A brand is a socially and economically sustained form of prejudice. Branding is the management of first impressions, and to that end, it is inherently deceitful. To establish the few initial thoughts people have about something is a very hard thing to accomplish by design, but is swiftly and almost irreversibly done by uncontrollable events; reputations literally shift overnight. The main way in which branding has been embodied in politics is through the concept of soft power. As the Innocence of Muslims YouTube video showed, American soft power can be affected, inversed even, overnight, by only a handful of pixels.
Everything in and of the Internet is a stimulus package for the endlessly derivative, in the same way that a mirror image is a derivative of an original. Not a copy, but a mirror.
The idea of the joke and the meme is also related to the dissolution of the older idea of “graphic design” as an activity on a meaningful political and social scale; it is the dissolution of the societal middle ground institutions and the welfare state which has triggered the demise of graphic design in that role. It is with the internet as an amplifier that this perspective can be suddenly liberating. The way memes form and spread on the internet gives us living, ever-changing proof of how a global medium can develop its specific sense of “humor” (medium-specific, we mean).
Democracy Without Secrets is the logical end conclusion of the failing legitimacy of our democratic governments: that they are not at all democratic. We need to return to an idea of democracy that is more fundamental and real. The idea—which interacts with a new Freedom of Information Act currently in the works in the Netherlands—is that instead of request-based FOIA, there is a database with government documents and a list of all documents that exist. This we call the “leaking State.”
We are not necessarily big fans of data visualization.
What you get is that this visualization becomes its own entertainment; rather than uniting against the bankers, we look at graphs about them… rather than putting financial fraudsters in jail we are entertained by interactive maps that show who they’re connected to… The use of intentionally primitive, cartoon-like visuals is a bit of a response to this “all-encompassing” cockpit infographic.
We’ve designed a range of scarves, which, as semi-transparent cloaks, were meant to speak to a combination of secrecy and transparency; their lettering and patterning speak to scarves as black market items sold in a global zone of anarchy and free trade. Then there’s a range of t-shirts with each shirt simply printing “WikiLeaks” (in a wavy Times New Roman) and the date and title of an important leak.