Over the past 12 years, in the context of the War on Drugs in Mexico, violent images and videos have become a currency between Drug Cartels. These images have created an economy that Mexican philosopher Zayak Valencia described under the term ‘Gore Capitalism’. These highly graphic images show tortures, executions, decapitations and actions of the sort. All of them are produced using smartphone cameras or similar technologies and are distributed through blogging and social media. These extremely violent images are used by Cartels as means of earning prestige between their peers, spread fear amongst the population, and show ‘achievements’ of some kind. Until recently, mainstream media used to publish these images, using alarmism as a way to increase their circulation, under the excuse of informing the population, but these practices were banned as it was obvious that Cartels benefited from the widespread circulation of these images, as it increased their control over the population by the means of spreading fear. This project consists on an online tool that automatically identifies violent images from known sources of distribution of violent images and social media and matches them with similar images from art history. Users can install this tool as an addon on their browsers, allowing them to identify and replace such images, in order not only to block them, but to decrease their value in the economics of fear. All the images blocked and their corresponding matches will be documented on an online archive built specifically for the project.
Leonardo Aranda, Mexico City/Mexico — Web Resident Violent Consumer Media
Leonardo Aranda is an electronic artist from Mexico. He is the director of Medialabmx. His work focuses on the use of new media and its intersections with politics and participation. He has exhibited in Mexico and countries such as Russia, Austria, USA, Spain, Canada and Brazil. He worked as a researcher in the Multimedia Center. He participated in IDEAS CITY by the New Museum. He also was part of Interactivos at Medialab-Prado, as well as Radical Networks in NY. He is currently a PhD candidate in Media Study at SUNY Buffalo.