PROPAGANDA PROPAGATING ONLINE
by Jonathan Keats
The effects of local politics are global. Warfare isn't limited by national borders; climate change cannot be confined. While the blogosphere has provided the disenfranchised with a platform for discussion and debate, one of the most powerful tools of grassroots communication has remained essentially provincial: Printed on paper and affixed to walls with wheat paste, the propaganda poster is a medium made to stay in place. Propaganda III effectively questions this role by proposing a hybrid future for poster art that relies on the global reach of photo-sharing website Flickr and the universal availability of inkjet printers.
Already nearly two hundred posters from around the world have been submitted to the Propaganda III Flickr Gallery -- administered by San Francisco gallery START SOMA -- with entries from Iran, Croatia, and China joining more conventional fare from England and the United States. Much of it, such as Shepard Fairey's stylish Make Art Not War, is more decorative than polemical, though Francesco Sommacal's rendition of the World Trade Center, with the Nike swoosh as an airplane and the slogan "Just Do It" as a caption, is chillingly unequivocal.
START SOMA will tour prints of all submissions, uncensored, in galleries around the world starting on July 4th, a proof-of-concept in inkjet propaganda.
More provocatively, the ongoing online exhibition suggests the potential for propaganda to evolve, open-source, as it spreads: As digital files circulate freely on the web, global messages can be remixed on any PC to meet local needs..