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 Transmediale
US Department of Art & Technology
PO Box 32265 Washington, DC

Press Secretary
For Immediate Release:  February 13, 2002

Secretary Packer Opens Transmediale
Global Virtualization Council Ratifies Charter

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 Council.

The following is the transcript:

Speech by Randall M. Packer
Secretary, US 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

February 5, 2002
Congress Hall of the House of World Cultures
Berlin, Germany


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 welcome.

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 artists.

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 time.

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 world.


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 clear.

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 will engage!

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 Impossible!

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 concern!


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 refute it.

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 produced simulacrum-persona!

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 mobilization.

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!!"

Thank you.

US Department of Art & Technology:
Global Virtualization Council:
Transmediale 02:

Contact: Press Secretary of the US Department of Art & Technology

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