Review: On Justifying The Hypothetical Nature Of Art

Reviews

In the interest of providing a window on to contemporary German theory, we are publishing a series of translations of reviews first published in the Dutch periodical Mediamatic. These reviews were written by the media theorist Geert Lovink. Lovink as part of the collective BILWET, and has recently written: Medien Archiv published in German by Bollman.

Review: On Justifying The Hypothetical Nature Of Art

On Justifying The Hypothetical Nature Of Art And The Non-Identicality Within The Object World,
Robert Fleck, E.A. (ed.) Walther Koenig bookshop,
Koln 1992, ISBN 3 88 365 166 9, German/English text, 186 pp. DM 34

The catalogue of the Peter Weibel’s interactive computer installation in the Tanja Grunert gallery in Cologne (June to August 1992) contains a number of interesting pieces. Besides a description of the installation, made at Weibel’s Staedel Professional Media Academy in Frankfurt, and a history of Weibel’s contribution to Viennese ‘aktionism’ in the sixties, it contains an examination of VR by Virilio. He claims that “the conditions of necessity for direct, sensual, sensory experience” and our “presence here and now” are menaced. For Avital Ronell, too, the (virtual) world after the Gulf war is not the same as it was. In Support our Tropes II, she claims that cyberspace is “west of the west, a memorex cowboy frontier.” The clean cyborg soldier is the expression of revulsion for the body, “the bloody mess of organic matter,” as Marvin Minsky once called it. To Lanier’s “assault on the passivity of the contemporary subject” she opposes “a space of repose and reflection, a space that would let the other come.” This space would have to respond to the justifiable wish, expressed in VR and other circles, for a new community. But no single place exists for Bataille’s “community of shattered egos” to gather. “Can there be an atopicality of the community that nonetheless gathers, (…) where the control towers come tumbling down, and where the other is genuinely anticipated?” Slavoj Zizek comes to the same conclusion: VR excludes the other, especially women, “the other par excellence.” The book closes with an interview with Friedrich Kittler by Peter Weibel. Instead of increasing numbers of media/multi-sensual applications, Kittler finds that computers “should make their own processes of calculation more accessible.”

Translated by Laura Martz.

Geert Lovink is a writer and journalist living and working in Amsterdam. He is a member of the editorial board of CTHEORY, and has written extensively on nomadism and digital culture.