The Semiotic Reclamation
Project (SRP) establishes workshops and group activities oriented around
tactics of detournement, agit-prop, graffiti, and other forms of semiotic
magic based on the following principles:
as meditation: Before one can design a sticker, stencil, poster,
or other piece of agitational-propaganda one must first figure out how
s/he feels about the issue and what s/he wants to say. Thus, the decision
to create agit-prop is the decision to engage in critical thinking as
opposed to apathetic non-decision of passive submission.
agit-prop as therapy: Although a night
of agit-prop won't right the wrongs of the world, it does have a tendency
to conquer the malaise frequently associated with feelings of helplessness
and alienation. Even small actions can begin to dissolve frustrations
one feels towards hegemonic power.
agit-prop as empowerment: Far from
the trepidation one might feel if alone, the feelings evoked by walking
through empty city streets in the middle of the night with a small accompaniment
of mischievous friends are beyond words. The urban milieu takes on new
dimensions, new possibilities, as one's perceptions shift to accommodate
an altered set of navigational criteria. To describe the activity as exhilarating,
empowering, and fun, merely points towards that which can only be experienced.
agit-prop as community-building: Agitational
propaganda is but a part of the larger graffiti community; an unspoken
communal collaboration among like-minded, autonomous individuals who feel
compelled to physically manifest their ideas in public space. Essentially
anarchist, the strength of the model stems from the ability of individuals
to organize themselves, either individually or in crews, and to proliferate
to the point of ubiquity. There is no doubt whatsoever that the individuals
who conduct such activity take notice of other participants' efforts.
As such, visual conversations develop based primarily on style, medium,
content, and innovation. Even the rules are in flux, allowing both harmony
and discord to shape an evolving discourse that allows for a multiplicity
of views often excluded from mainstream channels of public debate.
agit-prop as germination: Characteristic
of American society is the belief that changing one's own consciousness
is sufficient political action and will achieve social change. Although
social consciousness is an important step in affecting positive change,
power maintains itself quite nicely when people are content to simply
'think' about an alternative realty. While agit-prop alone is not the
sort of action required to sufficiently challenge the abuses of power,
it provides an entry point, a transition from thought to action. In a
strategic sense, this transition is the equivalent of baby steps - essential
early development that leads to significant growth, beginning with observation
and resulting in fundamental behavior.