Creative Resistance Projects
From the World Economic Forum Protests
NYC 02-02-02

Las Agencias works on their
"New Kids on the Blac Bloc" urban streetwear

How to turn a simple foam paint roller into a Rapid Message Placement System for taking out offensive right wing propaganda

StreetRec graphics on the ground

Using a bike cart, a car battery and a video projector, Affectech created a mobile screening venue for showing information about the days actions

In "Surveillance Report", the Surveillance Camera Players tour the streets of NYC and place camera notification stickers where the existance of new surveillance technology in the area is kept secret

Las Agencias creates the spring fashion line "Pret a revolter (Ready to Revolt)" for realizing radical potential in everyday life

The WEF protests on Feburary 2nd

Las Agencias photo-shields

Each video comes with a booklet full of articles and DIY diagrams like this one for StreetRec's Rapid Message Placement System

This video marks a period of dissent and experimentation around the February 2, 2002 meeting of the World Economic Forum in Manhattan (NYC) at the Waldorf Astoria hotel. The global executives and corporate elite attending the annual conference, usually held in Davos Switzerland, carved the streets of New York City into a police state. Meanwhile artists and activist--tactical media practitioners, from around the world created new tools and held workshops intending to send them a clear message: The September 11th attacks will NOT gag the critiques of globalization. This video explores the collaborations and ideas of four collectives working on projects at the WEF protests.

Projects include: modified bikes for printing messages on the streets as you ride by the Bikewriter/Affectech group from Boston, ěPret-a-revolterî (ready to revolt) protest fashions, New Kids on the Black Block dancing, and decorative Ya Basta! Style sheilds by the Barcelona Las Agencias, Rapid message placement system and other protest technologies for inserting your message into public space as well as large scale graphics displaying our desire to deface powerful people by the StreetRec collective, I-see is a web-based application developed by the Institute for Applied Autonomy, which shows users the location of surveillance cameras in Manhattan and allows them to chart their own paths of least surveillance.

Retooling Dissent is followed by a 5 minute short video by 4N6 about the New York Surveillance Camera Players, called "Surveillance Report: Enduring Search and Seizure."

The video costs $10

Introduction: In Context at the WEF

In late January and early February 2002, several thousand activists, groups, and concerned citizens traveled to New York City to protest yet another meeting of privilege and power that was closed off to a public, democratic process. The World Economic Forum (WEF), a private, unelected organization (with membership by invitation only) chose New York's posh Waldorf-Astoria hotel as their convention headquarters that year. According to the WEF, their yearly meetings are the summits that define the political, economic, and business agenda of the globe.

The Forum has been incorporated for thirty-two years, and claims to be independent, impartial, and not-for-profited to no political, partisan, or national interests. With a membership which
includes about 1000 chief executive officers from almost every multi-national corporation, heads of state, and domestic and foreign trade ministers, the WEFs independence and impartiality has consistently been under question by both activists and representatives of nations who are excluded from their summits.

Affinity groups, bound together for protests and outreach alike, have found a home in the continuing movement to reclaim the worlds decisions from closed-off meetings such as the World Economic Forum. The groups introduced in Retooling Dissent (StreetRec, the Institute for Applied Autonomy, Las Agencias, and the Bike-Writers), are all representative of a significant shift in the struggle against the abuse of power. Much of these groups enjoy membership with backgrounds in the study of art, science, or technology. The centuries-long movement and struggle against abuse is being pushed into the next stages by groups such as these, whose knowledge of advanced socio-economic analysis, sophisticated technologies, and visual aesthetics pushes the traditional idea of rally and protest into a much more vital and striking series of communications. As a former StreetRec-er, I was amazed at how a simple innovation like making big heads (as the boards of bored men were affectionately nicknamed) completely changed the visual landscape of the 2002 convergence.

I was not alone in this opinion, as images of the heads traveled far and wide the day after their debut in New York. From Newsweek to Off Our Backs, from Indymedia to the India Times, photographs and reprints including our flat friends made front pages. We were not alone in our dissatisfaction with the continuing abuse of power by privileged people, and each reprint of the images we contributed to this protest made for powerful outreach to those that stood with us.The Bike-Writers, Las Agencias, and the Institute for Applied Autonomy have also dazzled activists and academics alike with their respective brands of dissent-serving tools and images.

Affinity groups and work groups such as these continue a tradition spanning centuries. Their forefathers and mothers are not simply Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Marx, Gandhi, or even the Panthers. Their heroes and motivators include the former, but also Goya, Whitman, Chekhov, and countless luminaries from the arts and sciences. This generation of dissent is not a cloned sibling to the American movements of the late 1960s. It is a global force that enjoys a multi-tiered and many-cultured genesis, continues to grow, and will not cease until the abuse of power by people of privilege is eradicated.

Respectfully submitted,
Salem Collo-Julin

Groups featured in Retooling Dissent:

The Institute for Applied Autonomy

The Institute for Applied Autonomy (IAA) was founded in 1998 as a technological research and development organization concerned with individual and collective self-determination. Our mission is to study the forces and structures which effect self-determination; to create cultural artifacts which address these forces; and to develop technologies which serve social and human needs.


Las Agencias

"The original pret-a-revolter design was a jacket and pants set, with enhanced pockets. When encountered with a potentially confrontational situation, the civil disobedient fashionista would simply fill the pockets with whatever protective material was at hand, and thus, protected, would proceed (it ends up that when encountered with a supermarket, the civil disobedient fashionista can also fill the pockets with cheese, with works well with a more recent project) the pret-a-revolter line had a double function: it had a street function and a media function. Images of the colorful PaR outfits were released to the media two weeks before the world bank meeting. The assumption being that during mass protests the images that come out in the media are usually negative and violent. Thus, fashionable images can serve as a preemptive media strike, decriminalizing the protest and its participants, portraying them as individuals that put their body on the front line and putting the emphases on the policeís brutal tactics."
- from the Retooling Dissent booklet



StreetRec was a radical arts collective in Chicago that existed for about 9 months. Our life was short but our flame burned bright. We were born out of the protests against the World Economic Forum in New York City, and were more generally an evolution out of the organizing and different projects that Dept. of Space and Land Reclamation spawned. This was our first attempt at a closed collective made up of a fixed group of people. StreetRec first created a series of projects for the WEF Protests, including the now infamous Dick Cheney "Got Oil?" head. We also held a number of events in Chicago, sharing our experiences at the WEF and the tools we used there as well as holding a forum for the Reverend Billy to speak.



"AffectTech was created in order to focus on human(e) technologies. "Affective" (as opposed to "effective") suggests a human element not typically considered in the technological realm. As a collective, AffecTech strives to bring together groups and technologies that address human issues. As such it critically re-examines the rolls of philosophy, visual arts, culture, society, and technology, as layered, overlapping networks that physically and conceptually structure our reality.

AffectTech has a simple mission: the creation of accessible technologies, conceived and created within the realm of art, politics, philosophy, culture, and society, as well as technology."
- from the AffectTech website
Durring the WEF protests Affectech deployed several modified bike projects in the streets of New York City.

Selected Screening History of Retooling Dissent & Surveillance Report

The video has recently been shown at ATA/Other cinema (SF), Visualized Film fest (Denver) , Version03- Digital arts convergence (Chicago), anti-FTAA training workshop (Lousville), and various other venues, festivals and convergence centers. If you are interested in setting up a screening of these videos please contact us at