Documenting Protest and Police: Occupy Wall Street and the (R)evolution of Digital Mobile Video
The importance of mobile phone video technology was highlighted in September 2011, when the Occupy Wall Street movement transformed Zuccotti Park in New York into a public space for protest. For those not present, the occupation was witnessed and interpreted through the reporting of traditional media – local and global news organizations, the Internet, radio and printed media. Yet most vitally, Occupy Wall Street was characterized by a new form of representation captured through the camera phone lenses of localized practitioners experimenting and rapidly realizing, often in real time, the value of mobile phone cameras within the new media ecology of social activism.
Perhaps nowhere are the implications of recent digital video technologies more influential than in the synthesis of activist movements, citizen journalism, documentary practices and emerging forms of new media, such as the live streaming application – Ustream. Analyzing the practices that matured during the Occupy movement through the lens of Manuel DeLanda’s interpretation of assemblage theory this article offers a critical reflection of the technological, cultural and networked diagram that was present at the time, including but not limited to access to available technologies (the proliferation of cameras, web technologies and protocols and other telecommunications standards and the networks they form). I examine the video practice of Tim Pool, a practitioner whose evolution from citizen to citizen journalist to journalist reflects the complexity, spontaneity and often contiguity of assemblage. Furthermore, using assemblage as a key-mapping device, this article explores the emerging practices and networks birthed, reinforced and reworked during the Occupy Wall Street movement and throughout New York City in the months after the Zuccotti Park encampment dispersed.