Students have to create a collage or a series of collages in the course Image Theory following détournement and culture jamming principles. The main goal of this task is to reflect on our media-saturated and consumer culture, critiquing and subverting the original messages, encouraging idiosyncratic and unintended interpretations. In sum, if Roland Barthes suggested we are all now capable of decoding signs, does this also mean we have a similar ability to create, manipulate and subvert signs?
Although détournement and culture jamming belong to different periods, both movements comprise a broad set of practices which aim is to turn expressions of the capitalist system, hegemonic political points of view and its media culture against itself. For example, slogans and logos are turned against their advertisers or the political status quo. Furthermore, their practices were artful in both senses of the world: clever, cunning and witty, and they exhibited creative skills.
Some aspects to reflect on while doing this task:
- Where did you get your images from? Does this fact make any difference?
- What kind of reactions might you expect?
- Do you think you have been able to provoke some critical thinking?
- In the process of cutting and juxtaposing images from different mediums, sources and outlets, have you been aware of both their original meanings and the new framework you’re creating for making them unfamiliar to the audience?
Here you can see some examples of culture jamming, taken from the webpage of the collective Adbusters. Note that most of them mock logos. Still, other interventions deploy different techniques, such as the one you are ought to apply, like a collage.