Anonymous: A Shared Identity in the era of a global networked society.

CuratingYouTube presents "Anonymous: Shared Identity in the era of a global networked Society."

The exhibition attempts to give an overview of the movement of the Internet-activists "Anonymous" through a comparative and aesthetic investigation in the form of a series of video-grids including videos that were made by the activists in the course of their protests activities. "Anonymous" is applying the medium "web video" in order to announce its activities taking place on the Internet and in real space, as well as call for others to participate. Thus, the videos should be seen as an important interface between the Internet and the so-called real world. Due to their specific aesthetics, the videos have constituted a kind of "corporate identity" related to "Anonymous". Their film language, their aesthetic appearance and their style were therefore constitutive of the entire movement.
As explicitly leaderless group with a political orientation, centered around human rights like free speech and free access for information, "Anonymous" makes use of the network structures and the social network, its services and platforms like Twitter, IRC, 4chan, youtube, etc. by using these forms of communication to organize upcoming peaceful protests. Although the members act anonymously, some user groups such as 4chan, the Chaos Computer Club and The Pirate Bay are associated with "Anonymous". In 2008 "Anonymous" became generally known with the "Project Chantology", an extensive protest against the Church of Scientology. That campaign already revealed the specific culture of protest that "Anonymous" is using to this day: Internet-organized real-world demonstrations combined with Internet activism as DDoS attacks, video messages and video documentation of the protests, with the call to join them. Since then, a series of so-called "anon-operations" followed: e.g. "Operation Payback," which was directed against the opponents of Wikileaks, or "Operation Didgeridie" and "Operation Tunisia". In the course of both operations, "Anonymous" accused the governments of Australia and Tunisia of violating the right to freedom of expression. Since 2010 state agencies reinforced their investigations against "Anonymous" and began arresting alleged members of the movement. Currently "Anonymous" participates in the campaign "Operation Wall Street" or "#occupywallstreet", that has been taking place since the 17th September 2011 in the form of an occupation of Wall Street following the example of peaceful demonstrators of "the Arabic spring" or those who occupied public squares in Spain.
The usage or the performance of a shared identity began on image-boards like 4chan where users posted pictures and comments using the multiple-user-name "anonymous". Shared identities can be designed in the form of a "character" (avatar or fictional character) or in a more abstract way with the aim to identify common goals and philosophical or political ideas. A shared identity is formed by the users while building internal rules and recurrent or recognizable concepts and signs such as linguistic or pictorial patterns that are used in a heraldic form (using simple design tools in an interpretive way) not only in order to be a part of the corporate identity for a self-chosen period but also in order to shape it.
"Anonymous" uses YouTube as a publishing platform. Frequent copies and remixes of the videos as part of the shared identity "Anonymous" as well as of the common usage of YouTube can also be understood as an emphatic process of transformation from the specific languages of videos (what is an artistic and aesthetic activity) into a political statement. The videos on YouTube are arranged through a simple recognition effect based on theirs formal language, although, at the same time, these forms of identification become dynamic because of the the permanent modifications, adaptations and rearrangements made by the users. The specific "Anonymous-style", its common practice of appropriation, citation, modification and rearrangements of video-sequences, sounds and texts, finds its "natural environment" on YouTube while spreading out on the Internet in a viral and dynamic way.
To provide the complexity of the iconography of the web video - film language, the exhibition has put together a series of multi-channel-video-installation-grids. In the merging and contrasting of different videos that were posted by "Anonymous" on YouTube, the exhibition visitors are encouraged to consider the specific means of representation and self-presentation of a new form of protest culture and "artificial identity", as well as to perceive the various references to past political and other cultural figures. The "Anonymous - videos" make use of an arsenal of characters and methods, which can be critically considered. Nevertheless, the exhibition wants to convey the productive tension built by the friction of the different propagandistic funds, brand strategies and artistic methods that "Anonymous" uses in order to constitute a collective or shared identity via a dynamic aesthetic and to provoke grassroots protests.



exhibition curated bySakrowskiforCuratingYouTube with kind support from Ute Fischer || September 2011


On September 29th, 2011 on the occasion of the festival "TodaysArt 2011", CuratingYouTube opened the online exhibition "Anonymous: Shared Identity in the era of a global networked Society" at the Speed show "Deconstructing social networks & Web 2.0 landscape"
curated by Anne Roquigny and Yves Bernard