Notes, Quotes, Provocations And Other Fair Use IV
From tomorrow I'll be off the grid due South for a week or so. Expect to find a new chapter of these notes around August 10 with a lot of new stuff.
Spent a day in Zevenaar at Gilberthe's parents. Extreme Leisure.
Sent the 32pp. Nuclear Garden brochure (in Dutch: 'De Nucleaire Tuin'), published by the Beelden op de Berg board, to the printer's. They want to settle the uranium-238 argument with the University to allow Paul to finish his piece, before ST(*)boretum ends. Hmm. Boards' ways are mysterious. The ones I've worked with (Allocations: the Floriade Board; Knowledge Years 1994-2014: RuG, Rijksuniversiteit Groningen board, now the Beelden op de Berg board) never know how to appreciate complexity and ambiguity in contemporary art. Makes you wonder why one always has to force all that contemporary stuff on them in the first place.
The 'deelraadhuis' (no translation available as of 980723) Amsterdam Noord is an under construction city service center for the approximately 85k citizens living in this part of Amsterdam, across the IJ waters. 'Media-GN' being invited to do a proposal for a permanent new media installation, Mark Madel, Paul and myself visited the site (with three colleagues who will also propose). As an information outlet (for birth and death certificates, driver licenses, passports, but also for public services like sanitation, education, healthcare regulation) the building shouldn't (and actually doesn't) represent authority so much, in the 90s, but neither focusses Noord identity, or social-cultural interaction. Noord reputation is a bit backwaterish, so they is ready for leap frogging (also acording to André Volten, the old master sculptor, who is local to Noord, and volunteered in the talk we had, to tell us about shipyard timesI enjoy that).
Saw 42 Up on BBC 2 last night. My Generation, British kids filmed at 7 year intervals since the age of 7 in 1964. Then I saw Oprah, changing lives before 2000 (That's Y 2K): Kimberley Hale, a remarkable, fragile and sadly beautiful young woman, who I immediately fell for, wanting to leave exotic dancing and prostitution, and a mother who was so stressed that she moved constantly, changing appartments and jobs like clothes, yanking her 10 year old son around for years. Apart from the incomparable differences in intimacy and depth of registration, these portraits (including of Oprah herself and her man charicature shrink Phil, the tell-it-like-it-is 'Life Strategist') showed how 'supporting' life can be. Yesterday I realized that we are self made, last night already I was demonstrated how much we are supported in that manufacture, for better or worse, by friends, family, community, welfare, interaction and transaction.
Life Is Definitely Local
If also the local is self made we are in the Garden. I bought Ian Hamilton Finlay's Prints 1963-1997 Druckgraphik Catalogue Raisonnée. Then I took other books on him from the shelf. Most of these I bought around 1992 when I invited him to participate in Allocations and visited Stonypath/Little Sparta. Now his interest in camouflage strikes me. And Paul should see his 1974 Nuclear Sail, at the edge of Lochan Eck, the large pond.
Another 'gardening' participant in Allocations was herman de vries, whose natural relations, eine skizze I also opened after years. The book describes in idiosyncratic detail his collections of in total over 2000 natural drugs, most of them sampled in his outdoor studio in Eschenau Germany, but also from Maroc, Delhi and Senegal.
I addressed innovation with my ex brother-in-law July 18 and noted the ambiguity between 'regret or excited anticipation' of new technology and media. Today I came across the excesses of Y2K panic at news.com
- Fears the Year 2000 computer bug could black out power plants and turn cities into war zones have some Americans stockpiling food and water, buying guns and ammunition, and heading for the hills.
Luckily another information from the Net counterbalances hysteriaor at least will make life in the countryside bearable, and profitable (hey, supposing the Net survives the Millenium Bug, that is) Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox of May 31, 1998:
- The Web and other Internet communications tools will come close to making geography irrelevant in ten years. With sufficiently good communications technology, people can live anywhere in the world and still work together and be as productive as when they all lived within a short distance from each other.
(Ten years will make 31 May 2008). Does it pay to be a skeptic these days? More Nielsen:
- Nobody can predict all of these changes, and some of the things we do predict may not happen after all. The point is not to forecast the exact future of the Web but to understand the range of possible
transitions such that you can be ready for them and such that you can drive your site in those directions that are promising. After all, change happens
because you make it happen.
We Are Definitely Self Made
Further discovered Swiki and WikiWiki. Subscribed to the PWS/Swiki list. One should go test it for oneself. It is an interesting technology, but moreover an editorial challenge. I found reference to Swiki password protection and other disabling/restricting code, but it is foremost the ultimate CoWeb-As-A-Public-Space, with the greatest ease of destruction, change, additionor Play.
Underhyping the Internet#4: today I registered to the New York Times, gratis at last for us non-US inhabitants, and was I lead (by Paul) to Swiki territory, where people are making the web work, as CoWebs. MySwiki is at http://pbl.cc.gatech.edu:8080/myswiki.145. It is the ultimate Exquisite Enclave tool. Actually I should set one up as my contribution to Omnizone which I screwed up so far. People can join to map real space/web space at wim, for as long as it lasts, the online environment in Swiki terms being less durable than a poster on the street corner, or a flyer pinned to a tree.
Enjoyed a bright sunny afternoon at the Bakkum camping site, where the kids met to play and party with Rolf. Thanks to his presents he can now dress up as a knight or a policeman, and happily crossdressed between the two all day. Much to my father's amusement. He and my mother never allowed me a single military toy or any kind of weaponry, historic or other... which made me the peaceful paranoid guy I am today ;-)
We went to Gilberthe's parents yesterday and returned today. Last night I had a long conversation with Piet, who divorced my sister-in-law but luckily still comes by the family house. The topic was innovation, his in welfare, mine in media. We both are skeptical of anything that is presented as such , and concluded this is a times of improvement rather than innovation, in the respective fields. Meaning that truly daring new social or cultural concepts do not drive the research in products and services, eg. in new technologies, which develop or 'emerge', not from a revolutionary societal agenda, but from commercial opportunity and technological affordance (This is not the exact way we put it at 3.30am, but close). The expectation that new media will 'change the world as we know it' is often uttered, but one can't tell whether this is with regret or excited anticipation.
Let's hear it for Rolf who turns 5 today!
I'm slow to recover this time. Spend most of the time in bed, on its edge and around it. As soon as I'm too optimistic and dare behind the computer I wear out. Just take it easy. Summer seems far off, so our planned days at Bakkum (Rolf's 5th aniversary birthday party and week or two after) are postponed. We'll probably take the kids to the circus instead of into the field. In the meantime we decided the four of us should go on a short mission to Burgundy France around July 29. It's gonna be interesting.
Sunday, and all's not well yet. A quote then. From edge.org, by Howard Rheingold, quoting Joseph Turow on markets and societies.
- For example, consider these excerpts from an article in the November, 1997 issue of American Demographics: 'Breaking Up America: The Dark Side of Target Marketing' by Joseph Turow:
"With the triumph of target marketing in the last decades of the 20th century, the United States is experiencing a major shift in balance between society-making
media and segment-making media. Segment-making media are
those that encourage small slices of society to talk to themselves, while society-making media have the potential to get all those segments to talk to each other. In the ideal society, segment-making media strengthen the identities of interest groups,
while society-making media allow those groups to get out of
themselves and talk with, argue against, and entertain one
another. The balance can lead to a rich and diverse sense of
overarching connectedness or understanding: what a vibrant
society is about."
"As with most ideals, this one has never existed. It has been far too easy for both segment-making and society-making media to lapse into stilted stereotyping
of many groups rather than to act out the complex, fascinating
texture that is America. But as marketers get better at targeting
desirable customers in media environments designed for them,
even the possibility of the ideal is fading."
"The hypersegmentation of consumers into specialized media communities is transforming the way television is programmed, the way newspapers are 'zoned', the way magazines are printed, and the way cultural events are produced and promoted. Advertisers' interest in exploiting differences among individuals is also woven into the basic assumptions about media models for the next century , the
so-called 500-channel environment. In the next century, it is likely that media formats and commercials will reflect a society so fragmented that the average person will find it impossible to know or care about more than a few of its parts."
I should bring to mind again Neal Stephenson, when he pictured (in the Diamond Age) those in power sharing their media and the rest 'benefitting' media customizationthe first being the 'society makers' the latter 'segmented', powerless. Unless we give up all encompassing power ('fight the power'), segmentation, customization, cultural diversity, local markets: all might work, even improve and flourish, but will never be self-regulatory.
What I think is the most important observation: 'transforming the way television is programmed, the way newspapers are 'zoned', the way magazines are printed, and the way cultural events are produced and promoted': all inclusive change, throughout 'new' and 'old' media alike!
Still shaky, aching and sweaty. My dreams took me back and forth in time last night. I woke up riding the light blue push scooter I proudly owned when I was 6.
Sudden burn out. I was talking at length to Paul on the phone early, but crash later in the morning and go back to bed exhausted around 11am. Try to get up before noon but miss the afternoon Doors meeting, that followed up on yesterday's. Get up late afternoon and stumble around. Not hungry. At 8pm my accountant comes and I try to follow her 1995(!) calculations. A lot of 'where were you on the night of...' kind of questions. Answering them will save me money. We figure out 1995 and postpone 1996 till August. I wanna go back to bed.
Doors 5 meeting. I did not pay too much attention the past week or so, apart from writing the application for the website interface subsidy at the Mondriaanstichting. (Which is up for judgement this afternoon, by the way. Fingers crossed. For Media-GN too).
Media-GN from the break of day till the wee hours (because of a power breakdown between Amersfoort and Amsterdam, on the way back I had to travel via Utrecht). Finally saw all the MFA students' projects when they presented for the end of the year assessment. Two observations: all students want to connect information space and real space to inform one another, in different ways: theatrical, architectural, in installations or performances, using hybrid media, etc. That's hopeful. And at least three students want to involve some kind of computation to systematically track their ideas and sketches and inspirations in some smart kinda way, using databases, AI, what have you. Their interest shows a shift of focus for the use of computation, from simulation and visualisation to a more conceptual levelwhich is another hopeful sign.
Doors met with some young game designers at the Institute: IJsfontein and Lost Boys. They showed quite advanced narrative and programming respectivelygraphics and natural interaction versus speed and 'gameplay' (PC vs. Playstation in this case). I had just read information on the Best Hack Contest at MacHack conference (some examples will eventually be presented at its website), in TidBits, and asked who was developping 'game-like' hacks that fuck around with your normal applications and programs. Not these guys. Examples were mentioned that use telecommunicational channels to support game-like interactions, eg. using cellular phones and cable television. And e-mail ('messagemate'). But I dream other stuff, that combines alternative browser, (real time) communication, and gameplay on your otherwise seriously boring desktop.
Brazil-Netherlands..., soccer ('soccer artistry', CNN) won tonight, though not supremelyand we lost, 1-1. Competitive sport can be a drug. 11 million people on drugs, not counting the Brazilians. This was the first match I encountered in public spacethe bar around the corner. When I returned home, chère Francine had mailed me from Marseille tout orange, at 9.02pm, the match 2' underway: "Cher jouke, la ville est orange. Marseille aux couleurs de la Hollande. L'animation est vive, plus que les autres jours de match. L'enjeu se resserre; Je n'aime pas le football, et jusqu'à présent j'ai évité.. tout. Mais là je ne peux presque pas y échapper. Tout le monde en parle.... Bref, la ville est maintenant vide de ses habitants. Dans mon quartier, Le sud est investi."
Football attracts a flash crowd. Marseille was 'vide de ses habitants', and so was Amsterdam, and Sao Paulo and the other metropoles. We all lived another place, for 120+ minutes, spirits were high. We all returned, and now in the Amsterdam streets the Brazilian community is partying, with the Dutch, for better or worse, for artistry.
Reality check Brabant province: the leather industry. I was driving Gilberthe there. Finished Hickey (typically) during stops, waiting for G. to make her deals, on industry lots, behind the wheel of the golden green Opel Corsa 1998 model that I had rented. In the morning I convinced G. to buy those 35 perfect sheep skins, dyed deep black. The house and studio is all smells again.
Driving downside: too much traffic, I got tired and irritated. The Randstad is suffocating. Now the BOVAG(?) suggested to build an underground tollway infrastructure, pay-per-mile, to save building and natural area. I hope they will consequently bring all commercial information (and, following formal misanthropist rule, all you consumers), underground with it, but I guess I'll be out of this country way before the system's opening celebration (and remember the 'diamond lane': it never worked in NL).
Today is Ineke Bellemakers' birthday: congratulations! If it wasn't for our rare privacy this week-end, we would probably join her and friends from 4pm. Still might. (It's 1.23pm).
...but we didn't, selfishly. Instead I phoned to congratulate her and caught her breast feeding beautiful daughter Yanne, against the backdrop of what sounded like the friends getting into a nipple-to-the-bottle mood.
My dad had faxed me some pages from Pierre Bourdieu's Contre-Feux, a new collection of essays. In 'La précarité est aujourd'hui partout' ('insecurity is everywhere today') he argues against 'flexploitation' as a systematic political strategy to benefit an economy of control, in which the symbolic order in power is mapped out in such a way as to take away all trust in the future, thus prohibiting any rational anticipation of it, herewith destroying the minimum belief and hope one needs to revolt against the present. Peter Sloterdijk in his recent pamphlet 'Der starke Grund zusammen zu sein' also argues against the seeming 'end of revolutionary times'. These intellectuals attempt to get to new agendas for their disciplines, after years in the shadows of both technological/economical hype and post Berlin wall political quasi détente.
I'll leave it for the moment with some more Hickey, to take down Bourdieu (on security, in a way, on taking risks, anyway)
- I have always associated the desire to make money with a profound lack of confidence in one's ability to make a living, to make one's way in the world through wit an wile.
We found R+r in perfect shape with Marion and Armand. A dolphin floating above their heads... Spoiled little brats.
Afternoon Soccer Fest Netherlands-Argentina: 2-1. The Vélodrome, Marseille is our holy ground! First we here beat South Korea 5-0, next Tuesday we will be up against Brazil (who lost their game against Norway here): same place, same team, same beautysame figures?.
Re-read Dave Hickey's Air Guitar (a present from Barbara Bloom), on art and commoditiy and money ('Dealing', pp108-109):
- First: Art is no commodity. It has no intrinsic value or stable application. Corn is a commodity, and so is long-distance service, since the operative difference between bushels of corn and minutes of long-distance service is the price. Price distinguishes commodities that are otherwise similar and destabilizes the market, whereas price likens works of art that are otherwise dissimilar and stabilizes the market. [...]
Second: Art and money never touch. They exist in parallel universes of value at comparable levels of cultural generalization: Art does nothing to money but translate it. Money does nothing to art but facilitate the dissemination of it and buy the occasional bowl of Wheaties for an artist or an art dealer. Thus, when you trade a piece of green paper with a picture on it, signed by a bureaucrat, for a piece of white paper with a picture on it, signed by an artist, you haven't bought anything, since neither piece of paper is worth anything. You have translated your investment and your faith from one universe of value to another.
If you can't tell one universe from another, that's your problem, but not an unusual one, since art and money are very much alike, in both embodiment and conception. To put it simply: art and money are cultural fictions with no intrinsic value. They acquire exchange value through the fiduciary investment of complex constituenciesthrough overt demonstrations of trust (or acts of faith, if you will) of the sort we all perform when we accept paper currency (or, even more trustingly, a check) for goods or services.
Hickey is as clear as it gets, and very funny at that.
Received a second mail from Winograd. He believes that a system could sort, filter, and juxtapose works on the basis of assigned symbolic descriptions. Then adds 'whether this leads to insight or not is a more difficult question'. I bet we'll have to find out. Run the system in order to make it visible. It's part of the experiment. The projected system in his perspective, rather than being a 'coaching' system, would be more of an 'exploratory space' in its own right. Anyway I'm relieved the concept is not laughed away, by this true, living 'expert', with whom I hope to engage in a conversation, if the project can go along. I also invited Regina Cornwell, who wil be happy to participate. We're looking forward to bring together a real good international team.
R+r stay with Marion and Armand for two nights. We rest and read and dream forwards and backwards.
Stanford computer scientist Terry Winograd confirmed receival of my mail, after having been off the grid for a week. He'll get back to me on my questions concerning the conceivability of the 'systematic estate' we are planning to develop at Media-GN.
Invested in a Sony MZ-R50 MiniDisc machine and microphone (it's an amazing portable digital studio... that's what it is) to one day record the Cologne Dom soundscape (see also June 11), or some 'Medienbürgerfest'... See how to retrieve audible contemporary reality. 'Extensions of man', new tools for hunting/gathering, storing, sharing.
With the near ubiquity of technical containment (devices are becoming ever smaller and more versatile, as well as take over each other's functionsnot only your CD player plays your CDs: so does your computer, and your walkman; your digital camera records soundbites, as well as your Gameboy takes digital pictures. Your Nokia performs Tetris. Then, everything can be annotated, connected, downloaded from and uploaded to the Internet, linked at an abundancy of occasions, private and public, from where it then can be carried along. Consequently, artistic directions might seem to be in danger of getting lost in informational drift.
Emergent possibilities ever more demand new rules and strategies for communicational action: a preference of the half-product over the 'finished' work, a preference of privilege-for-all over emancipation-for-all [privilege being today's emancipatory demand more than anything else: forget for a while equal access, bigger pipes to info-minorities and some other techno-tactical media issues (at least for the already 'privileged' West). Forget most of the 'radical' issues claimed by a 'net-critical' counter-clique, hidden in its frigid gridlock new consensus jargonial social-informational reality, doing net-time for a better world. (howzat for some off-the-chest crypto-gibberish?)], a preference of intervention over demonstration, a preference of the guide over the sage, a preference of the dynamic over the static, the distributed over the concentrated, the unfinised over the perfected. Perfection then will be (embodied?, mediated) in the 'other details': the mix and match of meaningful experiences and communications, the consciously stepping in and out of mediated realities, between the informational and the immediate.
Another sonic advantage of my new device: Paul and I now can exchange our picks of female singer-songwriter tunes, Victoria Williams and the The Original Harmony Ridge Creek Dippers being my latest comfort. Got to them through tunes.com.
June 24-July 1
Well, Media-GN (finally figured out its spelling-of-choice) took a bit longer... Not so much the core concept ('artificial creativity'), or the major topics (the estate, knowledge elicitation, mutual Q-and-A: dialogue, art works as half-products, 'informatic license'), but the form of the experiment ('expert system', 'smart estate', 'systematic domain', 'knowledge base'), and how to explain it to the people, without appearing too smart or too dumb while raising $50k+... so,
therefor I opened the funding request to the Mondriaanstichting with this quote by Terry Winograd (from Understanding Computers and Cognition)
- When we talk of a human 'expert' we connote someone whose depth of understanding serves not only to solve specific well-formulated problems, but also to put them into a larger context. We distinguish between experts and 'idiot savants'. Calling a program an 'expert' is misleading in exactly the same way as calling it 'intelligent' or saying it 'understands'. The misinterpretation may be useful for those who are trying to get research funding or sell such programs, but it can lead to inappropriate expectations by those who attempt to use them.
I'm betting (too lightly?) on the commission's sense of humor... The rest of the request though is very straight and inspired. We just have to get this project, if only to finally apply some computational intelligence to the arts, as a compensation for all the 'bachelor' (remember Duchamp, remember Harald Szeeman's wonderful show..., remember machine age?) deliriums that haunt the present look and feel of 'new media'... Bachelor machines made way for bachelor systems.
Hammered down a formulation for the subsidy request that the Vormgevingsinstituut needs for the Play discussion area interface and programming. It went smoothly. I realized this is probably what I'm pretty good at: the translation of concepts from one sphere of influence into the other. Tomorrow I'll have to see whether it works for media-GN too.
Paul shows an interesting list on today's Alamut ('a small list that I drew up yesterday while thinking about the law in respect to the individual and to society--and every conceivable legal situation that could arise between the two.'):
MY HOUSE ------------------ MY RULES
The question remains: who honestly wants to live by someone elses rulesunless your lover's?
MY HOUSE ------ SOMEONE ELSE'S RULES
NOT MY HOUSE -------------- MY RULES
NOT MY HOUSE -- SOMEONE ELSE'S RULES
Strange day: here this morning, gone this afternoon. I did some of this and some of that. Some administration (finally I have some money in the bank againnow don't spread the word...), some work on the ST(*)boretum brochure, some on the media-GN proposal (I made great notes on the train yesterday, now how to cross from the dream to the deed?), some shopping and correspondence. Some 'after dark' sleep.
People hate you when you remind them that the days will be shortening from today. But then I promise to remind them December 21. For such a long and shiny day I had a dark mood.
Today is reality check 'Jan van Eyck Academy', at 2pm it opens its studios for a week or so to come. I am curious to see fresh director Marianne Brouwer (formerly Kröller Müller) in her new environment. There have been years that I pretty much had a clear picture of what was going on, with Jan van Toorn there I lost track.
On the train I hope to further elaborate on an R&D proposal for media-GN that involves database publishing and 'artificial creativity': the processing and further development of artists' 'half-products' in interaction with the database. Some older ideas I hope will merge in this project: eg. the banking of intellectual property, a shift from selling objects to selling rights to the use (including materialisation) of information, the building of (also collective) estates.
Saturdaynight Fever: 'Orange Crush!' (CNN on the Soccer Worldcup Netherlands-South Korea match, 5-0)
A wonderful thing of the 24/24 economy and global communication is that still on this planet the week-end is the end of the week: even the heaviest traffic slows down on Saturday's threshold. Old habits die hard. You aren't ready for informatic license though, if you bide your time...
ST(*)boretum posters are hung. I rearrange the infotheque. The posters look good and are well received. These large color printing techniques are really advanced. Should make more use of 'm.
As far as markets go today: here's their current future, 'compare 1,000,000 prices on 100,000 products. It's just a start. Total price comparison, instant shipping to all four corners of the globe, global retail competition (with goods that compare)you can have it your way all the way, the Market is the Message. Art Market Eat Dust.
The Syquest EZ135 never reached a decent market penetration in our country. So here I find myself not-so-easy schlepping my drive (and cables, and 220/110 adapter, and US/EU plug) to Lithopartners who will be printing my A0 posters. Then off to the Institute to see how much bounced mail I have from my second serving Doors 5 introductory bulk mail.
The weather is steadily improving with a summer forecast for June 21. Just-in-time weather: following trends.
Attention Banking: markets will (always?, traditionally) settle for 2nd and 3rd best options. Sell-out. There's no market for Perfection, for Perfect Attention. The Bank of Perfect. ('perfect' reminds me James Lee Byars: when I first met him (in 1978?) he showed me his latest work: a 10mm square piece of paper which beared a few lines in (book?)print on the pursuit of perfectif I remember well he told it could only have been printed under perfect temperature and hydrological circumstances, on a Swiss mountain top. To me it was utter exoticism at the time: art truly).
Visited media-GN to discuss the 'Market is the Medium' seminar with Margo and Paul, to brainstorm a project for Doors 5 with students and staff and to speak with students. Return at 10pm. Eat some, then work until 2pm on the posters we are installing in Wageningen next Thursday.
Lundi. But David Garcia introduces me to the phenomenon of the PGO: Post Governmental Organization! Catchy. It is used for influential private organizations that use political strategies to both gain power and overtake responsibilities formerly monopolized by governments. He mentions the Soros Foundation as one example. I remember lucid mr. Scheidt of Sony Europe Environmental Dept. who talked about Sony entering the second hand market, as a new business opportunity, with a profitable environmental agenda. We're talking recasting here. At the same meeting (discussing Factor 4) John Elkington reminded the audience that international corporations would call for government to enforce certain measures that might improve environmental issues, set some rules, when Scheidt replied that corporations often can't afford to wait for govenments to act, especially in corrupt regimes.
Makes me wonder how governments will recast.
At the exhibition of bags designed by HKU students and graduates, that Gilberthe opens in Dordrecht this afternoon, R and r are handed back to us by Kristel, who is one of the participants. The boys are carried in both asleep. Last night they stayed up with the football crowd till 11pm... we'll have to de-program them again. We soon excuse ourselves and drive home in the worst rain. (Dordrecht has some great real estate along the Drecht, we consider a move).
What a relief to be sans kids for 48 hours! I finally drove to Edo Bonsai in Boskoop to marvel at some centuries old trees that are only a few feet high. Prices range from 20-12,000 guilders. I try to find a Ficus (indoor prefs) that is particularly inviting to buy... also I look for a tree born in 1953, my age. I see a 1952 Ulmus that is gorgeous at 2,800. Then the 'embarras du choix' hits me, I look at some Suiseki but drive home with an empty trunk.
The afternoon we drive to Castricum, later IJmuiden where we have dinner at the van Es fish restaurant. To crown this day of leisure I watch most of the Belgium vs. the Netherlands soccer game, that is 'won' by the defensive and treacherous Belgians at 0-0.
Spent the day in Cologne: Hauptbahnhof, Dom, Gonski, Walter König, Gonski, Dom, Hauptbahnhof. On my way up I dropped off Rolf and Roemer with Kristel in Arnhem, where they would stay for two nights! As soon as my international train left Arnhem on the way to Cologne I installed myself in the restaurant wagon, ordered coffee and water and started working on my notes on 'art, attention, interaction', the text that I am preparing for Telepolis/Kunstforum.
Why Cologne after all these years?that's why probably, I hadn't been there for maybe as long as 4-5 years. So I followed a hunch to perform a reality check 'Germany', to balance my information feed, to compensate for the overload of American input. Like the French the Germans indeed maintain a critical discourse vis-a-vis the (new) media, they have a publisher (Bollmann) that gives the world the Vilém Flusser estate (which is a goldmine), and the Flusser 'school' is influential. Then they have Peter Sloterdijk. He has just published a pamphlet entitled 'Der starke Grund zusammen zu sein'. On containment, on nation states, on the economically enhanced panic politics that aim to replace the nation state, by replacing all future options with investment interests: according to Sloterdijk even our desire for offspring is replaced by a desire for a good interest rate for our stock...
So perhaps 'Höhere Wesen befahlen: nach Köln reisen'... Upon leaving the Hbf, trying to hide for a sudden downpour, I run across and into the Dom, which I have never visited. I am in for an inspiring confrontation. As I wrote to Francine the day after,
- Functioning as a monument of art, as a public space that attracts different kinds of more, or less, interested people, young and old, with its enormous size, it is a different public space, hardly a 'church', nor a public square, but a mixture of all. People (still) behave with a kind of respect, quite silent, nevertheless take over the place with their cameras, some do burn candles and pray, some just wander around, others sit down and are silent. The organ was playing in what seemed to be a rehearsel for some kind of concert. There was a murmur of people talking low to each other, guides that explained, all in this strange supernatural acoustic world of the giant cathedral. After having walked around for 10 minutes I sat down for almost an hour and let the spectacle sink in. It gave me a religious mood, in a special way. I have not been brought up religious, I have only a superficial awareness of Catholic rituals. I recognize the smell, the light conditions, the colors, peoples' behaviour, the sounds, and it impressed me deeply. As a different reality. Exactly this new mixture of church and world, of the sacred and the banale, of the respectful and the inquiering, of the everlasting and the temporary is what I realized has a special, haunting meaning. I saw people read and write, myself I spoke into my memorecorder, some kids were taking their pictures in the same shameless but charming and honest way as they do it everywhere, pulling faces, the organ played, and was interupted, sometimes a bell sounded, they were repairing the ceiling high up, which brought the sound of an electric saw or drill: it was the perfect mix.
Gonski is a mega bookstore like the Rotterdam Donner, or a Barnes and Noble if you like. But it is chock-full with German titles... after I had browsed for almost an hour, I went to König, bought Sloterdijk, Flusser and Rötzer, returned to Gonski and added Franck. Then back to the Dom for another half hour, burn a candle for my mother, eat a Krakauer at the Hbf and off to Amsterdam again, in the restaurant wagon over a Pinot Grigio and salad, turkey steak, read, write. Did I have a great day.
Joke dropped by (finally) and cooked dinner from leftovers.
'underhyping the Internet#3'
My dentist built up a tooth that I broke the day before yesterday. He's a very good remedial dentist, an Apple user and an avid photographer. I told him I bought the Mavica for its fab autofocus close-up. He asked me to bring it along the next visit. Since he appeared to have email, when I got home I pushed the camera and the Tizio up my gum and mailed a thank you with a pic of the tooth he fixed attached...
Sent a call for ambition to the ST(*)boretum and the 21C curriculum lists. The (*) lacks post-vernissage pizzazz from the part of all involved, as much as a clear agenda which audiences to address with which issues through which media; the 21Curriculum 'art schools futures' list hasn't come off the ground yet, so needs a clear starting point. I don't want it to be about 'schooling' but about building a curriculum: Kaos Pilotage for the arts.
Sunday. Gilberthe went off to Nijmegen for a sale. I spent the afternoon in the Jellinek pool, for a birthday party of Rolf's old kindergarten friend Bico, who turned 5. Rolf had stayed the night over at their mutual friend Joost (which he hardly ever sees anymore), after having gone there to play yesterday afternoon, when Joost's mother phoned and asked whether Rolf could stay with them. He gets a life of his own. We're happy that he is so easy with other people.
Went to see The Big Lebowski and enjoyed it very much. With my moviegoing frequency I'd love anything that moves on a wide screen, but this is a special story, and some real good acting and jokes. State of the Art Slacking.
Yesterday afternoon I visited The Hague to see the media-GN production for the Groningen Province, performed at the occasion of the Vrede van Munster 1648-1998 celebration. When I entered the Binnenhof I was immediately sorry I did not bring my Mavica... the place had been changed into an open air museum with all the grotesque folklore you can dream of, a true Jeroen Bosch tableau vivant, littered with commercial contemporaries in blue jackets and grey pants, the girls in their très La Haye Chique, having spent too much time under the ultraviolet bronzage... It was the mental institution and the museum set free for mutual entertainment and benefit.
What's On A Man's Map.
best bits from correspondencies, attendencies and collected hard copy
Florian Rötzer 'Digitale Weltentwurfen' [p11]
"Die Gesellschaften schmücken sich noch weiterhin mit Kunst, aber sie bewegt nichts mehr. Ihr Ansehen sinkt nicht nur, weil der Übergang von der Industrie- zur Informationsgesellschaft zu einer Krise des Sozial- und Wohlfahrtsstaates geführt hat, an dessen spärlicher fließendem Tropf auch die Kunst hängt, sondern auch, weil sie keine besondere Sphäre mehr darstellt, wenn die gesellschaftliche Wirklichkeit mehr und mehr auf dem Umgang mit Information, also auch auf deren Gestalltung basiert, was man bislang als Ästhetisierung beschrieben hat."
Peter Sloterdijk 'Der starke Grund zusammen zu sein' [p41-42]
"Die Nation ist ein hysterisches und panisches Informationssystem, das ständig sich selbst erregen, sich selbst stressieren, ja sogar sich selbst terrorisieren und in Panik versetzen muß, um sich selbst zu beeindrucken und um sich, als in sich selber schwingende Stress-Gemeinschaft, davon zu überzeugen, daß es sie wirklich gibt. Ist ein solches nationales Informationssystem erst einmal hinreichend ausgebautkönnen die Mehrheiten erst lesen, schreiben und sich selbst irritieren, so ist die Nation imstande, sich von Tag zu Tag als selbstnötigende Einheit sinnlich konkret und doch auch gespenstisch abstrakt zu erleben und sich immer von neuem davon überzeugen, daß sie einen hinreichend starken Grund für ihre Existenz und ihre Koherenz besitzt. Halten wir fest: Moderne Nationen sind Erregungs-Gemeinschaften, die sich durch telekommunikativ, zuerst mehr schriftlich, dann mehr audiovisuell erzeugten Synchron-Stress in form halten. Mit Hilfe synchronisierender Hysterien und homogenisierender Paniken Versetzen sie sich selbst fortwährend in jene Mindestspannung, die nötig ist, um das erneute Aufklaffen der Frage, ob die Revolution hier beendet sei oder eine Fortsetzung verlange, zu verhindern oder zu vertagen."
'Die Revolution der Bilder; der Flusser-Reader'
"Noch Heine meinte, daß es [Köln] sich mit seinem heiligen Dome im heiligen Strome spiegelte, wir hingegen müssen versuchen, es sich im Relationsfeld spiegeln zu lassen. Was als erstes auffällt, sind die Verkaufsauslagen, worin Masken zur Identifikation angeboten werden. Man identifiziert sich mit und als Kleid, als ein Paar Schuhe, als Kochtopf. Man ist, was immer man ist, erst wenn man beginnt, in diesem Kochtopf zu tanzen. Solche Verkaufsanlagen sind, was das ganze Köln ausmacht. Überall werden solche Masken angeboten. Man tanzt in der Maske eines Fernsehbildes (identifiziert sich damit und darin), in der Maske eines Parteimittglieds, eine akademischen Titels, einer Familienbeziehung, einer Kunstrichtung, einer philosophischen Ansicht. Köln erweist sich als Wellental im zwischenmenschlichen Relationsfeld, worin diese Beziehungen in Masken eingesammelt werden, um die darin angelegten Möglichkeiten zu aktualisieren. Die Bewohner Kölns sind dicht gestreute Punktschwärme, die unter kölnischen Masken tanzen. Die kölnischen Häuser, Plätze, und der Dom sind als Oberflächenphenomene, als geronnene, 'materialisierte' Masken zu sehen, als eine Art von archäologischem Küchenabfall."
Georg Franck 'Ökonomie der Aufmerksamkeit'
"Die wichtigste Produktionsmittel der Wissenschaft sind vorproduziertes Wissen und lebendige Aufmerksamkeit. Da vorproduziertes Wissen wiederum aus vorproduziertem Wissen und Aufmerksamkeit entstand, ist es letztlich immer Aufmerksamkeit, die Wissen produziert. Die Aufmerksamkeit, die Wissen produziert, ist nun aber nicht begehrt, sondern knapp. Sie wird nicht zwischenmenschlich zugewendet, sondern sachlich verwendet. Sie leistet zunächst einmal Arbeit und geht nur unter bestimmten Umständen in eine form des Einkommens für andere über.
Ganz anders die Aufmerksamkeit, deren Attraktion die Alltagskultur beherscht. Sie ist begehrt als Einkommen. Aber sie ist begehrt nicht, weil man anderer Leute Arbeit damit kaufen könnte, sondern weil sie Zugang zu anderen Erlebnissphären verschafft. Um der Rolle willen, die die eigene Person im anderen Bewußtsein spielt, inszenieren wir die hohe Kultur der Attraktivität."