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Global Liberal Media Please

We have lately again become interested into Culture Jamming, a practice we have been very involved in in the early 2000' and have been nurturing for many years. At the very start of Memefest Culture Jamming was central to our understanding that we can reclaim the media and that media interventions should to be fun.

Lot's has happened since than and Culture Jamming became for a while very popular and than again almost disappeared from the repertoire of creative workers who wanted to participate in the processes of making things public outside the commercial realm. It simply wasn't cool anymore. But despite this change there was a smaller number of people, which kept doing it magnificently.

We think its time to take Culture Jamming seriously again. As part of our future investigation we will teach an assignment in a masters class in communication design on Culture Jamming and have started collecting best international examples in order to find out possibilities to expand this practice further.

One of the Culture Jamming projects we like the most is Kyle Magee's work in Melbourne. In many ways it is a league of its own. We are very impressed!

What you will see is a document about and and interview with anti public advertising protester Kyle Magee by Bernadette Mcgough. It was a curated submission to the Memefest Friendly Competition 2014 and Kyle was invited to our in residence program.

The Situationist Times and some thoughts on Memefest publishing

The Situationists had an immense influence on Memefest from its very beginnings in 2002. The concepts of détournement and dérive played a big role in developing our own tactics and are still part of Memefest arsenal of tools when we develop public interventions or teach about them.

One of the very important tactics Memefest used is publishing, which we see as a intervention into the public sphere. In 2003 Memefest started a blog, which back than- written in Slovenian language was the first of its kind in Slovenia. It was a regular publication about communication, design and art and their critical relationship to the colonized public sphere. In 2005 we started to regularly publish an English blog. After years of regular publishing, and the implosion of the blogsphere into tiny little self referential clusters of online publications we discovered (again) the printed medium. In its ethos connected to the zine culture, but true to Memefest principles of bridging different cultures of knowledge production our books are a mix of radical and institutional publishing. Here the three bigger book projects: http://memefest.org/en/memebooks/

Another publishing platform that we have developed is our on-line social network- free of embedded surveillance, advertising and hidden forms of value extraction. We do think it is important. As a form or radical self publishing and a small alternative social network it operates modestly but steadily. We have to admit, people, even activists, seem to find it difficult to leave stupid Facebook. We use it too, in intervals and largely for promotional reasons, but we regularly publish on this alternative medium and maintain it.

Than there is the Memeblog, which is used for occasional posts about what we do as well as about what we think. In its best form it is used as a platform to discuss strategic issues or particular topics, which we feel are important and of our great interest. Here we sometimes invite close comrades from our core network for a public discussion.

The Openblog, another publishing channel is here for anyone who has a profile on memefest.org to use as a open blog platform.

It has been a while since all this tools have been designed and put online on our web site. But lately a new discussion has emerged in our network about the web site and some say we should start working on an app. The thing is that memefest.org operates as a slow web. It is not even designed for smart phones. We like it like that but we are keen to extend our reach.

New collaborations are emerging and with them new fields of knowledge stream into the discussions. Cybernetics, digital design, data design to name a few, and we are curious and excited.

Our Memeblog will become more lively again. We plan to start a series of interviews and see venues to than translate them into printed publication via micro publishing projects. And we plan to start working on our next big new book soon, published in collaboration with an independent academic publisher. After a little online publishing break walking in a weird black hole, we got our digital inspiration back- and it feels great.

This is of course inspiring too. The Situationist Times, with video material explaining the history of the zine. And on top of this post, check McKenzie Wark discussing the legacy of the publication. Here you go and come back to this place for more soon!


Food Democracy is sold out!

Food democracy is sold out and is now being reprinted. The only change will be a slightly thicker cover. Thinking of the undisciplining and extradisciplinary nature of our intellectual cullture, methodology, pedagogy, our activist history and not at least the very publishing culture behind this book we like to think of this as a great achievement. This would not be possible without the deep collaboration with our co-publisher Intellect Books, the dialogue through several years in exploring the best way to collaborate on our book series has really payed off. And this is just the start. We are looking forward to it all as we are now already discussing the production of our next book, but more on this another time.

So thanks for your attention if you read this far. Perhaps is worth to mention that we made a big effort to keep the price of the book very low. 550 pages, full color cca 35 USD- bargain. Most of the books published by academic publishers -even if they contain just B&W text start at around a hundred bucks.

The journey we started in 2013 with our work on Food has been imensly rich and there is no end of it in sight.

We are now working in new collaborations with the Academy of Fine Arts in Bari, Italy to open a new exciting area of research and creative action focused on the relation between food/media/design. We are planing a next Memefest event related to food in 2019 in USA and there is much more about what we will keep you informed along the way.

As the book is being reprinted it is of course still possible to pre-order it, so why don't you treat yourself with some real pleasure.

Check here more about Food Democracy: http://www.memefest.org/en/fooddemocracy/

The Anatomy of the Book Conference

The fine people at RMIT are together with @frasermuggeridgestudio organizing this conference at RMIT Barcelona titled The Anatomy of the Book. It really is great staff, and if you have a chance, go and participate- the conference is free! Check more here on the web site:

RMIT Europe, Barcelona
Monday 26 November

A free one-day conference dissecting the contemporary book from a range of perspectives. A fantastic line-up of speakers: Ruth Blacksell, @catherine_dixon @stuartgeddes #JamesLangdon @frasermuggeridgestudio @__lifewithbooks @testen.studio & @bradhaylock

Here the web site: https://anatomyofthebook.com/

Major crisis in Colombian higher education- professors and student on hunger strike!!

Dear comrades,

our friends from Universidad Caldas in Manizales Colombia have made this video to draw attention to the extremely bad situation in Colombian higher education, which has reached a stage that urged some of the professors and a student to begin with hunger strikes.

Universidad Caldas is tightly connected to Memefest. For years there has been an operating local Memefest node. Regularly students have been participating in the Memefest Friendly competition, we have been there four times and had the opportunity to do some of our best workshops ever with the amazing students and staff. Universidad Caldas has the only doctoral program in Design in Colombia and organises one of the major design conferences in Latino America, the Festival de la Imagen at which several Memefest members presented.

Our collaboration with Universidad Caldas and other Colombian Universities has been crucial in building our network and knowledge through the years and we are deeply concerned with the current developments in Colombia., which seem to be the result of radical neoliberal capitalist politics.

This is a call to the president of Colombia Ivan Duque!

PLEASE SHARE THIS video and this written information in English through your networks. It is very important to get international attention for this issue!!

Since last Tuesday, October 16, Juan Carlos Yepes Ocampo, professor of the University of Caldas (Universidad de Caldas), is on a hunger strike to call attention to the crisis the Public Higher Education in Colombia is currently having. This strike was joined by a student and three professors from different regions of the country: Luis Fernando Marin Rios, professor at the University of Quindio (Universidad del Quindío); and Adolfo Leon Atehortua, former director of the Pedagogical University (Universidad Pedagogica) in Bogota. In addition to the hunger strike, the academic community is carrying out other activities to support this cause including "a human cordon", national mobilizations and a march of torches. The professors are asking the National Government to establish a National Intersectorial Dialogue and Agreement Table with the Ministry of Labor, Education and Finance. Its aim is to promote dialogues with students and teachers to find possible solutions and agree on a larger budget for public education in 2019. The crisis that the Public Education in Colombia is currently facing is due to their current financial situation, as the Ministry of Finance allocated 55,000 million pesos (around 24,661,000 AUD) as a budget for 32 Public Universities in 2019, which in budgetary matter has a minimum growth knowing that it has 500,000 million pesos (around 224,066,020 AUD). In addition, public budget is being allocated to other programs of private institutions. The Minister of Education and the Vice Minister of Basic Education have already invited to a dialogue and some of the professors have stopped the hunger strike, but Professor Juan Carlos Yepes Ocampo, who has already lost 6 kilograms and has an increasingly worse health condition, says he will not stop the voluntary hunger strike until the Ministry of Education and Finance also calls to the dialogue. He also asks for the composition of the table, its methodology and the agenda to be clarified and requests possible solutions to the economic crises of Public Universities to be studied. Is it really necessary to have to reach these instances so that the Government can listen to teachers and students and make a fairer distribution of resources? Should not dialogue with teachers and students be a compulsory activity when decisions are going to affect the Public University?




As part of the Food Democracy book promotional activities done by Swinburne University, bellow is a conversation between Belinda Stening and Oliver Vodeb.

We worked hard to keep the price of the book low. BUY THE BOOK HERE OR HERE- check what works better for you.


What prompted you to create Food Democracy?

I am mostly developing research around what I call socially responsive design and I look at design highly inter/extradisciplinary. My research is in this context focused on what I call urgent and burning issues in times of radical uncertainty and environmental degradation. I am interested in designs role in these issues, how it contributes to a rather problematic state of the world and how can it contribute to a change towards a more socially equal, just and environmentally sustainable society. I became very interested in designs relation to social instruments of control, exploitation, and dominance - colonization. My previous book was dealing with debt as an instrument for social control and it explored designs role in it. The research we have done on debt with the Memefest network in previous years has led us to food, and when looking at it closer it became clear that food is one of the most fundamental areas defining our human condition. While there is an emerging sub discipline of food design, critical, experimental, speculative and above all radical and inter/extradisciplinary research on designs relation to food is missing. Our research fills this gap and addresses design issues largely from the perspective of communication. The three-stage methodology, developed at Memefest and the particular research culture produces quite unique research insights and impacts. Considering the importance I felt a responsibility to engage with the relation of food and design.

What's it about?

Food Democracy looks at food systems defined by production, distribution, consumption and representation and asks the question how can we think and create what I call socially responsive design, communication and art that counters the role of the food industry as a machine of consumption. The food systems are largely taken over by corporations and operate at the expense of people and our natural environment. The book develops a fairly radical critique and at the same time proposes new alternative socially responsive models and strategies both on levels of theory and practice. It is also a book, which is as relevant to academics as it is to professionals in design, advertising and other related areas. It also includes unique cooking recipes, which when practiced will make the reader understand the arguments in the book on a deeper level.

What are the most compelling aspects of Food Democracy as an issue?

In my opinion food is a key medium for domination by the 1% of the super rich and powerful. This can only be possible with a food system, which is non democratic. People’s participation in it is very limited or non-existent. What is at stake is nothing less that our survival. At a rapidly growing population and a billion of starving people, at a rising number of food and water refugees because of global warming and unsustainable farming practices, with food being designed as high addiction drugs and food advertising selling food as drugs– to name just a few things, design has its finger prints all over. The fact that design contributes so much to such a state of our food ecologies shows designs role as a technology of defuturing. The question we are asking is how to use design to turn things around, our answer is that we should steer our research towards innovating design, which will work outside and as an alternative to the dominant forms. Changing design education is part of it. The concept of food democracy is a powerful and holistic argument for an alternative.

Can you please explain what you mean by "dominant corporate forms?

Corporations largely govern the food system, which is operating within a capitalist ideology defined by irrational short - term profit. These systems are such by design and part of the design is that they strive to marginalize alternatives. The dominance is in my opinion largely sustained because the food systems are backed by billions of dollars, the corporate media, design and advertising, and the majority of design education, which is largely reproducing design as a technical skills centered service providing activity.

Among other things Food Democracy introduces a theory of pleasure praxis. What is pleasure praxis?

I have coined the term and developed the theory of pleasure praxis to explain the creative, critical and emancipatory potentials of pleasure in relation to design. I do understand praxis as the activity where man becomes subject and object of his being. I think that what has been missing so far in thinking about praxis is the pharmacological aspect, because it crucially defines our lives and it is this aspect which is a big part of the theory of pleasure praxis that I am developing.

Design is at the very core connected to pleasure, mostly however to achieve pleasurable experiences when using commercial products or services. The user experience in this sense is rather subordinated to the commercial goal. That can be all nice and fine, but I think pleasure, considering that (in a very Freudian sense) is one of the central drivers defining human behavior (we strive for pleasure and the absence of pain or non- pleasure), can be practiced with agency and used for social change. With pleasure praxis I have introduced the pharmacological aspect to pleasure in relation to design. The pharmacological aspects of pleasure praxis connect food and pleasure through the extended understanding of the concept of drugs, and the relations to various aspects of food cultures. Further to this, pleasure praxis seeks design, media/communication, art, avant- garde, critical and public sociology and especially acts of ordinary intelligence and everyday knowledge. I extended it as an intellectual practice outside of the sphere of only professionals, including academics. With this I mean that pleasure praxis is something that can be also practiced by non - specialized publics, like the amateur. The meaning of the word amateur is “one who loves” or “doing things for the sake of pleasure.” The reason for this is because the professionalization of knowledge has turned it largely into a quantifiable activity focused on generating money and not into activity practiced for the love of it. The results of our activities are depending on the culture of engagement very different. In this sense I partly advocate for the amateurisation of design research and knowledge production and a radical return of pleasure.

How is advertising selling food as drugs?

Advertising sells food, which has been designed as drugs in order to be addictive. Think about potato chips or “cheesy crust pizza”. Advertising also sells food in ways of representations, which resemble behavioral patterns we know from illicit drug cultures. Think of ads with kids lying to parents or stealing in order to get their sugar rush.

How can food design make us think?

The world population is on one hand being largely governed by screen -based technologies, which destroy attention. Our attention is becoming shallower, more dispersed and our attention spans shorter. These technologies are also designed to produces dependencies, addictive behavior. Media can make people “high”. On the other hand large parts of the world population eat food, which hinder cognitive activities and contribute to states of anxiety and depression, attention deficit or create particular states of “high”. Effects of high processed sugar have been linked and compared to effects of cocaine for example. Food design needs to be understood holistically and as much food and food cultures, media and technologies are largely used to design a passive consumer, as much food design can be used to emancipate active citizens. Food Democracy provides examples for that.

Why do we throw away some 40% of perfectly good fruit and vegetables at harvest?

Because of the role of design, the image of food projected by advertising and the standardized aesthetisation of food. Supermarkets, which are our largest source of fruit and vegetables actively foster such culture. Even at food markets we can see standardized looking fruit and vegetables.

Why are there fewer and fewer shops, but more and more restaurants and bars in our cities?

We are witnessing this development because people strive for genuine and especially personal and physical relations and interactions in the non-virtual space. Food, because of its various pleasure aspects is the perfect medium for this and this development is a counter development to our dependency to screen based technologies, social media and such.

How does Food Democracy relate to your research at Swinburne?

My research is an explicit contribution to socially responsive design and it is research that develops a model of radical inter/ extradisciplinarity of design. It contributes to a deeper understanding of theories and practices of critical communication design, systems and service design and the sub-discipline of food design. The inter/ extradisciplinary aspect of design in this context connects mostly to media and communicaitons studies and art, as well as knowledges produced by marginal, critical cultural postions in society.

Who collaborated with you on the publication?

The book is a result of almost five years of work and the involvement of more than 200 people with very diverse backgrounds from twenty-seven countries. I am indebted to all of them and especially to the Memefest network. I would also like to thank Griffith University- my previous University, which suported large parts of this research and Swinburne Center for Design Innovation, especially its funding director Kurt Seemann for his important support of the research process leading to this book.


From the contents
Table of content and Introduction to the book

We worked hard to keep the price of the book low. BUY THE BOOK HERE OR HERE- check what works better for you.

For images, a video and more of the books, check this link: http://memefest.org/en/fooddemocracy/

Design is Not Enough

This text was originally written during the Declarations conference at Concordia University in 2001 in Montreal, Canada.

It was at that time when we were preparing the first Memefest, which happened in 2002. Based in Ljubljana, Slovenia we felt truly inspired to read this lines and learn more about the Declarations event. It showed us that there is a really impressive and organized scene of designers, educators and students which actively and in such an amazing and articulated way question the dominant design discourse. And we couldn't agree more with the ideas we read. Not long after all three authors signed under Design is Not Enough we became friends and collaborators- a relationship which lasts until today.

The text is not so easy to find online these days, but we feel it is a beautiful and really important text and it should be read widely. So, here it is published in its entirety!

* Images by Sandy Kaltenborn


Design Is Not Enough

What happens to graphic design when it leaves the professional discourse behind, to do political work with activist groups and social movements? That's the question we wanted to explore with the students and community members at Concordia University.
The answers have been different for us, and they'll be different for everyone involved. But we know that the experience of political engagement takes design practice away from the forms in which it usually appears in society today: as advertising, art, information or propaganda.

Advertising first. It's one of the most powerful forces in our societies, and it's actually a form of politics itself, with a clear agenda: the promotion of consumer capitalism. But it's a politics without conflict, without debate, addressed to spectators with no way of talking back. It reduces the citizen to a consumer. As a professional, client-led, mass-produced process, advertising is Enemy Number 1 for politically engaged designers, not least because it occupies all the biggest and flashiest spaces: TV commercials, billboards, neon signs, lightboxes, endless magazine pages...

Two residual opponents to advertising are art and information (newspapers, journalism). You could say they're Enemies Number 2 and 3 – but they're already much easier to work with and transform. Art in our societies stands for the individual, for subjectivity: it's the opposite of organized party politics and propaganda. Which is fine for us, because we don't believe in political parties as they're organized today, and we don't want to produce propaganda. But what passes for art in the multimedia economy of contemporary design is something that constantly borders on visual entertainment, the endless production of new attractions, novelty for novelty's sake. The thing is to find a social twist in artistic creativity, to set artistic processes at work in a group or a social movement, to turn originals into multiples, or multipliers.

As soon as you get into groups, issues and social movements, information becomes the key. You've got to get the information out, and that's where you run into journalism. But at the same time, that's where you realize the newspaper can really be an adversary. The newspaper represents truth in our societies. But the truth lies. The news media lie by omission, by distortion, by change of emphasis, or they just outright lie, putting words in your mouth that were never there. And like advertising, or even like art in a lot of cases, the news media address spectators, in a situation where they can't talk back. That's the opposite situation from the one we want to produce, and it shows the basic reason why design practice alone is not enough for political involvement. What we want to create are situations where you talk to people who talk back. Situations where the ears are as important as the eyes, where the written word and the image get left behind in the conversation. And so we have a central idea for the whole workshop, which is: RESPONSE-ABILITY.

What we're talking about are social situations where people with a particular skill, a particular passion or professional ability – whether it's photography, art, writing, graphic design, music or poetry – can fit into a movement of collaborative expression in such a way that they add something without dominating, and without distorting the process. This kind of movement takes you beyond any “designer identity” – when it really works it can spread in all directions, open up new spaces in institutions, even make it possible to change your relations at work, with clients, in university situations and so on. It's a way to get outside the straightjacket of being a wage-earner and a citizen-consumer. But for people with the specific skills of graphic designers, it involves a real responsibility. Because designers have an important role to play in social movements, which is the role of making the goals of group activity visible, precisely in a way that encourages the continuation of the process.

Design in an activist group or a social movement is always going to be a matter of tactics, which means working from a position of weakness, where you don't have the keys to all the doors and you can't make strategic plans with an overarching view. It means improvising, finding the unexpected materials and expressions that can help release a power of collaboration going far beyond the objects you can imagine and make. Design in these situations is a success when the designer disappears and the users take over. That's how designs tactics can have a social impact, without all the resources and strategies of governments or big corporations.

So what's at the bottom of all this? Why do some crazy people spend all their free time doing something they'll never get paid for and where they even tend to disappear, not as individuals but as stars and signatures?

The thing is that it can change your life. It can teach you what responsibility means, get you out of your cocoon and into situations of social cooperation and confrontation. That's what we mean by politically engaged graphic design, or that's the beginning of the story anyway.

Maybe we all got an idea of how quick and how far that story can go, over the four short days when the group and the facilitators seemed to share something more than just the products we created together.
Many thanks to Lydia Sharman, the students and all the others who made this experience possible.

Tony Credland, Sandy Kaltenborn, Brian Holmes
For the “Design is Not Enough” workshop at Concordia University





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