Texts in Mourning and Action /// 2014

Texts in Mourning and Action was an online intervention/performance organized in solidarity with the Zapatista communities of Chiapas, Mexico on May 24th, 2014. In collaboration with Ricardo Dominguez and the Electronic Disturbance Theater, and in response to the political assassination of Galeano in Chiapas, Mexico, a new form of Electronic Civil Disobedience (E.C.D.) was developed and used to disrupt the website of Mexico’s president Enrique Peña Nieto.

Screenshot from May 24th, 2014
[Screenshot from May 24th, 2014]

When users logged on to the project website, their web browsers sent mass page requests to the web servers of the Mexican presidency, filling their error logs with lines of text drawn from “Don Quixote”, communiques from the Zapatista Communities, as well as from texts authored by the Critical Art Ensemble. As a kind of E-Graffiti and new form of E.C.D., server operators would see thousands of entries like this one as their servers received floods of traffic from around the world:

HTTP Error 404: “http://www.presidencia.gob.mx/The fault lies not with the mob who demands nonsense but with those who do not know how to produce anything else” was not found on this server.

The Critical Art Ensemble has described Electronic Civil Disobedience in this way:

“As in civil disobedience (CD), the primary tactics of electronic civil disobedience (ECD) are trespass and blockage. Exits, entrances, conduits, and other key spaces must be occupied by the contestational force in order to bring pressure on legitimized institutions engaged in unethical or criminal actions. Blocking information conduits is analogous to blocking physical locations; however, electronic blockage can cause financial stress that physical blockage cannot, and it can be used beyond the local level. ECD is CD reinvigorated. What CD once was, ECD is now.”

Through the mass distributed generation of 404-errors, participants established a distributed performative matrix that imagines books and communiques as being capable of mourning, action, and disobedience.