Propaganda machines

March 4, 2012 § Leave a comment

As part of Enacting Populism curated by Matteo Lucchetti, Foundland, a collective of artists and writers based in Amsterdam, presents at Kadist Art Foundation in Paris, a video installation and a publication entitled: “Simba, the last prince of Ba’ath country”. They’ve been investigating and researching pro-regime propaganda images, which are created by the Syrian Electronic army and distributed through Facebook and social media. They’ve been tracing back the original source and context of those images, then analyzing how they’ve been transformed by the Syrian Electronic Army, “in order to better understand the way propaganda rhetoric is created and understood”.

The Syrian Electronic army  is a “group of people linked to the government whose job it is to hack, spy and convey propaganda online, says Ghalia Elsrakbi (a native of Damascus, Syria,and member of Foundland). They defend the pride of the country against so-called “foreign conspiracy”. In addition to attacks against Western sites, they spam social networks using fake Facebook profiles.”

Interview with members of Foundland.

Read article (Fr/Eng) on Foundland’s website here.


Mash, a production by EastWestWestEast, combines actual military code names and “war images” selected for their dramatic and cinematic sunsets (used as backdrops). These are drawn from supposedly real battles and conflicts taking place mainly in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past decade. Most pictures were press handouts and some can be found on the official website of the U.S. army. They’ve been archived and collected since 2003- this coincides with the start of the controversial war in Iraq (also known as the second Gulf War), with its embedded journalists and photographers, who in a sense were cut off from reality.

Each code name sounds like a movie title and each picture looks like a Hollywood film still. Also the first Gulf War, which was codenamed Operation Desert Storm, is now the title of a video game. “The Gulf War(s) didn’t (really) take place” (Jean Baudrillard).

Listening Post (Al-Jazeera) on Syria: Video, spin and propaganda

The Listening Post looks at the other side of the story, trying  to give a more balanced view. Al-Jazeera was criticized for its coverage of the conflict in Libya, considered to be biased in favour of the insurgents. “As the fighting in Syria intensifies, so does the information war. But as the Free Syrian Army escalates its media fight, smuggling foreign journalists into the country” Al Jazeera asks “if any side is actually winning the propaganda battle?”

It also features a new kind of video game, which delves into the heart of war journalism based on real events. WARCO:The News Game. It seems to be set somewhere in the Middle East: palm trees, Arabic sounding names, desert color scheme, etc.  And instead of holding a gun, like in the video game Desert Storm, you hold a video camera.


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