BIM is the performance podcast series at the Palais des Beaux Arts Wien. Sessions with artists from anywhere in the world are recorded with a special technique at the street corner in front of the Palais des Beaux Arts Wien. This are binaural recording, headphones recommended for listening.
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newartworldordernow.com is the post-material redesign of the gift-shop phenomenon. Manifesting in variable dimensions and multiple formats, in stores, on art fairs and as an online shop, it is dedicated to develop critical product-centered strategies for streams and objects from digital art and design processes.
by Jamie Allen
I am writing these words in an airport, and into a text file, because I’m having trouble getting online. Due to quite a few misaligned techno-bureaucratic constellations, I cannot connect to the internet.
Is the internet a place? If it is, its more like an airport than an apartment. More like a library than a study. More like a brothel than a bed. When wireless internet was all slick and shiny and new, a lot of us were pretty excited about its potential as a kind of lubrication, or glue, for neighborhoods and communities, parks and protests. Neighborhood nodes and free-WiFi in the park were these new kinds of idyllic place-networks — parties online you could bring your body to, and all your friends (online and off). There are different kinds of glue, of course, and Facebook seems a rather thin and runny one. “Going” to a FB “event” has become more a statement of support than a statement of intention to create place, encounters or moments together (online or off). But there are still ways of making these non-places special. There are secrets we can share with one another, dark corners where we can escape the onslaught “likes” and upworthiness.
Quite a while ago now, computer programmer Richard Stallman re-inserted into the lexicon of the cultural and technological imaginary a distinction about freedom, or free-ness. In discussions about technological development, people talk about ‘free as in speech’ versus ‘free as in beer’. That is, “with zero restrictions” or “for zero monetary cost.” These phrases evoke the important differences between market-exchange value, and the more inherent, presumably more important, value of ideas. In our world, sometimes things are free in both ways, sometimes in only one, and perhaps most often in neither. The Internet, for a while, seemed like it was on its way to being free as in speech and free as in beer, marginally at least (You still need a computer and all that, sure). But mostly that’s not really working out.
Meanwhile, I am still having trouble staying connected to the internet. I’ve missed my flight, my wallet and phone were stolen a couple of days ago, my credit cards resultantly cancelled and useless. I have no ID with me where I am. I have no idea where I am. I have no ideas where I am. It’s an airport. Wasting the change in my pocket on the seven-euro coffee-as-entry-fee to Starbucks seems like a bad move, in case I need bus fare into the city if I can’t get the next flight out. What I need is data, connectivity. Do I curse our technological condition, wanting for a world where another person’s direct sympathy would somehow get me on a plane, or into a hotel? No. It’s in situations like this in fact, that I wish the World was more like the Internet, not the other way around. Where things are excessively generous and alive with ideas, brimming with a pubescent concern for other people oftentimes so creatively wholehearted that it mutates into innuendo, abuse, flaming and bullying.
Sitting on the floor, nestled beneath a warm radiofrequency canopy Tegel Airport Starbucks WiFi (the only ‘free as in beer’ WiFi in the entire airport), I realise that the staff is starting to shut down the coffee machines. Soon, they will shut off the co-branded T-Mobile router that is my artery to resources, my access to a place to sleep tonight, my route home. ‘Free as in beer’ only works as long as you order before last call. One more packet, barkeep…? You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here…
Art is a particular kind of techno-idealism. It is the arrangement of materials and ideas, or one of these packed inside the other, and it is purported to deliver all kinds of freedoms: Freedom of expression, freedom of the individual, creative freedom, freedom from history. Art, most of the time, isn’t ‘free as in beer’, although we like to think of it as ‘free as in speech.’ Art on the Internet, perhaps more so than in a lot of other ways we might experience ideas, at times pushes into places that seem to sketch out new kinds of ‘free.’ There are worlds represented, and constraints we’re unaware of, new kinds of gifts and economies sketched out for art and communication, creative acts, the technological.
There are people who, when they realise the many systems, services and networks they rely on everyday, recoil from them. This is part of what being ‘free’ means to us — being autonomous, being alone. Our technological collusions, our bonds with machines, are to be contained, controlled. Is it ok, though, to love a dependency, instead of trying to cut it out or away? It is possible, freely, to love how it is to need something, or love that thing so much it seems entirely outside of the need for justification. It is also possible to love (even technological) necessity, reliance and vulnerability. I love being addicted to food, and air, and water. And I love being online. Yes, I like parks and trees and squirrels and all that just as much as the next person, but I also love the Internet. And so do you, or you wouldn’t be reading this right now.
And that’s ok.
What would a place be like that is both ‘free as in Art’ and ‘free as in Internet’?
Welcome to the Palais des Beaux Arts.
Editor’s note: Jamie Allens next morning return flight out of Berlin was funded through the Palais des Beaux Arts commissioning program for in-situ critical writing.
If you could only bring a single book to a secret island, which one would it be? On a residency in the south-east asian archipelago, Peter Moosgaard chose what he believes is the document of an early cult: The Weimar Bauhaus. The founder Walter Gropius intended the movement as a secret lodge, from which a small circle were to spread the word about the new “faith of architecture” to the world. Kandinsky, Klee, Breuer and Itten were masters of esoteric rites, expressing a longing for the spiritual instead of the formal. The Bauhaus’ cultish nature is often mistaken as pragmatic modernism, like avant gardes can easily be mistaken for tribes.
On a secret island with limited resources, a single book is the seed for new phenotypes of early western modernisms: a mutation of oceanic avant garde emerges. As if modernism grew out of natural conditions rather than urban functionality. Bauhaus Ayoke documents the mutation of these ideas, the transformation of materials and the development of a new visual language. Using natural color extracts, coconut fibre and banana leaves, Peter Moosgaard reconstructed key pieces from the Bauhaus’ early history, retracing its history along an alternative space-time axis.
At the Palais des Beaux Arts, this oceanic version of “Bauhaus Ayoke” published by the Palais de Beaux Arts is a completely transformed version of the MoMa publication (Hardcover, 344 pages), a shamanic re-work of its contents, collaged with botanica, notes, documentation footage and painting. It was physically transformed into a different book on the journey, leaving sand between the pages, the charm “lumay” from siquijor island, a new cover made from coconut fibre and project documentation of alternate modernist designs.
Claire Tolan predicts SHUSH, a nascent fork of ASMR, and develops strategies for the deployment of SHUSH upon its arrival in our world. SHUSH will come as an answer to the crippling sublime that the individual experiences in the face of complex, planetary-scale systems — climate (and its change), finance, computing, etc — and the catatonia that this sublime produces.
SHUSH will reformat our brains and our megastructures; it will refactor our systems. SHUSH demands the end of this world, and the inauguration of the next one. And yet, for now, there it remains, hanging on the horizon, always approaching but never arriving, crystallised as a to-come. SHUSH is left-behind even as it becomes later and later for its scheduled appointment. What is up with SHUSH?
The visual encodings marking the digital interface might be possessed with a subversive symbolic potential. The symbolic dimension of the digital interface desires to be recognized and examined, which will also unleash its magical transformative power. Is the wireless icon the antidotal counterpart to the all-seeing eye? Or are we simply already entangled in the ever present surplus of symbolic meaning?
In Hyperconnected (The Whole Picture), Karin Ferrari introduces a speculative chart mapping the flux of meanings between a cluster of icons related to the web. By appropriating and re-envisioning mimetic signs and their syntactical relations, new technicoloured virtual possibilities emerge from the ominous undercurrents that flow through planetary telecommunication networks and archaic power structures. Next time you touch a WiFi symbol, a different kind of connection might be established.
Our current understanding of the internet is dominated by telelogies of information-overload, obscure and quasi religious subcultures, as well as secrecy, power and control. This is mirrored in the current trend of “post internet art”, which offers either apocalyptic or over-affirmative visions of the digital present and portrays the internet as a darwinistic snake pit governed by neoliberal principles, seamless virtuality, pornographic and neo-exoticist folklore, as well as post-critical compliance. The result is at best a religious resurrection, at worst an alogrithmic, post human machine world.
“Terrestrum`Navis&~ff$&.Internetis.museeiis//20116” questions and counterbalances these post-digital sentiments by researching and exacavating human efforts to explore the world and accumulate knowledge. By referencing the historical importance of boats, submarines and space ships, as well as the golden age of libraries, museums, and printing (1750 to fin de siecle), today’s electronic archives and digital networks are put into a larger context of exploration, navigation, discovery, collection, science and ultimately enlightenment.
The results of this open-ended theoretical and conceptual investigation was published as an essay that is at once museological manifesto, science-fiction and blue-print for the post-digital art institutions to come. At the same time, an on-site video piece will seize upon the architecture of the Palais des Beaux Arts, and in particular the richly decorated, globe-shaped foyer. This tranisition space full of floral ornaments is juxtaposed with bare-boned museological speculations, while snippets of contemporary self-referentiality interweave the forward looking energies and global optimism of what was once known as Jugendstil - a transitional style between traditional arts and crafts, and a new, worldwide machine age.