(…)But why talk about low technology nowadays? Tactical media practitioners mostly like to think about action when it’s mediated by a very high tech device through which they can learn or teach others how to use it. That’s how it works, as you can understand when reading Nettime or tactical media theories all over the web. But that only works if you are talking about a very rich country, that has a high rate of people who have access to the Internet or high tech gadgets. And what if the focus is an underdeveloped country like Brazil? As far as we know, the Next Five Minutes is a kind of overview of DIY, activist media producers. If the point is Brazilian DIY media and arts, then it is, as you’ll see, basically low tech.
So let’s begin with a cliché: Brazil is a land of contrasts. That’s what everybody says, be it a foreigner, which comes here for the first time, be it a Brazilian theoretician in his comfortable seat at a university. Even in the richest city of the country, Sao Paulo, you can see beggars guiding their cars made of wood in order to carry garbage to be recycled, as they walk through the gigantic Paulista Avenue, with its impressive skyscrapers of glass and steel. That is a country where you can find very rich boys with lots of high tech gizmos, the latest ones made in Japan, living very near to a homeless family, which has nothing to eat. Yes, there is lots of net stuff here, lots of web designers, programmers, software experts, web writers, bloggers, and so. Our cyberspace is full of beautiful home pages, e-commerce, hackers, but, back to reality, if you keep your eyes wide open, if you walk a little bit (or a little more!), you can see violence, hunger, ugliness, all these things supposedly found in a third world country.
How could a Brazilian TML dialogue with such different cultures, the virtual and the real, and at a common space? One thing we had in mind while translating the Tactical Media Lab and its concept to a Brazilian reality was, throughout the entire process, never to close our eyes to such a context. And that would be even more difficult, if we had to talk about net art and net activism.
There is a “web-art” in Brazil. A very much alienated, self-referential kind of art, mostly related to technology for technology’s sake. Here, the so-called “web-artists”, as most artists in general, are much more worried about their own egos, and very distant from their everyday reality. Most of them don’t even know about net art (in Nettime’s terms), net activism, or tactical media. Activism and political issues are something totally ignored in their works. The situation gets a little worse when you discover that the ones who know about such things don’t care too much about letting others know. It seems it’s just not interesting for their status quo. As people say, information is power. Why not be a privileged one?
On the other hand, Brazil is also notorious by the number of it hackers. Piracy also is a very hot issue nowadays, as pirated programs and music CDs are the easiest thing to find in the black markets on the streets, sold at the popular tents of “camelos”. Besides, cyberactivism is something which has consistently grown since the appearance of the Brazilian Indymedia, in late 2001. Before then, there were very few sites producing independent news and information, one being Rizoma (www.rizoma.net), which tried to establish a sort of digital counterculture in Brazil, much in the guise of Disinfo.com at its good phase. So, after our Indymedia started, its incisive media activism was responsible for the spread of a great network of leftist and activist web sites as never seen before on Brazilian cyberspace. There are also some hacktivist groups working on, for instance, Microphobia, which are very difficult to find or contact.(…)