Oliver Ressler on Sun, 10 Nov 2002 17:51:18 +0100 (CET)

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[Nettime-bold] Boom!


a project by Oliver Ressler & David Thorne

"If only" is the frustrated utopian refrain of Oliver Ressler and David 
Thorne's absurdly dysfunctional URL addresses collectively titled 
"Boom!". Utilizing this ubiquitous textual format of the "new economy," 
"Boom!" rehearses the defense mechanisms of the neoliberal imagination 
as it confronts its own internal crises. The acknowledged incompleteness 
implied by "if only" situates these texts somewhere between a guilty 
confession, a plea of desperation, and an ideological strategy session. 
The texts set for themselves the task of neutralizing the "problems" - 
the dislocated and potentially antagonistic groups engendered by the 
free market - that threaten the realization of the utopian ideal, 
implicitly embodied by the owners of capital. But Boom!'s utopian 
address deliberately fails to elicit from the viewer a positive 
identification with its purported message, having gone too far in 
specifying the contents of the universal "freedom" to which it aspires. 
This failure of identification thus displaces the locus of the "problem" 
from those constructed as the threatening "outside" of the capitalist 
utopia to the exclusionary, crisis-ridden grounds of that utopia itself.
Originally designed for use as banners in anticapitalist demonstrations, 
Ressler and Thorne's texts reject the handmade, organic aesthetics of 
most conventional protest art. Instead, they share with earlier 
postmodern artists such as Barbara Kruger the appropriation of the 
graphic conventions of marketing to disrupt the smooth functioning of 
everyday forms of consumerist identification. But Ressler and Thorne's 
texts also bear a specific historical relation to the URL format, 
reinvesting it with traces of social divisions linked to the digital 
economy, of which the dot-com address has been a key visual and textual 
component. In the wake of the speculation-driven Internet bubble, the 
phrase "dot-com" already appears as an artifact of a ruined utopia, 
testimony to the destructive boom-bust cycle inherent to deregulated 

(Yates McKee, On Counterglobal Aesthetics; text from the catalogue: 
"Empire/State: Artists Engaging Globalization", Whitney Museum of 
American Art, Independent Study Program Exhibition, New York, 2002)

upcoming exhibitions of "Boom!":

"World-Information.Org", De Oude Kerk, Amsterdam (NL)
15 November - 15 December 2002, http://www.world-information.org

window installation at Kunst Raum Goethestrasse, Linz (A)
27 November - 10 December 2002, http://www.kunstraum.at

Boom! is a collaborative project of Oliver Ressler (A) and David Thorne 
(USA). The project has been presented in group shows (Whitney Museum of 
American Art, Independent Study Program Exhibition, New York; Exit Art, 
New York; Williamson Gallery - Art Center College of Design, Pasadena; 
Wolverhampton Art Gallery, Wolverhampton; Kunsthalle Exnergasse, 
Vienna), as banners for demonstrations against the World Economic Forum 
(New York, January 2002 and Salzburg, September 2002) and as inserts in 
magazines (Malmoe 07/2002, Afterimage 07/2002).

JPEG image