Inke Arns on Tue, 26 Mar 2002 17:15:56 +0100 (CET)

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Re: [rohrpost] intermedium2 / medienkunst

On 26 Mar 2002, at 14:56, wrote:
> was genau willst du uns mit damit sagen? dass das alles begrifflich
> nicht so scharf gefasst ist, wie man es von anderen (deinen?) texten
> kennt? dass es einfach scheisse ist, genauso wie der bayerische
> rundfunk? oder dass dir es generell nicht passt, wenn andere was machen?

mir ging es genau so wie florian ... hey florian, habe gut gelacht, also ich deine reaktion 
gelesen habe. die behauptung, dass das internet DAS neue bildmedium an sich sei, ist 
wirklich unhaltbar. tim druckrey spricht dagegen im hinblick auf das internet heute von 
einem "post-optischen" zeitalter. genau darum gehts. zu dem thema noch eine art 
kurzrezension zur ausstellung "ctrl-space", die im zkm stattfindet/stattfand. ist leider auf 
englisch, da fuer eine andere liste verfasst. 

gruss, inke


Date sent:      	Sat, 9 Mar 2002 14:17:00 +0100

Dear Sarah and others,

someone said ctrl_space? I reach for my revolver ... sorry for that crude allusion. Here's 
why (some quick notes written yesterday night on the train between Regensburg and 

I went to see ctrl_space at the ZKM in Karlsruhe in December and spent two days in the 
exhibition (the catalogue was not published by then -- I don't know if it's already out by 
now). There's a huge amount of great video installation pieces, almost all the classics, 
Bruce Nauman, Dan Graham, and all that, and some more recent stuff, also quite 
interesting, at least some of it. It is a very large exhibition .... it is a bit too big perhaps.

But this is not the problem. I find the exhibition extremely disturbing - not because of its 
theme or because of what it shows, but precisely because of what it DOES NOT show 
and talk about.

Again and again we are told in this exhibition that surveillance takes place only when a 
camera is present and taping something. Surveillance and control entirely rely on images 
and the visual -- at least that's apparently what the organisers want to tell us. How can 
you curate an exhibition on the theme of surveillance in the year 2001/02 and not mention 
Echelon one single time? Seriously, today the Internet is not something new anymore, not 
even for the ZKM (who has ignored it for a long, long time).

Why curate an exhibition in the year 2001/02 when all you want to do is boil up again that 
old (1980s) video surveillance aesthetics? It is certainly easier to find media art works 
dealing with or exploiting this kind of visual surveillance techniques, because -- they simply 
rely on visual material. Were the organizers afraid of having to deal with realities that are 
too difficult, too abstract in order to be thematized in media art works (an argument which 
does not hold anyway: just look at Marko Peljhan's makrolab project at Or that these realities would be too difficult to be presented 
in an understandable way for a general public? Were they afraid of having to deal with 
realities that are not concealed by visual surfaces, i.e. of having to deal with the reality of 
"raw" code? This is what surveillance and control in electronic space are targeted at 
today. It is exactly what Lawrence Lessig's "Code is Law" (by now almost classic) slogan 
is about.

Yes, in the exhibition there *are* indeed some pieces using the Internet -- but here again, 
these pieces use web *cameras*, suggesting that even on the Internet surveillance only 
happens where a camera is present. I find this really problematic - especially if you see 
that at the ZKM whole school classes being sent through the exhibitions. One can imagine 
that these school children, who won't necessarily read the books on data surveillance that 
are on display in the reading room of the exhibition (yes, they are, good works by 
Christiane Schulzki-Haddouti, for example, a German investigative journalist and specialist 
on data surveillance and Echelon), will come home at night, saying: "Mom, look, [it did 
not hurt!] - if I surf the Internet nobody can see me, thus there is no surveillance!"

Of course not all surveillance concerns exclusively the "code" below the surfaces (well, in 
a way, even the following examples radically differ from 1980s video surveillance simply 
because they rely on digital data). Yes, there are new forms of surveillance using images, 
just think about the automated face recognition systems installed in a town in Great 
Britain, or the iris recognition systems which are about to replace other (analogue) 
identification technologies. But most of the works in the exhibition do not even *mention* 
the new quality of these digital visual surveillance techniques. 

My main argument / criticism is that the "nature" of surveillance in electronic space such as 
the Internet is completely ignored in this exhibition. Electronic space not only connects 
people, but also allows for a much more perfect and ubiquitous, and less and less noticed 
control and surveillance -- precisely because surveillance and control are not relying on 
visual images anymore, but on code.

Perhaps one can say that we are not relying on the model of the "panopticon" anymore (as 
claimed by ctrl_space), but rather on a model of the "pancodicon". Have to think about 

For further information tune into


Christiane Schulzki-Haddouti

Duncan Campbell's homepage

Saturday 9 March 2002
Starr Auditorium, Level 2, Tate Modern, London, UK

Inke Arns

Out now:

Inke Arns. Neue Slowenische Kunst (NSK) - eine Analyse 
ihrer kuenstlerischen Strategien im Kontext der 1980er 
Jahre in Jugoslawien [NSK - an analysis of their artistic 
strategies in Yugoslavia in the 1980s]. Regensburg 2002

Sprache: Deutsch (German), ISBN 961-90851-1-6, 200 Seiten/pages, 
26 x 18,5 cm, Design: Novi Kolektivizem/NSK, 120 s/w Abbildungen / 
120 b&w illustrations, Irwin-Katalogteil durchgehend vierfarbig 
[Irwin catalogue part in full color], 20 Euro

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