September 22, 2004

Reestablishing my liberal credentials

by Michael Mateas · , 7:53 pm

After being tarred with the Republican brush for mentioning Take Back Illinois, an email came across my inbox that fortuitously allows me to reestablish my liberal credentials. Steffi Domike, one of my collaborators on Terminal Time, sent me a link to a book excerpt appearing on the (far) right-wing site FrontPage Magazine. In an excerpt from the “expose” 57 Varieties of Radical Causes: Teresa Heinz Kerry’s Charitable Giving, the authors chastise her for (via the Heinz foundation) supporting, among other things, Terminal Time. While I certainly got a good chuckle out of this, I was disappointed to see them refer to Terminal Time as a video. Given my work in AI-based generative art, I would never create a mere video, but only machines that can generate countless videos. Also, the writer misses the point that Terminal Time operationalizes radical, monomaniacal ideologically biased reasoning; indeed, the excerpt looks like it could have been generated by Terminal Time.

These media grants have put money into the hands of fellow leftists. A portion of a larger Heinz grant to the Mon Valley Media was designated to produce the video “Terminal Time.” One of the film’s three co-producers is Michael Mateas of Carnegie Mellon University. In his incomprehensible description of his film, Mateas found numerous occasions to quote Lenin, and to praise the Soviet dictatorship (not his term) for the “strong political support given to filmmakers in particular.” [77] (Those they didn’t support, they shot.) The second co-producer, Steffi Domike, is a lecturer in the Communications Department at Pittsburgh’s Chatham College. The key essay on Ms. Domike’s website is entitled “The Work of (Activist) Art in an Age of Empire.” [78] In it, she reveals that as a young person in Chile, she supported the pro-Castro Marxist Salvador Allende and continues to support “Latin American land reform.” Later, in her own words, she “chose to work here in the U.S., in what activists in the 1960s called the ‘belly of the beast.’” Her work, she writes, includes everything from “revolutionary polemics to rank and file organizing, from television propaganda to tactical media practice and performance.” She also works with a “cyberfeminist” organization. [79] Paul Vanouse, the third co-producer of “Terminal Time,” is Assistant Professor of Art at the University of Buffalo. His portfolio includes such “artwork” as the “Follower” video game, in which the player must kill on command. This “hyperbolic video game…questions the heroic portrayal of authoritarian violence in American pop culture, and the methods of first-world military operations in the post-Vietnam era.” [80]

3 Responses to “Reestablishing my liberal credentials”


  1. Ian Bogost Says:

    An impressive specimen! Say what you will about the mad positions in this or other similar pieces, it does strike me that the right (not even necessarily the far-right) sometimes has a much firmer grasp on the rhetoric of public communication then the left or left-center. Sensationalist and rich with fallacy as this is, doesn’t this communication seem quite adept in its weilding of that particular strategy?

  2. Scott Says:

    Welcome back to the left-wing insurgency. I always knew you were a Red under that Brooks Brothers’ suit you’re always wearing. But I thought you were more Trotsky than Stalin . . .

  3. mark Says:

    It’s a good thing our friends at FrontPageMag are keeping a tab on you dangerous leftist revolutionaries. Here I was about to vote for John Kerry, but now that I know he’s connected to Leninists by a mere four degrees of separation, I’ll have to reconsider!

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