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Culture Jamming brought to campus


By Susan Bonicillo
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, November 17, 2005
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Ah, the sweet revenge for the socially conscious among us. Culture jamming, the practice of using original media constructions to comment on the message portrayed in said media, is on full display at the UA.

With the recent installation of the Moment of Truth Student Art Exhibit currently being shown at the Social Justice Leadership Center in the Student Union Memorial Center, the international movement of culture jamming is finding a place here in Tucson.

In a collaborative effort between the department of media arts and the School of Art, students from both fields worked together on analyzing an ad campaign, altering the original in order to critique it in addition to researching the history and practices of the company or institution.

The result is a series of real advertisements juxtaposed with an altered image. In some images the text is altered. In others, graphics are added or removed for effect.

Below each image is a brief synopsis of what exactly the students found to be corrupt or wrong about the institution in question.

No organization is immune to a critique. Companies from Halliburton (obvious choice) to Levi's to even the U.S. Army are not safe from commentary.

Much like the more successful commercial ad campaigns, subtlety is what works best here. One of the best works is the Coca-Cola ad that is the first one to greet you when you enter the room. The original piece features the slogan "Make it Real" along with other commands linking Coke to lighter, fun times. The altered version features a new command of "Make it Toxic."

More thought provoking are the two pieces on the diamond industry. The ugly business behind the pretty products is revealed in background information about the near-enslavement of whole African communities that provide the rocks the Western world uses to profess its love.

Mohammad Naser, a philosophy graduate student and assistant at the Social Justice Leadership Center, says that culture jamming is a practice and movement that is extremely relevant to society because it allows people more than one opinion and makes them better-informed.

"Culture jamming is about challenging images from the media and to give the audience the chance to listen to the other side of the story," Naser said.

Though the exhibit will make you seriously wonder about the so-called safe business practices behind the companies whose advertisements are so readily identifiable, it's not so easy to visit.

Location is the worst thing about this exhibit. Tucked away on the fourth floor of the student union, the exhibit isn't one of the more easily accessible or visible places on campus.

Moving it to a more centralized location would be for the best, because an exhibit that raises such important issues needs to be seen by more people. Until then, do yourself a favor and go out of your way to experience this exhibit.

The Moment of Truth exhibit will be on display until Dec. 7. It is located at the Social Justice Leadership Center in Room 404 of the student union. The event is free and open to the public.



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