Friday, December 09, 2005

Fellow Travelers

I'd like to acknowledge two interesting examples of political digital rhetoric that I learned about from participating in the Digital Arts and Culture Conference in Copenhagen (otherwise known as ).

Scott Rettberg pointed out the existence of this this CGI homemade film about the French riots, "The French Democracy," that showed the rapid-response capability of creative computing tools that could animate articulate characters to express positions in political dialogue. I thought it was particularly interesting to see in light of the CGI film on the webpage of the National Front, in which young immigrants are the invisible and voiceless agents of urban blight and the only corporeal entities shown are the celebrating white Europeans at the triumphal end of the film.

Nick Montfort showed me the cached version of, his parody of the site from the Office of Homeland Security, which is unfortunately no longer hosted online. Thus I learned about an entire genre of parody sites, ranging from the witty to the scatological, about which I was ignorant, although I have since discovered coverage from Wired News in 2003. Some sites, such as, are still up, and others were preserved because they were disseminated through e-mail. From maintaining my own site on political theater, I was aware that there were many sites in the mainstream of political satire that skewered, such as or But two distinctive features of the parodies caught my attention: the speed with which they went up (two days after the official site's launch) and the use of the existing visual iconography of the site, much as one might parody the seatback emergency instructions for an airplane.



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