Wednesday, July 5, 2000

Info-highway vamps

Posted By on Wed, Jul 5, 2000 at 12:00 AM

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If you don’t know what simulacral warfare is — or if you’ve ever questioned whether cultural resistance to capitalism is possible in an age of global branding — you need Mute. Forget Fast Company, Wired magazine and their countless imitators. Mute is the accelerated antidote to the belief that resistance is futile. And it’s built for an audience young enough to be native to a media environment: like a version of Adbusters which races along at the square of the speeds of MTV cuts and T3-access Internet surfing. Mute’s super-sharp, ultra-hip graphics hawk frighteningly edgy ideas about the social, aesthetic and economic rules of the new information economy.

Mute’s most recent heroes are the shock troops of the European net art collective etoy, which recently vanquished the American dot-com toy reseller eToys in the court of market capitalization. For those who haven’t heard the buzz, the retailer took the artists to court over the art group’s prior ownership of the www.etoy.com domain name (the retailer’s domain is eToys with an “s”). But when the corporate Goliath met professional, spirited and media-savvy resistance from its intended victim, its stock price plummeted more than 70 percent — a far more just, potent and immediate ruling than any court could have made. While this news was all over CNN and MSNBC, a peek into the genius of the art gang-turned-corporation slayer was sadly lacking. “Value systems, stock markets and the surreal etoy.CORPORATION are our TOPICS!” shout the artists, and the Mute reader is treated to three etoy works, which are stunningly dead-on. If this were the work of Nike or Diesel, it would be chilling.

Both the writing and graphic presentation of Mute are outstanding, and its ideas are vital and necessary. Find this one hard-to-find magazine, or email pauline@metamute.com to suggest they update their Web site.

Marc Christensen writes about books and music for Metro Times. E-mail letters@metrotimes.com.

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