US Department of Art & Technology on Wed, 13 Feb 2002 19:22:01 +0100 (CET)
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[Nettime-bold] Secretary Packer Opens Transmediale
Title: Secretary Packer Opens
US Department of Art & Technology
32265 Washington, DC
Immediate Release: February 13, 2002
Secretary Packer Opens
Global Virtualization Council Ratifies
WASHINGTON, DC - On February 5, 8:00
PM (GMT+0100) the newly sworn-in Secretary of the US Department of Art
& Technology, Randall M. Packer, delivered an address at the
opening of the Transmediale 02 International Festival of Media in
Berlin, minutes before the ratification of the Berlin Virtualization
Charter by Artist-Ambassadors of the Global Virtualization
The following is the
Speech by Randall M.
Department of Art & Technology
To the Opening of
Transmediale 02 International Festival of Media
And to the Delegates
to the Global Virtualization Council,
Upon Signing the
Berlin Virtualization Charter
Congress Hall of the
House of World Cultures
The world has experienced a revival
of an old faith in the everlasting virtualizing force of the
suspension of disbelief. At no time in history has there been a more
important festival, or a more necessary gathering, than this one in
Berlin, which you are opening tonight.
On behalf of the US Department of
Art & Technology, I extend to you a most hearty
We have invited an able delegation
of Artist-Ambassadors to represent their nations to the newly formed
Global Virtualization Council. I am grateful for the participation of
its Secretary-General, Luc Courschesne, and his distinguished
colleagues, Petra Vargova of the Czech Republic, Mari Laanmets of
Estonia, Laurent Vicente of France, Philip Ryder of Great Britain,
Péter Frucht of Germany, Masaki Fujihata of Japan, Chris Bowman of
Scotland, and Jonah Brucker-Cohen of the United States.
Thank you for your confidence. Thank
you for your support. Thank you for your indulgence!
In the name of the great media
visionary - one who surely is with us tonight in spirit - I earnestly
appeal to each and every one of you to rise above personal interests,
and adhere to this call-to-action, which catalyzes all
Marshall McLuhan spent his life
trying to perpetuate these high ideals. This Festival owes its
existence, in large part, to the vision and foresight and
determination of McLuhan when he proclaimed, "To prevent undue
wreckage in society, the artist tends now to move from the ivory to
the control tower of society."
The artists of this Festival are to
be the architects of a better world. In your hands rests our future.
By your labors at this Festival, we shall know if media artists are to
achieve a new global info-sphere that enables us to experience the
complexity of the vast interconnectedness of space and
Let us labor to achieve a
co-existence of satellite, Internet and terrestrial broadcasting
channels, which is really worthy of your great effort. We must make
certain, by your work here, that the "empty babble of the net
dialogues," will not suffocate our every effort to dedicate
ourselves to this cause in an increasingly immaterialized
We, who have lived through the
corporatization of mass media, the homogenization of its contents, and
the tragedy of September 11th, must realize the magnitude of the
problem before us. We do not need far-sighted vision to understand the
trend in recent history. Its significance is all too
With ever-increasing brutality and
destruction, the media giants, if unchecked, would ultimately drive
your field of perception into the information "superhypeway."
We still have a choice between the alternatives: the continuation of
unbridled corporate greed - or, the establishment of an international
movement of media artists bent on mobilizing and coordinating the
powerful forces of virtualization to resurrect the utopian and
visionary aspirations of the avant-garde.
It is not the purpose of this
Council to draft a Charter in the old sense of that term. It is not
our assignment to settle specific questions of ideology, boundaries,
or national polemics.
This Council will devote its
energies and its labors exclusively to the single problem of
reaffirming our faith in the suspension of disbelief, in the process
of virtualization, in the intent of all artists, men and women, from
all nations large and small. Our Artist-Ambassadors will sign and
ratify this fundamental Charter - to be referred to as the Berlin
Virtualization Charter. Our sole objective, at this decisive
gathering, is to save succeeding generations of artists from the
scourge of anachronistic tendencies, which many times in our recent
past has brought untold sorrow to the avant-garde. We must provide the
machinery that will facilitate the artist's need to extend aesthetic
inquiry into the outer world where ideas become real action. To make
this not only possible, but certain.
The construction of this delicate
machine is far more complicated than drawing boundary lines on a map
or placing reasonable limits upon the practice of appropriation. Your
task must be to establish conditions under which this Charter ignites
the most far-flung aspirations of humankind.
I say, virtualization remains the
greatest power on earth!
To that tremendous power alone; we
Nine days ago, I told the Congress
of the United States, and I now repeat it to you:
"Let's break out of this
horrible shell of reality and throw ourselves like pride-ripened fruit
into the wide, contorted mouth of the wind! Let's give ourselves
utterly to the Unknown, not in desperation but only to replenish the
deep wells of the Absurd!"
"None of us doubt that with
visionary guidance, Collective Agency, and hard work, we shall bring
about the rebirth of society through the union of all artistic media
and its potentialities."
"Realizing the scope of our
task and the imperative need for success, we intend to exalt
aggressive action, a feverish insomnia, the racer's stride, the mortal
leap, the punch and the slap."
And now tonight I say to you: by
harmonious cooperation, the Global Virtualization Council has rejected
the notion of the sole possibility of the things that "are,"
replacing them with what "can be." Every nation now signing
the Berlin Virtualization Charter is fighting for beauty that exists
in that which is not real, so that the work of art might enter into a
new relationship to reality. Not only does reality in its concrete
variety penetrate the work of art, but the work no longer seals itself
off from it.
We fully realize today that victory
requires Collective Agency as the only possible basis for the full
development of our creative life. Certainly, victory is no longer the
prophetic vision of a single man or woman who carries art forward; now
it is the gigantic choice of the triumphant imagination of every
artist embracing the fecund wheel of the world circus. Man has learned
long ago, that it is impossible to live unto himself. This same basic
principle applies today to the artist. We are not isolated; it is
absolutely essential for us to act as though we really are "part
of the world!" We dare not become isolated.
All will concede we stand on the
first promontory of the new centuries. Why should we look back, when
what we want is to break down the mysterious doors of the
I say, erect on the summit of the
world, as we once again hurl defiance to the stars!
Moreover, if our radical policies
should ever be considered by belligerent leaders as mere evidence of
madness, the organization we establish must be adequately prepared to
do everything that remains to be done, every means worth trying, to
participate in deliberate acts of inducing extreme states of
subjective experience on any matter of any particular
The essence of our problem is that
skepticism sometimes blinds us to being able to see beyond the past.
Screens are contact lenses that bring to focus a broad if virtual
resonance. Without this, the grand annihilation of time and place,
which we are all striving for, cannot take place. We can no longer
permit any nation, or group of nations, to deny that architectonic
views be replaced by the infomatic, that the Internet has redefined
the notion of 'public!' If we continue to abide by such cynicism, we
will be forced to accept the fundamental philosophy of our enemies,
namely, "let the public go!" To deny this dismissal, which
we must certainly do, we are obliged to provide the necessary means to
Words are not enough.
We must, once and for all, reverse
the order, and prove by our acts conclusively, "let's go public!"
If we do not want invisibility, exclusion and regionalism, we must
learn that the post-modernist existential concept of the logocentric
individual has been supplanted by the tabulated electronically
With firm faith in our hearts, to
sustain us along the hard road to victory, we will find a new society,
propelled by a new century, and the potential of a new politic, what
we think and write fondly of now as a true "avant-savant-garde,"
our way to a computer-mediated consciousnesses for the ultimate
embrace of all humanity.
We must build a new world - a far
better world - one in which science and art have no boundaries because
what is comprehended is innumerable and infinite, a collage of
intensified bits and pieces of the world as it already exists, scanned
and abstracted into a mirror of our reality.
As we are about to undertake our
heavy duties, the signatories of this Charter will, under the battle
cry, virtualization!, gather together to guide us in building a new
art, from which they expect the realization of new idealism, the
internationalism of a new artistic movement which is constrained by no
boundaries, no religion, and no government.
Virtualization is the international
expression of our times, the great rebellion of aesthetic
May you lead our steps in the
righteous path of the suspension of disbelief.
And yes, tonight, I am proud to say,
in this great city of decadence, indulgence and dada, "ich bin
ein Berliner Künstler!!"
US Department of Art &
Global Virtualization Council:
Contact: Press Secretary of the US
Department of Art & Technology