Andreas Broeckmann on Sat, 25 Feb 2017 08:40:20 +0100 (CET)

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Re: <nettime> Armin Medosch (1962-2017)

This is very sad news. The worrying started when Armin could not come to set up the Technopolitics Timeline exhibition at NGBK in Berlin last month - and it is now a shock to hear that he passed away so soon...

This thread on nettime has become, with its autobiographical reminiscences, somewhat of a collaborative portrait to which I also want to add. Armin will forgive me if, in the best, most friendly possible way, I start by saying that he was a charming pain in the ass. We first met in 1993 or early 1994 on the MS Stubnitz in Rostock and our acquaintance of over two decades has seen us quarrel more often than agree. When we were younger, we took ourselves very seriously and quarrelled in earnest, but later (particularly memorable was a dusk till dawn discussion we had at one of the RIXC festivals in Riga, maybe ten years ago) we understood that we had one of those very productive dissenting relationships that one should not take too emotionally. We first started arguing when in 1994 the report that I wrote for my future colleagues at V2 in Rotterdam, evaluating the possibilities and difficulties of potential collaborations with the Stubnitz project, turned out more critical (I thought: more realistic) than Armin could stomach at that moment. The ship went on its first big tour for the white nights of 1994 to St. Petersburg, a trip that Armin invited me to join and that I missed because I had a PhD thesis to finish at that moment. (A year or so later, the Stubnitz project was bankrupt and left the members of the group in debt, a burden that haunted Armin and his colleagues for many years afterwards; most of them, including Armin, left Rostock and the ship to do other things, while Urs Blaser and others stayed and still keep the ship afloat, currently in Hamburg.)

Armin's projects since, some of which have already been mentioned here, bridged in a unique way media activism and art, and for those of us who followed his work, the trajectory from his early TV activism days in Vienna with his own project Radio Subcom, through Stubnitz and the visionary art, science and technology exhibitions he curated with RIXC, to his book on the European 1960s New Tendencies movement - this trajectory is consistent and makes perfect sense, down to the fact that the latter book was also sort of a home-coming, dealing with an artist movement whose Croatian base in Zagreb was a mere three-hour drive from Armin's home town of Graz.

Our first direct contact that I remember after the 1994 conflict was when he invited me to contribute a text about Daniela Plewe's internet art project Muser's Service for an exhibition in the North East of Germany, very appropriately titled "Geben und Nehmen" (giving and taking). Collaboration, sharing and generosity are three of the big themes that I associate with Armin's professional practice. The earliest source that I can find at the moment is a booklet that was produced by Hans Ulrich Reck and others at the Angewandte in Vienna in 1994, entitled "Fernsehen der 3. Art" (television of the third kind). Armin's contribution argues for strategies for the integration of art into the mass media - with a focus on TV at the time, though he does say (without mentioning the word "Internet") that soon TV "will be transformed into an interactive meta-medium and a multi-facetted interface that will enable anything from private video-conferencing to video-shopping."

Coming from a provincial, punk and activist background, Armin was always very upfront and unafraid to pick an argument if there was one to pick. So in this forum of media activists meeting in Vienna in the aftermath of the first Next 5 Minutes conference, Armin said stuff like: "The so-called critics of the mass media, like the particularly fervent TV tribe of camcorder activists, the 3D-rendering species and other techno-heads, these are really the last true fans of TV."

He'd say things like this, partly because he knew that they would irritate people, and partly because he knew that they were true and needed saying. This is one of the character traits that made Armin special, and we can only hope that there will be more and other angry young people from the Central European borderlands, ready to throw a spanner in the works when a spanner needs to be thrown.

Farewell, Armin, and thanks.


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