monochrom: Context Hacking / Essay.

Our essay is finally online:



Since the advent of modernism, artists have repeatedly attempted to counteract the conflation of work and subject, because they have seen themselves forced into an undesired role: that of a freedom and independence whose flip side is isolation and powerlessness. While the workers of the Fordist factory developed forms of collective struggle, the particular form of artists’ existence – productive eccentricity and manic-depressive individualism – hindered any attempt to organize and push through demands that would improve the precarious conditions of their life and work. As individuals who had been condemned to autonomy, they faced great difficulties in escaping from the prison of their freedom.


Context hacking transfers the hackers’ objectives and methods to the network of social relationships in which artistic production occurs, and upon which it is dependent. In a metaphoric sense, these relationships also have a source code. Programs run in them, and our interaction with them is structured by a user interface. When we know how a space, a niche, a scene, a subculture or a media or political practice functions, we can change it and »recode« it, deconstructing its power relationships and emancipating ourselves from its compulsions and packaging guidelines.