Freedom of Expression

Freedom of Expression Poster

Freedom of Expression Poster

This poster samples historic photographs from the Bay Area’s Free Speech Movement, which began with student protests at the University of California, Berkeley in 1964. The pattern also includes photographs of recent demonstrations against government restrictions of information access online, copyright laws, and internet censorship.

In a photograph from 1964, UC Berkeley student demonstrators stand in front of Sproul Plaza, insisting that the University administration lift their ban of on-campus political activities and acknowledge the students’ right to free speech and academic freedom. At this moment in US history, a student protest of this scale was unprecedented.

In recent years, governments around the world have made efforts to “filter” information available to the public online.  Using algorithms that follow internet users’ search habits, filtering is a subversive form of censorship that prevents users from accessing online content that reflects alternative political views. Another photograph in the pattern shows a demonstrator in 2012 standing silently with “SOPA” (Stop Online Piracy Act) handwritten on tape placed over her mouth. The performative statement expresses her allegiance to the freedom of information, and her symbolic silence critique of the censorship legislation.