|What is C6|
C6 : THERE IS NO SUBCULTURE ONLY SUBVERSION
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?
A RANDOM SAMPLE OF C6 ACTIONS
Man in a box (1998) www.c6.org/box
On the fly (2003) www.c6.org/fly
Want & Need (2005) www.c6.org/wantandneed
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 online.
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)