Operation Earnest Voice Favorite 



Jan 15 2019


London, UK

Lund called his project Operation Earnest Voice after a US-led campaign to spread pro-American sentiment on social media abroad. The campaign involves deploying false identities, or “sockpuppet” accounts, to comment on and derail online conversations in an effort to sway public attitude.

Lund told artnet News that one of the goals of his “influencing agency” was “to develop a campaign to influence and sway the public to facilitate a reversal of Brexit.” The third floor of the Photographers’ Gallery became a “fully functioning propaganda office” over four days concluding on Sunday, January 13.

Jonas Lund, Operation Earnest Voice (2019) at The Photographers’ Gallery. Photo © Alan Mozes.

Twelve paid employees included influential image makers, such as the documentary photographer Alan Mozes, who worked on Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and Barack Obama’s re-election campaign. Lund’s crack team also included copywriters, social media strategists, and meme generators. They unleashed a variety of strategies to show how to disrupt the current debate. “Through the intensive collaborative, discussion, and work, we’ve explored many different facets of the tools for influencing and swaying a public,” Lund said.

The multimedia artist explained that the uncertainty and complexity of the Brexit debate made it quickly apparent that there were too many avenues the campaigning could take, so the operation pivoted into two different companies. There was a “for-profit influencing agency with a rigorous screening process of potential clients,” and a “not-for-profit foundation that distributes, facilities, and open sources the usage of various online tools for engineering consent online.”

Operation Earnest Voice (2019) is among an increasing number of contemporary artistic projects incorporating activism, with teams such as Forensic Architecture being nominated for the Turner Prize. “The social and political landscape has changed dramatically over the past three to four years and naturally artists are responding to this,” Lund said. “If we think of contemporary art as the reflection and abstraction of contemporary culture, it makes sense that there’s more and more movements towards artistic projects that incorporate activism. It’s definitely not something new and and to me art is always political.”

Lund thinks artists can inspire real change, and that many feel a strong urge to act as the world heads towards “darker times.”

“Art has the privilege of not needing to provide solutions but rather point towards and explore further problematics, and that’s a great way towards new ways of thinking and organization,” he said. Meanwhile, the Brexit crisis deepens, and the only certainty is further uncertainty.

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