a collaborative culture jamming project
The Dark Cellars are an expanding network of oppositional artists, graphic agitators, renegade marketers, and culture jammers more generally who are using art, design, and image to creatively subvert the structures of meaning which entrench consumer culture and carbon capitalism. By exploring a new aesthetics of existence, our defining objective is to open up imaginative and cultural space for new ways to live and be – for ourselves, for others, and for the sake of our fragile biosphere.
We create on this assumption: that before there can be any deep transformation in today’s dehumanising and grossly unsustainable modes of political economy, first there must be a prolonged and diverse aesthetic intervention that unsettles or disrupts the dominant culture and which provokes new cultural, economic, and political imaginaries beyond consumerism and the growth economy. If we do not shape as an aesthetic project the meaning of our own lives, we can be sure the dominant culture will do it for us, condemning us to a life of unfreedom, exploiting the powerless, and commodifying the planet with the cold logic of profit-maximization.
As culture jammers, we believe in the transgressive and emancipatory potential of art and aesthetic interventions. In particular, we employ the tools of advertising, marketing, story, and design to disrupt and create systems of meaning, but of course not to promote the insanity of consumerism – for precisely the opposite reason! A consumerist existence is a despairing failure of imagination. Industrial civilization is a cancer on the planet. Certainly, humanity has far greater potential, far nobler stories to tell – if only we show the courage and creativity to do so.
Unleashing that dormant collective genius involves somehow liberating ourselves and others from dominant cultural narratives, expanding the horizons of what is possible, and effectively communicating or ‘selling’ alternative forms of life in the counter-cultural shadows of Empire.
Thus we are The Dark Cellars, born of the Anthropocene, engaging in a semiotics of subversion or what David Cox calls ‘a vibrant counter-attack on the empire of signs.’
In an age of #ecocide
, perverse #inequality
, spiritual malaise, and creeping #fascism
, we are being called to challenge dominant forms of life and explore and provoke new narratives, new aesthetics, new structures of meaning and feeling, for the good of people and planet.
To paraphrase the poet, Coleridge: we must create the taste by which we will be judged.