Hacktivism and Machinic Performance

Jon McKenzie


Early calls for creating electronic forms of social resistance coincidence almost exactly with the emergence of the world wide web. In 1994, Critical Art Ensemble (CAE) published The Electronic Disturbance , which began with this urgent call:

The rules of cultural and political resistance have dramatically changed. The revolution in technology brought about by the rapid development of the computer and video has created a new geography of power relations. […] The new geography is a virtual geography, and the core of political and cultural resistance must assert itself in this electronic space.

That same year, the First International WWW Conference was held in Geneva; Mosaic, precursor of the Netscape Navigator web browser, was only a year old and its usage limited to computer scientists; finally, in 1994 there were scarcely a thousand sites on the web, whereas by 1999, there were over 9 million. Today, the web has become dominated by e-commerce sites, while links to the entirety of CAE’s seminal text can be found in the resource section of www.thehacktivist.com, a site dedicated solely to facilitating electronic disturbances.

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