curt cloninger
Since the beginning
Works in Canton, North Carolina United States of America

Curt Cloninger is an artist, writer, and Associate Professor of New Media at the University of North Carolina Asheville. His art undermines language as a system of meaning in order to reveal it as an embodied force in the world. His art work has been featured in the New York Times and at festivals and galleries from Korea to Brazil. Exhibition venues include Centre Georges Pompidou (Paris), Granoff Center for The Creative Arts (Brown University), Digital Art Museum [DAM] (Berlin), Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art (Chicago), Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center, and the internet. He is the recipient of several grants and awards, including commissions for the creation of new artwork from the National Endowment for the Arts (via and Austin Peay State University's Terminal Award.

Cloninger has written on a wide range of topics, including new media and internet art, installation and performance art, experimental graphic design, popular music, network culture, and continental philosophy. His articles have appeared in Intelligent Agent, Mute, Paste, Tekka, Rhizome Digest, A List Apart, and on ABC World News. He is also the author of eight books, most recently One Per Year (Link Editions). He maintains, , and in hopes of facilitating a more lively remote dialogue with the Sundry Contagions of Wonder.
Discussions (1122) Opportunities (4) Events (17) Jobs (0)

Re: Re: You are the Agent of Alternative Reality

Judson says:

>but no matter what the case, it's just a laugh. starbucks is not
>going to reconsider their immoral property grabbing techniques. at
>best, we have your scenario where they consider wether or not to
>pull the specific campaign. this has no effect though on what makes
>the subverter target them in the first place though.

It's all speculation at this point. Who knows in which ads it will
be appear? Who knows how the corporations will respond? It is at
least a laugh. It may be more.

>it's sort of just like feeling smug saying "I can make you think
>about 'potato chips'." which is why i'm surprised that you (curt)
>would be in favor of it. it seems entirely CONceptual.

It's conceptual, but not entirely conceptual. Literal advertisements
are being produced. And the goal is to CON corporations, not to CON
the project into some gallery. That's what makes it more itteresting
to me than mere peer/scene-referenced conceptual masturbation. It
touches the actual corporations. Probably not in a big way, I agree.
But its effects are yet to be seen.

>but then even if you turned around now and said "ha ha, that was a
>joke and you all fell for it." ok. but nothing has changed. You
>could also just read this as some guy posted a bunch of pictures of
>himself and wants to get in big brochures and ads.

he has been accused within the design community of doing just that.
It's not the most massive anti-commercial campaign ever waged. It
is, as the article observes, a sly wink rather than a thrown brick.


Re: Re: You are the Agent of Alternative Reality

eryk says:

>I'm not sure I get why "literally infiltrating the corporations" is
>a >measure for subversion-
>aren't hundreds of newbie business graduates "subverting" >corporate
>culture every day?

no, they're just working for the corporations. they're "within"
alright, but they're not undermining anything while their in there.

If I spraypaint "Nike exploits" on a subway wall, I am subverting the
company from without.

If I trick Nike into saying "Nike exploits" in their own ad
campaigns, if I trick them into using their own marketing money to
distribute this slogan, if I trick them into thinking that they are
promoting their own brand when in fact they are undermining it -- I
am subverting the company from within.

That is what I mean by "literally infiltrating the corporations."
The goals of this project may well be vague, too subtle,
unaccountable, misdirected, whatever -- but the vehicle this project
uses to subvert the companies is unique to most hacktivist art
projects. It is an attack from within rather than from without.
Nike is not obliged to deal with the scrawled subway criticism, but
they are obliged to deal with their own ad campaign.

Obviously this ACR project won't get Nike to advertise "Nike
exploits." But it has already gotten corporations to distribute an
icon that is now recognizable as anti-corporate by anybody familiar
with the project. In that sense, it has literally infiltrated the

>In activism isn't there an accountability for the end result?
>Lets >say the corporation finds
>out that the stock photography they bought was photographed >by a
>guy who made a vague
>statement about infiltration; never targeting a specific
>company, >does not espouse any
>political agenda; does not expose a cause or belief. How is this >activism?

The project's organizer does espouse an agenda (although I agree that
it's difficult to decipher from the "crypt.CORPS" text accompanying
the project's web site). He may be lurking even now reading this.
Damian, what is your agenda?

>This is essentially
>the same as if a company found out that the actor in the ad for >the
>beef council was a
>vegetarian. Are they going to pull the ads? I sincerely doubt it.

If the vegetarian spokesperson set up a website about how clueless he
thought the beef council was and how he thought they were mindless,
greedy fools, and if that web site got a lot of press, you bet they
would pull the ads.

>This seems more to me like a wink and a nod for designers who >feel
>guilty about what they
>do for money. They get a chance to feel like they're making a >difference.

As opposed to unemployed anti-corporate performance artists who are
making a real difference?

As I've said elsewhere, this is not the A1 best anti-corporate
project to ever come down the pipe, but I find its tactics
interesting and instructive.



they can dish it out but they can't take it

"It was upsetting and disturbing - a criminal offence...I wouldn't go
round to someone's house, smash up a coffee table and call that art.
It's terrorism - like some failed artist threatening to jump off
Waterloo bridge unless they're given a gallery."
- tracy emin

"exterminate! exterminate!"
- johnny rotten



Re: You are the Agent of Alternative Reality;URL=issues/issue117
>this seems like a very interesting project, but the images
>aren't >anti-corporate or subversive in anyway that i can tell.
>simply labeling an image 'subversive' don't make it so.
>i don't see how this project works to 'subvert' anything at all,
>except in the minds of few designers who are in the know.

and in your mind too, since you're now in the know.

but, if overtly subversive stock photography is your bag, there's
always kate und bob:


Re: You are the Agent of Alternative Reality

Eryk says:
It's my idea that "in-joke subversion" is a kind
of slacktivism- you could theoretically argue that if this work is
subversive just because the creators
of the piece say so, then going to a starbucks for an "ironic latte"
is subversive as well. Ironic posturing
is not a form of activism.


I disagree. If this project is taken to a successful conclusion, it
will have achieved more than most activist art projects do, by virtue
of the fact that it will have literally infiltrated the corporations.

Most anti-corporate art activism occurs outside the corporations,
without their awareness. Etoy is an exception, and I'm sure there
are others. But do shop owners and governments really care about the
surveilance camera players? It makes for good copy, but what
changes? With this ACR project, once (if) the corporations discover
they have been the target of the project, they are forced to confront
practical issues -- "do we pull the ads, do we fire the designers, do
we just ignore it? Better call our lawyers."

In that sense, this project stands to be much more effective than an
ironic latte. The corporations will have been literally, practically
influenced by the project, financially and in terms of their brand
identity. They may decide not to take any action at all, but they
will have at least been made to intentionally decided something.

Additionally, the project causes participating designers to decide
whether they want to risk getting fired for the sake of the joke.