen (2015) designed by Micheal Heidt & Vicki Moulder

The Aesthetics of Activism

Mr. Heidt where are you?

(top) Demonstrates how people at a protest site could document a person. (top-right) Demonstrates how a person with Internet connection could use a portable device and a pocket projector to display system imagery. (bottom) Generally a person would have 90-minutes of projection time using this type of mobile setup. (bottom-right) Demonstrates how people gathering at an event could view and interact with the artwork.

This artwork was designed to aggregate visual material from social networks to form themed compositions that can be explored within a shared interactive space. Visual elements are programmatically arranged according to formal aesthetic criteria as seen in the figures below. Artistry built into the algorithms used for creating the visual compositions and those used to present, filter and rank content within the social web are exposed for people interested in exploring the system design. For this web presentation of the artwork we incorporated social media related to Canada’s Kinder Morgan protest. As seen in Figure 1 a person at a remote protest site (i.e., forest, ocean, island, etc) could document an event. Then send the video to person at an urban location and if they had the proper mobile setup they would have 90-minutes to projection the remote site video. People gathering at the urban protest site could then see the remote video documentation.

Related Publications
Boschman, L., Heidt, M., Moulder, V. & Oppenheimer, R. (2015) Analyzing Disruptive Tactics and Strategies in Media Activism, International Symposium of Electronic Art, Vancouver, Canada.

Moulder, V., Heidt, M., & Boschman, L. (2015) Transcoding the Aesthetics of Activism, Proceedings of the International Symposium of Electronic Art , Vancouver, Canada, 4 pgs.

Heidt, M. & Moulder, V. (2015) The Aesthetics of Activism Demonstration, Proceedings of the Conference on Creativity & Cognition, Glasgow, Scotland, ACM Press. 2 pgs

Moulder, V. & Heidt, M. (2015) Aesthetics of Activism: See-through Effect Demonstration, Proceedings of the International Symposium of Electronic Art, Vancouver, Canada. 2 pgs

Moulder, V., Boschman, L. R., Wakkary, R., Odom, W., & Kuznetsov, S. (2014, April). HCI interventions with nonprofit organizations: tactics for effective collaboration. In CHI’14 Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems (pp. 877-880). ACM.

Kuznetsov, S., Odom, W., Moulder, V., DiSalvo, C., Hirsch, T., Wakkary, R., & Paulos, E. (2011, May). HCI, politics and the city: engaging with urban grassroots movements for reflection and action. In CHI’11 Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems (pp. 2409-2412). ACM.