Started: 2019

Time/labour: ︎︎︎︎

Thanks to: Benjamin Foster, Chris Nash, Gwen Taualai, Ian Milliss, Ben Barnes, Luke Bacon

influence // operation // media // news // cycle // citizen // journalism // subversive // power // technology


Image: Make or Break, Influence Operation, 2019, installation view at Campbelltown Art Centre, photo by Document Photography.
Information operations and warfare, also known as 'influence operations', describes the collection of tactical information about an adversary as well as the dissemination of propaganda in pursuit of a competitive advantage over an opponent. It is now broadly associated with the use of (mis)information to achieve strategic, financial, cultural or political influence and, in some cases, change the outcomes of elections, policy and public perceptions.

How might artists and citizens participate in and ‘hack’ how information is gathered and broadcast, in the same ways that corporations and governments are already (legally) doing? How might these same technologies be repurposed to reflect what audiences actually want to hear about? Could we change the conversation? Influence Operation seeks to make visible power and influence, to unpack its uneven distribution.

Influence Operation connects Make or Break with subject experts to up-skill citizens in the use of current news aggregation and influencing technologies such as media analysis, Reddit threading, twitter bots, machine learning, automating content creation and analysis, building click farms, news scraping and making memes. Inside a “black ops” style newsroom, this project becomes a site where citizens can work alongside the artists as well as civic hackers, programmers, professional journalists, artists and meme-makers to influence the news cycle.

The content collectively generated by the newsroom is then broadcast via public LED news tickers, or deployed as a website, billboard or other textual intervention.

Influence Operation first appeared as a prototype commissioned by Campbelltown Arts Centre for OK Democracy: We Need To Talk, curated by Adam Porter and Michael D’Agostino. A subsequent expanded version was commissioned by Next Wave, and supported by grants from the Australia Council for the Arts and City of Melbourne.

Ok Democracy, We Need to Talk
News Hack Workshops

Media and publications:
Exhibition catalogue 
ArtsHub: We Need to Talk: How artists react to political ideas