The Coming Red, White, and Blue Tide

With just one month to go until the Republican National Convention at which John McCain will accept his party's nomination for presidential candidate, residents of Minnesota's Twin Cities are bracing themselves for a red, white, and blue tide. A consortium of organizations in the area have organized what they call the UnConvention, an umbrella for the art projects, interventions, and alternative media outlets raining through the region whose four-word mission is simply: "Unscripting the political process." An event like the RNC is a well-oiled machine and efforts by authorities to keep voices of dissent or other visual distractions at bay abound even in mainstream press coverage of this quadrennial event. The UnConvention is a shelter for ideas that veer from this predictable narrative and it uses its website to galvanize collaboration. The Projects page lists information on artist's initiatives--many of which bring street art and situationist theater techniques to new media forms--ranging from the very DIY to the beautiful and highly-choreographed, including Ligorano/Reese's, The State of Things, 2003/2008, an ice sculpture of the word "democracy" intended to melt within 24-hours of its installation; and Sharon Hayes's ambitious Revolutionary Love 2: I am Your Best Fantasy, in which 100 citizens in the cities of both the Republican and Democratic conventions will collaborate with her to "recite in unison a text chosen by Hayes that exemplifies the intersection of history and the construction of the 'queer figure' in the political terrain." The UnConvention also harnesses the web as a platform for participatory democracy. Its site is a bulletin board for spontaneous actions and a headquarters for creative convergence, calling on readers close and far from the Great Lakes to speak their voice. Taking its title from the obligatory statement uttered by candidates at the end of campaign ads, the consortium's project, I Approve This Message gives the public a chance to address delegates at both conventions. Touted as "a community generated media response" giving people "a voice and an opportunity to promote thinking about what participating in democracy looks like," I Approve This Message revolves around a a website in which users' two-minute videos are posted to paint a collective picture of what this (newly unscripted) process means to them. - Marisa Olson

Image: Ligorano/Reese, The State of Things, 2003/2008