v2, 2.3.2010 (v1 28.07.2009, RC1, 10.05.2009) *
our work is curiosity driven research.
sampling is our basic principle of production.
it is visual. it is textual. we code recombinations.
we modify your plain-text.
The UM.BOOK**: we relabeled a peter weibel text as an hans ulrich obrist text. then we transformed a hans ulrich obrist interview with matthew barney into an interview by peter weibel with UBERMORGEN.COM.
we have no political agenda in our work.
this is true for our ideas, research and production.
the perception of our work is out of our control and we do not intend to control that either.
we have no intention, no goals. we feed our own curiosity
we are non-ideological.
our primary goal is research for our own interests. We experiment in the legal, technological, social, economical field; satisfying our own personal needs.
From this independent perspective we can freely investigate into whatever we are interested in.
we understand the things that happen around us and to us. We analyze system configurations and we then recombine our findings, the facts and the fiction into false originals, foriginal stories. we contextualize technology with pseudo-politics, social messages with commerce.
we are not bound to any medium. although in most cases the core of a project or a work is digital and happens online, it beginns as a small concept text, some images and some code. it is carried on in a huge cloud of research data.
the transfer of the digital to the physical transforms online actions into supercharged images (prints/photos), installations and sculptures.
we impact your personal and individual experience
to look for the emotional kick and feedback,
to outsource responsibility
to involve the audience emotionally
what we do is not pop art
it is rock art.
we are children of the 1980s. we are the first internet-pop-generation. we grew up with radical Michael Milken, the king of junk bonds and mythical Michael Jackson, the king of junk pop. during the 1990s we loaded ourselves with technology, we call it digital cocaine, with mass media hacking, underground techno, hardcore drugs, rock&roll lifestyle and net.art jet set.
our neuronal networks and brain structures were similar to the global synthetic network we helped building up and maintained subversive activity within. and then they got infected: waves of mania and depression ran through the technical, social and economic structures.
contemporary high-tech societies deal with hardcore brains using bio-chemical agents to control the internal information flow, we call them psychotropic drugs.
but how can we treat a mentally ill global network?
we are not activists. we are actionists in the communicative and experimental tradition of viennese actionism - performing in the global media, communication and technological networks, our body is the ultimate sensor and the immediate medium.
we have enough free time to think. things happen. we do not control them. the thing that interests us supermassively is the concept of authority. be it corporate authority or governmental authority. totalitarianism, the way masses and individuals respond to a manipulative oppression and the psychotic mass belief in „they way things are“ always seems to catch our attention. we call it - citing William Gibson - 'consensual hallucination'.
GWEI – Google Will Eat Itself – deconstructing the totalitarianism of shareholder value by creating a autocannibalistic model.
[V]ote-auction– commercialized democracy, cutting out the middle man, online transactions, directly selling and buying of votes as future business model.
Superenhanced– physical governmental oppression, NLP (neuro linguistic programming) and the fascism of newspeak in the area of war prisoners, enhanced interrogations, detainees, child imprisonment, Supermax facilites and extraordinary renditions.
we do not know how our work is contextualized and perceived in the art world or the real world. for that matter we do not appreciate reading articles, reviews or theory about our work. we programmatically avoid visting exhibitions in art galleries and museums, and online we rarely read or look at work. we leave that up to others. you categorize, qualify and contextualize us.
but in the so called real world our work has legal impact. We are always in a lot of legal trouble, professionally, personally and artistically. we learned that these issues were easy to resolve. we call it intended unconsciousness.
some of these legal controversies serve as precedents to demonstrate internet legislation. for example: during the vote-auction project a U.S injunction was sent via email to a swiss domain registrar. they then turned off our domain on no legal basis - U.S court orders are not valid in switzerland (sic!) - this case was used by the ICANN board and in various law publications to discuss domain legislation issues. our affirmative artistic reaction was to produce the Injunction Generator, a software that automatically generates such court orders and sends them to domain registries, owners, lawyers and journalists to shut down targeted domains.
in some other cases friendly police officers and state agents were happy to find out that they are not dealing with dark minded criminals but rather with „interesting“ artists - surely in some cases we do not state who we are or talk about our artistic intention, i.e. the Voteauction project where we positioned ourselves as perverted eastern european business people trying to exploit U.S. democracy - but usually governmental agencies prefer to have a nice conversation rather than a criminal investigation. this argument only goes for pretty much all of mainland europe – the US and partially the UK are slightly more threatening.
but in all other cases, fuck them all!
our legal policy: anyone who wants to sue us, threaten us or what: have you get your court order or whatever the fuck you want, get in line and wait until we serve you. just be aware that there are about 15 others waiting with priority, so your chances are very limited.
financially, we are deeply in debt, this is very helpful when people want to hot you with legal bombshells - they go after you in order to hurt you by taking money from you. but we ain’t got no money, so there is nothing you can take from us. blood from a turnip. we are not gonna get got. for this reason we rarely show up in court or even send a lawyer to represent us, we just let them do it by themselves and generate more documents which we then use for our work.
on the real life level it is a love-hate relationship: on the individual level, users and recipients usually react very strongly to our stuff. we welcome all kinds of reactions: fan-mail, hate-mail, legal mail.
as artists we see it as our responsibility to communicate. to talk about our research findings, to contextualize images, texts, etc. communication is part of our 8-5 job but it is not our priority or passion. this is different if it concerns our media hacking activities, where multi-layered communication is an integral part of the performance.
on the art market we are happy to hold one of the digital art and actionism positions where content is random and not random, where concept is important but at the same time the surface is queen. we develop new ways of showcasing our real new media art - new ways that are rather low-tech than high tech superendeavours.
our relationship to mass media.
we have no respect for news-journalists, thats for sure. most of them are real scumbags and very unreliable and highly unethical. but, to our favor, they are very easy to manipulate - or as we call it „work with“. so for us the press release is an artform.
. television is the best conventional mass medium. they are closest to what we call a shock marketing channel - pumping information into users brains causing a short shock after which the channel to the brain is open and unfiltered.
. newspapers are boring.
. magazines are usually not interested in our work.
. books are heavy and eternal. but they are an art medium not a mere information transporter.
. the internet is real-time. that helps coz the faster the wheel is spinning, the easier it is to turn a complicated issue into a story made out of slogans and a couple of images.
our media hacking strategy is scalable - with media hacking we mean the intrusion into massmedia with lo-tech means and a good story, so only courage, intelligence and some technological know how is required. from an estimated 500 million eyeballs audience worldwide for the Vote-auction project to 0/zero mass media audience for our Net.Art piece Black n White, it is all in the game. and we dont work with expectations, we dont depend on audience. the days when a large audience was a thrill are long gone. it does not help, it does not kick, the only real artistic production happens with input-feedbacks, when you send out information and you know you will not be able to control it anymore, the information lives on in mass media, it gets manipulated and opportunistically used by journalists, politicians, lawyers and business-people and other artists, they mold the information like a sculpture, they abuse it, the combine it and re-contextualize it. then the story comes back to you through the media and you can spin it, kick in abstract or surreal content and send it out again to a huge audience. this works best if the audience is very large, this quarantees the attention and focus of the journalist and the publishing house. this is the media hacking performance, this is acting in the eye of the mass media storm.
so on different scales we perform. we experiment. we develop and use a new media strategy for each new project. during the EKMRZ trilogy we used a combination of attacks:
with GWEI – Google Will Eat Itself we targeted about 30-40 opinion leaders. then we waited three months until the story made it’s way to the top mass media outlets and then down again to the blogosphere, schoolbooks and documentaries. this process is still ongoing.
with Amazon Noir – The Big Book Crime we used official press-releases by third parties and our own release. this was the classical way by intention, although unintentionally one third-party pressrelease was published 6 weeks before the official date, this created chaos and confusion on both sides and turned out to be nice for everyone.
for The Sound of eBay we worked with only lo-level media art scene promotion. only our core audience was informed about the project and they know about it. no fuss, no exagerations. we are still waiting for feedback.
awareness and the effects of our work on politics and society..
we are not interested in awareness, and we are not interested in having a direct impact on politics, society, military, business or technology. though we do think that our research might have a long term impact. but this is so out of our reach and it is purely speculative, so we dont think about that much.
maybe our projects have scientific and educational value. this would explain the scientific articles, legal studies, dissertations and master thesis.
knowing or learning about the actual impact of our work would present us with borders and boundaries of how far we can go or what we can actually achieve. it could become role-model art. we dont want that.
the people can change things in a political or activist way, not the art or the artists.
we have to focus on our work and give up on the rest. we chill, relax and take it easy. we have done our job. we are artists, we need to be free of responsibility, to not have to think about consequences, to not limit ourselves just because it could have an effect on this or that, or could be used for us or against us or other people. we learned that very early. hacking optimizes the attacked system, we accept that, and we learned to not give a fuck about it.
again awareness and political affairs.
if art and art production politicizes itself, it becomes politics and ceases to be art.
awareness really sucks because everybody knows about a certain topic, but still they are not doing anything about it and neither give a fuck really. if there is impact of a story or a project of ours, we dont neglect it, but they are simply a sideproduct which we learned to accept and tolerate. but it is most def. interesting to talk to and communicate with people emotionally, directly, personally, fake-personally and right into the core.
this is still why we love working with the net. doing stuff like the Generators. they are pieces of software that generate foriginal documents - forged originals. for example: court orders, drug prescriptions, bankstatements or rendition orders and enhanced interrogation scripts. this gives us the chance to target every single inividual, be it enemy or friend, on a pseudo-personal basis. we get them in their home, in front of their laptop or at their workplace looking at their workstations. this is when a user is vulnerable. this is when they are a good target.
people using our generators from their homes have no reason to lie to our software. they welcome the infiltration and produce their own reality tv show. at least that is what they are interested in. we never lie. we work with research, fact and fiction, recombinations of these and with artistic surplus values.
we lure users into being interested in finding out if what they are being sucked into is real or not, we mirror their interests and watch them through the invisible mirror.
Vienna / Amsterdam / Frankfurt, May/August 2009
* RC1 „Positions in Flux“ Symposium, The Netherlands Media Art Institute Amsterdam, 8.5.2009
" v 1 release, Vienna, 28.7.2009
** UBERMORGEN.COM - MEDIA HACKING VS. CONCEPTUAL ART
HANS BERNHARD / LIZVLX
Alessandro Ludovico (Ed.), Christoph Merian Verlag