Writer, theorist and organizer on culture and technology. He lives in
Amsterdam and currently works for De
Balie, Center for Culture and Politics in Amsterdam. He was one of
the core-editors of the third Next 5
Minutes conference on Tactical Media, March 1999 in Amsterdam.
He teaches media-theory since 1993 for different
art and design collegues in Europe, and worked as a researcher at the
Academy of Media Arts Cologne. Among the many events he helped to
organize about culture and new media are the Interstanding
conferences on the culture of interactivity in Tallinn, Estonia, held
there since 1995.
Within the conference he is a co-curator of the section "The
Art of Campaigning".
Smash the Surface / Break Open the Box / Disrupt the Code
In the age of NASDAQ mania, technology and new media have become the
principal sites of manifestation for the next transformation of the
negative dialectics of avantgarde art. This tradition is by no means
dead, it is simply transferred to a new domain. After the conversion of
the (al-ready-made) profane into the realm of aesthetics, after the
disentanglement of the spectacle, and after the dissimulation era, now
the negation of the positive sign has entered into the realm of pure
simulation, the digital hypersphere.
The tools are familiar, satire, reversal, appropriation, displacement.
Nothing new here, except that the interesting moment no longer is the
disruption of the aesthetic framework, or even the negation of the
concept of the author, the artist, or the artistic practice itself.
Instead, the negative dialectics of the digital avantgarde no longer
challenge the notions of art, but those of the by nature symbolical
digital realm it operates in.
The principal challenge of the network society is the complete fusion of
media, digital technology, economics and politics. The logic of the
digital network now informs all dominant aspects of society. This fact
on the one hand marks the end of the virtual, a sphere that has become
completely intertwined with the *real* world. At the same time, however,
every significant social interaction can only become meaningful by
virtue of how it is mapped in the digital domain.
Avantgarde practice no longer needs to concern itself with aesthetics
and art, those notions have already been thoroughly deconstructed, or
otherwise have become irrelevant beyond repair. The avantgardists can
now concentrate on the new sphere of digital mediation. Their practices
break the clean surface of digital media and disrupt the flow of
networked interaction. The subversion of real virtuality breaks the
illusion of so-called globalisation, which excludes 90% of the world
population. By breaking open the semi-transparent box of consumer
technology, the avantgarde breaks the spell of over-mystified
The stocks are already falling, but the negative dialectic of the
digital age will only come to completion, after the bubble of the new
economy has finally and irreversibly burst.