charlie's ants (2001)

by aphid

Charlie's Ants is a participatory detournement of a tract by the same name published by Chick Ministries. A phrase is elicited from the user, which is then inserted into a database along with that user's IP address and timestamp. In exchange for the phrase, the user is presented with the images from the original tract, with text randomly selected from the database inserted and scaled into the speech bubbles. A printable version is available for printing, stapling and redeployment at the exact scale of the original tract.

I am responsible for neither the text nor the images involved in the piece.

Charlie's Ants was made in response to finding a pile of Chick's tracts at a shop in the largest Native American reservation in North America. These tracts are a form of meme warfare, inspired by maoist comic books. They are intended for use in the indoctrination of followers to ...

Full Description

Charlie's Ants is a participatory detournement of a tract by the same name published by Chick Ministries. A phrase is elicited from the user, which is then inserted into a database along with that user's IP address and timestamp. In exchange for the phrase, the user is presented with the images from the original tract, with text randomly selected from the database inserted and scaled into the speech bubbles. A printable version is available for printing, stapling and redeployment at the exact scale of the original tract.

I am responsible for neither the text nor the images involved in the piece.

Charlie's Ants was made in response to finding a pile of Chick's tracts at a shop in the largest Native American reservation in North America. These tracts are a form of meme warfare, inspired by maoist comic books. They are intended for use in the indoctrination of followers to evangelical Christianity through tactics of fear and intimidation. In nearly every tract, someone is sent to hell: athiests, buddhists, muslims, jews, catholics, freemasons, players of dungeons & dragons alike are punished for their non-adherence to a strict orthodoxy in which those who do not submit are tortured in hell forever. These tracts can be found anywhere, and their publisher has recommended placing them in busses, laundromats, dentists' offices, video rental boxes, bill payment envelopes - anywhere and everwhere.

Charlie's Ants is an attempt to jam the signal with good old fashioned (tower of) babble. This is a form of resistance not only because it replaces the original author's narrow single vision with profanity, absurdity and dadaist nonsense but also because the act of appropriation is illegal under the international copyright law. Debord once said that "Revolution isn't showing life to people; it is making them live". In this case, I am not showing people detournement, but making them detourn.

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