The Tactical Ice Cream Unit

The Tactical Ice Cream Unit, a project of the Center for Tactical Magic, distributes ice cream but also information at a time when most channels of distribution, communication, and social interaction are mediated and constrained by the fervor of financial exchange.

Divided into a “mother ship” (Central Command Van) and a “scout” (Tactical Ice Cream Cart), the TICU harbors surveillance devices including a 12-camera video surveillance system, acoustic amplifiers, GPS, satellite internet, a media transmission studio capable of disseminating live audio/video, and ice cream. With every free ice cream handed out, people are also handed out printed information developed by local progressive groups.


The TICU’s surveillance suite provides grassroots access to mobile communications technologies to produce independent community news or to monitor such “un-American” activities as corporate dumping or police brutality. Equipped with a mobile satellite internet system, the video can be viewable in real-time and recorded via a remote website. Additionally, the various surveillance technologies are used to accumulate recordings which will provide a unique audio/video account of the local geography.

The TICU invites visitors to explore the interior, view documentation of the street operations, or collaborate on “missions”. Local community groups may also suggest uses for the TICU (i.e. support a strike, a beach clean-up, protest, or a neighborhood block party). The vehicle can also supply activists with in-demand items (water, first-aid, film, gas masks, water balloons, etc.).

Providing food and food-for-thought, the Tactical Ice Cream Unit merrily activates public space with wholesome information and good humor.

Meet Aaron Gach of the Tactical Ice Cream Unit, on Friday April 28th at Machine Project, Los Angeles.

See also Vagamundo , an ice cream cart that invites pedestrians to play a video game that reflects the plight of illegal Latin American immigrants in New York.