>This is a multi-part message in MIME format...
> >"THE_WHITE_WEBISTE by ubermorgen"
>>On the Iconoclasm of Modern Art
>>by HANS-ULRICH OBRIST
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> >forwarded by HANS BERNHARD / UBERMORGEN
>Dear Hans + Hans [henry miller whispered: fuck the hanz]
please also address LIZVLX [liz maria haas];
but yes, fuck the HANS reminds me of some tag on a waste basket
in vienna which reads: fuck the system, which is
absolutely a waste of surface and attention, the taggerZ
must be very young and unexperienced. better tag "random system" or
as i usually call LIZVLX;
>M.Bowra typed in his Memoirs [women are at their absolute best when
>reading + `reading` think you not]
i dont know about that, my-beeing-a-woman experience lacks massive
experience. to be
exakt, almost 30 yearz.
>0. humans see subjektive kolors
>He abandoned this idea [men are at their absolute best writing]
that is so LOGIC;
>0. humans see subjektive colors
>He abandoned this idea [men are at their absolute best writing + abandoning]
>0. i'm damned if i know what we see
>... since women are at their absolute best when reading + `reading`
>I puzzle on further ...
>Vision is the dominant human sense [friendly semi.divagation - why
>is the art industry
>populated so with ugly + destitute western + eastern male + female losers]
the wanting-to-be-an-artist and the beeing-an-artist are addresses to the
mind you might not want to carry on further than from 18-20 and again from
30-32 and then from 45-47, and from 70-72. all other times in the human
life should be occupied with strong urges towards "FORSCHUNG" und "NEUGIERDE"
but i dont know, i dont usually go to art events because i dont like
to hang out
with losers and ugly idiots i dont know.. i prefer to hang out with losers and
ugly idiots i know [i.e. my family and my friends].
>Vision as NN + touch is fully duplex - ie. it informs what takes place at our
>v.private boundaries + in the exported world.
i follow NN and the cult around NN for many years. i dont read a lot
[i got a so-
called time-deficency-ABHAENGIGKEIT], more 8h per day tv,
there is much respect for NN. formal respekt for language treatment and human
respect for machine like consistenzi in kommunikation, extreme email http://www.ubermorgen.com/etxtreme/home.html http://www.ubermorgen.com/etxtreme_v1_0/
lovely greetZ from LIZVLX "the number girl" http://www.ubermorgen.com/194/000.html
HANS BERNHARD "the etoy.COWBOY and ubermorgen pop-star"
> >"THE_WHITE_WEBISTE by ubermorgen"
>>On the Iconoclasm of Modern Art
>>by HANS-ULRICH OBRIST
>dze zalt konzentraz!e !n okz!dent xyz = 01 monokrom argumnt ...
!a attachet kesamtgunstwerk beu!z und !to!
>Content-Type: text/plain; name="message-footer.txt"
>Content-Disposition: inline; filename="message-footer.txt"
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>Shake the KKnut: http://anart.no/~syndicate/KKnut
>commercial use of the texts without permission
Section 2:A Master
Section 3:An Apprentice
Section 4:The Workplace
Section 1: Introduction
My argument is that the barrier that once stood between fine art
conceptual thought and design conceptual thinking is being broken
down as a result of globalisation.
"The main historical thrust of neoliberal economic globalisation is
to bring about a situation in which private capital and 'the market'
alone determine the restructuring of economic, political and cultural
life, making alternative values or institutions subordinate. Rather
than capital and 'the economy' being embedded in society and
harnessed to serve social ends, 'the economy' becomes the master of
society and of all within it, and society exists to serve the ends of
capital and its need for self-expansion. It is a necessary aspect of
this process that 'politics' itself, and 'democracy' in particular,
should become increasingly formalistic, stripped of substantive
radical, revolutionary, or even reformist content, any of which might
challenge the consolidation of the hegemony of capital over society".
What does this mean? It means instead of society running the economy,
the economy runs society. This affects us in terms of people having
to pay for everything; the doctor, the hospital, etc. The government
no longer pays in other words we become a user pays society. Social
values are not as important as money. This means that money is valued
more than people (Gills 2002).
I intend to study this by comparing the conceptual thoughts and
theories of an internationally recognised fine art master (Joseph
Beuys) with the work of a modern day multimedia designer, artist,
hacker, performer and genius (Hans Bernhard). Joseph Beuys said this
(De Domizio 1997:51):
"Democratic Creativity is increasingly compromised by the progress
made on the part of bureaucracy, coupled with the savage
proliferation of an international mass culture. Political creativity
continues to be reduced to the simple delegation of decisions and
power. The imposition of a cultural and economic dictatorship
throughout the whole world, thanks to the economic trusts, which are
in continuous expansion, leads to loss of articulation, ability to
learn, and verbal expression".
De Domizio (1997:115) believes that Beuys' thought was humanist
thought and that it will continue to grow, because today we have
concentrated too much on science and technology, neglecting true
The Internet has unquestionably been a major catalyst of
globalisation and its wide spread reach to the four corners of
society. Hans Bernhard was asked if the Internet has made the world
a better place? To which he replied:
"No, just a faster and smaller place...[Design Indaba Magazine 2001]"
Section 2: A Master
Joseph Beuys (Fig.1) was born in Krefeld on 12 May 1921 (Stachelhaus
1991:9). He grew up in a strongly catholic petit bourgeois
environment near Kleve - where he spent the first years of his life.
Throughout history, this region has been torn by countless wars, from
Roman times up to the world wars of the twentieth century
(Stachelhaus 1991:9). Numerous historical figures are bound up with
this territory, and some of them cast powerful spells upon Beuys'
imagination. Among them (Stachelhaus 1991:9), Johann Moritz von
Nassau, of the House of Orange in the 17th Century, attempted
building an ideal city of the soul in Kleve. Another was Anacharsis
Cloots, an ardent intellectual and revolutionary guillotined for his
efforts defending the ideas of the French Revolution in Europe. This
region at the time, was predominantly Dutch and Catholic, and placed
little if any importance on borders (De Domizio 1997:17).
According to Heiner Stachelhaus (1991:9), Beuys did not have a close
relationship with his parents and took care of himself from an early
age. Beuys, remembered (De Domizio 1997:18) that for years he acted
the part of a Shepard walking around with a sort of 'Eurasian staff'
and a flock gathered around him exploring everything in the vicinity.
At 17 he set up a well-equipped laboratory at home and engaged in
scientific experiments. Together with his innate talent for natural
sciences, Beuys showed a passion for sculpture (De Domizio 1997:19).
Announcing only a few days before his own death on 23 January 1986,
Beuys honoured and thanked the man he considered his "Master" (De
Domizio 1997:77), the late Wilhelm Lehmbruck, and then told of his
first introduction to Lehmbruck and Lehmbruck's work. Beuys (as
quoted in De Domizio 1997:77) continued that one day by mere chance,
he laid his hands on a publication lying on a table with many others.
Opening it he saw a sculpture by Lehmbruck, and an idea flashed
through his mind, the idea that everything was a sculpture. He saw a
flaming torch and heard a voice telling him to protect it. This
event accompanied him through World War II and eventually spurred him
on to pursue it (De Domizio 1997:77). His favourite topics in
literature were philosophy, enthropology, folklore, Nordic Mythology
(De Domizio 1997:19; Stachelhaus 1991:11-14) and other subjects that
were forbidden by the Nazis.
He remained a detached spectator of the Nazi years, and as a sideline
his love of music took him to cello and piano lessons (Stachelhaus
1991:12). Despite his love of art, he took his diploma and became a
paediatrician in 1940. From there, his strong interest in science
and technology lead him to join the German air force in 1941.
After being shot down, badly wounded five times, and captured once,
he returned to Kleve in 1946. Sitting in a lecture one day he
recognised the limitations of science, and decided to dedicate the
rest of his life to art, leaving his grim experiences of war behind
him (De Domizio 1997:20-22).
At this time Jack Moffit (1997) believes Beuys discovered, explored
and transformed Austrian philosopher Rudolph Steiner's anthroposophy
theory into his own theory of art. Robert Allan (2000:55) defines
Anthroposophy as a system of belief, which holds that there is a
spiritual world that can be perceived by faculties latent in human
beings and that these latent faculties can be developed by systematic
training. According to Alan Bullock & Stephen Trombley (1999:37),
Steiner claimed to derive his teachings "from 'spiritual research'
based on an exact 'scientific' mode of supersensible perception".
Beuys (as quoted in De Domizio 1997:24) reveals later that in 1951,
in a state of depression, he literally began questioning everything
including his own life. Seeking the most profound elements in life,
art and science, he began seeking a completely different theory of
art, science, life, democracy, capital, economics, culture and
freedom. During this time he managed to establish the outlines of a
larger theory of art that involved social structures as a whole, the
revolution and evolution of all human development, and an
anthropological idea of human creativity.
Between 1962 and 1965 (De Domizio 1997:28), Beuys was part of the
Fluxus movement, which based itself on a connection between art and
life and was directed towards a new order of human society. Often
working with the concept of chaos Beuys awoke to the idea that a new
situation could be created from it. Another idea of Beuys' by which
art is available to everyone and useable anywhere and everywhere came
from this period (De Domizio 1997:28), namely vehicle art.
Beuys, according to De Domizio (1997:34) never demanded a specific
knowledge or particular reaction from the public to his work, but
instead seeked out the energy points within the field of human power
and understanding - with the belief that man must complete himself
through his own efforts (De Domizio 1997:81).
In a certain sense, Beuys was an anarchist (Stachelhaus 1991:106).
He had no time for the mind-set of democratic compromise, but was
rather interested in breaking through the limitations that had been
imposed on democracy. Beuys meant very seriously when he said
(Stachelhaus 1991:106) that he had nothing to do with politics but
that he only knew art, this keeping within the principles of his
expanded concept of art, the idea that art is the primary factor
governing our existence and our actions.
In 1964 right-wing students accused Beuys of pursuing revolutionary
goals, while in 1969 a group of left-wing students interrupted an
action of his in Berlin and instead accused him of being a
reactionary (De Domizio 1997:38). But despite these accusations,
Beuys (De Domizio 1997:38) felt that belonging to the left, right or
center no longer meant much because the so-called parliamentarian
democracy was being questioned as a whole. Beuys had defined his
objectives as early as 1967 with the formation of the German Student
Party [DSP] (Stachelhaus 1991:107). The DSP emerged from the great
public debates that Beuys regularly held in his class at the
Dusseldorf Academy. Commenting on the DSP's establishment, according
to Stachelhaus (1991:107), Beuys simply stated: "I want into
To broaden the horizons of the German Student Party, Beuys founded
the 'Organisation for Non-Voters and Free Referendum' in 1970. Beuys
explains (De Domizio 1997:42):
"The educational concept refers to the fact that man is a creative
being. It is important to be aware of this: to create an awareness
of the fact that he is a creative being and a free being and that for
these reasons he must inevitably behave in an anti-authoritarian
fashion. The concept of perception theory confirms that only the
creative man can change history, can use his creativity in a
revolutionary way. To go back to my educational concept, this would
mean the following: Art = creativity = freedom of man [freedom being
one of his main motivations]".
Beuys goes on explaining that a revolution is within ourselves, and
that the only possible revolution lies in our ideas, therefore 'We
are the revolution' and only in our behaviour is there evolution (De
From here on his work revolved around many interesting and different
points of view, with subject titles that were not directly a
reflection of what we see, but asked the question of what there was
to see (De Domizio 1997:43).
According to De Domizio (1997:7) as early as the 70's, Beuys warned -
in "Aufruf zur Alternative" (Appeal for the Alternative) and "Aktion
Dritter Weg - Aufbauninitiative" (Third Way Action - Promotional
Initiative) - that the human race was condemned to sink even deeper
into ecological crisis; to be defencelessly exposed to a wild growing
threat of war: to stand by impotently as the rift between rich and
poor nations continues to grow; to be persistently tormented by
racial hate, religious struggle, and nationalism, by exploitation and
oppression, by humiliation and violence, by the dictates of political
and economic power, and by biological and social manipulation. Beuys
(De Domizio 1997:8) was the artist who, more than any other, wanted
and was capable of going beyond art by directing all his efforts
towards the utopian territories of natural energy and spiritual
communication: reality as a phenomenological specter of human
In 1974 Beuys (De Domizio 1997:49), together with the Nobel Prize
Winner Heinrich Boll, established what could be considered the
artist's most important creation, aimed at a real form of progress
with respect to existing educational institutions: the 'Free
International University', (Luckenbach 1997) which admitted all
students and function outside of the existing academic system. Often
using the blackboard as a demonstrative tool, his actions became
lectures in which he directly addressed his audiences.
Joseph Beuys' two most singular aspects of thought were
reappropriation and free creativity (De Domizio 1997:9), the former
consisting of a rare attitude with regards to reconstruction rather
than conquest, towards discovery rather than invention and
therapeutic improvement as opposed to substitution, in this sense the
need to speak and necessity of communication. The second aspect is
characterised by that famous free human creativity that he preached
and taught. Beuys (De Domizio 1997:67) versed his free creativity
theory in Bolognano 1984:
"...The only thing that each one of us can do is to begin with the
study of his or her own anthropological powers...[for] the
development of human beings on this planet [it] is a question of
freeing ourselves from all dependencies of the past. We now must
face the realization that it is no longer possible simply to follow a
leader [or] a political ideology...and that the time has come for us
to begin to make full use of the most important of all our powers:
the power of creativity (Creativity is a matter of the possibility of
thinking...or thinking power and the level of the creativity of the
feelings)...[and it's] most authentic part...freedom...It is our duty
to show what we have produced with our freedom...[since] Freedom
mostly means the freedom of others. When we know that we are
cooperating together as free individuals, then we are also much
closer to the creation of a real and concrete democracy [as]
democracy structures have to be a result of freethinking and of our
equality as thinking individuals...the basis upon which we can then
establish a constitution".
Another large part of Beuysian thought was the concept of 'Social
Sculpture' (De Domizio 1997:83), whereby art is a daily act, a
broadened and dilated action, not localised, not univocal, not
limited to the relative content of the art object but art as the
creative commitment of living, entirely incarnated in behaviour. A
way of transforming the world into 'Social Sculpture', in which no
man needs to acknowledge himself, but rather is and acts as an
'artist', the demiurge of every moment of his life (De Domizio
Being considered as an avant-garde artist probably meant nothing to
Beuys explains De Domizio (1997:82), though he became a media icon
partly of his own making (Luckenbach 1997). Constantly being
photographed and videotaped, he promoted the ideological causes that
made his art a vehicle to bring about discourse (Luckenbach 1997).
Others called him a charlatan, a diseased preacher, and even a crafty
buffoon, yet some would place Beuys on an artistic altar (De Domizio
1997:81). In truth however, he was a tireless agitator, who provoked
and challenged continuously for what he so strongly believed in,
crossing the traditional frontiers of art to open the doors of the
ghetto in which it had been impounded (De Domizio 1997:82).
Well remembered for a popular image of being the man with 'the felt
hat' he explained its significance(De Domizio 1997:2): "A rabbit
isn't a rabbit without ears...[so] Beuys isn't Beuys without the hat".
Section 3: An Apprentice
Hans Bernhard (Fig.2) was born in New Haven Connecticut in 1973
(Bernhard 2002) and studied Visual Media Art at the University of
Applied Arts in Vienna with a professor Peter Weibel (MFA Degree
1999). He is currently working on his PHD in 'Media Hacking'
Bernhard found himself on the Internet for the very first time in
1993 (Design Indaba Magazine 2001). Sitting in front of three shells
(telnet-sessions) he asked himself where he was, where he was
physically, and where he was mentally? Not knowing if he was on a
server in Tokyo, in Vienna or on a machine in Cape Town, he got
nervous and began to sweat heavily. Sparks were exploding in his
brain and immediately he knew that this was it, that this was his
future now, and that this was the future (Design Indaba Magazine
That same year, funded by Japanese venture capital, in a Swiss
mountain training facility, Bernhard and six other hackers (Fig.3)
distributed across Europe founded the multi award winning and much
talked about "Etoy.com" (Bernhard 2002). Etoy's goals were to smash
the boring style of electronic traffic channels; to stretch reality
by leaving it behind; and to play the game between business, art, and
entertainment, by kidnapping web-crawling humans and injecting a
little uncertainty into life on the web (Etoy 2002). Knowing that
the highlighting of corporate abuse would cause such controversy,
they began the Etoy tanksystem in 1994 with the very symptomatic
slogan: "Etoy: the pop-star is the pilot is the coder is the designer
is the architect is the manager is the system is Etoy (Bernhard
2002). The corporate identity and panic management strategies were
central to their high-pressure explorations. They used the web as a
stage to disrupt the data flow, abuse technology, and promote
pop-music (Bernhard 2002). It ran from 1993 to 1996, a time when the
world-wide-web was unknown to the general public (Bernhard 2002), yet
Etoy was awarded the Golden Nica first prize of the ARS Electronica
festival for new media in 1996 (Bernhard 2002). In 1996, pop star
singer Bjork from Iceland said the following (Bernhard 2002): "...and
all our children will be playing in the garden of joy surrounded by
glamour and perverted disco tunes...etoy, immature digital priests
from another world". Etoy operated until 1999, when due to personal
conflicts, the board split into two parts (Design Indaba Magazine
Today Bernhard and three other founding members are running the
Etoy-holdings company which holds major and minor stakes in all other
Etoy companies (Bernhard 2002). Bernhard's involvement is purely
profit orientated since Etoy-holdings deals with financial, legal,
trademark, buying and strategic planning (Bernhard 2002).
In 1999, together with his partner Maria Haas, he founded a network
holding of companies in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and Bulgaria
called Ubermorgen (Bernhard 2002). These are heavily involved in
software development, licensing deals, fine art, applied design and
even high-end consulting services for global multinationals such as
the Allianz Insurance Corporation. Bernhard's intentions at the time
were to research and investigate global corporations ["...monsters of
the universe..."] just like it (Bernhard 2002). Hosting their server
farm from their bedroom, Ubermogen has completed an amazing amount of
legal articles, projects, lawsuits, and publications using global
mass media as an art form, as a fine art, and as a business strategy
Hans Bernhard has often been called subversive because of the things
that he says he likes doing and the way that he goes about doing them
(Design Indaba Magazine 2001). Bernhard explains (Design Indaba
Magazine 2001) that he loves the thrill, the style, and the
aesthetics of action. Going directly to prison or being immediately
killed are the dangers associated with the supposedly illegal
measures that he takes. But it is this reality (Design Indaba
Magazine 2001) that he feeds off of and craves - not the threat of
dying or a prison sentence - but that he can show people that certain
things [like attacking corporations and governments] thought illegal,
can actually be done or opposed legally, and most of all, extremely
effectively. This draws relevance from Joseph Beuys' theory of free
creativity, how freedoms should be shared and displayed as a duty to
mankind, as freedom more often than not means the freedom of others
and not just the individual (Section 2 page 5). Yet Bernhard claims
only to be as anti-establishment as anybody else is (Design Indaba
Magazine 2001). He does not regard his 'anti-motives' as a result of
his work, but merely as a natural motivation for an individual
surviving (Design Indaba Magazine 2001).
Money, as much as it might appear at first glance, is not Bernhard's
real motivation (Bernhard 2002). He needs it to live and finance his
research and art ventures but otherwise sees it as a distraction
(Bernhard 2002). Bernhard explains (Bernhard 2002):
"My true motivations are freedom. [T]he freedom to research what and
how and when and where I want. [T]o publish where and what I want,
to say what I want, where and how I want it. [T]hat is my pure and
Beuys shared a similar thought to creative freedom (Section 2 Page 5).
What Bernhard believes drives him into the right topics, pictures,
words and content is his honesty with himself in constantly thinking
about getting more money and fame (Design Indaba Magazine 2001).
Bernhard intentionally does not only focus on visual aspects, but on
what he calls gesamtkunstwerk, which means the overall art concept
(Design Indaba Magazine 2001). This acts as a meta-level (similar
anthroposophy theory of Beuys) that brings all his legal, corporate,
and aesthetic art forms and activities together (Design Indaba
Magazine 2001). In general his core focus is on global structures
but also on the production and maintenance of them. Firstly looked
at from a business, financial and profit driven angle and secondly
from a purely artistic one (Bernhard 2002).
Bernhard has been called a maverick businessman, the Etoy promotions
hammer and even the "nasty shock marketing maniac" by media platforms
such as Wired magazine, the Washington Post, underground Italian
magazines and German theoretical publications (Ubermorgen 2002).
Old-school corporations willing to pay their excessive fees have
gotten some of Ubermorgens communications strategies better known as
a character marketing, drama marketing and most effective - shock
marketing - by which you shock the user, and due to this shock the
users channels are wide open so any information can be fed into the
users brain (Design Indaba Magazine 2001). The Internet today is
structured in such a way, that shock marketing can be used by
artists; activists; terrorists; and by any of the other millions of
naive users that surf it each day (Design Indaba Magazine 2001).
Ubermorgens approach and projects are so dangerous and radical that
possible areas of attack by enemy companies or governments need to be
distributed for liability reasons, so a series of Ubermorgen holding
companies were established in Vienna, Austria; and in Sofia, Bulgaria
French philosopher Jean Buadrillad said in Cannes 2000 that (Bernhard 2002):
"Ubermorgen means the day after tomorrow, a slight tip towards their
aesthetic and activist vision and prejudice, they are hardcore and
radical in their actions and they are extremely strange and highly
Bernhard however prefers the term uniqueness, unique not because of
what Ubermorgen does but because how, when and where they do it
Ubermorgen's uber-slogan originates from a CNN interview questioning
the Vote Auction simulations that Bernhard pursued: "its different
because its fundamentally different" (Design Indaba Magazine 2001).
Section 4: The Workplace
The author of this essay believes that these two individuals can only
be likened and compared in context. The state of the world and its
politics; the degree of globalisation development; and the combined
cost of the above to humanity and human relationships at the same
time, are the three most pivotal factors that need understanding.
Beuys' vision of the future from back in the 70's (Section 2 page 4)
can still be seen as impressively intuitive, but Bernhard's is far
more accurate and/or up to date. Bernhard believes that mankind is
looking at and living in a highly political decade (Bernhard 2002)
where global wars will only get worse. Military conflicts between
the police [USA] and resisting forces [nations, institutions,
networks] will heat up, while conflicts between Europe and the US
will arise (Bernhard 2002).
Beuys was an artist who displayed, performed, and exhibited his works
and beliefs in galleries and institutions, to groups who still relied
on the spoken word of mouth and the live real-time experience.
Others interested would visit his exhibitions to interact and
experience his work for themselves. However as time has unfolded,
the growth of globalisation and its trends have decreased personal
interaction with human beings and real live experiences drastically -
to the point where greeting grocery store staff is unnecessary thanks
to shopping online, and the adventure of experiencing overseas or the
outdoors is lost by downloads available on screen at home for nothing
more than the price of a phone call.
Beuys elucidated the passage (of his work) from a personal experience
to a more fundamental and universal human experience that is
paradigmatic of his work on the whole (Luckenbach 1997). The author
of this essay believes that a similar description could be given to
that of Bernhard's work across world media.
Today, Bernhard, through media hacking likes causing chaos by
misusing the "pseudo" freedom of the net (Design Indaba Magazine
2001). Media hackers exploit weak spots within social, commercial,
political and technical networks implementing disinformation via
these subverted interfaces. Completely different to Beuys, media
hackers, like Bernhard, have dealt with the effects of globalisation
on human communications by forcing their work and beliefs on people
via the systems (world wide web and media) that they depend on most
(Design Indaba Magazine 2001).
In Joseph Beuys' discovery of performance art, he combined the
theatrical elements of time and space with props and a directional
score (Luckenbach 1997). His own function as the artist shifts into
a new dimension as a 'performer-shaman'. Layering and manipulating
"fragments", he acted out a ritual, which simultaneously is the
creation of a new work of art (Luckenbach 1997). Beuys' goal was to
erase the line separating art and life in the tradition of the
radical modernists Marcel Duchamp and Bertold Brecht, whose
evolutionary steps led to the erasure of this line. But Beuys'
"gesamtkunstwerk" (total art work) was the creation of a symbiotic
whole - art as a model for life (Luckenbach 1997).
For a period of four months in 1996, the Etoy gang legally hacked
into five major search engines devising a trap for net travellers and
technology tourists of the time (Bernhard 2002). With the twilight
zone of the medium forming the place of action, search engines were
transformed into a stage, designed as a merger between a Hollywood
action movie script and a real life airplane hijacking (Bernhard
2002). This was a shocking experience and a violent attack on the
innocent Internet user of the time. It became known as the digital
hijack (Fig.4) - and the members of Etoy as the first street gang on
the information super highway (Fig.5) (Etoy 2001). The role of a
'performance' remains very similar as it occurs here through time and
space on the internet, only the stage has evolved and changed as a
result of technology, into a stage on screen. Where Beuys used art
to create a model for life, Bernhard and other Etoy operators used
art (design and hacking) to insert some humane uncertainty of life
back into the inhuman, super reliable, information super highway
Bernhard illustrated the 'performer-shaman' understanding of Beuys'
in another work of his. During a presentation, at the Design Indaba
2002 in Cape Town, of a CNN exclusive video interview with Hans
Bernhard on his Vote Auction project, Bernhard had arranged for two
designers from very different institutions, namely Joshua Davies from
Praystation and Tom Roope of Tomato, to assist him in shaving his
head clean on stage in front of the audience (Bernhard 2002). The
Ubermorgen group then approached the Museum of Modern Art with the
shaved hair of Bernhards as a first ever collaboration artwork
between Praystation and Tomato (Bernhard 2002).
In language, semantics are the vehicle by which sounds are given form
and thoughts are given meaning, allowing communication to take place
(Luckenbach 1997). Beuys equated the phenomenon of language with
evolution, as a catalyst that moulds and propels human society
(Luckenbach 1997). Believing that the concept of people is
elementally coupled with its language, the looming horrors of World
War II aided Beuys' choice of sculpture (as it starts with speaking
and thinking), to provide for ideas to take shape through the forward
looking images that present themselves through it as a result
Bernhard again has a likeness to this line of thinking only his work
has an extremely controversial (unpopular reaction) and deliberate
motive behind it. However he develops it further, instead of just
providing a vehicle for his ideas to generate on or take shape
through, he set up a simulation of his work and let its trial in
reality prove his controversial message correct. In spring 2000, an
American art student invented a platform for American citizens to
offer and sell their individual votes during the US presidential
election that same year (Bernhard 2002). On November 7th companies,
political parties, and individuals could then auction off these votes
via the Vote-Auction website and buy whole states. But due to heavy
government official pressure, James Baumgartner (the inventor)
offered the then very small venture to the Ubermorgen group (Bernhard
2002). Ubermorgen, at the time, had no idea that this was the pay
dirt that they had been looking for.
Ubermorgen then took control over Vote-Auction (Fig.6) and pushed the
limits, in terms of shock marketing and public relations to a global
mass media level never seen before - with the core message "bringing
capitalism and democracy closer together!" (Bernhard 2002) American
principles of capitalism and democracy were already tightly
intertwined, like most democratic countries corruption of the
election process was legal for large corporations but illegal for
individuals (Bernhard 2002). 'Vote-Auction just wanted a perfect
market for votes, it would never be political, just purely business,
art and market orientated, with no underlying ideology, just a strong
belief in declaration' (Fig.7) (Design Indaba Magazine 2001). For
liability reasons Ubermorgen immediately set up Vote-Auction LTD in
Bulgaria even though most lawsuits were on Bernhard and Baumgartner
alone (Bernhard 2002). During those four months temporary
injunctions, court complaints and many other legal threats were
received from thirteen state attorneys. Federal attorney Janet Reno,
along with the Central Intelligence Agency, the Federal Bureau of
Investigation, and the National Security Agency investigated the
case. Ubermorgen suspected a break and entry into their own servers
and questioned why two domains were illegally shutdown by United
States authorities (Bernhard 2002). The term Media hacking came
about while Ubermorgen were developing the story in real-time and
watching it later or the next morning on CNN world report (Bernhard
2002). During those four months an expected 500 million people were
reached with the Vote-Auction brand and pervert commercial message
(Design Indaba Magazine2001). All that amassed was an endless story
without any proof of illegal activites, all Vote-Auction
representatives were only named plaintiffs (Bernhard 2002). E-mails
from veterans of World War II read about the aesthetics of the war
for democracy and how Vote-Auction was destroying it. Amongst these
came the occasional death threat, mainly because of the very painful
visuals inserted by Ubermorgen into the initial website design which
was not manipulated much in order to keep it authentic (Bernhard
2002). 'The global media, played the ultimate pop soundtrack to this
techno-political-action-thriller (Bernhard 2002). Beuysian thought
on Social Sculpture (Section 2 Page 5) seems far from a reality after
an experiment like this proves itself successful. Vote-Auction
becomes a digital sculptural vehicle upon which ideas can formulate
for an answer to a polluted society.
After a project like this Bernhards view on corporate censorship
remains senseless, saying that sometimes it makes no sense to talk
about the ethical values of a semi-technical action as censorship, as
the technical aspect overrules the ethical one - what he prefers, is
the practical (or pragmatic) approach (Design Indaba Magazine 2001).
However, within Beuys' work, language and communication were often
entirely discrete entities (Luckenbach 1997). Language was one
possible vehicle for communication; it functioned as a catalyst,
whereas communication was more profound, elemental, and universal -
fundamentally biological (Luckenbach 1997).
Beuys' Multiples were devices of communication, vehicles for the
distribution of ideas that could reach an even wider group of people
than could a single work of art (Luckenbach 1997). Yet all of Beuys'
objects had meaning only in relation to his ideas; the objects,
however widely distributed, always return to the maker. This created
a circular motion consisting of Beuys' art, his persona, and the
metaphors that weave in and out of his work (Luckenbach 1997).
One vehicle for the distribution of ideas that supersedes all others
is that of the Internet. Hans Bernhard continuously hijacks this
vehicle for the very reason that it allows him to express himself,
through his projects, and the concepts behind them.
Characteristically of Bernhard, his use of a 'Beuys like multiples'
approach also had a subversive tilt. Running as an experiment on the
rate of viral distribution on the net, a staged conspiracy on the
biggest PC software manufacturer was used to attract attention to a
website and project of the Ubermorgen group. Bernhard explains
(Design Indaba Magazine 2001): Media hackers cannot be afraid of
playing with information and information distribution, but rather
have to be able to witfully play with these mechanisms.
In 1999 a press release was issued in the name of the jury of the ARS
Electronica in Linz. Being the most important new media art festival
and new media art award, Ubermorgen's initial press release was
headlined "Linux wins pris ars electronica due to Microsoft
intervention". Sent out in the name of the head of the Jury to
journalists, media and cultural people in the global tech-community,
the e-mail was very detailed and in-depth and described the potential
bribery of the net capital jury. Six hours after the release the
first stories claiming this e-mail to be a fake appeared in
international media-art and technology publications, but this was
even to late, the virus had been spread. On the opening Monday
morning of the festival over 250 journalists requested information
concerning this press release. Multiplication of the e-mail had gone
into the two digit million figure by viral distribution. Not even
the obvious fake character of this message could stop hundreds of
articles being published about it worldwide. Representatives of the
Etoy-corporation were questioned aggressively of any responsibility
for this act. This was just a teaser action to show off Ubermorgens
capabilities in terms of communications and perversion. In fact, the
use of these guerrilla marketing tactics was merely just to soft
launch the brand Etxtreme.ru and co-brand it with Linux. Etxtreme
(Fig.8) was one of the early content creations of the Ubermorgen
Section 5: Conclusion
Time seems to be all that stands between these two individuals,
however, what has happened and changed in the world during that time
seems to make the short distance between them seem a little further
than it really is. Beuys came across to the world with greater ease
and less tension, never 'attacking' anyone and therefore was always
seen as a fairly passive artist with potentially revolutionary
beliefs - but never as a serious threat to any governments or
institutions. Where presently, Bernhard is seen entirely as a threat
as he lashes out and attacks those government institutions with his
potentially revolutionary actions. Beuys and Bernhard have very
similar long-term goals and motivations but their places in
time/history don't allow for that likeness to be seen easily.
Realistically designers are fundamentally different to artists in
some ways, for example: designers and architects are normally more
constructive and/or goal orientated with what they do, often
demanding or needing feedback and some response to work that they
have completed, as they do have responsibilities as designers to sell
or make immediate contact/impact. Whereas an artist, is more
concerned with the message that they leave from themselves within
their artwork, and not necessarily with what they get out of it.
Beuys' dream of a singular social structure has arrived, only at a
very heavy price. People in general have lost their individuality
and freedoms - as political and capitalist ventures control and
regulate almost everything. Though those individuals that have not
lost their will to embrace those freedoms (Bernhard) are seen as
going against the grain, in effect being labelled troublemakers.
Bernhard ideally, if not intentionally through his work, is only
searching for the freedom that Beuys once had dressed as a Shepard
boy in his youth wandering the hillsides. Old popularity of gallery
exhibitions moved online into the world-wide-web as mankind continues
to surround and engross him self with such technologies. This can
explain why Bernhard continuously looks for the loopholes within the
globalisation-trend-bubble and then exploits them. Though
globalisation has not only made the current world smaller and faster
but it has also blurred the distance between the past and present.
Beuys placed so much importance on language and communication that it
could be understood as a growing interest in the history of graphic
design (these two being the main aspects of graphic design history).
Globalisation might not have been as active as it is today but this
interest of Beuys' suggests that the conceptual barrier between art
and design was being broken down even then.
In a world where physically coming closer together is actually
driving us personally further apart, communication of any sort
becomes increasingly important - whether you are a designer, artist
or just someone asking for directions on a street corner.
Ultimately, the quest for communicating effectively with ourselves,
and the world around us might be the cataclysmic goal that designers
and artists must reach together, in order for any such barriers
between art and design to ever be cleared for good.
Allen, R. 2000. The New Penguin English Dictionary. Finland: WS Bookwell.
Bullock, A, Trombley, S. 1988. The New Fontana Dictionary of Modern
Thought. Glasgow: Omnia Books Limited.
Bernhard, H. 2002a. Personal E-mail conversation with author on Oct 15. 12:14pm
Bernhard, H. 2002.http://digitalhijack.org/dh2/www2/index.html
[O] Accessed 27 October 2002
Bernhard, H. 2002.http://www.ubermorgen.com/uberINTERVIEW1101varengl.txt
[O] Accessed 27 October 2002
Bernhard, H. 2002b. Personal E-mail conversation with author on Oct 28. 03:20pm
Bernhard, H. 2002.http://www.ubermorgen.com/uberINTERVIEWrsaindeba1101.txt
[O] Accessed 28 October 2002
Bernhard, H. 2002.http://www.ubermorgen.com/uberINTERVIEWRSADPLANET.txt
[O] Accessed 28 October 2002
Bernhard, H. 2002c. Personal E-mail conversation with author on Oct 30. 06:11pm
Bernhard, H. 2002d. Personal E-mail conversation with author on Oct 31. 05:22pm
Bernhard, H. 2002e. Personal E-mail conversation with author on Oct 28. 05:30pm
De Domizio Durini, L. 1997. The Felt Hat Joseph Beuys A Life Told.
Milano: Silvia Palombi Arte and Mostre
[O] Accessed 27 October 2002
[O] Accessed 25 October 2002
Gills, B. 2002
Globalisation and the Politics of Resistancehttp://projects.cce.ac.nz/primary/ict/allan-lilburnk/How%20does%20this%20affect%me%
[O] Accessed 1 November 2002
Luckenbach, J. 1997.http://www.walkerart.org/beuys/hyper/index.html
[O] Accessed 28 October 2002
Moffit, J. 1997http://athena.formstreng.net/ep/ep991.html#HEAD2
[O] Accessed 28 October 2002
Stachelhaus, H. 1987. Joseph Beuys. London: Abbeville Press Publishers
THE_WHITE_WEBISTE by ubermorgen
On the Iconoclasm of Modern Art
by HANS-ULRICH OBRIST
The crisis of representation began at the historical moment when
painting lost-under the pressure of photography and the praise of its
unprecedented, truthful representation-its interest in presenting
reality and took instead-from paint to brush, from canvas to
frame-the means of expressing representation as the subject of
representation. With Van Gogh the color began no longer to be bound
to the object. With his pure, absolute suprematist color painting,
Malevich banished the object from the picture. At the same time the
represented object vanished by being replaced through a real object:
the ready-made of Marcel Duchamp. In 1921 Rodchenko painted three
monochromes as the "last paintings" and in 2003 ubermorgen "painted"
[coded] 2 monochromes online.
The self-dissolution of painting or any visual surface can be
explained in three steps: first, by a shift of accent the color is
analyzed as the medium of painting and becomes the main element,
above form, i.e. in Impressionism and Expressionism. Second, color
becomes independent, leaves behind the laws of local colors and
receives its own absolute status, see, for example, Suprematism and
monochromes. Third, paint is replaced by other materials, such as
white by aluminum. Surface design without painted color allowed for
the making of "unpainted" paintings, allowed mere surfaces of wood,
metal, marble, or cardboard to hang or lean on the wall as paintings.
In this dialectics of liberation, which consists of declaring
progressively historical elements of easel painting independent (from
color and canvas up to the frame) and making them absolute, not only
were objects repressed from the abstract image but finally the
picture itself became repressed and destroyed (empty canvases, empty
frames), in the end leading to the departure from the picture.
The paint-less or monochrome easel painting could be-as was shown by
artists from Lucio Fontana to Yves Klein-cut or drilled or torn,
attacked by fire or acid. Finally only the empty frames of paintings
or just the backs of paintings, were shown. Even the surface of the
canvas could be replaced by the surface of the skin. Naked bodies
covered with paint became the instruments for color application or
became the canvas itself. Painting as the arena of action (Action
Painting) became a bodily action on the canvas and finally a painting
on the body, an action without canvas. Centered on the artist's body,
even the products of this body [like feces] could find the social
consensus to be accepted as an artwork.
From the empty image to the empty gallery, from the white painting to