What is C6

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What is C6


It may help the reader to understand the eclectic mix
of articles gathered here by explaining a little about the art group who
were the driving force behind this book. Then again it may not.

They have been defined as art wankers, outsiders, pranksters,
tactical artists, guerrilla marketers, chaotic instigators of subversion,
art terrorists, mind openers…who or what is C6?


Man in a box (1998) www.c6.org/box
One of C6 members locked himself inside a 2.8m by 2.8m box lit 24/7 and
under constant surveillance CCTV cameras. He stayed there for 7 days with
no food, just water. The entire event was broadcast online and relayed
to the gallery space and the adjacent street via monitors for the whole
168 hours of its duration. The event brought 50,000 visitors to the site,
crashed servers, attracted world press coverage and caused mayhem to the
Brighton street where the gallery was located. Survival meets surveillance
in this very public and controversy-stirring experiment in endurance,
being watched and being forced to a stripped-bare core of existence.

see press pictures here

On the fly (2003) www.c6.org/fly
Rampage on the London Underground: a mobile action/installation stencil
campaign that resulted in 1260 buzzing flies spray-painted on the windows
of a Central Line carriage. From the onset of its planning, it was clear
that this campaign would have been as joyously risky as highly temporary,
due to the curatorial polices of London Transport. At dawn during the
hottest weekend of the year the C6 nucleus made its way to the tube. Advance
logistics had suggested as the most suitable tracts the farthest points
of the eastbound Central Line as the distance between stations allowed
more time to act on the carriage windows. Even so, the two fly-men had
only 9 minutes to cover each side of the carriage with two stencils cut
to size and sprayed in red and black. 9 minutes to create the first mobile
commuter installation.

Want & Need (2005) www.c6.org/wantandneed
A pseudo-guerrilla marketing campaign using sms, street graffiti, stickers,
badges and the culture jamming of local telecoms advertising. The combined
attack of these hyper-pervasive media tempt the public into sms-ing a
phone number with a word/s describing their wants and needs. These texts
in turn generate google-hunted images to be displayed in the gallery through
a software that recreate them by using the original text sent by the user.
It is the latest C6 work, exhibited at the detox exhibition in Oslo, Norway.

Whether C6 are producers of Tactical Media or practitioners of Strategic
Art is unclear. Their distaste for the latest buzzword bingo of the art
fields is only matched by their aversion for the pin down classification
that increasingly characterizes the assimilation of creative output into
the well-trodden and funding bodies-proofed of what can be called “application
art”. However, they like to refer to themselves as 'conceptual marketers’.
Indeed, ‘conceptual marketing' seems to be quite a suitable definition
for the proffering of non consumer-oriented concepts that rely upon multi
media broadcasts to elicit active audiences' participation. This is done
by invading, reclaiming and subverting consumption-occupied territories
both in virtual and real spaces. If you are thinking that no matter how
sleek its situationist veneer may be, C6 strategies bear uncanny similarities
to those of the advertising and marketing world we are all too familiar
with, think again…The beautiful catch is that there is no C6 product
or commodity. Not only was C6 set up as a no-profit making organization;
it actually makes a point of consistently making a loss: 'Make a loss.
It is good for your soul' was a notorious 1998 strap line.

This is connected to another crucial aspect of C6:
the creation of liberated zones of gift economy where C6 members donate
free limited edition works to passers-by as a way to instigate public
collaboration, feedback and critical engagement. This random circulation
of C6 promotional gifts wants to question the status of private ownership
of goods and the commodification of the artwork, while instead providing
a-functional powerful relics of instantaneous chance encounters and potential
collaborative actions. C6 have called this tactical practice E.D.A.A.
(Event Driven A-functional Art). EDAA emerges when an audience is provoked
into taking part in a counterproductive system whose aim is never simply
machinic exchange but full-fledged entropy that brings all participants
to awareness through dysfunction. Any process that engages the audience
in unpredictable usage of media sow the seeds for a new awareness of the
broadcast medium and message. Examples of this can be seen in C6 works
such as Want and Need, Nest, New Media Spy and Fuck you.

This creation of a multi layered and unpredictable
dialogue back and forth between the artist and the viewer is central to
C6 practice, as it is the reclaim of public, virtual and mental space
through multimedia based invasions of territories to create localised
reactions and disturbances in the everyday. None of this could be achieved
without C6 trademark and lopsided irreverence, though. Used as a tool
to reverse conventional usage of media and as a trigger to provoke and
disorientate, an irreverent dumbing-down of technical layers of communication
leads to a different, lateral awareness of the processes involved, for
instance the circular networks built to destroy data in Nest (Network
Examination of Serendipitous Transfer) or the faking of an ATM machine

For design critic and curator Max Bruinsma, who has
included C6 in his Deep Sites. Intelligent innovation in contemporary
web design, published by Thames and Hudson (2003), C6 are “the raw
life of London’s artistic scene beyond the famed Brit Pack”.
For us, C6 are a cell of like minded agents provocateur whose unrepentant
mission is to trigger events, actions and operations that invade establishment-held
territories with their specific brand of counterproductive art. Somewhere
in between interactive and activist, C6 resolutely invite the audience
to take part in their enterprise, which has been described as vandalism,
marketing, media pranking or apolitical activism. Nevertheless, they always
present it as radically anonymous art. A typical C6 event happens in multiple
arenas, often linking the street web and gallery with phones, computers
and mobile devices. They have exhibited websites, written network software,
stenciled cities all over the world, created spoof companies and marketed
unprofitable concepts, mixing digital work, performance, graffiti and
stencils campaigns, printed media, stickers, badges and t-shirts, magazines,
fly-posting, sms, answer machines and small ads, in pubs, clubs, galleries,
in the streets and on the web.

Take for example their ‘Bomb Soho’ campaign,
something of course not be meant literally – especially after the
vicious bombing of a gay pub in the Soho district in 1999 that left three
dead and many injured – however, it makes clear C6’s zero
concession to PC politics and their aversion with all the ‘media
whores’ sipping their frothy cappuccinos behind ‘ergonomically
curved desks’. Indeed, C6’s online shop sells a very limited
edition of highly politically incorrect T-shirts.

From their operative visual, tactical and psychogeografical
departments in London, Sweden and New Zealand, this anarcoid collective
of artists, coders and designers mix a Dadaist sense of humour with political
propaganda, high art with pranks, media experiments with cultural subversion.
Since their beginning in 1997, they have exhibited in the UK, Romania,
Norway, Sweden, Germany, Iceland, Italy, US and New Zealand. Their website
gets around 50,000 hits a day mostly due to the very popular Toogle (www.c6.org/toogle)

Not only C6 is resolutely anti-copyright. It also actively promotes and
encourages any sort of participation, contribution, association and name-usage
from like-minded spirits. This means that you can happily use the C6 anti-brand
for your projects, events, tactical disruptions or the like. Just get
in touch with artwankers@c6.org for further details of un-coordinate operations
and get involved with the C6 fine art sausage machine!