Peddle Pushers

posted by
Filed under: Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking

Flash Mobs on Wheels
August 12, 2007

31805662-200.jpgHere’s a piece of participatory performance art that manages to embody so many of the tropes of 0h-0hs culture at once: chaos theory, swarm theory, the viral propagation of memes, the wisdom of crowds, self-organization, social networking, cellular communication, greener-than-thou, paradigm change (or paradigm war). Though its younger practitioners might not know or care, it has philosophical roots in the anarchist art/politics of the Sixties — happenings, street theater, Situationism, monkeywrenching — as well as in libertarianism and cybernetics.

From the LA Times, When bikes rule the road, motorists fume:

    Started [in San Francisco] in 1992 by a handful of idealists, the free-form events have spread to every continent but Antarctica and to 300 cities worldwide, including Los Angeles.

    Next month, the ride celebrates its 15th year. But it still has no leaders, no route plans, no spokespeople.

    “How the rides unfold is always a mystery,” said Chris Carlsson, a ride co-founder […]

    The rides develop their own loopy anarchy. […A]nything goes. […] No one knows where the ride will go or when, exactly, riders will depart.

à‰litist yet as anonymous and leaderless as a crew of serfs building an ephemeral cathedral, it inspires in those literally, physically trapped in the old paradigm both rage at its “incredible self-righteousness” and envy at its “unfettered” freedom.

What is it? “Critical Mass.” And it’s even spawned a spontaneous conservative rejoinder: “Critical Manners.”