Broadcast Balloons

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This article on Sky News drew my attention

North Korea has launched around one million propaganda leaflets by balloon towards its southern neighbour amid increased tensions over Pyongyang’s recent nuclear test, it has been claimed.The North’s unverified claim of a successful hydrogen bomb test on 6 January has sparked off a new Cold War-style stand-off between the bitter rivals.

The simplicity and directness of the way the balloons and messages subvert the restrictions imposed by North Korea on digital and other means of communication – the immediacy and intimacy cut across the propaganda.

I came across it whilst researching the concept of the ‘broadcast’ way back in November but never actually written much about my thoughts about the original  meaning of the word,  that stems from the idea of sowing seed by the broadcast method.

I remember this from my agricultural practice… before the introduction of seed drills and precision seeding – putting the seeds in a specific row or slot.

So a Broadcast spreads ideas relatively  indiscriminately  ( “some fall on stony ground”  – biblical quote and all that). A metaphor still used today in communications which has a resonance for me, my previous commercial agricultural links, and my present day art practice.

Also some political and cultural implications, too, if you look at the history of the drill in Britain ( Jethro Tull ) and the fact that non-Western ancient civilisations had already invented it centuries before. Parliamentary Enclosures of Common Land started in 1750 not long after Jethro Tull died……

I hadn’t realised that messages on balloons have been used regularly since the Korean War according to this Wikipedia post ( apologies for Wiki reference but is a free and collaborative encyclopaedia that anyone can edit so it seems appropriate here!!)

and the protests continue according to the BBC ( March 2016)



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