Thursday, August 30, 2007

Irregular Rhythm Asylum in Tokyo

An infoshop called Irregular Rhythm Asylum was opened in Shinjuku, Tokyo in January 4th, 2004! You will find not only vinyls, CDs, fanzines, books, T-shirts, and other goodies, but also alternative and independent information. If you live in Tokyo metropolitan area, please come over and talk to the staff. After its closing time, small events like film showing, exhibitions, acoustic music, and so on will be held in the future. If you have some nice ideas, please let them know.
Irregular Rhythm Asylum Open 13:00 - Close 20:00
1-30-12-302 Shinjuku Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 160-0022, Japan
Tel/Fax: 03-3352-6916 (domestic); +81-3-3352-6916 (from abroad)

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Remo Has Left Festival Gate

REMO-Record, Expression, Media Organization-- is a media center in Osaka. Their mission is to : "provide activities that act as a conduit for the organic flow of research, experiment, development and practice by exploring and reviewing issues presented via media." Kazuya Sakurada is one of the most active members of Indymedia Japan and curated many REMO workshops. Tetsuo Kogawa conducted a transmitter building workshop in 2005, in which 13 transmitters were built. The workshop participants were an amazing mixture: a retired teacher, a poet, a homeless man, a childcare worker and several artists. As each transmitter was finished, workshop members walked around the loft-like space speaking, singing, laughing into mikes connected to their mini-transmitters. It was a glorious evocation of Brecht's dream of each person a tranmitter.
The center was in a failed mall called Festival Gate, located in the area of Osaka known for pachenko parlors, homeless campouts and drug exchange. Attempting to upgrade the district and overcome its seedy reputation, the city subsidized the building of a large mall, similar in colorful design and playfulness (a roller coaster ran through the center of it) to Horton Plaza in San Diego. When Festival Gate didn't attract enough tenants, the city turned many of the spaces over to arts organizations, hoping for "civic uplift" by the arts. So for a few years the arts did thrive there. REMO presented media workshops and performances. Nov Amenomori is one of the founding members of REMO, organizing Breaker Project [] in the streets, and Kanayo Ueda doing poetry readings at a cafe (Cocoroom) next door.
But the attempt at art gentrification couldn't really change the basic condition of the depressed neighborhood. The empty roller coaster roaring through the mostly empty space came to symbolize the lonely plight of the creative individuals who were trying to keep their cultural organizations alive.
In June REMO held their last event at Festival Gate. The Festival Gate will be torn down to make way for the city's next attempt at "urban renewal" in the area.

Remo's future plans include:
* 2 weeks public space media installation with an artist from Thailand from the end of September just in front of the Osaka Central Station
* 2 weeks indoor media art festival and/or media activism teach-in from the end of year to the first half of the next January in a white cube in a city central which is used for museum preparation.
There is still some negotiating with the city government for an alternate site.

Meanwhile the Japanese government is moving to control the internet. Under the guise of controlling "cybercrime" the authorities are attempting to put the Japanese internet on a "business" basis.


Happy Valley is a beautiful area of native bush, fragile wetlands and a thriving ecosystem of native birds and animals located on the West Coast of New Zealand, just North East of Westport. It is home to many threatened species including the Great Spotted Kiwi and the large native Patrickensis land snail.... and it is under attack from state-owned enterprise Solid Energy!(From a video on the EngageMedia website.)

EngageMedia is a video sharing site distributing works about social justice and environmental issues in South East Asia, Australia and the Pacific. It is a space for critical documentary, fiction, artistic and experimental works that challenge the dominance of the mainstream media. The growth of digital distribution tools mean distributing video online has become a viable option for artists and activists looking for ways to get their work out there. Huge potential exists within these new technologies to bypass the control of big media conglomerates and create our own distribution channels.

EngageMedia aims to demystify and provide access to these new technologies, create an online archive of independent video productions using Creative Commons licenses and form a peer network of video makers, educators and screening organisations. Full Project Brief Our core aims are
* To assist individuals and groups producing thought-provoking and
informative media focused on social and environmental issues
distribute their work.
* To develop the digital media and Internet skills of independent
video makers and marginalised communities.
* To foster a regional network of producers, to assist each other in
producing and distributing their work in the South East Asia and
Pacific region.
* To produce an online video delivery platform under a free software
license that others are free to use and modify for their own media

OK.Video Militia Workshops

OK.VIDEO MILITIA WORKSHOPS by Anna Helme —2007-07-16
EngageMedia has partnered with the OK.VIDEO Militia Jakarta International Video Festival at the National Gallery of Indonesia to distribute the festival videos online, present an online video training for video artists and participate in a discussion about video activism. This article by Reza 'asung' Afisina, the Workshop Program Coordinator, explains the objectives of the OK.VIDEO Militia series of video workshops conducted in various towns and cities in Indonesia, capturing the 'quintessence' of each area by asking participants to explore their own questions about their social, political and physical surroundings using the medium of video.

OK.VIDEO MILIITA WORKSHOP Videos from the workshops are listed here to watch and download from EngageMedia:

[ENGLISH] OK. Video Militia workshop has the objective to empower the people, by using the video as a medium for expression, for research, and for reflection on the social phenomena. Therefore, the workshop also develops the "quintessence" of each city and town where the workshop is held. We conducted simple researches about the places, regarding the physical aspects or, especially, the socio-cultural aspects, to gain some descriptions about them. We then present the many problems we found to the participants, we re-present them --is it true what the mass media and many people have been thinking about their place of residence? We then asked the participants to explore questions that had never been posed about their environment, and we then developed these questions together and discussed how to present those questions and problems using the medium of video.

Prior to that, we have prepared workshop modules, which we designed to be presented in seven days. The modules consist of an introduction to the history of video, its relevancy to the socio-political and cultural situations, and also about the OK. Video festival which ruangrupa holds every two years since 2003. There are also modules about the introductions to the technical aspects of the video and also about a simple editing process.

Many participants thought that to make a video work they had to be able to do some video editing using the computers, something that they still found difficult. Here we only came up with very simple editing concepts, because we preferred to develop editing concepts that are out of the technical aspects, i.e. how to develop an idea using the characteristics of the video medium. However, in some places where the participants had not been familiar with the context and technical aspects of the video medium, we presented our modules in reverse, i.e. we delivered the technical introductions first, then the theories. That was why we had to create flexible modules.

The interesting thing in the workshop was to see how the participants intimately play around with the videos. They tested the medium first prior to deciding whether their ideas would be suitable for, say, the camera in a mobile phone, which turned out to have such a low resolution that would be difficult to transfer; or they wondered what if they used the technique of stop-motions as a simple animation technique. They knew that each video-based recording equipment has its own characteristic that must be adapted to their ideas. Many participants then decided to collaborate to develop their ideas, and a lot of fresh new ideas emerged during the process. Many of the participants found distinct visual styles that are able to describe their cities using various approaches, whether as documentary works, simple animations, statements, or a play of visual imagination.

The participants had actually known their towns and cities very well in their daily lives, it is now just how to help them own the awareness to 'record' these cities. We challenge them to keep trying all the technical possibilities of the video using many recording media, introducing various ways of 'recording', from the simplest one like writing a daily journal, notes, sketches, up to video recording. The awareness to 'record' would be able to help them express their critical attitude in observing changes, turning them into new forms of expressions, thus enabling these participants to know and adapt better to the changes and then pose these questions again using the medium of video, which would then trigger more forms of expressions in never-ending explorations.

[BAHASA INDONESIA] Workshop OK. Video Militia ini bertujuan memberdayakan masyarakat, dengan menggunakan video sebagai medium ekspresi, alat penyelidikan, dan refleksi atas fenomena sosial. Karena itu, workshop ini juga mengembangkan "inti karakter" setiap kota tujuan workshop. Kami melakukan penelitian sederhana mengenai kota, baik secara fisik maupun, terutama, kondisi sosial-budayanya, demi mendapatkan gambaran karakter kota itu. Berbagai permasalahan yang kami temukan kemudian kami tawarkan kepada peserta, kami sandingkan kembali --tepatkah pemberitaan media massa maupun anggapan banyak orang mengenai kota mereka? Kami lalu mengajak peserta untuk menggali sejumlah pertanyaan yang selama ini tak pernah diungkapkan tentang lingkungan mereka, lalu kami kembangkan bersama, bagaimana mengangkat ragam permasalahan itu melalui medium video. "Video sed non credo" / "I see it, but I don't believe it"

Reza 'asung' Afisina, Workshop Program Coordinator OK. Video Militia - 3rd Jakarta International Video Festival 2007

The Difference between Journalism and Communication

Alfonso Gumucio Dagron defines "communication". This interview was made in the Deep Dish office in New York City. Gumucio's new book, Communication for Social Change, co-authored with Thomas Tufte, is a collection of historical and contemporary readings that look at communication and development. Alan Alda has said about the book, "This idea is flowering at just the right time because it is becoming increasingly clear that communication that doesn't go both ways doesn't go anywhere."

Gumucio's article about social change and media (in Spanish) is at

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Indigenous Media in the Mexican Isthmus

Bertha Rodríguez Santos (Chatin) is a filmmaker and freelance reporter for U.S. and Mexican news organizations. From 2002 - 2005, she was the media coordinator of the indigenous communications program of the Uníon de Comunidades Indígenas de la Zona Norte del Istmo (UCIZONI), an advocacy group for Native communities in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, in Oaxaca, Mexico. At UCIZONI, she and Violeta Chavez co-directed four documentaries, including La Tierra Es Nuestra Esperanza, winner of the 1st Place Award for the Defense of Indigenous Rights at the 2004 Festival Internacional de Cine y Video de los Pueblos Indígenas in Santiago, Chile. As UCIZONI media coordinator, Rodríguez helped found the community radio station in San Juan Guichicovi, which broadcasts in Mixe and Spanish. She also has reported for media groups in southern California, Mexico City, and Oaxaca. Rodríguez received her BA in journalism and collective communication from the Escuela Nacional de Estudios Profesionales, Aragón- UNAM, in Nezahualcóyotl, Mexico. She grew up in Mexico in Palomares, Oaxaca, and lives in Los Angeles, California.

"We want media that inspires creativity, that goes to the root of what it means to be human, that questions, that includes the participation of everyone, that incites us to abandon our comfortable role as spectators. We want media that gives voice to those at the bottom, the community, or better yet, that the people be the ones to take over the television channels, use the radio stations, make their own videos, transform the walls, make their own presses, invade the theaters, appropriate the Internet, occupy the pages of the newspapers to say the truth, as they are now doing in all the country, even on the other side, and that more than anything, that they teach us, like our colleagues in Oaxaca."
--From Native Networks

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Molo Songololo

Molo Songololo is a South African children's magazine was started during the Apartheid years. It was in three languages: English, Xhosa and Afrikans. One of their articles was about how to protect yourself from teargas.There is now a television program that evolved from the magazine. This is from their web page:
"One of the central partners in The Molo Show is a Cape based children's organisation that was established in the 1980's. For the past 17 years they have focused their energies on children's rights issues and education. Molo Songololo's current magazine distribution is predominantly in in the urban and peri-urban areas of the Western Cape. School teachers use the magazine as an educational resourse and Molo Songololo issues Educational Manuals based on specific themes. The Manuals consist of educational topics, social issues, history, activities, pazzles and games.

Molo's growth has partially been linked to a deep commitment to seeing real development for children in the socio-political arena. As an organisation dedicated to children, Molo Songololo ensures that the voices of children -especially those from the poorer socio-economic backgrounds are heard. At present, Molo Songololo is distributed predominantly in the Western Cape. The magazine has the potential to grow nationally as a vehicle for education."
There is a wonderful discussion of the importance of this little magazine during the apartheid struggles. It was discussed in the hearings for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission:

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Radio Rootz

Renaissance Village is the largest FEMA trailer park in the country with over 500 families (built by The Shaw Group, a large Louisiana firm cozy with Bush, on a no-bid contract after Katrina). The residents are understandably distrustful of outsiders, especially journalists. But there is an amazing youth center there and Abdulai Bah and Deepa Fernandes from People’s Production House have, over time, been welcomed into the park’s community as allies. This is a short video made by Big Noise Films producer, Jacquie Soohen, shot and edited in one day.
For more information