Peljhan::: : :
LECTURE FOR THE 100 DAYS 100 GUEST DOCUMENTA X PROGRAMME
Good evening. The title of this presentation, as you could notice is: INSULATION/ISOLATION PROCEEDINGS, proceedings which are connected to the project that me and my colleagues have set up at this years documenta and will also have the form of proceedings, with some technical terms included that I will try to explain as well as I could in if there will be any inconsistencies. Ill try to skip the INSULTATION part, but if anybody will be offended, can register with me after the lecture.
The name of the project is MAKROLAB - Ladomir-faktura 3rd surface and is the fourth project in this cycle of works and for now also the final one. I wont talk much about the history of the project, let me just say that up to now it was materialized as a film, and two performances, this, the fourth consequent and third numbered materialization was also meant to encompass and upgrade all previous levels.
The project was initialized as a response to a poem written by the Russian avant-garde futurist writer Velimir Hlebnikov, whose work is very important for the understanding of the initial motives of why the project was set up, for the understanding of the projects background and I will keep mentioning him during the evening. The title of this particular poem is LADOMIR, and it is a very complex and dense verbal artwork, full of metaphors, metonymies and dreamlike visions. The title LADOMIR, designates the universal land of the future, and is constructed by a method dating back to Old Russian. It consists of two roots - LAD - which means harmony and living creature and MIR - which means peace, world, universe and both these parts are conjoined by the vowel O, for which Hlebnikov has devised the meaning of THE LETTER THAT INCREASES SIZE. I wont go much into the hlebnikovian theory of language, since the field is very vast and at this stage not so important for the understanding of what MAKROLAB is, but just as a sidenote, lets look at the eight letters of the word MAKROLAB and analyze them in the hlebnikovian manner. M contains within it the disintegration of a whole into parts, A is against, K is the conversion of a force of movement into a force of enduring stasis (from rush to rest) R is unruly movement, insubordinate to the whole, O increases size, L is the uncontrolled movement of a great force of freedom, A is against B is growth into something greater, the greatest point of the force of motion. So without letters we get something that contains within it the disintegration of a whole into parts and is against the conversion of a force of movement into a force of enduring stasis (from rush to rest) which is unruly movement, insubordinate to the whole, but increases size and is the uncontrolled movement of a great force of freedom against a growth into something greater, the greatest point of the force of motion. You can decide for yourself what this means to you, and you should note that it applies mostly to Russian and Slavic languages, but hlebnikovs, we could call it psycho-material theory of language gives to the abstract qualities of language a very material consequence and quality, which is in turn a process that MAKROLAB was designed to do as a machine: to transform abstract and intangible qualities and properties present in the world, such as radio waves, atmospheric events or psychic movements into material, three dimensional structures, documents, objects through a de-abstractization process or if you want a process of materialisation. I will later specifically show what strategies and methods are used to achieve this on the example of the communications field, which has by now been the part of the project on which we have put the most emphasis.
The creative processes of our LADOMIR-faktura researches link many different interests in an integral work of art, evolving in time as well as in space through what I called, after Hlebnikov in his poem Zangezi and elsewhere surfaces or planes. Within LADOMIR research in acoustics, atmosphere, communications, dreams, inner life, linguistics, low energy systems, psycho acoustics, solar power systems, social evolution systems and strategies, wind power systems, weather and war strategies is planned and some of it was already conducted. But lets now return for a moment to the poem.
Hlebnikovs principal preoccupation in the LADOMIR poem is the destruction of the old order and synthesis of the new. The structure of the poem is holographic, antiphonal, stark coruscation in full voice. Temporal relations are shattered, events are displayed as quick, disordered, multi- layered cross-sections of time. Verb tenses seem distorted. Past and future intermingle in a vision of vast, fulminating upheaval. And all this has the title LADOMIR-a combination of harmony, living creature and the universe, a title which is a complete antithesis of the actual content of the work. I would define it as a precise vision of the 20th century that is in many different levels evolving in front of us. One should just look carefully into the histories of wars that have happened and are still going on in our century, and from there on everything becomes very simple and transparent. The thesis is that this century is in a constant state of global warfare which goes on many different and often unidentifiable levels. Some of us and you have experienced the war we are used or accustomed to identify, while p.e. almost everybody participates as a soldier in the global war of capital and this dichotomy that we everyday live, this constant state of psychic violence and pressure is precisely identified and described in LADOMIR. Hlebnikovs influence and coding for understanding is available of course also elsewhere in his writings and let me now quote from a manifesto he wrote in 1916: People of Earth, hear this! The human brain until now has been hopping around on three legs (the three axes of location!) We intend to refurrow the human brain and to give this puppy dog a fourth leg-namely the axis of time! People from the past were no smarter than us; they thought the sails of government could be constructed only for the axes of space. But now we appear, wrapped in a cloak of nothing but victories, and begin to build a union of youth with its sail tied to the axis of time, and we warn you in advance that we work on a scale bigger than Cheops and our task is bold, majestic and uncompromising. We are uncompromising carpenters, and once again we throw ourselves and our names into the boiling kettles of unprecedented projects.
and he continues and ends LET THE MILKY WAY BE SPLIT INTO THE MILKY WAY OF INVENTOR_EXPLORERS AND INVESTORS_EXPLOITERS. Raise high the winged sails of time, you government of young people, now comes the second time we raid the flame of the investor/exploiters. The investor/exploiters in snarling packs have always slunk behind the inventor/explorers, now the inventor/explorers drive the investor/exploiters away. Every industry of present day planet earth - from the point of view and in the language and style of the investor/exploiters themselves - is a steal from the first inventor/explorer: Gauss. He founded the study of lightning. Yet while he was alive he didnt even get 150 rubles a year from his scientific work. Your memorials and laudatory articles try to justify the glee you feel at stealing him totally blind. And to pacify the rumblings of your conscience (which is suspiciously located in your vermiform appendix). Your supposed idols - Puskin and Lermontov - met their deaths at your hands in a field at the edge of town like rabid dogs. You sent Lobachevsky to be a parochial school teacher. Mongolfier would up in a madhouse. And what about us? The militant vanguard of the inventor/explorers? This is why inventor/explorers, in full consciousness of their particular nature, their different way of life and their special mission, separate themselves from the investor exploiters in order to form an independent government of time and put up a line of iron bars between ourselves and them. The future will decide who winds up in the zoo, inventor/explorers or investor/exploiters, who winds up chomping at the iron bars.
Well, this was 1916, and today we approximately know hows eating the iron bars more often and the world is a different place from then, but the laws he talks about remained the same and stay in place. Hlebnikov put an enormous emphasis on the understanding and developing of the senses of the temporal dimension. Temporal dimension as an alternative to the Euclidean spatial world we live in. He did this very mathematically, with a lot of calculations about the consequence of historical events. He divided history into precise rhythmical patterns, sometimes made little mistakes and corrections, but usually his theory of history rhythms holds. Time wins over space, and since history is decodable looking back, future should be as well. Hlebnikov predicted the 1917 revolution exactly with his calculations, and has proved many rhythmical sequences in important historical events. With this he has also foreseen, that the construction of time will have global impacts, that time division is going to be the activity in which roles and elements of power are going to be distributed. Globalisation on all levels which Hlebnikov talks about has occurred, large sums of capital are invisibly, abstractly moved through networks, through a space-time continuum which is one of the centers of world power. Maybe theres no central record of them, but maybe, as we will see later there could be one. People are moved at high speeds with the use of modern transportation, the same goes for goods. Everything is in a floating, flying phase, with the occasional time stop at different destinations. The empire of space has been overcome in the late 20. century and it seems we are definitely living in the period of the time-dimension, which has in a certain sense become the central point of our lives. We are constantly defined by time, timetables, dates, our lives are planned, the time stamp of our computer messages, our electronic identifications place us in the abstract and immaterial space of the networks. This abstractization and dematerialisation has been widely discussed lately, especially by debates around the work of Virilio, Baudrilliard and their disciples, I just want to stress, that the dimension of time has become central to the late 20th century social and economical developments and the despatialisation seems to be one of the most common processes in the contemporary first world, or so it seems. This illusionary process has forced individuals and larger social entities to live in time rather than to experience and master space as they were used to in the past. Space has in the first world lost its place in consciousness over time and with this loss, a loss of orientation senses occurred too. A loss that has never occurred to the centers of power. And since the space- time sense is not embedded into our culture and our way of life, and is still a skill to be learned or at least understood, the individual has been left in a floating position without a real sense of exact orientation and identification capabilities. The mesmerizing super-speed of the world around him disables him psychically and also politically. The time island is suddenly enough, the subconscious feels it found a time territory upon which it can rely and since its qualities are so abstract and the energy needed to live it in this suspended position so minimal it can stay there for a very long period without any impact on the space-time reality, where it is all actually happening. A complete numbing of higher senses, a splendid isolation, total controllability has occurred through this space to time shift. But we dont need to look far to realize, that battles for space are continuing, even raging. Bosnia, Africa, Chechnya, Northern Ireland, Baskia, Indonesia, Cambodia, Afghanistan, Cashmere, Israel, Palestine, Syria, Lebanon all this territories are in constant state of war, a war for space and capital, the time dimension there serves only as an orientative designator of achieved and non achieved goals. On the other hand the movement of capital especially in the first world makes us feel an believe that the space battles dont exist anymore, that everything is smooth and fluid. But as we will see later, this smoothness and fluidity has, besides its very obvious spatial material consequences also a traceable path, which we can decode and observe, learn from it, try to find the concealment, or maybe just confirm its emanations in the space-time realm, the realm of the real. For overcoming this situation, this illusion of controllability and safety of the immaterial cushion of time, one must use strategies similar to those of your opponent. The time realm as Hlebnikov speaks about it has been mastered by the investor/exploiters, while potential inventor/explorers serve the first group or dont realize theyre living in a nil dimension, totally controlled from outside. The loss of space orientation is confirmed in one of the most notable cultural aspects of the first world, which is the leisure industry, our holidays. This industry created itself through processes of disorientation and lost spatial paradigms and serves as an artificial substitute to the needed and real mastering of space-time. Theres millions of first world explorers going to explore the unknown territories every year in organized groups, with a defined view, with a limited time scope. They are brought to rediscover the already colonized, discovered, changedÉ.they are discovering prepared reality, their contacts with the cultures where they are placed are economical, theyre assuming the role of investors/exploiters. The mutation is complete and roles intangibly changed. Makrolab was created as a laboratory, as a set of tools, as a machine to try overcome this situation.
First we must note that Makrolab always defines the space where it is set, it needs the concrete and very material dimension of space for its existence. By defining its material territory it intervenes in concrete reality, which is by definition a political gesture. This kind of spatial intervention, together with the main activities of the lab define a challenging territory which start a relation with the realm of the spectacle as we know it. Guy Debord in his report on the construction of situations said: Our central idea is that of the construction of situations, that is to say, the concrete construction of momentary ambiance of life and their transformation into a superior passional quality. We must develop a methodical intervention based on the complex factors of two components in perpetual interaction: the material environment of life and the comportment which it gives rise to and which radically transforms it. Navigation and a sense of precise spatial orientation are needed for this together with a precise sense for time and concrete political space-time. Definitely more skills than the todays TIME BASED individual is accustomed to. Makrolab is a declarative position outside of the spectacle, also outside of society (I stress the wording declarative) and is designed as a closed and isolated space- time, which will in its inner logic and structure function as a communication center and reflective tool. But, decoratively in isolation, set in a specifying setting, where it communicates with the world only through mediators, be it technological or social interfaces. The thesis is that only this kind of position, which is declaratively isolated and enables a thorough communication between a limited number of individuals can create a code for the evolution of social relations and once again overcome the time only paradigm. The thesis is that individuals in a restricted, intensive isolation can produce more evolutionary code than large social movements of great geographical and political extent. Makrolab was created to test this thesis. A creative individual in communication and interaction with other creative individuals has the goal to develop an apparatus of individual reflection of a wider social and political state of affairs and its subsequent transformation. One should not understand this as a return to individuality in the intimacy, sense, which is by definition a closed psychic entity, but as setting up of the state of isolation, which acknowledges the alienation and communication with similar alienation around it as its main method of operation. Alienation is a fact that must be used to our advantage. This method is different from the setting up of new societies, but recognizes the existence and strives towards a definition of autonomous zones in the wide sense of the word. Today this kind of structure is possible because of the extensive technological developments, in the 60.p.e. other less dangerous autonomies were possible. We have set MAKROLAB for the first time at an art exhibition, here at documenta. This specific context gave the work a position which sometimes defined it differently than expected. Makrolab had quite an extensive number of visitors during the documenta and we, who lived and worked there had to interact with them. Because of its position we had mainly to talk to the villagers from Lutterberg, Speele and the Staufenberg area and to the golfers, that were playing golf just 30 metres from the lab. One would immediately ask where is the isolation here? When choosing the position of MAKROLAB I have come upon other pieces of land but they were all natural reserves, so this one was the only suitable at the end. We had also a technical requirement of an approximate line of sight position in connection with the video link for our daily communication with the console visitors here at the documenta halle. Isolation of course, in a communication project sounds like a contradiction in terms, but in the framework of the lab the isolation was thought of and also realized as a state of mind and was enabled only because of the technological interfaces used during the project. We had to interact with the s.c.art public. Lovers of art, hundreds of them, who were, mainly asking the same question: Is this art?
(the which was a privilege and opportunity at the same time and had to answer mainly Of course the frame of the an art event gave MAKROLAB hundreds of them, who were, mainly asking the)
For this kind of investigative zeal we had two answers: It is when our lawyers advise us soÉ(the so called American version) and Since we are set in the context of an art exhibition this definitely is art, yes, you could call it also so (the more lengthy, conceptual European version). Both are evading the question in a sense, and I hope that I will have the opportunity to evade it later on too, fact is that MAKROLAB, with its shift from the center of the exhibition produced a lot of questions of the kind. Isolation and mediation suddenly started to have real consequences especially in the communication with the art event itself. I, rather than the very wide and socially precisely placed term art, or even artistic activity, use the term TIME PROGRESSING ACTIVITY for MAKROLAB, precisely because the situation that we have created posed serious contextualisation questions. As explained before, we have created an interface here in the physical space of documenta, that would enable the visitors to contact the lab and communicate with its crew. The context of the spectacle around it proved this task almost impossible and although we had up to 50 calls a day, the content of them was usually very poor, brief alienated communication, actually, just affirmation of communicating capabilities. There were few contacts that were on the other hand very valuable and will have a continuation in the future and we could say, that the console was set up for them to happen, but the contemporary art exhibition nomad usually has 3-5 minutes maximum for each work, and the console demands more. Here I could again quote Debord, for the last time today - maybe: The construction of situation begins on the ruins of the modern spectacle. It is easy to see to what extent the very principle of the spectacle - nonintervention - is linked to the alienation of the old world. Conversely, the most pertinent revolutionary experiments in culture have sought to break the spectators psychological identification with the hero so as to draw him into activity by provoking his capacities to revolutionize his own life. The situation is thus made to be lived by its constructors. The role played by a merely bit part playing pubic must constantly diminish, while the role played by those who cannot be called actors but in a new sense of term, livers must steadily increase.
What is Makrolab? I defined it as a closed and isolated/insulated environment which in its inner structure, the structure of the micro- social events functions as a communication center and a reflective tool-machine. But it is declaratively set into isolation a position in which it is supposed to observe the world only through mediators. The thesis is, that only this kind of isolated position can produce the code for the evolution of social relations. So, isolated individuals in a restricted space, extended time and intensive communication produce more evolutionary codes in social relations than wide scope political and geographical social movements. What are the strategies or methods to achieve this? In one of the earlier program texts about this project entitled SCIENCE OF THE INDIVIDUAL _ MAPPING OF LADOMIR I wrote: The redefinition of social and individual terms and the subsequent materialization of their redefined status in new evolutionary conditions, demands appropriate physical, psychic and material preparation. PROJEKT ATOL, which is a non profit organization Ive set up in Slovenia in 1993, tries to enable the creative communication of individual forces to converge into a scientific psychic entity that would in its last stage result in the creation of an insulated/isolated environment, space/time.
Insulation/isolation is understood as a vehicle to achieve independence from and reflection of the actual entropic social conditions. The environment will serve as a development surface for the further formation of new, creative social, spirtual and economic relation, based solely on integral individuality. LADOMIR_faktura is the first training stage of the project pointing the way towards the achievement of final PROJEKT ATOL goals:
- communication will be developed through technological, representational and pedagogical systems
- insulation-isolation autonomy will be achieved through energy/material and space time autonomy
- the dematerialisation of logos will be replaced by the logoisation of the material
- methods for the augmentation of maximum sensory awareness and sensory connection will be used throughout the work.
This was the first program text, plan for MAKROLAB and this is how the initial scheme looked like. (scheme) On the scheme we have the metatextual basis of the work, comprising of avant-garde strategies, isolation insulation strategies, war, communication strategies, sexuality and urbanity, Hlebnikov laws of time and real history time. Sort of a life setting basis in a way if I look at it now, trying to include everything that my life in the first world at the late 20th century should be consisted of. This scheme later developed into different works, the urban element being taken over by my UCOG-144, or URBAN COLONISATION AND ORIENTATION GEAR 144 project, which addresses the rediscovery and recolonisation of individual urban space through the use of satellite based navigation technology and data transfer communication. The UCOG-144 proceedings with a lot of situationist texts and technical information are available from PROJEKT ATOL and you can later talk with me or drop an e_mail message and I will send them to you. It is an ongoing project, same as MAKROLAB, with no definite end in sight. If we return to MAKROLAB we will see that in the initial scheme some of the units present there are also part of the lab as it was developed for the first time in 1997. The energy unit and receiving unit are there, now called energy suite and communications suite. The living quarters are there, the system unit, which was envisioned as a central processing unit is in a way also there, together with audio electronics, video a.s.o. One of the elements still missing in this phase is the heat unit, with micro-ecosystems for food growth and the light unit with position and environmental lighting. So basically, our autonomy in this phase was not complete. Lets now look at the lab as it was constructed in 1997, to be first placed in the framework of documenta. The units the lab consists of are the following:
- communications suite
- living quarters
- hygiene systems
- micro-ecosystems (not realized)
- control console
- energy module
The communications suite is consisted of a rack with three working positions and equipment ranging from a HF receiver and transmitter unit and antenna, SCPC satellite audio receivers, a general coverage communications receiver, 3 2m FM radio stations, a satellite video signals receiver, a mircowave video transmitter and receiver, decoders and decoding software, computers to satellite antennae of all kinds, L-band, C-band and KU- band ranges. This suite enabled the communications part of the project, which concentrated on the mapping of telecommunications signals of all sorts. From HF modulations at slow speeds, to high speed fax communications running over satellite networks., to packet radio communications. One of the important parts of this monitoring is also weather systems monitoring and meteorological observations and these are due to expand in the next phases of the project. Here the sensors play their part and also the telemetry data, which was sent via packet radio a few times during our stay in the lab. The communications project was as I said before in the center of the labs activities for the first 55 days of the run and I will return to a more detailed proceedings description later. The living quarters are comprised of a simple kitchen and storage facility and were a make shift solution because of the lack of funds for a more complete development, which applies also to the micro- ecosystems project for growth of autonomous food, so theres not much to say about this at the moment, besides that were not really happy we didnt manage to work it out in this phase. The energy suite is comprised of a 600W + 1200W peak power photovoltaic solar power system, together with a propane gas back up generator and was and is functioning I would say with a 85% reliability. There are some minor problems with it, but nothing very serious, although we sometimes ran on less than 60% power and had 9 complete systems shutdowns because of low power and generator starting failures. The control console suite of the project is located here in the documenta halle, and is a system that consists of a microwave video link receiver and monitor, an internet connection and an extensive archive of the initial phases of the project on micro-film, where you can find exact plans, letters, agreements, metatextual material, a very extensive Hlebnikov database and quite an extensive Projekt Atol database and the initial program text of the lab: THATS WHY WE BUILT MAKROLAB in 13 different languages. Of course theres also the very difficult to use radiotelephone for the communication with the lab One of the main interfaces of the MAKROLAB during the documenta is and will be in the future the MAKROLAB website which I will tour for you now very quickly, and the interested can later browse through it from home. The address is:
http://makrolab.ljudmila.org and this is how it looks like.
The internet was as it could be expected one of the main interfaces of the project, and the lab got approximately 30 messages a day from the console, usually the ID forms I showed you to which we replied with a form letter confirming the MISSED contact usually. Some of the replies were then continuing, some of this communications are still going on. As you could see, the internet also served as a kind of presentation platform of the project, with all kinds of data, from finances to future projections. This internet presence will remain in place also during project pauses between two settings up of the lab.
One of the more invisible units of the project is the MICRO_SOCIAL environment that has developed and has a lot to do with the conscious isolation effort. You can imagine that it is rather peculiar to live and work in such a restricted space for quite and extensive period of time. The reflection of this moments is not finished yet and in my current experience has to be dealt with after few different settings of the project and the documenta context was probably not the most ideal for this element, since we had so many visits all the time.
Let me know briefly go to the communications suite and the activities going on in the communications part of the project and the projections and future plans developed from there. In one of my texts preceding MAKROLAB in 1995 I wrote: In the undefined historical context of the development of science and industry the arts have the role of the servant. They feed on the remains left of the table of systems that are more powerful and have more impact on reality. The wider use of technological tools in the 20. century, is the result of the partnership between science and industry, which is on the first level achieved through military applications, through the art of war making and on the second level, when its materialisations have been tried out and developed in wars and war contexts it slowly integrates into the so called civil economic sphere and at at last, on the third level into art.
This is the case of the computer, the internet, the imaging systems, almost everything that can come to your mind. Telecommunications are also a prime example for this, with military superpowers, the US, NATO and RUSSIA having their OWN, proprietary global satellite based secure telecommunications systems already from the beginning of the 70s on. Art and progressive social contexts are lagging in this sphere, and with the exception of the internet, which because of its decentralized nature (is it really Im asking myself after the shutdowns occurred in the past) cannot compete or challenge their more powerful brothers. One of the possible strategies here is to study the tools of your enemy, to develop concrete strategies of resistance, which are very complex and might be seen as politically totally incorrect. A new state of awareness must be developed in connection with the completely changed and now invisible power structures which at this very moment shape the state of the world. Here I will repeat one of my earlier suggestions, which I see as a viable, but hardy realizable alternative: Build a global independent satellite telecommunications network, an alternative to the Intelsat system and the new low orbit commercial systems that are slowly becoming reality. A multinational interdisciplinary organizational effort would develop tactics and strategies and confront the global capitalist and state multinational organisms with organized resistance and provide an alternative, non commercially based means of reliable and secure telecom. All you need is to place, control and run four satellites. I repeat this suggestion because I think we should start thinking about it, since theres no reliable communication otherwise, as we we have learned in the past two years, this has appeared in Covert Action Quarterly and Nicky Hager wrote a book about it, a very sophisticated military and state intelligence gathering systems exists, set up by the US and its allies under the secret UKUSA agreement. The states collaborating under this agreement are the US, NEW ZEALAND; AUSTRALIA; GREAT BRITAIN AND CANADA with their respective intelligence agencies. Under the UKUSA agreement, a telecommunications gathering and monitoring system was set up named ECHELON. Now, we know that spying of all kinds has been going on for centuries and will continue, but apparently the ECHELON network has something special to offer. It basically listens and records everything running via the large Intelsat satellites, whose new generation can carry 90.000 simultaneous phone calls, together with e_mail messages, faxes, telex. This is done by using supercomputers and voice and data recognition software protocols. So, we the inhabitants of this planet, get to know in the nineties, that everything we say on the phone, whatever that is is being monitored and recorded for security purposes of these countries and their allies. Search engines that the ECHELON system uses search for keywords, such as bomb, attack, or maybe freedom, David, documenta, whatever the operator on the terminal wishes. You dont need to be a nuclear scientist to understand the implications the usage of such a system can have and there have been recorded abuses for political purposes of intelligence gathering of all kinds, and it seems that now theres a system which makes everything easier - for them. I dont need to say that the existence of this system is still not recognized and that the whole affair is highly illegal even in jurisdictions of the UKUSA agreement signatory countries. There are no warrants whatsoever for any of the listening procedures going on and theres no publicly available record of monitoring posts although one of the possible locations is also here in Germany, Bad Aibling.
The modern encryption technologies would disable or tamper such a system but unfortunately, they are not readily available and there are new agreements p.e. between the EU and the US to make the encryption keys available to governments. Basically, they would let us encrypt our messages, but hey, in any case, leave me the keyÉso I can read it. In any case of courseÉ.we are used to such cynical attitude from our governments, but we are definitely not used to large data, voice, e_mail and fax collection baskets which are being searched by programs for keywords. Our private conversationsÉ.
My colleague Brian Springer, who worked at the Makrolab from June 25 to August 6 has written a short note about our activities and his role in them, together with a proposal, with which I will end todays talk:
NOTES FROM THE CORPORATE UNDERGROUND This summer I was a guest researcher at Projekt Atol's Makrolab. During the course of my residency at Markolab we studied alternative information collection, display and distribution systems. I say alternative because we approached the sky hovering over Lutterburg as a living library of weather systems, bird migration patterns, and telecommunication infrastructure. My focus was on telecommunications and satellite systems in particular. Armed with satellite dishes, radios, and wires we approached the sky as one large unmarked library with voice, video and data communication pouring from its shelves. In many cases the texts intercepted from the various satellites had no page numbers, index, or titles. In case you are wondering, such wireless library investigations or interceptions are totally legal under German telecommunications laws as long as the communications are not shared with a third party, such as an audience at an arts event. So I�m not going to name the names of the authors of our "readings" but we did stumble across some interesting texts, such as corporate officials discussing the impending demise of the citizens of Freetown in Sierra Leone. These authors detailed the role of the diamonds trade in the conflict and candidly revealed the political mechanisms in the UN which were and currently still are blocking the citizens� evacuation. They wondered if the mercenary assault was immediate or if they would wait for the rainy season to wash out the roads and help them cut off and starve Freetown. The authors claimed the UN official in charge would not order an evacuation before the rains started for purely political reasons. Had the swallows perched on Makrolab migrated from this conflict? Would the clouds moving overhead become a part of this assault? As stated before, legally I cannot say. At Makrolab we were digital witnesses cloaked in silence. Instead of these clouds I could talk about practical satellite receptions techniques. Or I could talk about the difficulties of using a global communications system as a medium for appropriation. Or the need for artistic strategies when dealing with an un-indexed and endless library which you cannot get your arms around. Or the dangers and miracles of this type of open embrace. But for me the most important question is, can there be a way to publicly disclose the details of the cloud over Sierra Leone? Is there a way to legally hi-jack the information super hi-way for journalistic and artistic purposes? Does the model of abduction of privacy by the security and corporate state provide any clues? It has been several weeks since I have left the Makrolab and returned to my home in the US. Near where I live is the oldest psychic community in the US. This community was started in the mid 1800s by a number of women who professed the ability to speak to the spirits, to the dead. At this time it was uncommon in the US for a woman to speak in public. In the 1800s US women were often considered to be property of their husbands, and they did not have the right to vote. But in this community they were encouraged to speak out because they were speaking someone else�s mind. They were vocalizing the thoughts of spirits, not their own thoughts. Empowered by the ability to speak in public these early spiritualists soon began publicly stating their own thoughts about the rules of society. They became part of the early women rights movement which eventually legally transformed women in the US from property into citizens with the right to vote. I�m not really overwhelmed with the spectacle power of spiritualism, but I do find it an interesting method of alternative information collection and display. Recently I had a spiritual reading from a psychic at this community. The medium said she saw a spirit who was presenting a number of pieces of pipe, some curved and bent to specific angles. I told her I had a relative who recently had died who had made his living as a pipe fitter. She said that this person was showing her these pieces of pipe because it was his craft to make them all fit together. He was telling her that the project I was working on is also all in pieces and that I should not worry about where the pipe was going, but that I should just keep trying to put the different pieces together. So in that spirit of things that don�t quite fit, these are some notes from the corporate underground--one possible method for re-defining public and private in order to explore the corporate body. In the US the latest incarnation of virtual reality or the virtual body really started in the late 1800s when the corporation was given eternal life and its body was inscribed with the rights of the individual. Before this time corporations were heavily regulated and in some states simply illegal. Corporations could only live for a specific period of time, say 10 to 20 years, in order to fulfill a project such as building a road, bridge or building. When the project was complete the corporation in many cases had to die. It had to dissolve and its assets were liquidated and distributed to its share holders. Majority and minority shareholders had equal voting rights. . One corporation could not buy another one. Corporate mergers where illegal. Their profits were limited and capped. Corporate owners were more often held liable for harm and debt than a non-corporate entity. Profit was not seen as the corporation�s private property, but instead was still part of a public system of power. Following the Civil War the cyber- infant was born when the US Supreme Court ruled that a private corporation was in fact a "natural person" under the US Constitution. The Constitutional amendments which were ratified some 20 years earlier to protect the rights of freed slaves were now applied to the corporate body, which could now not be killed since it had a right to the life and liberty. Like the former slaves the corporations were also given the right to own property. Now their profit was their private property. Corporations transformed into a body able to participate in elections and the process of self-governance before the former slaves and indigenous peoples, before the female spiritualists at the psychic community, and before most people without property. Internationally this type of corporate `legal person' included the `private company' of English commercial law, and the `Gesellschaft mit beschrnkter Haftung' of German commercial law. Endowed with the legal skeleton of a natural person this new virtual body began its pursuit of life, liberty and property by merging with other bodies through corporate takeovers and other contortions of capital with which you are probably all too familiar. One of the most important mutations of this new body was its ability to be at two places at once--an internal reproduction which creates a parallel body, transnationalism, the flesh of the new telecommunications infrastructure. So one question Projekt Atol has been asking itself is, is there a way to inscribe the rights of the individual on its corporate body? Is there a way to create a parallel version of itself as a transnational in order to open the doors of this wireless library to the public in order to reveal the hidden texts of the various corporate bodies surging through the network? Wouldn�t the existence of such a living library in and of itself, as a structural act, a corporation intervention, be as important as any books on its shelf? Action on the construction of this library is proceeding along a path dealing with the corporation and individual rights. We have targeted several host countries which have the necessary legal foundation for supporting the weight of this project. Our target countries have a telecommunications policy which allows individuals to listen to or tap certain types of wireless communications networks. These interceptions are legal as long as the person does not share this information with someone else, a look-but-don�t-tell model. We are currently attempting to graft this law, the individual�s right to listen, onto our new corporation in same way the rights of a natural person can be grafted onto the corporate body. Once this inscription has taken place the corporation will be able to share the communications it has intercepted, internally, within its body of employees, directors, and most importantly its stock-holders--a sort of corporate underground. Of course these texts, journalistic investigations and artworks will not be shared with a third party, such as an audience at an art event. That would be illegal. To enter this library you will have to rethink notions of artist and artwork, public and private, owner and investor. The pubic will be invited to become a part of this new private entity by purchasing stock. As stock-holders they will have access to the private internal artifacts of the corporation. Currently we envision selling about 5000 shares of stock for about 10 DM per share, limit one share per person. If you are interested in becoming a member of this enterprise you should visit the Makrolab web site and send us an email. You will be notified about our first public stock offering and the implications of your investment. END OF NOTES
So much from Brian, and any interested stock-holders can of course visit the website or apply directly with me. I should end by proposing a plan for the future of the Makrolab. As I told you before, we plan to move the platform to other concrete physical territories and proceed with different fields of research. The telecommunications project will live also outside of Makrolab in the future and I hope for some concrete proceedings from it already early next year. In the future, the weather systems research and bird migration research will take a more active role, with the communications mapping project kept as an ongoing multi-year activity. Bird migration as a cross- border strategy was very interesting for us already from the beginning and I would like to proceed with it in a more thorough fashion, not just solely as an interest. Also the colonization territory mapping system, the observation of the micro-social and micro- topological environment in which the lab is set will be started.
MAKROLAB will function in many emanations, and until the next physical one, you can follow the research on the net and written publications.
On September 11 or 12 we will also organize a final all night sound research event, that will end phase III. of the project here at document.
Thank you very much, now we can proceed with the questions.