May 2012, as this issue is going to print, the focus seems to have shifted on to the student movements in Montreal, replacing images from Occupy Wall Street—dislodged on the heels of its expulsion from its makeshift outpost—and images from the Arab uprisings, deprived from their initial momentum of liberation. A few months earlier, when we began contemplating this issue, we were still very much absorbed by the “human mic” sessions held at Zuccotti Park and by the numerous slide shows of cliché-riddled images of the Arab uprisings accompanied by lyrical soundtracks, repeating from one country to another to the point of ad absurdum. All of this seemed to be taking on another meaning entirely: what was previously recognized as “political art” (and its by-products) was being re-interpreted within this context, where it seemed that each individual participant had the ability to be more or less consciously involved in the new apparatuses of communication, experimenting with new organizations, new languages and news forms.
This issue of May begins by focusing on the visual and performative aspects that have emerged from the recent protest movements by taking a closer look at both the uses of new technologies of communication (smart phones, social media, etc.) and on other less technologically sophisticated means of image production and organization in political protests (signs, flyers, etc). However, the purpose was not only to observe the emergence of such practices in the public sphere, as was the case with the mainstream press, but to also examine the various strategies of these movements in terms of language use, confronting them with other historical events and by observing some of the new forms of protest through more subjective modes of documentation and writing.
The “languages” of these uprisings are new, in so far as they are inscribed within the social communication networks-whether alternative or part of the more dominant cultural and political economy-their “openness” being then purposely misused. These “languages” are also new in so far as they have produced, and are producing, new visual strategies which attempt to account for the varying trajectories of the movements, propagating and extending them. In a way, almost writing a history of the present on the fly. In their irremediable reference to the defence of freedom through the use of the social networks, which are especially present within the Anonymous movement, as its members have been more or less indirectly involved in the aforementioned events. Their strategies are based on the disappearance of the figure of the author and that of the hero to leave room for some decentralized, flexible and elusive form of intervention. The forms of protest of these recent movements have in a sense been transplanted to the battle grounds of information, references and language, they challenge established models of politics and rhetorics, and their means of circulation. Coming from the other side of the Atlantic or the Mediterranean, these forms and their contestation also seem addressed to us.