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We hold this myth to be potential

"We Hold This Myth To Be Potential"
Investigations into Afrofuturism
March 11-19, 2016

The term Afrofuturism was coined in the year 1993 when the legendary musician and intergalactic traveller Sun Ra passed away. The term in the meantime has gathered its own history - it is as amorphous and diverse as there are of the plethora of attempts of inventing, defining, projecting a future. Afrofuturism is a speculative fiction, a future which is informed by the past, by memories which need to be rewritten - as only then they can be shared.The event "We Hold This Myth To Be Potential" deals with a history which informs the future, but a future which reflects the past - an untimely future. But who owns the future and who is entitled to speculate about it?

The "The Race for Space" was an essay by Duke Ellington refering to the the cold war competition over supremacy in outer space that loomed large in the cultural imagination of the time, which not only mirrored the techno-utopian ideology but also put into question the concept of race, as much as the ongoing colonial battles of distribution, ownership and access. For Sun Ra, “space was both a metaphor of exclusion and of reterritorialization, of claiming the ’outside’ as ones own, of tying together a revised and corrected past to a claimed future. Space was also a metaphor which transvalues the dominant terms so that they become aberrant, a minority position, while the terms of the outside, the beyond, the margins, become the standard.“ Space can become a place.

While in at the point of conception Afrofuturism was primarily a phenomenon of the African diaspora, in the last ten years particularly artists, writers, designers and musicians from the African continent were using Afrofuturism as both, a keyword and frame to reinvent the persistent cliche image of a continent of misery and replace it with self-defined, futuristic image production that does not cast its inhabitants only as victims.

What is the use of the concept of Afrofuturism in a wider context of contemporary art, culture and society, today? Obviously, it still challenges predominant conceptions such as: Who has the power to define technological progress, who owns the means of imagination? To pose these questions today, reconnects a possible future with a present that is characterised by a permanent crisis seems increasingly urgent in many different respects. It not only calls for a critical investigation of the actual colonisation of outer space by revisiting anti- and post-colonial theory, but at the same time it intervenes directly into the current debates about recent migration movements and has the posiblity to open up new perspectives of what is at stake. It unlinks the either charity or resentment driven liberal discourse of 'poor refugees' or 'illegal aliens' from the visionary, yet not fully graspable potential of a mass exodus.

During the past months the Trondheim Academy of Fine Art (KIT) has worked on the history and impact of Afrofuturism from different angles and perspectives: exploring artificial strategies for fictional narratives, terrestrial and extra-terrestrian sounds and their non-representative potential, but also the distribution of resources from the past and the future as well as the appropriation and re-appropriation of technologies of the everyday.

As a satellite program of Meta.Morf 2016, a group of graduate students and researchers at KIT will present the results of their artistic research on Afrofuturism from March 11 to 18. The exhibition spaces of Galleri KIT will be turned into an outer space research lounge of another kind: Hosting lectures, presentations, conversations, film screenings, DJ sets, performances, live-streams. It will be remotely connected to the ‘Pan African Space Station’ -- 'a machine for travelling at the speed of thought, a probe for drilling into new levels of possibility space', founded 2008 in Cape Town and curated by Ntone Edjabe.

The program features the work of the London based artists John Akomfrah and Kodwo Eshun who will install a selection of film and video pieces from the past 25 years based on two major works:

"The Last Angel of History"(1996) by John Akomfrah is 'a 45-minute meditation on black consciousness whose dense, almost chaotic weave of images and ideas offers space travel and science fiction as metaphors for the experience of the African diaspora'.

"Hydra Decapita" (2010) by The Otolith Group is a filmic essay on the Detroit based electronic music duo Drexciya, who 'released an influential series of recordings that imagined a fictional world system entitled Drexciya, populated by the subaquatic descendants of Africans drowned by slavers during the Middle Passage'.

Both, John Akomfrah and Kodwo Eshun will be present in Trondheim between March 11 and 18. The program of artist talks, lectures and presentations will take place from March 16 to 18.

Friday, March 11:
Galleri KIT, Inherredsveien 7
"We Hold This Myth To Be Potential" Opening of the Outer space research lounge at Galleri KIT
Installations by: John Akomfrah, Kodwo Eshun, KIT students and other guests

Tuesday, March 15:
Galleri KIT, Inherredsveien 7
"Of another kind of Living Life"
Party in collaboration with Futurescapes

Wednesday, March, 16:
Galleri KIT, Inherredsveien 7
John Akomfrah: The Utopian Image
Lecture

Thursday, March, 17
Galleri KIT, Inherredsveien 7
Kodwo Eshun: Methods of Animating the 2nd Wars of Existence in Kojo Laing's Achimota City
Lecture

Friday, March, 18
Galleri KIT, Inherredsveien 7
On Air: Panafrican Space Station (PASS, Online Radio Station and Pop up Studio
Performance

John Akomfrah is an artist and filmmaker, whose works are characterised by their investigations into memory, post-colonialism, temporality and aesthetics and often explore the experience of the African diaspora in Europe and the USA. Akomfrah was a founding member of the influential Black Audio Film Collective, which started in London in 1982 alongside the artists David Lawson and Lina Gopaul, who he still collaborates with today. Recent works include the three-screen installation "The Unfinished Conversation" (2012), a moving portrait of the cultural theorist Stuart Hall’s life and work; Peripeteia (2012), an imagined drama visualising the lives of individuals included in two 16th century portraits by Albrecht Dürer and Mnemosyne (2010) which exposes the experience of migrants in the UK, questioning the notion of Britain as a promised land by revealing the realities of economic hardship and casual racism. Akomfrah’s latest work "Vertigo Sea" (2015), a three-screen film installation that explores what Ralph Waldo Emerson calls ‘the sublime seas’, has been on display as part of Okwui Enwezor’s exhibition ‘All the World’s Futures’ (2015) at the Venice Biennale, Italy.

Kodwo Eshun is an artist and theorist. As co-founder of The Otolith Group, his work has been presented in solo exhibitions at Casco, Office for Art, Design and Theory, Utrecht, Museu Serralves, Porto, and Bergen Kunsthall, Bergen, and group exhibitions at Museum of Modern Art, New York, Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin, and dOCUMENTA (13).
The Otolith Group have been nominated for Turner Prize in 2010 for their project "A Long Time Between Suns", in which they presented different aspects of their practice which comprises films, photoworks, curatorial projects, writings and discussions. Eshun is the author of Dan Graham: Rock My Religion (2012) and More Brilliant than the Sun: Adventures in Sonic Fiction (1998) and co-editor of WORLD 3 (2014), The Militant Image: A Cine Geography: Third Text 108: (2011), Harun Farocki: Against What? Against Whom? (2009), A Long Time Between Suns (2009) and The Ghosts of Songs:The Film Art of the Black Audio Film Collective (2007). Eshun is Lecturer in Aural and Visual Cultures at the Department of Visual Cultures, Goldsmiths, University of London.

The Trondheim Academy of Fine Art is a Department of the Faculty of Architecture and Fine Art at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU). It is organized as a flexible and experimental educational and research institution and is well known as the first art academy in the Nordic countries to offer education in media art. Today, the unique environment for art and technology in NTNU allows students on Master and Bachelor level to expand the depth and complexity of their studio practice and to experiment with new approaches across different disciplines and technologies. Currently, the Academy is hosting two artistic research projects as well as three research fellows within the Norwegian Artistic Research Programme.

ART AND ABSTRACTION
https://kit.ntnu.no/en/content/art-and-abstraction

TEACHING:
Florian Schneider

DESCRIPTION

““The abstract is our nature, the abstract is the quality of our labour, the abstract is the only community in which we exist.” (Toni Negri)

Abstraction is the ruling principle of a modern society based on a fully mechanised industrialised production. At the same time, it is the dominant theme of art theory and art history across the 20th century. It appears in Modernism as the absorption or consumption of primitive Otherness. As an aesthetic strategy of over-affirmation and “making strange” it is supposed to enable and empower audiences to learn about the realities surrounding them. Later, new modes of abstraction disrupt the homogeneity, universality, and rationality associated with abstraction. In contemporary art and recent art theory abstraction reappears as “abstract machine”, “failure of the abstract”, or withdrawal from the mainstream of cultural production.

LEARNING OUTCOMES

The course will offer an introduction to a history of abstraction in art history and art theory. It will combine a close reading of theoretical text with a close viewing of artwork. The goal is to empower the participants to contextualising, critical thinking and linking it to creative practice.

TARGET GROUP

The course is targeting at MFA students (1st and 2nd year), but it is open to all students who are committed to join all sessions.

REQUIREMENTS

The course requires presence at all meetings. Participating students are requested to make one presentation in the course of the semester and prepare through readings.

LITERATURE

Louis Althusser, “Cremonini, Painter of the Abstract”
Maria Lind (ed.), “Abstraction”
Sven Lütticken, “Inside Abstraction”
Benjamin Noys, “The persistance of the negative”
Antonio Negri, “Art and Multitude”
Alberto Toscano, “Culture of abstraction”
Jan Verwoert, “What Forces Us to Go into Abstraction”
Wilhelm Worringer, “Abstraction and Empathy”

Art and Abstraction

RUPTURE AND CONTINUITY
https://www.kit.ntnu.no/en/content/key-concepts-art-theory-1-rupture-and...

TEACHING:
Prof. Florian Schneider

DESCRIPTION

Traditionally, continuity results from an artificial fabrication of linear time and consistent space. From Renaissance painting to modern cinema, ambiguities were eliminated, contradictions were reconciled, and the immediate was standardized in order to reduce what could not be understood to a comfortable selection of endlessly repeated facts. The poet and art theorist Carl Einstein writes in an unfinished text fragment that probably dates from the early 1930s:

“Continuity means standardization of all processes, which is achieved by eliminating the conflicting, irrational, irritating — i.e., irreconcilable — layers and tendencies. In this way, one suppresses the genetics of the ostensibly static configuration as well as the intuitive processes that, at any given point, can break through or tear apart any rational system, since they cannot be incorporated within it. To conceptualize means to standardize at the cost of the immediate and concrete; in the act of knowing we perceive a hostile manifestation of the weak and threatened human being.“

But what importance does continuity have now, in a seemingly ahistorical, networked, and converging media environment structured by hybrid divisions of labour? Continuity is produced here in ways that are diametrically opposed to traditional techniques of film or television, painting or theatre; there it emerges in the imagination of the inwardness of a self that consists of a synthesis of contradictory elements but coheres with an outside world. Networked continuity operates in reverse terms: as a performance of the outwardness of a self that presents itself as perfectly consistent, but struggles charismatically, so to speak, against drowning in the maelstroms of an outside world.

The networked production of continuity generates a new perspectivity that is reversing the conventional configuration of space and time; it unframes the theatrical unity of time and space, which has characterised the disciplinary regime of the factory, but also theatre and, in a figurative sense, the cinema. While Didi-Huberman shows that “classical representation creates a continuous space in which objects and persons are arranged as discontinuous entities,” the new regime of networked continuity inverts this set-up: It creates a discontinuous, synthetic space in which objects and persons are arranged as continuous, logical entities with an unlimited potential for semantic connections, visual manipulations, and recreations.

The course will investigate rupture and continuity as "Key concepts of art theory”. In each of the six session a theoretical text and an artwork will be presented and discussed. Each students has to make one presentation and submit a short paper.

Rupture and Continuity

Rewriting memory

Florian Schneider

The anthology Politics of Memory aims to investigate the document as such, as an objective trace left by events, as material proof or the creation of reality – the strategies with which they transform a state of memory into state memory, those by means of which a historical removal is enacted, those, ultimately, in which there is an attempt to challenge permanent or temporary amnesia, opening up to the future. The artists and filmmakers contributing to this publication represent the most advanced area on an international scale of a research that inaugurates a new relationship between artistic practices and the documentary.

The artists’ contributions have been collected within the context of a cycle of conferences held between 2010 and 2013 and are re-presented here in a format aimed at highlighting their connections and common research perspectives. To this end, the volume is articulated in four sections and does not follow the chronological order of the conferences. The first section is dedicated to archival practices, the second to the memory of conflicts, the third to the documentary dispositive and the last to the representation of migration as a social practice and as the enactment of breaching boundaries.

Edited by Marco Scotini and Elisabetta Galasso

Contributions by John Akomfrah, Eric Baudelaire, Ursula Biemann, Harun Farocki, Yervant Gianikian and Angela Ricci Lucchi, Khaled Jarrar, Lamia Joreige, Gintaras Makarevičius, Angela Melitopoulos,Deimantas Narkevičius, Lisl Ponger, Florian Schneider, Eyal Sivan, Hito Steyerl, Jean-Marie Teno, Trinh T. Minh-ha, Wendelien van Oldenborgh, Clemens von Wedemeyer, Mohanad Yaqubi and Reem Shilleh

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Rewriting memory
Florian Schneider

"The history of art is the struggle between all optical experiences, invented spaces, and representations." (Carl Einstein)

"We remember nothing, we only rewrite memory" in his film "Sans Soleil" Chris Marker made an extraordinary statement. Here I think lies the new potential of an open source and documentary approach towards the challenges of the political that are connected to collective intelligence and collective imagination: How to shape and develop technologies of a self that would be capable of rewriting history, since maybe we finally might have had enough of all sorts of fabricated fiction that reduce and limit complex realities towards more or less paranoid plots and universally exchangeable narratives?

I.

The backdrop to much of the recent debates on the relation between art and politics is a an erosion of art's utopian horizon, upon which its power to generate counter-concepts was based. Art's power lay in the ability to imagine things differently, in the rejection of the given, and in the subversion and transgression of the boundaries of a disciplinary modernity and its hegemonic rationality.

Under the parameters of the disciplinary regime, the utopian imagination was fueled by ideas and practices of transgression, subversion and unbounding, based on the ideas of an "outside", a "beyond" and progression. These ideas gave shape to an entire economy of the imaginary, in which creative imagination and the ideas of an emancipatory politics were fused.

With the rise of what has been called cognitive capitalism and the society of control, in which the creative imagination and the modulation of the imaginary are put to the service as productive force and resource, the dialectics of affirmation and negation and the parameters of critique are subjected to tectonic shifts.

This effects a crisis in the economy of imagination itself, in the very ability to imagine things differently. Today, the static boundaries against which a dissident imagination was shaped, are on the move, subjected to management, calculation and evaluation, giving rise to novel configurations of power, in which the imaginations power to negotiate the limits of the possible is itself at stake.

What will be the production of vision that is emerging out of the current crisis?

A production of vision that is based on the opposite experience: rather than fragmentation, alienation and disconnectendness it is the experience of networked control, monitoring in real-time and performance of a charismatic self...

In a society of control, imagination seems to become almost equal to the power to make an image. We can experience two different modes of image production: pre-emptive and anticipatory imagery.

Pre-emptive images postulate a contimuum, the anticipatory mode implies a rupture between what is present and future events. The pre-emptive mode relates to a fabrication of fiction, while anticipation attempts a defense of the real that is crossed out.

II.

What is the political?

Politics is the art of creating a political body: in its very essence it
is the art of properly placing objects and subjects. It is the knowledge where things or (increasingly important) persons are situated, identifying their places and establishing an order by separation, segregation, classification and organization. The properness of the resulting order appears as organic. Its appropriateness resonates the fact that the knowledge of situations has been appropriated and turned into the key property of power.

Thus modern politics have emerged as strategies of inclusion and exclusion: regimes that are disciplinating an individual, restricting its freedom of movement, arresting it at a specific place for a certain amount of time.

The political, in the return, appears as a line of flight, it is all about escaping an established order of politics: refusal, secession, migration, exodus. The political is the becoming minoritarian, it is the resistance against the knowledge of power that renders subject and object as identifiable and therefore calculable within a spatio-temporal domain, that renders them functional within the apparatus of industrial production.

Over the past decades we have been experiencing how the paradigm of discipline, how the very idea of inclusion and exclusion, how politics have undergone dramatic shifts: rather than placement it is about localization, rather than identification politics require the performance of a charismatic self in real-time.

What is then political? What could constitute a refusal of politics as we know them, what could characterize resistance against power as we experience it today?

The act of resistance has two sides: It is human struggle, ranging from from Bartlebys micropolitical "I would prefer not to" to simple insights that there is always a way out, no matter how desparate a situation may seem. The semiotic machines of becoming minor, that in reverse engineering mode generate the great myths of exodus, are essential for survival. It is resistance against death. It is a sign of life.

But resistance is also the act of art. Art is resistance against communication. It is resistance against the sharing of opinions, the exchange of everything that is made exchangeable and the communication of communicability. It is resistance against the esthetication of participatory politics and the user-generated fabrication of fiction.

Resistance becomes politics as soon as it is made public. But it becomes political as a production of reality, an augmentation of reality through the production of vision of a different kind. It is a transformation of how we see, rather than what we see.

It is a defense of the real that is crossed out. In that respect, there are no politics, but everything is virtually political.

It is an act of speech and it is the making of an image, but what is audible and what is visible is no longer in sync, but in permanent crisis:

- What is at stake is the very capacity to make an image. Todays crisis of imagination poses the question of property: Whose images? Whose fictions? Who is producing them and who is owning them? What does it mean to own an image?

- "Uns trägt kein Volk, aber wir suchen ein Volk." Art is made for a people who are missing. "A people" needs to be invoked rather than represented or addressed, let alone actively involved, since the people no longer exist, or not yet...

- What matters in art as well as in life is the collaborative restructuring of social facts, the making of world, rather than mirroring and re-affirming the the existing order and the prevailing values as well as their meanings:

III.

The documentary mode is characterized by a very peculiar relationship
to the unexpected, unforeseeable and uncalculable. This is what still
distinguishes it from fiction, which is ruled by the idea of
pre-emption, by fabricating a narrative before the project actually
takes place and aligning the respective images in advance.

The documentary is anticipatory. Its anticipatory character is in
radical opposition to the former assumption that documentary films were
boring. It rejects the idea of presupposing a possible reaction by the
spectator and therefore has to refuse also the notion of interactivity
that is based on offering a choice. In documentary there is no
determination and there is no choice.

Documentary projects are realized after the event. They do not happen
while shooting, but while editing. Their place of birth is the editing
room. The core notion of the documentary refers to an artificial
re-composition of a past event, but in a way that it will return in the
future and in newly created relationships to yet unknown witnesses who
will be enabled to account for that creation, and not the event itself.

The network appears as a redundant array that documents any possible move. It logs and captures, records and stores any interaction between subject and object. Its reality is documented before it comes into place, let alone a matter of criticism.

Against this backdrop, documentary film is fighting a losing battle. As soon as a clip, sequence or entire video is uploaded, its content exists only in relation to a an already foreseen activity that is going to be computed and therefore documented anyway.

A mode of the documentary that is characterized by:

- the emancipation of the documentary from its carrier medium

- a very peculiar relationship to the unexpected, unforeseeable and uncalculable. the documentary filmmaker is mostly occupied with waiting. Waiting for something to happen that cannot be calculated.

- The digitization of film has triggered a complete redefinition of editing: rather than cutting into the material by splicing the film stock, different streams of data are connected and disconnected, joint and separated in a way that is only affecting the metadata, as opposed to the material itself.

- The mode of the documentary as we know it has always emerged out of a desire and its technical realization to get out of the hermetic spaces of the studios and into the streets, capturing public life, appropriating a reality that would exist independently from the filmmaking. The streets of the documentary today are on the net.

- the documentary as a space that reconstructs past by anticipating a future event that is open, and without emptying its possible meaning and reducing it to a set of possible options.

IV.

Facing the advent of new technologies that will revolutionioze the production of moving images on the web (HTML5) a wide range of new possibilities opens up to radically re-think conventional filmmaking.

The esthetics of these new possibilities are radically experimental. It requires reflections on the formal conditions of contemporary image making:

1. Relationship between the legible and illegible

As soon as film is brought "online", there is a seemingly irresistible tendency to entirely reduce the image to what is readable. In the realm of the digital and under the conditions of the network the illegible parts that used to constitute the image are endangered by extinction: everything is supposed to become legible and decipherable, in order to be searched and found, categorized, indexed or tagged, and in the last instance subject to an algorithm.

In the end, this means the death of film. Instead we need to look forward to the unreadable, illegible and therefore unforeseeable. For instance, we need to develop creative relationships between tags and images rather than descriptive ones. We have to to learn to welcome what is not calculable.

2. Exploring an "absolute" out-of-field

The re-invention of the documentary will take place out of the field, and not inside the frame. Networked environments allow filmmakers to work with sources that are not ultimately captured in the original process of shooting.

The potential of the network is that of an absolute "hors-champ": something that is not visible and not understandable but perfectly present. The absolute out-of-the-field of the networked environment demands a passage from the one to the many-voiced: text streams, for example, that do not just translate what is said but add voices that are not visible and not audible.

3. De-cadrage

The result is a substantial and permanent destabilization, renegotiation and reorganization of the frame. There is no escape into full-screen mode. On the contrary, the content of the image is constantly fleeing a proper framing, crossing the border of the picture, in order to make itself common with alien information, unrelated events or inappropriate flows. Under these circumstances there is no chance to re-adjust the frame, there is no possible re-cadrage. De-cadrage is the absolute condition of the networked image, it constitutes its freedom of movement.

4. A-synchronization

In the last instance, we have to give up one of the main virtues of analogue film-making: the retrospect synchronization of the movement of the image with additional flows, most notably sound. Finally we are irrevocably out of sync. This is opening up to the great potentials of an untimeliness that might be capable to overcome the enslavery of the sound by the image, the commodification of the sense through the plot, and last but not least, the self-humiliation of the alienated spectator.

5. Discontinuity

Current online aesthetics are mainly characterized by weaving every item into a mesh of similarities and connotations -- also known as tagging or "customers who bought this item also bought..."

It is supposed to appease us in view of the arbitrary and hallucinatory aspect of networked realities. It reintroduces the mechanisms of a conventional reality that reduces complexity and heterogeneity to concepts and terminologies that are based on sameness, identity and similarity. In doing so, it destroys any aspect of form that is non-repetitive.

"Classical representation creates a continuous space in which objects and persons are arranged as discontinuous entities" (Didi-Huberman)

To rescue us from the swindle of monotonous reality based on the repitition of the same we have to figure out what could constitute on the contrary, a notion of networking that is based on disjunctions rather than conjunctions, rupture rather than continuity: an algorithm that produces dissimilarity rather than similarity, difference rather than sameness, multiplicity rather than identity.

6. Transvisuality

Aesthetical experiments with the networked character of production will come along with a transformation of vision, of the laws of vision that determine how we see a world that has become a networked space.

They need to explore a new field that i would suggest to call with Carl Einstein "transvisual". It operates in the void of a gap that opens up between what is real and imaginary, what is conceivable and inconceivable, what is visible and what not.

The transvisual is what is beyond optical experience. In certain ways it marks the opposite of the unconcsious. How can we see the network? Or better: what would be networked seeing?

Einstein suggested a radical transformation of vision based on "the hegemony of the inner life over the outer life", facing the "abyss of inner experience" and subsequently leading to the "final disintegration of the I in the creative act".

Contemporary positivism of a world that is paralysed by networking technologies needs to be rejected by a new kind of verticality.

In both, contemporary production and esthetics, there is nothing less at stake than the relationship between subject and object in a new experience of networked spaces.

Finally, the challenge is about how to re-acquire a somehow stable and clear view or visualization of a world that has undergone dramatic changes due to the stunning experiences of an acceleration on various different global scales.

How to not make art

The Memorial of Nadežda Petrović is the oldest and one of the most important fine art manifestations in the regions of former Yugoslavia. Founded in 1960, it is a unique, vivid monument dedicated to Nadežda Petrović (1873, Čačak – 1915, Valjevo) which, in a specific way, continues her artistic and human orientations.
http://www.memorijal.nadezdapetrovic.rs/web/en/28-memorial.html

"How to not make art" (12 c-prints from stuff found in a plastic bag in my cellar in Berlin) revisits an imaginary archive of "kein mensch ist illegal", a project launched in 1997 at the Hybrid Workspace at documentaX in Kassel.

Programme committee Adressaparken

The new outdoor space in the technology capital of Trondheim will be a vibrant laboratory for research and innovation, testing of new solutions, social debate and communication of knowledge related to art and technology. Adressaparken was established when Adresseavisen moved into new facilities at Verftstomta. The technological infrastructure of the park is a joint cooperation project between Adresseavisen, Trondheim municipality, and NTNU. The park is a laboratory for researchers and students at NTNU.
https://www.ntnu.edu/web/thepark/the-park

Kunstnernes valg: “2026. Negerskulptur: Hodepynt fra Bambara”

Kunstnerens valg: Florian Schneider

I have been invited by the Trondheim Kunstmuseum to select one artwork from their collection and present my choice in a public talk.

It wasn’t a very difficult decision: i was immediately fascinated by a series of sculptures which appeared in a rather precarious state at the margins of the collection.

They were lacking the most basic information which is indispensable for evaluating a piece of art within a collection. Created by an unknown artist, in an unknown year, and without any hint of a pedigree.

No one knows who made this work, when and why -- let alone how it ended up in Trondheim and most importantly: in the collection of the art museum.

The only thing we know and should go without saying: It is a wooden sculpture of an antelope.

But even the “antelope” does not exist. The unknown artwork by an unknown artist actually depicts an unknown animal. The antelope does not correspond to any zoological category. Since the 19th century the term “antelope” is widely used to describe all members of the family Bovidae that do not fall under the category of sheep, cattle, or goats. Scientifically one can only speak of “gazella” and “gazella-like” animals.
http://www.markuskappeler.ch/tex/texs2/antelopen.html

Etymologically, “anthólops” (probably relating to the greek words: flower + eye) is a fabulous animal "haunting the banks of the Euphrates, very savage, hard to catch and having long, saw-like horns capable of cutting down trees".

In short: There is a work of art and basically we seem know nothing about it. The only information at hand assumes that the sculpture originates from Africa, a continent that is usually paraphrased as the dark or unknown continent, often a synonym for the unconscious.

These three aspects of non-knowledge (unknown form, unknown content, unknown context) are the starting point for my presentation today, since they triggered my initial excitement. What do we do when we think that we know nothing?

In a certain sense it is a very peculiar challenge to look at a work of art on the basis of an strategic ignorance, not spoiled by preconceptions and prejudices. The antelope, literally: the “beautiful eye", should allow us to critically reflect on what it means to see something.

What do we see? We see: “2026. Negerskulptur: Hodepynt fra Bambara.”
We see the abstract representation of a wild animal carved in wood, and today owned by a museum. At recent auctions at Sotheby’s sculptures like our one here have been sold for almost 40.000 USD.

It is a Chiwara headdress from the Bambara people in Mali, most likely: “Vertical/Segu/Northern region style”. It is not very difficult to compile some information from websites specialised on african art.

“The Bambara form the largest ethnic group in Mali. The triangle of the Bambara region, divided in two parts by the Niger River, constitutes the greater part of the western and southern Mali of today. The dry savanna permits no more than a subsistence economy, and the soil produces, with some difficulty, corn, millet, sorghum, rice, and beans. Their traditions include six male societies, each with its own type of mask.

The tji wara society members use a headdress representing, in the form of an antelope, the mythical being who taught men how to farm. The word tji means “work” and wara means “animal,” thus “working animal.” There are antelopes with vertical or horizontal direction of the horns. In the past the purpose of the tji wara association was to encourage cooperation among all members of the community to ensure a successful crop. In recent time, however, the Bambara concept of tji wara has become associated with the notion of good farmer, and the tji wara masqueraders are regarded as a farming beast. The Bambara sponsor farming contests where the tji wara masqueraders perform. Always performing together in a male and female pair, the coupling of the antelope masqueraders speaks of fertility and agricultural abundance. According to one interpretation, the male antelope represents the sun and the female the earth. The antelope imagery of the carved headdress was inspired by a Bambara myth that recounts the story of a mythical beast (half antelope and half human) who introduced agriculture to the Bambara people. The dance performed by the masqueraders mimes the movements of the antelope. Antelope headdress in the vertical style, found in eastern Bambara territory, have a pair of upright horns. The male antelopes are decorated with a mane consisting of rows of openwork zigzag patterns and gracefully curved horns, while the female antelope supports baby antelopes on their back and have straight horns. The dancers appeared holding two sticks in their hands, their leaps imitating the jumps of the antelopes. From the artistic point of view the tji wara are probably the finest examples of stylized African art, for with a delicate play of line the sensitive carvings display the natural beauty of the living antelope. “

The Chiwara, especially in its more abstract forms, became one of the icons of what Europeans called “Primitive Art”. The artist Guillaume Apollinaire and collector Paul Guillaume published images of the Chiwara in their Sculptures nègres in 1917, while Picasso, Braque, and Les Fauves became fascinated with African sculpture and masks in general, and the Chiwara figure in particular.

Before World War 1 only a few “art lovers” had started acquiring African and Oceanic sculptures. They incorporated them into their collections of modern art. Art dealers were selling “just discovered” artefacts from throughout the world and exhibited them next to works of contemporary artists. And also art critics like Appolinaire and Hausenstein occasionally wrote about the work of remote cultures in order to train their audiences in looking at art of their time.

The avantgarde movements of the early 20th century can hardly be understood without a further critical investigation into their ongoing reception and their relationship to what is called “primitive art”.

The crucial reference point in this context is the publication of a short treatise by the german writer and art theorist Carl Einstein. In 1915 he published “Negerplastik”, the first serious investigation in African sculpture as works of art.

“The colonial view of the European had been neither able nor willing to perceive the character of African sculptures as art, and an unprejudiced approach to the art, culture and history of Africa had therefore been impossible” (Uwe Fleckner)

Einsteins work can be considered a first acknowledgment of african art as “art”. Despite of the methodological problems regarding the dating and geographical attribution of the works, Einstein concentrates on formal problems:

“It was realised that certain problems of space and a particular way of creating art had been formulated in this purity hardly anywhere else as they had among the blacks.”

What does Einstein mean with ”certain problems of space”?

Einstein refers to both Adolf von Hildebrand’s relief theory and equally so on the experiential, temporal model of the “impressionist” sculpture he identified with Rodin. According to Einstein, in impressionism sculpture abandoned more and more its independent plastic force in favor of a calculated effect on the viewer, to devote its message.

Hildebrand had proposed that sculpture should allow the viewer to reconstruct three-dimensional space pictorially either through a single coherent frontal image, which Einstein countered “essentially cheats the viewer out of the experience of the cubic,” or through the synthesis of sequential images generated over time as the viewer moves around the object.

Einstein valued sub-Saharan African sculpture precisely for what he identified as the immediacy of its three-dimensional totality:

“Cubic form must be apprehended all at once. [...] Three-dimensionally situated as they may be, all parts of the composition must nonetheless be represented simultaneously, i.e., the dispersed space must be integrated into a single field of vision.”

“The difficult task of sculpture is to ‘fix’ the third dimension which is perceived outside the work of art as a sequence of movements, in a single optical imaginative act and look at it as a totality.”

Einstein argues for the “three-dimensional as form”, the creation of space as form and not as depiction of spatial depth. The collection of “dispersed space” -- the endlessly extended natural space the viewer cannot grasp -- in a way that form embodies the visible section of space as well as the merely imagined space.

African sculpture aims for an absolute formation of space independently from the changing impressions of the viewer. “This means each part has to be made plastically independent and deformed in such a way that it absorbs the depth while the idea of how it would look from the opposite side is incorporated into the frontal yet three-dimensionally functional side.”

“Cubic space” paves the way for what one could call “a realism of space” or “spatial realism”:

Carl Einstein argued that the conception of space which appears in cubism as abstraction has to been understood when it comes to african sculptures as the strongest form of realism.

Here Einstein opposes directly the theories of Wilhelm Worringer who explains the desire to abstraction as “Raumangst”, agoraphobia, a fear of the space among primitive cultures which lack control over nature and things. The abstraction of the primitive is opposed to the sophisticated technologies of empathy, mimesis and identification (“Einfühlung”) which he assigns to ancient greek and renaissance period characterised by the domination of nature through science.

“Whereas the precondition of the urge to empathy is a happy, pantheistic relationship of confidence between man and the external world, the urge to abstraction is the outcome of great unrest inspired in man by the phenomena of the outside world.”

“Leider will der Wunsch nicht aussterben, sich in die Seele des rohen Menschen hineinzuversetzen. “ (Ernst Bloch, 1916)

Einstein positions himself against such a classical understanding of space, an understanding that favours human-centered perspective over an allegedly “primitive” fear of space which results in abstraction. Notably, in the midst of World War 1, he argues for a decomposition of anthropocentric space, a decomposition of the so-called ‘civilised’ space of empathy, mimesis, identification and immersion.

Obviously referring to Freuds three stages: animism, religion, science, Einstein later discovers “animism” as the “imaginative production of meaning [...] valorised as against any kind of mimeticism...”

Why should this matter? And what can we learn from this today?

First of all, we can recognise that the role of primitivism cannot be reduced to an unmediated appropriation of innocent, authentic or naive works of art from indigenous cultures who live a spotless life far away from the allures of consumerism and capitalism.

On the contrary: Einstein has taught us, that we need to learn seeing, we need to learn time and again how to look at art and only by this we can change existing or create new realities. This refers to the very notion of theory: the art of looking at things as a critical investigation of the way how we see seeing.

Rather than a substance, “Primitivism” appears as a line of flight. Rather than in a line of sight, we need to do a lot of hard work, in order to re-discover the actual challenges which might correspond in very interesting ways with the challenges we are facing today.

In such a theory of seeing, what are the problems of time and space today?

1. Rather than “marshalling time” through a convergence of collecting, exposing and presenting work in the synchronised real time of an art space as “a new kind of mass medium” (Chris Dercon), we are interested in the potentials of latency and delay: art is always too early or too late.

While today’s knowledge-based capitalism commodifies time-spaces to a notion of “knowing what time it is” and fetishises an artificial “real-time”, art carries the paradoxical potential of a timely untimeliness.

The a-synchronisation of time runs counter to the “cybernetic positivism” as the new rationale of today.

2. A non-romantic and anti-impressionist understanding of the illegible, unmeasurable and incalculable as unrecognisable and incompressible in technical terms.

“Evidently art-making comprises many elements of cruelty and assassination. For every precise form is an assassination of other versions: mortal anguish cuts the current. More and more reality is decomposed, which makes it less and less obligatory; the dialectic of our existence is reinforced [...]: it is a traumatic accentuation.”

Commenting on the radical transformation of vision produced in the trajectory between impressionism and cubism, Einstein wrote of a ‘collapse in the commerce of beauty’; on the ruins of this destruction, the visual object was then qualified as ‘manifestation’ (Äußerung), ‘event’ (Ereignis) and, finally, as ‘symptom’ (Symptom).

Due to new technologies, we experience today another “‘collapse in the commerce of beauty’; form (not to be confused with formalism) is the decomposition of the object, and this has to lead to a decomposition of the human figure. The image acts as a disruption of vision, but we need to proceed and create a new vision.

Rather than figuring out how to translate physical volumes and constantly changing movements of viewpoint from three-dimensional forms to paper and canvas (as Cubism did), we are confronted today with the challenges of a “transvisuality” that confronts us with already pre-configured and manufactured notions of virtual or augmented realities.

The visual becomes traversal, it crosses the borders of disciplines and technologies. The concept of the transvisual assumes that the field of visuality is mutable. Audiences are characterised by a constant modulation of subject-positions while shifting between contexts. Transvisuality is a kind of “seeing on the move”.

At the same time transvisuality is also understood as a visual organisation in-the-making as an effect of manifold traversing articulations and interconnected practices: how is the 'stuff' of visuality - a 3-D ultrasound image of the blood vessel, mechanical scanning on nanoscale, the picture of a rock recorded by a submarine drone - intertwined in a range of cultural and technological practices, transformed and transgressed by them in transvisuality?

Again, the concept of “transvisual” has appeared first in the late writings of the art theorist Carl Einstein and it is an attempt to grasp what is perfectly present in an image, but transcends its optical organisation or what is actually fixated in the image.

While Einstein developed transvisuality as a counter concept to the unconscious, let me conclude with the opening sequence of Abderrahmane Sissako’s Timbuktu, as a perfect actualisation of both, the concept of transvisuality and the role the antilope plays in it.

Imaginary Property

“Imaginary property” is an artistic research project on the halting problem of a society after the spectacle when Guy Debord’s “autonomous movement of the non-living” has become almost trivial but fully embedded in biopolitics. The concept of imaginary property characterises a new regime of ubiquitous image-production which throws into crisis conventional conceptions of the vexed relationship between selfhood and ownership. It can be understood in two directions: the becoming-property of images and the becoming-imaginary of property. The social synthesis of imaginary property oscillates between its two functions: Inasmuch as imaginary property results from a continuity of primitive accumulation, it is a real abstraction. The thing becomes an image by abstracting its use value and subjecting the alienated self to the regime of commodity exchange. But in imaginary property there is also the opposite movement, that of an immersion into the abstract reality of post-cybernetic control: the image becomes a thing due to the extraction of its relational value, while the self shifts from an alienated subject into an empathic object. The commodity fetish meets its double: the fetish of surveillance.

Retten til flertydighet

Florian Schneider

Toril Johannessen
Unlearning Optical Illusions
Trondheim kunstmuseum
1. juni – 31. august

Med Unlearning Optical Illusions på Trondheim kunstmuseum viser Toril Johannessen hvordan kunstens krav om flertydighet kan åpne et rom for estetisk transcendens.

Hva vil det si å avlære? Det krever en viss innsats og enda mer standhaftighet å kvitte seg med allmenne oppfatninger og å bryte med mønstre vi er blitt altfor vant med. Antakelsen om at det vi ser med egne øyne gir noe slags bevis på hva som objektivt er, representerer ett slikt vanemønster.

I det som presenteres som hennes første museumsutstilling, Unlearning Optical Illusions på Gråmølna – en underavdeling av Trondheim kunstmuseum – har Toril Johannessen gjort et virkelig forbløffende forsøk på å føre sammen to diskurser som vanligvis vil støte fra hverandre: vitenskap og kolonialisme. Med bruk av angivelig autentisk vest-afrikansk vokstrykkteknologi har hun produsert over fem kilometer med tøy, dekorert med optiske illusjoner som ble vitenskapelig klassifisert i løpet av 1800-tallet.

For oss virker vitenskapens og kolonialismens avstamningslinjer temmelig ulike og lite parallelle. Men det er bare fra dagens utsiktspunkt, og sannsynligvis på grunn av deres forening under den kognitive kapitalismens fane. Hvis man kunne lukke et øye og for en stund forsøke å blinke bort det 20. århundrets katastrofer, kan det hende at linjene som løper fram til dagens teknovitenskapelige situasjon og de som løper ut av den postkoloniale tilstand vil vise seg slående parallelle.

Unlearning Optical Illusions forbinder de ulike lagene av et langtidsprosjekt som startet med kunstnerboken Unseeing i 2013. Når hun bruker kunstnerboken som utgangspunkt heller enn som en konklusjon på kunstnerisk research og produksjon, gjør Johannessen det motsatte av hva man kan betrakte som standard prosedyre. I et av kapitlene undersøker hun arbeidene til vitenskapsfolk som designet optiske bedrag, slik som Ludimar Herrmann, Franz Carl Müller-Lyer, Johann Christian Poggendorff, Ewald Hering og Johann Karl Friedrich Zöllner. Disse boksidene har fått et eget rom på Gråmølna, men bare i en fotnote til teksten nevner Johannessen «kombinasjoner av to- og tredimensjonale bildespråk» som finnes i «en type stoff som er blitt veldig populært i Vest-Afrika».

Det som i de fleste europeeres øyne sikkert virker som klisjeen på autentisk, tradisjonelt afrikansk tøy, er faktisk resultatet av en industriell masseproduksjon nesten utelukkende kontrollert av et nederlandsk selskap. I et kommersielt ekspansjonsprosjekt i stor skala approprierte Vlisco på 1840-tallet den tekniske kunnskapen om batikktrykk fra kolonien Java og begynte å masseprodusere tøyet – som fram til i dag fortsatt produseres i Nederland – over hele Vest-Afrika. Kvinner i Ghana og nabolandene har bygget kommersielle imperier basert på handel med vokstrykk, og mønstrene til det nederlandske tøyet brukes gjerne for å kommunisere ikke bare autentisitet, men også status og ry.

«Hollandaise», som den opprinnelig indonesiske batikkteknikken kalles i den fransktalende delen av Afrika, var også tittelen på en utstilling på Stedelijk Museum i Amsterdam høsten 2012, samt et halvt år senere på kunstsenteret RAW Material Company i Dakar. Kurator Koyo Kouoh hadde invitert fem kunstnere fra både Nederland og ulike deler av Afrika for å dekonstruere flettverket av koloniale og postkoloniale ekspropriasjoner og reappropriasjoner, som «en emblematisk fortelling om kommersiell dominans som begynte midt på 1800-tallet og har fortsatt til i dag».

Toril Johannessen begynte å jobbe med tøyet på samme tid, men foldet det ut i en litt annen retning, snarere fascinert av potensialet for et faktisk sammenfall mellom kulturell og optisk illusjon. Etter å ha designet egne mønstre basert på utvalgte optiske bedrag og først vist dem i en serie på syv fotografiske trykk, begynte hun å undersøke muligheten for å produsere tekstiler med vokstrykk i den eneste gjenværende fabrikken i Ghana. Til tross for økende konkurranse fra kinesiske produsenter er den fortsatt del av Vlisco-gruppen i Nederland, og den markedsfører sine produkter som «The True Original».

Et særeget trekk ved vokstrykkteknikken er at den skaper samme fargeintensitet på begge sider av tøyet, noe som ikke bare gjør sidene utskiftbare, men også opphever skillet mellom foran og bak, innside og utside. I Gråmølna er tekstilene Johannessen stilte ut på fjorårets skulpturbiennale i Vigelandmuseet i Oslo drapert langs utstillingsrommets hoveddel. Fortsatt delvis oppspunnet rundt store ruller, klatrer de over en frittstående vegg og strekker seg ut mot et digert panoramavindu vendt mot et kjøpesenter overfor Gråmølna. De fargerike mønstrene glir over i grafittien som pryder Kapitalistischer Realismus – Lars Ø. Rambergs permanente installasjon like utenfor museet, bestående av seks betongelementer fra Berlinmuren.

Toril Johannessen initierte nylig et samarbeid med det Oslo-baserte designkollektivet HaiK, som i 2017 skal lansere en vår-/sommer-kolleksjon med klær laget av tekstilene hennes. Fem vareprøver stilles ut på Gråmølna, mens en forhåndsvisning av kolleksjonen for tiden er oppe på WIELS i Brussel som del av Foreign Places. Men Unlearning Optical Illusions presenterer ikke bare utfallet av de ulike stadiene i en langsiktig kunstnerisk arbeidsprosess; på ulike måter berører den også det faktiske potensialet til kunstneres arbeid.

Når alt kommer til alt, er Unlearning Optical Illusions også en utstilling som må betraktes i den stedsspesifikke konteksten av Trondheim som Norges høysete for vitenskap og teknologi. Her åpner den potensialet for å skape nye forståelser eller misforståelser av forholdene mellom kunst og teknologi. Kunstens bruk av teknologien begrenser seg ikke til anvendelse av teknologiske nyvinninger til kunstneriske formål: den innebærer også å stille spørsmål ved teknologiens paradigmer, både kritisk og selvkritisk.

Å innse at autentisitet ikke er naturlig, men en illusjon produsert etter nokså paradoksale mønstre, krever en form for «unseeing» som synliggjør det som ikke er synlig i bildet – i hvert fall ikke ved første blikk. Så lenge kunsten gjør krav på retten til flertydighet og ugjennomsiktighet, kan den nettopp bidra til en avlæringsprosess som lar oss se verden annerledes: for eksempel ved å avdekke overvåkningens og informasjonens fetisj, som presenteres som beviset på eller idealet om total gjennomsiktighet – det Dietrich Dietrichsen nylig kalte «kybernetisk positivisme».

Slike argumenter er selvsagt ikke direkte innvevd eller umiddelbart synlige i de abstrakte geometriske mønstrene Johannessen stiller ut. Men ved å følge instruksjonene hennes, ved å bevege seg opp og ned langs en stiplet linje på gulvet mens man holder en hånd over det høyre øyet, oppstår det en annen form for visuell realitet, en som bare eksisterer i bevisstheten. Denne repetitive bevegelsen av å nærme seg og å rygge unna verket gir adgang til et hallusinatorisk eller «transvisuelt» – et begrep utmyntet av kunstteoretikeren Carl Einstein – område. Einstein forklarte det transvisuelle som et antirasjonelt rom av estetisk transcendens, i motsetning til sansningens og erkjennelsens territorier, der verdens bilder rasjonaliseres og det skapes en standardisert kontinuitet som framstår som kausalitet.

Oversatt av Eirik Høyer Leivestad

The right to ambiguity

Florian Schneider

Toril Johannessen
Unlearning Optical Illusions
Trondheim kunstmuseum
1 June – 31 August

With Unlearning Optical Illusions at Trondheim Kunstmuseum, Toril Johannessen shows how art’s claim to ambiguity can open up a space of aesthetic transcendence.

What does it mean to unlearn? It requires a certain effort and an even stronger persistence to discard common knowledge and break with patterns that have become all too familiar to us. The assumption that what we see with our own eyes provides some kind of evidence of what is, objectively speaking, represents one such familiar pattern.

In what is promoted as her first museum show, Unlearning Optical Illusions, housed in the Gramølna section of Trondheim Kunstmuseum, Toril Johannessen has made a truly astonishing attempt to bring two discourses together that would normally pull away from one another: science and colonialism. Using allegedly authentic West African wax printing technology, she has produced more than five kilometres of cloth displaying optical illusions that were scientifically classified in the course of the 19th century.

The lineages of science and colonialism seem rather odd and uneven to us, but only from today’s vantage point and most likely due to their merger under the banner of cognitive capitalism. If one were able to close one eye and try for a moment to unsee the catastrophes of the 20th century, the lines running up to the current state of techno-science and those resulting from the postcolonial condition might turn out as strikingly parallel.

Unlearning Optical Illusions connects the different layers of a long-term project that started in 2013 with the artists’ book Unseeing. By using the artists’ book as a starting point rather than a conclusion of artistic research and production, Johannessen goes against the grain of what might be considered the default artistic process. In one chapter of the book she investigates the work of scientists who designed optical illusions, such as Ludimar Hermann, Franz Carl Müller-Lyer, Johann Christian Poggendorff, Ewald Hering and Johann Karl Friedrich Zöllner. In Gramølna these pages of the book have been afforded their own room, but only in a footnote of the text does Johannessen mention the “combinations of two- and three-dimensional imagery” that is found in “a type of fabrics that has become very popular in West Africa”.

What probably appears in the eyes of most Europeans as the cliché of authentic traditional African cloth is actually the result of an industrialised mass production almost exclusively controlled by a company from the Netherlands. In the 1840s, Vlisco appropriated the knowledge of batik printing technology from the colonies in Java and started to mass produce the cloth, which up until today is still produced in the Netherlands, across West Africa in a large-scale project of commercial expansion. Women in Ghana and neighbouring countries have built commercial empires based on the trade of wax print, and the patterns of the Dutch cloth are widely used to communicate not only authenticity, but also status and reputation.

“Hollandaise”, as the originally Indonesian batik technique is called in francophone Africa, was also the title of an exhibition at Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam in the autumn of 2012, as well as half a year later in the art centre “RAW Material Company” in Dakar. Curator Koyo Kouoh had invited five artists from both the Netherlands and different parts of Africa in order to deconstruct the meshwork of colonial and postcolonial ex- and re-appropriations as “an emblematic tale of commercial domination that began in the middle of the 19th century and continues down to today”.

Toril Johannessen began working with the cloth at the same time, but unfolded it in a slightly different direction, being fascinated rather by the potential of an actual overlap of cultural and optical illusion. After designing her own patterns based on selected optical illusions and showing them first in a series of seven photographic prints, she began to explore the possibilities of producing wax-print fabric in the last remaining factory in Ghana. Despite the increasing competition with Chinese manufacturers, it is still part of the Vlisco group from the Netherlands, and it brands its products as “The True Original”.

It is a peculiar feature of the wax-print technique that it generates the same colour intensity on both sides of the fabric, which consequentially become not only interchangeable, but also suspends the distinction between front and back, inside and out. In Gramølna the textiles that Johannessen exhibited last year in the Skulpturbiennale at Vigelandsmuseet in Oslo are draped across the main exhibition space. Partly still wound onto big rolls, they scale a partition wall and reach out towards a large storefront window that faces a shopping mall across from Gråmølna, the colorful patterns fading into the graffiti that adorn Kapitalistischer Realismus – Lars Ø. Ramberg’s permanent installation just outside of the museum, consisting of six concrete elements from the Berlin Wall.
Toril Johannessen collaborated most recently with the Oslo based design collective HaiK, who will issue a spring/summer 2017 collection of clothing made from her fabric. Five samples are exhibited in Gramølna, while a preview of the collection is currently on show in WIELS in Brussels as a part of Foreign Places. However, Unlearning Optical Illusions does not only present the output of the different stages of a long-term artistic work process; it also touches in various ways on the actual potential of the work of artists.

After all, Unlearning Optical Illusions is an exhibition that also has to be seen in the site-specific context of Trondheim as Norway’s stronghold of science and technology. Here, it opens up the potential of creating new understandings or misunderstandings of the relationships between art and technology. Art’s engagement with technology amounts not only to applying technological innovations towards artistic ends, but also involves questioning their paradigms both critically and self-critically.

To realise that authenticity is not natural, but an illusion produced according to rather paradoxical patterns, requires a form of “unseeing” that makes visible what is not visible in the image – at least not at first glance. As long as art demands a right to ambiguity and opacity, it can indeed contribute to such a process of unlearning, which makes us see the world differently: for instance by uncovering the fetish of surveillance and information, which is presented as evidence or the ideal of total transparency – what Diedrich Diederichsen recently termed “cybernetic positivism”.

Of course, such arguments are not directly embedded or immediately visible in the abstract geometrical patterns that Johannessen is exhibiting. But by following her instructions, by moving forward and backward along a dashed line on the floor while holding one hand in front of the right eye, a different kind of visual reality appears that exists only in the mind. This repetitive motion of coming closer and moving away from the work provides access to a realm of hallucination or the “transvisual” – a term coined by the art theorist Carl Einstein. He mapped it as an antirational space of aesthetic transcendence, opposed to the territories of perception and cognition, where the rationalisation of the images of the world takes place and where a standardised continuity is generated in order to be conceived as causality.

Imaginary property

Peer-reviewed conference paper presented at "Image as Vortex: An Interdisciplinary Conference on the Question of what an Image is by examining what it does" -- University of Oxford, 18th June 2016, 09:30 AM -16:00 PM, Headley Lecture Theatre, The Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology, Beaumont St, Oxford, OX1 2PH:

The imaginary character of property relations in networked environments as well as the proprietary character of image production constitutes a dualism of the commodity and surveillance character of images. The charismatic performance of a self re-authenticates the image that is alienated from its object on the basis of the redundancies of its relational value; in return the image generates the consistency of a self that is in a permanent crisis due to the fugitive character of ownership of one’s own image under the conditions of constant self-surveillance.

The social synthesis of imaginary property oscillates between its two functions: Inasmuch as imaginary property results from a continuity of primitive accumulation, it is a real abstraction. The thing becomes an image by abstracting its use value and subjecting the alienated self to the regime of the market. But in imaginary property there is also the opposite movement, that of an immersion into the abstract reality of surveillance: the image becomes a thing due to the extraction of its relational value, while the self shifts from an alienated subject into an empathic object.

Imaginary property fills a gap between real and imaginary, constituted by the anti-optical character of visual experience for which Carl Einstein coined the term “transvisuality.” In the late 1930s Einstein mapped it as hallucinatory, opposed to the territories of perception and cognition where the rationalisation of the images of the world takes place and where a standardized continuity is generated. In certain ways the transvisual could be understood as the counter concept to Freud’s unconscious. For Einstein it is a mythological space that is “optically underdetermined.” In this paper i will argue, that today, by the concept of imaginary property, transvisuality reunifies both, the commodity and the surveillance character of the contemporary image as absent presence and present absence.

What does it actually mean to employ a self? The goal of the workshop is to explore the new role of the artist in a society which claims to be based on the production of knowledge and creative industries. What are the consequences for the self-conception and self-perception of artists, when art and cultural production is no longer situated outside of a general economy, but in the thick of it? The workshop will investigate both, contemporary theory on this question as well as emerging critical practices across different disciplines.

There is no specific target group for this workshop. It is addressed to all students who have an interest in critically exploring, reflecting and engaging themselves as well as their own practices with some of the basic principles of cultural production today or in the near future.

As key learning outcomes the workshop will provide a first sketch or draft towards a critique of the political economy of the self. It will include theories of self-portraiture, research on divisions of artistic labor as well as debates on strategies of economic survival as a freelancer. The result will be a lot of new questions, rather than answers.

Participants of this workshop are expected to be ready to invest into an intense week of a full of very different activities like reading, researching, interviewing, recording, performing and presenting.

Employing a self

Divisions

DIVISIONS -- The charismatic self and hybrid divisions of labour: art in the age of creative industries and knowledge production
http://artistic-research.no/prosjektprogrammet/tildelinger/tildelinger-2...

"Divisions" is a two-year long artistic research project by the Trondheim Academy of Fine Art. It received a NOK 2.200.000 research grant by the Norwegian Artistic Research Programme. The project sets out to investigate self-images and self-conceptions of artists in a post-industrial society that is characterized by hybrid divisions of labor. The project consists of researching facts on the ground of creative industries, a series of conferences and workshops across Norway, culminating in the commission of five artworks by internationally renowned artists.

In the debate about creative industries, the artist appears as a role-model for a self-managed entrepreneurship that is supposed to undo the industrial division of labour that prevailed throughout modernity, and most importantly the division between manual and intellectual labour.

Rather than uncritically accepting these claims about creativity and knowledge production and thus accepting the position of the artist in a seemingly seamless way into a homogenous conceptual arrangement of creative industries, artistic practices follow different paths, and this project aims to examine this phenomenon.

This artistic research project sets out to explore, analyse and work with the shifts, changes and contradictions of the artist's role in todays society which may result from the assumption that art is no longer situated outside of production. Ultimately, it will test a daring hypothesis: The mythology of networked automatisation has estranged creativity from the process of creation. In order to generate value, the image becomes valuable in an alienated context—one other than its own.

Against that backdrop, a rather "charismatic" notion of the self of the artist might be condemned to a terrible task: It has to revaluate, remix and reconnect the image with a new concept of a self, which does not necessarily have to be the original creator. Rather than being an unearned gift, the charismatic self may appear as the just or unjust forfeits of new forms of ownership that are currently emerging out of the networked character of production.

Keeping Us All Alive

Florian Schneider

Dear Phil,
Sorry about the delay in getting back to you but work has been intense the last few days. So, I'll get straight to the point.
Telephone conversations conducted by homeless people aware of the fact that they were being recorded; the anonymisation and trans- formation of the original recordings and the transcribed content into songs, composed by musicians with no concrete relation to the original context; the presentation of these compositions as vinyl records
in an array of specially designed listening booths in a museum or a theatre. Maybe all this could be terribly misunderstood as charitable, nostalgic, or even exploitative. I don’t think so. On the contrary, I un- derstand it as a potentially infinite loop of abstractions, which appear
as negations of the real abstractions of the world that surrounds us: the real abstractions of the commodity form, the real abstractions of char- ity, the real abstractions of homelessness, speechlessness, disconnect- edness, and of a systemic lack of imagination.
In return, we have to realise that the power of artistic abstraction is an abstraction which, rather than being subject to aesthetic consump- tion, is indeed productive; which, rather than escaping contradictions, characterises the specific quality of a work of art; and which, rather than being reduced to a matter of communication, creates an abstract sense of community in terms of realising how differently we live and how we can work differently. As Toni Negri wrote at the end of the 1980s, “The abstract is our nature, the abstract is the quality of our labour, the abstract is the only community in which we exist.”
I would also assume that your piece marks another, important step towards the invention of a new kind of realism, a form of docu- mentary which is non-representational and, to quote Negri again, “ca- pable of rearticulating the present into something other than a system of global indifference.”
(Remember Scritti Politti in “Skank Bloc Bologna” from 1978: “Keeping us all alive - something in Italy”?)
One can imagine perfectly what it would have been like to turn the content of these conversations into a Brechtian play. But rather than moralising, we enjoy their abstract materiality. Rather than raising awareness, we move in circles.
I saw your work last autumn, when it was installed at HAU Heb- bel am Ufer in Berlin. I was invited to give a talk as an introduction to a performance entitled Orpheus in the Land of the Living: A Smuggler's
Opera, a new piece by andcompany&Co. which takes on today’s issue of illegalised border crossing and so-called human trafficking (or people smuggling). Together with a small audience I have been sitting in HAU2, in front of the installation of an artwork with the title my heart’s in my hand, and my hand is pierced, and my hand’s in the bag, and the bag is shut, and my heart is caught. Some of the people waiting for me to fi- nally start my lecture, decided to listen to a record first; others listened to me only briefly, while they were changing the booths.
As I read from a text which I wrote fifteen years ago about the figure of the people smuggler, or “coyote” (as it is called at the US- Mexican border), I started to feel a strange mix of contingency and un- timeliness. In a side remark I quoted from “The Tracking Shot in Kapo”, the canonical text by Serge Daney who, in the second of its only three footnotes, introduces Jacques Lacan’s notion of the passeur. “The pas- seurs are strange: they need borders but only to challenge them. They don't want to be alone with their treasures and, at the same time, they don't really care about those to whom they pass something. And since ‘feelings are always reciprocal’, we don't really care about them either, we don't pass anything to them, and we often empty their pockets.”
On my way back to Norway I read Daney’s entire text again, which I haven’t done in quite a while although it certainly is one of the pieces of writing most dear to me. I decided to reread it with a group of art students within the improvised setting of an exhibition we put
up spontaneously on the occasion of a local documentary festival.
During this reading, we encountered a strange paragraph to- wards the end in which Daney writes, “And every ‘form’ is a face look- ing at us. (...) The form is desire; the content is only the background when we are gone.”
When Serge Daney wrote these lines, he knew that he would die soon. He tried to sum up his life as a cineaste and prolific writer on film by short-circuiting his impressions while recalling and revisiting Jacques Rivette’s review, entitled “Of Abjection”, of Gillo Pontecorvo’s film Kapo in Cahiers du Cinéma. Rivette coined the dictum that a filmmaker who dares to make a forward tracking shot in order to reframe the dead body of a concentration camp inmate who threw herself into the electric barbed wire, is a man “worthy of the most profound contempt.”
Thirty years later, Daney compared Rivette’s rigorousness in terms of a dialectical relationship between form and content, when it comes to the moral impact of a tracking shot, to the ethical and aesthetic bankruptcy culminating in TV productions such as Band Aid
or USA for Africa, which were broadcast at around the same time and which feature a myriad of electronically generated dissolves blending the faces of starving children with those of famous musicians.
Meanwhile, another twenty years after Daney reflected on what he called a deportation “from my real situation as a spectator-witness forcing me to be part of the picture,” immersion has become an almost unquestionable prerequisite of any kind of expression in the visual cul- tures that surround us – from the most banal form of data visualisation to the advanced technologies of 3D movies. At the same time, the terror of participatory practices can barely conceal its true face, functioning within an emerging totalitarian system of expropriation of relational value generated on the basis of imaginary property.
Form is a face, and a face is a signifying machine that does not only express what is behind it. Contrary to the common belief that a face exhibits the interior decoration of the mind to the public, revealing an individual and essential truth as a mirror of the self, form appears
as desire exceeding the banalities of art as a “mirror of society.” Form is an intensity, a block of experience, the building material of affects, an abstract intensification which suspends individuation.
Daney and Rivette are now gone. Against the background that remains, I understand your project as a work that opposes its artificial- ity to that of the art institution, its documentary character to that of documentary. Rather than rescuing the world, or making at least a small part of it a “better place”, it questions our attitude towards it. Instead of trying to identify images of reality with their ancestors or reproductions, we have to understand art as the creation of new and abstract realities. This introduces vision as a social practice which takes place at a certain distance but in a line of sight: for example, that between Museum Lud- wig, where the listening booths are set up, and GULLIVER survival station, where the homeless receive support and make free phone calls which are now abstracted and refrained into songs.
I am running out of time again, but I hope we can continue our con- versation soon over another cup of coffee. I very much look forward to it.
Yours sincerely, Florian

Kleine Geschichte der Fluchthilfe

Im Grenzgebiet zwischen den USA und Mexiko wird nicht nur der biologische canis latrans als Kojote bezeichnet, sondern auch ein besonders verruchter Menschenschlag: "Coyote" heißen Fluchthelfer, die gegen ein gewisses Entgelt dabei behilflich sind, die Staatsgrenze ohne den ansonsten üblichen Formalkram zu überqueren. Um seine Dienste denjenigen anzubieten, die aus eigener Kraft nicht weiter kommen, muss der Fluchthelfer sich offenbar in ein Tier verwandeln. Genauer gesagt: eine Art Hund werden, der in der Lage ist, einen verborgenen Weg aufzuspüren, um die ihm Anvertrauten dann entlang dieser Fährte vom einen Land ins andere zu führen.
„Coyotes“ kommen aus dem Nichts und verschwinden dorthin auch wieder. Ihre Motivation gibt nur Rätsel auf. Geld mag bei manchen eine Rolle spielen, aber wohl nicht die entscheidende. Die Herausforderung, die auf den Fluchthelfer wartet, ist schließlich wesentlich komplizierter und das Risiko viel größer, als dass die erbrachte Dienstleistung mit einem finanziellen Vorteil aufgewogen werden könnte. Anderen bei der Flucht zu helfen, bedeutet dann, wenn die Menschlichkeit aussetzt, das Menschsein hinter sich zu lassen, Tier-werden eben. Es bedeutet, einen anderen Ausweg zu finden.
Von der Öffentlichkeit kann sich der Fluchthelfer dabei kaum Sympathien erhoffen, im Gegenteil. Das Bundeskriminalamt definiert „Schleuserkriminalität“ als „in der Regel gewerbs- oder bandenmäßig begangenen Unterstützungshandlungen zur unerlaubten Einreise und zum unerlaubten Aufenthalt von Ausländern“. Die Vereinten Nationen verurteilten „das Schlepperunwesen als eine Praxis, die gegen das Völkerrecht, gegen innerstaatliches Recht und gegen sonstige Übereinkommen zwischen Staaten verstößt und die die Sicherheit, das Wohl und die Menschenrechte der Migranten mißachtet.“
Fluchthelfer haben viele Gesichter und mindestens ebenso viele Namen. Die hektische Konjunktur der Fluchthilfe spiegelt sich schließlich auch in dem begrifflichen Durcheinander wider, das sich um die Beihilfe zum illegalen Grenzübertritt gebildet hat. Im Deutschen werden Fluchthelfer seit einigen Jahren als "Schlepper" oder "Schleuser" bezeichnet: Begriffe, die der Fahrzeugtechnik entlehnt sind, aber darüberhinaus eindeutig abwertend konnotiert sind. Anderswo werden, wie in Mexiko und dem Süden der USA, Namen aus der Tierwelt bevorzugt: Britische Seeleute nannten die Vermittler blinder Schiffspassagen "Sharks", Haie. Im Chinesischen gibt es den "Shetou", im Englischen den "Snakehead". Es meint einen Menschen, „der schlau ist wie eine Schlange und seinen beweglichen Kopf zu nutzen weiß, um sich durch schwierige Hindernisse einen Weg zu bahnen.“ Nur auf Französisch wird die Unterstützung beim informellen Grenzübertritt ziemlich nüchtern bezeichnet: "Passeurs".
Eine Frühform systematischer Fluchthilfe war die so genannte "Underground Railroad". Vor und während des amerikanischen Bürgerkriegs brachten die Abolitionisten entlaufene Sklaven nachts und auf sicheren Wegen aus den
Südstaaten in den sicheren Norden der USA oder nach Kanada. Die Abolitionisten sahen ihre meist religiös motivierte Aufgabe vorrangig im Kampf gegen den Rassismus und in der Errettung von Menschen, denen der sichere Tod drohte, sobald sie sich dem System der Sklaverei entzogen. Die Grenze, über die es ihnen hinwegzuhelfen galt, war eine Demarkationslinie, die innerhalb eines Landes verlief, die Grenzüberschreitung war ein Überschreiten der Grenze von feudaler Gesellschaft und landwirtschaftlicher Produktion hin zur kapitalistischen Industrieproduktion. Letztere gab erst einmal vor, keinen Unterschied zwischen den Menschen zu machen.
Mit den beiden großen Proletarisierungswellen Mitte und Ende des 19. Jahrhunderts brach das vom Wiener Kongress restaurierte Grenzregime in Europa fast völlig zusammen. Arbeiter aus dem Süden und aus dem Osten wurden vom Land in die Stadt und natürlich über alle staatlichen und nationalstaatlichen Grenzen hinweg mobilisiert. Abgesehen von Frankreich und Russland waren Grenzgänger bis zum ersten Weltkrieg auch nicht genötigt, eine entsprechende Erlaubnis oder einen Pass vorzuzeigen, wenn sie von einem Land in ein anderes wechseln wollten. Offizielle, durch und durch kommerziell motivierte Fluchthilfe boomte derweil: So spezialisierte sich die Reederei Hapag mit ihrer Hamburg-Amerika-Linie fast vollständig auf das legale Geschäft mit Auswanderern und gründete 1901 im Hamburger „Veddel“ eine eigene Stadt, um ausreisewillige Migranten, die ihrer Heimat bereits den Rücken gekehrt hatten und sehnsüchtig auf ihre schnellstmögliche Beförderung in die USA warteten, in großem Maßstab in die neue Welt zu schleusen.
Bedarf für organisierte, illegale Fluchthilfe meldeten bis dahin politische Flüchtlinge, Deserteure und Kriegsdienstverweigerer an. Ähnlich den entflohenen Sklaven hatten sie die spezifische Absicht, „disziplinarischem Innendruck“ zu entkommen. „Ärmliche Besoldung und rigorose Disziplinierung, aber auch kollektive Unzufriedenheit und konfessionelle oder familiäre Solidarität zogen Desertionen nach sich“, konstatiert Michael Sikora schon für das 18. Jahrhundert, dem Zeitalter massenhafter Desertion aus den steehenden Heeren. So zeitlos das Phänomen Desertion und deren organisatorische Unterstützung ist, so aufschlussreich ist der Widerstand gegen die staatliche Verfügungsgewalt über die rekrutierten Untertanen allerdings im Zusammenhang mit der Formierung des modernen Nationalsstaates. Generalmobilmachung und Kriegsökonomie des ersten Weltkrieges führten schließlich in ganz Europa zur Etablierung von Grund auf erneuerter Grenzregimes, die auf modernem Passwesen, also Identitätsnachweis mit entsprechenden Sichtvermerken, basierten. Unmittelbar an der Staatsgrenze sollten Menschen von nun an in zwei Kategorien eingeteilt werden können: Solche, denen der Übertritt gestattet sei und solche, denen der Zugang zum Disziplinarraum des Nationalstaates verwehrt werde. Erfolgte ein Grenzübertritt bislang nur aus sehr spezifischen Gründen, die wiederum eng mit den Fluchtursachen verknüpft waren, besser im Geheimen, wird er von nun an pauschal illegalisiert, sofern gewisse Papiere nicht vorliegen, beziehungsweise nicht vorliegen können. Zumindest theoretisch verallgemeinert sich der Bedarf an Fluchthilfe von diesem Moment an.
Bis das moderne Grenzregime dann auch praktisch durchgesetzt war, dauerte es aber fast bis zum zweiten Weltkrieg. Der Vormarsch von Faschismus und deutscher Armee trieb Zehntausende von Gegnern und Opfern des Nationalsozialismus in die Flucht. Schnell stellte es sich als Trugschluss heraus, dass es mit dem Überschreiten einer einzigen Staatsgrenze bereits getan wäre. Die Flucht vor dem Faschismus geriet trotz oder gerade wegen wachsender Mobilität zu einem wesentlich komplizierteren und weitreichenderen Unterfangen. Paradoxerweise betätigten sich bis zum November 1938 auch deutsche Grenzbehörden als illegale Fluchthelfer, indem Zoll und Grenzpolizei Juden entweder aus politischem Eifer oder gegen Zahlung hoher Bestechungsgelder über die grüne Grenze nach Belgien und die Niederlande schleusten.
Die Gestapo hatte schon Mitte der 30er Jahre die ersten Ermittlungsverfahren wegen organisierter Fluchthilfe gestartet. Zunächst waren es Kommunisten und Sozialisten, die mithilfe von Belegschaftskontakten Transportmittel wie Eisenbahnen und Schiffe benutzten, um Illegale, Widerstandskämpfer oder Flüchtlinge über die Grenze zu bringen. Später dann Quäker, die konfessionslose Juden zumindest vorübergehend in Sicherheit zu bringen versuchten. Je niedriger der politische Organisationsgrad, umso zwangsläufiger musste der Grenzübertritt über die "grüne Grenze" passieren. Dank der Zusammenarbeit mit Ortskundigen und Einheimischen, aber auch mithilfe kommerzieller Fluchthilfeorganisationen gelang es vor allem vor, aber auch während des 2. Weltkriegs in wahrscheinlich Zigtausenden von Fällen, die schärfer werdenden Kontrollen vor allem an der deutsch-belgischen, der deutsch-tschechischen und den schweizerischen Grenzen zu umgehen. Fluchthilfe in ihrer ursprünglichsten Form funktionierte vor allem deswegen, weil die lokalen Grenzbeamten, wie sie das seit Jahrunderten gewohnt waren, gerne ein Auge zudrückten, wenn andere Ortsansässige die Grenze überquerten und dabei unerlaubte Waren oder -- vor allem in Kriegs- und Krisenzeiten -- eben auch Menschen mit sich führten.
In dem wohl bekanntesten Dokument antifaschistischer Fluchthilfe, dem Roman „Das siebte Kreuz“ schildert Anna Seghers die Flucht von sieben Häftlingen aus dem Konzentrationslager Westhofen. Der Kommandant läßt für die sieben Entflohenen jeweils ein Kreuz auf dem „Tanzplatz“ des Lagers aufstellen. Während vier Flüchtlinge von der Gestapo gefangen genommen werden, einer stirbt und ein weiterer sich freiwillig stellt, gelingt es einem Einzigen, dem Mechaniker Georg Heisler, dem Nationalsozialismus zu entkommen. Das siebte Kreuz, das leer bleibt, wird zum Symbol des Widerstands. Der Lagerkommandant merkt, „daß er nicht hinter einem einzelnen her war, dessen Züge er kannte, dessen Kraft erschöpft war, sondern einer gesichtslosen, unabschätzbaren Macht.“ Nicht durch die Hilfe eines Apparates oder einer Organisation, sondern durch die tatkräftige Unterstützung vieler einzelner, meist einfacher Menschen, die ihrerseits ihr Leben und das ihrer Angehörigen aufs Spiel setzen, schafft Heisler nicht nur die Flucht in die Freiheit, sondern stellt noch wesentlich mehr unter Beweis: „Ein entkommener Flüchtling, das ist immer etwas, das wühlt auf. Das ist immer ein Zweifel an ihrer Allmacht. Eine Bresche.“
Schon zwei Jahre vor dem zweiten Weltkrieg war die Grenze zwischen Frankreich und Spanien war von französischer Seite aus dicht gemacht worden. Ziel war, den Internationalen Brigadisten im Bürgerkrieg den Zugang zu verwehren. Die Rotspanienkämpfer überquerten daraufhin ab Mitte 1937 mithilfe sogenannter "réseaux irrégulairs" die Pyrenäen. Am 6. April 1940 gab der Präfekt des Departement Pyrenées-Orientales dann den Erlaß bekannt, daß klandestine Grenzübertritte einen Straftatbestand darstellten und die Täter sich von nun an vor Gericht verantworten müssten.
Ein Schicksal, dem der Amerikaner Varian Fry und viele andere Fluchthelfer immer wieder nur knapp entgingen. Am 3. August 1940 war der damals 32- jährige Amerikaner im Auftrag des Emergency Rescue Comitees mit 3000 Dollar nach Frankreich gereist. Sein Auftrag lautete, einige der wichtigsten politischen Flüchtlinge vor den vorrückenden Nazis in Sicherheit zu bringen. Obwohl Fry über keinerlei Erfahrungen auf dem Gebiet des Menschenschmuggels verfügte, gelang es ihm, eine weit verzweigte und gut getarnte Fluchthilfe-Organisation aufzubauen und – statt der vorgesehenen zehn - an die 2000 Flüchtlinge meist von Marseilles aus über die spanische Grenze und von dort aus über Portugal in die USA zu schmuggeln.
Ähnlich operierten zahlreiche andere Widerstandsgruppe wie die um Joachim von Zedtwitz und die Schriftstellerin Milena Jesenska im besetzten Prag, bis ein Spitzel die Organisation auffliegen liess. Ziel war, Juden, tschechische Offiziere und andere gefährdete Personen mit dem Auto in die Gegend von Mährisch Ostrau zu bringen. Von dort wurden sie von ortskundigen Einwohnern über die grüne Grenze nach Kattowitz in Polen geführt, wo Engländer ein Auffanglager unterhielten.
Jesenska, hatte in einem ihrer Texte einmal geschrieben: "Ein jeder kann mit einem anderen Menschen nur insoweit mitfühlen, als er imstande ist, sich das Schicksal des anderen vorzustellen." Das Bild des Fluchthelfers aus dieser Zeit ist jedoch geprägt vom Klischee des mitleidlosen, desillusionierten Zynikers, den Humphrey Bogart in den Spielfilmen "Casablanca" und vor allem ”To Have and Have Not” darstellt. Der unbeteiligte Fremde, der alle Konfliktparteien gegeneinander auszuspielen weiss, dem jede lokale Spitzfindigkeit geläufig ist, hat keine Intention und keine Identität. ”Wo liegen ihre Sympathien?” wird der Schlepper Bogart in ”To Have and Have Not” andauernd gelöchert. ”Ich kümmere mich um mich selbst”, ist seine Antwort. Und Lauren Bacall, die gefragt wird, wer sie sei, sagt: ”Niemand. Eine Art Freiwillige.”
Tatsächliche Fluchthelfer dürften aus einer etwas präziseren Bestimmung heraus agiert haben, nichstdestotrotz gibt es eine Leerstelle in der Subjektivität des Fluchthelfers. Georg Lukacs bemängelte, in „Das siebtes Kreuz“ das „tiefe Warum des Kampfes“ nicht ausmachen zu können. Vergleichsweise mystisch heißt es bei Anna Seghers heißt es zum Schluss: „Wir fühlten alle, wie tief und furchtbar die äußeren Mächte in den Menschen hineingreifen können, bis in sein Innerstes, aber wir fühlten auch, daß es im Innersten etwas gab, was unangreifbar war und unverletzbar.“
Auch Lisa Fittko, die im Auftrag von Varian Fry zum Beispiel Walter Benjamin und Hannah Arendt über die Pyrenäen brachte, erinnerte sich: "Und immer wieder fragten und stritten wir uns: wo gehören wir hin? Wir haben eine Aufgabe. Unsere Aufgabe ist jetzt, aus dieser Falle zu entkommen. Wir müssen uns selber retten - wir müssen versuchen, uns gegenseitig zu retten." Im Widerspruch zur recht banalen Pragmatik der Flucht scheint es eine Esoterik der Fluchthilfe zu geben, die die Grenze unmittelbarer, eigener Betroffenheit überschreitet und die Grenzen blanken humanitären Engagements ins Unermeßliche ausweitet.
Während in vielen antifaschistischen Widerstandszirkeln nur über politische Programmatik gestritten wurde, wollte Milena Jessenska mit einer "unmittelbaren, praktischen Aktion zur der Bekämpfung des Nationalsozialismus beitragen". Sie verzichtete schließlich sogar darauf, sich selbst in Sicherheit zu bringen und wird im KZ Ravensbrück umgebracht. "Oh, Gott, was ist das für eine Grenze" schrieb sie in einem Artikel Ende 1938, "ein Stückchen Draht über das Feld, eine Stange übern Weg, ein Strick von Baum zu Baum, ein Kind könnte das Ganze niederreißen, es ist zum Weinen." Die Unerbittlichkeit der Grenze manifestierte sich damals sicherlich nicht im Grad ihrer Befestigung; es galt, eine Totalität von Überwachung und Unterdrückung zu unterlaufen, die im Inneren der Grenze herrschte und andauernd ausgeweitet wurde.
Umfangreich befestigt, militärisch hochgerüstet und schier unüberwindbar wurden Grenzen im Kalten Krieg, als die Welt für ein knappes halbes Jahrhundert in Machtblöcke und starre Einflussphären aufgeteilt war. Offensichtlich wurde die neue Bedeutung der Grenze an der Berliner Mauer oder dem 38. Breitengrad, der Nord- und Süd-Korea voneinander trennt. Vor der endgültigen Festschreibung der Nachkriegsordnung flohen – gegen den heftigen Widerstand Großbritanniens - schätzungsweise eine Viertelmillion osteuropäische Juden in drei großen Migrationswellen von 1945 bis 1949 auf abenteuerlichen Wegen über Österreich und Italien nach Palästina.
„Bricha“, zu deutsch "Flucht", war eine Fluchthilfeorganisation, die um den Jahreswechsel 1944/1945 in Ostpolen und Litauen entstanden war und sich um das Schicksal der Überlebenden der Shoah kümmerte, die als „Displaced Persons“ eine Leben im Transit in den Lagern der Alliierten führten. „Aufgrund der britischen Blockade der Wege ans Mittelmeer wurde es immer aussichtsloser, aus Österreich nach Palästina zu gelangen. Für die Mehrheit der Flüchtlinge blieb als einzig realistische Option die Weiterreise in die US-Zone Deutschlands als vorläufigem Endpunkt ihrer Flucht. Nur eine Minderheit - immerhin rund 50.000 - konnte die Bricha aus Österreich nach Italien schleusen.“
1961 riegelte die DDR-Führung alle bis zu diesem Zeitpunkt noch offenen Fluchtwege ab, um einen Abwanderungsstrom einzudämmen, der bis zu diesem Zeitpunkt mindestens 100.000 Menschen pro Jahr ausmachte. Mit dem Bau der Berliner Mauer wurde jedoch keineswegs der Wille zur Flucht gebrochen, sondern "im Gegenteil herausgefordert, auch wenn die Republikflucht
schwieriger und gefährlicher geworden war. Fluchthilfe, und zwar organisierte wurde so geradezu zwangsläufig provoziert."
Nachdem es ihm gelang, mithilfe einer Fluchthilfeorganisation seine in der DDR zurückgebliebene Geliebte in den Westen zu schleusen, beschreibt Uwe Johnson in der Erzählung "Eine Kneipe geht verloren" detailliert Aufbau und Arbeitsweise einer Fluchthilfeorganisation von jungen Westberliner Studenten. Johnson bricht mit dem diesseits und jenseits der Grenze herrschenden Tabu, über die Methoden der Republikflucht entweder Schweigen zu wahren oder Missfallen zu äußern. Denn ausgerechnet, als es die geringst mögliche Distanz zwischen zwei Staaten zu überwinden galt, wurde Fluchthilfe tabuisiert, verdammt, heroisiert und ideologisiert wie nie zuvor. Johnsons Fluchthelferin dagegen sieht sich nicht bemüßigt, einen Grund anzugeben, "aus dem Leuten über die Grenze zu helfen wäre". „Manchmal macht man eben Sachen ohne zu wissen warum“, sagt auch Erik Schumann als Grenzpolizist Kaufmann im deutschen Spielfilm-Melodram „Himmel ohne Sterne“, bevor er ein Kind über die Grenze schmuggelt - in diesem besonderen Fall sogar von West nach Ost.
Johnsons Fluchthelferin ist mit den anderen war durch "nichts als ein Drittes verbunden" und dennoch verschleisst sie die gesamte Erbschaft, um Menschen auch dann noch über die Mauer zu helfen, als "zwei Überführungen ungefähr so teuer wie ein vollständiger Serienwagen der Mittelklasse" wurden und die bloss politisch motivierten Fluchthelfer das Feld längst kommerziellen Anbietern überlassen hatten. Bald nach dem Mauerbau war es nämlich nicht mehr nur damit getan, Gesetze zu umgehen, "die im Osten wie im Westen der Stadt peinliche Strafen androhten für den Mißbrauch von staatlich ausgestellten Personalpapieren"
Fluchthilfe wurde zusehends aufwändiger und gefährlicher: Gefälschte Pässe, Fluchttunnel, Fahrzeuge mit geheimen Hohlräumen waren notwendig, nachdem die DDR-Grenzer den einfachen Tricks der Fluchthelfer auf die Schliche kamen.
Wohl spektakulärstes Beispiel für Fluchthilfe in dieser Epoche ist der 126 Meter lange Tunnel unter der Bernauer Strasse von Ost- nach West-Berlin. Fünf Monate lang hatten knapp 50 Studenten den Tunnel von einer alten Fabrik im Stadtteil Wedding bis in den Keller eines Ostberliner Wohnhauses gegraben, um am 14. September 1962 insgesamt 29 Menschen zur Flucht zu verhelfen. Geleitet wurde das Unternehmen von Hasso Herschel, der ein knappes Jahr zuvor mit einem falschen Schweizer Pass aus dem Osten in den Westen überwechselte und mit dem Tunnel seine Schwester sowie seine Nichte zu sich holen wollte. Finanziert wurde der Tunnelbau vom Fernsehsender NBC, der für die Filmrechte 50.000 Mark bezahlte. Herschel will später noch zwei weitere Tunnel durch das Berliner Erdreich gegraben haben und per Hubschrauber sowie mithilfe von umgebauten Autos rund 1000 Menschen den illegalen Grenzübertritt ermöglicht haben.
Ende 1963 waren die meisten studentischen Gruppen und Feierabend- Fluchthelfer zur Aufgabe gezwungen. An ihre Stelle traten ab Mitte der 60er Jahre professionelle Unternehmen wie die Schweizer "Aramco AG", die mit den enormen Auslagen hantieren, auf entsprechende Erfahrungen und Infrastruktur
zurückgreifen konnten und deswegen für die Schleusung meist mehrere Zehntausend Mark berechneten. Weitgehend ungeachtet ihrer gewerbsmäßigen Struktur und kommerzieller Motive wurde Fluchthilfe sowohl von den DDR- Gerichten als auch von sympathisierenden Kreisen im Westen weiterhin als brisanter politischer Akt begriffen. "Fluchthilfe war Widerstand – das Eintreten für die Wahrung oder Wiederherstellung des Rechts auf Freizügigkeit," ist die These des Kölner Publizisten Karl Wilhelm Fricke. Die Gegenseite sah das ähnlich und sprach schon vor dem Mauerbau bei halbwegs organisierten Grenzverletzungen pauschal von "Menschenhandel" und später dann von "staatsfeindlichem Menschenhandel", dem ab 1968 sogar ein eigener Tatbestand im DDR-Strafgesetzbuch gewidmet war. Im Paragrafen 105 wird die Beihilfe zum "ungesetzlichen Grenzübertritt" mit einer interessanten Terminologie belegt. Wer es demnach unternahm, DDR-Bürger "abzuwerben, zu verschleppen, auszuschleusen oder deren Rückkehr zu verhindern", musste mit mindestens 2 Jahren Gefängnis rechnen.
Schon kurz nach dem Fall der Mauer war das Thema Fluchthilfe im wiedervereinigten Deutschland wieder aktuell. Bundesdeutsche Behörden übernahmen einigermaßen bruchlos die DDR-Terminologie vom „Schleppen“ und „Schleusen“ und wandten sie für einen Tatbestand an, der im Westen bis vor 1989 konsequent als „Fluchthilfe“ geadelt war. So wenig vergleichbar der politische Kontext ist, so frappierend ist doch die Übereinstimmung im Bemühen, die Beihilfe zum unerlaubten Grenzübertritt pauschal als verbrecherischen Akt des Menschenhandels zu diskreditieren. Bald nachdem die Euphorie über die Öffnung der Grenzen verflogen war, machten sich Bundesgrenzschutz, Innenministerien und Bundesregierung daran, die erneute Abschottung der Grenze, diesmal allerdings ein paar Kilometer weiter östlich zu betreiben. Eine angebliche „Asylantenflut“ und eine Welle osteuropäischer Einwanderer wurden als Gefahr für die Innere Sicherheit und Verfasstheit des Landes beschworen, der nur durch eine konsequente Aufrüstung der Ostgrenzen begegnet werden könne. Fortgesetzt wurde auch die systematische Verkehrung von Ursache und Wirkung, wenn die für das neue Grenzregime verantwortlichen Politiker gebetsmühlenartig die menschenverachtenden, kriminellen Methoden der Schlepper und Schleuser beklagen.
Sobald jedoch von staatlicher Seite die Logik des Einschlusses durch die des Ausschlusses ersetzt wurde, verlagerte sich der Schwerpunkt der Fluchthilfe: Immer weniger geht es um das blosse Entkommen, als vielmehr um ein Ankommen. Der Fluchthelfer bietet eine Dienstleistung an, die plötzlich ohnehin hoch im Kurs steht: Er ist in der Lage, Zugang zu verschaffen. Diese Macht, oder besser Gegen-Macht, scheint den betroffenen Nationalstaat oder das, was von ihm übrig geblieben ist, aber auf das Äußerste herauszufordern. In fast allen europäischen Ländern sind im Laufe der 90er Jahre neue Gesetze gegen Fluchthilfe eingeführt worden oder bestehende Regelungen drastisch verschärft worden. Auf internationaler Ebene treffen sich eigens eingerichtete Komissionen, die sich der "Bekämpfung der Schlepperkriminalität" verschrieben haben. Spätestens ab Mitte der 90er Jahre scheint sich auch in der Europäischen Union der Migrationsdiskurs auf einen Kampf gegen illegale Einwanderung im
allgemeinen und das so genannte „Schlepperunwesen“ im besonderen zusammengezogen zu haben.
Nach der Hetze auf Asylbewerber wird sich nun auf einen neuen Sündenbock eingeschoßen. Und plötzlich ist Platz für Mitleid mit den Flüchtlingen. Mitleid mit den Opfern der Schlepper - nicht aber Mitleid mit den Opfern des menschenverachtenden Grenzregimes von Polizei, Bundesgrenzschutz und Bürgerwehren. Dieses Mitleid ist nichts als Heuchelei.
Fluchthilfe als solche entzieht sich nicht nur einer klaren begrifflichen Definition und objektiven Beurteilung, sondern vor allem einer generellen moralischen Bewertung. Es handelt sich um absolut singuläre, nicht wiederholbare und verallgemeinerbare Ereignisse. Auch wenn bestimmten Routen immer wieder verwendet werden, so ändern sich doch die Begleitumstände jedes Mal und kein Weg ist wie der vorige. Dies hat nicht zuletzt damit zu tun, dass der Fluchthelfer im Unterschied zum Schmuggler keine Waren transportiert, sondern ein lebendiges, ganz besonderes Gut: Menschen. Und zwar die unterschiedlichsten Menschen, die sich aus den unterschiedlichsten Gründen auf den Weg gemacht haben, und sich durch die Illegalität in einer bis zum Äußersten zugespitzten Situation befinden. Der Fluchthelfer ist immer wieder auf dadurch hervorgerufene Unwägbarkeiten konfrontiert. "Von daher muss auch immer mit unliebsamen Überraschungen gerechnet werden, mit unvorhergesehenen Wartezeiten, mit auch mal sehr improvisierten, schlecht vorbereiteten Grenzüberschreitungen zu Fuß oder ganz eng im LKW."
"Wir können uns nicht wirklich aussuchen, wer mit uns über die Grenze geht, noch wollen wir es", sagt einer der anonymen Fluchthelfer aus Österreich. Auch deren Motivation ist zwiespältig: "Unser Ziel war es von Anfang an, Grenzen zu übertreten. Zuerst, weil es uns einen Riesenspaß gemacht hat, später immer mehr, weil viele von uns darin die einzige Chance sehen, Grenzen ad absurdum zu führen." Auch wenn diese Gruppe Fluchthilfe vor dem Hintergund eines ausgeprägten politischen Bewusstseins praktiziert, geben sich die Fluchthelfer keinerlei Illusionen über die politische Wirksamkeit ihres Handelns hin: "Was wir tun, ist nicht besonders hervorhebenswert, weil es genau genommen recht wenig politische Auswirkungen hat. Es befriedigt uns, und es hilft Einzelpersonen."
Eine trennscharfe Unterscheidung zwischen politisch oder privat motivierter, organisierter oder nicht-organisierter, kommerzieller oder nicht-kommerzieller Fluchthilfe macht heutzutage wohl kaum einen Sinn. Die Übergänge sind fließend, denn es liegt in der Natur der Sache, dass Fluchthilfe möglichst organisiert von statten gehen muss und dass für die Fluchthilfe je nach Gefährdungs- und Schwierigkeitsgrad unterschiedlich hohe Kosten anfallen. Eher schon spiegelt eine solche Kategorisierung Projektionen wie die gängige Einteilung von Flüchtlingen in solche aus politischen und solche aus wirtschaftlichen Gründen wieder, die den Migrationsdiskurs der 80er und 90er Jahre beherrschte.
Über die vordergründigen Motive hinaus - seien sie nun überwiegend humanitärer oder kommerzieller Natur - wird Fluchthilfe von dem Verlangen getrieben, im konkreten, einzelnen Fall über die abstrakte Unmenschlichkeit der Grenze zu siegen. Mit der Staatsgrenze werden aber fast zwangsläufig die vorgefassten Grenzen von Mitleid und Eigennutz überschritten. Wenn auch nur vorübergehend und für einen klar umrissenen Zeitraum löst sich die Ungleichheit zwischen Flüchtling und Fluchthelfer auf. Ana Maria Rodriguez, die von El Salvador aus zu ihrem Freund nach New York aufgebrochen ist, beschreibt ausführlich ihre Erlebnisse mit den Fluchthelfern, die ihr den Weg über die verschiedenen Grenzen geöffnet haben: Die „Coyotes“ haben für Unterkunft und Verpflegung gesorgt, Autos und Boote organisiert, Verzagten Mut gemacht, Grenzer und Polizisten bestochen, wurden zusammen mit den Flüchtlingen verhaftet, die sie nicht verraten haben, und zusammen mit ihnen zurückgeschoben. Wenn ein Versuch des Grenzübertritts gescheitert ist, haben sie es nach einer Verschnaufpause nochmals versucht und einen neuen Weg aufgetan. Kein Wunder, schließlich bezahlen die Verwandten erst nach erfolgreicher Ankunft in den USA.
Grenzen sind dazu da, überschritten zu werden. Der Fluchthelfer kann völlig zu Recht annehmen, dass es unmöglich ist, eine Grenze völlig zu schließen und gegen den Zutritt Unbefugter abzusichern. Und je schwieriger es Menschen gemacht wird, ein Territorium zu betreten oder zu verlassen, umso größer ist der Bedarf nach organisierter oder gar professioneller Fluchthilfe. Doch genauso wie Maßnahmen der so genannten Grenzsicherung allenfalls dazu dienen können, den Preis und das Risiko des Grenzübertritts künstlich in die Höhe treiben, kann Fluchthilfe aber auch nichts am Fortbestand und der Funktion der Grenze ändern. Im Gegenteil: Jede Verletzung der Grenze bestätigt diese und jede Überschreitung verstärkt sie in gewissem Sinne. Illegaler Übertritt sowie damit verbundener Aufwand und Strapazen filtern die motiviertesten und flexibelsten unter den Migranten aus, und führen sie der Überausbeutung auf einem informellen Arbeitsmarkt zu, dem sie ohne Rechte und vor allem ohne das Recht, überhaupt Rechte zu haben, zur Verfügung stehen.

10 Working Points for Artists in New Divisions of Labor

10 WORKING POINTS FOR ARTISTS IN NEW DIVISIONS OF LABOR

1
Every work of art is political. It does not matter anymore, whether it is produced and made publicly accessible with the aim to interact with certain amounts of people and to achieve certain effects among them. It is constitutive for the current form of society that the apparatuses of communication and surveillance are processing any piece of information, independently from the original intentions of its producers or the actual needs of its consumers. Rather than trying to be properly received, we may have to figure out how to become unheard, in order not to be silenced.

2
Art is resistance against communication. The languages of artistic production carry the potential to refuse the ubiquitous coercions to communicate, insofar as they require singular processes of encryption and decryption. These acts cannot be replaced but need to be performed and repeated in every situation, time and again.

3
Todays globalised world is characterised by increasingly hybrid divisions: the binary divisions of the industrialism of the 20th century, such as: east and west, manual and intellectual, analog and digital, have not been replaced but are currently being overwritten by ever complex, new divisions which combine and compute what was formerly known as alternative into new conglomerations of post-algorithmic power.

4
Our challenge as artists is to figure out, how new divisions of labor are determining completely new roles of the artist in contemporary societies. Over the past two decades a rapidly globalising art world has incubated different flavours of an engaged, allegedly political art. While dealing with all sorts of issues of politics, the crossovers between art and activism have been rather illustrating the humanitarian super power of an all encompassing liberalism or covering up the new borders of capitalism by systematically eradicating any traces of the concept of class. As long as it does not matter, art is allowed to be as radical as it wants.

5
At the same time, the work of artists is confronted with new forms of functionalisation: Local governments are commissioning engaged artists to appease social conflicts in precarious neighbourhoods; biennales and large-scale art spectacles are supposed to serve as sources of inspiration for all sorts of entrepreneurs of a creative self; the label of contemporariness which for a certain period of time seemed rather helpful to distance ourselves from outdated role-models of the artist has meanwhile turned into an automated mechanism which merely ensures the production and expropriation of relational value at any cost.

6
Against this backdrop, I am forced to decide. Can I opt for none of the above choices, neither generously allowed arbitrariness nor forced functionalisation? May I also skip the search for a third point of view which would be comfortable enough to allow me to reimagine and reenact critical distance or cynical neutrality? And how can I avoid then nostalgic invocations of the struggles of the past circling around cliches of romanticism, modernism or conceptualism?

7
Raising these questions is the beginning of their answering: Art has to claim a new autonomy. Rather than imagining independence from general production, autonomy arises immanently out of the confrontations within ever more mediated processes of production. Rather than making things estranged, we need to reflect on the artists new position within a production of virtual commodities and alienate our selves from the accelerating demands by an increasingly bored society after the spectacle.

8
The ideologies of capitalist neorealism and its divisions of labor seem to come along with new economies of sentiment and resentment. Capital exploits the immaterial labor force of collective hope and despair generating surplus value from enthusiasm and depression. As long as we are imagining the preservation of our own integrity and freedom of movement within that system, we will remain its prisoners. Assuming that we could still modify or improve it from within, means that we are just easing our conscience and idealising the fact that we are making a living from it.

9
Making art is making world and opens up again the possibility of potential. I have to consider not only my immediate environment but an entire world with a multiplicity of past and possible relations as the field of my activity. Rather than being satisfied with or limited to what is currently available, I have to make concrete decisions, how other worlds could look like. In doing so, I might be able to offer new ways of how we see this world and what exists in it.

10
We are working for a people who are missing.

10 working points for artists in new divisions of labor

1
Every work of art is political. It does not matter anymore, whether it is produced and made publicly accessible with the aim to interact with certain amounts of people and to achieve certain effects among them. It is constitutive for the current form of society that the apparatuses of communication and surveillance are processing any piece of information, independently from the original intentions of its producers or the actual needs of its consumers. Rather than trying to be properly received, we may have to figure out how to become unheard, in order not to be silenced.

2
Art is resistance against communication. The languages of artistic production carry the potential to refuse the ubiquitous coercions to communicate, insofar as they require singular processes of encryption and decryption. These acts cannot be replaced but need to be performed and repeated in every situation, time and again.

3
Todays globalised world is characterised by increasingly hybrid divisions: the binary divisions of the industrialism of the 20th century, such as: east and west, manual and intellectual, analog and digital, have not been replaced but are currently being overwritten by ever complex, new divisions which combine and compute what was formerly known as alternative into new conglomerations of post-algorithmic power.

4
Our challenge as artists is to figure out, how new divisions of labor are determining completely new roles of the artist in contemporary societies. Over the past two decades a rapidly globalising art world has incubated different flavours of an engaged, allegedly political art. While dealing with all sorts of issues of politics, the crossovers between art and activism have been rather illustrating the humanitarian super power of an all encompassing liberalism or covering up the new borders of capitalism by systematically eradicating any traces of the concept of class. As long as it does not matter, art is allowed to be as radical as it wants.

5
At the same time, the work of artists is confronted with new forms of functionalisation: Local governments are commissioning engaged artists to appease social conflicts in precarious neighbourhoods; biennales and large-scale art spectacles are supposed to serve as sources of inspiration for all sorts of entrepreneurs of a creative self; the label of contemporariness which for a certain period of time seemed rather helpful to distance ourselves from outdated role-models of the artist has meanwhile turned into an automated mechanism which merely ensures the production and expropriation of relational value at any cost.

6
Against this backdrop, I am forced to decide. Can I opt for none of the above choices, neither generously allowed arbitrariness nor forced functionalisation? May I also skip the search for a third point of view which would be comfortable enough to allow me to reimagine and reenact critical distance or cynical neutrality? And how can I avoid then nostalgic invocations of the struggles of the past circling around cliches of romanticism, modernism or conceptualism?

7
Raising these questions is the beginning of their answering: Art has to claim a new autonomy. Rather than imagining independence from general production, autonomy arises immanently out of the confrontations within ever more mediated processes of production. Rather than making things estranged, we need to reflect on the artists new position within a production of virtual commodities and alienate our selves from the accelerating demands by an increasingly bored society after the spectacle.

8
The ideologies of capitalist neorealism and its divisions of labor seem to come along with new economies of sentiment and resentment. Capital exploits the immaterial labor force of collective hope and despair generating surplus value from enthusiasm and depression. As long as we are imagining the preservation of our own integrity and freedom of movement within that system, we will remain its prisoners. Assuming that we could still modify or improve it from within, means that we are just easing our conscience and idealising the fact that we are making a living from it.

9
Making art is making world and opens up again the possibility of potential. I have to consider not only my immediate environment but an entire world with a multiplicity of past and possible relations as the field of my activity. Rather than being satisfied with or limited to what is currently available, I have to make concrete decisions, how other worlds could look like. In doing so, I might be able to offer new ways of how we see this world and what exists in it.

10
We are working for a people who are missing.

10 working points for artists in new divisions of labor

1
Every work of art is political. It does not matter anymore, whether it is produced and made publicly accessible with the aim to interact with certain amounts of people and to achieve certain effects among them. It is constitutive for the current form of society that the apparatuses of communication and surveillance are processing any piece of information, independently from the original intentions of its producers or the actual needs of its consumers. Rather than trying to be properly received, we may have to figure out how to become unheard, in order not to be silenced.

2
Art is resistance against communication. The languages of artistic production carry the potential to refuse the ubiquitous coercions to communicate, insofar as they require singular processes of encryption and decryption. These acts cannot be replaced but need to be performed and repeated in every situation, time and again.

3
Todays globalised world is characterised by increasingly hybrid divisions: the binary divisions of the industrialism of the 20th century, such as: east and west, manual and intellectual, analog and digital, have not been replaced but are currently being overwritten by ever complex, new divisions which combine and compute what was formerly known as alternative into new conglomerations of post-algorithmic power.

4
Our challenge as artists is to figure out, how new divisions of labor are determining completely new roles of the artist in contemporary societies. Over the past two decades a rapidly globalising art world has incubated different flavours of an engaged, allegedly political art. While dealing with all sorts of issues of politics, the crossovers between art and activism have been rather illustrating the humanitarian super power of an all encompassing liberalism or covering up the new borders of capitalism by systematically eradicating any traces of the concept of class. As long as it does not matter, art is allowed to be as radical as it wants.

5
At the same time, the work of artists is confronted with new forms of functionalisation: Local governments are commissioning engaged artists to appease social conflicts in precarious neighbourhoods; biennales and large-scale art spectacles are supposed to serve as sources of inspiration for all sorts of entrepreneurs of a creative self; the label of contemporariness which for a certain period of time seemed rather helpful to distance ourselves from outdated role-models of the artist has meanwhile turned into an automated mechanism which merely ensures the production and expropriation of relational value at any cost.

6
Against this backdrop, I am forced to decide. Can I opt for none of the above choices, neither generously allowed arbitrariness nor forced functionalisation? May I also skip the search for a third point of view which would be comfortable enough to allow me to reimagine and reenact critical distance or cynical neutrality? And how can I avoid then nostalgic invocations of the struggles of the past circling around cliches of romanticism, modernism or conceptualism?

7
Raising these questions is the beginning of their answering: Art has to claim a new autonomy. Rather than imagining independence from general production, autonomy arises immanently out of the confrontations within ever more mediated processes of production. Rather than making things estranged, we need to reflect on the artists new position within a production of virtual commodities and alienate our selves from the accelerating demands by an increasingly bored society after the spectacle.

8
The ideologies of capitalist neorealism and its divisions of labor seem to come along with new economies of sentiment and resentment. Capital exploits the immaterial labor force of collective hope and despair generating surplus value from enthusiasm and depression. As long as we are imagining the preservation of our own integrity and freedom of movement within that system, we will remain its prisoners. Assuming that we could still modify or improve it from within, means that we are just easing our conscience and idealising the fact that we are making a living from it.

9
Making art is making world and opens up again the possibility of potential. I have to consider not only my immediate environment but an entire world with a multiplicity of past and possible relations as the field of my activity. Rather than being satisfied with or limited to what is currently available, I have to make concrete decisions, how other worlds could look like. In doing so, I might be able to offer new ways of how we see this world and what exists in it.

10
We are working for a people who are missing.

Counterenactment (Rethinking the turns in performance and documentary)

Over the past two decades, a specific notion of "contemporariness" in the art world has been revived by turning the attention to documentary practices as well as by a renewed encounter with performance, dance and choreography.
Rather than seeing these parallel developments independently from each other, they need to be understood as intrinsically linked or connected.
A practical critique of the documentary image as evidence must not be limited to an ever-abstract deconstruction of the event. Through the concept of "counterenactment" it may open up to a variety of strategies of reading history against the grain and subverting its exchange value by undermining and revaluating meaning.
At the same time, critical performative practices may lead to a new understanding of the work of the artist as living labor, which is countering rather than re-affirming the economic laws of the spectacle and its ephemeral commodity form.

Art and abstraction

10 working days

“10 working days” is a series of events from March 18-27 in Trondheim. It includes lectures, presentations, screenings, shows and exhibitions in different venues across the city in mid-Norway.

The goal of the “10 working days” is to further explore the aesthetical and ethical impact of today's working conditions for artists: What is the role of the artist in a society where art is no longer situated outside of a general production, but lies at the very core of so called creative industries? And what does it then mean to be constantly on the edge -- of the world, of production or of a self?

These questions will be discussed during the “10 working days” from a range of more or less eccentric positions, in a variety of different formats and across the borders of established disciplines. "10 working days" will be opened with a presentation by Koyo Kouoh, artistic director of RAW MATERIAL COMPANY, a center for art, knowledge and society in Dakar. Matteo Pasquinelli introduces the concept of "Algorithmic Vision", the NTNU professors Letizia Jaccheri, Konstantinos Chorianopoulos and Martin Steinert discuss new ways of imagining the multiple relationships of art, entertainment and technology.

Emil A. Røyrvik, researcher at SINTEF, will introduce “Norwegian style neoliberalism” and how it links to widespread processes of objectification, quantification, measurement and standardization. Soenke Zehle will investigate strategies of depletion design. Jesper Alvær disclose findings from his research “Work, work”. Alexander König, media theoretician from Berlin, will talk about the divisions of labor in the visual effects industries. The conditions of a self-consciousness of artists which addresses their own role in social reproduction will be raised by Angela Dimitrakaki, art theorist from Athens.

Maurizio Lazzarato presents his research on "Governing by debt", before the “10 working days” conclude by revisiting the work of Hannah Ryggen who spent most of her creative life in the coastal area of the Trondheim fjord. “Fishing in the sea of debt” is a seminar led by Corinne Diserens and Sven Augustijnen. It refers to the title of one of a Ryggens tapestries and it sets out to actualise her work against the backdrop of current political and archival configurations. During the seminar films by Sven Augustijnen, Yervant Gianikian and Angela Ricci Lucchi, Abderrahmane Sissako will be screened and discussed. The seminar is linked to the exhibition "Summer Thoughts" by Sven Augustijnen in Kunsthall Trondheim which opened on March 12.

The program of the "10 working days" takes place in the context of the artistic research project Divisions. It is the first event in a series of three gatherings of artists, theorists, scientists and activists over the next two years. Divisions is carried out by the Trondheim Academy of Fine Art, Faculty of Architecture and Fine Art, at the Norwegian University for Science and Technology. Funded by the Norwegian Artistic Research Programme it will investigate self-images and self-conceptions of artists in a post-industrial society that is characterised by hybrid divisions of labour. The project consists of researching facts on the ground of creative industries, a series of conferences and workshops across Norway, culminating in the commission of five artworks by internationally renowned artists.

Guests:
Jesper Alvær, Sven Augustijnen, Angela Dimitrakaki, Corinne Diserens, Egija Inzule, Letizia Jaccheri, Anne Szefer Karlsen, Alexander König, Koyo Kouoh, Maurizio Lazzarato, Matteo Pasquinelli, Emil Røyrvik, Martin Steinert, Johanne Nordby Wernø, Soenke Zehle and many others.

"10 working days" is curated by Florian Schneider in collaboration with Corinne Diserens and Helena Holmberg.

The program is open for the public, but some workshops and seminars require prior registration. Parts of the program will be video-taped and published online.

"10 working days" is supported by the Norwegian Artistic Research Programme and the Norwegian University for Science and Technology (NTNU).

Contact and registration:
contact@divisions.no

Further information and program updates:
http://divisions.no/workingdays

Venues:
Kunsthalle Trondheim, Dronningens gate 28
Trondheim Kunstmuseum, Bispegata 7 B
Dokkhuset Scene, Dokkparken 4
Teaterhuset Avantgarden, Olav Tryggvasonsgate 5
Faculty for Art and Architecture, NTNU, Alfred Getz vei 3
Trondheim Academy of Fine Art (Kunstarken), Innherredsveien 7 (Industribygget), Entrance Kirkegata/Gyldenløves gate

Documenting and Leaking

Florian Schneider

What is it that makes truth concrete? It must be a specific understanding of documentary as a mode of providing access rather than evidence; it is a way of waiting for the anticipated rather than preempting prefabricated pleasure; a re-appropriation of the event, which is not owned, but owned up to.
In chemistry terms, becoming concrete relates to the process of precipitation: the formation of a solid within a solution. The hardening takes place in the spaces in between the grains and results in a formation where otherwise separate entities grow together to form a structure that may be more resistant than its hosting environment.
In this sense, documentary has to be understood precisely as the concretization of truth and not vice versa. It lets truth fall and deposit, before it can be discovered and made visible.
This would also lead to a first and basic distinction between the mode of documentary and the practice of documentation—two terms that are often confused or used in a synonymous way: documentary is the making concrete of a truth, while documentation is about the verification of concrete phenomena.
Such a distinction makes particular sense as soon as practices of documentary and documentation are situated in a context where art and activism are shortcircuited, and where domains of the esthetic and the political seem to coincide.
Over the past two decades and across all disciplines, artists and curators have responded to a radically new understanding of the world by rediscovering, reinterpreting, and reevaluating the relationship between an increasingly immaterialized world of things or abstractions, on the one hand, and their perception by the artist’s equally precarious self, on the other.
From visual arts to theater, from photography to architecture, “documentary” propagates a turn towards a more or less fragile understanding of reality through a practical critique of the concept of “document.”
While the original purpose of a document was once to produce evidence and, in doing so, to stabilize a self, today it has become subject to all sorts of manipulations that either deconstruct or reinforce its potential for generating a truth that is always past or has already been processed.
But what if the document played an entirely different role? Instead of providing a sort of evidence, which is systematically devalued and just appears as rather void, the document might emerge in a much more humble trajectory: it is supposed to grant access to secret, to discarded information or to neglected facts.
Rather than dismissing the new relevance of the documentary as playful analogies just for the sake of them, or as tautological proof of the patently obvious, its real potential lies in a kind of alternative narrative that is no longer opposed to the present reality but based on a different reading of the past.
This requires investigations into new forms of image production that allow us to reimagine the future and see it in a different way. Such a project has to start with a critical analysis of the role of the image as a document in surveillance technologies, in financial speculation, data visualization, and automatic vision. They may all be characterized as preemptive attempts to gain an advantage by impeding a future event before it is realized.
Such preemptive attempts need to be compared to anticipatory strategies prefiguring future events in order to offer alternative images that are not yet present but may potentially occur: either because of a rereading of the past (reenactments, mockumentaries, fakes, archive art) or a refusal of the disciplinary force of “realtime” (improvization, aleatory techniques, antiphotography or conceptual photography, ephemeral strategies).
A discussion about the ethics and esthetics of documentary today may have fundamental consequences for the role of art and the artist in society: it allows art to be understood as anticipating a future by reading reality against the grain.
But the relationship of documentary to reality remains rather complex: it is about the reappropriation of an event, the actualization of an event that is virtual; but, rather than being owned, it has to be owned up to. And only by being owned up to, may it begin to exist.
This means that the relationship between a document and a reality is a relationship of overseeing. We oversee the fact, which everyone knows, that the image cannot represent reality. We behave as if we could mistake an image for reality.
This oversight is not just an accidental mistake or a slip. It is a mistake that needs to happen time and again. When we oversee, we see something else, something beyond what is visible—something “transvisual.” It is a chance encounter that reveals something different, unexpectedly.
In this respect, documentary has to fail in order to become documentary—and one needs to admit this and be aware of it all the time. Such an encounter will not happen at the right moment or in realtime: it will always be too early or too late.
This perspective might offer a new and rather productive approach towards the problem of “realism”: rather than mirroring or representing, documentary provides reality. It is provision in the literal sense of the word: a vision on behalf of or instead of the visible, a performance of a reality which it is confronting. Or, as many theorists of documentary film have already noted: “The important truth any documentary captures is the performance in front of the camera.”
Documentary is about supplying a reality with different aspects, furnishing it with something new, accentuating it by alienating it from itself. It is always about looking beyond the given set of assets that may constitute a reality.
Equally, such an understanding of the performativity of truth can also be expanded towards current practices of documentation, such as data visualization and leaking, as the two extreme poles. What is at stake here is not a more correct, more exact or more comprehensible way to access an otherwise hidden truth, which then becomes subject to exposure; on the contrary, it documents nothing but the creative act of producing a new reality, which may indeed turn out to be less complex, less chaotic or less dishonest.
The verifying character of data visualization refers to the fact that, above a certain amount, any kind of data can be transformed into imaginary value. Data visualization creates an imaginary reality, which only means that one cannot distinguish any longer what is false and what is true.
Yet information leaking operates in a similar way, but in the opposite direction: the truth that is dragged to the light when secret information is published is the fact that a closed system is leaking and cannot preserve its inviolability further on. This matters much more than the actual content that gets exposed.
The information revealed does not provide evidence; it only grants access to a way of dealing with things that so far has not been supposed to be public. In this respect, it is very similar to gossip, and it comes as no surprise that the cables published by WikiLeaks in November 2010 contain merely a kind of chatter exchanged by US diplomats.
Today it is a matter of course that the public release of large quantities of formerly secret information as full text on the Internet submits it to all sorts of further processing like indexing, searching, and other forms of quantitative evaluation based on an algorithm that can be applied independently from a discussion about its legal implications and legitimacy.
But there is also a qualitative dimension: Rather than a documentation of how power operates in the shadows, it has at least the potential to reverse-engineer power and reveal its source code. But as much as it demystifies power, it remystifies it again. The truth that is revealed is both, human-readable and abstract, with a very short halflife. It is doomed to decay if it is not recompiled into another application of power.
In the end, digital technologies have only accelerated the processes of documentation; the point, however, is to claim a truth and make it concrete. The projects presented in the following chapter are dealing with these challenges in very different ways.
Gregory Sholette’s “Dark Matter” refuses documentation either consciously or unconsciously and, in doing so, gives rise to a destabilization and uncertainty that occupies both traditional institutions and their specific ways of keeping track of their own version of reality, as well as artists and activists, who experience increasing difficulties of defining themselves in opposition to the established art world.
Practices of “Reenacting,” “Militant Sound Investigation” and “Interactive Documenting” demonstrate the potential of an up-to-date empiricism in which sensory experience is expanded beyond the borders of individual perception and not limited to the reaffirmation of selfhood. “Counterimaging” and “Hip Hop” are reconstructing and reinventing social realities rather than mirroring them.
The street screenings of “Tahrir Cinema” pose the question of collective ownership in the sphere of a “social hyperreality” where all of a sudden people “enter the image.” Hans Haacke’s investigation into the ruptures and breaks of a social context are conducted through an understanding of continuity, which is as precise as it is critical—in both literal senses of the words.
A critical understanding of “Forensics” offers the possibility to emancipate the capacity of an object to narrate “multiple versions of history.” “Art leaking” is extending the subjectivity of artists, at the same time privileged and precarious, to a wider notion of art workers. On that basis it does not only state grievances, but proclaims new forms of solidarity and collective agency, inside as well as outside of institutional frameworks.
What all these practical examples may have in common is a certain drive to call into question the rules by which reality is produced and to assert a right to take this production into one’s own hands. This is exactly what constitutes the importance of documentary: generating realities that free themselves from obsessions and possessions; that resist the ways in which all forms of living—or “life off guard” as Dziga Vertov would call it—are captured and caught by technical devices.

A Virtual World is Possible: From Tactical Media to Digital Multitudes

Geert Lovink and Florian Schneider

I.

We start with the current strategy debates of the so-called « anti-globalisation move-ment », the biggest emerging political force for decades. In Part II we will look into strategies of critical new media culture in the post-speculative phase after dotcommania. Four phases of the global movement are becoming visible, all of which have distinct political, artistic and aesthetic qualities.

1. The 90s and Tactical Media Activism

The term « tactical media » arose in the aftermath of the fall of the Berlin Wall as a renais-sance of media activism, blending old school political work and artists’ engagement with new technologies. The early nineties saw a growing awareness of gender issues, expo-nential growth of media industries and the increasing availability of cheap do-it-yourself equipment creating a new sense of self-awareness amongst activists, programmers, theo-rists, curators and artists. Media were no longer seen as merely tools for the Struggle, but experienced as virtual environments whose parameters were permanently « under construction ». This was the golden age of tactical media, open to issues of aesthetics and experimentation with alternative forms of story telling. However, these liberating techno practices did not immediately translate into visible social movements.

Rather, they sym-bolized the celebration of media freedom, in itself a great political goal. The media used :
- from video, CD-ROM, cassettes, zines and flyers to music styles such as rap and techno
- varied widely, as did the content. A commonly shared feeling was that politically moti-vated activities, be they art or research or advocacy work, were no longer part of a polit-ically correct ghetto and could intervene in « pop culture » without necessarily having to compromise with the « system. » With everything up for negotiation, new coalitions could be formed. The current movements worldwide cannot be understood outside of the diverse and often very personal for digital freedom of expression.

2. 99-01 : The Period of Big Mobilizations

By the end of the nineties the post-modern « time without movements » had come to pass.

The organized discontent against neo-liberalism, global warming policies, labour exploitation and numerous other issues converged. Equipped with networks and arguments, backed up by decades of research, a hybrid movement - wrongly labelled by mainstream media as « anti-globalisation » - gained momentum. One of the particular fea-tures of this movement lies in its apparent inability and unwillingness to answer.

The question that is typical of any kind of movement on the rise or any generation on the move : what’s to be done ? There was and there is no answer, no alternative - either strate-gic or tactical - to the existing world order, to the dominant mode of globalisation. And maybe this is the most important and liberating conclusion : there is no way back to the twentieth century, the protective nation state and the gruesome tragedies of the « left. »

It has been good to remember - but equally good to throw off - the past. The question « what’s to be done » should not be read as an attempt to re-introduce some form of Leninist principles. The issues of strategy, organization and democracy belong to all times.We neither want to bring back old policies through the backdoor, nor do we think that this urgent question can be dismissed by invoking crimes committed under the ban-ner of Lenin, however justified such arguments are. When Slavoj Zizek looks in the mirror he may see Father Lenin, but that’s not the case for everyone. It is possible to wake up from the nightmare of the past history of communism and (still) pose the question : what’s to be done ? Can a « multitude » of interests and backgrounds ask that question, or is the only agenda that defined by the summit calendar of world leaders and the business elite ?

Nevertheless, the movement has been growing rapidly. At first sight it appears to use a pretty boring and very traditional medium : the mass-mobilization of tens of thousands in the streets of Seattle, hundreds of thousands in the streets of Genoa. And yet, tactical media networks played an important role in it’s coming into being. From now on plurifor-mity of issues and identities was a given reality. Difference is here to stay and no longer needs to legitimize itself against higher authorities such as the Party, the Union or the Media. Compared to previous decades this is its biggest gain. The « multitudes » are not a dream or some theoretical construct but a reality. If there is a strategy, it is not contradiction but complementary existence. Despite theo-retical deliberations, there is no contradiction between the street and cyberspace.

The one fuels the other. Protests against the WTO, neo-liberal EU policies, and party conven-tions are all staged in front of the gathered world press. Indymedia crops up as a Parasite of the mainstream media. Instead of having to beg for attention, protests take place under the eyes of the world media during summits of politicians and business leaders, seeking direct confrontation. Alternatively, symbolic sites are chosen such as border regions (East-West Europe, USA-Mexico) or refugee detention centres (Frankfurt airport, the centralized Eurocop database in Strasbourg, the Woomera detention centre in the Australian desert). Rather than just objecting to it, the global entitlement of the move-ment adds to the ruling mode of globalisation a new layer of globalisation from below.

3. Confusion And Resignation After 9-11

At first glance, the future of the movement is a confusing and irritating one. Old-leftist grand vistas, explaining US imperialism and its aggressive unilateralist foreign policy, provided by Chomsky, Pilger and other baby boomers are consumed with interest but no longer give the bigger picture. In a polycentric world conspiracy theories can only provide temporary comfort for the confused. No moralist condemnation of capitalism is necessary as facts and events speak for themselves. People are driven to the street by the situation, not by an analysis (neither ours nor the one from Hardt & Negri). The few remaining leftists can no longer provide the movement with an ideology, as it works per-fectly without one. « We don’t need your revolution. » Even the social movements of the 70s and 80s, locked up in their NGO structures, have a hard time keeping up.

New social formations are taking possession of the streets and media spaces, without feeling the need of representation by some higher authority, not even the heterogeneous committees gathering in Porto Alegre. So far this movement has been bound in clearly defined time/space coordinates. It still takes months to mobilize multitudes and organize the logistics, from buses and planes, camping grounds and hostels, to independent media centres. This movement is anything but spontaneous (and does not even claim to be so). The people that travel hundreds or thousands of miles to attend protest rallies are driven by real concerns, not by some romantic notion of socialism. The worn-out questio : « reform or revolution ? » sounds more like blackmail to provoke the politically correct answer.

The contradiction between selfishness and altruism is also a false one. State-sponsored corporate globalisation affects everyone. International bodies such as the WTO, the Kyoto Agreement on global warming, or the privatisation of the energy sector are no longer abstract news items, dealt with by bureaucrats and (NGO) lobbyists.

This political insight has been the major quantum leap of recent times. Is this then the Last International ? No. There is no way back to the nation state, to traditional concepts of lib-eration, the logic of transgression and transcendence, exclusion and inclusion. Struggles are no longer projected onto a distant Other that begs for our moral support and money. We have finally arrived in the post-solidarity age. As a consequence, national liberation movements have been replaced by a new analysis of power, which is simultaneously incredibly abstract, symbolic and virtual, whilst terribly concrete, detailed and intimate.

4. Present Challenge : Liquidate the Regressive Third Period of Marginal Moral Protest

Luckily September 11 has had no immediate impact on the movement. The choice between Bush and Bin Laden was irrelevant. Both agendas were rejected as devastating fundamentalisms. The all too obvious question : « whose terror is worse ? » was carefully avoided as it leads away from the pressing emergencies of everyday life : the struggle for a living wage, decent public transport, health care, water, etc.

As both social democ-racy and really existing socialism depended heavily on the nation state a return to the 20th century sounds as disastrous as all the catastrophes it produced. The concept of a digital multitude is fundamentally different and based entirely on openness.

Over the last few years the creative struggles of the multitudes have produced outputs on many different layers : the dialectics of open sources, open borders, open knowledge. Yet the deep penetration of the concepts of openness and freedom into the principle of struggle is by no means a compromise to the cynical and greedy neo-liberal class. Progressive movements have always dealt with a radical democratisation of the rules of access, decision- making and the sharing of gained capacities. Usually it started from an illegal or illegitimate common ground.

Within the bounds of the analogue world it led to all sorts of cooperatives and self-organized enterprises, whose specific notions of justice were based on efforts to circumvent the brutal regime of the market and on different ways of dealing with the scarcity of material resources.

We’re not simply seeking proper equality on a digital level. We’re in the midst of a process that constitutes the totality of a revolutionary being, as global as it is digital. We have to develop ways of reading the raw data of the movements and struggles and ways to make their experimental knowledge legible ; to encode and decode the algorithms of its singularity, nonconformity and non-confoundability ; to invent, refresh and update the narratives and images of a truly global connectivity ; to open the sourcecode of all the circulating knowledge and install a virtual world.

Bringing these efforts down to the level of production challenges new forms of subjectivity, which almost necessarily leads to the conclusion that everyone is an expert.

The superflux of human resources and the brilliance of everyday experience get dramatically lost in the « academification » of radical left theory. Rather the new ethical-aesthetic paradigm lives on in the pragmatic consciousness of affective labour, in the nerdish attitude of a digital working class, in the omnipresence of migrant struggles as well as many other border-crossing experiences, in deep notions of friendship within networked envi-ronments as well as the « real » world.

II.

Let’s now look at strategies for Internet art & activism. Critical new media culture faces a tough climate of budget cuts in the cultural sector and a growing hostility and indifference towards new media. But hasn’t power shifted to cyberspace, as Critical Art Ensemble once claimed ? Not so if we look at the countless street marches around the world.

The Seattle movement against corporate globalisation appears to have gained momentum - both on the street and online. But can we really speak of a synergy between streetprotests and online « hacktivism » ?

No. But what they have in common is their (temporal) conceptual stage. Both real and virtual protests risk getting stuck at the level of a global « demo design, » no longer grounded in actual topics and local situations. This means the movement never gets out of beta. At first glance, reconciling the virtual and the real seems to be an attractive rhetorical act. Radical pragmatists have often emphasized the embodiment of online networks in real-life society, dispensing with the real / virtual contradiction. Net activism, like the Internet itself, is always hybrid, a blend of old and new, haunted by geography, gender, race and other political factors. There is no pure disem-bodied zone of global communication, as the 90s cyber-mythology claimed.

Equations such as street plus cyberspace, art meets science, and « techno-culture » are all interesting interdisciplinary approaches but are proving to have little effect beyond the symbolic level of dialogue and discourse. The fact is that established disciplines are in a defensive mode. The « new » movements and media are not yet mature enough to question and challenge the powers that be. In a conservative climate, the claim to « embody the future » becomes a weak and empty gesture.

On the other hand, the call of many artists and activists to return to « real life » does not provide us with a solution to how alternative new media models can be raised to the level of mass (pop) culture. Yes, street demonstrations raise solidarity levels and lift us up from the daily solitude of one-way media interfaces. Despite September 11 and its right-wing political fallout, social movements worldwide are gaining importance and visibility. We should, however, ask the question « what comes after the demo version » of both new media and the movements ?

This isn’t the heady 60s. The negative, pure and modernist level of the « conceptual » has hit the hard wall of demo design as Peter Lunenfeld described it in his book « Snap to Grid ». The question becomes : how to jump beyond the prototype ? What comes after the siege of yet another summit of CEOs and their politicians ? How long can a movement grow and stay « virtual » ? Or in IT terms, what comes after demo design, after the countless PowerPoint presentations, broadband trials and Flash animations ? Will Linux ever break out of the geek ghetto ? The feel-good factor of the open, ever growing crowd (Elias Canetti) will wear out ; demo fatigue will set in. We could ask : does your Utopia version have a use-by date ?

Rather than making up yet another concept it is time to ask the question of how software, interfaces and alternative standards can be installed in society. Ideas may take the shape of a virus, but society can hit back with even more successful immunization programs : appropriation, repression and neglect.We face a scalability crisis. Most movements and initiatives find themselves in a trap. The strategy of becoming « minor » (Guattari) is no longer a positive choice but the default option. Designing a successful cultural virus and getting millions of hits on your weblog will not bring you beyond the level of a short-lived « spectacle ». Culture jammers are no longer outlaws but should be seen as experts in guerrilla communication. Today’s movements are in danger of getting stuck in self-sat-isfying protest mode.

With access to the political process effectively blocked, further mediation seems the only available option. However, gaining more and more « brand value » in terms of global awareness may turn out to be like overvalued stocks : it might pay off, it might turn out to be worthless. The pride of « We have always told you so » is boosting the morale of minority multitudes, but at the same time it delegates legitimate fights to the level of official « Truth and Reconciliation Commissions » (often parliamentary or Congressional), after the damage is done.

Instead of arguing for « reconciliation » between the real and virtual we call here for a rig-orous synthesis of social movements technology. Instead of taking the « the future is now » position derived from cyber-punk, a lot could be gained from a radical re-assessment of the techno revolutions of the last 10-15 years. For instance, if artists and activists can learn anything from the rise and subsequent fall of dot-com, it might be the importance of marketing. The eyeballs of the dot-com attention economy proved worthless. This is a terrain is of truly taboo knowledge. Dot-coms invested their entire venture capital in (old media) advertisement. Their belief that media-generated attention would auto-matically draw users in and turn them into customers was unfounded. The same could be said of activist sites. Information « forms » us. But new consciousness results less and less in measurable action. Activists are only starting to understand the impact of this paradigm. What if information merely circles around in its own parallel world ? What’s to be done if the street demonstration becomes part of the Spectacle ? The increasing tensions and polarizations described here force us to question the limits of new media discourse. In the age of real-time global events Ezra Pound’s definition of art as the antenna of the human race shows its passive, responsive nature.

Art no longer initiates. One can be happy if it responds to contemporary conflicts at all and the new media arts sector is no exception. New media arts must be reconciled with its condition as a special effect of the hard and software developed years ago. Critical new media practices have been slow to respond to both the rise and fall of dot-commania. In the speculative heydays of new media culture (the early-mid 90s, before the rise of the World Wide Web), theorists and artists jumped eagerly on not yet existing and inaccessible technologies such as virtual reality.

Cyberspace generated a rich col-lection of mythologies ; issues of embodiment and identity were fiercely debated. Only five years later, while Internet stocks were going through the roof, little was left of the initial excitement in intellectual and artistic circles. Experimental techno culture missed out on the funny money. Recently there has been a steady stagnation of new media cultures, both in terms of concepts and funding. With millions of new users flocking onto the Net, the arts can no longer keep up and withdraw into their own little world of festivals, mailing lists and workshops.

Whereas new media arts institutions, begging for goodwill, still portray artists as working at the forefront of technological developments, the reality is a different one. Multidisciplinary goodwill is at an all time low. At best, the artist’s new media products are « demo design » as described by Lunenfeld. Often it does not even reach that level. New media arts, as defined by its few institutions rarely reach audiences outside of its own electronic arts subculture.

The heroic fight for the establishment of a self-referential « new media arts system » through a frantic differentiation of works, concepts and traditions, might be called a dead-end street. The acceptance of new media by leading museums and collectors will simply not happen.

Why wait a few decades anyway ? Why exhibit net art in white cubes ? The majority of the new media organizations such as ZKM, the Ars Electronica Centre, ISEA, ICC or ACMI are hopeless in their techno innocence, being neither critical nor radically utopian in their approach. Hence, the new media arts sector, despite its steady growth, is getting increasingly isolated, incapable of addressing the issues of today’s globalised world, dominated by (the war against) terror.

Let’s face it, technology is no longer « new, » the markets are down and out and no one wants know about it anymore. Its little wonder the contemporary (visual) arts world is continuing its decade-old boycott of (interactive) new media works in galleries, biennales and shows like Documenta XI. A critical reassessment of the role of arts and culture within today’s network society seems necessary. Let’s go beyond the « tactical » intentions of the players involved. The artist-engineer, tinkering on alternative human-machine interfaces, social software or digital aesthetics has effectively been operating in a self-imposed vacuum. Science and business have successfully ignored the creative community. Worse still, artists have been actively sidelined in the name of « usability », pushed by a backlash movement against web design led by the IT-guru Jakob Nielsen. The revolt against usability is about to hap-pen.

Lawrence Lessig argues that Internet innovation is in danger. The younger generation is turning its back on new media arts questions and if involved at all, operate as anti-corporate activists. After the dot-com crash the Internet has rapidly lost its imaginative attraction. File swapping and cell phones can only temporarily fill up the vacuum ; the once so glamorous gadgets are becoming part of everyday life. This long-term tendency, now accelerating, seriously undermines future claims of new media.

Another issue concerns generations. With video and expensive interactive installations being the domain of the ’68 baby boomers, the generation of ’89 has embraced the free Internet. But the Net turned out to be a trap for them.Whereas assets, positions and power remain in the hands of the ageing baby boomers, the gamble on the rise of new media did not pay off. After venture capital has melted away, there is still no sustainable revenue system in place for the Internet. The slow working educational bureaucracies have not yet grasped the new media malaise. Universities are still in the process of establishing new media departments. But that will come to a halt at some point. The fifty-something tenured chairs and vice-chancellors must feel good about their persistent sabotage. What’s so new about new media anyway ? Technology was hype after all, promoted by the criminals of Enron and WorldCom. It is sufficient for students to do a bit of email and web surfing, safeguarded within a filtered, controlled intranet.

In the face of this rising techno-cynicism we urgently need to analyse the ideology of the greedy 90s and its techno-libertarianism. If we don’t disassociate new media quickly from the previous decade, the isolation of the new media sector will sooner or later result in its death. Let’s transform the new media buzz into something more interesting altogether - before others do it for us.

Un monde virtuel est possible : des médias tactiques aux multitudes numériques

Geert Lovink and Florian Schneider

Nous commencerons par les discussions stratégiques actuelles du dit « mouvement anti-globalisation », la plus grande force politique émergente depuis des décennies. Dans la deuxième partie nous examinerons les stratégies d’une nouvelle culture critique de médias dans la phase post-spéculative après la dotcommania. Quatre phases du mouvement global deviennent évidentes, qui ont des caractéristiques politiques, artistiques et esthétiques distinctes.

1. Les années 90 et l’activisme tactique des médias

Le terme « médias tactiques » a surgi au lendemain de la chute du mur de Berlin comme renaissance de l’activisme dans les médias, mélangeant le travail politique vieille école et l’engagement des artistes avec les nouvelles technologies. Le début des années 90 a été le moment d’une prise de conscience des enjeux de genre, et a vu la croissance exponentielle des industries des médias, ainsi que la disponibilité croissante d’équipement individuel bon marché, créant un nouvelle forme d’attention parmi des activistes, les programmeurs, les théoriciens, les curateurs et les artistes. Les médias n’ont plus été vus simplement en tant qu’outils pour la lutte, mais ont été expérimentés en tant qu’environnements virtuels dont les paramètres étaient de manière permanente « en construction ». Ca a été l’âge d’or des médias tactiques, ouverts aux questions de l’esthétique et de l’expérimentation avec les formes alternatives de narration. Cependant, ces pratiques de libération « techno » ne se sont pas immédiatement traduites en mouvements sociaux évidents. Bien plutôt, elles ont symbolisé la célébration de la liberté de médias, qui est en soi un grand but politique. Les médias employés - de la vidéo, des CD-ROM, des cassettes, des fanzines et flyers aux modèles de musique tels que le rap et la techno - ont varié considérablement, de même que le contenu. Un sentiment généralement partagé était que les activités politiquement motivées, qu’elles soient de l’art, de la recherche ou travail de commande, n’était plus une partie d’un ghetto politiquement correct et pouvait intervenir dans la « culture de masse’ sans devoir nécessairement se compromettre avec le « système ». Avec tout au mieux pour la négociation, de nouvelles coalitions ont pu être formées. Les mouvements existant dans le monde entier ne peuvent pas être compris en dehors des subjectivités diverses et souvent très personnelles dans leur liberté numérique d’expression.

2. 99-01 : La période des grandes mobilisations

Vers la fin des années 90 le « temps postmoderne sans mouvements » a pris fin. Le mécontentement organisé contre le néo-libéralisme, les politiques de réchauffement climatique global, l’exploitation du travail et nombreuses autres question a convergé. Équipé des réseaux et des arguments, soutenus par des décennies de recherche, un mouvement hybride - incorrectement appelé par les médias traditionnels « anti-mondialisation « - a pris son élan. Un des dispositifs particuliers de ce mouvement se situe dans son incapacité et sa réticence apparents à répondre à la question qui est typique pour n’importe quel genre de mouvement émergent ou pour n’importe quelle génération en mouvement : que faire ? Il y avait et il n’y a aucune réponse, aucune alternative - stratégique ou tactique - à l’ordre existant du monde, au mode dominant de la mondialisation.

Et peut-être c’est la plus importante et la plus libératrice des conclusions : il n’y a plus aucun retour possible au vingtième siècle, à l’état-nation protecteur et aux tragédies horribles de la « gauche ». Il a été bon de se rappelerle passé - mais également bon pour le rejeter au loin. La question « que faire ? » ne devrait pas être lue comme une tentative de réintroduire une certaine forme de principes léninistes. Les questions de stratégie, d’organisation et de démocratie appartiennent à toutes les époques. Nous ne voulons pas ramener de vieilles politiques par derrière, et nous ne pensons pas non plus que cette question pressante peut être écartée en rappelant des crimes commis sous la bannière de Lénine, quelques justifiés soient ces arguments. Quand Slavoj Zizek regarde dans le miroir il peut voir le père Lénine, mais ce n’est pas le cas pour tous. Il est possible de se réveiller du cauchemar de l’histoire passée du communisme et de poser (toujours) la question : que faire ? Une « multitude » d’intérêts et de milieux peut-elle poser cette question, ou le seul ordre du jour est celui défini par le calendrier des sommets de chefs du monde et de l’élite d’affaires ?

Néanmoins, le mouvement s’est développé rapidement. À première vue il semble employer un medium joliment ennuyeux et très traditionnel : la mobilisation de masse à des dizaines de milliers dans les rues de Seattle, des centaines de milliers dans les rues de Gênes. Mais les réseaux de médias tactiques ont joué un rôle important dans sa production. Dorénavant la pluralité des questions et des identités était une réalité donnée. La différence est là pour de bon et n’a plus besoin de légitimation face à de plus Hautes Autorités telles que le parti, le syndicat ou les médias. Comparé aux décennies précédentes c’est son plus grand gain. Les « multitudes » ne sont pas un rêve ou une quelconque construction théorique mais une réalité.

S’il y a une stratégie, ce n’est pas la contradiction mais l’existence complémentaire. En dépit des discussions théoriques, il n’y a aucune contradiction entre la rue et le cyberspace. L’un nourrit l’autre. Les manifestations contre l’OMC, les politiques néo-libérales de l’UE, et les conventions de partis politiques sont mises en scène devant la presse du monde entier. Indymedia surgit comme parasite des médias traditionnels. Au lieu de devoir attirer l’attention, les protestations ont lieu sous les yeux des médias mondiaux pendant les sommets de politiciens et des chefs d’entreprises, cherchant la confrontation directe. Alternativement, des emplacements symboliques sont choisis comme des régions de frontière (l’Europe de l’est et de l’ouest, Etats-Unis-Mexique) ou des centres de détention de réfugiés (aéroport de Francfort, la base de données centralisée d’Eurocop à Strasbourg, le centre de détention de Woomera dans le désert australien). Plutôt que de simplement s’opposer à lui, le droit global pris par le mouvement ajoute au gouvernement de la mondialisation une nouvelle couche de mondialisation d’en bas.

3. La confusion et la démission après le 11 septembre

À première vue, le futur du mouvement est embrouillé et agaçant. Les grands récits de vieux gauchistes, expliquant l’impérialisme des USA et sa politique étrangère d’unilateralisme agressif, par Chomsky, Pilger et d’autres baby-boomers sont consommés avec intérêt mais ne donnent plus de vue générale de la situation. Dans un monde polycentrique les théories de la conspiration peuvent seulement fournir un confort provisoire pour celui qui est perdu. Aucune condamnation moraliste du capitalisme n’est nécessaire car les faits et les événements parlent pour eux-mêmes. Les gens sont conduits à la rue par la situation, pas par une analyse (ni les nôtres ni celle de Hardt et de Negri). Les quelques gauchistes restants ne peuvent plus fournir au mouvement d’idéologie, car il fonctionne parfaitement sans. « Nous n’avons pas besoin de votre révolution. » Même les mouvements sociaux des années 70 et 80, enfermés à clef dans leurs structures d’ONG, ont du mal à persister. Les nouvelles formations sociales prennent la possession des rues et des espaces médiatiques, sentir le besoin d’une représentation par une plus haute autorité, pas même les comités hétérogènes se réunissant à Porto Alegre.

Jusqu’ici ce mouvement a été limité dans des coordonnées clairement définies de l’espace-temps. Cela prend toujours des mois pour mobiliser des multitudes et pour organiser la logistique, des autobus et des avions, des campings et des pensions, aux centres de médias indépendants. Ce mouvement est tout sauf spontané (et ne prétend pas même l’être). Les personnes qui voyagent des centaines ou des milliers de kilomètres pour assister à des rassemblements de protestation sont conduits par de vrais soucis, pas par une certaine notion romantique de socialisme. La vieille question : « réforme ou révolution ? » retentit plus comme un chantage pour provoquer la réponse politiquement correcte.

La contradiction entre l’égoïsme et l’altruisme est également fausse. La mondialisation par des compagnies commandités par l’État affecte tout le monde. Les corps internationaux tels que l’OMC, l’accord de Kyoto sur le réchauffement planétaire, ou la privatisation du secteur d’énergie ne sont plus des nouvelles abstraites, gérées par des bureaucrates et des ONG lobbyistes. Cette perspicacité politique a été le bond en avant principal de la période récente. Est-ce la Dernière Internationale ? Non. Il n’y a aucune possibilité de retour à l’État-nation, aux concepts traditionnels de libération, à la logique de la transgression et de la transcendence, à l’exclusion et à l’inclusion. Des luttes ne sont plus projetées sur un Autre éloigné qui prie pour notre appui moral et notre financement. Nous sommes finalement arrivés dans l’âge de la post-solidarité. Par conséquent, des mouvements nationaux de libération ont été remplacés par une nouvelle analyse du pouvoir, qui est simultanément incroyablement abstraite, symbolique et virtuelle, en même temps terriblement concrète, détaillée et intime.

4. Défi actuel : liquider la troisième période régressive de la protestation morale marginale

Heureusement le 11 septembre n’a eu aucun impact immédiat sur le mouvement. Le choix entre Bush et Bin Laden était non pertinent. Les deux ordres du jour ont été rejetés comme étant des fundamentalismes dévastateurs. La question trop évidente : « quelle terreur est la pire ? » a été soigneusement évitée car elle éloigne des urgences pressante de la vie quotidienne : la lutte pour un salaire pour vivre, des transports en commun décents, la santé, l’eau, etc. Comme la social-démocratie et le socialisme réellement existant ont dépendu fortement de l’État-nation, un retour au 20ème siècle semble aussi désastreux que toutes les catastrophes qu’il a produites. Le concept de multitude numérique est fondamentalement différent et fondé entièrement sur l’ouverture. Au cours des dernières années les luttes créatrices des multitudes ont produit des matériaux sur des sujets nombreux et différents : la dialectique des sources ouvertes, des frontières ouvertes, de la connaissance ouverte. Pourtant la pénétration profonde des concepts de l’ouverture et de la liberté dans le principe de la lutte n’est nullement un compromis à la classe néo-libérale cynique et avide. Les mouvements progressistes ont toujours traité par démocratisation radicale les règles de l’accès, de la prise de décision et du partage des capacités gagnées. Habituellement elle a commencé à partir d’un fond commun illégal ou illégitime. Dans les limites du monde analogue elle a mené à toutes sortes de coopératives et d’entreprises autogérées, dont les notions spécifiques de justice ont été fondées sur des efforts pour éviter le régime brutal du marché et sur différentes manières de traiter la pénurie des ressources matérielles.

Nous ne cherchons pas simplement l’égalité appropriée à un niveau numérique. Nous sommes au milieu d’un processus qui constitue la totalité d’un être révolutionnaire, tant mondial que numérique. Nous devons développer des manières de lire les données brutes des mouvements et des luttes, et des manières de rendre leur connaissance expérimentale lisible ; pour coder et décoder les algorithmes de sa singularité, sa non-conformité et sa « non-confondabilité » ; pour inventer, régénérer et mettre à jour les récits et les images d’une connectivité véritablement mondiale ; pour ouvrir le code source de toute la connaissance en circulation et installer un monde virtuel.

Abaisser ces efforts au niveau de la production crée de nouvelles formes de subjectivité, ce qui mène presque nécessairement à la conclusion que chacun est un expert. Le superflux des ressources humaines et le brillant d’une expérience quotidienne sont dramatiquement perdu dans « l’académification » de la théorie de la gauche radicale. Bien plutôt le nouveau paradigme éthique-esthétique vit sur la conscience pragmatique du travail affectif, dans l’attitude « nerdique » d’une classe ouvrière numérique, dans l’omnipresence des luttes de migrants comme dans beaucoup d’autres expériences de passage de frontière, dans les notions profondes de l’amitié dans les environnements gérés en réseau aussi bien que le « vrai » monde.

II.

Regardons maintenant les stratégies pour l’art et l’activisme sur l’Internet. La nouvelle culture critique de médias fait face à un climat dur de budgets coupés dans le secteur culturel et à une hostilité et une indifférence croissantes envers les nouveaux médias. Mais la puissance n’a-t-elle pas glissé vers le cyberspace, comme l’a affirmé le Critical Art Ensemble ? Pas vraiment si nous considérons les innombrables manifestation de rue tout autour du monde.

Le mouvement de Seattle contre la mondialisation semble s’être accéléré - à la fois dans la rue et en ligne. Mais pouvons-nous vraiment parler d’une synergie entre les protestations de rue et le « hacktivism » en ligne ? Non. Mais ce qu’ils ont en commun est leur étape conceptuelle (temporelle). Protestations réelles et virtuelles risquent de rester bloquées au niveau d’une « conception globale de manifestation », qui ne serait plus fondée dans des questions réelles et des situations locales. Ceci signifie que le mouvement ne quitte jamais la version beta. À première vue, la réconciliation du virtuel et du réel semble être un acte rhétorique attrayant. Les pragmatiques radicaux ont souvent souligné l’incorporation des réseaux en ligne dans la société réelle, se passant de la contradiction reél/virtuel. L’activisme du net, comme l’Internet lui-même, est toujours hybride, un mélange de vieux et de nouveau, hanté par la géographie, le genre, la race et d’autres facteurs politiques. Il n’y a aucune zone pure et désincarnée de communication globale, telle que la cyber-mythologie 90s le revendiquait.

Les équations telles que la rue plus le cyberspace, l’art rencontre la science, ou la « techno-culture » sont toutes des approches interdisciplinaires intéressantes mais s’avèrent avoir peu d’effet au delà du niveau symbolique du dialogue et du discours. Le fait est que les disciplines établies sont en mode défensif. Les « nouveaux » mouvements et médias ne sont pas encore assez mûrs pour remettre en cause et défier les pouvoirs existants. Dans un climat conservateur, la revendication « donner corps au futur » devient un geste faible et vide.

D’autre part, l’appel de beaucoup d’artistes et activistes à retourner à la « vraie vie » ne nous fournit pas de solution à la question : comment de nouveaux modèles alternatifs de médias peuvent-ils être amenés au niveau de la (pop) culture de masse. Oui, les manifestations de rue élèvent des niveaux de solidarité et nous extraient de la solitude quotidienne des interfaces des médias unilatéraux. En dépit du 11 septembre et de ses retombées politiques radioactives de droite, les mouvements sociaux dans le monde entier gagnent de l’importance et de la visibilité. Nous devrions, cependant, poser la question « qu’est-ce qui vient après la version demo de ces nouveaux médias et nouveaux mouvements ? ».

Nous ne sommes pas dans les sixties impétueuses. Le niveau négatif, pur et moderniste du « conceptuel » a heurté le dur mur de la conception de la manifestation, comme Peter Lunenfeld l’a décrit dans son livre « Snap to Grid ». La question devient : comment sauter au delà du prototype ? Quoi après le siège d’un autre sommet de PDG et de leurs politiciens ? Combien de temps un mouvement peut-il se développer et rester « virtuel » ? Ou, en termes informatiques, après la conception de manifestation, après les présentations innombrables en PowerPoint, procès en haut-débit et animations Flash, quoi ? Linux sortira-t-il jamais du ghetto des « geeks » ? Le facteur bien-être de la foule ouverte et toujours grandissante (Elias Canetti) s’épuisera ; la fatigue de la manif s’imposera. Nous pourrions demander : votre version de l’Utopie a-t-elle une date limite d’emploi ?

Plutôt que de fabriquer encore un autre concept il est temps de poser la question sur la façon dont le logiciel, les interfaces et les normes alternatives peuvent être installés dans la société. Les idées peuvent prendre la forme d’un virus, mais la société peut répliquer avec des programmes d’immunisation encore bien plus réussis : appropriation, répression et mépris. Nous faisons face à une crise d’échelle. La plupart des mouvements et initiatives se trouvent dans un piège. La stratégie du « minoritaire en devenir » (Guattari) n’est plus un choix positif mais l’option par défaut. Concevoir un virus culturel réussi et obtenir des millions de hits sur votre weblog ne vous portera pas au delà du niveau d’un « spectacle » de courte durée. Les brouilleurs de culture ne sont plus proscrit mais ne devraient être considérés comme experts en matière de guérilla dans la communication.

Les mouvements d’aujourd’hui sont en danger de rester coincés en mode de protestation auto-satisfaisante. Avec l’accès au processus politique efficacement bloqué, davantage de médiation semble la seule option disponible. Cependant, gagner de plus en plus de « valeur de marque » en termes de conscience globale peut s’avérer être comme les stocks surévalués : ça pourrait payer à terme, ça pourrait aussi bien s’avérer être sans valeur. La fierté tirée de « nous vous avons toujours dit ça » amplifie la morale des multitudes minoritaires, mais en même temps elle délègue des combats légitimes au niveau de « Commissions officielles sur la vérité et la réconciliation » (souvent parlementaire ou congressiste), après que les dommages soient faits.

Au lieu de plaider pour la « réconciliation » entre le vrai et le virtuel nous réclamons ici une synthèse rigoureuse des mouvements sociaux avec la technologie. Au lieu de dire « le futur est maintenant », position dérivée du cyberpunk, beaucoup pourrait être gagné d’une réévaluation radicale des révolutions techniques des 10-15 dernières années. Par exemple, si les artistes et les activistes peuvent apprendre quoique ce soit de la montée puis de la chute des .com, ce pourrait être l’importance du marketing. Les globes oculaires de l’attention à l’économie « dotcom » ont prouvé leur inutilité.

C’est un terrain qui est véritablement de l’ordre de la connaissance du tabou. Les .com ont investi leurs capitaux à risques entiers en publicité - dans de vieux médias. Leur croyance dans le fait que l’attention produite par les médias amènerait automatiquement des utilisateurs et les transformerait en clients était infondée. La même chose pourrait être dite des site activistes. L’information « nous forme ». Mais la nouvelle conscience a de moins en moins comme conséquence l’action mesurable. Les activistes commencent seulement à comprendre l’impact de ce paradigme. À quoi bon une information qui tourne simplement autour de son propre monde parallèle ? Que faire si la manifestation de rue devient une partie du Spectacle ?

Les tensions et les polarisations croissantes décrites ici nous forcent à questionner les limites du discours des nouveaux médias. À l’âge des évènements mondiaux en temps réel, la définition de l’art d’Ezra Pound comme antenne du genre humain montre sa nature passive réactive. L’art ne prend plus l’initiative. On peut être heureux s’il répond aux conflits contemporains tout court et le secteur des nouveaux médias artistique ne fait pas exception. Les nouveaux médias artisitiques doivent être réconciliés avec leur condition d’effet spécial du matériel et logiciel développés il y a des années.

Les pratiques critiques des nouveaux médias ont été lentes à répondre à la montée et à la chute de la dotcommania. À l’apogée spéculative de la culture des nouveaux médias (au début des années 90, avant la montée du World Wide Web), les théoriciens et les artistes se sont jettés hardiement sur des technologies inaccessibles telles que la réalité virtuelle. Le cyberspace a produit une riche collection de mythologies ; les questions de l’incorporation et de l’identité ont été violemment discutées. Seulement cinq ans après, alors que les bourses Internet traversaient leur plafond, il ne restait pas grand-chose de l’excitation initiale des cercles intellectuels et artistiques. La culture expérimentale de la technique a raté l’argent facile. Récemment il y a eu une stagnation régulière de la culture des nouveaux médias, en termes de concepts et ede financement. Avec des millions de nouveaux utilisateurs s’assemblant sur le Net, les arts ne peuvent plus continuer et ne se retirer dans leur propre petit monde de festivals, de mailing-lists et d’ateliers.

Alors que les nouvelles institutions médias artistiques, mendiant la bonne volonté, dépeignent toujours des artistes comme travaillant au premier rang des développements technologiques, la réalité est différente. La bonne volonté multidisciplinaire est aussi basse qu’elle l’a toujours été. Au mieux, les produits de l’artiste des nouveaux médias sont des « conceptions de manifestations » comme le décrit Lunenfeld. Souvent cela n’atteint pas même ce niveau. Les arts des nouveaux médias, comme les définissent leurs rares institutions, atteignent rarement une audience hors de leur propre sous-culture d’arts électroniques. Le combat héroïque pour l’établissement d’un « système des arts des nouveaux médias », autoréférentiel, par une différentiation effrénée des travaux, concepts et traditions, pourrait être tenu pour une impasse. L’acceptation des nouveaux médias par les musées et des collectionneurs ne se produira tout simplement pas. Pourquoi attendre quelques décennies de toute façon ? Pourquoi exhiber l’art du Net dans des cubes blancs ? La majorité des organismes des nouveaux médias tels que ZKM, le Ars Electronica Centre, ISEA, ICC ou ACMI sont désepérants par leur innocence technologique, n’étant ni critique ni radicalement utopique dans leur approche. Par conséquent, le secteur des arts des nouveaux médias, en dépit de sa croissance régulière, s’isole de plus en plus, incapable d’aborder les questions du monde d’aujourd’hui, mondialisé, dominé par (la guerre contre) la terreur. Faisons-lui face, la technologie n’est plus « nouvelle », les marchés sont en baisse et plus personne ne veut rien en savoir désormais. Sa petite merveille, le monde (visuel) de l’art contemporain continue son boycott vieux d’une décennie des travaux (interactifs) des nouveaux médias dans les galeries, les biennales et les expositions comme la Documenta XI.

Une réévaluation critique du rôle des arts et de la culture dans la société en réseau d’aujourd’hui semble nécessaire. Allons au delà des intentions « tactiques » des acteurs impliqués. L’artiste-ingénieur, bricolant sur des interfaces homme-machine alternatives, le logiciel social ou l’esthétique numérique avait efficacement opéré dans un vide délibérément choisi. La Science et les affaires ont avec succès ignoré la communauté créatrice. Pire, les artistes ont été activement délaissés au nom de la « rentabilité », dans un mouvement de retour de bâton contre le webdesign menée par le gourou informatique Jakob Nielsen. La révolte contre la rentabilité est sur le point de se produire. Laurent Lessig argue du fait que l’innovation sur Internet est en danger. La jeune génération tourne le dos aux questions des arts des nouveaux médias, et si elle est impliquée tout court, opère en tant qu’activiste anti- compagnies. Après que le des .com l’Internet a rapidement perdu son attraction imaginative. Le partages de fichiers et les mobiles peuvent seulement temporairement remplir le vide ; les instruments autrefois fois tellement fascinants entrent dans la vie quotidienne. Cette tendance à long terme, qui maintenant s’accélère, mine sérieusement de futures revendications de nouveaux médias.

Une autre question concerne les générations. Les coûteuses installations interactives vidéo étant le domaine des baby-boomers de 68, la génération de 89 a embrassé l’Internet gratuit. Mais le Net s’est avéré être un piège pour eux. Compte tenu du fait que les capitaux, les positions et le pouvoir restent dans les mains des baby-boomers vieillissants, le jeu sur la montée de nouveaux médias n’a pas payé. Après que les capitaux à risques ont fondu, il n’est resté en place aucun système de revenu soutenable pour l’Internet. Les bureaucraties éducatives à fonctionnement lent n’ont pas encore saisi le nouveau malaise des médias. Les universités sont toujours en train de créer leurs nouveaux départements sur les médias. Mais cela finira par s’arrêter à un certain moment. La cinquante et quelque bien-assis et vice-présidents doivent se sentir satisfait de leur sabotage persistant. Qu’est qu’il y a de si neuf dans ces nouveaux médias de toute façon ? La technologie c’était de la hype après tout, favorisée par les criminels d’Enron et de Worldcom. Les étudiants se satisfont d’un peu d’email et de surf, sauvegardé dans un Intranet filtré et contrôlé. Face à ce techno-cynicisme émergeant nous avons un besoin urgent d’analyser l’idéologie des années 90 avides et de leur techno-libertarisme. Si nous ne dissocions pas les nouveaux médias de la décennie précédente rapidement, l’isolement du secteur des nouveaux médias entraînera sa mort à court ou moyen terme. Transformons le buzz des nouveaux médias en quelque chose de plus intéressant - avant que d’autres ne le fassent pour nous.

Copyright © 2003 Geert Lovink -Florian Schneider. Traduction de l’anglais par Germinal Pinalie.

Links:
http://www.meetopia.net/virus/podcast/un-monde.htm

No order. Art in a Post-Fordist Society

No Order. Art in a Post-Fordist Society. This editorial research and investigation project focuses on the relationships between contemporary art systems and capitalism’s production processes. By means of an investigation into current creative industries—and their social, economic and semiotic assemblages—the magazine contributions (essays, articles, interviews and dialogues as well as artists’ projects) aim to deconstruct, analyse and intervene within the ambit of the procedures and forms of cognitive capitalism. It will concentrate, in particular, on the phenomena of the ‘biennalisation’, ‘financialisation’ and ‘spectacularisation’ of the political, beginning with the control and distribution of forms of artistic education, production and display on a global scale. The Editorial Board is comprised of a series of transversal figures from various geographic and cultural environments, and includes Asef Bayat, Harun Farocki, Peter Friedl, Maurizio Lazzarato, Sylvère Lotringer, Achille Mbembe, Angela Melitopoulos, Christian Marazzi, Nelly Richard, Florian Schneider, Nomeda & Gediminas Urbonas and Françoise Vergès.

http://www.no-order.net/about.htm

Beruf Neonazi. Der Regisseur als Chauffeur

Antje Schuhmann and Florian Schneider

New rules of the new actonomy

Geert Lovink and Florian Schneider

That the world is changing wasn't really noticed for a while, and if at all, only in positive ways - at least for a long as the fall of the Berlin Wall and the overcoming of the Cold War gave rise to great hopes, the Boom of the New Economy hid its bad points, as long as the post modern fun spread nothing but good vibes. Nowadays the signs have become more obvious, that there are many political, cultural, economic and social conflicts simmering under the cover of digitalization, infotization and globalization, the extent and breadth of these conflicts can not yet be estimated.

Seattle, Melbourne, Prague, Nice, Davos - Quebec has just been added to this list, and Genova soon will be, where the G-8 meeting will take place at the end of July, and Qatar, where the next WTO will be, and a global day of action will be carried out. At the first glance it seems as if a new global protest generation is emerging, which endeavors to equal, include and battle against that of 1968.

However no-one should yield to this illusion: The great social movements of the past centuries from labour to environment seem to be exhausted. Simple recipes have lost all credibility, of course. The way back to familiar models is obstructed, and the complex cohesion of an ever more closely networking global economy and of ever more differentiated living conditions seem to be immune against any form of criticism.

The field of the political has collapsed into thousands of single fragments, but it is exactly in this chaos that a new activism with new ways of political articulation and action is breaking through. All these new beginnings are extremely flexible and operate with tactical and strategic plurality. They strive for up-to-date notions of solidarity and self-determination, and they try to link and to short-cut immediate and local conflicts with global ones.

So what has changed?

In former times, it was all about imprisoning people somewhere in order to discipline them (in schools, the army, factories, hospitals). Nowadays people are monitored in real time practically everywhere. In all political, social and cultural fields networking techniques of control replace the former techniques of power exertion. Chip-cards, biometric systems, electronic collars control the access to proprietary and privileged areas. Borders are subjected to a special change of meaning in this context. At electronic frontiers and virtual borders everything is about matching user-profiles and instead of in- or exclusion: networking against one's will.

There is no outside anymore and that is why the archimedical point of criticism has vanished, to settle exactly on the border and to risk a glance into the circumstances without really being a part of the controversy. The "New Left", as it emerged from the student settings of the 1960s and 70s had made their ideological criticism from these safe positions. Little wonder that the remains of such a protest culture excel at complaining, winging, griping and if it really gets radical, at making someone feel guilty.

Work that is no longer calculable and measurable anymore is certainly nothing really new. But their meaning for production process is pivotal. What some call "Affect Industry" covers work in hospitals and in the film industry, in software sweat-shops and kindergartens, in the entertainment industry and in nursing homes. Classic reproduction work which aims to stir emotions and create a feeling of well-being. The newest development in the emotion industry opens up a biopolitical dimension where the most riddling aspect which exists on earth - life itself - becomes the object of production.

Nowadays, almost all habits of political thinking and action are more or less radically questioned. Necessary is, a redefinition of the political practice and its theorizing, not starting from point zero, but from where we are now. In this context it is extremely exciting not to abandon all insights, but on the contrary: to investigate experience from a new historical upheaval and to recapitulate and to develop new terms and refuel old ones; to let struggles communicate with each other, regardless of if they are old or new, regardless of where they are physically located, and how they will end.

Resistance always comes before Power and sabotage derives from the French word sabot, which is a wooden shoe that is secretly introduced into a machine and blocks the production temporarily. This interruption aims to reduce the efficiency of the machine to such an extent that the emerging material damage underlines the concrete demands or a general disgust of the condition of exploitation.

As the normal strike, sabotage as a means of direct action aims directly at the pickpocket of the corporation in order to achieve the realization of certain conditions. Particularly when workers are robbed of their right to strike, sabotage was appropriate although an illegal means of struggle within the factories. Sabotage is a direct application of the idea that property has no rights that its creators are bound to respect. That way sabotage can be seen as a sort of anticipated reverse engineering of the open source idea.

Indeed, in the current political debate about direct action there are several parallels to the situation of the late 19th Century, which can be made. Sabotage is radically antagonistic to the representative discourse, i.e. in the institutionalized contexts of the working class or social movements. Those representative forms have always referred to a nation state while spontaneous, un- or better organized forms of resistance (e.g. the Industrial Workers of the World IWW) have expressed a global class consciousness. What is nowadays called direct action re-presents sabotage. >From "No Logo" to "Ruckus Society", from wild strikes in the hardware, Hi-Tech- and service industries to the semiotic guerilla of Indymedia, RTmark or Adbusters.

We suspect: current forms of activism attempt a redefinition of sabotage as social practice, but not in the usual destructive sense, rather in a constructive, innovative and creative practice. Such a constructive approach results in a movement without organs or organisation. In a variety of perspectives - self-determined cybernetic thinking, that spurs on different approaches and connections; that refers to a social antagonism refers to the level of production; and that is constituting a collective process of appropriation of knowledge and power.

So far three layers of net.activism appeared in a still rudimentary way:

- Networking within a movement: The first level of net.activism consists of facilitating the internal communication inside the movement. It means communication on and behind mailinglists, setting up websites, which are designed as a toolbox for the activists themselves. It leads to creating a virtual community, whose dynamics do not so much differ from romantic offline-communities, besides the fact that people do not necessarily need to meet physically, but very often they do afterwards.

- Networking in between movements and social groups: The second level of net.activism is defined by campaigning and connecting people form different contexts. It means joining the forces, collaborative and cooperative efforts, creating inspiring and motivating surroundings, in which new types of actions and activities may be elaborated.

- Virtual movements: The third level of net.activism means using the internet vice versa as a platform for purely virtual protests, which refer no longer to any kind of offline-reality and which may cause incalculable and uncontrollable movements: E-protests like online demonstrations, electronic civil disobedience or anything which might be seen as digital sabotage as a legitimate outcome of a social struggle: counter-branding, causing virtual losses, polluting the image of a corporation.

Time is Running Out for Reformism.

This is the golden age of irresistible activism. Accelerate your politices. Set a target you can reach within 3 years--and formulate the key ideas within 30 seconds. Then go out and do it. Do not despair. Get the bloody project up and then: hit hit hit. Be instantly seductive in your resistance. The moral firewalls of global capitalism are buggy as never before. Corporations are weakened because of their endemic dirty practices, mad for profits. The faster things are changing, the more radical we can act. The faster things are changing, the more radical we have to act.

The green-liberal idea of slowly changing capitalism from within no longer works. Not because the Third Way parties powers have "betrayed" the cause. No. Simply because their project is constantly running out of time. Global systems are in a state of permanent revolution, and so is subversive politics. Society is changing much faster than any of its institutions, including corporations. No one can keep up. There is no time anymore for decent planning. The duration of a plan, necessary for its implementation is simply not longer there. This mechanism turned the baby boomers into such unbearable regressive control freaks. There is no more time to go through the whole trajectory from research to implementation. Policy is reduced to panic response.

Government policy is reduced to panic response. For the complex society its enemies are the blueprints of five years ago. The future is constantly being re-defined, and re-negotiated. Global systems are in a state of permanent flux between revolution and reaction--and so is subversive politics. Society is changing much faster than any of its institutions can handle. In short: no one can keep up and here lies the competitive advantage of today's mobile actonomists.

Instead of crying over the disappearance of politics, the public, the revolution, etc. today's activists are focussing on the weakest link defining the overall performance of the system: the point where the corporate image materializes in the real world and leaves its ubiquity and abstract omnipresence. Shortcut the common deliberations about the dichotomy between real and virtual. Get into more sophisticated dialectics. It's all linked anyway, with power defining the rules of access to resources (space, information or capital). Throw your pie, write your code. Visit their annual stockholders meeting, and do your goddamned research first. What counts is the damage done on the symbolic level, either real or virtual.

The new actonomy, equipped with pies and laptops, consists of thousands of bigger and smaller activities, which are all by themselves meaningful, manageable and sustainable. For this we do not need a General Plan, a singular portal website, or let alone a Party. It is enough to understand the new dynamics--and use them. Create and disseminate your message with all available logics, tools and media. The new actonomy involves a rigorous application of networking methods. It's diversity challenges the development of non-hierarchical, decentralized and deterritorialized applets and applications.

Laws of semiotic guerilla: hit and run, draw and withdraw, code and delete. Postulate precise and modest demands, which allows your foe a step back without losing it's face. Social movements of the last century were opposing the nation state and disclaimed it's power. In the new actonomy activists struggle against corporations and new forms of global sovereignty. The goal is obviously not so much to gain institutional political power, rather to change the way how things are moving--and why. The principle aim is to make power ridiculous, unveil its corrupt nature in the most powerful, beautiful and aggressive symbolic language, then step back in order to make space for changes to set in. Let others do that job, if they wish so. There is no need for a direct dialogue in this phase. Exchanges on mediated levels will do. Complex societies have got plenty mediators and interfaces. Use them. Indirect contact with the power to be does not effect your radical agenda as long as you maintain and upgrade your own dignity, both as an acting individual and as a group.

Radical demands are not by default a sign of a dogmatic belief system (they can, of course). If formulated well they are strong signs, penetrating deeply into the confused postmodern subjectivity, so susceptive for catchy phrases, logos and brands. Invent and connect as much intentions, motivations, causalities as possible.

These days a well-designed content virus can easily reach millions overnight. Invest all your time to research how to design a robust meme which can travel through time and space, capable to operate within a variety of cultural contexts. The duality between 'small is beautiful' and 'subversive economies of scale' is constantly shifting. Low-tech money-free projects are charming, but in most cases lack the precision and creative power to strike at society's weakest link. Be ready to work with money. You will need it for the temporary setup.

Think in terms of efficiency. Use the staff and infrastructure on the site of your foe. Acting in the new actonomy means to cut the preliminaries and get to the point straight away. A campaign does not rely on ones own forces, but on those of your allies and opponents as well. Outsourcing is a weapon. It is a means of giving someone else the problems you cannot solve yourself. Remember that you won't get very far without a proper infrastructure such as offices, servers, legal frameworks to receive and pay money, etc. However, you can also treat these institutional requirements as flexible units. You do not need to own them, the only thing you need is temporary access so that you can set up the machine ensemble you need for that particular project.

Radical demands are not by default a sign of a dogmatic belief system (they can, of course). If formulated well they are strong signs, penetrating deeply into the confused postmodern subjectivity, so susceptive for catchy phrases, logos and brands.

Invent and connect as much intentions, motivations, causalities as possible. Nowadays activists use multi-layered and multiple voice languages that reach out far beyond the immediate purpose of a campaign or a concrete struggle, and in doing so, they create a vision much larger than what is accessible right at the moment. This mechanism needs a re-assessment of rhizomatic micro-politics which sprung up in a response to the centralized macro politics of the decaying communist parties in the seventies.

Act in a definite space and with a definite force. Dramaturgy is all that matters. Precision campaigns consists of distinct episodes with a beginning and an ending, an either smooth or harsh escalation and a final showdown. Accept the laws of appearance and disappearance. Don't get stuck in structures which are on the decline. Be ready to move on, taking with you the (access to) infrastructure of the previous round. Action is taking place in a variety of locations and thus refers in a positive way to a new stage of people's globalization from below. One that is not just an empty, endlessly extended market, but full of energy.

Refuse to be blackmailed. If attacked, make one step aside or ahead. Don't panic. Take all the options into account. No one needs cyberheroes, you are not a lone hacker anymore. The attack maybe be done by a single person but remember we are many. The corporate response may be harder than you expect. It may be better to evade a direct confrontation, but don't trust the media and the mediators. Ignore their advice. In the end you are just another news item for them. If trouble hits the face, scale down, retreat, re-organize, get your network up, dig deep into the far corners of the Net--and then launch the counter campaign.

Program and compile subject oriented campaigns! These days a lot of people talk about a global upraising, which is only in the very beginning and definitely not limited to running behind the so called battles of the three acronyms: WTO, WB and IMF. But the urgent question of that movement is: what new types of subjectivity will raise out of the current struggles? Everybody knows, what's to be done, but who knows, what are we fighting for and why? Maybe it doesn't matter anymore: net.activism is of a charming fragility. In the end it means permanently revising and redefining all goals.

The revolution will be open source or not! Self determination is something you should really share. As soon as you feel a certain strength on a certain field, you can make your power productive as positive, creative and innovative force. That power opens up new capacities, reducing again and again unexpected and incalculable effects.

Ignore history. Don't refer to any of your favorite predecessors. Hide your admiration for authors, artists and familiar styles. You do not need to legitimize yourself by quoting the right theorist or rapper. Be unscrupulously modern (meaning: ignore organized fashion, you are anyway busy with something else). Create and disseminate your message with all available logics, tools and media. The new actonomy involves a rigorous application of networking methods. It's diversity challenges the development of non-hierarchical, decentralized and deterritorialized applets and applications. In the meanwhile leave the preaching of the techno religion to others. Hide your admiration for everything new and cool. Just use it. Take the claim on the future away from corporations. Remember: they are the dinosaurs.

Read as many business literature as possible and don't be afraid it may effect you. It will. Having enough ethics in your guts you can deal with that bit of ideology. Remember that activism and entrepreneurial spirit have a remarkably lot in common. So what? Benefit from your unlimited capacity of metamorphosis. With the right spirit you can survive any appropriation. Free yourself from the idea that enemy concepts are compromising the struggle. You don't have to convince yourself, nor your foe. The challenge is to involve those, who are not yet joining the struggle. The challenge is to use resources, which may not belong to you, but which are virtually yours.

Sydney/Munich, June 2001

Was ist Gesellschaftsdesign?

WISSENSCHAFTSAKADEMIE BERLIN
Studiengang Gesellschaftsdesign
Sommer-Trimester 2007
18. Mai. bis 08. Juni

Freitag, 18. Mai, 20 Uhr c.t.
Seminar "Was ist Gesellschaftsdesign"
Referenten:
Florian Schneider (Gesellschafts- und Medientheoretiker)
Holm Friebe (ZIA, Zentrale Intelligenz Agentur)
Prof. Oliver Vogt (vogt + weizenegger)

Seminarort: Seminarraum 1 der Wissenschaftsakademie Berlin - Elite Universität, Torstrasse 94 (Redesigndeutschland), 10119 Berlin

Eine vorherige Anmeldung zu diesem kostenlosen Seminar oder eine ausführliche schriftliche Begründung für den Wunsch an der Teilnahme (Letter of motivation) ist nicht erforderlich. Nach dem Besuch aller Seminare wird das Gesellschaftsdesign Diplom der Wissenschaftsakademie Berlin verliehen. Der Studiengang Gesellschaftsdesign wird gefördert durch Mittel des modocom-Kulturfonds und Moebel Horzon.

Informationen zum gesamten Studiengang Gesellschaftsdesign:
http://www.modocom.de/akademie/aktuell.htm

Editorial board

Member of the Editorial board of the Jan van Eyck Academie from 2008 to 2012:

The Editorial Board handles the artistic affairs of the academy. Artistic affairs include: initiating and following up research and productions. These matters are the exclusive preserve of the Editorial Board. The Editorial Board has a production fund of at least EUR 86,192 to fund projects. A recommendation is required from the Editorial Board for production proposals that require a budget in excess of EUR 3,500. Revenues from projects by researchers, departments and the institute flow back into the production fund of the Editorial Board. The Editorial Board meets once a month. The meeting comprises one advising researcher per department and the director. Decisions of the Editorial Board are published in the announcements. In addition, announcements may also contain general information about the artistic programme.

Die Beute

Co-founder and editor of the editorial board of the polical-cultural monthly review "Die Beute" (1995-1996):

»Jetzt mit einer neuen Zeitschrift für radikale linke Kritik in die Öffentlichkeit zu treten scheint widersinnig. War nicht schon vor Jahren das „Ende der Linken“ verkündet worden? Das Gejammer ist bekannt. „Die Beute“ beinhaltet den Versuch, Beiträge von linken Aktivistinnen und Intellektuellen in einer Zeitschrift zusammenzubringen. Sie vertritt den Anspruch, die Kommunikationslosigkeit zwischen politischer und künstlerischer Opposition aufzuheben.«

http://www.idverlag.com/buchseite.php?buchID=40

Der Fußball darf nicht dem Fernsehen gehören

Florian Schneider

"Der Fußball darf nicht dem Fernsehen gehören" in "Holt euch das Spiel zurück", Herausgegeben von Dietrich Schulze-Marmeling, Göttingen, 1995

Hackeando la frontera

El sueño de abolir las fronteras es, por supuesto, mucho más antiguo que Internet. El mito de la frontera ha estado siempre ligado al de su ampliación, superación y expansión. Dentro del proceso de globalización contemporáneo parece que las fronteras que separan los Estados nacionales tienden de algún modo a desaparecer, aunque sólo en lo que respecta al flujo de bienes y capital, no de personas. Las fronteras se nos muestran como el laboratorio de las nuevas tecnologías de control, convirtiéndose las nuevas fronteras postmodernas o postnacionales en las alambradas de un nuevo sistema de apartheid a nivel mundial.
 
A pesar de ello, Internet basa su atractivo en la promesa de que la diseminación mundial de las nuevas tecnologías eliminará todas las barreras que separan a la gente. Muchos críticos han desenmascarado esta retórica revelando lo que tiene de escapismo frente al capitalismo realmente existente, cuando no de campaña promocional del bárbaro neoliberalismo actual. Existe sin embargo un error aún más peligroso: considerar la Red, como hace mucha gente, como un territorio "alternativo" al "mundo real” o como un espacio donde puede hacerse realidad el libre despliegue de una comunicación sin cortapisas. Las fronteras son entidades invisibles e intangibles y a este respecto Internet y las diversas redes de comunicación son el escenario de nuevas políticas fronterizas.
 
Resulta irónico que el telón de acero fuera sustituido tan rápidamente por nuevas fronteras basadas en el uso estratégico de modernos métodos de observación y de sofisticadas tecnologías de vigilancia. De este modo, contemplamos la proliferación de inmensas bases de datos descentralizadas tales como el Schengen Information System (SIS) complementadas por sus filiales nacionales, las denominadas SIRENE, o de un archivo de huellas digitales que almacena los datos de todos aquellos que buscan asilo. ¿Cuál es la relación entre todos estos fenómenos? A lo largo de la frontera alemana con Polonia y la República Checa montan guardia policías armados con todo tipo de instrumental tecnológico: dispositivos de radar conectados al sistema de posición global (GPS), cámaras detectoras de calor e infrarrojos, etc.
 
Comprobamos, por tanto, cómo la antigua frontera va evolucionando, plegándose sobre sí misma: se van cartografiando las zonas fronterizas y el interior de las ciudades, los trenes, las autopistas y las redes de comunicación. Las fronteras avanzan trasladándose a los países vecinos, expandiendo el sistema de control hacia un modelo zonal, que tendría como centro el espacio Schengen y un cordón de países sometidos a intensa vigilancia alrededor. Estos esfuerzos vienen apoyados por una propaganda intensiva que estigmatiza a las minorías, difama a la emigración y la movilidad humana y empuja o convence a las poblaciones locales a colaborar y administrar dicho régimen de fronteras.
 
Pero, ¿existe todavía la posibilidad de tomar en serio la promesa libertaria de la red o de reelaborar productivamente toda la serie de malentendidos que esta promesa conlleva? Si es así, ¿cómo podemos reclamar para todas las personas lo que sólo le está permitido a una minoría dotada de recursos para viajar y establecerse con libertad? Nuestra meta es lograr un acceso libre para todas las personas en la VIDA REAL: la abolición de las fronteras y la libertad de movimientos sin exclusiones. Estas peticiones no vienen dictadas por la caridad o la compasión, sino que son temas que nos conciernen a todos y a todas. No se trata de un sueño ingenuo, sino de una realidad accesible: la globalización no es un fenómeno que se pueda tomar o dejar y su desarrollo determina muy directamente el rango y la libertad de cada cual en su vida cotidiana .
 
Está claro que se ha de hacer algo más que rezar y ensalzar las preces de las nuevas tecnologías o cultivar la ilusión de que es posible mantenerlas al margen del control del Estado. Conceptual y prácticamente, las redes de información se han convertido tanto en el campo de operaciones de un régimen cuyo fin es controlar la vida de los individuos como en el vehículo de la autonomía, de la singularidad y del libre flujo de ideas, actividades y, sobre todo, de gente misma. Esta última concepción implica campos y posibilidades nuevas y, con ello, nuevos desafíos políticos, éticos y estéticos:
 
·   Investigar y atacar los mecanismos de colaboración transnacional y las redes de control y vigilancia postgubernamentales.
·   Explorar las nuevas subjetividades surgidas del cruce de fronteras, más allá del aburrimiento del nomadismo académico entre congresos que, en la mayoría de los casos, conlleva la humillante mendicidad de visados e invitaciones.
·   Conectar las estrategias artísticas y las intervenciones políticas, el activismo mediático y la militancia en la "vida real .
·   Ensayar y desarrollar conexiones y modos de enlace entre los nuevos movimientos sociales y los conflictos, tal como pueden ser la lucha de las personas sin papeles por permanecer en los países de acogida o la resistencia en los países de origen.
·   Debatir y propagar un nuevo abolicionismo que luche contra cualquier noción de frontera y discriminación dentro y fuera de los agonizantes estados nacionales.
 
Campaña nadie es ilegal
 
En el verano de 1997, tres o cuatro docenas de activistas políticos, activistas mediáticos, fotógrafos, directores de cine y artistas publicamos el manifiesto Nadie es ilegal en el Espacio híbrido de la Documenta X: . Algunos de nosotros y nosotras nos conocíamos de antiguo, desde los movimientos sociales de los años 80 o comienzos de los 90, cuando comenzaban a ensayarse nuevos modos no funcionales de combinar arte y política, tales como los "comités de salud pública”. Pero otros y otras se conocían por primera vez tras haberse comunicado hasta entonces exclusivamente por correo electrónico. Este encuentro pudo tener lugar, por supuesto, gracias a un uso sin prejuicios de las nuevas tecnologías. Nadie era realmente un experto, pero todos teníamos curiosidad por enriquecer y expandir nuestra simbología política clásica: la puesta en marcha de páginas web, correo electrónico, estaciones de radio en la red, intercambio de vídeos, videoconferencias con cientos de participantes o, incluso, la retransmisión de manifestaciones mediante el uso de teléfonos móviles .
 
El éxito de Nadie es ilegal tuvo como consecuencia el inicio de una campana basada en la actividad de decenas de redes locales en todas las grandes ciudades de Alemania. Pero, aparte de esto, no existía ningún tipo de maquinaria o estructura centralizada. Mediante circulares de correo, cada grupo trabajaba según sus circunstancias específicas concentrándose en los temas más diversos: esconder y ayudar a inmigrantes ilegales, ocupación de iglesias, organización de debates públicos o semipúblicos sobre la inmigración ilegal y de actividades de protesta frente a las deportaciones. Se celebraban congresos tres veces al año en los que los distintos grupos intercambiaban experiencias y discutían metas en común, prácticas y problemas, etc.
 
En 1998 se organizaron tres grandes acontecimientos de carácter nacional para toda Alemania con el apoyo estructural de la red Nadie es ilegal. la"Caravana por los derechos de los refugiados y los inmigrantes", iniciada originalmente por la Asociación de Derechos Humanos de Bremen. Pocas semanas antes de las elecciones alemanas de septiembre y bajo el lema: "No tenemos voto, pero voz si', la caravana recorrió más de cuarenta ciudades de todo el país. La acción conjunta fue secundada por varios cientos de grupos: organizaciones de ayuda al exiliado, asociaciones de solicitantes de asilo e inmigrantes y simpatizantes: . El segundo acto se trataba de una acampada en la frontera germanopolaca, que está descrita más extensamente en:
 
 La acampada de 1999: en contra del sistema de fronteras europeo y norteamericano
 
Con el fin de reclamar la libertad de movimiento y acceso para todas las personas, la campaña Nadie es ilegal volvió a trasladarse por segunda vez a la frontera de Alemania con Polonia y la República Checa. Entre el 7 y el 15 de agosto de 1999, alrededor de 1400 activistas de diversos países, dos burros y un número indeterminado de perros se reunieron en una acampada en Zittau, a pocos centenares de metros de la frontera. Se planeaba realizar conexiones con otras acampadas simultáneas por toda Europa y los Estados Unidos mediante Internet, teléfonos móviles, correo ordinario e intercambio personal. El lema del encuentro, Hacking the Border (Hackeando la frontera), hacía referencia al papel central que jugaran las fuerzas mediáticas junto a los militantes de la “vida real". Invitamos a acampar y a contribuir de cualquier modo posible a los y las activistas que utilizaran radios o vídeos portátiles, weberos tácticos, guerrilleros de la comunicación, dj’s, músicos, artistas...
 
En la acampada de 1998 habíamos logrado con éxito en Sajonia Oriental que la policía estatal, los funcionarios municipales y la policía fronteriza se cuestionaran sus políticas e incluso cambiaran algunas de sus posiciones. Nuestras manifestaciones y marchas y una fiesta rave de treinta y seis horas hicieron relajar el control de algunos puestos aduaneros de la frontera germanopolaca. Aquel año, nuestros esfuerzos incluían música gratis y espectáculos de radio para las personas deportadas a Goerlitz, un baile en la calle, la instalación de una radio de campaña, ataques a los centros de reunión nazis, una gran "regata antirracista" en el río Neisse y una carrera ciclista en Goerlitz destinada a favorecer un caso de "cruce secreto" de la frontera. La distribución de un periódico de la acampada pretendía manifestar nuestras demandas a las poblaciones cercanas a la frontera y asumir la responsabilidad de nuestras acciones. La nota triste del asunto fue que contribuimos a una manifestación espontánea en Freiberg (en la frontera germanocheca) en la que murieron siete albanokosovares y veintiuno quedaron gravemente heridos, debido a un accidente de coche, tras haber sido perseguidos por la policía fronteriza.
 
Lo mismo que en la intervención de 1998, en la de 1999 se pretendió perturbar la cómoda atmósfera que normalmente rodea la denuncia y detención de personas refugiadas e inmigrantes, una atmósfera que permite incluso la persecución legal de los taxistas que les prestan sus servicios. Nuestra intención era intervenir en el lugar donde prosperan las fuerzas policiales armadas dotadas de instrumental tecnológico propio de un estado de emergencia y donde el racismo campa a sus anchas, dando alas a los neofascistas que controlan mediante el temor el espacio público de muchas ciudades de Alemania Oriental y atacan impunemente los albergues para refugiados. Durante la acampada pretendimos invertir la situación e instalamos en la plaza del mercado un monumento al "Eltichthe~Cer" las personas que ayudan a escapar a los inmigrantes, ocupamos temporalmente las barracas de la policía fronteriza, organizamos competiciones de natación en el río que sirve de frontera y fiestas rave que, como el año anterior, acabaron de confundir a los guardias.
 
Algunas de las acciones dieron lugar a acalorados debates mientras que otras sólo sirvieron como liberación de adrenalina. Pero no todo fue fiesta y teatro. Los refugiados del albergue invitaron a los activistas a visitarlos y prepararon un panel exponiendo sus demandas, entre las que se encontraba algo tan básico como un aumento del cupo de papel higiénico. Se entró en contacto con las autoridades locales y con las agrupaciones sociales y políticas de la zona, y todas las actividades fueron recogidas en el periódico electrónico Hackeando la frontera: . La conjunción de acciones educativas radicales con medios estéticos y simbólicos convirtió la acampada en una intervención social en el espacio público, en donde activistas, artistas y población local se vieron impelidos a interactuar. Durante un periodo breve pero intenso se pudo hacer tangible el hecho de que las zonas olvidadas de los márgenes nacionales son realmente uno de los focos fundamentales de conflicto social.
 
Estos actos y la campaña de la que forman parte hicieron particular énfasis en lo inaceptable de que el aparato institucional que apoya tales procesos siga creciendo: la administración de extranjería, la legislación alemana contra las personas inmigrantes y contra quienes solicitan asilo, el sistema Schengen y todos los demás esfuerzos encaminados a evitar la entrada de personas refugiadas e inmigrantes o a expulsar a quienes ya están aquí. Pero más que oponernos a estas cosas, esta campaña intenta promover la solidaridad y la desobediencia civil contra la legislación y la cultura antiinmigración .
 
Queremos hacer publicidad acerca de la posibilidad real de tratar de otro modo a la gente que quiere entrar en Europa por la razón que sea: escapando de la guerra, de la persecución, del abuso sexual o social o simplemente para reorientar sus vidas. En este sentido, estamos totalmente en desacuerdo con los hipócritas liberales que distinguen entre los solicitantes, de asilo "político", a quienes dan la bienvenida, y los refugiados "económicos, a quienes rechazan. Tenemos la convicción de que TODA la gente tiene el derecho de vivir donde quiera y del modo que quiera. Las fronteras impiden la libertad de movimiento y de acceso a la "fortaleza europea” y por tanto deberían desaparecer.
 
La red ha previsto la celebración de cuatro acampadas más para el verano del 2000. Una en Italia; otra, organizada por un grupo anarquista polaco en la frontera ucraniano-eslovaca; otra más en Alemania, en Brandemburgo, cerca de la frontera polaca; y una última en la frontera entre México y Estados Unidos: .
 
La red Nadie es ilegal está proyectando otro tipo de intervenciones además de las acampadas. Una de ellas es la ficticia anexión de la ciudad fronteriza de Zittau, en Sajonia, a Polonia en el 2002. Con el fin de volver del revés la situación, se repartió entre los habitantes de Zittau un documento falso, con membrete del Ministerio del Interior de Dresde y firmado por un inexistente Secretario de Estado, en el que se les informaba de que, debido a las peticiones hechas al Parlamento alemán por organizaciones de alemanes revisionistas expulsados de Checoslovaquia tras la II Guerra Mundial, se había vuelto a medir el territorio con el resultado de que la nueva frontera corría ahora a 5'24 kilómetros al Oeste de Zittau. Los ciudadanos de Zittau pasarían por tanto a ser habitantes de Polonia a partir del 2002, dándoseles un nuevo pasaporte tras aprobar un examen de idiomas en el que se demostrara su voluntad de convertirse en verdaderos ciudadanos polacos.
 
Otra intervención es la titulada Todo lo que quiero es un eclipse total de sol. El día antes del eclipse total de 1999, cuando el pánico milenarista estaba en auge, se colocaron carteles anunciando una proyección de vídeo en la que se documentaría el impacto del eclipse en Alemania. El vídeo mostraba una Alemania hundida en el frío y la oscuridad, resultado de una conjunción astral. Muchos alemanes habían decidido escapar teniéndose que enfrentar de repente con la realidad opresiva de los campos de detención, las barreras fronterizas y el cruce ilegal. Tras la lógica irritación inicial, los asistentes participaron en un debate acerca del racismo y la exclusión.
 
Por último, se está desarrollando la campaña Tácticas de resistencia. Alianza antideportación llevada a cabo por el grupo Teatro invisible: . Se trata de una campaña para denunciar la colaboración de las líneas aéreas en los procesos de deportación. En Alemania, el objetivo de las intervenciones es Lufthansa, y en Holanda, KLM. Se utilizan tácticas como la del Vuelo justo contra la deportación, grupo que hizo su primera aparición pública en la Feria Europea del Turismo de marzo del 2000. Frente al stand de Lufthansa, cinco azafatos elegantemente vestidos y dos pilotos de uniforme hacían una demostración práctica de cómo se realiza la deportación. Un deportado fue atado a una silla de ruedas y se le puso un casco de moto en la cabeza. Se repartió más información en folletos en apariencia iguales a los de LufthansaZeiturig. La tripulación realizó demostraciones similares frente a los stands de Air France, SwissAir, Sabena y Tarom, para acabar en el stand de Turquía, donde se enfrentaron a un político alemán de alto rango portando pancartas en las que se leía: "La deportación es tortura. La deportación es asesinato. Derecho de residencia para todos ya". Para frustración del agregado cultural de Turquía, la intervención de Vuelo justo acaparó la atención de toda la prensa.
 
La práctica de deportación demostrada en esta ocasión no es en absoluto exagerada. Hace un año, el sudanés Aamir Ageeb murió en un avión de Lufthansa en viaje hacia El Cairo. La guardia fronteriza le puso un casco en la cabeza, le ató las manos y los pies, abusando de él hasta que se asfixió. Éste es sólo un caso entre muchos. Tras cuatro semanas de acciones y campañas informativas en las que se ha entrado en contacto con pasajeros y miembros de las tripulaciones, la compañía comienza a preocuparse acerca de su imagen pública e incluso empieza a negar su participación en este tipo de deportaciones forzosas.
 
En colaboración con artistas de otros países se está trabajando en sendas campañas contra Iberia y British Airways

Leben auf dem Mars

Florian Schneider

Nossov war kein Kosmonaut. Er war als Träumer verschrien, und nachts soll er gern auf dem Rücken im Gras gelegen haben. Einfach nur, um nach oben zu starren. Heute kann natürlich niemand mehr sagen, was ihm dabei in den Sinn gekommen sein mag. Sicher ist aber, dass Nossov damals, 1924, zu den ersten Menschen gehörte, denen der Aufbruch in ein neues Leben möglich war. Was auch immer kommen würde, es konnte nur besser werden.

Er hatte ein Land hinter sich gelassen, in dem es drunter und drüber ging: erst Welt- dann Bürgerkrieg, Revolution, Hungersnot und Flüchtlingsströme. Als Nossov mit zwanzig anderen Abenteurern hier am östlichen Rand des Donezk-Beckens ankam, muss er überglücklich gewesen sein: Ein kleiner Bach, fetter Boden und der Nachthimmel voller Sterne. Und als es schließlich darum ging, der neuen Siedlung einen Namen zu geben, hatte Nossov die beste Idee. Er gründete Mars.

Mehr als jeder andere Stern feuerte der rote Planet zu dieser Zeit die Vorstellungskraft der Menschen an. In den Tageszeitungen wurde über außerirdische Zivilisationen spekuliert, Fortsetzungsromane handelten von kleinen grünen Männchen oder geheimnisvollen Prinzessinnen. Eines dieser Phantasiegeschöpfe hieß Aelita und war 1924 gerade von dem russischen Regisseur Jakow Protazanow auf die Leinwand gebracht worden: Die Tochter des Marstyrannen verführt einen irdischen Helden, der mit seinem ebenso versponnenen wie unternehmungslustigen Wesen dem echten Nossov durchaus nahe kommen könnte.

Am Ende entpuppt sich die verworrene Geschichte zwar als reines Traumgespinst. Doch falls ein Bauer wie Nossov den Stummfilm wirklich gesehen haben sollte, dann muss er fasziniert gewesen sein: Nicht nur von furchterregenden Kostümen und atemberaubenden kontruktivistischen Bauten, sondern auch von all den merkwürdigen Dingen, die sich der Regisseur unter dem Leben auf einem anderen Stern ausgemalt hatte, inklusive einer proletarischen Revolution.

Diese Zeiten sind vorbei, und heute ist die Menschheit klüger. »Wir sind es schon gewohnt, dass dauernd Kamerateams bei uns einfallen«, sagt der hagere Mann, der mit übereinander geschlagenen Beinen auf einer Holzbank sitzt und den Kinderwagen mit seiner Enkelin schaukelt. Es ist Samstagmittag und der Großvater, der so abgebrüht tut, hat offenbar die erste größere Ration selbstgebrannten Wodka zu sich genommen.

Er blinzelt verschmitzt oder vielleicht nur wegen der Sonne. Dann erzählt er, wie ein Mann vom Fernsehen aus der Provinzhauptstadt Rostow einmal einen Komparsen in einen Kosmonautenanzug gesteckt habe und die Dorfstraße auf- und abspazieren ließ. Acht russische Fernsehsender haben in den letzten beiden Jahren in Mars gedreht. Wo das plötzliche Interesse herrührt, kann keiner erklären. »Das ist doch ein ganz normales Dorf, wirklich nichts Besonderes!«

Lidia Nikolajevna schlendert wie beiläufig von der anderen Straßenseite herüber. Die robuste 50-Jährige hat ein leutseliges Lächeln aufgesetzt, das nicht nur gut zum wasserstoffgebleichtem Haar passt, sondern auch eine wichtige Information vermittelt: Einer wie ihr entgeht hier nichts. Und wenn sie abwiegelt, muss dies seine Gründe haben. Das real existierende Mars ist ein Dorf wie tausend andere, und doch eine Fiktion: ein Flecken, der auf keiner Karte verzeichnet ist, eine ländliche Enklave inmitten einer langgezogenen, über ihre Ufer getretenen Siedlung. Die nach einem Bergwerk benannte Satellitenstadt Gukowa 1 wenige Kilometer östlich der ukrainischen Grenze hat im Laufe der Zeit das kleine Dorfidyll verschluckt.

Mars - das sind zwei schnurgerade Straßen, an denen sich jeweils ein paar Dutzend kleine Häuser reihen: Akkurat im gleichen Abstand. Mauern und Zäune sind in grellen Farben bemalt, als ginge es den Hausbesitzern vor allem darum, mit allen Mitteln der Tristesse entgegenzutreten. Neben den Gartentoren stehen einfache Sitzbänke, auf dem Grasstreifen daneben lagern Ziegel, Kies oder Haufen pechschwarzer Kohle - zurückgelegt für die Winterzeit. Jetzt, da die Sonne noch warm, die Ernte eingefahren und auf den Feldern nicht mehr viel zu tun ist, haben die Bewohner von Mars genug Zeit. Sie lehnen an den bunten Verschlägen, die ihre kleinen Häuser umgeben, schwatzen mit den Nachbarn und warten ab, ob sonst noch etwas passiert.

Eine Stimmung zwischen High-Noon und Kleingartenkolonie: Was immer es auch zu berichten gäbe, die Nachricht darüber würde sich sofort wie ein Lauffeuer verbreiten. Es ist still, bis einer, der seinen Wagen wäscht, das Autoradio mit lautem Kirmes-Techno aufdreht. Kinder versuchen, auf viel zu großen Damenrädern aus der Vorkriegszeit ein paar Meter zurückzulegen. Manchmal dürfen sie sich zu den Älteren aufs Motorrad setzen oder zu fünft im Seitenwagen um die großen Pfützen kurven, die sich auf der »Straße des 1. Mai« gebildet haben. Den Menschen in Mars ist der verheerende Zustand der Straße ein dauerndes Ärgernis. Jedesmal, wenn wieder einmal ein Kamerateam vorbeikommt, hoffen die Dorfbewohner von neuem, dass die Verwaltung ein Einsehen hat und endlich den Belag ausbessert.

Lidia Nikolajevna, die schon den ganzen Nachmittag mit zwei Nachbarinnen geplaudert hat, wartet auf die neue Ausgabe der Kohlearbeiterzeitung. Bis vor ein paar Jahren hat sie in der Grube gearbeitet, doch als ein Bergwerk nach dem anderen dicht gemacht wurde, verlor auch sie ihren Job. Seit Kurzem erst hat sie wieder eine Anstellung. Der neue Besitzer der inzwischen privatisierten Kolchose heuerte sie an, um den Fuhrpark zu verwalten und die Öl- und Benzinmengen für die großen Mähmaschinen einzuteilen. Umgerechnet etwa 30 Mark im Monat verdient sie damit. Immerhin bekommt sie ihren Lohn neuerdings auch ausgezahlt, anders als die Männer, die unter Tage fahren und oft Monate auf Bezahlung für ihre Schwerstarbeit warten müssen.

Geld spielt in Mars kaum eine Rolle: Man hat es nicht und daher ist es sinnlos, darüber zu sprechen. Seit der Kollektivierung der Ackerflächen 1929, also nur fünf Jahre nach der Gründung von Mars, besitzt jedes Haus ein Obst- und Gemüsegärtchen in den exakt festgelegten zulässigen Höchstmaßen, so etwas wie die Überlebensversicherung der Menschen: Kohlköpfe, Kartoffeln, Tomaten, Gurken, Kürbisse, Weintrauben und Äpfel. Viele halten Hühner, jede Menge anderes Federvieh, ein paar Schweine oder eine Kuh in einem Verschlag hinter dem Haus. Was die Menschen sonst noch an Lebensmitteln brauchen, kaufen sie einander vom Erlös ihrer kleinen Überschüsse ab. Wodka zum Beispiel, den nur noch diejenigen selbst brennen, die sich die gestiegenen Zuckerpreise leisten können.

In Mars leben heute 618 Einwohner. Die Menschen arbeiten entweder in den Bergwerken oder in einem landwirtschaftlichen Betrieb am südlichen Rand der Siedlung. Ein Großteil der Einwohner ist bereits in Rente. Pro Jahr kommen nur zwei oder drei Kinder zur Welt, meist von alleinstehenden Müttern. Doch gerade in letzter Zeit haben sich zahlreiche Neuankömmlinge angesiedelt: Familien, die nach der Katastrophe von Tschernobyl 1986 evakuiert wurden oder Flüchtlinge aus dem Tschetschenien-Krieg.

Aus der näheren Umgebung betrachtet scheint Mars der Himmel auf Erden zu sein. »Menschen, denen gestattet ist, in so einem Paradies zu leben«, sagt Tatjana Vladlenovna Polkova, »müssten doch in einem fort glücklich sein«. Die 43-Jährige kommt aus dem hohen Norden Russlands und ist von daher ungleich größere Anstrengungen gewohnt, der Erde ein paar Früchte abzuringen. Die resolute, rothaarige Frau wird von ihren Dorfnachbarn »Engel« genannt. Tatjana leitet halbtags den kleinen medizinischen Stützpunkt, der in dem einzigem Haus untergebracht, das keinen Garten hat.

Sie kontrolliert den Blutdruck der alten Leute, zeichnet eigenhändig große Schautafeln zu Fragen der Empfängnisverhütung und behandelt kleinere Krankheiten. »Nichts Außergewöhnliches«, betont sie immer wieder. Routiniert vermeidet sie jeden Eindruck, der auf irgendeine Form von aufsehenerregendem Leben deuten könnte. Von Vermutungen dieser Art können die Menschen aus Mars ein Lied singen: Alle sind in der höheren Schule von ihren Klassenkameraden als Marsmenschen gehänselt worden. Als Student in Moskau, erzählt Tatjanas Ehemann, habe er Wetten gewonnen, nachdem er ungläubigen Kommilitonen anhand seines Personalausweises belegen konnte, dass er wirklich vom Mars kommt.

»Auf dem Mars, da werden Apfelbäume blühen«, reimte der Dichter Jewgeni Dolmatowski in den 60-er Jahren, als die Sowjetunion unter dem Codenamen »Aelita« tatsächlich eine bemannte Marsmission plante. In den USA hatte Wernher von Braun schon 1947 für sein »Mars Projekt« geworben, das zehn Raumschiffe und siebzig Besatzungsmitglieder für eineinhalb Jahre durchs Weltall schicken sollte. Aus den Expeditionen wurde nichts, doch der Refrain aus Dolmatowskis Gedicht entwickelte sich zur stehenden Redewendung, auf die im Sowjetalltag viele spöttische Bemerkungen anspielten.

Die Leiterin der regionalen Touristeninformation in Gukova 1 schmunzelt, wenn sie berichtet, dass die Betonwände der Bushaltestelle Mars ursprünglich mit einem Mosaik verkleidet gewesen seien, das Bäuerinnen unter blühenden Apfelbäumen zeigte. Die Wirklichkeit dagegen hat weniger Sinn für hintergründigen Humor: Auch in diesem Jahr fiel die Obsternte wieder einem späten Frost zum Opfer und von den bunten Fliesen sind nur noch Bruchstücke hinter der Straßenböschung übrig, die von struppigem Gebüsch überwuchert werden. Dass der Bus hält, ist auch nicht gesagt. Manchmal, behaupten Schulkinder, ist er so überfüllt, dass er an Mars vorbeifährt. Seit diesem Schuljahr müssen auch die Kinder der ersten vier Klassen in die Stadt fahren, weil die Grundschule am Ort aus Schülermangel geschlossen wurde.

Als Dunia und Faina Kinder waren, soll die Welt in Mars noch in Ordnung gewesen sein. Die Schwestern kamen in den Dreißiger Jahren mit ihren Eltern hier an. Damals, erzählen die beiden, da konnten sich viele sogar ein Grammophon und ein schwedisches Fahrrad leisten, die Kolchose lief blendend: Massen von Schweinen und Kühen, riesige Felder, auf denen prächtiger Weizen gedieh. In der näheren Umgebung machte eine Grube nach der anderen auf. Kohle war der Rohstoff für Elektrifizierung und Industrialisierung, die riesige Sowjetunion konnte nicht genug davon kriegen.

Die Bergarbeiter waren stolz, genossen ein hohes Ansehen und ein gutes Auskommen. Doch die goldene Epoche währte nicht lange. Im Sommer 1942 wurde Mars von den Deutschen besetzt. »Sie marschierten ein, als die Sonnenblumen bereits ihre Köpfe hängen liessen«, erinnert sich Faina. Der Kommandant, der Feldkoch und der Zeugmeister schliefen im großen Zimmer, »unsere zehnköpfige Familie musste sich mit dem kleinen Zimmer und einer einzigen Schachtlampe begnügen«. Es war das erste Mal, dass die Kinder aus Mars Süßigkeit aßen. Sie stahlen die Schokolade aus den Proviantkisten der Wehrmacht.

Faina spricht mit ruhiger, fester Stimme, wenn sie an ihre Jugend zurückdenkt, bei aller Bitterkeit so beiläufig, als hätten sich die Ereignisse gestern erst zugetragen. Vielleicht hat das damit zu tun, dass sie in ihrem Leben weitere Schicksalsschläge zu erleiden hatte: Seit ihr Schwiegersohn erst ihre Tochter und dann sich selbst umgebracht hat, zieht sie den achtjährigen Enkel alleine auf. Obwohl sie eigentlich in einer kleine Wohnung in der Stadt lebt, verbringt sie die meiste Zeit zusammen mit Schwager und der Schwester, dem verbliebenen Rest der Familie in ihrem Elternhaus in Mars.

»Das erste, was die Deutschen machten, war, die Dorfelite zu erschießen: den Bürgermeister und den Parteichef.« Dann verzieht Faina den Mund: Auch Opportunisten habe es damals gegeben, die verrieten, wer den Partisanen Unterschlupf gewährte. Viele Einwohner seien in den sechs Monaten der Besetzung zur Zwangsarbeit auf den Feldern verpflichtet worden, doch verschleppt hätten die Deutschen niemanden aus Mars. Faina hat Berichte aus anderen Dörfern der Gegend gehört, nach denen Menschen zusammengetrieben und dann in Eisenbahnwaggons weggeschafft worden seien.

Am 14. Februar, kurz nachdem sich in Stalingrad der letzte Soldat der Wehrmacht ergeben hatte, verschwanden die deutschen Besatzer auch aus Mars. »Sie sind Hals über Kopf davongerannt.« An diesen Tag kann Faina sich genau erinnern; sie schloss sich sofort nach der Befreiung der Sowjetarmee an. Eine Tante hatte sie gebeten, ihren gefallenen Mann zu rächen. Nur wenigen Bewohnern von Mars ist die Vergangenheit so präsent wie Faina und ihrer Schwester. Nicht einmal in der Frage etwa, ob es wirklich deutsche Soldaten waren, die damals die Kohlebergwerke in die Luft sprengten, sind sich die Menschen einig. An eine Geschichte aber können sich alle erinnern: Hinter den Gemüsegärten von Mars zogen Rotarmisten an langen Seilen Flugzeuge aus Pappe durchs Gras. Mit dem falschen Flugplatz sollten deutsche Flieger in die Irre geführt werden.

Semion Novikov ist der einzige Überlebende aus der ersten Siedler-Generation. Vierzehn Jahre war er alt, als seine Familie gemeinsam mit der von Nossov hierher kam. Während der deutschen Besetzung hatte er sich in den riesigen Wäldern rund um Mars versteckt gehalten. Als Novikov nach Abzug der Wehrmacht in sein Dorf zurückkehrte, waren fast alle Männer an der Front und so wurde der gelernte Schuster zum Wiederaufbau der Kohlebergwerke eingeteilt. Stolz zeigt der 90-Jährige den Orden, den er damals für seine großen Verdienste überreicht bekam. Heute warte er auf den Tod, sagt Semion Novikov.

Er kann seinen Rücken nicht mehr aufrichten und harrt ganzen Tag in einer unbarmherzig grotesken Haltung aus: Den Oberkörper in Höhe der Hüfte fast rechtwinkling nach vorne gebeugt und mit der letzten verbliebenen Kraft auf einen Stock gestützt, den er mit beiden Händen fest umklammert. So kann er noch ein paar Schritte im Garten machen. Meist aber sitzt er in seinem Stuhl hinter dem Hauseingang und hört Radio.

Der alte Mann zeigt kaum eine Reaktion, teilnahmslos läßt er selbst Dreharbeiten über sich ergehen: Letztes Jahr drückte ihm ein TV-Team ein Glas Wodka in die Hand, obwohl er doch seit mindestens zwanzig Jahren keinen Tropfen Alkohol mehr angerührt habe. Nur beim Untergang des U-Bootes Kursk Anfang August, erzählt seine Enkelin, da habe er plötzlich alles ganz genau wissen wollen. Sie glaubt ohnehin nicht, dass der Großvater schon sterben will. Heimlich mache er Kraftübungen, um sich fit zu halten, sagt sie und lacht.

Natalia ist 25 Jahre alt, arbeitet als Mathematiklehrerin und will weg. Sie träumt vom Leben in der Stadt, wo ihre Freunde sind, wo man abends ausgehen und neue Menschen kennenlernen kann. Mit ihrem Verdienst könnte sie sich aber nicht einmal die Miete für eine eigene Wohnung leisten, sagt sie. Außerdem: »Wer sollte sich dann um meine kranke Mutter und den alten Grossvater kümmern?«

Natalia redet, als wolle sie deutlich machen, dass sie nicht nur den südlichen Dialekt, sondern auch den komplizierten Satzbau der russischen Hochsprache beherrscht. Sie sieht die andere Seite des Lebens in Mars, und die besteht in ihren Augen vor allem aus Neid und Eifersucht: Jeder kenne jeden, und doch sei jeder für sich alleine. Ein Dorfleben gebe es nicht, bestätigt Natalias Mutter Lubov: Nicht einmal für ihren Vorschlag, zu Ehren der Gründerväter den 75. Jahrestag von Mars zu feiern, habe sich jemand erwärmen können.

Wovon würde einer wie Nossov heute träumen? Wie er Mars auf dem schnellsten Weg verlassen könnte? Oder würde er sich ausmalen, was sich mit den Möglichkeiten anstellen ließe, die der Ort bietet: Jedes Haus hat Strom und Wasser, auch Gas- und Telefonleitungen sind verlegt. Die meisten Menschen sind zwar bitterarm, aber gut ausgebildet. Und doch haben sie sich zurückgezogen und pflegen ihren Garten. Wenigstens, solange sie körperlich dazu in der Lage sind. Wenn sie mit ihren Nachbarn sprechen, zetern sie über Kriminelle, die nachts Gemüse stehlen oder Kabel von den Strommasten klauen, um sie auf dem Schwarzmarkt verhökern.

Und wenn sie so betrunken sind, wie der, der sagt, er heiße Bocharov, kann es auch passieren, dass sie vorübergehend wirklich wütend werden: »Als in den 80-er Jahren die englischen Bergarbeiter streikten, haben wir Geld gesammelt, um sie zu unterstützen«, schimpft Bocharov. Heute, da die Bergarbeiter im Süden Russlands Solidarität bräuchten, kümmere sich niemand um sie. Fast ein Jahr lang hätten sie für höhere Löhne gekämpft oder zumindest für pünktliche Zahlung, doch niemand sei ihnen zu Hilfe gekommen: »Die Welt hat uns vergessen.«

Menschenrechte im Gespräch

Weltweite Präsentation des Jahresberichtes von amnesty international • 25. Mai 2005
Was geht?
Menschenrechte im Gespräch

Am 25. Mai stellt amnesty international den Jahresbericht 2005 weltweit der Presse vor. Wir wollen dies zum Anlass nehmen, engagierte Künstler/innen und Kulturschaffende über ihre Arbeit, ihr Selbstverständnis und ihre Visionen zu Wort kommen zu lassen. Wie bilden sich derzeit politische Entwicklungen in Kultur und Gesellschaft ab? Wie steht es um die Menschenrechtskultur in Deutschland? Der ai-Jahresbericht gibt Auskunft über die Menschenrechtssituation in aller Welt. Unzählige Menschen haben im vergangenen Jahr wieder erfahren, wie sich staatliche Behörden über grundlegende Rechte hinwegsetzten und sie mit Füßen traten. Im Namen des so genannten Kampfes gegen den Terror verstoßen zunehmend auch Rechtsstaaten bewusst und systematisch gegen internationale Menschenrechtsabkommen. Der öffentliche Protest hiergegen bleibt verhalten.

Roger Willemsen im Gespräch mit
Ulrich Mühe, Kathrin Röggla, Florian Schneider
und Andres Veiel
Mittwoch, 25. Mai 2005, um 20.00 Uhr KW Institute for Contemporary Art Auguststr. 69, 10117 Berlin-Mitte Eintritt frei
Eine Veranstaltung von amnesty international und Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag in Zusammenarbeit mit den KW Institute for Contemporary Art.

Collaboration: The Dark side of the multitude

Florian Schneider

Collaboration is one of the guiding terms of an emergent political sensibility in which certain collectivities and mutalities are being redefined as modes of affectual politics. Collaboration, literally, means working together with others, especially in an intellectual endeavour.

The term is widely used to describe new forms of labour relations within the realm of immaterial production of varying areas, but though significantly present there is very little research and theortical reflection on it.  What is at stake is the very notion of establishing a new understanding of the term ‘together’ within a dynamic of ‘working together’.

The problem is, that most often collaboration is used as a synonym for cooperation, although etymologically, historically and politically it seems to make more sense to elaborate the actual differences that shift between the various coexisting layers of meaning.

In contrast to cooperation, collaboration is driven by complex realities rather than romantic notions of a common ground or commonality. It is an ambivalent process constituted by a set of paradoxical relationships between co-producers who affect each others.

1. An indecent proposal

As a pejorative term, collaboration stands for willingly assisting an enemy of one's country and especially an occupying force or a malevolent power. It means to work together with an agency or instrumentality with which one is not immediately connected -- for instance the French Vichy regime in the 1940s, which collaborated with the German occupiers.

Collaboration as a traitorous cooperation with the enemy provides a counter to what management theory since the 80s has been promoting as team-work: The act of subjugation of one's own subjectivity under the omnipresent control regime of a group which has conceptually replaced the classical role of the "foreman" as the disciplying force. Rather than by repression, efficiency is increased by the collective identification of small groups of co-workers.

Meanwhile various research studies have shown that often teams make the wrong decisions, especially when the task involves solving rather complex problems. This insight is even more staggering since rapid technological development and global availability of intellectual resources increase the pressure on individuals to exchange knowledge within and between groups.

Teamwork often fails because of the banal fact that the internalized modes of cooperation are characterized by the opposite of sharing knowledge: In order to pursue a career, one has to hide the relevant information from others. On the other hand it also refers to the fact that joining forces in a group or team increases the likelihood of failure much more than the likelihood of success. Awkward group dynamics, harmful externalities, bad management practices are responsible for the rest.

2. In Praise of mutuality

There is more and more evidence that shows that working together may also happen in unexpected ways. Instead of exerting an alleged generosity of a group, where individuals are supposed to pursue solidarity, it may be the reverse: a brusque, in principle, ungenerous mode, where individuals are relying on each other the more they go after their own interests, mutually dependent through following their own agendas.

Such a paradox of "friendship without friends", as Derrida pointed  out in a different context, characterizes contemporary forms of collaboration. Collaborations are black holes within knowledge regimes. Collaboration produces nothingness, opulence or ill-behavior. It does not happen for sentimental reasons, charity nor for the sake of efficiency, but for pure self interest.

For instance claiming transparency within what is called "information society" reveils as hypocrisy: the emerged and yet emerging new information and communication technologies replace conventional strategies of walling off knowledge from the public by intellectual property regimes and digital rights management that grant or refuse access to immaterial resources through operations in realtime. The concept of individual rights has vanished as well as the logics of inclusion and exclusion. It applies to both, the so called real and virtual space, knowledge as well as border regimes.

Against the background of a postmodern control society collaborations are all about exchanging knowledge secretely and apart of borders. The escape agent, human trafficker or "coyote" - as it is called at the US-mexican border - supports undocumented bordercrossings that want to make it from one nation state to the other without the usual paperwork. The "coyote" as an allegory of collaboration is permanently on the move, only temporarily employed, nameless and anonymous, constantly changing faces and sides.

The "coyotes" motivations remain unclear or do not matter at all. It is a postmodern service provider par excellence: There is no trust whatsoever and this does not even create a problem. The conceptual insecurity overrules the eventual financial aspects of the collaboration and triggers a redundancy of affects and percepts, feelings and reactions: Those who do not need the coyote's support are hunting and demonizing it; those who depend on the coyote's secret knowledge and skills are longing desparetely for it.

Nevertheless the collaboration between the "coyote" and the clandestine immigrant refers to the certain amount of illegitimacy that is inherent to any form of collaboration. It stands for the attempt to regain autonomy amidst a society of control.

3. Singularities

While cooperation happens between identifiable individuals within and between organizations, collaboration expresses a differential relationship that is composed by heterogenous parts which are defined as singularities: out of the ordinary, in a way that produces a kind of discontinuity and marks a point of unpredictability, even if deterministic.

This is revealed in post-fordist production, "affect industries" as well as networking environments in general. People have to work together in settings where their efficency, performance and labor power cannot be singled out and measured on its own, but in each case refers to the specific work of somebody else. One's own producing is very peculiar but generated and often also multiplied in networks that are composed of countless distinct dependencies constituted by the power to affect and to be affected.

In respect of such excessivity that is essentially beyond measure, collaboration relates to the mathematical definition of singularity as the point where a function goes to infinity or is in certain other ways ill-behaved. The concept of singularity once more distinguishes collaboration from cooperation. Furthermore it refers to a notion of precariousness that is emerging these days and that can been seen as the crisis that goes along with this rupture or the transition of modes of working together from cooperation and collaboration.

The nettings of voluntariness, enthusiasm, creativity, immense pressure, ever increasing self-doubt and desparation are temporary, fluid and appear in multiple forms, but refer to a permanent state of insecurity and precariousness that becomes the blue print for widespread forms of occupation and employment within the rest of the society. It reveals the other face of immaterial labor that is hidden behind the rhetoric of cooperation, networking, and clustering.

In contrast to cooperation, which always implicates an organic model and some transcendent function, collaboration is a strictly immananent, wild and illegitimate praxis. Every collaborative activity begins and ends within the framework of the collaboration. It has no external goal and cannot be decreed; it is strict intransitivity, it happens, so to say, for its own sake.

Cooperation necessarily takes place in a client-server architecture. It follows a metaphorical narrative structure, in which there is a coherent assignment of every part and its relation to another. Collaboration on the contrary presumes rhizomatic structures where knowledge grows exuberantly and proliferates in a rather unforseeable fashion.

The relationships between collaborators can be understood as from peer to peer. Peer-to-peer computer systems or "P2P-networks" appeared on the internet in the 1990s and created a revolution of the conventional distribution model. Such networks are designed to enable people, who do not know each other and probably prefer not to know each other, to exchange immaterial resources like computing time or bandwidth as well as relevant content. Their anonymous relationships are based on an irony of sharing even in a strict mathematical sense: due to lossless and costfree digital copying the object of desire is not divided but multiplied.

Finally, collaborations are the sites of revolutionary potential. In the last instance collaborations are driven by the desire to create difference and refuse against the absolutistic power of organization. Collaboration means to overcome scarcity and inequality, as well as to struggle for a freedom to produce. It carries an immense social potential, as actualization and experience of the unlimited creativity of the multiplicity of all productive practices.

Spectator, collaborator, activist

Who owns the artwork?

Imaginary Property - Contemporary image production is condemned to pose the question of property at the intersection of two axes: property that becomes increasingly a matter of imagination and images that are subject to ongoing propertization. In an economy based on imaginary property the real abstraction of the exchange has turned into its opposite, the real-time exchange of data that are abstracted from the image which does not portray or equal anything anymore.

The art of un-archiving

Proposal for a revaluation of documentary practices

Misunderstanding the Internet as a huge archive of digital objects seems to be the smallest common denominator that could characterize the variety of different practices of data collection in networked environments.

Paradoxically, such a notion of networking as a means of "social" archiving appears as a machinery that tends to eliminate the traditional modes of the documentary by its very capacity to document anything and anybody, under all circumstances.

Common notions of archiving would have it capture and “fix” reality in order to re-access and replay it later on. A particular moment or site is isolated, stored, and reconstructed as an event in ways that produce plausible forms of truth — all with a degree of permanence beyond the contingencies of time and space.

However, such conventional approaches are doomed to failure in networked environments. When uncertainty is the precondition of any assertion and instability is the rule, we may have to rely on opposite strategies to produce, invent, and develop truth.

Merely capturing, freezing and preserving the data inherited from past occasions isn't enough; instead, they must be broken free and become fugitive. But what could this mean?

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Florian Schneider (*1967 in München) is filmmaker, writer and curator. He teaches at the art academy in Trondheim. At the Jan van Eyck Akademie Maastricht, he is an advising researcher. At Goldmsmiths College, University of London he is currently working on a research project on "Imaginary property".

Non-aligned learning

Pedagogical Faultlines
International Workshop on Alternatives in Education
21 and 22 September 2007
Organized by Waag Society, Sarai (India) and the Institute of Network Cultures in Amsterdam.

Themes

1) Extra - institutional Pedagogy

Emerging from crisis within formal educational structures, pedagogical
practices have been forced to move into more ‘informal networks’,
intimating new possibilities of pedagogical forms, structures,
resources and practices. These are sites that open up the question
around the "professionalisation" of pedagogical purposes and also the
nature of the pedagogical intervention, where the role of the teacher
and the learner are routinely destabilized. Traditionally, the
development discourse around knowledge has been in terms of knowledge
transfer (from the more knowledgeable to the less knowledgeable) and
access (for the ‘knowledge deprived’ to ‘information resources’). This
rubric of the programme would suggest instead the need to move away
from the paradigm of ‘transfer and access’ towards paying more
attention to the processes of generating and sustaining different forms
of socially situated creativity and knowledge. The crucial question
that lingers within these practices could be framed as - are these
sites for ways of living in the world or are these just another adjunct
to learning to prepare for the world?

2) New Sources of Knowledge

Over the last decade we have witnessed an unprecedented expansion in
the sites and modalities of knowledge production and access. This
expansion has gestured towards new questions around the authority of
knowledge producers and validity of what would be considered as
knowledge. The question of establishing trust in open formats, of
intellectual integrity and property, of sharing and plagiarism are all
opened up once we enter the world of blogs and wikis, google downloads
and non-moderated discussion lists. Similarly hard questions face us
when we consider the worlds of ‘traditional knowledge’, once derided by
science but increasingly valorized by those in search of alternatives
to the contemporary, that may or may not share the modern practices of
standardization and validation of knowledge. The traffic of content
across languages and cultures through translation, available both in
print and through lists and blogs, provides a third context to think
about new domains of knowledge, this time in the vernacular worlds that
have adapted new media technologies to their own purpose. It is not
enough to bring down the canon. The big challenge would be to
conceptualize the dialogical nature of these knowledge formations,
keeping alive their internal modes of debate, inconsistencies,
conflicts, discussions, contradictions and difference.

3) Social Knowledge and Professional Practice

The making of professional practices draws simultaneously upon
theoretical and practical knowledge. However, the technical and the
social, theoretical and practical coexist not in synchrony but in
tension, with pedagogical practices comfortable with one or the other.
The choice of the technical seeks a neutral, scientific ground while
many accounts opting for social and practice based knowledge often
adopt a populist anti-intellectual agenda. The professional seeks to
discredit ‘lay knowledges’ while the experiential strives to establish
itself as the ground of authenticity, privileging the experience of
distinct social groups over any universal conception of
‘truth’. Further, these tensions play themselves out very differently
in various institutional geographies. The debates in this realm are
simultaneously about power, identity and the nature of modernity in
various parts of the globe and together they pose some of the most
significant challenges to the making of global democratic futures. This
thematic will thus address the tensions between social knowledge and
professional practice as these are taught and experienced in particular
disciplines and across different institutional sites with a view to
linking the question of pedagogy with issues of power and authority,
cultural sensibilities and the multiple ways in which we dwell in the
contemporary.

4) Multi-site Practices

It is a given that people, concepts and practices travel.
Conceptualizing multi-site practices in education oscillates between
the ease of global transfer of best practices and the utter
impossibility of translations across cultural boundaries. This raises
the problem of the travel of situated practices of pedagogy that
address similar concerns and common questions enabling provocations and
inspirations and thus substituting model building exercises for
culturally sensitive pedagogical practices that dialogue through their
difference. Multi-site pedagogical practices is not simply an
invitation to collecting and adding new sites, of arching the different
worlds that exists in any given present, but allowing these various
selves to collide with and infiltrate each other, without the
privileging of any one self over the other. This disturbing, intimate
friction creates new enabling contexts that allow us to imagine the
possibility of a critical and reflective practice of development. In
other words, what is at stake is the fashioning of new terms of
dialogue that allow for mutual learning and sharing across diverse
social and spatial locations, experimenting not only with the
production of content but also the forms and networks through which
these circulate.

New modes of Documentary

Après une brève introduction et présentation des participants, Eyal Sivan et Florian Schneider proposeront leur "vision théorique" du geste documentaire sur Internet sous la forme d'un manifeste avec quelques grands principes de base. En gros pour résumer très rapidement il s'agit de démontrer notamment que le programme documentaire sur le Web ne peut-être une simple adaptation du documentaire télévisuel mais doit prendre en compte ses spécificités (multiplication des programmes et des audiences, le spectateur devenu "éditeur"...) et qu'il peut grâce au web reprendre un sens authentique, s'il ne prend pas l'apparecce d'un objet fini mais laisse place à l'imprévisible, propose une forme ouverte, aux internautes de faire "vivre les archives": en faire donc un lieu de production réelle et non de consommation. Après l'évocation de ses principes, nous aimerions confronter cette théorie aux acteurs du Webdocumentaire (notamment à la TV): Catherine Kammermann (TSR) et Colette Loumède (ONF).

Open Source, Open Borders

"Incommunicado 05: information technology for everybody else" is a two-day working conference working towards a critical survey of the current state of 'info-development', also known as the catchy acronym 'ICT4D' (ICT for development). Before the recent “flattening of the world” (Thomas Friedman, 2005), most computer networks and ICT expertise were located in the North, and info-development mostly involved rather technical matters of knowledge and technology transfer from North to South. While still widely (and even wildly) talked about, the assumption of a 'digital divide' that follows this familiar geography of development has turned out to be too simple. Instead, a more complex map of actors, networked in a global info-politics, is emerging.

Imaginary property: Frequently asked questions

Florian Schneider

What does "imaginary property" mean?

"Imaginary property" is a concept that can be read in at least two directions: Property produced by imagination, or Images turning into property.

While the bourgeois conception of property has been characterized by anonymity and pure objectivity, today it seems to be the opposite way. In the age of immaterial production, digital reproduction, and networked distribution - property relations need to be made visible in order to be enforced. Property exists first of all as imagery and rapidly becomes a matter of imagination.

A contrary way of reading "imaginary property" could also be understood as questioning of possession or ownership of imageness as such: It opens up to the question: "What does it mean to own an image"?

So, what does it mean to own an image?

From invention, creation and distribution to recognition, exhibition and conservation, images are subject to an infinite variety of operations that are not only characterized by conflicting powers of producing, possessing and processing them. Ownership of images has turned into the challenge of implementing solutions that are executed in real time. It is a progressive appropriation, which is, as Etienne Balibar might say, "defined in terms of an intrinsic relationship to its other".

Imaginary property deals with the imagination of social relationships with others who could also use it, enjoy it, play it or play with it. Ownership has become a matter of communication and constant renegotiation, gained and performed on an increasingly precarious basis rather than grounded on a stable set of eternally valid laws which follow traditional ideas of property and personhood.

Does "imaginary" mean, it is faked or unreal?

Apparently, there is no way out of the imaginary. Not because the "imaginary" is equal to the fictitious, faked or "unreal"; rather than the opposite of "real" imaginary relates to the indiscernibility of real and unreal, as Gilles Deleuze mentions once in his very few remarks on this peculiar terminology: "The two terms don't become interchangeable, they remain distinct, but the distinction between them keeps changing round..." This could lead to a first and fundamental characterization of imaginary property: As a set of exchanges it is based on the impossibility to discern anymore what is one's own and what not. Such indiscernibility certainly rests on the persuasive power of the digital image which promises to instantly provide lossless and cost free copies, while insisting on the identity of the copied content. But more importantly, it introduces the urgency of a constant re-negotiation and exchange of meanings of ownership which remain distinct.

Isn't all property imaginary? Why should it matter all the sudden?

In a society after the spectacle, the networked world of customized channels of so-called "social networking" - the fetishized character of non-things or absurdities (the means of immaterial production) needs to be inscribed directly into the process of imagination (the labor power of the creative industries of late capitalism).

The actual results are massive expropriations and re-appropriations of both the actualized and actual production of images and imaginary values associated with them. This is what the hype of "web 2.0" is about, but it also characterizes it as the response to the impact of pirate networks or file-sharing communities.

Global corporate networks desperately attempt to re-identify and reinforce the abstract nature of the value of exchange while being confronted with the overwhelming opulence of use value once the images are liberated from the fetters that arrested their freedom of movement, their capacity to circulate freely.

What is the problem with "social networking"?

As soon as one uploads some film or footage to, for example, one of those predominant video portals one signs an agreement that basically consists of handing over the ownership (at least, if there is any, in legal terms) of these images to a corporate (or not yet-corporate) entity. The example of YouTube and Myspace - just to name the two most prominent examples - leaves no doubt: Obviously, "sharing" is not a problem, it is even officially encouraged and essential part of the core corporate strategy.

The problem is a different one: The problem is multiplication. How can we imagine multiple forms of ownership that accomodate images that are multiplied rather than being shared, divided and fragmented?

What is at stake in "imaginary property"?

The project "imaginary property" sets out to examine the ways in which social relationships are configured, designed and performed in reference to the objects that are supposed to be owned, used and displayed as one's property.

What is at stake is not at all the relationship between the owner of some thing and the object that a person owns. The juridical forms do not determine the content even of what they make effective, as Bernard Edelman wrote. "The relation between the expression of the content and the effectivity of the content is ideological and that is this relation itself becomes a mysterious power, 'the true basis of all property relations'."

"Imaginary property" deals with the imagination, the practical critique and the re-design of ideological relationships. Relationships between me and others who could also develop the will to use and enjoy it, modify or alter it, play it or play with it.

Does "imaginary property" try to advocate for creative commons or piracy?

The sweet dreams about the commons, about sharing and caring, in an organic, unselfish, platonic and idealistic fashion, as well as the romanticism of the figure of the pirate, the digital small-time criminal or gentleman-thief -- that is rather fiction and fantasy and smells like a sort of petit-bourgeois projection.

The project "imaginary property" defies a vulgar marxism or "Proudhonism" which seems quite popular today. It is not about the "abolishment of intellectual property" in an utopian manner, let alone coquetry with far too simple slogans like "property is theft". In the last instance both, the advocates of theft and piracy as well as the defenders of a pre- or post-capitalist concept of the "commons" are either entangled with fantasies about 'true' or 'fair' conceptions of property or just turn a blind eye on the social and political realities.

What do you suggest instead?

What is urgent today is a critical analysis of 'political economy of image production' "embracing the totality of these property relations, considering not their legal aspect as relations of volition but their real form, that is, as relations of production." (Karl Marx on Proudhon).

We have to turn the platonic world of image production upside down. If it is allowed to use a well-worn metaphor: We have to turn off the head, on which so-called "intellectual" property is standing, and place it upon its feet. Instead of an utopianism which is hunting for a scientific or technological formula for the solution of the property question that is to be devised a priori, science needs to derrive "from a critical knowledge of the historical movement, a movement which itself produces the material conditions of emancipation" -- just to paraprahese Marx once more.

If we understand imagination as a rule of production, what might characterize theimages that are actually produced?

I suggest to call them 'control images'. In "Counter-Music", a video installation for the european cultural capital Lille in 2004 Harun Farocki coined the term: "Operative images, control images. Representations of traffic regulation, by car, train or metro, representations determining the height at which mobile phone network transmitters are fixed, and where the holes in the networks are. Images from thermo-cameras to discover heat loss from buildings. And digital models of the city, portrayed with fewer shapes of buildings or roofs..."

In one of his very few remarks on electronic images Gilles Deleuze noted: "Not just the voices but sounds, lights, and movements are being constantly modulated. These parameters of the image are subjected to variations, repetitions, alternations, recycling, and so on... This corresponds to a transition from visibility to legibility. The legibility of images relates to the independence of their parameters and the divergence of series..."

What seems absolutely crucial here: The control image is an image that is characterized by its modulation; by the fact that it can be altered, variated, halted, repeated, recycled or in short: it can be controlled not only by its producers, by its legal or legitimate owners, but by all its users and viewers.

Is it then possible to think of 'images beyond control'?

Good question! What Laura Mulvey called "the possessive spectator" could in fact lead to the invention and creation of entirely new relationships between those who were formerly known as filmmakers, distributors, spectators.

Originally Mulvey refered to the "remote control", a device to control the motion of the movie, but that marked only the very beginning of a process which has produced many different subjectivities and accelerates a variety conflicts about possessing images.

Consequentially, soon we can probably see a wide range of projects which are not only illustrative, but pushing the concept of the control image towards its extremes and maybe even beyond it.

FLORIAN SCHNEIDER

Online Video Aesthetics: Radio Philips revisited

"After many years in which i was mainly occupied with questions of hosting images based on reflections on the concept of "imaginary property" I find myself today mainly occupied with the specific challenges for image making: challenges that appear on an ethical and political level, but at the same time and most importantly in terms of aesthetics."

Imaginary Property

While the bourgeois conception of property has been characterized by anonymity and pure objectivity, today it seems to be the opposite way around: In the age of immaterial production, digital reproduction, and networked distribution – property relations need to be made visible in order to be enforced. Property exists first of all as imagery and rapidly becomes a matter of imagination. A contrary way of reading “imaginary property” could also be understood as the expression of a certain form of possession or ownership of imagineries: It opens up to the question: “What does it mean to own an image”?

Beyond user-generated content

This panel addresses the public content zone beyond that of user generated-content: the possibilities and problems related to making professionally produced cultural productions publicly available on the internet. What kind of revenue models exist for that? How is the public interest in accessibility squared with the need of professionals to make a living? What new and alternative distribution models emerge for professional cultural producers and cultural institutions?

Speakers:
Florian Schneider (Kein.tv), Kenneth Goldsmith (Ubuweb), Bauke
Freiburg (Fabchannel / Culture Player), Chai Locher (NFTVM), Rick
Prelinger (Prelinger Archives).
Moderator: Eric Kluitenberg

Das Aufheben des Dokumentarischen

Florian Schneider

(dutch version below)
Einige Anmerkungen zum Umgang mit Dokumenten in vernetzten digitalen Archiven

Wenn es nicht gerade darum geht momentane Befindlichkeiten auszutauschen oder in sonstigen Formen von Klatsch und Tratsch zu schwelgen, die eigentlich ganz gut in wenn überhaupt dann alten Medien aufgehoben waren, wird "das Internet" gerne als ein riesiges, weltweites Archiv begriffen, in dem alles mögliche Wissenswerte auf lange Sicht hin abgespeichert sei. Doch dabei handelt es sich um einen Irrtum mit fatalen Konsequenzen.

Neue Medien treten in der Regel zunächst als Abklatsch von alten in Erscheinung. Doch weil das Internet ursprünglich eben keine Applikation war, die zum Tagebuchschreiben, Lexikonlesen, Fernsehen, Plattenkaufen, Teleshopping oder, wozu es sonst gerade benutzt wird, entwickelt wurde, deswegen wird es nur allzu gerne einfach als Archiv begriffen.

Die Archivfunktion des Netzes ist der kleinste gemeinsame Nenner einer Reihe von Missverständnissen, die die Nutzung des Internet bislang charakterisieren. Gleichzeitig haben sich diese Missverständnisse nicht nur längst verselbständigt, sondern scheinen im Gegenzug erhebliche Auswirkungen zu haben auf das grundlegende Verständnis vom Aufheben nicht mehr unmittelbar nützlicher Dokumente -- ganz zu schweigen von den rasant schwindenden Möglichkeiten, wie diese in neuen Zusammenhängen wieder aufgegriffen werden könnten.

Auf den ersten Blick wirkt es, als hätte es kaum besser kommen können: Die massenhafte Digitalisierung der Archive sollte nur einem Zweck dienen - nämlich den allgemeinen und prinzipiell öffentlichen Zugang zum wo auch immer gesammelten Wissen der Menschheit zu einer Frage von Mausklicks machen, gekoppelt mit der Eingabe von ein paar Suchwörtern, aber auch bis hin zu komplexen semantischen Verknüpfungen.

Der Traum von einer barrierefreien, ortsunabhängigen und unverzüglichen Verfügbarkeit eint so unterschiedlich motivierte Projekte wie die vom Google-Konzern betriebene digitale Weltbücherei, Fotoarchive wie Corbis oder Getty Images, global operierende Foto- oder Videoplattformen wie "Youtube", "Flickr" oder das nicht-kommerzielle Online-Lexikon Wikipedia. Weite Teile deren Geschäftsgebarens und Unternehmensprinzipien sind mittlerweile paradigmatisch geworden auch für lokale Sammlungen oder institutionelle sowie nicht-institutionelle Selbstarchivierungspraxen.

Unterschlagen oder zumindest ignoriert werden in diesen Zusammenhängen einige wesentliche Aspekte des Digitalen, die in kommerziellen Kontexten keine oder nur untergeordnete Rolle spielen mögen, seriöse Forschung oder wissenschaftliche Arbeit aber vor ungekannte Herausforderungen stellen werden:

1. Entgegen weitläufiger Annahmen sind digitale Datensammlungen von einer zumindest für Aussenstehende erstaunlichen Flüchtigkeit. So übersteigt die Lebensdauer von einzelnen Seiten im World Wide Web im Durchschnitt kaum hundert Tage. Danach ist der Inhalt entweder verschwunden, unzugänglich oder anderweitig verzogen.

Projekte wie das Internet-Archiv ARCHIVE.ORG versuchen diesem Phänomen Herr zu werden, indem sie sozusagen das Archiv archivieren. Ebenso wie die lokale Sicherungskopie mag das für überwiegend textbasierte Dokumente noch als Zwischenlösung taugen, stösst aber, sobald es sich um Bilder oder gar Filme handelt, nicht nur auf quantitative, sondern vor allem qualitative Grenzen.

So sind die Standards für die Kodierung und Dekodierung von bewegten und unbewegten Bildern ständigen, zum Teil abrupten Veränderungen unterworfen, die vorwiegend Marktinteressen folgen, selten rückwärtskompatibel sind und von daher zu zeitaufwändigen und kostspieligen Transkodierungen in immer kürzeren Abständen zwingen werden. Ihr meist proprietärer Charakter delegiert die Verfügungsgewalt über die gesammelten Objekte letztendlich in die Hände von Konsortien oder Patenthaltern.

Das Paradigma der unverzüglichen, nicht-exklusiven Besitznahme, die die digitalen Netzwerke kennzeichnet, geht einher mit einer Verschiebung der Eigentumsverhältnisse, die sich von nun an komplett neu formulieren: Das eigentliche Objekt verliert zusehends an Wert, während Zugangsvoraussetzungen und Nutzungsbedingungen neue Formen von imaginärem Eigentum hervorbringen; diese generieren durchaus Wert, der sich aber in anderen Sphären realisiert.

2. Ein weiteres grundsätzliches Problem taucht auf mit der dem Digitalen eigenen Tendenz zur Eliminierung von Redundanzen. Im Prozess der Komprimierung von datenintensiven Formaten werden Informationen, die zu einem gewissen Grade für vorhersehbar angesehen werden, als ein Zeichen von Wiederholung des Selben begriffen und zum Zwecke der Handhabbarkeit liquidiert. Solche Redundanzen sind vielleicht nicht unbedingt sichtbar oder nur schwer wahrnehmbar, von daher aus Konsumentenperspektive auch durchaus vernachlässigbar. Als Schutz vor partiellem Datenverlust oder für die Einschätzung der Authentizität waren sie im Analogen jedoch unerlässlich, wenn es um die Konservierung und Restaurierung von Beständen auf längere Sicht hin geht.

Die der digitalen Komprimierung eigene Unterscheidung von nützlichen und unnützen Informationen, die Verbannung von allem nicht unmittelbar Brauchbaren in die Region unterhalb der Rauschgrenze, bricht mit der herkömmlichen Ethik des Archivs, das eine solche Unterscheidung nicht kennen darf. Die Präjudizierung der Nützlichkeit, zumal wenn sie in Echtzeit und ohne jegliche Verhandlung oder Einspruchsmöglichkeit von statten geht, beraubt das Archiv einiger seiner wichtigsten Funktionen. Es degeneriert zu einem Veröffentlichungswerkzeug, das bloss noch der Resteverwertung von möglichst wenig veralteten Informationen dient.

3. Was heute im Netz zugänglich gemacht wird, ist ein Ausschnitt des Bestandes von lokal eingepflegten Archiven, der mithilfe von relationalen Datenbanken und entsprechend programmierten Schnittstellen und grafischen Benutzeroberflächen auch von entfernten Orten aus einsehbar ist. Voraussetzung hierfür ist, dass die Beziehungen zwischen den jeweiligen Objekten präemptiv gestaltet werden, Verknüpfungen vorweggenommen, Überraschungen ausgeschlossen werden. Was nicht vorauseilend programmiert ist, existiert nicht. Schlimmer noch: Es wird wahrscheinlich auch nie existieren.

Das Ergebnis und demzufolge auch der potentielle Sinn einer jeden Recherche ist nicht nur im Vorhinein festgelegt, er bezieht sich nicht mehr auf den Untersuchungsgegenstand, sondern besteht vor allen Dingen im Verhältnis zum bereits hochgerechneten Interesse Anderer, die sich für dieselben oder zumindest ähnliche Informationen ebenfalls interessiert und vergleichbare oder sogar identische Anfragen bereits gestellt haben.

Netzrecherche verläuft notwendigerweise auf ausgetretenen Pfaden. Was vom System eliminiert wird, ist jegliche Abweichung von der Norm. Der vermeintliche Zufall, der eine herkömmliche Recherche erst wertvoll erscheinen liess, verendet jämmerlich, sobald der unter nicht vernetzten Umständen langwierige Übergang vom Suchen zum Finden dank sogenannter Suchmaschinen auf die Bruchteile von Sekunden zusammengeschmolzen ist.

Auch wenn es angesichts der Rhetorik der Anbieter zunächst nicht den Anschein hat: Bei der Recherche in vernetzten Umgebungen bleibt auf der Strecke, was deren eigentlichen Sinn ausgemacht hat -- die Entdeckung von etwas Neuem, oder eben: das Unberechenbare, Unvohersehbare, Unerwartete.

Das Archiv ist ein einheitlicher Zusammenschluss, der trotz oder vielmehr gerade wegen seiner Begrenzungen und Bestimmtheiten als Prozess begriffen werden muss. Es setzt einen zielstrebigen Willen voraus, der die einzelnen Dokumente in einer Totalität erfasst, die prinzipiell offen und immer unvollendet ist und dem einzelnen Dokument seinen dokumentarischen Wert und damit eine ungeheure Autonomie verleiht.

Der Preis für die Recherche in Echtzeit in entfernten digitalen Archiven wirkt vor diesem Hintergund noch ungleich höher als die Bedenklichkeiten, die die Flüchtigkeit der Daten, die Eliminierung von Redundanzen sowie das Prinzip einer präemptiven Relationalität auslösen sollten. Dem Primat des Zugangs muss mehr oder weniger zwangsläufig der dokumentarische Charakter der einzelnen Objekte, deren Autonomie inmitten der Totalität des Archivs geopfert werden.

Dabei handelt es sich nicht vorrangig um die Taktilität, die den analogen Objektstatus prägt, weil sie dem forschenden Subjekt, auch dann wenn der Gegenstand technisch bloss reproduziert wurde, letztlich eine Gewissheit über deren beider Existenz zu verleihen verspricht. Sicherlich geht der digitale Modus des Archivs mit dem vielbeschworenen Verlust einer auratischen Gewissheit einher, die im angeblich virtuellen Milieu nicht mehr zu gewährleisten ist, da die einzelnen Stücke der Sammlung vom Nutzer nicht selbst eingesehen, angefasst und in ihrem unmittelbaren Zustand wahrgenommen werden können.

Schwerer als diese Infragestellung der auch aus vielen anderen Gründen fragwürdigen forschenden Subjekthaftigkeit aber wiegt die Verflüchtigung des ebenso komplexen wie singulären Beziehungsgeflechts zwischen Forscher und Forschungsgegenstand auf die Ebene der digitalen Metadaten: Daten über Daten, deren Zweck darin besteht, "maschinenlesbare Informationen über elektronische Ressourcen oder andere Dinge" zu enthalten, wie Tim Berners-Lee feststellte, seines Zeichens Erfinder des World Wide Web und Direktor des World Wide Web Consortiums (W3C).

Über Jahrhunderte fristeten Metadaten ein unscheinbares Dasein. Als eine Art Geheimcode von Archivaren und Bibliothekaren bildeten sie Regelwerke, die sich meist auf nur einen spezifischen Bestand bezogen und wenn dann nur eine streng limitierte, unmittelbar lokale Bededeutung hatten. Im Zeitalter globaler Vernetzung und im Zusammenhang mit immer komplexeren elektronischen Informationssystemen kommt der Interoperabilität von Metadaten zur effizienten Ressourcenbeschreibung über die jeweiligen Archive hinweg plötzlich enorme praktische Bedeutung zu.

Bestimmte Qualitäten oder Veränderungen in der Beschaffenheit, die mit einer Nutzung einhergehen, schreiben sich nicht mehr direkt dem Objekt ein. Dieser Verlust wäre durchaus verkraftbar, schliesslich handelt es sich um den augenscheinlichen Grund für etliche Vorzüge der digitalen Speicherung, die heute aus dem Alltagsleben nicht mehr wegzudenken sind: unmittelbare Verfügbarkeit, vermeintlich kostenlose und verlustfreie Vervielfältigung.

Gleichzeitig aber werden die mittel- und unmittelbaren Folgen der Nutzung auf einer Metaebene verhandelt, die sich jeglicher Einsicht, geschweige denn Kritik, kategorisch entzieht und sozusagen zum Geschäftsgeheimnis wird. Der dokumentarische Charakter, der schliesslich aus der retrospektiven Wiederaneignung, dem Umschreiben oder der Rekonstruktion von Nützlichkeit, Nutzung und Nutzungsgeschichte destilliert werden musste, ist vom eigentlichen Gegenstand abstrahiert worden und tritt nurmehr ausschliesslich auf der Metaebene in Erscheinung.

Das Aufheben des digitalen Objekts im vernetzten Archiv führt zur Aufhebung des Dokumentarischen im Digitalen. Der Sinn des Suchens, der primäre Effekt des Dokumentarischen, scheint verloren gegangen zu sein. Doch nur solange, bis er auf der Ebene der vor, während und nach einer Nutzung fabrizierten Wirklichkeit der Metadaten als sein eigenes Zerrbild wieder auftaucht und ein merkwürdiges, aber durchaus gewinnbringendes Eigenleben entfaltet.

Die Bedeutung eines Dokumentes wird weder aus der Verdinglichung im Tausch oder der Kommodifizierung auf dem Markt noch aus dem vormaligen Gegenteil, der Mumifizierung eines einstigen Gebrauchswerts im Archiv gewonnen. Im Zeitalter der digitalen Vernetzung wird der Sinn aus einer Bestimmung des relationalen Wertes gefolgert, die ad hoc und im Vorübergehen stattfindet.

Dieser relationale Wert hebt die Entgegensetzung von Austausch und Gebrauch formal auf und regelt exklusiv die Auffindbarkeit des eigentlichen Objekt. Relationaler Wert entsteht aus der Kurzschliessung von Metadaten und Nutzerdaten, die durch immer weiter foranschreitende Vernetzung in Unmengen gewonnen, in Echtzeit miteinander abgeglichen werden und auf dieser Grundlage das Dokument erst zugänglich machen. Ihre direkte Kopplung macht sie zu untrennbaren Bestandteilen eines in sich abgeschlossenen Systems, das zum Ziel hat, sich in einem fort selbst zu beschreiben und in immer weiteren Kreisen selbst zu reproduzieren.

Unausweichlich wird jeder Form der Recherche ein inzestuöses Geflecht von nutzergenerierten Ereignissen, deren temporären Gelegenheiten und jeweiligen Abhängigkeiten entzogen, die entweder bereits stattfanden, stattfinden werden oder auch nur stattfinden könnten und mit dem eigentlichen Objekt der Untersuchung wenn, dann nurmehr lose oder entfernt verbunden sind.

Keine Suche nach einem Schlagwort, die nicht erst durch die Schönung der Trefferliste aufgrund der Erfahrungen mit vorangegangenen Anfragen einigermassen ansehnlich oder überhaupt erst brauchbar gemacht wurde. Keine Literaturrecherche, ohne dass nicht auf Produkte aufmerksam gemacht wird, mit denen sich andere Menschen, die sich für ähnliche Dinge interessiert haben, ebenfalls befasst haben könnten. Kein Bild, das nicht bereits von zahllosen anderen Nutzern - freiwillig oder unfreiwillig - verschlagwortet, de- und wieder re-kontextualisiert wurde; dessen Muster nicht in einer schier unendlichen Reihe anderer Bilder ebenfalls erkennbar wäre.

In seiner gegenwärtigen Phase stellt sich das Netz als eine gigantische Maschinerie zur Entwertung des Dokumentarischen und weit darüberhinaus auch jeglicher Singularität dar. Jedes Aufbegehren dagegen wirkt sinnlos oder allenfalls nostalgisch. Eigenständiges Denken, selbstbestimmte Forschung muss sich dem in einem Reflex entziehen, um anderweitig überleben zu können.

Von entscheidender Bedeutung dürfte hierbei eine radikale Umwertung des Werts des Dokumentarischen sein. Angesichts von Umgebungen, die sich dadurch auszeichnen, dass jegliche Regung von Verstand wie Unverstand, in dem Moment, in dem sie kundgetan wird, bereits Gegenstand von redundanten Sammlungs-, Speicherungs- und Archivierungsvorgängen ist, wo die prä-emptive Fabrikation von fiktiver Wirklichkeit zusammenfällt mit ihrer Dokumentation in Echtzeit, muss eine Neubestimmung des Dokumentarischen völlig neue Strategien der Sichtbarmachung des Unsichtbaren erfinden.

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De mythe van het internet als archief

Florian Schneider

Zolang het er niet meteen om gaat momentane gemoedstoestanden uit te wisselen of je hart op te halen aan geklets en geroddel – dingen die eigenlijk (als dat al gebeurde) een behoorlijk onderkomen vonden in oude media – wordt ‘het internet’ graag als een reusachtig, wereldwijd archief opgevat, waarin alle mogelijke interessante kennis op lange termijn opgeslagen is. Dat is een vergissing met fatale gevolgen. Nieuwe media treden doorgaans als flauw afkooksel van oude media voor het voetlicht. Precies omdat het internet oorspronkelijk geen applicatie was ontwikkeld om je dagboek bij te houden, in een encyclopedie te lezen, tv te kijken, cd’s te kopen, aan teleshopping te doen of waar het nog allemaal voor wordt gebruikt, beschouwt men het maar al te graag simpelweg als een archief.
De archieffunctie van het net is de gemeenschappelijke basis van een reeks misverstanden die typisch zijn voor het gebruik van internet tot dusver. Tegelijk zijn die misverstanden niet alleen een eigen leven gaan leiden, ze lijken ook een aanzienlijke invloed uit te oefenen op de fundamentele opvattingen over het bewaren van documenten die geen onmiddellijk nut meer hebben – om nog te zwijgen over de razendsnel afnemende mogelijkheden om ze in nieuwe omgevingen weer te raadplegen.
Op het eerste gezicht lijkt het alsof het nauwelijks beter had gekund: de massale digitalisering van archieven had slechts één bedoeling, namelijk de algemene en in principe openbare toegang tot de kennis van de mensheid, waar dan ook verzameld, om te vormen tot een kwestie van muisklikken, gekoppeld aan het intikken van een paar zoektermen, en dat tot en met complexe semantische verbindingen.
De droom van een onbeperkte en onmiddellijke beschikbaarheid, onafhankelijk van de plaats waar je je bevindt, verenigt verschillend gemotiveerde projecten als de digitale wereldbibliotheek van Google, fotoarchieven als Corbis of Getty Images, globaal opererende foto- en videoplatformen als ‘YouTube’, ‘Flickr’ of de niet-commerciële online-encyclopedie Wikipedia. Hun manier van zaken doen en hun bedrijfsprincipes zijn intussen ook voor een groot deel als voorbeeld gaan fungeren voor lokale verzamelingen of voor zowel institutionele als niet-institutionele praktijken van zelfarchivering.
In dit verband worden enkele fundamentele aspecten van de digitalisering onder de mat geveegd of ten minste genegeerd. Zelfs al spelen ze in commerciële contexten geen enkele of slechts een ondergeschikte rol, ze plaatsen ernstig onderzoek of wetenschappelijk werk voor ongekende uitdagingen.

1. Anders dan algemeen wordt aangenomen, zijn digitale databanken althans voor buitenstaanders verbazingwekkend vluchtig. De levensduur van afzonderlijke pagina’s op het world wide web bedraagt gemiddeld nauwelijks meer dan honderd dagen. Daarna is de inhoud ofwel verdwenen, ofwel ontoegankelijk of naar elders verhuisd.
Projecten zoals het internetarchief ARCHIVE.ORG proberen dat verschijnsel de baas te worden door zogezegd het archief te archiveren. Net als een lokale back-up kan dat voor documenten die hoofdzakelijk uit tekst bestaan nog een tussenoplossing vormen. Zodra het beelden of zelfs films betreft, bots je echter niet alleen op kwantitatieve, maar vooral ook op kwalitatieve grenzen.
Zo zijn de standaarden voor het coderen en decoderen van bewegende en niet-bewegende beelden voortdurend aan wijzigingen onderhevig, die soms abrupt kunnen zijn. Die wijzigingen worden hoofdzakelijk door marktbelangen gestuurd, zijn slechts zelden compatibel met vroegere versies en nopen daarom tot tijd- en geldrovende transcoderingen met steeds kortere tussenpozen. Het feit dat ze meestal met eigendomsrechten verbonden zijn, legt het beschikkingsrecht over de verzamelde objecten uiteindelijk in de handen van consortia of patenthouders.
Het paradigma van het onmiddellijke, niet-exclusieve gebruik dat de digitale netwerken kenmerkt, gaat gepaard met een verschuiving van de bezitsverhoudingen. Zij worden voortaan helemaal anders geformuleerd: het eigenlijke object boet zienderogen aan waarde in, terwijl toegangs- en gebruiksvoorwaarden nieuwe vormen van imaginair bezit in het leven roepen; die laatste genereren overduidelijk waarde, maar die wordt in andere sferen gerealiseerd.

2. Een bijkomend fundamenteel probleem is gekoppeld aan een tendens die kenmerkend is voor de digitale wereld, namelijk om redundantie te elimineren. Bij het comprimeren van formats die zeer rijk aan data zijn, worden stukken informatie die tot op zekere hoogte als voorspelbaar worden beschouwd, opgevat als een teken van herhaling en met het oog op meer gebruiksvriendelijkheid uitgeschakeld. Zulke vormen van redundantie zijn misschien niet echt zichtbaar of slechts moeilijk waarneembaar, en daarom zijn ze vanuit het oogpunt van de consument rustig te verwaarlozen. Als bescherming tegen het gedeeltelijke verlies van gegevens of om de authenticiteit in te schatten, waren ze in het analoge echter onontbeerlijk voor de conservering en restauratie op langere termijn.
Het onderscheid dat bij digitale compressie wordt gemaakt tussen nuttige en nutteloze informatie, de verbanning van al wat niet meteen bruikbaar is naar een gebied onder de ruisgrens, vormt een breuk met de traditionele ethiek van het archief, dat zulk onderscheid niet mag maken. De voorafgaande beoordeling van het nut, zeker als dat in real time en zonder enige vorm van onderhandeling of inspraak gebeurt, ontneemt het archief een van zijn belangrijkste functies. Het archief degenereert tot een publicatie-instrument dat nog slechts dient om de resten te verwerken van informatie die zo weinig mogelijk verouderd is.

3. Wat vandaag op het net toegankelijk wordt gemaakt, is slechts een fragment van wat lokaal ingerichte archieven bezitten. Dit gedeelte kan met behulp van relationele databanken, navenant geprogrammeerde interfaces en grafische gebruikersinterfaces ook op afgelegen locaties worden geraadpleegd. De voorwaarde is dat de relaties tussen de respectievelijke objecten kunnen worden geanticipeerd, dat combinaties kunnen worden voorspeld en verrassingen kunnen worden uitgesloten. Wat niet vooruitlopend geprogrammeerd is, bestaat niet. Erger nog: het zal waarschijnlijk ook nooit bestaan.
Het resultaat en bijgevolg ook de potentiële zin van elk onderzoek is niet alleen op voorhand vastgelegd, het heeft ook geen betrekking meer op het voorwerp van het onderzoek, maar bestaat vooral in verhouding tot de al geëxtrapoleerde belangstelling van anderen: mensen die voor dezelfde of tenminste soortgelijke informatie eveneens interesse hebben getoond en al vergelijkbare of zelfs identieke aanvragen hebben ingediend.
Onderzoek op het web verloopt noodzakelijkerwijs over platgetreden paden. Elke afwijking van de norm wordt uit het systeem geëlimineerd. Het vermeende toeval, dat een traditioneel onderzoek pas waardevol maakte, kwijnt jammerlijk weg zodra de lange en moeizame overgang van zoeken naar vinden, zoals die buiten netwerken om plaatsvindt, dankzij zogenaamde zoekmachines tot fracties van een seconde is herleid.
Zelfs al ziet het er in het licht van de retoriek die de aanbieders ontplooien niet zo naar uit: bij opzoekingen in netwerken valt wat er ooit de eigenlijke zin van vormde uit de boot – de ontdekking van iets nieuws, of preciezer gezegd: het onberekenbare, onvoorziene, onverwachte.
Maar de prijs die men betaalt voor real time opzoekwerk in verafgelegen digitale archieven, overtreft nog de bezwaren die het vluchtige karakter van de gegevens, het elimineren van redundantie en het principe van vooraf bepaalde relaties zouden moeten oproepen. Het documentaire karakter van de afzonderlijke objecten moet min of meer noodgedwongen worden opgeofferd aan het primaat van de toegankelijkheid.
Het gaat daarbij niet in de eerste plaats om het tactiele, dat de analoge status van het object kenmerkt, hoewel dat het onderzoekende subject – zelfs wanneer het voorwerp louter technisch gereproduceerd werd – uiteindelijk zekerheid belooft omtrent hun beider bestaan. De digitale modus van het archief gaat vast gepaard met het vaak aangehaalde verlies van een auratische zekerheid, die in de virtuele omgeving niet langer kan worden gewaarborgd. De gebruiker kan de afzonderlijke stukken uit een collectie immers niet zelf inkijken, vastnemen en in hun directe toestand waarnemen.
Het subjectkarakter, dat om nog veel andere redenen problematisch is, komt op de helling te staan, maar nog belangrijker dan dat is het feit dat het even ingewikkelde als unieke weefsel van relaties tussen de onderzoeker en het onderzoeksobject vervluchtigt. Het verdwijnt naar het niveau van digitale metagegevens: gegevens over gegevens, met als doel ‘door machines leverbare informatie over elektronische bronnen of andere zaken’ te bevatten, zoals Tim Berner Lee, van beroep uitvinder van het world wide web en directeur van het World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), het formuleert.
Eeuwenlang hebben metagegevens een miezerig bestaan geleid. Als een soort geheime code van archivarissen en bibliothecarissen hadden zulke regels meestal slechts op een specifiek bestand betrekking en als ze al betekenis hadden, was die strikt beperkt, ronduit lokaal. In een tijdperk van globale netwerken en gekoppeld aan steeds ingewikkelder elektronische informatiesystemen, krijgt de interoperabiliteit van metagegevens om bronnen efficiënt te beschrijven, plots een enorme praktische betekenis, die over de afzonderlijke archieven heengaat.
Bepaalde eigenschappen of veranderingen in de toestand die het gevolg zijn van gebruik, zijn niet meer als sporen op het object af te lezen. Dat verlies zou best te dragen zijn, vermits het overduidelijk de basis vormt voor talrijke voordelen van de digitale opslagwijze. Ze zijn tegenwoordig niet meer weg te denken uit ons dagelijkse leven: onmiddellijke beschikbaarheid en vermeend kosteloze reproductie, zonder verlies.
Maar tegelijk worden de rechtstreekse en onrechtstreekse gevolgen van het gebruik op een metaniveau bepaald, dat zich onttrekt aan elke vorm van toezicht, en al zeker aan elke vorm van kritiek. Het wordt als het ware een handelsgeheim. Het documentaire karakter dat moest worden gedestilleerd uit de retrospectieve herovering, de omschrijving of de reconstructie van het nut, het gebruik en de gebruiksgeschiedenis, is geabstraheerd van het voorwerp zelf en wordt voortaan alleen nog op metaniveau zichtbaar.
Door het digitale object in het netarchief op te slaan, houdt het documentaire in de digitale wereld op te bestaan. De zin van het zoeken, het primaire effect van het documentaire, lijkt verloren te zijn gegaan. Maar slechts voor zolang tot die weer opduikt op het niveau van de werkelijkheid van de metagegevens, die voor, tijdens en na het gebruik wordt gefabriceerd. De zin van het zoeken duikt daar op als zijn eigen vertekend beeld en gaat een merkwaardig, maar beslist winstgevend eigen leven leiden.
De betekenis van een document resulteert niet uit de concrete vorm die het aanneemt door ruil of aanpassing aan de markt, en evenmin uit het vroegere tegendeel, de mummificatie van wat het ooit aan gebruikswaarde had in het archief. In het tijdperk van digitale netwerken wordt de zin afgeleid uit het bepalen van de relationele waarde, en dat vindt ad hoc plaats, en passant.
Die relationele waarde doet de tegenstelling van uitwisseling en gebruik formeel teniet en regelt exclusief de mogelijkheid om het eigenlijke object terug te vinden. Relationele waarde ontstaat door de kortsluiting van metagegevens en gebruikersgegevens. Die worden door steeds verder vertakkende netwerken in ongeziene hoeveelheden verzameld en in real time met elkaar vergeleken. Op basis daarvan wordt het object pas toegankelijk gemaakt. Door hun directe koppeling worden de gegevens onafscheidelijke bestanddelen van een gesloten systeem, dat als doel heeft aan een stuk door zichzelf te beschrijven.
Onvermijdelijk wordt aan elke zoekopdracht een incestueus vlechtwerk onttrokken van door de gebruikers gegenereerde gebeurtenissen, tijdelijke omstandigheden en bijbehorende afhankelijkheden. Zij hadden al plaats, zullen plaatshebben of zouden zelfs maar kunnen plaatshebben. Met het eigenlijke onderzoeksobject zijn ze nog slechts losjes of van verre verbonden, zo ze dat al zijn.
Elke zoektocht naar een trefwoord wordt pas na verfraaiing van de lijst met treffers op basis van de ervaringen met vroegere aanvragen (in sterke mate of gewoon voor het eerst) bruikbaar gemaakt. Geen literatuuronderzoek of het vestigt de aandacht op producten waarmee andere mensen met vergelijkbare interesses bezig hadden kunnen zijn. Geen beeld of het is al door talloze andere gebruikers – vrijwillig of onvrijwillig – van trefwoorden voorzien, uit een context gehaald of opnieuw in een context geplaatst. Geen beeld of het patroon ervan is eveneens herkenbaar in een bijna eindeloze reeks andere beelden.
In zijn huidige fase werkt het net als een gigantisch bureaucratisch systeem dat het documentaire, en nog veel sterker, iedere vorm van zeldzaamheid van hun waarde berooft. Elk verzet ertegen lijkt zinloos of hooguit een vorm van nostalgie. Zelfstandig denken, autonoom onderzoek moet er zich in een reflex aan onttrekken om elders te kunnen overleven.
Een beslissende factor zou daarbij een radicale herdenking kunnen zijn van de waarde die het documentaire heeft. In het licht van omgevingen die elke uiting van verstand of onverstand, op het moment dat ze bekend gemaakt wordt, al tot voorwerp van redundante verzamel-, opslag- en archiveringsprocessen maken – op voorhand werkelijkheid fabriceren valt samen met de documentatie ervan in real time – moet een nieuwe definitie van het documentaire volstrekt nieuwe strategieën bedenken om het onzichtbare zichtbaar te maken.

Vertaling uit het Duits: Erik De Smedt

Between

BETWEEN was a series of lectures and debates, initiated in collaboration with John Palmesino. The series, which invited guests to exchange thoughts and experiences about a problem from different points of view, was kicked off in September 2010 with "Between: Borders". Featured guests of follow up events in 2011: Thomas Keenan and Eyal Weizman (Between: Things), Eyal Sivan (Between: Frames), Corinne Diserens, Olaf Nicolai, Jan Voss (Between: Books).

Interventions

INTERVENTIONS was a series of lectures in the context of the "Imaginary Property" research project at Jan van Eyck Academie Maastricht in 2008 and 2009. Invited guests: Anselm Franke, Franco Bifo Berardi, Ted Byfield, Eyal Sivan, Arianna Bove, Angela Melitopoulos, Maurizio Lazzarato, Graham Harwood, Sylvère Lotringer, Martha Rosler, Anton Vidokle, Armin Linke.

Politics of memory

Lecture in the "Politics of memory" series at NABA, Milano

Wörterbuch des Krieges

"Begriffe erschaffen heißt zumindest, etwas tun.“ Die Idee eines Wörterbuchs des Krieges bezieht sich zuerst auf die von Deleuze und Guattari vorgeschlagene Theorie der Begriffsbildung: Begriffe müssen erfunden, erschaffen, hergestellt werden; Begriffe verweisen auf Probleme, ohne die sie keine Wirkung entfalten könnten. Es geht um Polemik in mehrfacher Hinsicht: Zum einen um eine Streitkunst, die die Auseinandersetzung mit einer Wirklichkeit sucht, die davon geprägt ist, Machtverhältnisse eher zu verschleiern, je mehr über Krieg und Frieden geredet wird. Zum anderen gilt es auszumachen, inwieweit Krieg als „Analysator von Machtverhältnissen“ (Foucault) taugen kann, die die gegenwärtigen Umbrüche ausmachen.
Das Wörterbuch des Krieges ist eine kollaborative Plattform zur Herstellung von Begriffen. Unter www.woerterbuchdeskrieges.de finden sich 100 Begriffe zum Thema Krieg dokumentiert, die in vier öffentlichen, jeweils zweitägigen Veranstaltungen in Frankfurt, München, Graz und Berlin in den vergangenen zwölf Monaten von Wissenschaftlern, Künstlern, Theoretikern und Aktivisten gebildet, präsentiert und veröffentlicht wurden. Die Beiträge im vorliegenden Band bilden eine eigenständige Ergänzung und Erweiterung dieser bereits erarbeiteten 100 Begriffe.

Divisions of labor

What is the role of art and the artist in in a post-industrial society, where production is profoundly characterised by the exploitation of creativity and knowledge which results in a sort of "imaginary" property? In the debate about "creative industries", the artist appears as a role-model for a self-managed entrepreneurship that is supposed to undo the industrial division of labour that prevailed throughout modernity, and most importantly the division between manual and intellectual labour.

"Divisions of labor" is an ongoing artistic research project initiated by Florian Schneider. It started as an investigation into Eindhoven's "Forbidden City", the area of the former Philips factory. After a research trip to Calcutta in 2011 in collaboration with the artist Praneet Soi and together with nine students of the Trondheim Academy of Fine Art, the different lines of research have been reconnected and reframed.

Currently, the project sets out to explore, analyse and work with the shifts, changes and contradictions of the self-conception and self-image of artists that may result from the assumption that art is no longer situated outside of production.

The research project is divided into three stages:

1. Examining the actual relationship between art and new technologies in the specific local setting of the art academy KIT within the setting of the Norwegian University for Technology and Science and creative industries sector in Trondheim.

2. Comparing and setting out the results in a wider perspective and within different international, interdisciplinary contexts. Identifying corresponding aesthetics and new narrative strategies.

3. Putting the findings into practice and presenting the outcome of the research project alongside a series of commissioned essay films that will be produced and exhibited as video installations in collaboration with a number of internationally renowned artists and art institutions.

Ultimately, the research project will test a daring hypothesis: The mythology of networked automatisation has estranged creativity from the process of creation. In order to generate value, the image becomes valuable in an alienated context—one other than its own.

Against that backdrop, a rather "charismatic" notion of the self of the artist might be condemned to a terrible task: It has to revaluate, remix and reconnect the image with a new concept of a self, which does not necessarily have to be the original creator. Rather than being an unearned gift, the charismatic self may appear as the just or unjust deserts of new forms of ownership that are currently emerging out of the networked character of production.

Imaginary property

Initiated by Florian Schneider, "Imaginary property" started as a research project in the context of the exhibition project A.C.A.D.E.M.Y: Learning from the Museum (Van Abbemuseum 2006). It began with a week-long investigation into the question: "What does it mean to own an image?" which was asked to all the people who were involved in the most recent acquisition of the Van Abbemuseum, a so far unknown piece by El Lissitzky. The video recordings of this inquiry were presented as a video installation, realised in collaboration with Jan Gerber, Susanne Lang and Sebastian Lütgert.

Imaginary Property continued as a research project of the Design department at Jan van Eyck Academie in Maastricht. It aspired to explore new potentials for design practices and image production across various registers. The project is set up as a realm of experimentation; it is a laboratory where emerging concepts and terminologies are set to a series of tests. What challenges emerge from the paradoxes that research into ‘imaginary property’ has given rise to? How could these potentially generate new rules of production, bearing in mind that property relations are constantly exchanging meanings? Against this background: do we have to rethink and re-evaluate the notion of ‘design’ as such?

In autumn 2008 four researchers have been selected who were tackling fundamental issues and query conventions of disciplines such as film, multimedia, web design, networking and architecture. From 2008 to 2009 these researchers have been working on their individual research projects as well as joint projects in collaboration with Extracity, Antwerp, and Van Abbe Museum, Eindhoven.

On its final stage the research will be presented as a networked film project based on the results of the PHD project under the same title by Florian Schneider at the Center for Research Architecture at Goldsmiths College, London.

KEIN.ORG

KEIN.ORG is a collaborative working environment that offers a wide range of internet services to activists and artists, groups and individuals from across the globe. The idea of KEIN.ORG is self-supply in terms of networking techniques. At KEIN.ORG we try to realize and produce exactly what is helpful, what is needed or desired, what is up-to-date, state of the art or might be of any historic or further value.

KEIN.ORG operates on a strictly non-commercial, open source, self-authorized and self-organized basis. There are no technicians or employees to be blamed, but there are teams of volunteering developers, administrators and operators involved who collaborate on an ad-hoc basis. The continuity and quality of service is guaranteed by KEIN users and KEIN collaborators themselves rather than by meaningless certificates.

KEIN.ORG is an open-ended and self-learning environment. It is not inhabited by unencumbered users pampered with promises and fortified by contracts. The goal is rather to deal with dependencies in the most creative ways and, on this basis, multiply experiences, skills, knowledge among those who really use and appreciate KEIN services.

KEIN.ORG would not exist without the support of those who devote parts of their funding for internet services to a self-organized project instead of feeding commercial entities. Since KEIN.ORG will not charge anybody for any of the services we depend on generous contributions and donations.

D-A-S-H -- networking against exclusion

Dash is a punctuation sign that links two words. Dash can mean many things: You can add a dash of salt to your soup, you can dash for cover, but dash can also be courage, verve, enthusiasm, vigorous action.

D-A-S-H has been a a 4-year pilot project for young artists and activists from across Europe, who try to tie up their commitment against racism and xenophobia with the practical use of media. D-A-S-H aimed to start up, to empower and to interconnect local activities as well as online projects. As an XL-project of the Youth Program of the EU Commission it received funding from the German Bundesministerium für Familie, Senioren, Frauen und Jugend (BMFSFJ) (Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Seniors, Women and Youth), Youth Program action 5 of the European Union, Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung (BpB) (Federal Center for Political Education).

From its conception in 2001 until its conclusion in 2006 D-A-S-H has been working on four levels:

- Tools:
D-A-S-H combines search engines, a category system, dossiers and newsletters to a information research platform, which effectively does not rely on commercial services or a certain funding period. The sustainability of the tools becomes evident, whenthey are handed over to young and active people who use them

- Support:
Access is the keyword for networking by one’s own hand. D-A-S-H offers a wide range of internet, media and networking services, young acitivists do need in practice. D-A-S-H does not only consulting and assisting, but also supplies appropriate space and effective solutions

- Further education and training in terms of networking
D-A-S-H offers assistance, designs and organizes coaching and training facilities, which meet the challenges of everyday networking. Regulary workshops deal with apporproiate use of the internet, in order neither to be overwhelmed by a information overload nor to waste away in meaninglessness.

- Projects:
D-A-S-H initiates, supports, and interconnects a selection of innovative projects, which develop new strategies against racism and xenophobia. D-A-S-H assists in publishing, producing and evaluating the results.

This tuesday: Migration, labour, media and organising

Everyone is an expert presents: Saskia Sassen, Chicago/London, Valery Alzaga, Mexico City/Denver, Myoingjoon Kim, Seoul, Shahidul Alam, Dhaka and many others

TUESDAY DECEMBER 9 2003 | Workshop starting at 1 pm | Presentations at 7 pm | Université Ouvriére de Genéve | Place des Grottes | Geneva (50 meters from the railway station)

What does migrant workers struggle have to do with the information society?

How can information and communication technologies empower social struggles on a global level?

What's the link between the campaigns for freedom of communication and the fight for freedom of movement?

On the eve of the UN summit on the information society the EVERYONE IS AN EXPERT association calls to a debate about issues that are not present on the agenda of neither govermental nor non-governmental organizations: migration, labour, and organizing

Tabooing the so called dirty side of the information society comes as no surprise: It refers to a naive view on technology and development but also responds to the real threat and manifolded impact of migration patterns to the existing world order.

Migration is not just a collateral damage of global capitalism nor a dispensable side-effect of the information society: The political power of exodus and refusal is subverting the souvereignity of both the nation states as well as the new regimes of hyper-exploitation on a global level.

As globalization from below, migration movements constitute a global resistance against old and new economies and their modes of exclusion, repression, division, separation, detention and selection.

Migration is the subjective, most pragmatic and realistic attempt, to overcome a divide, no matter if it is conceived as digital or analog.

COMBATING THE MANAGEMENT PARADIGM

Digital rights management, the intellectual property discourse and copyright issues refer more than accidentially to the postmodern concepts of border management, migration control and racism.

FROM THE MOUNTAINS TO THE SCYSCRAPERS

Offside of the information highways there are numerous tracks and trails, where migrants carry revolutionary experiences from the periphery to the metropolitan centers and create hybrids of social resistance.

VIRTUAL ORGANIZING AND AD-HOC NETWORKING

Collaborative research projects, migrant rights campaigns and worker centers form new organizing models that respond to corporate attacks on organizing, make creative use of new technologies and reach out far beyond the idea of unity and union.

This event has been organized ad-hoc and very spontaneously. It is meant rather as an strategic discussion than a conference. Therefore the schedule is split up into two parts:

- A series of presentations by researchers, theorists, labour as well as media-activists focusing on strategic questions of freedom of movement, freedom of communication, corporate attacks on labor and human rights, the multitudes and the constitutive elements of global struggles

- A workshop on strategies with participants from various different backgrounds presenting upcoming campaigns and projects, such as the high-tech campaign of justice for janitors or the noborder-tour in summer 2004.

Riscrivere la memoria

Florian Schneider

"La storia dell’arte è la lotta fra tutte le esperienze ottiche, gli spazi inventati e le rappresentazioni"
(Carl Einstein)

«Non ricordiamo; riscriviamo la memoria»: nel suo film Sans Soleil (1983), Chris Marker ha fatto una straordinaria dichiarazione. Penso che qui si trovi il nuovo potenziale di un approccio documentaristico e open source alle sfide del politico connesse all’intelligenza e all’immaginazione collettiva: come dar forma e sviluppare «tecnologie del sé» in grado di riscrivere la storia. Potremmo averne abbastanza di tutte le forme di fiction prefabbricate che riducono e limitano realtà complesse a trame più o meno paranoiche e narrative universalmente intercambiabili.

I
Nel contesto di molta parte del recente dibattito sulle relazioni tra arte e politica, si fa spesso riferimento all’erosione dell’orizzonte utopistico dell’arte, su cui era fondata la sua forza di generare «contro-concetti». La forza dell’arte sta nell’abilità di immaginare cose in maniera diversa, nel rifiuto del dato, nella sovversione e trasgressione dei confini di una modernità disciplinare e della sua razionalità egemonica.
Sotto i parametri del regime disciplinare, l’immaginazione utopistica era alimentata dalle idee e dalle pratiche di trasgressione, sovversione ed emancipazione fondate sull’idea di un «fuori», di un «oltre» e di progresso. Queste idee hanno formato un’intera economia dell’immaginario, in cui si ritrovavano fuse insieme l’immaginazione creativa e le istanze di politiche emancipatorie.
Con l’ascesa di ciò che è stato chiamato capitalismo cognitivo e società del controllo, in cui l’immaginazione creativa e la modulazione dell’immaginario sono messi al servizio come risorse e forze produttive, tanto la dialettica di affermazione e negazione, quanto i parametri critici sono stati soggetti a spostamenti tettonici. Ciò attua una crisi nell’economia dell’immaginazione stessa, della sua reale abilità a immaginare le cose in maniera diversa. Oggi i confini statici contro cui si era formata un’immaginazione dissidente, sono in movimento, sottoposti a gestione, calcolo, valutazione, e danno origine a nuove configurazioni di potere in cui è in gioco il potere stesso dell’immaginazione di negoziare i limiti del possibile.
Quale sarà la «produzione della visione» che emerge dalla crisi attuale? Una produzione della visione che si basa sull’esperienza opposta: piuttosto che con la frammentazione, alienazione e sconnessione, abbiamo a che fare con l’esperienza di un controllo reticolare (in grado di monitorare in tempo reale) e con la performance di un sé carismatico…
In una società del controllo, l’immaginazione sembra diventare quasi sinonimo della forza di creare immagine. Possiamo esperire due modalità differenti di produzione d’immagine: «immaginazione preventiva» e «immaginazione anticipatoria». Le immagini preventive postulano un continuum, mentre la modalità anticipatoria implica una rottura tra ciò che è presente e gli eventi futuri. La modalità preventiva si collega alla fabbricazione di fiction, quella anticipatoria tenta una difesa del reale cancellato.

II
Che cos’è il politico? La politica è l’arte di creare un corpo politico: nella sua essenza è l’arte di situare propriamente gli oggetti e i soggetti. È la conoscenza del luogo dove le cose o (con sempre più importanza) le persone sono situate, identificando i loro posti e stabilendo un ordine per separazione, segregazione, classificazione e organizzazione. L’attinenza dell’ordine risultante appare come organica. Il suo essere appropriata richiama il fatto che la conoscenza delle situazioni è stata fatta propria e trasformata nella proprietà chiave del potere.
La politica moderna è emersa come strategia di inclusione ed esclusione: un regime che disciplina l’individuo, limita la sua libertà di movimento, l’arresta in un luogo specifico per una certa quantità di tempo. Il politico, a sua volta, risulta come una linea di fuga, sta nell’evitare l’ordine stabilito della politica: rifiuto, secessione, migrazione, esodo. Il politico è il divenire minoritario, è la resistenza contro la conoscenza del potere che rende soggetto e oggetto identificabili e dunque calcolabili entro un dominio spazio-temporale che li rende funzionali all’apparato di produzione industriale. Nei decenni passati abbiamo fatto esperienza di come il paradigma disciplinare, l’idea di inclusione ed esclusione, la politica hanno subito drammatici spostamenti: dal posizionamento alla localizzazione, dalle politiche di identificazione alla performance di un sé carismatico in tempo reale.
Che cosa è allora politico? Che cosa potrebbe costituire un rifiuto della politica come noi la conosciamo? Che cosa potrebbe caratterizzare la resistenza contro il potere per come lo subiamo oggi?
L’atto di resistenza ha due lati: è una lotta umana che varia dal micro-politico «preferirei di no» del Bartlebly di Herman Melville, alla semplice intuizione che esiste sempre una via d’uscita, indipendentemente da quanto possa essere disperata una situazione. Le macchine semiotiche del divenire minore che, in opposizione al modo ingegneristico, generano i grandi miti dell’esodo, sono essenziali per la sopravvivenza. È resistenza contro la morte. È un segno di vita.
Ma resistere è anche l’azione dell’arte. L’arte è resistenza contro la comunicazione. È resistenza contro la condivisione di opinioni, lo scambio di ogni cosa che è resa interscambiabile, la comunicazione della comunicabilità. È resistenza contro l’esteticizzazione della politica partecipativa e la produzione di fiction generate dagli utenti. La resistenza diviene politica non appena è resa pubblica. Ma diviene politica come produzione di realtà, un aumento di realtà attraverso la produzione di visione di un genere differente. È la trasformazione di come vediamo piuttosto che di quello che vediamo. È la difesa del reale che viene cancellato. In questo senso non c’è una politica ma tutto è virtualmente politico. È un atto discorsivo e una produzione d’immagine, ma quello che è udibile e ciò che è visibile non sono più in sincrono, sono in crisi permanente:

La posta in gioco è la reale capacità di fare immagine. La crisi odierna di immaginazione pone la domanda sulla proprietà: immagini di chi? Finzioni di chi? Chi le produce? E chi se ne appropria? Che cosa significa avere la proprietà di un’immagine?
«Uns trägt kein Volk, aber wir suchen ein Volk»1 (Non abbiamo il sostegno di un popolo. Ma un popolo noi lo cerchiamo). L’arte è fatta per un popolo che stiamo perdendo. «Un popolo» ha bisogno di essere invocato piuttosto che rappresentato o guidato, figuriamoci coinvolto attivamente, poiché il popolo non esiste più o non esiste ancora…
Quello che conta tanto in arte che nella vita è la riconfigurazione collaborativa di fatti sociali, la costruzione di mondo piuttosto che il rispecchiamento e la riaffermazione dell’ordine esistente e dei valori prevalenti tanto quanto i loro significati.

III
L’approccio documentaristico è caratterizzato da una peculiare relazione con l’inatteso, l’imprevedibile e l’incalcolabile. Questo è quanto ancora lo distingue dalla fiction che è governata dall’idea di previsione, con il fabbricare una narrativa prima che il progetto abbia luogo realmente e l’allineare le rispettive immagini in anticipo. Il documentario è anticipatorio. Il suo carattere anticipatore sta nella radicale opposizione al presupposto che i documentari siano noiosi. Rifiuta l’idea di ipotizzare una precisa reazione da parte dello spettatore e dunque rifiuta anche la nozione di interazione che si basa sulla possibilità di scelta. Nel documentario non c’è determinazione e non c’è scelta. I progetti di documentario sono realizzati dopo l’evento. Non si realizzano durante la ripresa ma nella fase di montaggio. Il loro luogo di nascita è la sala di montaggio. La nozione centrale del documentario si riferisce a un’artificiale ricomposizione di un evento passato, ma in modo tale che esso ritorni nel futuro, creando nuove relazioni in rapporto a testimoni ancora sconosciuti in grado di giustificare quella creazione e non l’evento stesso.
La rete appare come una gamma ridondante che documenta ogni possibile movimento, accede e cattura, registra e deposita ogni interazione tra il soggetto e l’oggetto. La sua realtà è documentata prima ancora che abbia luogo, senza consentire uno spazio critico.
Contro questo sfondo, il film documentario combatte una battaglia persa. Appena una clip, una sequenza, o un intero video viene caricato online, il suo contenuto esiste solo in relazione a un’attività già prevista che sarà calcolata e dunque documentata in ogni modo.
Una modalità del documentario che è caratterizzata da:

L’emancipazione del documentario dal medium di supporto.
Una peculiare relazione all’inatteso, l’imprevisto e l’incalcolabile.
Il documentarista è soprattutto occupato ad attendere, l’aspettativa di qualcosa che sta per accadere e che non può essere calcolato.
La digitalizzazione del film ha innescato una completa ridefinizione del montaggio: piuttosto che tagliare il materiale montando il girato del film, flussi differenti di dati sono connessi e disconnessi, uniti e separati, in un modo che influenzino i metadati, in opposizione al materiale stesso.
La modalità del documentario come noi lo conosciamo è sempre emersa dal desiderio, e dalla sua tecnica, di uscire dagli spazi chiusi degli studi di produzione e andare nelle strade catturando la vita pubblica, appropriandosi di una realtà che esiste indipendentemente dal girato. Le strade del documentario sono oggi nella rete.
Il documentario come spazio che ricostruisce il passato anticipando un evento futuro, che è aperto, senza svuotare il suo possibile significato e senza ridurlo a un insieme di opzioni possibili.

IV
Interfacciandosi con l’avvento delle nuove tecnologie che rivoluzioneranno la produzione delle immagini nel web (html5) un’ampia gamma di nuove possibilità si apre per ripensare radicalmente la produzione filmica convenzionale. L’estetica di queste nuove possibilità è radicalmente sperimentale. Richiede una riflessione sulle condizioni formali della produzione contemporanea di immagini:

1.Relazione tra il leggibile e l’illeggibile. Non appena un film è messo online, c’è una tendenza apparentemente irresistibile a ridurre interamente l’immagine a ciò che è leggibile. Nella sfera del digitale e sotto le condizioni della rete le parti illeggibili che di solito costituiscono l’immagine sono in via d’estinzione: si suppone che ogni cosa possa diventare leggibile e decifrabile per essere ricercata e ritrovata, categorizzata, indicizzata o taggata e, in ultima istanza, soggetta a un algoritmo. In definitiva questo significa morte del film invece noi abbiamo bisogno di ricercare l’illeggibile e l’imprevedibile. Per esempio abbiamo bisogno di sviluppare relazioni creative piuttosto che descrittive tra le tag e le immagini. Dobbiamo imparare ad apprezzare ciò che non è calcolabile.
2.Esplorare un fuoricampo «assoluto». La reinvenzione del documentario avrà luogo fuori del campo e non dentro il fotogramma. Ambienti in rete consentiranno ai filmmaker di lavorare con fonti che non sono sostanzialmente catturate nel processo originario di ripresa. La potenzialità della rete è quella di un assoluto fuoricampo: qualcosa che non è visibile e comprensibile ma perfettamente presente. L’assoluto fuoricampo dell’ambiente dentro la rete richiede un passaggio da uno a molti sonori: i flussi di testo per esempio che non traducono quanto detto ma aggiungono voci che non sono visibili né udibili.
3.De-cadrage. Il risultato è una sostanziale e permanente destabilizzazione, rinegoziazione e riorganizzazione del fotogramma. Non c’è fuga nella modalità a schermo pieno, al contrario il contenuto dell’immagine sfugge costantemente un’inquadratura propria, attraversando il bordo dell’immagine allo scopo di accomunarsi alle informazioni aliene, agli eventi sconnessi o ai flussi inappropriati. Sotto queste circostanze non c’è possibilità di riadattare il fotogramma, non c’è nessun possibile re-cadrage. Il de-cadrage è la condizione assoluta dell’immagine in rete, costituisce la sua libertà di movimento.
4.A-sincronizzazione. In ultima istanza dobbiamo arrenderci a una delle principali virtù del cinema analogico: la sincronizzazione retrospettiva del movimento dell’immagine con flussi addizionali, specialmente audio. In definitiva siamo irrevocabilmente fuori sincrono. Questo apre alle grandi potenzialità di un senza tempo che potrebbe essere capace di superare la sottomissione del suono all’immagine, la commercializzazione del senso attraverso la trama e, infine, l'auto-umiliazione dello spettatore alienato.
5.Discontinuità. Le attuali estetiche online sono soprattutto caratterizzate dalla tessitura di ogni unità in una rete di similarità e connotazioni – conosciuta anche come tagging – del tipo: «I clienti che hanno comprato questo oggetto hanno comprato anche quest’altro…». Si suppone che questo abbia la capacità di placarci in vista dell’aspetto arbitrario e allucinatorio delle realtà in rete. Esso reintroduce i meccanismi di una realtà convenzionale che riduce la complessità e l’eterogeneità a concetti e terminologie che si basano su somiglianza, identità e similarità. Così facendo esso distrugge ogni aspetto di forma che non sia ripetitivo. «La rappresentazione classica crea uno spazio continuo in cui oggetti e persone sono collocate come entità discontinue» (Didi-Huberman). Per salvarci dalla truffa della realtà monotona fondata sulla ripetizione dello stesso, dobbiamo comprendere ciò che potrebbe costituire al contrario una nozione di rete che è basata sulla disgiunzione piuttosto che sulla congiunzione, sulla rottura piuttosto che sulla continuità: un algoritmo che produce dissimilarità piuttosto che similarità, differenza piuttosto che monotonia, molteplicità piuttosto che identità.
6.Trans-visualità. Gli esperimenti estetici con carattere di produzione in rete accompagneranno una trasformazione della visione e delle leggi di visione che determinano come vediamo un mondo che è diventato uno spazio in rete. Questi esperimenti devono esplorare un nuovo campo che vorrei suggerire di chiamare con Carl Einstein «trans-visuale». Esso opera nel vuoto di uno scarto che si apre tra ciò che è reale e l’immaginario, ciò che è concepibile e inconcepibile, ciò che è visibile e quello che non lo è. Il trans-visuale è ciò che è oltre l’esperienza ottica. In un certo modo esso marca l’opposto dell’inconscio. Come possiamo vedere la rete? O meglio: che cosa sarebbe la visione in rete? Einstein suggeriva una radicale trasformazione della visione fondata sull’«egemonia della vita interna sulla vita esterna» che fronteggia «l’abisso dell’esperienza interna» e di conseguenza conduce alla «finale disintegrazione dell’io nell’atto creativo». Il positivismo contemporaneo di un mondo che è paralizzato dalle tecnologie in rete ha bisogno di essere rifiutato da un nuovo genere di verticalità. In entrambi, produzione ed estetica contemporanee non c’è niente di meno in gioco che la relazione tra il soggetto e l’oggetto in una esperienza di spazi in rete. Infine la sfida riguarda come riacquistare una visione o visualizzazione in qualche modo stabile e chiara di un mondo che ha subito drammatici cambiamenti dovuti alle sbalorditive esperienze di un’accelerazione su differenti scale globali.

Verblasster Mythos: Grenze

Florian Schneider

Eigentlich dürfte es keinen Zweifel geben: Zur Jahrtausendgrenze hin verblaßt selbst der Mythos Grenze. Mauern und Stacheldraht, Schlagbäume und Grenzhäuschen scheinen einer untergehenden Epoche anzugehören und zu bloßer Nostalgie verkommen. Ein neues Millenium kündigt sich an, indem es nicht nur die alten Grenzziehungen, sondern offenbar auch die Idee von der Grenze an sich verwirft.

Die „Globalisierung“ schert sich bekanntlich einen Dreck um nationalstaatliche Territorien und protektionistische Blöcke. Neue Kommunikationstechnologien lassen die ganze Welt zu einem einzigen, glatten Raum verschmelzen, in dem politische Regelwerke, kulturelle Distanzen und geografische Besonderheiten in Sekundenschnelle kurzgeschlossen werden. Mit dem Abdanken der letzten und womöglich größten Grenze je, dem „eisernen Vorhang“ zwischen Ost und West, wurde der Erosionprozeß der Nationalstaaten augenfällig: Nicht nur geografisch, auch politisch waren diese von ihren Enden definiert. Der Traum von der „One world“ kennt keine Grenzen und deswegen auch keine Geschichte mehr.

Mit dem Beitritt der meisten EU-Länder zum Schengener Abkommen schließlich gehören Grenzkontrollen der Vergangenheit an. Für Zugreisende und Autofahrer sind die Binnengrenzen der bislang neun europäischen Unterzeichnerstaaten zu besseren Landkreisgrenzen rückgebaut; und wenn alles klappt, sollen in ein paar Jahren auch nach Polen, Tschechien, Ungarn und Slowenien die Schlagbäume fallen. Mehr oder weniger pünktlich zur Jahrtausendwende scheinen Wartezeiten bei der Aus- und Einreise ein ebensolcher Anachronismus zu sein wie bald Duty-Free-Shops an Flughäfen mitsamt den Zöllnern, die in dreckiger Urlaubswäsche nach Schnaps und Zigaretten wühlen.

Für Optimisten und notorische Modernisierungsgewinner ist das Verschwinden der Grenzen nicht nur eine unaufhaltsame, sondern durchaus erfreuliche Entwicklung: Neoliberale und Alt-Hippies, Techno-Eliten und Feierabend-Broker, transnationale Konzerne und organisierte Kriminalität feiern grenzenloses Amüsement, weltweite Kommunikation und ungehinderte Profitmaximierung. Diejenigen, die in diesem Prozeß ihre alten Privilegien einzubüßen drohen, verlegen sich aufs Jammern und verhelfen sich damit, alte Ressentiments neu einzukleiden: die Welt als Zerrbild geprägt von unkontrollierten Zuwanderungswellen, international operierenden Verbrecherbanden und Internetkriminalität. Polizeiexperten und andere aufmerksame Zeitgenossen goutieren Chancen und Risiken in bewährter Manier, doch der Blick auf das, was mit den Grenzen wirklich passiert, ist merkwürdig verstellt.

Das Verschwinden der Grenze ist nämlich zunächst ein ziemlich deutsches Problem. „Grenze“ ist eines der seltenen slawischen Fremdwörter im Deutschen. „Granica“ wurde im Zuge der Eroberungsfeldzüge und der römisch-katholischen Expansion nach Osteuropa im 13. Jahrhundert eingedeutscht. Bezeichnenderweise umschreibt es eher den Rand zu einem Abgrund, und nicht etwa eine Situation, der wie in „frontiere“ (vom lateinischen „frons“) die Stirn zu bieten wäre. Zur deutschen „Grenze“ gibt es kein Synonym, „border“ im Angelsächsischen kennt wenigstens „frontier“, die von Siedlern ständig erweiterte Fluchtlinie kolonialer Aneignung. Heute sprechen die Anhänger der „kalifornischen Ideologie“ rund um das Computermagazin „Wired“ folgerichtig auch von der „Electronic Frontier“ inklusive Bürgerrechten, die es gerade im elektronischen Zeitalter zu erobern und verteidigen gilt.

In Deutschland dagegen herrscht zweidimensionales Denken oder „Geopolitik“ vor. Die Spätgeburt Nationalstaat wird seit dem 19. Jahrhundert vornehmlich mit einem Organismus verglichen. Die Grenze wird als seine Außenhaut imaginiert und ist unverzichtbar zur Definition von innen und außen, Freund und Feind. In den imperialistischen Großraumplänen prä-faschistischer Ideologen wie Karl Haushofer hatte die Grenze elastisch zu sein, um den expandierenden Volkskörper zu schützen und bei seinem naturgegebenen Anwachsen vor Verletzungen und fremden Einflüßen zu bewahren. Wie virulent dieses Denken gerade heute ist, belegt der grassierende Metaphernschwulst von "Schleierfahndung", über "Asylanten-schwemme" bis hin zum "Schleusertum" - allesamt Kampfbegriffe, die dem organizistischen Modell im Wesentlichen treu bleiben: dem Phantasma vom totalisierten Volkskörper, dessen Reinheit oder, wie es heute so schön heißt: "innere Sicherheit" von Eindringlingen bedroht sei.

Solche rhetorische Kosmetik kann aber nur mühsam darüberhinwegtäuschen, daß die Grenze, die alte Haut, in die Jahre gekommen ist. Sie ist faltig und rissig geworden, aufgeschwemmt und den neuartigen Anforderungen einfach nicht mehr gewachsen. Menschen müssen heute mehrere Berufe gleichzeitig erlernen und ausüben, sie müssen mobil sein und gemäß der Konzerninteressen möglichst weltweit verfügbar sein. Die klassische Arbeitsmigration, die alternativ mit Assimilation oder Rückkehrprämie endete, gehört der Vergangenheit an: Immer mehr Staatsbürger sind darauf angewiesen, ihre Existenz zwischen mehreren Lebensmittelpunkten, nicht selten auf verschiedenen Kontinenten, zu organisieren. Das neo-imperialistische Krisenmanagment produziert schließlich nichts als sich stets verschiebende Konfliktherde, die Millionen von Menschen in die Flucht treiben. Diese endet meist nach der ersten Grenze im Nachbarstaat, manche aber schaffen es bis zum „Mutterland“ der ehemaligen Kolonialherren oder ans andere Ende der postkolonialen, globalisierten Abhängigkeitsverhältnisse.

Grenzen waren natürlich und schon von jeher ein Mythos: überdeterminiert, immer untrennbar mit Überschreitung, Überwindung und Hinter-sich-Zurücklassen verbunden. Aber Grenzen schlossen ein, was auf andere Art und Weise nicht herstellbar oder definierbar war. "Hier endet das Staatsgebiet der Bundesrepublik Deutschland" hieß es, und klar war, daß von nun an kommen konnte, was wollte: Urlaub vom eigenen Staat, ein anderes Land mit einer anderen Währung, fremder Sprache und unterschiedlichen Gepflogenheiten.

Es ist vielleicht kein Zufall, daß die Freizügigkeitsgarantie innerhalb des bürgerlichen Nationalstaates zumindest in Deutschland zeitgleich mit dem fordistischen Akkumulationsmodell ihren Höhepunkt erreichte: straffe Arbeitsdisziplin bei gleichzeitiger Stärkung der Binnennachfrage und gewissen wohlfahrtsstaatlichen Garantien, die allesamt auch ein rigides Regime der Außengrenzen bedurften. Dieses diente klar umrissenen Zwecken: Anwerbung ausländischer Arbeitskräfte, Massentourismus als kurze Erholung von der Schufterei für Auto und Eigenheim oder Asylpolitik als Waffe im Kalten Krieg.

Heute ist es mit all dem nicht mehr weit her: Schon vor der Krise der Staatsgrenzen gerieten die Einschließungsmilieus innerhalb der Gesellschaft zusehends in Bedrängnis: Schule, Militär, Universität, Fabrik, Hospital, Irrenanstalt, Gefängnis waren Stationen, die das Individuum in den "Disziplinargesellschaften" (Michel Foucault) durchlaufen konnte. Lebenslanges Lernen, Heim- und Zeitarbeit, Fitnesskult und häusliche Krankenpflege, aber vor allem neue Bestrafungsformen wie Arbeitsverbot, Platzverweis, Ausgangssperre, Residenzpflicht und elektronisches Halsband deuten nun in eine andere Richtung. Es handelt sich um "Formen permanenter Kontrolle in offenen Milieus, daß uns die härtesten Internierungen zu einer freundlichen und rosigen Vergangenheit zu gehören scheinen" (Gilles Deleuze).

Was sich abzeichnet, ist, daß immer mehr Menschen, anstatt einfach physisch ein- oder ausgesperrt zu sein, dynamischen und recht differenzierten Restriktionen hinsichtlich ihres Verhaltens und Aufenthaltsortes unterworfen sind. Aussiedlern, Flüchtlingen, Migrantenkindern, Arbeitslosen, Sozialhilfeempfängern, ehemaligen oder potentiellen Häftlingen werden heute schon territoriale Beschränkungen und Schikanen auferlegt, deren Überwachung unablässige und praktisch überall mögliche Kontrollen erfordert. Asylbewerber dürfen gar den Landkreis, in dem sie untergebracht werden, ohne Genehmigung grundsätzlich nicht verlassen. Sie dürfen nicht arbeiten und viele von ihnen werden seit 1. September pauschal vom Anspruch auf Sozialleistungen ausgeschlossen.

Am Beispiel des Asyls läßt sich die Krise der Einschließung wahrscheinlich auch am eindrucksvollsten umreißen. Das Asyl einst „Ort, an den sich die Recht- und Heimatlosen flüchteten“ (Joseph Vogl), wurde im 19. Jahrhundert zur Metapher für Einsperrung und Isolierung. Die faktische Abschaffung des deutschen Asylrechts vor fünf Jahren wurde mithilfe der "Flughafenregelung", die exterritoriale Gebiete mitten im Land konstruiert, und der "Drittstaatenregelung" vollzogen, die anstelle der politischen Motive den Fluchtweg zum Kriterium der Asylverweigerung macht. In grenzüberschreitender Logik ist Deutschland ausschließlich von sicheren Drittstaaten umgeben, die sich ihrerseits solcher Winkelzüge bedienen. Flüchtlinge müssen die Frage, wann sie welche Grenze überschritten haben, also so gut wie möglich verwischen. Die Einreise ist praktisch nurmehr auf klandestinem Wege möglich, und Asylsuchende sind in den meisten Phasen ihrer nicht enden wollenden Flucht "Illegale", bedroht von Denunziation, Entdeckung und Ausweisung.

Das Schengener Abkommen, einst gepriesen als Aufbruch in ein neues Zeitalter mit immer weniger Grenzen, fungiert in der Wirklichkeit als Wegbereiter eines neuen Kontroll- und Überwachungsapparates, der wesentlich flexibler ist als das herkömmliche Grenzregime. Die alte Staatsgrenze, die eigentlich abgeschafft werden sollte, verschwindet nicht einfach: Die Grenze faltet und vervielfacht sich, verschiebt sich nach vorne und nach hinten, in Dritt- und Viertländer, sowie ins Landesinnere. Verdachtsunabhängige Kontrollen werden seit dem Inkrafttreten des neuen Bundesgrenzschutzgesetzes Anfang September nicht nur in der 30-Kilometerzone hinter der eigentlichen Grenzlinien, sondern auf allen Bahnhöfen, Flughäfen, Zügen und selbst S-Bahnen praktiziert. Überregionale Verkehrswege, selbst Nebenstraßen und Innenstädte haben die Polizeigesetze vieler Länder bereits in ihre Definition vom Grenzraum eingeschlossen. Neue EU-Pläne teilen das gesamte Europa gar in Zonen unterschiedlicher Kontrolldichten auf, um Migrationsbewegungen schon weit vor den eigenen Grenzen zum Stoppen zu bringen.

Und so verweist das Ende der klassischen Grenzüberwachung vor allem auf eine wenig erfreuliche Weiterentwicklung der vorherrschenden Machttechnik: Die Disziplinargesellschaft ist von der Kontrollgesellschaft abgelöst worden. Der Überwachungsapparat hat es aber weniger auf den „gläsernen Bürger“, wie es in der Romantik des Volkszählungsboykottes vermutet wurde, sondern auf nichts weniger abgesehen als die neuen Kapitalvergehen schlechthin: „Illegale Einwanderung, Schleppertum, organisierte Kriminalität“ heißt es in der Eigenwerbung in einem Atemzug. Deswegen werden seit neuem und weit hinter der Grenze ganze Autobahnen abgesperrt, um ziemlich banale Gesichtskontrollen durchzuführen. Deswegen werden monströse Computernetze wie das Schengen Informations System (SIS) errichtet, die nur wenig mit herkömmlicher Verbrechensbekämpfung zu tun haben, sondern zu fast 90 Prozent aus Daten von Personen bestehen, die abgeschoben werden sollen oder denen die Einreise versagt ist. Fast ist es überflüssig, zu erwähnen, daß zwei Drittel dieser Einträge von deutschen Behörden stammen.

Das moderne Grenzregime trägt die Züge eines weltweiten Apartheidssystems, meinte Etienne Balibar kürzlich. Feststeht immerhin, daß - Grenzen hin oder her - Bevölkerungspolitik die letzte Bastion der einst so mächtigen Staatengebilde ist. Wenn sie schon sonst nichts mehr weltbewegendes ausrichten können, scheinen sie wie zum Trotz darauf bestehen zu wollen, festzulegen, welchen Menschen sich wo aufzuhalten gestattet ist und wo nicht.

"MODE05 -- towards new educational models in dance and choreography" 5-day workshop hosted by Kulturstiftung des Bundes and Fabrik, Potsdam (March 15-20, 2005)

MODE05 -- towards new educational models in dance and choreography

Kollaboration / Collaboration
New descriptions of ”working together”

Collaboration is one of the key concepts with which collectives define themselves as models of affective politics. Collaboration means working together, in this case above all in the setting of intellectual activities. The concept often describes new forms of work, on which there is little research or reflection. The problem is that collaboration is often equated with co-operation. Unlike co-operation, collaboration is seen as a complex social reality and is not based on a romantic conception of community. Paradoxical meshes of relationships offer the basis from which differences and controversies enable a productive exchange. In this respect, how can open-source models be transferred to society? This workshop investigates collaboration at a practical and theoretical level, discussing a new understanding of ‘together’ with regard to ‘working together’.

Organised by Florian Schneider (D)
Guests: Lawrence Liang (IN), Sebastian Luetgert (DE) and Irit Rogoff (UK)

Collaboration

"Everyone is an expert" 10-day Workshop at the International Summer Academy Mousonturm Frankfurt (August 19-28, 2004)

Everyone is an expert

Festival THEATERFORMEN 2004 / REpublicACTION

CALL FOR PARTICIAPANTS: WORKSHOP – POLITICS AND SOCIAL PRACTICE INSTEAD OF THEATRE?

What can be done? The more evident the crisis of democratic institutions, mediating structures and representations becomes, the more urgently this question poses itself. In these seemingly hopeless constellations, there appears to be no space for a liberating social practice that constructively engages with them. Are cluelessness, systematic uncertainty, romantic yearning and activism the only reactions to a present that is no longer concerned with past and future?

The forms of debate are shifting and a new field of the political is emerging. It can no longer be a question of one great blueprint for the world but simply one of developing approaches for micro-political collaborations: collaborations which, networked with each other, at least have the potential to facilitate a new perspective on the world.

THEATERFORMEN 2004/REpublicACTION is organizing an international workshop in Brunswick from the 6th-10th of June, 2004. It will deal with the appropriation and classification of the notion of the global which is understood as a social and creative power manifesting the diversity of productive practices. It will centre mainly on the question as to whether a turn towards the political - as has been happening in other arts and media in recent years - can also be carried over to the field of theatre.

LECTURERS AND PARTICIPANTS

Franco Bifo Berardi, philosopher from Bologna. Author of several books about media theory and activism, co-founder of the journal A/traverso, the radio station Alice and the street television project Orfeo TV.
www.rekombinat.org

Xavier Le Roy, choreographer, Berlin

Eran Sachs, musician, composer and curator from Jerusalem
www.neuro.kein.org/contrib/sachs/sachs.txt

Mårten Spångberg, dramaturge, performer, journalist, Germany/Sweden

Wolfgang Zinggl, co-founder of Wochenklausur Vienna
www.wochenklausur.t0.or.at

The workshop is conceived and led by Florian Schneider, filmmaker and author from Munich, initiator of various networks and campaigns at the interfaces between art, new media and political activism.
www.kein.org

The workshop will take place in English. The fee is € 50 - including 4 performances in the context of REpublicACTION as well as two lectures by Zygmunt Baumann and Slavoj Žižek.

KEIN Theater

Cross the border

Technology and culture magazine Mute is organising an afternoon of discussion and screenings to examine the feedback loops between physical and information space. How do the speeds, flows and database logic of information networks impact in urban and national geographies? Which new spaces are opening up and which ones are getting lost as public space gets 'branded to the bone' and the 'digital agora' gives rise to a wave of direct action?

A 20 minute preview of Patrick Keiller's forthcoming C4 series,"Dilapidated Dwelling" on today's housing and planning status-quo will be screened.

Invited speakers are: Ros Diamond - part-time lecturer on the MSC in advanced architectural studies at the Bartlett Graduate School (Space Syntax Department)

Kodwo Eshun - author of 'More brilliant than the Sun: Adventures in Sonic Fiction' and techno-cultural critic

Patrick Keiller - documentary filmmaker and director of a forthcoming TV series on housing and urban thinking, 'Dilapidated Dwelling', to be screened on C4.

Florian Schneider - film maker, writer and media activist, member of the collective action network No One is Illegal and co-organisor of the Cross the Border campaign

James Stevens - founder of the independent media lab Backspace and co-organiser of the user-constructed, free wireless broadband network consume.net Spacings will be moderated by David Panos - cultural critic and research director of newly formed documentary and social and qualitative research company, Year Zero

A matter of theft: Some notes on the art of stealing souls

Florian Schneider

1.

There is a well-known myth that indigenous people are supposed to believe, when a camera takes a picture of them, it would capture a part of them, if not stealing their souls. It has been repeated often enough, by the pioneers of ethnographic photography as well as in online forums of todays amateur photographers; so-called natives have been credited with it in any part of the world and across time. Like many other popular assumptions from the field of ethnography, the idea of the soul-theft by image has become a common place free from critical reflection and questioning.

It proves what is anyway supposed to be evident: the primitiveness of the other, of those who are unfortunately doomed, as well as their originality as a rare, still available and not yet fully exterminated example, while the privilege of possessing a soul has only recently been granted to them; the naivety of those who are not familiar with new technologies, as well as the correlated power of those who know how to handle them properly; the spiritual innocence of the noble savage, as well as the guilty conscience of those who intrude their reservations...

It is not rational, since it is irrational; a self-fulfilling prejudice that reveals not so much about those who are supposed to believe the myth but quite a lot about those who assign the belief to others. In that respect, the myth of the soul-stealing camera appears as a colonial projection that is constitutive for the exoticising practice of portraying indigenous people.

The innocent, noble savage does not only have to look like and to behave, to wear clothes, hold weapons, to make gesture in order to fulfill to the expectations of the colonial photographer. The antipathy of indigenous people toward the camera may not have derived from their alleged belief in its soul-stealing capacity, but rather in their own very concrete experiences: The camera has served as a weapon in the process of photographic colonization that, "violates the silences and secrets essential to our group survival".

Moreover, the indigenous were forced to believe what in fact was a bourgeois fashion in the European capitals of the 19th century: with the emergence of physiognomic studies the face was considered to express the interior decoration of the mind to the public, to reveal the individual and the essential truth of the subject. The face became the mirror of the soul.

Although in its outset and by its inventors photography has been considered ill-suited to the rendering of faces and the art of portrait, the technological development has been shaped according to the desire to capture the intimate privacy of a person rather than stills of landscapes. While Daguerre still doubted that the slow lenses, time-consuming preparation, and long exposures required would make his process suitable for portraits, latest by the mid-1850ies the new medium has been bent toward the art of portraiture: Reproducible paper prints, natural lighting, faster lenses prepared the ground for the widespread success of portrait studios.

As soon as photography was capable of taking the picture of a person,
as soon as it managed to reproduce the human face in a recognizable and identifiable way, resembling the subject and expressing his essence,
honorable figures from Balzac to Baudelaire began to fear an uncanny technology that produces doubles and Doppelgaengers, that materializes spirit, that manifests the soul in the image of the subject.

In "My Life as a Photographer" the former caricaturist and pioneering, french photographer Nadar recalls a theory he heard from Honore du Balzac: "All physical bodies are made up entirely of layers of ghostlike images, an infinite number of leaflike skins laid one on top of the other... Repeated exposures entailed the unavoidable loss of subsequent ghostly layers, that is, the very essence of life."

Apparently Balzac borrowed his thoughts from the Latin poet Lucretius, who suggested that images are "films", insubstantial shapes of things, which travel through air: simulacra, atom-thin and lightning-fast images that stream from the surfaces of solid objects and enter the eyes or mind to cause vision and visualization.

Long before the triumph of wave theory in 19th century physics Lucretius proposed a materiality of the image, that seems fundamental for any further elaboration on soul-theft and image-production. Balzac's adaptation appears confined within an logic of scarcity, while Lucretius originally assumed an endless production of simulacra based on the infinite existence of atoms. Furthermore, for Lucretius the soul is affected by the constant stream of simulacra off each object in a manner as if one is wounded, as if one has epilepsy, or one is paralyzed.

What is the reason for Balzacs greed? Why should there be only a limited number of images as "ghostly layers" which disappear by exposure? What does really endanger the "very essence of life"? The antipathy or refusal of being photographed resonates a problem that must reside out of the field of photographic technology; another, yet unknown precariousness.

The soul that is stolen by exposure leaves a person behind that is objectified, that lost its subjectivity and became alien to itself. Hegel still used the term alienation as both, a positive and negative force of modern life, but the young Karl Marx took that concept in order to lay out one of his foundational claims: In the emerging industrial production under capitalism, workers lose control of their lives and selves, in other words, their souls, since they lost control of their work.

Marx denounced the process of abstraction from the use value to the exchange value as "fetishism" -- yet another metaphor that relates to allegedly primitive cultures, but this time it goes the other way around and it finds its assignment in the centers of industrial capitalism: Based on the belief that inanimate things or commodities have human powers, they appear as able to rule the activity of human beings replacing concrete social relationships by the illusions or artificial character of the commodity form.

"Thingification" turns everything into commodities or objects to be owned. The soul becomes a matter of property relations: through alienation and commodity fetishism it transformed into a thing that is concealed, exchanged, traded and sold, after it has been stolen.

Postmodern capitalism has carried this idea to its extremes. The alienated labor force is not enough, what the new managerialism demands is the production of affects. The stolen soul re-appears as the new productive force; it invests creativity, enthusiasm, commitment, loyalty, friendliness, motivation, dedication.

2.

In the face of a social reality ruled by alienation and based on affective labor, the theft of the soul through photography may sound itself like a nice, innocent, harmless and naive metaphor. Nevertheless it corresponds to the irretrievable loss of authentic life deprived by the contradictions of an emerging, not yet fully graspable technological change.

Its incapacity or reluctance to cope with the contradictions of early capitalism allowed the bourgeois subject to project its very own fears onto the noble savage or the primitive. With the help of the indigenous other and in the best tradition of orientalism, the anti-modern soul desperately sought to remain undisposable, as the last resort of an individuality that should not be endangered or alienated.

Todays criticism and latent concern about surveillance and control technologies follows a similar pattern. At the first glance, it seems that, after all, the soul became a matter of privacy -- walled off, gated and protected against an hostile public.

What is supposed to be guarded against invasion and intrusion is conceived as constitutive for distinctivity and individuality; it exists in solitude, apart from company and being observed. "The privation of privacy lies in the absence of others", as Hannah Arendt pointed out.

Since Augustine of Hippo, across romanticism and existentialism, maybe even in parts of the neo-marxist criticism of alienation, the soul can be perceived as a hidden interior territory, home of an untroubled personality, an enclosure in which authenticity is nourished, not bothered by interferences and unexpected encounters: "In the inward person dwells the truth", as Augustine said. As the headquarter for the cultivation of emotional life it is the hotbed of personal preferences, individual taste, and other partialities.

In this viewpoint, the soul would stand for the limits of manipulative access to subjective experience. Access is granted, if at all, only through specifically designed interfaces and trespassing turns out as somehow equal to theft.

Contemporary surveillance practices based on digital technologies are widely considered such "trespass to soul". But today, the deprivation of the soul lies in the duplication of the self rather than in its intrusion.

One of the main reasons for that is the ongoing inversion of the classical notions of "public" and "private": To the extent in which, in the postfordist age, communication became the key factor of production, the relationship between public and private seems to turn on its own axis: what was considered as publicly accessible gets privatized without any fuss, and what was formerly known as private gets exposed to the scrutiny of an ever specific and specified public.

In the digital age, the soul is copied over and over again, by the means of data mining and user profiling: the tracking and tracing, examination and evaluation of personalized settings, individual preferences, and habits within communication networks.

The digital double that is created by these practices can be perceived as a an attack on the alleged integrity of the soul and its originality. The Doppelgaenger is made of bad copies, owned by secondary possessors. Nevertheless, these spitting images resemble the idea of one's own; and this idea should comprehend the relations and proportions constitutive of the internal essence.

Probably this makes the society of control so scary: The privation of privacy does not only turn out as a theft of the soul, but it marks precisely what constitutes postmodern individuality: as ancestor or previous owner of a self that is indeed multiplied in all sorts of corporate and social networks; but still it relates back to the subject of a claim or pretense.

3.

What was formerly known as "information society" has shifted into an image economy based on the techniques of imaging information or turning information into images. At the same time, contemporary images are characterized by a passage from visibility to legibility: "constantly modulated, subjected to variations, repetitions, alternations, recycling, and so on..." as Gilles Deleuze noted it.

Such ambivalence reflects the two potentialities of images that Jacques Ranciere suggested recently: As a "raw, material presence", "pure blocs of visibility" and "the image as discourse encoding a history". Such duplicity defines specific regimes of "imageness": "a particular regime of articulation between the visible and the sayable".

Their relations are constantly redistributed and by no means limited to the realm of the visual or the world of world of pictorial representation. Ranciere for instance sees the invention of the double poetics of images in novel writing.

Todays search engines may be an example for another redistribution of the relations between visible and sayable. Their crawlers and spiders replicate the content of innumerable websites across the world wide web by wrenching them out of their original context, imaging them by storing and caching them; but the goal is to reduce their complexity into a specific model of indexability only by which they become visible and accessible, according to the ranking algorithm.

The advance of portrait photography in the mid 19th century, which discovered the face as unique identifier and gateway to the bourgeois identity, has found its todays equivalent in the phenomena of self-exposure in social networking platforms which culminates in "googling one's own name".

Further more, in its digital form the image appears as a storage unit for framed portions of psychic realities that can be duplicated without significant loss and can be distributed nearly in real-time. The image becomes both, subjected to processes of design as well as designing processes of subjectivation.

The bourgeois or modern conception of property has been characterized by anonymity and pure objectivity. The fundament of western individualism, is the ability to first of all "own", author ones soul and therefor "own up" to ones actions and transactions.

But today, in the age of immaterial production, digital reproduction, and networked distribution, there is increasing confusion about the biopolitical property relations.

These relations need to be made visible in order to be enforced. In order to keep faith with capitalism we need to believe into the presence of property relations that appear as ever more imaginary. And this marks precisely what is at stake in contemporary image production. The actual content does matter less and less: it is copied, remade, replicated, stolen, looted, pirated, faked anyway. What counts is the fact that its soul is supposed to still operate as a commodity.

Or as Benjamin once observed: "If the soul of the commodity which Marx occasionally mentions in jest existed, it would be the most empathetic ever encountered in the realm of souls, for it would have to see in everyone the buyer in whose hand and house it wants to nestle."

Property exists first of all as imagery and rapidly becomes a matter of imagination: the desperate attempt of corporate networks to re-identify and reinforce the abstract nature of the value of exchange while being confronted with the overwhelming opulence of use value once the images are liberated from the fetters that arrested their freedom of movement, their capacity to circulate freely.

In a society after the spectacle, we are experiencing that the fetishized character of non-things or absurdities (the means of immaterial production) needs to be inscribed directly into the process of imagination (the labor power of the creative industries of late capitalism).

Again, it is the theft of the soul which turns images into property. But, to the extent that its property relations are inscribed into every image we might also experience a re-concretization of the commodity form. What has been extensively abstracted in the space of time of modern capitalism, returns in a periliously concrete, almost even tangible fashion. It might be such "de-reification" or "becoming-image" which, ironically, turns out today as the key obstacle to consciousness, more or less in the opposite way as Lukacs suspected "reification" to operate.

There is no way out of the imaginary. Not because the "imaginary" is equal to the the fictitious, faked or "unreal", but because of the indiscernibility of real and unreal, as Deleuze mentions once in his very few remarks on this peculiar terminology. "The two terms don't become interchangeable, they remain distinct, but the distinction between them keeps changing round..."

This could lead to a first and fundamental characterization of imaginary property: As a set of exchanges it is based on the impossibility to discern anymore what is one's own and what not. Such indiscernibility certainly rests on the persuasive power of the digital image which promises to instantly provide lossless and cost free copies, while insisting on the identity of the copied content. But more importantly, it introduces the urgency of a constant re-negotiation and exchange of meanings of ownership which remain distinct.

4.

"If this idea is hostile to us, why do we acquiesce in it? Give us those lovely phantasms! Let’s be swindlers and beautifiers of humanity!" (Nietzsche)

5.

In one of his recent essays "My Self and my Own. One and the same?" Etienne Balibar revisits John Lockes "Essay on Human Understanding" and, in particular, the chapter "Of Identity and Diversity" which Locke wrote separately and included only later in the second edition. Balibar shows "how the vexed relationship between the self and the own" prepares the ground for Western theories of "personal identity", the self and the subject: "There is nothing natural in the identification of the self and the own, which is really a norm rather than a necessity, and reigns by virtue of a postulate".

He comes to this conclusion via the detour of exploring the implications of his misreading of a poem by Robert Browning. Balibar considered the beginning of the verse "My own, confirm me!" as a form of self-interpellation, and originally thought that he found an example where "my self" and "my own" were indeed one and the same, identical. Only later Balibar found out that this was not the case and Brownings "my own" actually designates his beloved wife.

"My own is my wife", Balibar realizes: "It is the other with whom i make one and the same precisely because we can never become identified, indiscernible, in other terms, with whom I experience the uneasy relationship of identity and difference, not only because it is conflictual, but because the identification of what is shared or what is the same and of what is separated or divorced can never be established in a clear-cut and stable manner. The name of this uneasy experience conventionally is 'love'."

Balibars little mistake and the resulting rich elaboration on the production of a vanishing difference or a vanishing duality that is "neither unity nor multiplicity" might also pave the way for a less lamenting understanding of the art of stealing souls.

Maybe taking an image is somehow like falling in love, and it is the soul that is stolen, instead of the heart? Certainly it creates unease and tension, but at the same time it leads to the very interesting question: What does it actually mean, today, to own an image, especially once it is stolen or taken away?

From invention, creation and distribution to recognition, exhibition and conservation, images are subject to an infinite variety of operations that are not only characterized by conflicting powers of producing, possessing and processing them. Ownership of images has turned into the challenge of implementing solutions that are executed in real-time. It is a progressive appropriation, which is, as Balibar might say with Locke "defined in terms of an intrinsic relationship to its other".

Images appear as the products of struggles for imagination. It is not about the relationship between the owner of some thing and the object that is owned. Imaginary property deals with the imagination of social relationships with others who could also use it, enjoy it, play it or play with it.

Ownership is a matter of communication and constant re-negotiation, it is gained and performed on an increasingly precarious basis rather than grounded on a stable set of eternally valid laws which follow traditional ideas of property and personhood.

After all, taking an image and consequentially stealing a soul turns out as an impossible operation as such: giving what cannot be stolen to somebody who cannot receive the stolen good. But into what could such double negation possibly resolve?

6.

The image we take from the world has to deceive the senses and produce a series of situations that occur to the cognitive subject: Simulacra, images of images, which are intentionally distorted and modulated in order to appear somehow correct to the respective sensual capacities of the viewer.

With the advent of digital technologies which are supposed to produce perfect copies, the deceptive and thievish nature of images has finally become a matter of fact. There is no such thing as an identical copy which is bit-for-bit one and the same.

The digital image pretends to be identical or at least equivalent, but indeed it operates on a rather pragmatic basis: In the end it is all about eliminating noise as the disturbing presence of an inexplicable and unidentifiable otherness. If the noise is less than the noise margin then the system performs as if there were no noise at all. This is the reason, why digital signals can be regenerated to achieve so called lossless data transmission, within certain limits.

That means that the illusion of identity is produced by a concept of postmodern border management. In order to perform the supposed integrity a dynamic regime of continuous control and instant communication needs to decide whether specific information would be considered as useful or useless in order to behave as if there were no disturbance at all.

Meanwhile, the stolen souls are flocking together below the noise margin that is ignored by the system. It is neither above or inside, it is "with", as Deleuze stated: "It is on the road, exposed to all contacts, encounters, in the company of those who follow the same way, 'feel with them, seize the vibration of their soul and body as they pass', the opposite of a morality of salvation, teaching the soul to live its life, not to save it."

7.

The formula could go like this: The soul that is stolen in the image that is taken is the difference that is repeated.

Florian Schneider
May 2008

Was tun?

ARTE THEMENABEND, DIENSTAG 16.7.02 WAS TUN? AKTIVIMUS HEUTE

Fast auf den Tag genau, ein Jahr nach den Protesten von Genua, stellt der ARTE-Themenabend die Frage: Was tun? Vorgestellt werden neue Formen demokratischen Engagements und politischen Aktivismus, die äußerst flexibel und mit vielfältigen Strategien operieren sowie einen zeitgemäßen Begriff von Solidarität und Selbstbestimmung.

20.45 EINE WELT ZU ERFINDEN Dokumentation · 40 MIN · VPS 20.45 von Florian Schneider, Deutschland 2002, Deutsche und französische Erstausstrahlung

Was soll man anfangen mit dem Wissen um all die Ungerechtigkeiten, mit dem unbedingten Wunsch nach Veränderungen? Was tun mit der Frage "Was tun?" Im Eröffnungsfilm erörtern vier führende Theoretiker die brennenden Fragen einer Bewegung, die vorschnell mit dem Etikett "Globalisierungsgegner" abgestempelt wurde. Die Soziologin Saskia Sassen aus Chicago hat mit ihren Studien zur "Global City" die Forschung zur Globalisierung entscheidend geprägt. In der Protestbewegung seit Seattle sieht sie eine neue politische Architektur entstehen, die durch die Vervielfachung lokaler Bezugspunkte eine Politik des Globalen erst denkbar und möglich macht. Franco Bifo Berardi, notorischer Querdenker aus Bologna, ist flammender Verfechter einer Kultur der Vernetzung. Er plädiert für einen neuen Begriff von Freundschaft als Grundlage von Beziehungen, die sich jenseits der alten Logik von Markt und Wettbewerb formieren. Michael Hardt und Toni Negri haben mit ihrem Bestseller "Empire" das politische Manifest einer globalen Bewegung vorgelegt. Der junge US- amerikanische Literaturprofessor und der Staatsrechtstheoretiker aus Rom überlegen, wie sich aktuelle politische Formationen, die sie mit dem Begriff der "Multitude" ("Menge" / "Vielfalt") zu fassen versuchen, von ihren Vorläufern unterscheiden. "Im Gegensatz zur Masse, die immer passiv bleibt, ist die ,Multitude' aktiv. Es geht um die Fähigkeit, bei aller Unterschiedlichkeit gemeinsam handeln zu können." (Michael Hardt)

21.25 GANZ IN WEIß - TUTE BIANCHE Dokumentation · 30 MIN · VPS 21.25 von Adonella Marena, Italien 2002, Deutsche und französische Erstausstrahlung

"Tute blu" heißt im Italienischen der Blaumann, die traditionelle Arbeitskleidung des Facharbeiters, der nicht nur einen Job hat, sondern vor allen Dingen stolz auf seine Tätigkeit ist, seine Rechte kennt und dafür auch zu kämpfen versteht. Doch ein solches Selbstbewusstsein, das immerhin die Grundlage der Arbeiterbewegung, der größten sozialen Bewegung des 20. Jahrhunderts, bildete, ist heutzutage vom Aussterben bedroht. Als Ende der 90er Jahre die Arbeitslosenproteste aus Frankreich herüberschwappten, organisierte sich in Norditalien ein Aktionsbündnis mit dem Namen "Tute bianche" quer zu den traditionellen politischen Formationen. "Tute bianche" machte den "weißen Overall" zu seinem Erkennungszeichen. Damit sollte denjenigen ein Erscheinungsbild verliehen werden, die in der heutigen Gesellschaft unsichtbar sind, die kein Gesicht und keine Stimme haben: Arbeitslose, Rechtlose, Illegale, Gelegenheitsarbeiter, Obdachlose - kurz: die Gesamtheit aller an den Rand gedrängten Menschen. Weit über die spezifischen, italienischen Verhältnisse hinaus repräsentierten die "Tute Bianche" einen ebenso riskanten wie energiegeladenen Ansatz politischer Praxis, der von kleinen Aktionen im Wohnviertel vor Ort bis hin zu spektakulären theatralischen Auftritten und Aktionen auf den Demonstrationen gegen die verheerenden Auswirkungen der Globalisierung reichte. Ob in Seattle, Prag oder Genua - die "Tute Bianche" waren überall dabei. Nach den schweren Krawallen während des G8-Gipfels in Genua, stellt sich jedoch für die "Tute Bianche", wie für viele andere Globalisierungskritiker die Frage, welcher Formen sich der Protest gegen die Missstände vor Ort und in der globalen Welt nun bedienen kann.

21.55 "DEPORTATION CLASS" Dokumentation · 26 MIN · VPS 21.55 von Kirsten Esch, Deutschland 2002, Deutsche und französische Erstausstrahlung

"Was können Sie tun?" liest man in einem Aufruf einer Lufthansa-Broschüre "Sie fühlen sich vielleicht ohnmächtig, wenn Sie an Bord eines Flugzeuges an Händen und Füßen gefesselte Menschen sitzen sehen, die in Begleitung von Zivilpolizisten sind. Sie glauben, nichts tun zu können, um die gewaltsame Abschiebung aufzuhalten. Irrtum!" Seit wann protestiert die Lufthansa gegen ihre eigenen Abschiebungsflüge? Bei genauerem Hinsehen entpuppt sich die Broschüre als täuschend echte Fälschung: "Deportation Class" lautet der ironische Absender der Broschüre. "Deportation Class" ist der Name einer Kampagne gegen Zwangsabschiebungen. Der gewaltsame Erstickungstod des sudanesischen Flüchtlings Mohammed Aamir Ageep an Bord einer Lufthansa Maschine war vor drei Jahren der Auslöser für das bundesweite Netzwerk "Kein Mensch ist illegal", eine Kampagne gegen die Abschiebungen durch Fluggesellschaften zu starten. Ziel dieser Kampagne ist es, die an den Abschiebungen beteiligten Fluglinien soweit unter öffentlichen Druck zu setzen, dass sie den Transport von Zwangspassagieren künftig verweigern. Die Lufthansa mit den in der Zahl meisten Abschiebungen ist dabei verstärkt in der Kritik. Für ihre Kampagne haben sich die Aktivisten der "Deportation Class" bisher eines Satzes vielfältiger Methoden bedient, die nicht den Konzern an sich, sondern bestimmte, leicht verwundbare Stellen seines Image im Visier haben: Von aufwändig gestalteten Websites, die die Konzern- Ästhetik parodieren, über täuschend echt gestaltetes, gedrucktes Werbematerial, das in Call- Centern, vor Flugschaltern und in Reisebüros für Verwirrung sorgt, bis hin zu Performances bei Aktionärsversammlungen und Informationsveranstaltungen der Fluggesellschaft. Das Unternehmen Lufthansa als schwächstes Glied in der langen Kette deutscher Abschiebepolitik ist ein konkretes und gut erreichbares Ziel der Anti-Image- Kampagne "Deportation Class". Schon jetzt ist die Kampagne wesentlich erfolgreicher als herkömmliche Protestformen wie Kirchenasyl, die dazu neigen, immer wieder gegen dieselbe Wand zu rennen. Und dafür ernteten die Aktivisten in Fachkreisen breite Anerkennung, die bis hin zum Wall Street Journal reicht.

22.25 DIE UNORGANISIERBAREN Dokumentation · 32 MIN · VPS 22.25 von Florian Schneider, Deutschland 2002, Deutsche und französische Erstausstrahlung

Unterbezahlte Arbeiter in Textilfabriken, Putzkräfte ohne gültige Aufenthaltspapiere, temporär Beschäftigte in der High-Tech-Industrie: Die Protagonisten einer neuen Welle von betrieblichen Auseinandersetzungen in Kalifornien galten bis vor kurzem schlichtweg als unorganisierbar. Heute bilden sie eine neuen Generation von Arbeitskämpfen, in denen der extrem prekäre Status der Arbeitskraft nicht Hinderungsgrund, vielmehr der Ausgangspunkt für vielfältige Formen gewerkschaftlicher und außer- gewerkschaftlicher Organisierung ist. Der Film stellt in Kurzporträts drei verschiedene Kampagnen vor: Im Garment Worker Center in Los Angeles organisieren sich Textilarbeiter aus unterschiedlichsten Ländern, um ihre Löhne einzufordern und für bessere Arbeitsbedingung zu kämpfen. Gegen ihre Arbeitgeber haben sie oft keine Chance, deswegen wenden sie sich an die Modehäuser, die die unter elenden Bedingungen gefertigten Kleidungsstücke vertreiben. Wie erfolgreich der Kampf um die eigenen Rechte sein kann, beweisen ausgerechnet die Reinigungskräfte, die sogenannten "Janitors". "Justice for Janitors" fordert Gerechtigkeit für Menschen, die meist illegal über die Grenze kommen und seit der Rezession in den 80er Jahren von den Unternehmen als bereitwillige Lohndrücker benutzt wurden. In Los Angeles ist es der Dienstleistungsgewerkschaft Local SEIU mit der systematischen Organisierung lateinamerikanischer Putzkräfte gelungen, das Vorurteil der "Unorganisierbarkeit" nicht nur zu widerlegen, sondern in das glatte Gegenteil zu verkehren. "Debugging" heißt im High-Tech Slang die Überprüfung eines Produktes auf etwaige Mängel und Schwachstellen hin. Debug ist seit kurzem aber auch der Name einer Initiative von Beschäftigten bei Zeitarbeitsfirmen im Silicon Valley. "De-bug" ist eine Plattform für neue Organisierungsformen, die auch in einer Umgebung funktionieren, in der allein schon das Aussprechen des Wortes "Gewerkschaft" die fristlose Kündigung nach sich zieht.

http://www.spiegel.de/spiegel/print/d-23215445.html

kein mensch ist illegal / Papiers pour tous

arte Themenabend Donnerstag, 02. 12. 1999

20.45 THEMENABEND: KEIN MENSCH IST ILLEGAL 282 MIN. Themenabend von Kathrin Brinkmann und Sabine Bubeck, ZDF In Zusammenarbeit mit dogfilm und cross the border

"Ihr sollt wissen, dass kein Mensch illegal ist. Das ist ein Widerspruch in sich. Menschen können schön sein oder noch schöner. Sie können gerecht sein oder ungerecht. Aber illegal? Wie kann ein Mensch illegal sein?" (Elie Wiesel).

Weltweit - so schätzt die UNO - leben rund 50 Millionen Menschen ohne gültige Aufenthaltserlaubnis. Sie heißen "Menschen ohne Papiere", "Irreguläre", "Clandestine", "Heimliche" oder im Behördenjargon einfach: "Illegale". In einem Europa, das sich nach außen in dem Maße ab zu grenzen versucht, wie es sich nach innen zu öffnen vorgibt, wird derweil fast jede Form von Einwanderung systematisch illegalisiert. Von Schengen über Amsterdam bis nach Tampere - kaum ein Treffen der Staats- und Regierungschefs, das sich nicht auch oder vor allem mit einer weiteren Verschärfung der Asylgesetze oder Einwanderungsbestimmungen beschäftigen würde. In illegalisiertem Status zu leben, bedeutet völlige Schutz- und Rechtlosigkeit gegenüber Behörden, Arbeitgebern und Vermietern, aber auch im Falle von Krankheit, Unfällen oder Übergriffen. Es bedeutet in ständiger Angst vor Entdeckung leben zu müssen, weil diese Bestrafung, Internierung oder sofortige Abschiebung zur Folge hätte. Der Widerstand gegen Illegalisierung, Internierung und Abschiebung von Migranten, wie er seit mehr als drei Jahren in der französischen Bewegung der "sans papiers" und ihrer Unterstützer wie auch in Deutschland im Rahmen der Kampagne "Kein Mensch ist illegal" seinen Ausdruck findet, soll zunächst auf die aussichtslose Lage der Illegalisierten aufmerksam machen, und dann zur praktischen Solidarität zwischen Staatsbürgern mit und solchen ohne Papiere aufrufen. Darüber hinaus ist es jedoch ein wichtiges Anliegen, die globalen Zusammenhänge, die Migration herbeiführen, zu diskutieren sowie Utopien zu entwickeln, die eben nicht in der Paranoia einer "Festung Europa" enden. Der ARTE-Themenabend KEIN MENSCH IST ILLEGAL - DES PAPIERS POUR TOUS! versucht Fernsehen einen Abend lang zu einem - wenngleich fiktiven - Ort zu machen, an dem Menschen unabhängig von ihrem Aufenthaltsstatus gleichberechtigt sprechen und miteinander kommunizieren können - zu einem Ort, an dem niemand "unsichtbar" und "sprachlos" bleiben muss.

20.45 DER ELEKTRONISCHE VORHANG 49 MIN. (VPS: 20.45) Dokumentation von Walther Grotenhuis, Niederlande 1997, Deutsche und französische Erstausstrahlung

DER ELEKTRONISCHE VORHANG ist ein Film über das Überwachungssystem an der deutsch-polnischen Grenze. Mit dem Fall der Mauer hat eine Migrationsbewegung aus dem Osten nach Westeuropa eingesetzt, gegen die die Innenminister der EU in ihrer Konferenz in Budapest 1993 verschärfte Kontrollmaßnahmen empfahlen. Der Bundesgrenzschutz hat daraufhin den Ausbau der Grenzsicherung zu einer seiner wichtigsten Aufgaben gemacht. Noch ist die deutsch-polnische Grenze die bewachte Außengrenze der Europäischen Union, an der modernste Technologien zum Einsatz kommen. Die Dokumentation DER ELEKTRONISCHE VORHANG nähert sich dieser Grenze aus drei verschiedenen Blickwinkeln. Auf der einen Seite dokumentiert er die Arbeit des Bundesgrenzschutzes und beleuchtet die Sicherheitssysteme, die im Grenzraum zum Einsatz kommen. Neu entwickelte Nachtbild- und Wärmebildkameras können mittlerweile aus fünf Kilometern Entfernung Bewegungen an der Grenze registrieren. Bundesgrenzschutz-Beauftragte erläutern die Wichtigkeit der Grenzsicherung in Bezug auf ein vereintes Europa. Des weiteren kommt Jonas Widren zu Wort, Migrationsexperte und Leiter des Flüchtlingsbüros Ost-Europa in Wien. Er gibt Auskünfte über den Verlauf von Migrationsströmen nach Europa seit dem Fall der Mauer und über die Funktion von Transitländern wie die Ukraine. Schließlich folgt der Film einem Rumänen auf seiner Reise von Rumänien über die Ukraine und Polen an die deutsch-polnische Grenze, über die er - auf der Suche nach Arbeit - nach Deutschland gelangen will.

21.35 KEIN MENSCH IST ILLEGAL-TV (1) 7 MIN. (VPS: 21.35) Kurzfilm von Merle Kröger, Philip Scheffner, Ed van Megen, Deutschland 1999, Deutsche und französische Erstausstrahlung Moderation: Madjiguène Cissé (Sprecherin der "sans papiers") und José Mbongo-Mingi (Sprecher der Karawane für die Rechte von Flüchtlingen und Migranten)

Madjiguène Cissé, Sprecherin der "sans papiers" in Frankreich, und José Mbongo-Mingi, Sprecher der Karawane für die Rechte von Flüchtlingen und MigrantInnen in Deutschland, führen als Moderatoren und Reporter durch den Abend. In insgesamt vier Intermezzi sprechen sie mit Betroffenen, Unterstützern, Journalisten und Experten über die Problematik der Illegalisierung von Migranten und Flüchtlingen und eröffnen am Ende des Abends ein Diskussionsforum, das Perspektiven und Utopien im Dialog zwischen Menschen mit und ohne Papiere auf zu zeigen versucht.

21.45 PLANETA ALEMANIA - BEOBACHTUNG AUS DER UNSICHTBARKEIT 37 MIN. (VPS: 21.45) Dokumentation, Deutschland 1999, Deutsche und französische Erstausstrahlung

In Deutschland leben und arbeiten viele Menschen ohne Aufenthaltsstatus, ohne Papiere. Und das bedeutet mehr, als keinen Zugang zu staatsbürgerlichen und sozialen Rechten zu haben. "Es ist, wie ständig auf der Flucht zu sein. Wir leben praktisch wie Verbrecher, ohne ein Verbrechen begangen zu haben." Die Dokumentation PLANETA ALEMANIA ist das Porträt einer Frau, die sich vor der Kamera nicht zeigen kann. Er erzählt von den alltäglichen Bedingungen eines Lebens in der Illegalität, in dem es darauf ankommt, möglichst unsichtbar zu bleiben. Komponiert aus unterschiedlichen Tableaus, die den Erzählungen der Protagonistin über ihre Erfahrungen, Ängste und Träume Ausdruck verleihen, ergibt sich das Bild einer Person, ohne dass diese tatsächlich die Unsichtbarkeit verlässt. "Planeta Alemania" entstand in enger Zusammenarbeit von Protagonistin, Übersetzerin und Filmemachern.

22.25 KEIN MENSCH IST ILLEGAL-TV (2) 6 MIN. (VPS: 22.25) Kurzfilm von Merle Kröger, Philip Scheffner, Ed van Megen, Deutschland 1999, Deutsche und französische Erstausstrahlung Moderation: Madjiguène Cissé (Sprecherin der "sans papiers") und José Mbongo-Mingi (Sprecher der Karawane für die Rechte von Flüchtlingen und Migranten)

22.30 GLOBAL PLAYER - GESCHICHTEN VOM ARBEITSMARKT 36 MIN. (VPS: 22.30) Dokumentation von Jochen Kraus und Florian Schneider, Deutschland 1999, Deutsche und französische Erstausstrahlung

Dass Menschen die Gegend verlassen, in der sie aufgewachsen sind, weil sie in einer anderen Umgebung bessere oder überhaupt Lebensmöglichkeiten erhoffen, ist heutzutage nicht nur Alltag, sondern in der global operierenden Wirtschaft sogar eine Notwendigkeit. Dessen ungeachtet werden Migranten und Flüchtlinge in der gegenwärtig herrschenden Auseinandersetzung fast ausschließlich als Problemfälle begriffen. GLOBAL PLAYER. GESCHICHTEN AUS DER ARBEITSWELT wählt eine andere Perspektive: Es geht um die Bereicherungen, die Migrationsbewegungen darstellen - in materieller, ökonomischer, politischer und sozialer Hinsicht. GLOBAL PLAYER. GESCHICHTEN VOM ARBEITSMARKT dokumentiert Arbeitsverhältnisse, wie sie sich in ihrer Differenziertheit tatsächlich und alltäglich ergeben - unter den verschärften Bedingungen von Illegalität, Entrechtung und Unsicherheit. Jochen Kraus und Florian Schneider haben vom Familienbetrieb bis zum Großkonzern verschiedene Arbeitgeber aufgesucht, die MigrantInnen beschäftigen, und sie über ihr Verhältnis zu ihnen sprechen zu lassen.

23.05 KEIN MENSCH IST ILLEGAL-TV (3) 9 MIN. (VPS: 23.05) Kurzfilm von Merle Kröger, Philip Scheffner, Ed van Megen, Deutschland 1999, Deutsche und französische Erstausstrahlung Moderation: Madjiguène Cissé (Sprecherin der "sans papiers") und José Mbongo-Mingi (Sprecher der Karawane für die Rechte von Flüchtlingen und Migranten)

23.15 RAUS AUS DEM SCHATTEN 60 MIN. (VPS: 23.15) Die Kirche St. Bernard und der Kampf der sans papiers Dokumentation von Jochen Kraus und Florian Schneider, Deutschland/ Frankreich 1999, Deutsche und französische Erstausstrahlung

Die Verschärfung der Einwanderungs- und Einbürgerungsregeln zu Beginn der 90er Jahre führte 1996 in Frankreich zu den ersten Kirchenbesetzungen und Hungerstreiks der "sans papiers", die mit spektakulären Aktionen auf die prekäre Lage der Illegalisierten aufmerksam machen wollten. Menschen, die großen Teils schon seit mehr als zehn Jahren in Frankreich lebten, Steuern zahlten und einen nicht unbeträchtlichen Wirtschaftsfaktor darstellten, forderten gleiche Rechte und dauerhafte Aufenthaltsgenehmigungen: "Des papiers pour tous!" Spätestens mit der brutalen Räumung der Kirche St. Bernard im August 1996 und der Demonstration von mehr als Hunderttausend Menschen gegen neue Gesetze zur Denunziation von Illegalisierten einige Monate später organisierten sich in vielen anderen europäischen Ländern Gruppen mit ähnlichen Zielsetzungen. Die "sans papiers" sind die erste Migranten- Bewegung, die nicht nur von Anfang an von den Betroffenen selbst geführt und organisiert wurde, sondern auch unwiderruflich einen nicht mehr zu übergehenden Faktor in der politischen Landschaft Frankreichs darstellen. Der Film versucht eine Art Bestandsaufnahme, die die Entwicklung der Auseinandersetzungen ausgehend von den Ereignissen im Sommer 1996 in Paris rekonstruiert und bis heute nach zu vollziehen versucht. Die Demonstration anlässlich des 3. Jahrestags der Räumung der Kirche St. Bernard bildet den Rahmen des Films. Damalige und noch heutige Sprecher der "sans papiers" wie Madjiguène Cissé, Traore Gaousson, Ababacar Diop und Kamara Hamady erinnern sich an die Kirchenbesetzung und die Politik, die zur heutigen Situation geführt haben. Daneben kommen zu Wort: Guy Laveuve, einer der Pfarrer der Kirche St. Bernard, Monique Chemillier-Gendreau, Professorin für internationales Recht und Mitglied des Vermittlergremiums "College des Mediateurs", sowie Ariane Mnouchkine, Direktorin des "Théatre du Soleil", die die Bewegung von Anfang an unterstützt und beherbergt haben.

00.15 KEIN MENSCH IST ILLEGAL-TV (4) 10 MIN. (VPS: 00.15) Kurzfilm von Merle Kröger, Philip Scheffner, Ed van Megen, Deutschland 1999, Deutsche und französische Erstausstrahlung Moderation: Madjiguène Cissé (Sprecherin der "sans papiers") und José Mbongo-Mingi (Sprecher der Karawane für die Rechte von Flüchtlingen und Migranten)

00.25 MIT FREMDER HILFE 31 MIN. (VPS: 00.25) Dokumentation von Merle Kröger, Philip Scheffner, Ed van Megen, Deutschland 1999, Deutsche und französische Erstausstrahlung

MIT FREMDER HILFE ist eine filmische Collage über eine illegale Dienstleistung. Das Essay erkundet die Veränderung der medialen Darstellung des Fluchthelfers vom stilisierten Heldenmythos hin zum kriminellen, aus rein egoistischen Motiven handelnden Schlepper. Die Collage aus vielschichtigem Archivmaterial wird ergänzt durch die Erzählungen dreier Flüchtlinge über ihre Flucht mit Fluchthelfern: Hanna Papanek konnte sich 1940 mit Hilfe des Emergency Rescue Committee aus Marseille in die USA retten. Günther Hellvoigt verließ die DDR in Richtung Westen 1972 im Kofferraum eines Wagens der Aramco AG. Die Kurdin Devrim Kaya floh 1994 mit Hilfe einer Schlepperorganisation zurück in ihr Geburtsland Deutschland. Ihre Erfahrungen und Beweggründe, fremde Hilfe in Anspruch zu nehmen, treffen auf die Geschichte eines medialen Wertewandels.

00.55 KEIN MENSCH IST ILLEGAL-TV: GESPRÄCHSRUNDE 32 MIN. (VPS: 00.55) Diskussion, Deutschland 1999, Deutsche und französische Erstausstrahlung

Madjiguène Cissé und José Mbongo-Mingi, die Moderatoren des Abends, haben vier Experten in die Infobox am Potsdamer Platz in Berlin eingeladen, um über Perspektiven und Utopien eines Zusammenlebens von Menschen mit und ohne Papiere in Europa zu diskutieren. Ihre Gäste sind: Eric Toussaint, Belgien, Autor des Buches "La bourse ou la vie", Vorsitzender des "Comité pour l'Annulation de la Dette du Tiers Monde"; Monique Chemillier-Gendreau, Frankreich, Professorin für internationales Recht; Philip Anderson, England, Sozialwissenschaftler und Ko-Autor einer Studie im Auftrag des Jesuit Refugee Services zum Leben in der Illegalität in Europa; Czarina Wilpert, Deutschland, Migrationsforscherin und Dozentin an der Technischen Universität, Berlin.

Was tun?

"Was tun?" WASTUN.ORG was an online platform to present all the movies and additional video material of the thematic evening broadcasted by the german-french TV station "arte". It was commissioned by the Bundeszentrale für Politische Bildung (Center for Political Education), Bonn. The domain has expired meanwhile. The complex software that was used to present all the film and video material in full length is outdated. As soon as 2002, WASTUN.ORG featured more than 10 hours of video material split up in short clips of several minutes and woven together through an interactive interface.

In 2003 WASTUN.ORG was nominated for the Grimme Online Award TV.

Reverse Authentification

Florian Schneider

A coyote looks like a medium-sized dog with a long, tapering muzzle, and erect pointed ears. Its thick coat is greyish, with reddish tinges to the legs and ears, and a lighter-coloured belly and neck. Among humans, coyotes have an ambiguous reputation, being considered on the one hand crafty, sly and cowardly, and on the other tireless and highly adaptive.

To some the coyote epitomises perfidy, to others it symbolises imagination, independence and a powerful will to survive. Native Americans revere the coyote as a godhead; settlers only see their livestock in danger, and denounce the coyote as evil.

In the border area between the United States and Mexico the term coyote also refers to a very special type of human being: the traffickers in migrants, who for a fee offer their knowledge of how to cross a state border without the usual paperwork.

In his project, BorderXing Guide, Heath Bunting plays the role of a coyote, or rather, a virtual coyote, committed to the principle of open source. Bunting collects border experiences, literally so: for several months he has been walking across borders between European countries in many kinds of location, including forests, rivers, mountains and tunnels. He painstakingly documents the routes he follows, and makes a detailed record of all his movements.

BorderXing Guide is thus a manual written on foot. The work’s web interface promises to provide full information about Bunting’s unofficial border crossings. But in this case ‘providing’' has a very particular meaning. It goes far beyond making information available by just putting it online and waiting to see what happens.

A coyote wouldn’t be a coyote and Bunting wouldn’t be Bunting, if he were not always a half-step ahead. In BorderXing Guide, as in most of his works over the last few years he treats his material in an entirely personal way. For very practical reasons the presentation of BorderXing Guide is based on a carefully calculated politics of public relations.

Anti Climb Fence, Heath Bunting
Anti Climb Fence, Part of BorderXing. Photograp c. Heath Bunting 2002
Anti Climb Fence, Part of BorderXing Guide. Photograph © Heath Bunting 2002
Anyone trying to access the website of the BorderXing Guide project is initially doomed to disappointment, since there is no access for unauthorised visitors. Instead they are given a list of names and postal addresses of contacts worldwide. The BorderXing Guide can be visited only from this growing but exclusive list of ‘social clients’' who have a static IP (Internet Protocol) address and who, most notably, have gained the artist’s confidence.

Bunting takes these things very seriously, and demands considerable patience and understanding from the potential users of the BorderXing Guide, both for the fact that they are being refused at the entrance and because they require a certain appreciation of how to preserve, develop and mutually share a precarious knowledge without compromising the project as a whole.

In the western world today the more easily money and goods flow between nations, the more those nations close their doors to border crossers, whether they are fleeing persecution or seeking a change in their luck. Bunting’s BorderXing Guide acknowledges this paradox, evoking the everyday experience of illegal border crossers in a process of reverse authentification.

Suddenly, those visiting a gallery or museum website out of interest or curiosity find they have to prove their credentials. But this tactical recreation of a political reality is absolutely reasonable in the circumstances: the knowledge of how to cross borders has to remain a secret until and unless there is a high degree of trust.

For some time awareness of the issue of borders has been gaining currency among artists, curators and art institutions. There is a long tradition of US and Mexican artists dealing with the 2000-mile long border between the two nations. Dating from the early 1980s there is a whole history of border art that has addressed the power relations that structure intercultural exchange. More recently, the border has become a metaphor in debates, encompassing a variety of political, cultural and artistic approaches, on how societies are changing under the pressures of informalisation and globalisation.

On the face of it, BorderXing Guide systematically ignores the current metaphoric dimension of borders. In this extended personal experiment he downgrades their blinding omnipresence to the banality of just crossing a line. Bunting in fact reverse engineers the metaphorical overload of all the festivals and exhibitions which are nowadays flirting with the ambiguity of borders, towards a very concrete and singular practice. Although BorderXing Guide obviously deals with the repeatability of each crossing, no border crossing is like the one before and no crossing is the same as it has been for somebody else.

Borders are there to be crossed. Their significance becomes obvious only when they are violated – and it says quite a lot about a society’s political and social climate when one sees what kind of border crossing a government tries to prevent. Up to now Bunting has concentrated on Europe’s internal borders. In the next phase of the project he plans to extend the BorderXing Guide to its outer borders, where presumably he will find much tighter controls.

Today, the nature of borders is shifting; what might be called borderland is emerging. Borders are not just demarcation lines anymore, but are being reassigned to so-called ‘third’, ‘secure’ or ‘transit’ countries. Borders reach out along high-traffic lines such as interregional highways and other transport links, and deep into inner cities. Entire countries have become border areas.

As is the case in most political, social, and cultural areas, network technologies have replaced traditional forms of asserting authority on national borders. Checks now take place practically everywhere in real time. Chip cards, biometric systems, and electronic collars, regulate access to proprietary, privileged, or otherwise restricted areas, and collate images of human movement in gigantic databases. The surveillance of the electronically equipped border by means of heat, infrared, radar and satellite technology has undergone a dramatic change in significance. Today’s borders are not so much about racist permission and refusal of entry as about user profiling. The ultimate aim of postmodern border management is above all the filtering of presumably useful from non-useful border crossers.

But the borderland is also a place where tactics triumph over any strategy. In this context Bunting’s BorderXing Guide has the potential to become a very helpful tool for an increasing number of people: an electronic antidote against any virtual or real border regime, but as low-tech as a real coyote.

Border Crossings

National borders are increasingly frontlines of political and social dissent. Asylum-seeking and political migration are some of the most significant issues of our time. Border Crossings aims to probe the background of border activism, examining how artists and cultural practitioners have explored immigration and border crossing within Europe and beyond.

There is a rich history of artists siting work specifically at national borders. The Border Art Workshop began by artist Guillermo Gomez-Peña and others, has involved artists in actions at the US/Mexico border since 1984. In recent times, this border has again been the subject of artistic interventions through the borderhack initiative.

In Europe, overt activism and civil disobedience disrupting borders is increasing. New technologies - especially the internet - have become powerful communication tools for the development of projects which question the way that migrants, refugees and asylum seekers are treated within Europe. Websites, email networks, net-based audio transmissions and online video-conferences are some of the mechanisms which have been employed by groups such as the No Border network , for organising, promoting and siting actions. Initiatives such the No One is Illegal campaign, provide a framework for groups engaged with diverse issues in art and politics to collaborate on projects which support illegal migrants, promote public debate about illegal border-crossing, and protest against deportations.

This discussion will explore the contentious role of borders in Europe and beyond, and the way artists are contesting geographical and cultural perimeters.

Border Crossings features artist, Heath Bunting (UK), activist and filmmaker Florian Schneider (Germany) and writer and curator, Armin Medosch (UK/Austria).

Dictionary of War 10

Due to the impact of the cloud of volcanic ashes that lead to the cancellation of flights across Europe the 10th edition of the DICTIONARY OF WAR has not taken place on April 17th, 2010 in Trondheim (Norway). The following guests were not presenting their concepts:
Will Bradley (Curator based in Oslo), Robert Bramkamp (Filmmaker and professor at the Hamburg art academy), Svein Carstens (Historian based in Trondheim), Michael Duch (Composer from Trondheim), Charles Esche (Curator and director of the Van Abbe Museum Eindhoven), Simon Harvey (Professor at KIT), Maaretta Jaukkuri (Curator and professor at KIT), Vladan Jeremic and Rena Rädle (Artists), Susan Kelly (Artist and professor at Goldsmiths College), Annette Kraus (Artist from Utrecht), Marte Huke (Poet based in Trondheim), Chris Marker (Filmmaker, Paris) Regina Moeller (Artist and professor at KIT), John Palmesino (Architect and professor at the Architectural Association in London), Beathe C. Rønning (Artist and professor at KIT), Florian Schneider (Filmmaker and teacher in KIT), Superflex (Artist group from Denmark)

Dictionary of War 9

On Saturday, September 26th 2009, 11 am, the "Cities and the New Wars" conference organized by Saskia Sassen will host the 9th edition of the DICTIONARY OF WAR. 15 guests are invited to present a concept that plays a crucial role in the contemporary discourse of war and urban spaces: Ted Byfield (Parsons, The New School for Design), Tony Conrad (University of Buffalo, New York), Susan Crile (Hunter College, CUNY), Ashley Dawson (CUNY Graduate School), James Der Derian (Brown University), Fiona Jeffries (CUNY, Graduate Center), Danny Kaplan (Tel Aviv University, Israel), Jennifer S. Light (Northwestern University), Suketu Mehta (New York University), Rosalind C. Morris (Columbia University), Richard Sennett (New York University and London School of Economics), Ida Susser and Jan Schneider (CUNY Graduate Center), Gar Smith (Environmentalists Against War), Gediminas Urbonas (MIT, Visual Arts Program).

Dictionary of War 8

The DICTIONARY OF WAR proceeds with a 8th edition at the Taipei Biennale, in Taipei, Taiwan.

The Taipei edition of the DICTIONARY OF WAR features 15 new concepts that will be presented by artists, researchers and activists such as: Shaina Anand, Ali Akay, Tilman Baumgärtel, Annett Busch and Florian Schneider, Ti-Nan Chi, York W. Chen, Manray Hsu, Shih-Chieh Ilya Li, Brett Neilson, Nikos Papastergiadis, Gregory Sholette, Ashok Sukumaran, Ravi Sundaram, Sam de Silva, Hoy Cheong Wong

Dictionary of War 7

For the 7th edition of DICTIONARY OF WAR in Bolzano a series of concepts will be created that reflect on some of the general principles and conceptual frameworks of the project as such. Seven new concepts will be produced by the core developers of the project who are going to draw from the experiences of the first six editions, introduce their outcomes and, in addition to that, present a selection of concepts from former editions, most notably the 6th edition that took place just two weeks agon, at the opening of the Gwangju Bienale in Korea.

The Bolzano edition is realized by Annett Busch, Jan Gerber, Soeren Koehler, Susanne Lang, Sebastian Luetgert, Florian Schneider and Armin Smailovic in collaboration with manifesta7.

Dictionary of War 6

The DICTIONARY OF WAR proceeds with a 6th edition at the opening of the Gwangju Biennale, in Gwangju, Korea. For the first time outside of Europe this edition takes place in the city of the Gwangju civil uprising of May 18, 1980, and in a country that is still in state of war.

The Gwangju edition of the DICTIONARY OF WAR features 15 new concepts that will be presented by artists and curators of the Biennale such as: Ursula Biemann, Okwui Enwezor, Patrick D. Flores, Ranjit Hoskote, Abdellah Karroum, Hassan Khan, Hyunjin Kim, Jang Un Kim, Abdoulaye Konaté, Jarbas Lopes, Kerry James Marshall, Jo Ractliffe, Chung Seoyoung, Praneet Soi, James Merle Thomas

Dictionary of War 5

After a one year break the DICTIONARY OF WAR continues with a fifth edition on January 25th and 26th, 2008 in Novi Sad, Serbia. Again 25 new concepts on the topic of war are presented in alphabetical order by artists, theorists, filmmakers, scientists, researchers.

The Novi Sad edition of DICTIONARY OF WAR features contributions by: Verica Barac / Hans Bernhard / Muha Blackstazy / Slavko Bogdanovic / Thomas Campbell / Jovan Divjak / Bojan Djordjev / Volker Eick / Galit Eilat / Albert Heta / IRWIN group / Vesna Kesic / Erden Kosova / Andreja Kuluncic / Geert Lovink / Jean Matthee / Sebastian Meissner / Metahaven / Suzana Milevska / Nebojsa Milikic / Gini Müller / Martha Rosler / Florian Schneider / Teofil Pancic / Zelimir Zilnik

Dictionary of War 4

The fourth edition of DICTIONARY OF WAR takes place on 23 and 24th of February 2007 in Berlin, Sophiensaele. It is the final edition of a first round of four events that have been organized to start this project. The session is concluding with a Postcriptum at the historic site of the unconditional surrender of German Fascism in 1945, today's "German-Russian Museum" in Karlshorst.

The Berlin edition features contributions by: Jonathan Allen / Christian von Borries / Arianna Bove / Heinrich Dubel / Stefan Doernberg / Felix Ensslin / Stefan Heidenreich / Emil Hrvatin / Peter Jahn / kuda.org / Andrea Moll / Vanessa Joan Müller / Quio & Darius James / Sylvere Lotringer / Brian Massumi / Khalo Matabane / Avi Mograbi / Martin Neumeier & Nathalie Landenberger / Michalis Pichler / Rimini Protokoll / Saskia Sassen / Armin Smailovic / Simon Starling / Marcus Steinweg / Stephan Trüby / Meir Wigoder & Irit Rogoff / Soenke Zehle

Dictionary of War 3

The third edition of DICTIONARY OF WAR takes place in co-production with steirischer herbst on October 13 and 14, 2006 in Graz. The Graz DICTIONARY OF WAR features contributions by: Azra Aksamija / Franco Berardi / Jordan Crandall / Diedrich Diederichsen / Thomas Draschan / The Errorists / Peter Fend / Christine Frisinghelli / DeeDee Halleck / Andreas Hiepko / Michael Hirsch / Mansur Jacoubi / Stefan Kaufmann / Tina Leisch / Lawrence Liang / Warren Neidich / Ultra Red / Oleg Kireev / Sergej Goran Pristas & Ivana Ivkovic / Raqs Media Collective / Edgar Schmitz / Tris Vonna-Michell / Peter Weibel / Raul Zelik / Gesa Ziemer

Dictionary of War 2

The second edition of DICTIONARY OF WAR takes place on July 22 and 23, 2006 in Muffathalle Munich. The Munich DICTIONARY OF WAR features contributions by: andcompany&Co / Julieta Aranda / Konrad Becker / Ulrich Broeckling / Hans-Christian Dany / Katja Diefenbach / Avery Gordon / Manuel Herz / Brian Holmes / Tom Keenan / Naeem Mohaiemen / Ivan Kucina / Ariane Müller / Marko Peljhan / Stefan Römer / Georg Seeßlen & Markus Metz / Erzen Shkololli / Eyal Sivan / Nora Sternfeld / Ingrid Strobl / Klaus Viehmann / Eyal Weizman / Akram Zaatari

Dictionary of War 1

The first edition of DICTIONARY OF WAR took place on June 2 and 3, 2006 in Staedelschule Frankfurt. It featured contributions by: Apsolutno / Battery Operated / Shu Lea Cheang / Celine Condorelli / Dietmar Dath / Kattrin Deufert + Thomas Plischke, Frankfurter Küche / Azza El-Hassan / Anselm Franke / Carl Michael von Hausswolff und Thomas Nordanstad / International Festival / Mansur Jacoubi / Christof Kurzmann / Angela Melitopolous / Shimon Naveh / Hans Nieswandt / John Palmesino / Dan Perjovschi / Jan Ritsema / Irit Rogoff / Willem de Rooij / Susan Schuppli / Nicolas Siepen / Srdjan Jovanovic Weiss / Eyal Weizman / Ines Weizman

Boudu - eine Kritik der politischen Ökonomie des Mitleids

The charismatic self

I will take the liberty to welcome you to this session in a very improvised setup: amidst of material of an ongoing artistic research project. I am in big suspense of all the unforeseeable links, associations, comments and questions that may emerge out of this setup.

And i am particular fond of the oppositional mode: confronting materials in a position facing each others and in doing so, producing new understanding. We are surrounded by rushes: a selection of more or less un-edited clippings of video and sound recordings

It is an experiment, in a series of explorations that are concerned with the work of the artist. In this sense it is a very literal interpretation of the term "artistic research" -- not in an adverbial but in an adjectival sense: research on art or an investigation into the new role that the work of artists may play in society, in an industrial or postindustrial production, creating value from the outcomes of material or immaterial labor.

How shall we start?

1.

Together with nine students from Trondheim I travelled to Calcutta. The Indian artist Praneet Soi had organised an extraordinary program for us: visiting another workshop or factory each day.

We got the chance to see the production in dozens of small scale workshops, where craftsmen were working with almost nothing but their hands. Baking sweets, soldering metal sheets for handmade fire distinguishers, printing leaflets, silkscreen printing, weaving baskets and manufacturing jewellery, hammering pans and pots and so on and so forth. The monotonous work takes place in public: along the streets and in the markets of the old town.

Then it escalated. We went out of town into poorer and poorer neighbourhoods and visited an iron foundry. The work turned artistic like in a circus. In deed it is artistry how the workers carry the cans filled with liquid iron, 1500 degree celsius hot, over 20 or 30 meters to the moulds, barefooted and dressed only in underwear because of the heat.

We were invited to a jute factory where thousands of workers manufacture gunnysacks from raw material in three shifts around the clock. The workers appeared as a prolongation of the sack sewing machines. Their movements were dictated by the rhythm of a machinery which looked like it operated unaltered since colonial times.

We travelled a hundred kilometers north and observed the production in a large scale steel factory that apparently was taken down somewhere in West Europe and got resurrected in the north of Calcutta. The steel mill is fairly automatised. The workers are there to observe the huge machinery, and interact with it at critical moments.

2.

In 1931 the Philips Eindhoven corporation commissioned the first Dutch sound film: Philips Radio, or, as it was also known, Industrial Symphony. It was a documentary shot by Joris Ivens at the peak of the economic depression, which coincided with radio technology’s advent on the mass market.

The 36-minute film was supposed to show the modern production process of manufacturing radio receivers at the factories and offices in Eindhoven. What we see is a celebration of images that aims to re-compose the industrial division of labour in the form of an artwork.

Most prominently, the film features the very notion of sound by deconstructing the industrial mass production of radio receivers as transmitters of sound. Ivens and his collaborator Helen van Dongen were using a sampling technique combining the noises of work, music, radio broadcasts, and pure abstraction.

The fascination of the abstract beauty of the machine processes on the one hand, and the concrete portrayal of the hard work carried out by the workers on the other, produced a cinematic piece, the ambiguity of wich irritated both the commissioners and most critics alike, not to mention the filmmaker himself.

The corporation reportedly refused to show the film in its original version, while the Christian newspaper Het Volk considered it a “document of inhumanity”. Apparently, Ivens did not expose the assembly line as the worker’s subjugation under the rule of the machine in the same way as Chaplin did in the famous opening sequence of Modern Times, or as René Clair did in a strikingly similar scene of his À nous la liberté!.

Rather than a caricature, Ivens tried to make a “cinematic expression of a twentieth century production line manufacturer.” Its non-complicity with the clichés of both the advertising of the success of the company as well as mere anti-technological propaganda may constitute a rather unexpected value of the film today.

It is the precise depiction of a division of labour that is at stake: the specialization of labour that was necessary in order to sell, by the time the film was made, more than a hundred million vacuum tubes.

Ivens shows the entire chain from advanced glassblowing techniques to the assembly of complete radios, from the research laboratories to the typing pools with hundreds of secretaries and the packaging of complete radio sets.

The area of the factory of the Philips corporation in the center of Eindhoven was called: forbidden city. 90 years after the company has started there with the mass production of light bulbs, today the 29-acres wide area is supposed to be transformed into a "the creative city" -- as the currently largest urban planning project of the Netherlands.

The idea is that great numbers of young creatives, architects, designers, film and media producers, as well as all sorts of start-up companies are moving into the place where once the industrial mass production of radio and TV receivers began.

3.

What we experience today as “creative industries” is a reintegration of all sorts of practices that have not been considered productive so far. At least they have been situated outside of the production of value and currently the are subsumed under the regime of a new social division of labour.

What would it be like if instead of reasoning about the essence of immaterial production or the very character of creative industries one investigated contemporary forms of the division of labour in post-industrial production processes?

1. At first sight, an increased level of control appears to be the ultimate purpose of the technical division of labour today.

2. Whereas segmentation of the work process in industrial production has led to the evacuation of meaning, in so-called immaterial production it is the other way around: meaning needs to be re-sampled through the re-collection of isolated practices under capitalist command or, in more friendly terms: through co-operation. It is the proprietary code itself that does not only regulate access to the means of production and the reproduction of the productive forces, but also establishes itself as a goal in its own right.

The decomposition of the factory and the break-up of its theatrical unities of location, time, and story line have produced a new social division of labour that reflects that decomposition. The technical division of labour is sourced out to individual mini-entrepreneurial units with various occupations that are split up and scattered across time and space.

The molar segmentations of the traditional division of labour that was based on reducing complexity, decreasing the knowledge that is needed for the steps of production and expropriating it, is replaced by a rather molecular segmentation. The linear dramaturgy of the assembly line has turned into a transversal organization of work without any ends or limits.

4.

The starting point of the research is the immediate environment and the local context of the art academy in Trondheim as part of the Norwegian University for Science and Technology (NTNU) whose strategy "Knowledge for a better world" is based on the development of knowledge and the creation of value - economic, cultural and social.

The research project begins with interviews, film and photo shoots in the laboratories, science and engineering facilities and research centres of NTNU in Trondheim. By investigating the technological developments currently being carried out at NTNU the university is regarded as a factory: a site for producing knowledge.

The initial questions are: What does it mean to produce knowledge? What is the relationship between creative practices and scientific research, material and immaterial labour? How do the concepts of today's creative industries and industrial production correspond and complement one another?

We have started very recently with a series of video interviews with three graduate students from NTNU: Product designers who founded a start-up company in the creative industries cluster around the art academy KIT. The name of their company is "nice" and we have started to engage them in a reflection of what characterises their work as no longer producing a material product, but rather designing immaterial processes that are valorising different forms of knowledge which have not been considered valuable before: as a so called "co-design" in a collaborative fashion, across different disciplines, directly engaging the user, the client or the patient.

Their production in the creative sector of Trondheim is characterised by key features that so far have been reserved to mark the peculiarity of the privileged working methods of artists. Under the paradigm of creativity it operates across disciplines, it takes place in labs and clusters and it involves all sorts of imagination and speculation.

What seems to be at stake are new, hybrid divisions of labour, which actively involve the self of the user in the actual creation of code; that combine algorithmic and poetic work, disciplined and undisciplined activities, deterministic and precarious states, paid and unpaid labour.

Here, the artist appears as a role-model for a self-managed entrepreneurship that is supposed to constantly question the apparent division of labour and to reformulate a division between manual and intellectual labour that is still constitutive for the current mode of production.

5.

Why does this matter to us? What does this mean for art and the role of the artist?

For one or even two decades there has been an exhaustive debate about the shift from an industrial to a postindustrial production. Creative industries have become the focus of cultural policies: It is considered the "Oil of the 21st century" and obviously of particular relevance in Norway. It seems to be of major concern in a city like Trondheim and its heritage from industrial production aligned at the University for Science and Technology. It seems to be crucial on an European level: The cultural policies of the EU legitimise the funding of public art by the increasing impact of creative industries on a general economy.

Ultimately, the research project will test the following hypothesis: The mythology of networked automatisation, which we can no longer escape, has estranged creativity from the process of creation.

In order to generate value, the image becomes valuable in an alienated context—one other than its own. This is what, in my research on "Imaginary Property", I suggest to understand as "relational value". A form of value that is neither useful nor exchangeable, but consists of pure relationality on the level of meta-data, i.e. data that are extracted from the image.

I am tempted to push this proposal a bit further: it is not only the image, but the work of the artist itself, that becomes valuable in an estranged, alienated context, an environment that is different to the original context of its creation and dissemination.

In economics this effect is nowadays called a "spillover": externalities of economic activity or processes that affect those who are not directly involved. Cultural policy makers try to explain by it, why the results of funding for the arts or culture are not limited to the rather negligible, immediate effects if quantifiable at all. In creative industries there is more at stake than the generation and exploitation of intellectual (or better: imaginary) property.

Through active participation, in a so called "Culture 3.0", the outcome of an artistic activity may have mysterious effects outside of the cultural realm: on the job market as well as on a general economy.

This means that the work of the artist is no longer situated outside of economy. On the contrary: No matter how we may find it, whether we like it or not, artists have become not only role-models for a precarious, post-bohemian lifestyle in a state of permanent (self-)criticality.

6.

Our research sets out to evaluate of a number of specific techniques of the self that have been relevant in the history of art in the 20th century as a continuous engagement with the provocations, ruptures and threats of mechanisation and industrialisation: the genius, the flâneur and the dilettante; narcissistic and cynical models of a degenerating self; the artist as producer and the auteur concept; do-it-yourself and relational aesthetics.

In a certain sense and not only recently, art has been obsessed with the transitions of the problem of the self: from the celebration of the unconscious self to the portrait of a politically correct self that is critical of any process of institutionalisation; from the ecstatic or expressive self to the abstractions of a fugitive self that escapes meaning by strategies of an over-affirmation of form; from a visionary self that gained its confidence from understanding itself as avant-garde to the paranoia of a self that is obsessed with encyclopaedic, all-encompassing systems of controlling knowledge and information.

Hybrid divisions of labour require a different conception of the self. It is not the mirror image of a subject that owns itself and through that acquires the capacity of ownership as such. It is not the creative self that mirrors its imaginative power in the product of its labour. It is a charismatic notion of the self that is characterised by a permanent sense of crisis and the resulting need to perform itself in real time.

Over the past decades we have been experiencing how the paradigm of discipline, how the very idea of inclusion and exclusion, how liberalism and politics as such have undergone dramatic shifts: rather than placement the process concerns localisation, rather than identification, politics seem to require the performance of a self in real-time.

Rather than a self that needs to be captured and arrested is about a self that needs to be performed precisely in the sense of constantly making present what is otherwise absent? And isn't this exactly the dilemma of creativity which seems to exist only in its absence?

7.

Charisma is becoming the currency of power in a society of control. Or, as Alain Badiou remarked: If the subjectivation point is the declaration of an event, every subjectivity is initiated as a charisma, as a gift that falls from heaven. Politics in the mode of charismatics require constant self-monitoring, self-evaluation and self-organization. It is supposed to be capitalized in the form of permanent self-congratulation.

This refers to a different notion of charisma, one that needs to be separated from its religious meaning, Weber’s sociological conception of charismatic authority and the common colloquial use of the term as a synonym for gifted leadership.

Originally, charisma is the spirit that creates community. It is of immaterial character, or moreover: the crystallisation of immateriality. But can we also use this term in order to get a hold of new, immaterial forms of labor? Furthermore, can it be conceptualised as a mode that performs a self or the precariousness and ephemerality of selfness as such amidst of an industry that considers itself creative? Rather than a gift that fabricates community it would be a task that reformulates subjectivity.

For Hannah Arendt charisma was not just a gift that one has not earned, but relates to the very capacity to have an opinion "under any and all circumstances". Indeed, networked power is based on virtues like the imperative of participation in a kind of interactive populism. Having an opinion "under any and all circumstances" is supposed to compensate for the obvious discomfort with the coercive surveillance that is outsourced to the self in a society of control.

Such a charismatic self acts as a clearinghouse for heterogeneous streams of data which are extracted from the myriads of circulating images and which need to be differentiated by ad-hoc judgments. The charismatic self is constituted by the very capacity to have a distinct opinion under any circumstances within a networked environment where the hierarchical production of meaning is messed up and relational value is generated without a plan or purpose. Its ambition is to overcome the perplexity that results from the chaos of an inflation of data inherited from past events.

Again: What could that mean for the understanding of contemporary art and the role of the artists in today's society?

8.

I am currently envisioning this research project taking place on several different layers:

1. Examining the actual relationship between art and new technologies in the specific local setting of the art academy KIT within the setting of the Norwegian University for Technology and Science and creative industries sector in Trondheim.

2. Comparing and setting out the results in a wider perspective and within different international, interdisciplinary contexts. Identifying corresponding aesthetics and new narrative strategies.

3. Putting the findings into practice and presenting the outcome of the research project alongside a series of commissioned essay films that will be produced and exhibited as video installations in collaboration with a number of internationally renowned artists and art institutions.

The project is a research trip into a new and "charismatic" notion of the self of the artist who might be condemned to a terrible task: It has to revaluate, remix and reconnect the image with a new concept of a self, which does not necessarily have to be the original creator. Rather than being an unearned gift, the charismatic self may appear as the just or unjust deserts of new forms of ownership that are currently emerging out of the networked character of production.

Imaginary property

Saturday, September 21, 5.30pm
Panel discussion by Sternberg Press, Berlin with Laurel Ptak, Marysia Lewandowska, Matteo Pasquinelli, Antonia Hirsch and Florian Schneider to launch Undoing Property?

From evidence to providence

Over the past 15 years various different notions of the "documentary" have gained great influence in the contemporary art world. A desire for a new realism has come along with dramatic shifts, such as globalisation, the raise of digital technologies and networked communications.

Across all disciplines, artists and curators responded to a radically new understanding of the world by rediscovering, reinterpreting and revaluating the relationship between an increasingly immaterial world of things and their perception by a likewise precarious self of the artist.

From visual arts to theater, from photography to architecture "documentary" is understood as a turn towards a more or less fragile understanding of reality through a practical critique of concept of the "document".

While the original purpose of the document was to produce evidence and therefore stabilize a self, today it has become subject to all sorts of manipulations that either deconstruct or reinforce its potential to generate a truth that has always already passed.

Rather than dismissing the new relevance of the documentary as playful analogies for its own sake or tautological proof of what is anyway obvious, its real potential lies in a sort of alternative fiction that is no longer opposed to the present reality but based on a different reading of the past.

The research project "From evidence to providence: future practices of the documentary" investigates new forms of image production that allow us to re-imagine the future and see it in a different way.

It starts with a critical analysis of the role of the image as a document in surveillance technologies, speculative practices, and automatic vision that all may be characterised as preemptive attempts to gain an advantage by impeding a future event before it is realised.

This is compared to anticipatory strategies which prefigure future events, in order to offer alternative images that are not present yet but could potentially happen: either because of a re-reading of the past (re-enactments, mockumentaries, fakes, archive art) or a refusal of the disciplinary force of "real-time" (improvisation, aleatoric techniques, anti- or conceptual photography, ephemeral arts).

The goal of the project is to push forward a discussion about the ethics and aesthetics of the documentary today that may have fundamental consequences for the role of art and the artist in society: art as anticipating a future by reading reality against the grain.

What is a creative strike?

"69.300 ORE. la produzione arististica e culturale nella fabbrica città sistemi di cattura e pratiche di lotta"
1 e 2 Dicembre dalle h 10:00 in avanti a M^C^O

69.300 ore è il tempo usato negli ultimi sei mesi da un campione di 75 lavoratrici e lavoratori per dare corpo all’esperienza di Macao.
69.300 ore di desiderio che si spostano da un sistema lavorativo alla costruzione di un altro, fatto di relazioni, produzione di senso culturale e collettiva.

Il partire da noi è elemento necessario per sviluppare una riflessione che nasca dalle pratiche, in grado di saper cogliere cosa ci spinge a tracciare percorsi insieme radicali e costituenti.
69.300 ore è il seminario che si terrà l’1 e il 2 dicembre a Macao, dedicato all’analisi della composizione lavorativa nelle industrie creative e alle pratiche di ricomposizione e di auto governo che stiamo sperimentando qui a Milano, come all’interno di diverse e
numerose nuove soggettività in Italia e all’estero.

a cura di: MACAO | S.a.L.E Docks

Partecipazioni:
alcune/i dell’Agorà del lavoro | Asilo della conoscenza e della creatività | Andris Brinkmanis | Caargé | Romano Calvo (ACTA) | Simone Capra | Salvatore Cominu (Quaderni di San Precario) | Andrea Fumagalli (Uninomade) | Massimiliano Guareschi | Kaspars Lielgalvis (Totaldobže Art Center) | MACAO | Christian Marazzi | Cristina Morini | Motus | No Expo | Nuovo Cinema Palazzo | Gerald Raunig | S.a.L.E Docks | Florian Schneider | Marco Scotini | Hito Steyerl | Teatro Coppola | Teatro Garibaldi Aperto | Teatro Valle Occupato | Bert Theis (Isola Art Center) | Lucia Tozzi | Elvira Vannini | Tiziana Villani | (…)

Versehen / Overseeing

1. the relationship between the image and reality is a relationship of overseeing. We oversee the fact - that everyone knows - that the image cannot represent reality. We behave as if we could mistake the image for reality.

2. This oversight is a mistake or a slip. It is a mistake that needs to happen over and over again. When we oversee we see something else. A chance encounter that reveals something different, unexpectedly. Documentary has to fail in order to become -- and one needs to be aware of this all the time. It won't be at the right moment, or in real time: it will be too early or too late.

3. Documentary provides reality. It is pro-vision: a vision on behalf or instead of it, it performs a reality that it is confronting. It is supplying it with different aspects, furnishing it with something new, accentuating it by alienating it from itself. It is always about looking beyond the given set of assets that may constitute a reality, seeing

4. In doing so it poses the question of ownership. What is at stake is the question of power: what does it mean to own an image? Who has the
power and the means to exercise ownership?

5. Documentary asks the question: who owns seeing? Who does seeing belong to? And how does the image transform — even just quantitatively — the reality latent in a period time?

6. Rather than a proper notion of private property that is supposed to result in responsibility, that sets out to fix reality, it renders reality as something that may be appropriated, but ultimately cannot be owned. A landscape, a mask, something that exists outside of the frame.

7. Documentary must search for false time instead of real time: too early or too late, but never at the appropriate moment to capture an image and
take possession of it. This inevitable failure, which goes hand in hand with a false time, allows for insights that could never have been calculated or predicted. We can glimpse the underlying codes — human readable, not machine-readable — of networked reality. In doing so, we recognize the idiosyncrasies of images that cannot be possessed, are no one’s property, and therefore will be different every time they are viewed.

8. Reality must be defended. But merely capturing it isn't enough; instead, it must be broken free and become fugitive. But what could this mean? Where could documentary flee to? Ultimately, this cannot be a polite question about the “appropriate use” of technology but, rather, the opposite: How can we use technologies for things very different than their intended purposes?

Creative strike

Creative Strike is a thought experiment which attempts to gather specific experiences in networked activism and to carry them forward to face new challenges.

The hypothetical question is as follows: Can the so called creative class or whoever is usually regarded as such, actually go on strike?

What would happen, if we would refuse our creativity and withdraw it temporarily from the art world and the cultural industries rather than lamenting about precarious forms of employment and precisely by that winning ever new and more precarious contracts?

How should one design a strike which -- by rejecting the current divisions of labor and usual work flows -- could express new forms of creativity which are not just occupied with itself and which otherwise would be not noticeable?

It means to reinvent in most creative ways notions of power that are based on the fact of a refusal to operate according to the command, as usual.

It means to think anew traditional concepts of the workers refusal to work and to produce value. How can a strike become creative?

But it also means to critically question the character of a creativity that is expropriated by those who propagate the further or infinite commodification of knowledge, aesthetics and biopolitics. What would happen if the so-called creative class would stop to be creative for a certain amount of time?

Amidst of circumstances that are normally described as "precarious" CREATIVE STRIKE struggles for the right to have our own time and to experience it as collective realities in multiple ways. This is the time to reclaim our time as contemporaneity.

Imaginary property

What does it actually mean, today, to own an image?

Ownership is a matter of communication and constant re-negotiation, it is gained and performed on an increasingly precarious basis rather than grounded on a stable set of eternally valid laws which follow traditional ideas of property and personhood.

From invention, creation and distribution to recognition, exhibition and conservation, images are subject to an infinite variety of operations that are not only characterized by conflicting powers of producing, possessing and processing them.

Images appear as the products of struggles for imagination. This struggle is not about the relationship between the owner of some thing and the object that is owned. It deals with the imagination of social relationships with others who could also use it, enjoy it, play it or play with it.

The concept of Imaginary property operates at the intersection of two axes: property that becomes increasingly a matter of imagination and images that are subject to ongoing propertization.

Crisis, continuity and spectacle

After the Spectacle
Thinking about the meaning of the image today.

The debate will be developed around the question: What is the status of the image today?

We chose this starting point because this is the very focus of “180”, the exhibition by Mabel Palacin on show at S.a.L.E. till October 30. Many artists during the last years concentrated their efforts in questioning the borders between photography and video and the ones between production and consumption. Many are focusing on how technologies are affecting perception and how the possibility of a multiplicity of points of view is constantly growing.

Moreover the theme of the property of an image (which must be approached far beyond the mere juridical sphere) must include the analysis of the common, social and cooperative nature of the process of production today.
The title “After the spectacle” refers to the need of going beyond the Debordian definition in a time in which not only, as Situationists stated, the capital accumulates itself to such a degree that it becomes image, but where images and the so called immaterial domain are often leading the development of our urban and socio-economic landscape.

School Design

What is the political?

Crisis of imagination

The War of Meaning: Open Sources, Media Activism and Communication Guerilla

What appears as a war of concepts, is a conceptual shift in warfare -- comparable to the experiences of world war 1 and the resulting crisis of imagination that lead to dadaism as a strategie to declare war on war.

What will be the production of vision that is emerging out of the current crisis?

I am talking against the backdrop of a certain notion of political activism, that is opposed to military thinking and the inductrial-military complex. Its theoretical reflections have been fed by rather successful attempts to locally destabilize a border regime by carrying out a wide range of activities that may be coined as "communication guerilla".

Undermining established values, revaluating or devaluating concepts, mobilizing images, and networking the frameworks of grassroots political activism and the aesthetetics as well as cultural production in the artworld.

1.

The very idea, the philosophy and the pragmatic methodology of open source has appeared as twofold,

- a concrete and practical realisation of the (neo-)liberal dreams from the late 1960ies and 1970ies about world peace (or world domination in the slang of the google corporation) based on voluntary agreement, free cooperation and free association of producers, real competition of brilliant minds etc.

- but also as a tactics of a sort of guerilla warfare on the material basis of the networked economies. Open source appeared in order to resolve the blockages during or after the lawsuit of the AT&T corporation against the University of Berkeley which resulted in the release of FreeBSD. It culminated in the development of the Linux operating system under the GPL or free software license.

Both aspects merged in the proposal of tactical media: the 'do it yourself' approach that has triggered the deregulation of standardized media production in the 1990ies. It also led to a participatory media culture that has done away with the exclusivity of mass-communication and its organization as as a one-way-street.

Although there are striking similarities, such as a system of meritocracy, hierarchical structure, It would be obvious to understand the idea of "open sources" as an antagonistic concept to the military (the military as a state machine, open source as a nomadic war machine).

The military stands for the secret that needs to be kept in order to exploit a technological superiority on the battlefield. From the mystification of guns in colonial conquest to the fear of the wunderwaffe of the nazis the logic of both, military domination and subjugation rests on the mysteriosity of sources, the demonization of the weapons of the enemy or the intimidation of the enemy by technological supremacy.

Although completely incompatible both concepts, the civilian openness of sources, as well as the military organisation of secrecies depend on each others, each is the condition of the other. It would be rather pointless to see them only as antagonism, in a binary perspective of an "either/or", and it would be rather dangerous to fantasize about a certain practical or even pragmatic compatibility...

Nothing else is at stake when it comes to a-symmetric warfare: The assumed intelligence of weapons is confronted and at the same time conceptually intermingled and unseparably connected with the banality of do-it-yourself war.

2.

The state has reacted to the ideas, the very concept of "open source", the ideology production as well as the practice of coding: half-hearted attempts to reappropriate and to reintegrate it into new accumulation regimes that are coined as creative industries, cognitive capitalism etc.

This integration has taken place in a rather molecular fashion, quite smooth and without great ruptures.

But the result is dramatic: collective imagination seems to become the labor force of creative capitalism.

The abstract freedom that is constitutive of labor as soon as it is turned into a commodity form, manifests itself today as a certain openness of its source code: Imagination

Rather than just a common place in management literature that mystifies the success of the self-made man, or more contemporarily the start-up company, imagination has become the key factor of cognitive capitalism or accumulation regimes that are centered around commdifiable notions of knowledge. What is at stake is our very capacity to make an image. To make an image that is much more and essentially different to mere visualization of data.

Open source technology does not only provide the infrastructure on serverside, but the very idea of "open source" still shines through when it comes to the relational value that, alongside with an increasingly "marginal cost of a product" is exploited from networked user operations and reduced to metadata.

"Man defends himself against overwhelming impressions and experiences,
against surging forces, by rationalizing and conceptualizing them. That is to say, he effects a diminishing reduction of the Real in its complexity."

A strategy of open source would have to attempt a reverse engineering of the Kantian model of imagination: a complexification of concepts that increases and expands the power to make images or the very ability to imagine things differently.

Today, the static boundaries against which a dissident imagination was shaped, are on the move, subjected to management, calculation and evaluation, giving rise to novel configurations of power, in which the imaginations power to negotiate the limits of the possible is itself at stake.

3.

Concepts do not fall from heaven. Instead, what in deed is falling from heaven is "charisma". It is a divine gift-economy that comes without being due, it has no cause.

While a politics of intervention tends towards a neutralisation of forces, the mode of charismatics is devoted to the simulation of power.

Charisma is the currency in a society of control where the performance of a self is supposed to take place in real-time. Or, as Alain Badiou states: If the subjectivation point is the declaration of an event, every subjectivity is initiated as a charisma.

The mode of charismatics requires constant self-monitoring to be capitalized in the form of permanent self-congratulation. Not only proprietary new technologies penetrate the market due to charisma of their CEOs such as Steve Jobs or Bill Gates. Although they are de facto relatively powerless the open source community is characterized by charismatic leaders like Richard Stallman and Linus Torvalds.

According to Hannah Arendt charisma is not just a gift that one has not earned, but the capacity to have an opinion "under any and all circumstances". Blogs, video portals, let alone "facebook" and "twitter" have realized the charismatic mode in the form of the network.

What matters in the new charismatic mode of web 2.0 are mood messages, like-buttons, share-with widgets. In short: Opinion-having under all and any circumstances exerted by the user.

If forensics has become the prevailing pattern in a critique of the military, then the modes of charismatics seem to emerge as the analogon in a reciprocal approach that has replaced the military secret by virtues like participation or interactive populism, that are supposed to compensate the most obvious discomfort with the surveilance paradigm in a society of control.

4.

The grammar of the military is based on the idea of pre-emption. It prevents certain events from happening. The grammar of open source uses a different approach, that operates in the opposite direction: It anticipates, in sofar as it is relating to the mode of the documentary rather than to the mode of fiction that preempts reality, diminishes its complexity and renders it legible, precisely because the plots remain unexposed.

The anticipatory instead is characterized by a very peculiar and utterly positive relationship to the unexpected, unforeseeable and uncalculable that is supposed to be reglemented only in constructive ways. This distinguishes the anticipatory from military fiction, which is ruled by the idea of pre-emption, by fabricating a narrative before the forces actually are set free and aligning their respective images in advance.

The anticipatory relates to the future through a rupture while preemption assumes a continuous, unbroken relationship towards the future. It is a production of vision that breaks with the present by going the opposite direction.

The anticipatory is directed towards the past. It opens up history for a process of potential rewriting. It does not need to happen, it is enough that it could happen, in order to destabilize the existing order and the prevailing values as well as their meanings.

"We remember nothing, we only rewrite memory as if we rewrite history", Chris Marker stated in his film "Sans Soleil". Here i think lies the new potential of an open source approach towards the challenges that are connected to collective intelligence and collective imagination: how to shape and develop technologies of a self that would be capable of rewriting memory as if it were history, since maybe we finally might have had enough of all sorts of fabricated fiction that reduce and limit complex realities towards more or less paranoid plots.

Imaginary property

Property and improprieties

Conditions of politics

On the conditions of politics
Thursday 28 June 2007
10 am - 6 pm
 
Conway Hall, South Place Ethical Society, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL

9.30am
Speakers to arrive, tea and coffee to be served.

10.00-10.30am
Public to arrive and registration.

10.30 Session 1
Paul Chan, artist, New York
Melanie Gilligan, artist and writer, London
Mediated discussion: Hans Ulrich Obrist, Co-Director, Exhibitions and Programmes and Director of International Projects, Serpentine Gallery

11.40  Session 2
Gustav Metzger, artist, London
Esther Leslie, Professor of Political Aesthetics at Birkbeck, University of London
Mediated discussion: Massimiliano Gioni, Curator at the New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York
 
Lunch 12.45 – 14.00: A light lunch will be provided for speakers

14.00 Session 3
Zygmunt Bauman, Emeritus Professor of Sociology, Leeds University and Professor Emeritus, University of Warsaw
Suhail Malik. writer and Senior Lecturer, Department of Visual Arts, Goldsmiths
Mediated discussion: Edgar Schmitz, artist, London
 
15.10  Session 4
Milan Rai, co-editor of Peace News and a founder of the anti-war group Justice Not Vengeance
Yates McKee, critic and art historian, New York
Mediated discussion: Lisa Le Feuvre, Curator of Contemporary Art, National Maritime Museum, Lecturer on the Curatorial Programme at Goldsmiths
 
16.20  Session 5
Hilary Wainwright, Research Director of the New Politics Programme at the Transnational Institute and editor of Red Pepper
Florian Schneider, filmmaker, Munich
Mediated discussion: Panel/Edgar Schmitz and Lisa Le Feuvre
 
18.00   End / drinks

Evening: Dinner

Art and politics

Collaboration. The dark side of the multitude

Everyone is an expert

The art of collaboration

Enclaves, Exception and the Camp as a Counter-laboratory

The Scanner at the Border

Reality must be defended

Florian Schneider

Cinema addressed the unconscious, television modulated distance. Nowadays it is not just about working on the net but above all on working within and across networks. But how is it possible, especially in a medium that claims to document anything or everything, to rediscover or even reinvent documentary?

“We must engage with this society in the prevalent medium”: this slogan conveyed filmmaker Michael Mrakitsch’s decision, shared by many other filmmakers in the 1960s and 1970s, to work against television on television rather than trying to make a living in some niche of the cineastic realm.

If we agree with Mrakitsch, it’s time to apply this principle. Political and aesthetic strategies shouldn't just duplicate or illustrate what is {italic}given{/italic}; instead, they must seek to confront new configurations of power and powerlessness that proliferate across networked environments. It might sound strange to drop the illusions of artistic freedom. This may seem disconcerting from a contemporary perspective, since documentary has migrated almost entirely out of television and back into even older media — the museum, theater, or more recently cinema. This is not a result of political or aesthetic considerations but, instead, one of the few survival strategies still available.

To rely on claims about the pervasiveness of the internet in almost every sphere of life has become hopelessly banal. However, it's much more promising to suggest using this medium as the terrain for debating questions about how social fictions are made — and, instead, sets out to defend the real. Far beyond questions of taste, gossip, and the notorious difficulty of addressing what unfolds on the net, there are many reasons why it is difficult to view the net as an appealing environment for critical debate, particularly in the era of so-called “social networking.”

For instance, networked reality is still perceived as “virtual” (with an unpleasant aftertaste of being somehow “unreal”), which is still seen as a threat to authenticity and originality. At the same time, networked services have enabled additional apparatuses that document, store, monitor, and record every possible movement. In this light — omnipresent documentation, on the one hand, and the deceptive appearance of second-order reality, on the other — documentary is fighting a losing battle on two fronts.
The rise of particular network services reduces myriad ways of looking at things to short-term, unambiguous necessities (“Like!”). With this, other ways to inhabit the net, or even to use it against the grain, are dissipating. The net increasingly becomes a sort of convenient transportation hub or a technology that is more or less “neutral.” Even in this latter view, at its very best, it is supposed to accept {italic}the given{/italic} at face value, in the literal sense of the Latin word data, meaning {italic}that which is given{/italic}.

It seems as if the room to play with the potentials of a new medium — freed from outmoded conventions of seeing and unburdened by the imperative to realize value — has vanished beyond our conceptual horizons. Walter Benjamin said of analog photpgraphy, “The illiterate of the future will not be the man who cannot read the alphabet, but the one who cannot take a photograph.” In this sense, our challenge now is to learn once again how to see — both with new devices and despite them.

To make something visible one must leave something out. Visual production is always a more or less conscious process of reduction, which is never merely or strictly technical. Devices have nothing to do with it. Editing images, reducing quantity and complexity to {italic}given{/italic} data for straightforward consumption, filtering out disturbing elements and suppressing ambiguities: these illusions are fabricated, as if reality could be consumed.

As long as these processes were standardized and were generally accepted, we could participate in the great debates: Are we really seeing the same thing? Who benefits from what is shown to us? Doubt was the driving force of the analog — or so it would seem in retrospect.

But, paradoxically, standardization of image production was the necessary precondition for perception to become “individualized,” and for the “subjective” to give rise to subjectivity with all of its supposed shortcomings and flaws.

To discuss what was seen and its effects made sense only as long as unified standards applied — for recording and transmitting images, for resolution and aspect ratios, and above all for {italic}framing{/italic}.

Contrary to many claims made about the supposed power of images, their actual impact was never as potent as the standardized realities of factory society. Instead, it was the systematic over-estimation of that power that was most effective. Yet through this ambiguity of standardization, on the one hand, and individualization, on the other, perception could seem autonomous enough to produce (or at least enjoy) a certain degree of authenticity in what was seen.

In clear contrast to the age of television, the conditions under which images are now produced are constantly renegotiated on an ad-hoc basis. Encoding, decoding, compression, and distribution of data — let alone its reception and processing — are all done more or less in compliance with proliferating, overlapping, and conflicting technical standards. There is no clear ground for calling these disparate “technical” processes into question. The outcomes of these endless renegotiations cannot be predicted; as a result, they cannot be generalized, let alone refuted.

Authenticity no longer stems from a more or less autonomous rejection of the standardized, mainstream image. Instead, it is largely the accidental result of disparate factors — limited bandwidth, technical improvisation, and/or the time pressures dictated by the demand for “content.” It is no longer produced by an audience that can only listen and watch yet is entitled to criticize — and does so precisely to compensate for its own powerlessness. Instead, authenticity resides in the “honesty” of more or less raw images which at their best can awaken sympathy or malice.

Of course, television wasn't replaced by some digital cottage industry; instead, its scale has been supplanted and expanded upon dramatically and is sometimes called the “creative industries.” This deregulated image production, a sort of postmodern affect industry, and its cynicism about the digital are no longer concerned with details. What is at stake is the question of power: what does it mean to own an image? Who has the power and the means to exercise ownership?

Moreoever — and unlike the production of images in the fictional realm — documentary has always had to raise the question of ownership. Who does seeing belong to? And how does the image transform — even just quantitatively — the reality latent in a period time?

This is the significant distinction that marks documentary now. When realities are produced in networked environments, we must engage with them in a network mode. Only if we claim control of the contemporary means of production — the means to produce reality, in a sense — can we begin to make an image that need not apologize and is not compromised by its made nature, which does not inform on but, rather, {italic}forms{/italic} reality.

Conventional understandings of documentary would have it capture and “fix” reality in order to replay it later on. A particular moment or site is isolated, stored, and reconstructed as an event in ways that produce{CONFIRM} plausible forms of truth — all with a degree of permanence beyond the contingencies of time and space.

However, conventional approaches are doomed to failure in networked environments. When uncertainty is the precondition of any assertion and instability is the rule, we must rely on an opposite strategy to produce, invent, and develop truth.

We must do more than merely emphasize that everything is “intertwingled” somehow or other, with events following one from another with a certain degree of probability in some hazy automatic way.

It isn't enough to simply demand the triumph of “transparency” and “openness” without also questioning how realities need to be re-created again and again in new contexts. And it is scary to imagine ceding the empire of optical experience — and hence the anti-optical as well — to the imperatives of a handful of corporations and their proprietary code. {NEEDS WORK}

A crucial characteristic of networked environments is that image production no longer takes place in our heads, as sometimes claimed. Instead, a great deal of visual production is outsourced — in many ways, and at every level — to apparatuses that preempt even the most basic decisions involved in perception, cognition, and imagination.

Documentary must find new standpoints, both literally and figuratively. It must take a stand vis-à-vis a postindustrial production of fictions that increasingly possess, even own reality. Practices such as computer vision, automated image analysis, and pattern recognition permeate crucial areas of everyday life in the control society and subjecting them to sophisticated algorithms. Empirical perception, less and less the domain of our senses; instead, is taken over by cybernetic devices, which operate on the basis of their own assumptions and in the end produce tautologies.

Against this, reality must be defended. But merely capturing it isn't enough; instead, it must be broken free and become fugitive. But what could this mean? Where could documentary flee to? Ultimately, this cannot be a polite question about the “appropriate use” of technology but, rather, the opposite: How can we use technologies for things very different than their intended purposes?

The machinic legibility of images makes it possible to treat them like text, and to input and output them correspondingly. It becomes possible to interrogate images in new ways, not just according to the immanent relations of what they depict but formally — categorize, index, and tag them, to search and to find. In this way, networked environments give rise to an almost irresistible temptation to reduce the image to what is or can be made legible. Anything that might remain unreadable in any way is directly threatened with extinction — dismissed as incomprehensible and useless, ignored and discarded.

That however can scarcely be said to tell us anything about reality. Quite the contrary; after all, this is a really redundant undertaking. Visualizing data as a means of rendering the given visible and verifying what is anyway obvious leaves no scope for an exploration of reality that could call into question the rules by which this reality is produced, let alone assert a right to take production into one's own hands. However, an exploration of this kind is exactly what would constitute the importance of documentary: generating realities that free themselves from obsessions and possessions; that resist the ways in which all forms of living are captured by technical devices.

Today this kind of proposition is lurking below the noise threshold. Not the image's ground but its {italic}underground{/italic} is no longer to be found {italic}between{/italic} images, or {italic}in front of{/italic} or {italic}behind{/italic} images, but rather {italic}in their midst{/italic}: within or beyond the visible, in the static buzz of useless information. Just as the beauty of the documentary film once lay in its graininess, today this beauty is drunk on what is supposed to be the least significant bit.

But when images become illegible and the actual, existing information can't be compressed, truth is no longer the sum of probabilities. This noncompliant remainder with its generative multiplicity of meanings is the basis for a networked documentary that sets out to escape from an tautological, menu-driven "reality." Documentary that aims to produce surplus of reality confronts a paradoxical realization nowadays: communication "over the net" tends to consume reality's store rather than expanding it in the ways imagined (and partly practiced) in the techno-utopias of the 1990s.

Social exchange, in terms of individual creativity and shared affect, is subordinated to specious economic "laws" regardless of their ability to generate profits (or, indeed, epic loss). As a consequence, images of reality are diminished quantitatively — literally compressed — and their "processing" is reduced to the endless algorithmic exploitation of metadata in order to profile, monitor, and foreclose user generation.

The art of documentary is resistance to communication. It means rejecting the imperative that {italic}everything must be communicated{/italic} — and, instead, to work with breaks, ruptures, and incomprehensible elements. It means leaving behind the semantically homogenized space of "the net" and delving into the underground beneath the threshold of what is visible only because it is legible.

In the networked image of reality, change encompasses more than just perceptions of space understood, in general terms, as the shift from optics to semantics. It also encompasses the ways in which time is imagined, toward a framework within which events unfold simultaneously, in so-called "real time."

Traces of this transition, from similarity to simultaneity, can be observed at many levels — as numerous commentators have noted from particular perspectives. Immediate availability {AND EXCHANGEABILITY} is the sine qua non of both the production and distribution of images, to the point where the two are almost indistinguishable. Rather than past, present, and future, we are left with only real-time or "on-demand." The advance of network technologies has driven and been driven by the imperative that no time can be wasted, either in producing or consuming images. Delay, any delay, means loss; whereas, instantaneous availability is a profit — and much more than just saving time. Instantaneous availability short-circuits not just the legal discourses about images — their power, their ownership, and so on — and replaced it with the act of appropriation here and now.

In the digital simulacrum, linear time collapses into networked ubiquity; we no longer concern ourselves with whether or how an image resembles its ideal. Autonomic surveillance, carefully staged broadcasts, handheld serendipity: each has definitively become an act of taking possession, immediately and indefinitely.

Documentary must search for false time instead of real time: too early or too late, but never at the appropriate moment to capture an image and take possession of it. This inevitable failure, which goes hand in hand with false time, allows for insights that could never have been calculated or predicted. We can glimpse the underlying codes — human readable, not machine-readable — of networked reality. In doing so, we recognize the idiosyncrasies of images that cannot be possessed, are no one’s property, and therefore will be different every time they are viewed.

False time is a time that never pretends to be real. It is just as hard now to identify as it was to identify false cuts and continuities in their day. Determining the right moment is comparatively easy. But one of the great challenges of documentary is to decide what false time could mean and how to determine it.

False time and the noncompliant, illegible remainder aren't new approaches that became available only with the advent of digital information and communication technologies. On the contrary, one could easily demonstrate that documentary, in contrast to documentation, is marked by two key refusals: on the one hand, to be reduced to the legible, and, on the other, to conform to a flat notion of timeliness.

However, now, in defending the real, this remainder and false time play a pivotal role. These two features of documentary can disrupt the contemporary production of continuity. It provides the status quo with the legitimacy it so desperately needs in the age of networking: to justify its claim to the exclusive rights to reality.

Traditionally, continuity results from the fabrication of linear time and a consistent space. Ambiguities were eliminated, contradictions were reconciled, and the immediate was standardized in order to reduce what couldn't be understood to a comfortable selection of endlessly repeated facts. Cutting off all uncalculated or unpredictable outside influences was a necessary condition for a cinematic self — one that, by losing itself in such a protected environment, was constantly assured of its continued and contained existence. Continuity served as a kind of ideological workout in the fitness studio of the soul.

But what importance does continuity have now, in a seemingly ahistorical, networked, and converging media environment? Continuity is produced here in ways that are diametrically opposed to traditional methods of film and television. In networked environments, the perception of time and space is inverted.

Classical “continuity” established synthetic time and a consistent sense of space, so that the viewer considered them to be both plausible and seductive — and thereby made two worlds one. However, contemporary continuity is no longer a matter of mechanics and geometry. It doesn't present events in a logical sequence from an anthropomorphic perspective. Instead, the aim is to produce both the event and its representation simultaneously.

Networked continuity is based on immediate availability and exchangeability. It demands unified semantic spaces and an insistent real time with neither past nor future. However, a critical understanding of continuity must sidestep these homogenizations. In their place, we can envision a very different kind of continuity — one that consists of something more than incessant self-reassurance, one that struggles against the onslaught of repetition of the same. It would demand an engagement with history that is more than mere entertainment: one that proceeds through breaks and ruptures, standstills and sudden movement. The result: a past that resists any form of “coming to terms" with it, and a present seen as the beginning of the past rather than the end of the past.

Networked reality can only be recorded as asynchronous, heterogeneous data flows. There is no longer any synchronous time in the industrial sense, whose interdependencies demanded a "pulse" to implement and coordinate the assembly line, the mass media, and indeed the nation state. Motorized simultaneity drove material production and media. It was within {italic}this{/italic}scheme that the camera served as a “clock for seeing," as Roland Barthes noted.

In contrast, networked global economies exploit asychronicity. Rather than a binding, quartz-based time, there are only time-slices: the principle — applied explicitly in operating systems, for example — of the transient, discrete moments when actions are allowed on a constantly renegotiated, ad-hoc basis. This constant reprioritization is called multitasking. We cannot understand its effects; we can only accept them. Criticizing a milliseconds-long "phenomenon" on historical or ideological grounds is almost beyond comprehension.

The effects, which would otherwise run rampant, can only be mediated by realizing real time. However, in the too-early or too-late of false time, reality cannot be satisfied with the time-slice allocated to it. It will necessarily occupy a longer or shorter interval — and give rise to all sorts of endless discontinuities.

Ultimately, documentary need not fear the paradoxical illegibility and polyvalence of the real. Instead, documentary must revalue the heterogeneity of data flows — not only as an overwhelming chaos but also as a plenitude of almost mythical extent. This superabundance of political, social, and cultural scenes must be investigated and re-created.

None of this is new.

Each time the documentary has undergone a renewal, its reinvention has gone hand-in-hand with a radical change of milieu: from early landscape photography to portrait ateliers, from “living portraits” of traveling and fairground cinemas on to silent-film studios, then subsequently returning into the factory, heading off to war, and back into the natural world.

In the 1960s documentary, as camera and sound recording equipment became portable and broke free from the studio, filmmakers and video artists seized that opportunity. By moving into settings where they had little or no control over the noise threshold in any sense, they engaged with a lively, animate world, became aware of life in the public sphere, and reclaimed realities that had once existed independently of mediated images.

Now, we could lament how surveillance cameras monitor our streets, and how are public spaces are becoming "mere" collections of semipublic images on the net. This means that, for documentary, today’s street {italic}is{/italic}this networked environment. Not just "the net," but a much deeper investigation of what that milieu might mean.

It is just as risky and dangerous here, and the contrast to conventional modes of filmmaking could not be greater. We have no choice but to find new ways to see it.

Open borders, open sources

How to make world

Ad hoc networking

The sticky bit

Netzwerke werden gemeinhin als paradiesische Milieus begriffen, in denen ein unendlicher, nie versiegender Überfluss herrscht. Solcher Überfluss war und ist aber alles andere als selbstverständlich. Die Potentiale globaler Kollaboration ergeben sich weder aus Gutmütigkeit noch breitangelegtem Tugendterror, sondern werden harte Auseinandersetzungen mit sich bringen und viel Einfallsreichtum voraussetzen.

In Zeiten, in denen die Computer noch über wenig Ressourcen verfügten, gab es eine einfache, aber inzwischen beinahe in Vergessenheit geratene Methode, mit diesem Mangel sorgsam umzugehen. Der sogenannte Sticky Bit steht für "Save Text Image" und wurde dazu benutzt, eine gemeinsam in Gebrauch befindliche Datei oder ein vielfach verwendetes Programm auch dann noch im Arbeitsspeicher zu behalten, obwohl der letzte User seine Operationen bereits beendet hat.

Heutzutage wird diese Form von Ressourcenmanagement vom Kernel des Betriebssystems übernommen, doch der eigentlich überflüssig gewordene Sticky Bit wird noch manchmal eingesetzt, um in bestimmten Situationen eine spezielle Verfahrensweise festzulegen: Dann nämlich, wenn - unabhängig von der sonstigen Rechtevergabe - das Löschen oder Umbenennen einer Datei nur dem Superuser oder Besitzer vorbehalten ist. Gewöhnlich wird der Sticky Bit in temporären, gemeinsam genutzten Verzeichnissen verwendet, um sicherzustellen, dass die User ihre Dateien nicht gegenseitig überschreiben.

Das kleine oder große T des Sticky Bit ist ein Paradox, an dem ironischerweise alle aktuellen, sich ständig verschiebenden, ethischen Herausforderungen kleben: Wie können knappe Ressourcen nicht im Interesse einiger weniger, sondern im Sinne aller eingesetzt werden? Wie kann alle Welt alle Rechte haben, und zugleich niemand wahllose Zerstörungen anrichten?

Ein Betriebssystem ist Software, die den Betrieb eines Computers ermöglicht. Es verwaltet Betriebsmittel wie Speicher, Ein- und Ausgabegeräte und steuert die Ausführung von Programmen. Der englische Begriff "Operating System" verweist auf den ursprünglichen Sinn und Zweck: um schematische und fehlerträchtige Arbeiten zu erleichtern, schrieben die Operatoren Programme, die dann nach und nach zum Operating System zusammen gefasst wurden.

Heute übernehmen Betriebssysteme immer komplexere Aufgaben und sind aus dem Alltagsleben nicht mehr wegzudenken, auch wenn oder gerade weil sie meist im Verborgenen agieren: Mobiltelefon, Set-Top-Box, DVD-Player und all die anderen Gadgets der Unterhaltungsindustrie, Geld- und Fahrscheinautomaten, Kassen- und überhaupt die postmodernen Kontrollsysteme funktionieren mithilfe von Betriebssystemen, die die jeweiligen Interaktionen steuern und von denen wir in der Regel nur die enge Benutzerführung am User-Interface erfahren.

Eine der wesentlichen Funktionen eines ordentlichen Betriebssystems ist das sogenannte Rechtemanagement - also die Verwaltung der Zugriffsrechten auf die einzelnen Dateien, Programme und Inhalte. Professionelle Mehrbenutzer-Systeme wie Unix unterscheiden hier zwischen Leserechten, Schreibrechten und Ausführrechten (read-write-execute), die jeweils für den Autor und Besitzer, eine bestimmte Nutzergruppe sowie den Rest der Welt festgelegt werden.

Was anderes könnte das Thema, zu dem ich zu sprechen gebeten wurde, der Dreischritt "Zuschauer, Kollaborateur, Aktivist" also nahelegen als den Verweis auf ein gestaffeltes und in sich verschlungenes Rechtesystem, das von der Passivität zur Aktivität eskaliert? Und wie läßt sich eine solche Eskalation einordnen in den Kontext eines Kulturbetriebes, der den Regeln eines nicht minder ausgeklügelten Rechtesystems, bespielsweise basierend auf dem Bildungsbegriff des bürgerlichen Individuums, dem politischen Regelwerk der antiken Tragödie oder auch der selbstauferlegten Reflexivität postmoderner Tanz-Performances, folgt oder damit kollidiert?

Erstens, der Zuschauer:

Der Zuschauer schaut zu. Diese Tautologie verweist auf ein interessantes Paradox: Obwohl er nicht außen vorbleibt, ja sich geradezu mitten im Geschehen befindet, ist der Zuschauer kein Teil der Handlung.

Die Tätigkeit des Zuschauens basiert also zunächst auf einem ungeheuren Vertrauensvorschuss, einer blinden Affirmation. Wer zuschaut, stimmt zu, heißt es so schön. In der Tat verzichtet der Zuschauer auf die Möglichkeit zu intervenieren, obwohl ihn aufgrund der auf ein Minimum reduzierten zeitlichen und räumlichen Distanz eigentlich niemand daran hindern könnte.

Warum aber ist der Zuschauer so blöde? Warum will er nicht mitspielen, die Dinge in seinem Sinn verändern? Warum will er nicht helfen, einfach davonlaufen oder aus dem Saal stürzen wie die Besucher der ersten Vorführungen von bewegtem Filmmaterial?

Natürlich wird es in der jeweiligen konkreten Situation hierfür viele verschiedene Motive geben, aber nur einen wirklichen Grund: Der Zuschauer wird für seine Passivität ordentlich entlohnt.

Der süße Lohn des Zuschauens ist die Macht, affiziert zu werden. Im Gegensatz zu ähnlichen Rollen wie der des Beobachters, dessen Aufgabe es ist, unbefangen, neutral und nicht zu beeindrucken zu sein, zielt das Interesse des Zuschauers auf das Gegenteil ab. Er vermag es, affiziert zu werden, also durch das zur Schau Gestellte in unterschiedliche Gemütszustände versetzt zu werden, wohlgemerkt ohne dabei seine spezifische Subjektivität aufzugeben und sich gezwungenermaßen mit dem einen oder anderen Charakter zu identifizieren.

Die Fiktion, in der der derart affizierte Zuschauer verharrt, ist das Kapital der Akteure, konstitutiv für deren Handeln. Zuschauer verrichten schließlich einen großen Dienst: Sie stellen Öffentlichkeit her, denn erst das Publikum macht das Dargebotene zu einer öffentlichen Angelegenheit.

Die Währung, in der Zuschauer und Akteure miteinander verkehren, heißt Echtzeit. Die harte Definition von Echtzeit lautet, dass das Ergebnis einer Berechnung innerhalb eines gewissen Zeitraumes garantiert vorliegt, und zwar bevor eine bestimmte Zeitschranke erreicht ist. Oder anders gesagt: Es geht nicht nur darum, eine Geste richtig auszuführen, sondern auch rechtzeitig. Andernfalls versagt das System.

Zusammengefasst verzichtet der Zuschauer also freiwillig auf bestimmte Rechte, um im Gegenzug ohne eigenes Zutun in verschiedene Modi versetzt zu werden, und zwar in linear ablaufender Echtzeit.

Im Gefolge der notorischen Krise der Disziplinargesellschaften und ihrer Einschließungsmilieus ist nun auch die Rolle des Zuschauers ganz offensichtlich in arge Mitleidenschaft gezogen worden. Die fordistische Produktionsweise hatte zwischenzeitlich den Typus des zuschauenden Konsumenten kreiert: Den harmlosen Verbraucher, der am Ende eines Arbeitstages fressen soll, was ihm vorgesetzt wird, um ihn zu zerstreuen und nicht auf falsche Gedanken zu bringen. Hauptsache, der kontinuierliche Nachschub an Unterhaltung ist sicher gestellt. An die Stelle der Echtzeit trat das standardisierte Produkt - nicht nur einigermaßen reproduzierbar, sondern in seinen Effekten weitgehend kalkulierbar.

Verständlicherweise regte sich gegen solche Normierung immer wieder entweder vereinzelter oder gar massierter Widerstand, auf den Industrie und Mainstream nur mit einer Vervielfachung immer weiter ausdifferenzierter Angebote reagieren konnten - was aufgrund der technologischen Entwicklung tatsächlich auch möglich wurde.

Der materielle Aspekt der Unterhaltungsproduktion ist so zusehends in den Hintergrund geraten, entscheidend werden mehr und mehr immaterielle Aspekte: Aus dem manipulierbaren Konsumenten wurde der User, der die verschiedenartigen Angebote für seine eigenen Zwecke zu nutzen lernt.

Die Unterhaltungsindustrie kann auf das wachsende Selbstbewußtsein der Nutzer nur mit einer radikalen Einschränkung deren Lese-, Schreib- und Ausführrechte am jeweiligen Produkt reagieren. Auslöser dieser Panik ist die Digitalisierung der Unterhaltungsproduktion, die nicht nur eine verlustfreie Vervielfältigung der einzelnen Produkte erlaubt, sondern auch die Implementierung eines ausgeklügelten Rechtemanagements, das zur Not mit drakonischen Kampagnen eingeklagt wird. Die Warenförmigkeit der Unterhaltung wird ersetzt durch Kontrollregime, die in Echtzeit operieren, allerdings nicht linear, sondern eben On-Demand, sowie in nicht-öffentlichen oder nurmehr halböffentlichen Räumen.

Wenn der Verbraucher aber seines einzigen Rechtes beraubt ist, nämlich ein erworbenes Produkt auch zu verbrauchen beziehungsweise nach eigenem Gutdünken zu nutzen, wenn der Zuschauer sein großes Privileg verliert, sich auf den linearen Ablauf einer Handlung in Echtzeit sowie in einem von ihm geschaffenen öffentlichen Raum verlassen zu können, gerät das gesamte Betriebssystem der Unterhaltungsindustrie aus seinen Fugen und kann nur durch despotische Akte mühsam zusammengehalten werden.

Dieser Prozess ist im Augenblick auf verschiedenen Ebenen zu beobachten. Gleichzeitig aber ermöglichen solche dramatischen Machtverschiebungungen den Auftritt neuer Formen von Subjektivität.

Zweitens, der Kollaborateur:

Zuschauer, Verbraucher oder Nutzer, aber genauso gut Akteure oder Produzenten, die sich zu Gruppen zusammenschließen, erlangen durch diese Form der Selbstorganisation Macht, über die sie alleine niemals verfügen könnten. Nicht weil sie dieses oder jenes repräsentieren, sondern weil sie ihre Fähigkeiten, Kenntnisse und Möglichkeiten entlang bestimmter Präferenzen bündeln und so die Grenzen überschreiten, die ihnen als Einzelne oder Vereinzelte gesetzt sind.

Theater sind in diesem Sinne hochgradig arbeitsteilige, hierarchisch gegliederte Produktionsstätten, in denen Menschen zusammenarbeiten, deren Leistungen meist eben nicht für sich genommen zu würdigen sind, sondern sich immer auf die Arbeit jeweils anderer beziehen. Das eigene Schaffen ist einzigartig, aber nur in immer bloss vorübergehend existierenden Netzwerken hervorzubringen, die sich aus unzähligen, unverwechselbaren Abhängigkeitsverhältnissen zusammensetzen.

Solche Formen von Zusammenarbeit sind nun alles andere als romantisch. Es ist ein steter Kampf ums eigene, prekäre Überleben, der obendrein Modell steht für im Rest der Gesellschaft immer weiter um sich greifende Beschäftigungsverhältnisse, die sich hinter der geheuchelten Rhetorik von Kooperation, Vernetzung und Clusterbildung verbergen. Was aber wären die Begriffe, mit denen diese Geflechte aus Freiwilligkeit, Enthusiasmus, Kreativität, vorübergehender Beschäftigung, immensem Druck, regelmäßig wiederkehrendem Selbstzweifel und Verzweiflung bezeichnen liessen?

Anders als bislang noch im Deutschen bezeichnet das englische Wort "collaboration" ein ziemlich abenteuerliches Bedeutungsgemisch: Es heißt einerseits, mit jemandem zusammenzuarbeiten, und zwar vor allem in immaterieller oder intellektueller Hinsicht. Doch darüberhinaus beinhaltet "collaboration" auch einen unmoralischen, intriganten Aspekt: Verrat am eigenen Land, Kooperation mit einem Feind oder Besatzer.

So verhielt es sich etwa im zweiten Weltkrieg, als die Anhänger des Vichy-Regimes mit den Deutschen kollaborierten. Doch was hat solch abscheulicher Opportunismus mit den aktuellen Verhältnissen zu tun?

Bei der Kollaboration geht es um das genaue Gegenteil von dem, was die Managementtheorie seit den 80er Jahren als "Teamarbeit" verbrämt hat - also den Akt der Unterwerfung der eigenen Subjektivität unter das allgegenwärtige Kontrollregime der Gruppe, die den Vorarbeiter ersetzt hat und die Steigerung der Arbeitsleistung nicht mithilfe von Repressalien, sondern mithilfe einer aberwitzigen kollektiven Identifikation einer kleinen Zahl von Kollegen als miteinander konkurrierende Kleingruppen herstellt.

Inzwischen hat sich aber auch in der Managementtheorie Ernüchterung breit gemacht. In zahlreichen Untersuchungen wurde herausgefunden, dass in Teams in der Regel die falschen Entscheidungen getroffen werden -- vor allem dann, wenn es darum geht, etwas komplexere Probleme zu lösen.

Diese Erkenntnis ist umso erschütternder, als mit den rasanten technologischen Entwicklungen, mit der globalen Verfügbarkeit intellektueller Ressourcen und nicht zuletzt dem Aufstieg in der betrieblichen Hierarchie der Druck wächst, Wissen auszutauschen.

Es scheitert zum einen wohl daran, dass die bisherigen, zutiefst verinnerlichten Arbeitsweisen vom nackten Gegenteil geprägt sind: Um persönlichen Erfolg verbuchen zu können, sind die wirklich wichtigen Informationen vor anderen zu verheimlichen. Zum anderen verweist es darauf, dass mit dem Zusammenschluss in einer Gruppe das Potential Fehler zu machen, wesentlich stärker ansteigt als die Wahrscheinlichkeit, Erfolg zu haben. Ungünstige Gruppendynamiken, widrige äußere Faktoren, schlechtes Management tun ihr Übriges.

Ist also der Rückfall in die Kommando-Syntax despotischer Regime unausweichliche Konsequenz scheiternder Gruppenarbeit? Keineswegs. Es häufen sich Belege dafür, dass Gruppenarbeit unter genau entgegengesetzten Vorzeichen durchaus erfolgreich stattfinden kann. Statt die vermeintliche Generosität einer Gruppe zu bemühen, in der die Einzelnen einander angeblich solidarisch verbunden seien, geht es in Wirklichkeit doch um das Gegenteil: einen eher schroffen, im Prinzip ungenerösen Modus, in dem die Einzelnen, je mehr sie ihre eigenen Interessen verfolgen, umso stärker aufeinander angewiesen sind.

Dieses Paradox einer "Freundschaft ohne Freunde", wie Derrida es in anderem Zusammenhang einmal nannte, markiert den Übergang von Kooperation zur Kollaboration. Kollaboration bedeutet schließlich, Geheimnisse untereinander auszutauschen. Und zwar nicht aus sentimentalen Regungen, sondern durchaus aus Eigennutz.

Der Fluchthelfer, Schlepper oder Coyote, wie er an der us-amerikanischen Grenze genannt wird, stellt wahrscheinlich die Inkarnation der Kollaboration dar. Ständig in Bewegung, immer nur im Vorübergehen tätig, namenlos, dauernd die Seiten und Gesichter wechselnd, ist er illegalen Grenzgängern dabei behilflich, von einem Staat in den anderen zu wechseln, und zwar ohne den sonst üblichen Papierkram. Ein postmoderner Dienstleister par excellence: Wer den Serice nicht benötigt, jagt und verteufelt ihn; wer ihm aber über einen gewissen Zeitraum ausgeliefert ist, erwartet ihn umso sehnsüchtiger.

Anderes Beispiel für Kollaboration sind auch die sogenannten Peer-to-Peer-Netzwerke, in denen Menschen, die sich nicht kennen und in der Regel auch nicht kennen lernen wollen, immaterielle Ressourcen wie zunächst Rechenzeit oder Bandbreite, bald schon aber auch relevante Inhalte untereinander austauschen. Grundlage dieser meist anonymen Beziehungen ist, dass der Gegenstand der Begierde im rechnerischen Sinne eben nicht geteilt, sondern vervielfacht wird.

Kollaboration ist im Unterschied zur Kooperation, die immer einen von außen auferlegten Sinn beinhalten muss, grundsätzlich eine immanente und illegitime Praxis. Kollaboration stellt den Versuch dar, inmitten der in Echtzeit operierenden Netzwerke der Kontrollgesellschaft Autonomie zurückzuerlangen. Und erstaunlicherweise scheint es keine Rolle zu spielen, ob nun on- oder offline.

Drittens, der Aktivist:

Aufgabe des Aktivisten scheint es, etwas Neues hervorzubringen. Was aber bedeutet das in Zeiten, in denen Neuigkeiten in erster Linie Angst und Schrecken verbreiten? Was kann noch als neu bezeichnet werden, wenn alles schon einmal dagewesen scheint? Welchen Wert hat das Neue, wenn es sich immer öfter als schaler Aufguss von Altbekanntem oder einfach nur Lug und Trug herausstellt? Und was, wenn das Neue gar nichts mit dem Unbekannten zu tun hat, sondern vielmehr die Allgegenwart ständiger Veränderung bezeichnet?

Neuer Mensch und neue Welt sind bekanntlich längst entzaubert. Revolutionen verheissen nichts Gutes mehr und Reformen müssen heutzutage vor allem wehtun. Neu ist allenfalls noch lebenslanges Lernen und die Unausweichlichkeit permanenter Anpassung an die Allmacht der Verhältnisse - am besten in Echtzeit.

Der Aktivist ist so naiv, sich davon nicht einschüchtern oder beeindrucken zu lassen. Um in derart aussichtsloser Lage aktiv zu werden und zu agieren, sind zunächst einmal weitest gehende Berechtigungen auf allen Ebenen von Nöten, die sich der Aktivist in der Regel selbst nimmt, und zwar ohne großes Aufheben daraus zu machen. Diese Illegitimitität, die sich in der rücksichtslosen Aneignung der vorenthaltenen Rechte ausdrückt, ist der kleine, aber feine Unterschied zwischen Aktivist und Akteur, der immer auf Geheiß anderer agieren muß und dessen Kunst darin besteht, die Leerstellen zwischen den im Laufe der Zeit absurd gewordenen Kommandos zu füllen.

Entsprechend privilegiert macht sich der Aktivist also daran, eine Umgebung zu kreieren, die seinen vordergründigen, taktischen Zielen möglichst dienlich ist. Aktivismus beginnt damit, dass eine Reihe von Variablen definiert und verschiedene Varianten durchgespielt werden müssen. Entscheidend ist die Fähigkeit, die herrschenden Verhältnisse nicht nur zu dekonstruieren, sondern auch einzelne Parameter eigenmächtig zu verändern oder zu ersetzen.

In gewissem Sinne ist der Aktivist also ein wild gewordener Zuschauer, der nicht nur affiziert werden, sondern auch affizieren will. Gleichzeitig treten Aktivisten nie einzelnen, sondern immer in der Gruppe auf: So können sie die Verantwortung hin- und herschieben, schließlich sind verminderte Zurechnungsfähigkeit oder Charakterlosigkeit nicht nur Voraussetzungen für die teilweise halsbrecherischen Manöver, sondern auch der Antrieb, ständig in Bewegung zu bleiben.

Inzwischen längst klassische Formen des Aktivismus, wie etwa Adbusters, Luther Blissett, RTmark und all ihre unzähligen Resonanzgruppen, arbeiten mit Störungen, Unterbrechungen, Disruptionen, die durch minimale, vom unbedarften Betrachter auf den ersten Blick kaum wahrnehmbare Veränderungen ausgelöst werden. Aktuelle, neuere Formen des Aktivismus gehen weiter und verknüpfen Fake, Remix und Parodie zu dem, was in der Industrie Reverse Engineering genannt wird.

Dabei ging es ursprünglich darum, eine Maschine (zum Beispiel ein Auto) in all ihre Bestandteile zu zerlegen, um die Funktionsweise der einzelnen Komponenten verstehen zu lernen und so in Eigenentwicklungen übertragen zu können. In der Software-Produktion bezeichnet Reverse Engineering heute die Rekonstruktion des Quell- oder Maschinen-Codes, der in proprietären Formaten hinter den Binärdaten geheim gehalten wird und nicht mehr zugänglich ist.

Aktivismus ist so gesehen also über die blosse Störung hinaus ein Akt der differenzierenden Aneignung, und zwar - bei allem Ernst der Sache - auf spielerische Art. Dies zeichnet den Aktivismus aus gegenüber traditionellen Formen politischer Intervention, die in der Regel so funktionieren, dass Komplexitäten und Unberechenbarkeiten systematisch reduziert und ausgeschlossen werden. Dem Aktivismus geht es genau um das Gegenteil von simpler PR und platter Propaganda: das Unvorhersehbare, Unkalkulierbare, das mit herkömmlichen Mitteln nicht zu Erreichende. Eben nicht das Neue, sondern das Aktuelle.

Deleuze hat den differenzierenden und dynamische Vielheiten erzeugenden Prozess der Aktualisierung unterschieden vom Vorgang der Realisierung, die immer nur Gleiches oder Kopien produziert: "Im Prozeß der Aktualisierung zählt in erster Linie der Unterschied – der Unterschied zwischen dem Virtuellen, von dem ausgegangen wird, und den aktuellen Momenten, zu denen man gelangt, sowie der Unterschied zwischen den sich ergänzenden Linien, an denen entlang die Aktualisierung verläuft."

Aktualisierung heisst Tätig-werden, und bedeutet in der Tat: Kreation und Intervention, Experiment und Eingriff in die Wirklichkeit, Karte einer werdenden Welt. Aktivismus ist dabei das Gegenteil von Selbstverwirklichung, erfordert vielmehr Selbst-Organisierung und stellt die Frage nach dem Gemeinsamen: Was verbindet die einzelnen, oftmals ort- und zusammenhangslosen Denk- und Handlungsweisen? Wo verlaufen die Linien einer Ästhetik und wo befinden sich die Orte eines Politischen, die mit der Mechanik von Ein- und Ausschluss gebrochen haben, weil sie die bipolare Weltordnung des bürgerlichen Individuums längst hinter sich gelassen haben?

Schließlich geht es beim Aktivismus um die Neubestimmung und Verkartung des Handlungsvermögens mithilfe der Variable des Globalen, das sich dadurch auszeichnet, dass es Begrifflichkeiten über bestimmte Teilbereiche hinaus definiert: Ein nicht-totalitäres, taktisches Verständnis von Welt, in dem das Globale nicht zwangsläufig über die Menschen herfällt oder Synonym ist für die Unabänderlichkeit fortschreitender Verelendung, sondern im Gegenteil: Das Globale als soziale Potenz, als Erfahrung der ungeheuren Kreativität der Vielheit und Verschiedenheit aller produktiven Praktiken.

Freedom of movement

Drei Fernseh-Filme von Michael Mrakitsch und Strategien ihrer Aktualisierung

Florian Schneider

Er galt als der „Dostojewski des Dokumentarfilms“ (Süddeutsche Zeitung), als „der eigensinnigste, der besessenste Dokumentarist des deutschen Fernsehens“ (Der Spiegel). Seine Filme wurden gefeiert als „Triumph des Dokumentarischen über die Fiktion“ und schienen schon vor 20 Jahren „auf den Wühltischen eines gefallenen Mediums zu verschwinden“ (Die Zeit).

Heute kennt kaum mehr jemand den in Nürnberg geborenen, in der Schweiz beheimateten und von den frühen 1960er- bis in die 1990er-Jahre hinein für verschiedene deutsche Fernsehanstalten tätigen Filmemacher, Schauspieler und Maler Michael Mrakitsch. Die Filme des im vergangenen März nach längerer Krankheit verstorbenen Autors aber gehören zu den aufregendsten, anspruchsvollsten und herausforderndsten Werken einer kurzen Epoche der Film- und Fernsehgeschichte, die, wenn nicht ganz verschwunden, so doch zumindest in den Archiven der Sender begraben liegt.

Mrakitschs Arbeiten umfassen mehrere groß angelegte politische Dokumentarfilme, Filmessays, Künstlerporträts sowie einige Spielfilme. Ihnen allen hängt das Etikett „schwierig“ an, und das hat mindestens drei Gründe.

Er galt als der „Dostojewski des Dokumentarfilms“ (Süddeutsche Zeitung), als „der eigensinnigste, der besessenste Dokumentarist des deutschen Fernsehens“ (Der Spiegel). Seine Filme wurden gefeiert als „Triumph des Dokumentarischen über die Fiktion“ und schienen schon vor 20 Jahren „auf den Wühltischen eines gefallenen Mediums zu verschwinden“ (Die Zeit). Heute kennt kaum mehr jemand den in Nürnberg geborenen, in der Schweiz beheimateten und von den frühen 1960er- bis in die 1990er-Jahre hinein für verschiedene deutsche Fernsehanstalten tätigen Filmemacher, Schauspieler und Maler Michael Mrakitsch. Die Filme des im vergangenen März nach längerer Krankheit verstorbenen Autors aber gehören zu den aufregendsten, anspruchsvollsten und herausforderndsten Werken einer kurzen Epoche der Film- und Fernsehgeschichte, die, wenn nicht ganz verschwunden, so doch zumindest in den Archiven der Sender begraben liegt. Mrakitschs Arbeiten umfassen mehrere groß angelegte politische Dokumentarfilme, Filmessays, Künstlerporträts sowie einige Spielfilme. Ihnen allen hängt das Etikett „schwierig“ an, und das hat mindestens drei Gründe.

Zum einen widmete Mrakitsch sich fast ausschließlich Themen, die sich durch ein bestimmtes Gewicht auszeichneten. Seine Karriere als Filmemacher begann zwar mit einer Reihe von Kurzfilmen für das satirische „Freitagsmagazin“ des Schweizer Fernsehens, doch gleich nach einem Eklat mit den dortigen Verantwortlichen wechselte Mrakitsch zur Dokumentarfilmabteilung des Süddeutschen Rundfunks in Stuttgart, später war er vor allem für Radio Bremen und den Saarländischen Rundfunk tätig. Mit Redakteuren wie Klaus Simon und Elmar Hügler entstanden immer längere Filme, die sich wieder und wieder an nichts geringerem abarbeiteten als „gesellschaftlich sanktionierter Gewalt“.

Michael Mrakitsch galt von Anfang an als unbequem. Manche nannten ihn ein „Schreckgespenst der Redakteure“. Er war ein Quereinsteiger, wie viele seiner Kollegen damals, studierte Malerei an der Kunstakademie Genf, gehörte in Bern zum Freundeskreis um Dieter Roth und Daniel Spoerri. Ende der 1950er-Jahre ging er für längere Zeit nach Paris, wo er bei Filmen der „Nouvelle Vague“ volontierte und Alain Resnais traf.

Mrakitsch war ein Eigenbrötler, der aber nicht unabhängig, sondern stets in vergleichsweise gut ausgestatteten Fernsehproduktionen arbeitete. Deren Reglementierungen wollte er sich keineswegs unterwerfen. Mrakitsch bestand vielmehr auf einem Höchstmaß an künstlerischer Freiheit, das ihm die Bürokratien der Sendeanstalten, wenn, dann nur widerwillig oder nach nervenzehrenden Auseinandersetzungen zugestanden. Vor allem aber hat er es sich selbst nie leicht gemacht.

Schwierig heißt auch, dass es nicht gerade einfach auszumachen ist, worin die Bedeutung von Mrakitschs Filmen aus heutiger Sicht liegen könnte. „Die Auseinandersetzung mit dieser Gesellschaft muß in dem Medium stattfinden, das dominiert,“ lautete sein Credo. Es war ein Kampf, der nur von kurzer Dauer und von Anfang an zum Scheitern verurteilt war. Eben deswegen könnte er Aufschluss geben über Verhältnisse, in denen das Fernsehen zwar seine Dominanz verloren hat, seine einstige Macht aber in der Formatierung neuer Medien fortwirkt.

Mrakitschs Filme handeln von der jeweils besonderen und immer wieder neu zu erkundenden Unmöglichkeit, einen Film zu machen – wenigstens im herkömmlichen Sinne. Alles, was zu sehen und zu hören ist, passiert diesem und etlichen anderen Umständen zum Trotz. Jeder von Mrakitschs Filmen ist ein Beleg. Er zeugt nicht von einer notwendigerweise verzerrten Realität, sondern von einem niemals unkomplizierten und für niemanden einfachen, ernsten und alles andere als zynischen Bemühen, ausgerechnet aus dem Scheitern der Strategien des Sichtbarmachens eine Erkenntnis zu ziehen, die weit über die Dokumentation eines falschen Wirklichen hinausgeht und nur deswegen darauf beharren kann, deutlich werden zu lassen, was wirklich falsch ist.

***

Djibouti oder Die Gewehre sind nicht geladen, nur nachts ist die eigentlich unbeabsichtigte, weitgehend widerwillige Sezierung der mehr oder weniger offensichtlichen Widerwärtigkeiten eines kolonialen Regimes, das sich selbst längst überlebt hat, aber dennoch gerade unverdrossen dabei ist, seine postkoloniale Fortschreibung weit über unsere Gegenwart hinaus zu inszenieren.

Mrakitsch war mit einem kleinen Fernsehteam nach Djibouti gereist, um einen Film über deutsche Söldner bei der Fremdenlegion zu machen. Es hätte wohl ein Film werden sollen im Stile der entlarvenden Beobachtung deutscher Alltagskultur in all ihrer unverarbeiteten Banalität – eine Attitüde, die die „Stuttgarter Schule“ um Roman Brodmann, Wilhelm Bittorf, Elmar Hügler oder auch Peter Nestler in den 1960er- und frühen 70er-Jahren kennzeichnet, der Mrakitsch gegen seinen Willen ebenfalls zugerechnet wird. Doch als die Dreharbeiten beginnen sollten, weigerte sich der Protagonist auf einmal, aufgenommen zu werden. Mrakitsch fängt trotzdem an zu filmen: Bruchstücke von Bildern, die sich selbst verbieten, zufällig doch noch zustande kommende Gelegenheiten, die auf ein bereits gescheitertes Projekt verweisen, lange Fahrten an der Oberfläche einer Wirklichkeit, die auf die Schnelle nicht zu ergründen ist.

Am Schneidetisch entsteht dann ein Film, der mit dem visuellen Repertoire der Auslandsreportage abrechnet, wie es bis heute vorherrscht: zur Schau gestelltes Elend in der Dritten Welt in mehr oder weniger rasch zusammengeklaubten Bildern, die selbst krassesten Formen von Armut und Ausbeutung immer noch einen Aspekt exotischer Schönheit abzuringen im Stande sind. Darüber allerdings liegt ein Text, der die beklemmende Hilflosigkeit seines Machers verhandelt, dem kolonialen oder auch schon post-kolonialen Ausbeutungs- und Abhängigkeitsgefüge wenn auch nur symbolisch zu entkommen, um einen Film zustande zu bringen, der der Thematik angemessen wäre.

Es geht ganz sicher nicht darum, wie es in Djibouti wirklich ist. Der Ort ist, wie es in dem zweiten Film knapp zwanzig Jahre später heißen wird, eine Erfindung, und jeder Versuch, sich auf die Perfidie der kolonialen Realität einzulassen, muss unweigerlich in Komplizenschaft mit dem Regime enden. Die einzige Chance, ihr zu entkommen, ist die Betäubung aller Sinneswahrnehmungen.

Was tun? Mrakitsch stellt die Frage nicht einmal, geschweige denn eine Antwort vorzuschlagen. Zwischen den Bildern und in der Abwesenheit jeglicher Identifikationsfigur ist die unausgesprochene Hoffnung auf Befreiungsbewegungen zu spüren, die die Momentaufnahmen eines reisenden Dokumentaristen aus Deutschland bald zu Makulatur machen oder zu einer Fußnote im Feuilleton. Später heißt es, der Anführer der Unabhängigkeitsbewegung und spätere Präsident soll den Film gesehen haben, der Direktor der Fernsehanstalt des entkolonisierten Djibouti wolle ihn ausstrahlen. Aber erst dann, wenn Djibouti wirklich befreit ist.

Das Schlimme ist nur, dass eben das nicht passiert oder weiter auf sich warten lässt. Wenn Mrakitsch 1991, während des ersten Irakkriegs, wieder in Djibouti ist, hat sich alles verändert, um genau so zu bleiben, wie es vor der nominellen Unabhängigkeit von den französischen Kolonialherren war. Dieses Mal kommen, im Unterschied zum ersten Djibouti-Film, in dem die koloniale Perspektive bis zur Unerträglichkeit geschlossen bleibt und formal nicht gebrochen wird, auch Protagonisten von vor Ort zu Wort: Poeten und Schriftsteller, die über das reden, „was jetzt geschieht“ in ihrem „erfundenen, reglosen Land“. Empathie oder gar Mitleid, ansonsten die charakteristischen Merkmale einer Dritt-Welt-Dokumentation, kommen auch dieses Mal nicht auf. Am Ende heißt es: „Wir beobachten uns gegenseitig, flüchtig oder mit wacher Beiläufigkeit, wechseln aber kaum ein Mal ein Wort. Ein paar Mal lachen wir uns an.“

Mrakitsch dürfte zu den wenigen Dokumentarfilmern gehören, die recht konsequent der Versuchung stand gehalten haben, Opfer ins dokumentarische Bild zu nehmen – nicht um ihrer selbst willen, nicht um einen vermeintlich harmloseren oder womöglich effizienteren Weg zu wählen, die Machenschaften der für die Verhältnisse Verantwortlichen zu entlarven, nicht um den Zuschauern einen Spiegel vorzuhalten, in dem sie sich ihrer Position als gutwillige, wohlmeinende Beobachter vergewissern könnten.

Die Wirklichkeit des Filmbildes macht keine Anstände, eine Verbindung mit dem, wie es wirklich ist, herzustellen oder gar korrekt zu repräsentieren. Das Bild dokumentiert vielmehr das Scheitern des Filmemachers vor der Übermacht einer Gewalt, mit der sich anderweitig auseinander gesetzt werden, die anderswo bekämpft werden muss. Nur wenn dieses Scheitern gelingt, kann der Film in einem anderen Kontext und mit eher unabsehbaren Folgen so etwas wie Wahrheit über die gesellschaftlichen Verhältnisse hervorbringen.

***

Drinnen, das ist wie draußen, nur anders. Protokolle aus einer psychiatrischen Anstalt („Irrenhausprotokolle“) spielt in einer in den 70er-Jahren als progressiv geltenden psychiatrischen Anstalt bei Düren, auf halber Strecke zwischen Köln und Aachen. Es ist wohl das erste Mal, dass Patienten einer psychiatrischen Anstalt im deutschen Fernsehen selbst zu Wort kommen, meist allerdings nur hinter einer Scheibe, die den Bildschirm auf merkwürdige Weise verdoppelt. Darin spiegelt sich eine Gesellschaft, die diejenigen bloß ruhig zu stellen vermag, die nicht mehr selbst dazu in der Lage sind, ihre Ware Arbeitskraft zu reproduzieren.

Der Film verzichtet völlig darauf zu investigieren. Es geht ganz offensichtlich nicht darum, unmenschliche Zustände zu enthüllen, zu Unrecht eingelieferte Insassen zu rehabilitieren oder der Klinikleitung Versagen vorzuwerfen. Stattdessen wird mit einer unbeweglichen Kamera und ohne dass der Filmemacher in die Aufnahmesituation interveniert, wieder und wieder festgehalten, nach welchen Vorgaben und mit welchen Ergebnissen das Anstaltssystem funktioniert.

„Der neue Anstaltspatient ist ein Mensch, von dessen gesellschaftlichem Vorhandensein man sich im Allgemeinen mehr Schaden als Nutzen verspricht, ein Einzelner, dessen sozioökonomische
Relevanz fragwürdig geworden ist und überprüft werden soll.“ Mrakitschs Text aus dem OFF beschränkt sich auf die wesentlichen Informationen und bleibt vergleichsweise trocken.

„Abgeschoben wird der Unzuverlässige, der Schwierige, der Lästige, der Störende, der Unberechenbare – nicht eigentlich der Kranke. Und die Krankheit spielt auch in der Anstalt eine untergeordnete Rolle.“ Diese eher unspektakuläre These wird auf über 90 Minuten minutiös belegt und in vollendeter Form dargelegt. Schließlich ist die Verwaltung des alltäglichen Elends erschütternder als jeder Skandal: „Not nur erträglich zu machen läuft auf eine Humanisierung des Inhumanen hinaus.“

Wie in Djibouti geht es um die Sedierung des Willens zur Selbstbestimmung, das schleichende Auslöschen von Subjektivität im Medikamentenrausch, die Verwahrung und Verschiebung von Untoten. Einstellungen, die keinen Ausweg mehr möglich erscheinen lassen, Gespräche zwischen Ärzten und Patienten, in denen nach und nach jede Hoffnung auf eine wie auch immer geartete Besserung der Lage schwindet. Und dennoch sind die Patienten keine Opfer, sie wirken, als wären sie sich ihrer eigenen Aussichtslosigkeit in einem verstörenden Maße bewusst und bewahren, je länger das Bild andauert und ihre Erstarrung festhält, eine geradezu außergewöhnliche Würde.
Im Gegenzug hat die relative Souveränität der Patienten paralysierende Wirkung auf uns Zuschauer, deren vermeintliche Normalität sich zusehends als Konstrukt oder schlimmer noch: glücklicher Zufall herausstellt. „Was droht ist eine Gesellschaft der verselbständigten Prozesse, die Gesellschaft als totale Institution, in der allein der Unfall noch ein Lebenszeichen ist.“

***

Schalom oder Wir haben nichts zu verlieren ist blankes Entsetzen: Das Erschrecken vor der Wirklichkeit eines Krieges, dessen Abbilder mittlerweile fester Bestandteil des Rituals fast jeder Nachrichtensendung sind. Der Film sammelt Eindrücke von Begegnungen, die damals so verstört haben müssen, dass der ausstrahlende Sender den Film mit einer eigens erstellten Handreichung über die Geschichte von Judenverfolgung und Shoah versah.
Im Jahr 1982 besucht Mrakitsch eine Gruppe Siedler, Anhänger der Groß-Israel-Bewegung „Gusch Emunim“ in der Westbank. „Zäune, Stacheldraht, Scheinwerfer. Ghetto- und Lagerassoziationen habe ich mich vergeblich zu verschließen versucht. Auf schmerzhafte Weise unbegreiflich war mir, wie ausgerechnet junge Juden ein Leben hinter dem Verhau wählen können. Auch sie zu jung schon, um noch zu erschrecken?“ fragt Mrakitsch beim Anblick der paramilitärischen Wehrsiedlung.

Der Film schildert den Prozess der Landnahme und Zerstückelung des palästinensischen Siedlungsgebiets, der zum Zeitpunkt der Dreharbeiten gerade systematisch begonnen hatte. Damals war Lohnarbeit noch das Ziel der israelischen Kolonisierungspolitik. Doch die Palästinenser in der Westbank wissen: „Sie nehmen uns das Land, was wird sie hindern, uns einmal auch die Arbeit zu nehmen?“

Darauf reist er in das palästinensische Flüchtlingslager Burdsche el-Schimali. Viele derer, die Mrakitsch trifft, haben erst vor wenigen Jahren den Kessel von Tal al-Zaatar (die Belagerung des gleichnamigen palästinensischen Flüchtlingslagers in Beirut durch christliche Milizen, die 1976 in einem Massaker endete) überlebt, und haben danach hier Zuflucht gefunden. Kurz vor der israelischen Invasion des Libanon und der Massaker von Sabra und Shatila droht ihnen erneut, eingeschlossen, umzingelt, von Raketen beschossen zu werden.

Der Film findet statt in „einer Art aufreibender Zeitlosigkeit“. In langen Gesprächen werden die Wirren des Krieges aus der Perspektive der Menschen in den palästinensischen Lagern erzählt, während gerade die letzten autonomen Strukturen der palästinensischen Befreiungsbewegung zerstört werden, die damals wohl so nah wie nie am Aufbau eines eigenen Staatswesens war. Israelische Annexionspolitik, christliche Milizen, syrische Raketen – es ist der verzweifelte Versuch, sich mithilfe einer Art Geschichtsschreibung von unten Kriegspropaganda, Durchhalteparolen und gezielter Fehlinformation entgegenzustemmen. Auf 135 Minuten, zur besten Sendezeit, und nur unterbrochen durch die Tagesschau.

„Wir ertappen uns beim Drehen befremdlicher Bilder – jenseits all dessen, was uns beschäftigt. Bilder einer schamlosen, beinahe obszönen Geschichtslosigkeit.“ Der Dokumentarfilm muss kapitulieren vor den Tatsachen, die vom Militär geschaffen werden und nicht mehr rückgängig gemacht werden können. Am Ende findet sich das Filmteam im Bunker wieder, weil das israelische Militär mit den Bombardierungen der Flüchtlingslager beginnt.

***

„Ich bin ein Aufklärer, der nicht mehr an die Aufklärung glaubt,“ sagte Mrakitsch einmal. Er arbeitete erklärtermaßen in der Tradition der französischen Filmessayisten der Sechziger-Jahre, an denen er neben dem literarischen Anspruch vor allem schätzt, dass sie ihren „Gegenstand nicht ans Cineastische verraten“.

Das Dokumentarische begriff er als bewussten Kunstverzicht, einen in dieser Hinsicht eminent politischen Akt und unweigerliche Hinwendung zum Sozialen, die mit einem heute noch erstaunlich erfrischenden, undogmatischen Materialismus einhergeht. Auch wenn es auf den ersten Blick täuschen mag: Es geht weder darum, die Welt ins Wohnzimmer zu holen, noch darum, vom Katheder aus zu dozieren. Mrakitschs Filme markieren die imaginäre Fluchtlinie einer aufgeklärten Bürgerlichkeit, die es zu diesem Zeitpunkt längst nicht mehr gibt, weil sie sich an den Faschismus angedient hatte oder vom Faschismus vernichtet wurde. Es ist eine Art Bildungsbürgertum in wahrsten Sinne des Wortes: Die Bildung einer widerspenstigen Meinung geht einher mit der Wiedereroberung einer eigenen Sprache, die nicht in erster Linie dazu da ist, die Verhältnisse korrekt wiederzugeben, sondern vielmehr in der Lage wäre, in diese Verhältnisse zu intervenieren.

Diese Haltung dürfte wohl eine ganze Generation westdeutscher Intellektueller charakterisieren, die Faschismus und Krieg als Kinder miterlebt haben, damit radikal zu brechen vorhatten, aber für die weder der dogmatische Parteisozialismus noch die romantische Unbekümmertheit der ödipalen Revolte in den 60er-Jahren eine Option waren.

Angetrieben von der Dringlichkeit einer „Re-education“ der westdeutschen Alltagskultur und allen Unkenrufen zum Trotz machten sie sich daran, das damals neue Medium Fernsehen zu nutzen, um entfremdetes, falsches Bewusstsein mit einem intellektuellen Niveau zu provozieren, das allein dem Effizienzdenken eines entfesselten Industriekapitalismus sowie der Brutalität seiner institutionalisierten Folgeerscheinungen widerstehen könnte. Dass dieser Strategie kein großer Erfolg beschieden war, hat viele Gründe und wird aus heutiger Sicht kaum verwundern. Resignation und der Rückzug ins Schöngeistige angesichts der aufkommenden postindustriellen Unterhaltungsindustrie war die mehr oder weniger zwangsläufige Konsequenz einer Herangehensweise, die sich kompromisslos geben musste und doch vollkommen zerrissen war.

Die kleine Retrospektive von drei Fernsehfilmen von Michael Mrakitsch sowie ihren drei Folgeprojekten ist nicht nur Tribut an einen ebenso wichtigen, wie lange in Vergessenheit geratenen Protagonisten des westdeutschen Dokumentarfilms. Die Filme sind womöglich zum ersten Mal zu sehen außerhalb des Mediums „Fernsehen“, in dem sie entstanden und mit dessen Produktionsbedingungen sie untrennbar verbunden sind. Zumindest aus heutiger Sicht stellen sie genau das Gegenteil dessen dar, was Fernsehen ist oder sich einbildet vorzugeben, um im Gegenzug umso entschlossener darauf zu verweisen, was Fernsehen durchaus sein könnte, aber sich längst nicht mehr vorzustellen wagt.

Schließlich aber handelt es sich bei dem Projekt, diese Filme heute und nach langer Zeit wieder zu zeigen und zu sehen, um ein Experiment mit durchaus offenem Ausgang: Schlechte Filme sehen immer gleich aus. Gute dagegen wirken mit jedem Mal, zu dem sie gesehen werden, verschieden.

Djibouti oder Die Gewehre sind nicht geladen – nur nachts (BRD 1975, 53 min) und Djibouti, Wiederbegegnung mit einer Erfindung 1973/1991 (D 1991, 60 min) Mittwoch, 2. Juni, 22 h
Schalom oder Wir haben nichts zu verlieren (BRD 1983, 130 min) Donnerstag, 3. Juni, 12 h
Drinnen, das ist wie draußen, nur anders. Protokolle aus einer psychiatrischen Anstalt („Irrenhausprotokolle“) (BRD 1977, 97 min)
Sonntag, 6. Juni, 14.30 h
Alle drei Filme und ihre Drehorte hat Michael Mrakitsch rund 20 Jahre nach ihrer Ausstrahlung erneut aufgesucht. Diese filmischen Wiederbegegnungen stehen während des Forums zur Sichtung zur Verfügung.
Ein Gespräch zwischen Florian Schneider und Rick Prelinger, dem Gründer der Prelinger Archives, findet statt am Sonntag, 6. Juni, 16.30 h.

Fortress Europe?

Gottes Wille kennt kein Warum

Short film. Premiered at the Documentary Film Festival Leipzig 1990

make world paper #4

Makeworlds paper#4 is a product of collaborative text filtering and appeared in a circulation of 10,000 hard copies on dead tree. It was produced as a collection of associated or complementary or auxiliary text material at the occasion of NEURO--networking europe, from February 26-29 in Munich (DE). But also beyond the actual event the paper will be valuable as a entry point to the various debates, presentations, workshops and audio-visual productions during and around the festival.

make world paper #4: http://makeworlds.net/node/98

make world paper #3

Make world paper3 has been published on September 11, 2003. It is the third edition of a free newspaper that is distributed in 5,000 copies. Earlier issues have been distributed at the occasion of the make-world festival, 2001, and the first European Social Forum, 2002. Paper3 is geared towards the World Summit on the Information Society in Geneva, in December 2003. Paper 3 is available as a PDF-file (10.7 MB). On request we are delivering packages of 50 copies carriage forward.

make world paper #3: http://makeworlds.net/node/2

make world paper #2

One year after the make-world conference, paper#2 has been released at the occasion of the European Social Forum in Florence in the beginning of November 2002. It was printed in 10,000 copies and contained of 32 pages.
make world paper #2: http://makeworlds.net/node/21

make world paper #1

make world is a unix command used to completely update an operating system. It's designed to follow the latest developments once the local sources are synchronized. Typing "make world" in the command line rebuilds and renews the whole system while it's running. The first make world festival took place from October 18th to the 21nd in Munich. Against the backdrop of one of the fastest growing High Tech and New Media clusters in the world, scientists, theorists, artists and activists were invited to participate in presentations, constructive conversations, reflection and debates. It was an opportunity to link up different approaches while keeping and challenging their diversity, contextuality and self reference.

Under the title BORDER="Ø" LOCATION="YES" the make world paper#1 aimed to track new forms of subjectivity carried out by current modifications of the world; which until recently were characterized as "infotization", "digitization" and "globalization". The more these buzzwords loose their glamour, the more important it is to discuss the role borders play, and question what restricted and unrestricted locality, mobility and freedom of movement may mean.

make world paper #1: http://www.makeworlds.org/node/118

kein mensch ist illegal. Handbuch zu einer Kampagne

Alle wissen, selbst wenn sie sonst nichts wissen: Menschen ohne legale Aufenthaltspapiere sind von den sozialen und politischen Rechten ausgeschlossen. Vor allem aber wird „Illegalen“ das Recht abgesprochen, überhaupt Rechte zu haben.

Die Kampagne „kein mensch ist illegal“ wurde im Juni 1997 auf der documentaX gestartet: Ziel war ein Netzwerk, das Gruppen miteinander in Bezug setzen sollte, die illegalisierte Flüchtlinge und MigrantInnen unterstützen. Egal, ob diese Gruppen nun offen oder eher im Verborgenen arbeiten, aus christlicher oder anarchistischer Motivation heraus handeln, bereits über jahrelange Erfahrungen verfügen oder gerade anfangen wollen. Es ging darum, zu propagieren, und auch tatsächlich anzubieten, was die Gesellschaft immer mehr Menschen prinzipiell verweigert: Juristische Beratung, medizinische Versorgung, Arbeit, Wohnung, Grenzübertritte und viele andere Formen von Unterstützung.

Kllar war, daß die Kampagne keine soziale Bewegung, keine Organisation und erst recht nicht die Selbstorganisation von Flüchtlingen und MigrantInnen ersetzen konnte und je wollte. Beabsichtigt war aber auch nicht, in Mitleid oder Wohltätigkeit zu verharren, sondern vielmehr als Schnittstelle zu verschiedenen Fragmenten des sich auflösenden öffentlichen Raumes zu fungieren. Wir haben uns nie als repräsentative Einheit verstanden, stattdessen aber versucht, zu vernetzen und zu verknüpfen: Eine Flüchtlingsgruppe zum Beispiel und einen alternativen Internet-Provider, MedizinerInnen und Behandlung suchende Illegalisierte, Pop-Bands und Antifa-Gruppen, Medienaktivisten und Berufskünstler, Linksradikale und Pfarrer, und nicht zuletzt: Flüchtlinge aus verschiedenen Herkunftsländern, Menschen mit und Menschen ohne Papiere.

„Jeder Mensch hat das Recht selbst zu entscheiden, wo er leben will und wie.“ Böse Zungen haben behauptet, bei diesem Satz handele es sich lediglich um die geschickte Verpackung der linksradikalen Parolen vom „Freien Fluten“ oder „Offenen Grenzen“. Wir glauben, daß sich darin eine sehr interessante Verschiebung des Akzentes verbirgt. Statt auf die Konjunktur der Hetzparolen oder auf den immer weiter ausgebauten Repressionsapparat versucht „kein mensch ist illegal“ sich auf die Subjektivität und die Kämpfe der Menschen zu beziehen, die sich nicht von Staatswegen vorschreiben lassen wollen oder können, wo sie ihren Aufenthaltsort nehmen.

Was in diesem Zusammenhang zu bedenken ist, welche Erfahrungen wir in der Zwischenzeit gemacht haben, was unsere Motive und unsere Perspektiven sind - davon handelt dieses Buch. Neben dem Rundbrief, den Mailinglisten, den Webseiten, den Videokassetten, den Radioprogrammen und den Kampagnenzeitungen, die wir in unregelmäßigen Abständen anderen Publikationen beilegen, haben wir mit diesem Buch versucht, den vielen Fragen und unterschiedlichen Bedürfnissen nach umfassenderer Information entgegenzukommen. Was vorliegt, ist ein „ready-made“ und sicherlich weniger geeignet, die Themenstellungen erschöpfend zu behandeln, als vielmehr anzureißen und aus verschiedenen Perspektiven zu beleuchten. Wir haben versucht, einen aktuellen Zwischenstand der Auseinandersetzungen und Diskussionen innerhalb der Kampagne und an ihren Rändern zu dokumentieren. Wir hoffen in diesem Sinne, daß das Buch so schnell wie möglich überholt ist, daß Debatten angestoßen, weitergeführt und neu entwickelt werden, deren Verlauf am besten auf den Webseiten der Kampagne weiterverfolgt werden kann. Wer aber wirklich eingreifen will in die konkreten, praktischen und theoretischen Auseinandersetzungen, hat die Gelegenheit, neben den Netzwerken vor Ort (Adressenliste im Anhang) die Gegenaktivitäten zu den Gipfeln in Köln im Juni oder das Camp vom 7. bis 15. August 1999 unmittelbar am deutsch-polnisch-tschechischen Dreiländereck bei Zittau aufzusuchen.

Workshop at the Youth Organizing Institute, a summer school that takes place each summer for 10 days with about 50 students from the extended balkan region. YOI 2007 took place in Kragujevac, Serbia.

Youth Organizing Institute 2007

“Youth Organizing Institute” (YOI), is an intensive 10 day program focusing on community organizing and conflict resolution techniques. YOI 2006 took place in Palic, Serbia.

Youth Organizing Institute 2006

The ten-days intensive attracts 50 students from across South Eastern Europe. The curriculum has a focus on community organizing and conflict resolution techniques. The formal Institute will be hosted and co-organized by kuda.org in Novi Sad, SCG on July 12—22, 2005.

Youth Organizing Institute 2005

Workshop in the framework of the Youth Organizing Institute, Vukovar: The Community Organizing Curriculum teaches participants:
- Community organizing models primarily based on the Assets Based Community Development concept adapted to meet the cultural and political realties of South Eastern Europe.
- How to manage community projects, which will further advance their work within an existing NGO or civil society-organization.

Youth Organising Institute 2004

Lecture at Goldsmiths College,University of London, Visual Cultures Department

What is to be done?

Lecture at the University Münster, Institut für Allgemeine Erziehungswissenschaft

Was tun?

Open borders, open sources

Workshop at Bezalel Art Academy Jerusalem, in collaboration with Goldsmiths College:

New photographic and media technologies create possibilities for generating alternative documentary practices, which in turn allow to re-imagine and re-image the future. While archives and their associated documentary practices are traditionally oriented towards the past, the innovation of this project lies in its attempt to produce new imaging strategies capable of anticipating future events.
An event of violence is a regular occurrence that involves repetitive patterns of behavior played out in similar kinds of spaces by a familiar cast of characters. The Forensic Futures project sets out to document the conditions that enable violence. It re-imagines and re-images existing spaces and activities in anticipation of the occurrence of future events. While the specific histories in which these images might eventually participate can never be known in advance, the very existence of political violence in conjunction with a media regime and related set of documentary practices, brings the future into the present as a potential reality.

A Documentary Project between the Centre for Research Architecture (Forensic Architecture project, UK), Bezalel Academy of art and Design, Department of Photography, the Department Architecture, and Yesh Din, Volunteers for Human Rights.

Forensic Future

Presentation to artists in residency at Iaspis, Stockholm:

What is a documentary in the age of digital media and networked distribution? What would distinguish it from traditional strategies of storytelling and representation? What could constitute a kind of networked vision that discovers relations and their interplay even if they are in a state of continuous transformation and subject to permanent change?

Documentary practices across disciplines

Workshop around Rivette's movie "Out 1" for MFA in choreography students of the University of Dance and Circus DOCH, Stockholm

Strategies of Exodus: Out 1 by Jacques Rivette

The conflict in the Middle East in German documentary films of the 1980ies

Missing Image

Theory workshop for students at the National Academy of Mime and Acting, Stockholm

Portraiture or the production of faciality

Lecture at the conference "Essentially experimental" at Valand School of Fine Arts, Gothenburg:

"SUMMIT non-aligned initiatives in education culture" was a four day gathering in May 2007. 450 registered delegates were meeting in 82 workshops, sessions, debates and presentations. The open format brought together a wide range of delegates from social, political and cultural organizations: from labor unions to art institutions, from migrant self organizations to free academies, from the loose associations of open source programmers to critically engaged scholars, theorists, artists, curators, architects, filmmakers...

Two weeks before the leaders of the eight richest countries in the world were gathering for their annual "G-8" meeting at the german sea ressort Heiligendamm a wide range of projects, initiatives and protagonists from the fields of art, culture and political activism have used SUMMIT as an open forum for questioning and changing some of the fundamental terms of the debate around education, knowledge production and information society.

SUMMIT was based on observations that beyond the widespread lament about the crisis in education, there are numerous initiatives converging around education. Recognizing that education is equally a platform for cultural actualization and self organization, these initiatives range from free academies and exhibitions as educational modes to ad-hoc initiatives within social, political and cultural organizations. Parallel to these developments, many initiatives are taking place within or at the margins of institutions that work against the grain of their official modes and expand, rather than defy, existing aims.

But what happens as soon as these very diverse initiatives and individuals from both, institutional and non-instituional or not-yet institutional backgrounds meet in one place and spend five days together in consultations, presentations, performances and open debates?

It was the end of a very hot week in Berlin and every afternoon a thunderstorm occured. Just a few days before the protest as usual against the G-8 had finally started, the city was under siege. Huge tensions raised, as police raided the offices of activist groups.

As one of the main organizers of the event, up to now, precisely one year after SUMMIT, i am still overwhelmed by the brute forces as well as the enormous energies that were set free by lightning and thunder inside and outside of the building. The (self-)ironical move to stage the event in the format of a summit in Berlins most celebrated theatre house seemed to add fuel to the fire rather than cooling down the situation.

I must confess that i have never attended let alone organized an event in which i learned more about the real existing fears, ambitions, anger, desires, that are present when it comes to the question of education. And never before i saw in such a clarity all the big problems, tender concepts and thin lines of flight that are emerging out of what is currently coined as "crisis of education".

If i were asked to draw lessons out of that experience i would present two problems: first the problem of the institution, then the problem of de-institutionalization or "ek-stitution"; and last but not least i would problematize the key concept of non-alignment that was underlying the entire endeavor.

***

The modern educational system is characterized by the emergence of public institutions that were supposed to regulate the movements both of the individual and collective social body in order to produce well-disciplined, coherent subjects. It is a system of spatial control, like any other disciplnary regime.

It was based on a concept of knowledge that for the first time in history “wants to be more than a mere means” (Nietzsche). The bodies of knowledge are called "the disciplines" and from Foucault we have learned, that "there is an inescapably circular relationship between the ways in which power creates and recreates knowledge and the ways in which knowledge creates and recreates power."

The disciplinary institutions organize learning as a process of subjectivation that re-affirms the existing order and distribution of power in an endless loop. But such redundancy became pointless at a certain moment: In the 1980ies in western europe a mass exodus took place, a generation was refusing the higher educational system such as universities, academies etc.

We realized that there was nothing left to learn, and what we wanted to learn was precisely about the disciplinating character of those institutions, the confinement of knowledge and subjectivities, the exclusion of differing and deviant forms of knowledge poduction.

Learning all the sudden could take place anywhere or at any place wherever: In the streets, in bars, in self-organized seminars, fanzines, science shops or "Wissenschaftsläden". At the same time the subject-matters of learning became increasingly popular by adressing everyday practices of resistance such as cultural studies which had to be ignored by the traditional system. There was a plethora of unexpected places where one could learn whatever until the mass-exodus out of the educational institutions found a new destiny: the network.

The crisis of the educational system, with all its subsequent phenomena like privatization and managerialism, has been a result of the refusal to subjugate oneself under the command of Fordism, the fading paradigm of industrial capitalism. There is no point in lamenting about it.

***

What is usually described as crisis in education relates to the privatization and partly dissolution of the institutional matrix in the modern educational system.

Technology, deregularization and privatization triggered a process of de-institutionalisation: "Lifelong learning" basically means that from now on you are yourself responsible to get yourself an education.

Today, learning is becoming a private affair and the primary goal of such self-education is to perform a permanent availability of the self in real-time rather than just showing discipline in a system of spatial control. "We’re moving toward control societies that no longer operate by confining people but through continuous control and instant communication”

And: "In disciplinary societies you were always starting all over again (as you went from school to barracks, from barracks to factory), while in control societies you never finish anything... school is replaced by continuing education and exams by continuous assessment. It’s the surest way of turning education into a business."

The process Deleuze de- or better circumscribed in a few lines written in the mid 80ies seems to have completed by now. Today we find ourselves in a situation in which we have to deal with the consequences of that process.

The result is a tremendous irritation, an essential confusion about the concept of the "self". There is a problem with the self, the idea of the self is radically in question. The postulate of lifelong learning, in a society of control challenges traditional views of radical, emancipatory pedagogy in both, institutional and non-institutional contexts. What was formerly known as progressive may all the sudden turn out as repressive or the other way around. "Repressive forces don’t stop people expressing themselves but rather force them to express themselves..." (Deleuze)

There is a necessity of continuously performing "selves": the current boom of the educational businesses is based on emerging concepts of "getting yourself an education", as the former art student and now hip-hop star M.I.A. rhymes. Self-education, self-organization are merely pointing to a fundamental confusion about configurations of the "self" or of the person who owns or is subject to property. "Self and ownership have a whole new arithmetic".

What in fact characterizes the society of control is that the effort, the costs and the ressources in order to perform an efficient system of control, is outsourced to the individual. Obviously, this goes very well along with the praise of chivalries such as horizontalism, flat hierarchies, ethics of inclusion, charity and sharing. Teamwork and a flattered notion of "colaboration" have turned out as the key components of a renewed educational managerialism.

Do we, therefore, have to defend the institutions? Again, there is no point in lamenting about their partly dissolution. On the contrary: The necessary revaluation of pedagogical concepts and their faultlines also opens up potentials for new forms of unexpected collaborations between non-aligned initiatives in education, no matter whether they work inside or outside of institutions.

Therefore it is important to revaluate the concepts of both institutions and ekstitutions as i would suggest to name the networked environments, de-institutionalized and de-regulated spaces, such as free universities, night schools or proto-academies.

In-stitutions insist: they basically insist on the inequality between those who know and those who do not know. But they also insist that the unequal who has become equal will himself then drive the system that produces and reproduces inequality by reproducing the process of its reduction.

In-stitutions are based on the concept of limiting the transmission of knowledge, to manage the delay, to postpone equality. Ekstitutions or networked environments do the opposite: they promise to provide instant access to it.

Ek-stitutions exist: they exist based on temporality instead of infinite progress. But they are also based on a tempered ignorance towards inequality. It truly is less of a problem today to instantly get to know what i know that i need to know.

Consequentially the urgent question in ek-stitutions or networked environments seems to be the question of organizing. And the urgent question in institutional contexts that of unorganizing.

***

What seems increasingly interesting at the very moment is the fact that these two processes, in-stitutionalization and ek-stitutionalization, do not take place independently from each others but rather create dependencies: organizing and unorganizing, learning and unlearning are infiniteley intertwined and unseparately intermingled.

The experimental use of the metaphor of "unaligning" or "unaligned initiatives" during SUMMIT claimed a line of flight out of blockages that have appeared recently. It implies two fundamental challenges: First of all, to understand learning as struggling with inequality that cannot and will not be resolved but is preceded by an equality of intelligences. But also vice versa: to understand struggling as learning to deal with inequalities and differences.

The second challenge relates to the aporetic difficulty of teaching what we do not know as an emancipatory practice and emancipating what we know as a paedagogical practice.

These challenges urge us to rethink, re-inventand redo the relationships between institutions and ekstitutions. The might lead us to an "undoing" of subjectivities: becoming-other, at least something else than a teacher or a student...

For a concept of nonaligned learning it is essential to unlink the categories of knowledge and learning. "Learning is the apropriate name for the subjective acts carried out when one is confronted with the objecticity of a problem (Idea), whereas knowledge designates only the generality of concepts or the calm possession of a rule enabling solutions." Deleuze continues by saying, that learning always takes place in and through the unconscious. Sometimes one does not yet possess the kowledge or truth of a solution, one opens up to truth, producing the true but only to the extent to which one begins "to penetrate the coloured thickness of a problem".

In this respect knowledge circulates within the de-institutionalized and deregulated networks, whereas learning takes place rather independently from that. Learning is the true transcendental structure which unites difference to difference, dissimilarity to dissimilarity, without mediating between them - not in the form of a mythical past or former present, but in the pure form of an empty time in general.

****

In practical terms and in respect of the title of this symposium "Radically experimental?!" i would like to suggest three fields in which we need to do experiments:

1. Research and creative practices

There are numerous examples for pathbreaking experiments in combining new notions of research with the development of creative practices. Is it possible, on this basis, to formulate an approach that escapes the traditional dualism of theory and practice and suggests a progressive mode of producing knowledge: a mode that is informed by and invested in activist tactics of appropriation, disruption and refusal as well as artistic strategies of revaluation, creation, invention and productive anticipation?

I understand activism as an anticipatory project by considering things before they exist properly in time and by taking up developments that are not yet in place. It allows us to experiment with the possible and, at the same time, produce narrations that resonate in the present. It is anticipation in the most creative or productive sense and it needs to be discerned from reproductive anticipation as pure pre-emptiveness that works on the basis of a predictable and projected reproduction of the same.

From migration to new media, in the last instance the discourse of globalization is driven by imaginative powers which are capable of producing social fiction that shapes the present: the power to anticipate circumstances as if they were already given and hence they obtain their force to actualize what exists as a virtuality.

The ability of illegal bordercrossers to anticipate a world without borders constitutes their real threat to the current border regimes - because it questions the widely propagated idea of migration management – the paradigm of directing, filtering and selecting migratory fluxes in principal and not just on the basis of an individual case or by sheer numbers. Or, the capacity of peer-to-peer or filesharing networks to anticipate free and equal access to the sources of wealth in a knowledge economy which is the real basis of the superiority of peer-to-peer networking over traditional distribution systems.

What concerns me here is the drive to appropriate the right to make changes, the right to transform the protocols by which subjects take part in the culture of politics both locally and globally.

2. Collaboration versus participation

Facing the challenges of digital technologies, global communications, and networking environments, as well as the inherant ignorance of traditional systems towards these, new forms of "working together" have emerged as an unsystematic mode of collective learning processes. Such "collaborations" reach out way beyond what has been coined as "participatory turn": rather than pre-emptive strategies of inclusion it produces structures where knowledge grows exuberantly and proliferates in uncontrollable and unforeseeable ways.

Rather than through the exertion of the alleged generosity of a group made up of individuals in the pursuit of solidarity, collaboration works as a brusque and even ungenerous practice, where individuals rely on one another the more they chase their own interests, their mutual dependence arising through the pursuit of their own agendas. This entails an initial level of differentiation between cooperation and collaboration: in contrast to cooperation, collaboration is driven by complex realities rather than romantic notions of common grounds or commonality. It is an ambivalent process constituted by a set of paradoxical relationships between co-producers who affect one another.

Translating the concept of collaboration back to the context of education also points to a reverse-engineering of the teacher's role. Etymologically, in Greek and Latin "pedagogue" or "educator" means "drawing out" or "pulling out" and refers to an ancient Greek practice: a family slave called "pedagogue" used to walk the child from the private house to a place of learning. Rather than the teacher, who was supposed to have and transmit knowledge, the pedagogue was the person who accompanied the student to the place where the teacher imparted it.

This rather spatial notion of bringing somebody across a specific border evokes striking associations with human trafficking. The escape agent or "coyote" - as it is named at the US-Mexican border - supports undocumented border crossers who want to make it from one nation state to another without the demanded paperwork. Permanently on the move, only temporarily employed, nameless, anonymous and constantly changing faces and sides, the coyote is, in an ironic way, the perfect role-model for both education and collaboration. As a metaphor it serves the purpose of destabalising the idea of 'knowledge in movement' away from its always assumed progressive direction. Instead it allows for a certain degree of illegitimacy inherent in all forms of collaboration and distinguishes it from the always perfectly sanctioned and legitimate nature of cooperation. By extracting a principle of mobility and perceiving the lack of legitimacy as enabling as opposed to criminally inhuman and disabling, the 'coyote' who may or may not be motivated by self gain without ideological committment, produces a possibility whose parameters cannot be gaged.

The "coyote's" motivations remain unclear or, shall we say, do not matter at all. The "coyote" is the postmodern service provider par excellence. The fact that there is no trust whatsoever between those engaging in the transcation, does not actually play any part in the unfolding of its play. Here , we might say, conceptual insecurity overrides the financial aspects of the collaboration and triggers a redundancy of affects and perceptions, feelings and reactions. Those who do not need the coyote's support hunt and demonize it; those who rely on the coyote's secret knowledge and skills appreciate it all the more. The extreme polarities of these responses instantiate the range of the collaborative field and the impossibility of navigating it through moralising vectors.

Ultimately, collaboration with a coyote generates pure potential: ranging from the dream of a better life to the reality of pure living labour power ready to be over-exploited in the informal labour market. In this exchange nothing can be claimed for material existence, let alone possession, but neverthelss something very precious and entirely precarious comes into being: pure imagination, yet potentially powerful beyond measure.

3. Organizing and re-education of the self

Organizing means learning, and learning means organizing. Today it seems increasingly urgent to link the processes of informatization and informalization in knowledge-based economies on one hand, and on the other the constitution of new subjectivities as immaterial or affective labor force.

Organizing has a long tradition in the fight for social rights - and its power lies in the obvious: many can achieve what a single person cannot and the most well-known symbol for that power is the strike or civil disobedience. The power of organizing is based on the application of tactics and strategies that turn individual weakness into collective strength. If many are subject to the same conditions their forces can add up to more than the some of its parts.

But what can be done when those many share hardly any common ground to organize on? What to do when living and working conditions are not shared by a mass of people but start to be very differenciated, scattered and insecure, temporary and permanently changing?

Contemporary labour struggles suggest that even in deregulated environments organizing is an essential means of recognizing and multiplying the forces of those singled out and individuated. Rather than unity it creates multiplicity focusing on specific issues and spaces rather than identities, attacking well directed the weakest part of the chain and moving on while linking up and synergizing movements. We need to build on these experiences, create and promote concepts of organizing that take on deregulation and precarisation while actualizing different instances of social and labour movements, as separate lines in constant interplay with one another.

***

"Everything that teaches us something emits signs; every act of learning is an interpretation of signs or hieroglyphs. Proust's work is based not on the exposition of memory, but on the apprenticeship to signs." (Deleuze)

That is why it is so difficult to say how someone learns: there is an innate or acquired practical familiarity with signs, which means that there is something amorous - but also something fatal - about all education. We  learn nothing from those who say: ‘Do as I do’. Our only teachers are those who tell us to ‘do with me’, and are able to emit signs to be developed in heterogeneity rather than propose gestures for us to reproduce.

In his famous film "Sans soleil" Chris Marker says: "I would have spent my life wondering about the function of memory, which is not the opposite of oblivion, but rather its other side. We remember nothing; we rewrite memory in the same way that we rewrite history"

Is it then possible that learning is not the opposite of ignorance but rather its other site: we learn nothing. We rewrite imagination in the same way that we rewrite future?

Florian Schneider, May 2008

Non-aligned Learning

Lecture and workshop moderation at the conference "Quaero" on search engines and european identity:
http://archived.janvaneyck.nl/0_2_3_events_info/arc_07_quaero_thinktank....

Exodus: searching the new

Lecture and workshop for students at the Ecole de Multimédia et d'Art (EMAF), Fribourg

Open borders, open sources

Lecture for students tab the University of Art and Design (ESBA), Geneva

Freedom of movement

Lecture for Fine Art students at Ecole nationale supérieure des beaux-arts, Paris

The camp as a counter-laboratory

Lecture on open source video for the joint program of film students and graphic design students Stifo@Sandberg Institute, Amsterdam

Ethics and aesthetics of open source video

3-day workshop for students of curatorial studies at Ecole nationale supérieure des beaux-arts, Grenoble

Make world

1-day workshop for media design students at Ravensbourne College, London

Open borders, open sources

1-day workshop for film students at the HFG Offenbach

Open borders, open sources

What is to be done?

What is to be done?

What is to be done?

Outdoors Recruitment Program: Everyone is an expert

The Expert Mobile, a bus annex mobile media unit will be present at Paradiso in Amsterdam for Next 5 Minutes. It is part of the on-going “Everyone is an Expert” campaign, addressing the relationship between work, migration, border violence and the global economy.

What is to be done?

Cross the border

Monday, 9th March 1998:
8 pm Diedrich Diederichsen: "Alien-Smuggling" - Considerations about Science Fiction, Diaspora, Multiculturalism.
Diedrich Diederichsen was a longtime staff contributor to german music-magazines Sounds and Spex. Today he is teaching at Merz Academy, Stuttgart and in Los Angeles. Last autumn he put together the congress "Loving the Alien" at the Volksbuehne theater in Berlin.
11 pm Music, played by Thomas Meinecke
Thomas Meinecke is playing with the Munich band FSK. He works as a music journalist for Radio Zuendfunk. Also he is a poet (his last book ,"The Church of J.F. Kennedy" was published in 1997). In connection to Mr. Diederichsen's lecture, he will search his record collection for fitting material.
Tuesday, 10th March 1998
7.30 pm Regional plenary meeting of the "no one is illegal" campaign.
This campaign got its start in the summer of 1997 at Documenta X in Kassel. Since then the appeal "No one is illegal" was signed by more than 200 groups, organizations, and several thousand individuals. In all of the bigger towns of Germany, local coordination bureaus exist. They organize practical help for illegal refugees and initiate local activities: the occupation of several churches at the moment in Cologne is an example of their work, others are local coalitions against the planned extinction of social security for tolerated migrants.
Wednesday, 11th March 1998
8.00 pm Yann Moulier Boutang: "About the autonomy of migration"- lecture and discussion with the parisian migration researcher.
Moulier Boutang is editor in chief of "Future antérieur" magazine and works for the estate of Louis Althusser. Since the eighties, he has been researching about questions of migration, parttime with Toni Negri. His main field of study is the political economy of "illegal" migration.
11 pm Electronic madness (including Brainput)
Brainput is a Munich DJ collective, that plays at the wheels of steel of Radio 94,5 fm in Munich. Niel Mitra, Olaf Wirenstrand, Christian Pielmeyer and Volker Rommel spin free form electronic records. Linda Muck and Lenz Schuster show off their connections.
Thursday, 12th March 1998
8 pm Geert Lovink: "Tactical Media Manifesto" - a salon talk with the media theoretician, from Amsterdam, hosted by Mogniss H. Abdellah, filmmaker from Paris.
Geert Lovink is well known as an instrumental part of Amsterdam's ,Agentur Bilwet". Their recent book "Electronic Lonesomeness" just saw its translation into german. Mogniss H. Abdellah is a founding member of the IMedia Agency of Paris. This agency serves as a merger of filmmakers, photographers and journalists, who are working in the field of migration.
11 pm "Lion's Den Soundsystem" presents Dub and Wildstyle
Viehbank goes inna dancehall stylee. Noe Noack (author and sportsreporter) and his fellow sounddoctor Albert Poeschl will present their booming reggae soundsystem.
Friday, 13th March 1998
7 pm Presentation of "caravan for the rights of refugees and migrants" (upcoming summer 1998) by the human rights association of Bremen.
A wide coalition of refugees and migrants from many different countries will be calling for a caravan through numerous german cities right before the time of the german government elections in September of 1998. One of the initiators will present their project and report the state of the preparations.
9 pm Panel: Mogniss H. Abdellah and other guests from Paris discuss connections of social struggles of the unemployed and with those of illegal migrants.
At the moment, several new social movements seem to turn up in France at the same time. Our guests from Paris together with viewers from the "La maison des Ensembles" videoconference will be dealing with questions how the Novemberstrike of 1995, the struggles of the Sans-Papiers, the recent unemployed strike wave and their complications are brought together and need to be connected to each other.
11 pm ,Ancient to the Future". DJs Thomas Baernthaler and Julian Weber
The musicjournalist Thomas Baernthaler (Loop mag) and the musician and journalist Julian Weber (plays in the Munich band Schwermut Forest) will play great interplanetary dancemusic. There is a room in the House for everyone.
Saturday, 14th March 1998
2 pm ,How to come through"- a 45 minute Videomontage consisting of tv footage.
This documentary features unsubtitled news-broadcastings from several tv stations. The background is numerous sabotage attacks on the ISDN-telephonelines of Frankfurt International Airport. Unknown perpetrators protested thus against deportations of migrants and the so called "Airportlaws". In 1996, all of the guests of the documentary premiere in Frankfurt were arrested, which led to a policescandal without consequences and also without comparisons in the recent history of german policescandals. Though the german supreme court attested no objection against the documentary.
7 pm Panel with a member of the "autonomous lupus-group" about the history of radical antiracism in the old and new Federal Republic of Germany.
The "autonomous lupus-group" has been dealing with the field of racism since the mid-eighties in magazine articles and book essays. Titles like "History, racism and the boat" are established classics of the german left-wing political literature canon.
11 pm "Stowaways", party and slideshow by Marily Stroux, Deejaying by "Sistars" and "Sugar Chicken" from Hamburg.
The photographer Marily Stroux and nine DJs from Hamburg throw a party whose motto is "stowaways".
Sunday, 15th March 1998
1 pm "find&change/copy&paste/link&unlink"- Evaluation, Balance, Outlook, Save- and Cleaningwork.

Deportation class

On borders and migration

Kein...

What is to be done?

No one is illegal

Deportation class

No border

Cross the Border

Cross the Border

metabolics//stoffwechsel

METABOLICS//STOFFWECHSEL präsentierte einmal im Monat Projekte und Debatten der Netzkultur im Café Muffathalle in München. Die knapp einjährige Veranstaltungsreihe widmete sich kulturellen, sozialen und politischen Dimensionen der so genannten Informationsgesellschaft. METABOLICS//STOFFWECHSEL wurde kuratiert von Florian Schneider, Harald Staun und Dietmar Lupfer. METABOLICS//STOFFWECHSEL wurde live als Video im Internet übertragen und in einer Datenbank archiviert.

Gäste u.a.: Heath Bunting, Olia Lialina, Manse Jacobi, Ivan Grubanov, Marko Peljhan, 0100101110101101.ORG, Geert Lovink, Claus Pias, JODI, Sebastian Luetgert, Rafael Horzon und Ran Huber, Wolfgang Staehle, Auriea Harvey and Michael Samyn

Kein Mensch ist illegal

Make world

The first make world festival will take place, in Munich, from October 18th to the 21st. Against the backdrop of one of the fastest growing High Tech and New Media clusters in the world, scientists, theorists, artists and activists are invited to participate in presentations, constructive conversations, reflection and debates.

It's the first of it's kind. A project dealing with subjects such as migration, immaterial labor, tactical media and art in networking environments. It's an opportunity to link different approaches while keeping and challenging their diversity, contextuality and self reference.

Under the title BORDER="Ø" LOCATION="YES" the event aims to track new forms of subjectivity carried out by current modifications of the world that, until recently, were characterized as "infotization", "digitization" and "globalization". The more these buzzwords lose their glamour, the more important it becomes to discuss the role borders play, and question what restricted and unrestricted locality, mobility and freedom of movement may mean.

Global processes are running out of time and space. Facing the end of the end, everything - what might happen or has to be done - starts from scratch. And this new beginning embraces much more than ever before. It's time to scroll: to look ahead and behind, to step to the side, to think ahead.

Make world means sharing experiences, mirroring skills, and exchanging knowledge. Leaving commonplace and trivial definitions behind, expertism turns into ubiquitous networking, liberating infinite potentials and virtualities. It draws a new horizon, where everyone is an expert.

Dark markets

Dark Markets is a two day strategic conference that will look into the state of the art of media politics, information technologies, and theories of democracy. A variety of international speakers will inquire into strategies of oppositional movements and discuss the role of new media.

Neuro - networking europe

From February 26th to 29th young artists, filmmakers, musicians, theorists and activists from all over Europe and many other parts of the world will meet at the Muffathalle in Munich for a number of events, speeches, discussions, presentations, performances, concerts and actions reflecting the pulse of the age.

NEURO is not only a conference, nor is it just a fair or a conventional festival. Rather it is a place for collaboration and common production. It's about a critical, connected practice and a practical critique of networking. It will host debates, presentations and reports on the results of ongoing projects and provide an opportunity to discuss new ideas, plan and start common projects.

First of all, NEURO stands for "Networking Europe". Only few weeks before the official eastern enlargement of the European Union, it ill promote the networking of new media initiatives and projects from within Europe; in and outside of the new borders. The central question will concern, at what point young people in Europe join together with one another, where the traces of this association runs and how they can be bundled into creative alliances.

Though not an end in itself, networking is now raising more than ever questions that cannot be answered at straightaway: What does networking actually mean nowadays? What does networking have to do with freedom of movement? How do social movements network? How can technologies be used in ways that create social change on a broader level than the self? How do we conceptualise the common that is created in and through networks whilst not being reducible to them.

Ten years after the start of the internet boom, the crisis of the idea of networks is long overdue. Alongside the collapse of the new markets, the bombastic constructions about media art, media theory and media activism have fallen like a house of cards. Nevertheless, in the ensuing impasse, a new generation of media and networking initiatives have formed and taken onboard the discussion and reflection on everyday life, and new tasks, methods, functions, challenges and perspectives.

About two years after the first make-world festival, NEURO will again interface with current debates around migration and mobility, racism and nationalism, civil society and global mobilisation, networking and new technologies, informatisation and precarious labour, education and control society, common organising, and digital culture.

None of the initiatives present at neuro will offer a one-size-fits-all solution to global wrongs. However when taken together it is imagined that they will exhibit the power of generating communicable ideas out of small, laboratory contexts that are embedded within different environments and in dialogue with one another.

NEURO will be a major opportunity for forming creative alliances - within a coherent discursive field - between all those that share the aspiration to raise theory and activity to a level adequate to the practice of digital generations.

Fadaiat / Borderline academy

FADAIAT*// BORDERLINE ACADEMY took place in Tarifa from June 17th to 26th, 2005. The old castle of "Guzman El Bueno" built in the 9th century hosteed a series of workshops, seminars, public events, concerts, parties, screenings, shows, theoretical and practical experiments in arts, media and politics. Borderline academy also hosted the 6th and last D-A-S-H workshop.

More than 200 artists and activists from all over Europe and the Mediterranean met for an hybrid academy project: FADAIAT*// BORDERLINE ACADEMY links practices of producing art, culture and technology with current debates on movements, mobility, migration and precarity. It aims to shape new notions of collaboration and activism that reach out beyond traditional patterns of primitive networking, moral binaries and institutional critique.

The ten days event is designed in a strictly modular set-up: Individuals, groups, networks can plug into a common infrastructure that consists of meeting spaces, communication platforms, production facilities and local area networks in an extraordinary challenging and inspiring environment.

SUMMIT -- non aligned initiatives in education culture

SUMMIT
non-aligned initiatives in education culture

May 24 to 28, 2007

http://summit.kein.org

Two weeks before this year’s G-8 meeting, a wide range of projects, initiatives and protagonists from the fields of art, culture and political activism are going to gather in Berlin for “SUMMIT non- aligned initiatives in education culture.” SUMMIT is a forum for questioning and changing some of the fundamental terms of the debate around education, knowledge production and information society.

Beyond the widespread lament about the crisis in education, there are numerous initiatives converging around “education.” Recognizing that education is equally a platform for cultural actualization and self organization, these initiatives range from free academies and exhibitions as educational modes to ad-hoc initiatives within social, political and cultural organizations. Parallel to these developments, many additional initiatives are taking place within or at the margins of institutions that work against the grain of their official modes and expand, rather than defy, existing aims.

SUMMIT seeks to bring together various approaches from different genres and calls on these approaches to unalign themselves from the tendencies of bureaucratization and privatization of knowledge and education. The four-day event focuses on four thematic tracks: “Knowledge and Migrancy”, “Self-authorization, -organization, -valorization”, “Creative Practices” and “Education unrealized and ongoing”.

SUMMIT features an evening program with lectures, curated dialogs and performances, a series of sessions in working groups, caucuses, workshops, drafting groups and history lessons as well as open forums for initiating proposals, highlighting practices and making theory urgent.

DATES:

May 24 to 28, 2007

VENUES:

Hebbel Am Ufer (HAU), Stresemannstr. 29, 10963 Berlin

unitednationsplaza, Platz der Vereinten Nationen 14a, 10249 Berlin

bootlab, Tucholskystrasse 6, 10117 Berlin

REGISTRATION:

http://summit.kein.org

mailto: info@summit.kein.org

Among the registered participants and delegates are: John Akomfrah, Shaina Anand, Valery Alzaga, Jeebesh Bagchi, Bankleer, Persson Baumgartinger, Franco Berardi, Beatrice Bismarck, Ms Ava Caradonna, Katherine Carl, Hae-Lin Choi, Celine Condorelli, Detlef Diederichsen, Diedrich Diederichsen, Mick Duncan, Reem Fadda, Munir Fasheh, Lisa Fithian, Amy Franceschini, Anselm Franke, Vlatka Frketic, Beatrice Gibson, Avery Gordon, Jana Graham, Kathryn Gray, Valeria Graziano, Vanalyne Green, Harry Halpin, Stefano Harney, Young-In Hong, Stefan Heidenreich, Paula Hildebrandt, Tom Holert, Rafael Horzon, Jaromil, Paul O’Kane, Anja Kanngieser, Martin Krenn, Stephen Lerner, Dieter Lesage, Lawrence Liang, Susan Pui San Lok, Sebastian Luetgert, Oliver Luker, Nathalie Magnan, Armin Medosch, Phil Misselwitz, Eva Moraga, Ayat Najafi, Estelle Nabeyrat, Hans Nieswandt, Christopher Nsoh, 9eme collectif des Sans Papier, Angela Melitopoulos, Andrew Paterson, John Palmesino, Susie Pratt, Béatrice Rettig, Adrian Rifkin, Jan Ritsema, Stefan Roemer, Zoe Romano, School of Missing Studies, Olivier Schulbaum, Bada Song, Marten Spangberg, Rob Stone, Ashok Sukumaran, Oana Tanase, Tobias Thomas, Anton Vidokle, Jo Walsh, Srdjan Jovanovic Weiss, Eyal Weizmann, Simon Worthington, Adnan Yildiz, Aelim Yun, Manuela Zechner, Philippe Zourgane and many more

SUMMMIT is designed by Irit Rogoff and Florian Schneider in collaboration with Kodwo Eshun, Susanne Lang, Nicolas Siepen and Nora Sternfeld.

Organization: Multitude e.V., in collaboration with Goldsmiths College, London University and Witte de With, Rotterdam. SUMMIT is funded by the German Federal Cultural Foundation.

---

SUMMIT -- non-aligned initiatives in education culture
Berlin 24.-28. Mai 2007
http://summit.kein.org

Hebbel am Ufer, Stresemannstraße 29, 10963 Berlin
unitednationsplaza, Platz der Vereinten Nationen 14a, 10249 Berlin
Bootlab, Tucholskystr. 6, 10117 Berlin

Ansprechpartner für Presseanfragen:
Florian Schneider fls@kein.org
Mobiltelefon: 0172-9189751

EIN GIPFEL ZUM LERNEN

Internationaler SUMMIT im Berliner Hebbeltheater an Pfingsten

Knapp zwei Wochen vor dem G-8 in Heiligendamm versammeln sich Projekte
und Initiativen aus Kunst, Kultur und politischem Aktivismus an
Pfingsten in Berlin zu einem außergewöhnlichen Gipfeltreffen: SUMMIT
ist der Vorschlag, in die aktuelle Debatte um Bildung,
Wissensproduktion und Informationsgesellschaft zu intervenieren und
einige grundlegende Annahmen in Frage zu stellen und neu zu
formulieren.

Welche Rolle spielt Wissen in der Auseinandersetzung mit prekären
Arbeits- und Lebensverhältnissen? Wie hängen Bildung und Organisierung
zusammen? Was sind die Perspektiven von Selbstorganisation? Warum ist
die Frage der Vermittlung zum Gegenstand so zahlreicher kreativer und
künstlerischer Praktiken geworden? Kann Bildung umfunktioniert werden
und wozu? Wollen wir wirklich lebenslang lernen und was? Wem gehört
das Wissen, wenn es immer flüchtiger wird?

Jenseits der weit verbreiteten Klage um einen angeblichen
Bildungsnotstand existiert eine Vielzahl von Strategien und Taktiken
der Selbstorganisierung von Bildung und Wissensproduktion: Von freien
Akademien über Ausstellungen als Bildungsprojekte bis hin zu Ad-hoc
Initiativen innerhalb der unterschiedlichsten sozialen, politischen
und kulturellen Kontexte. Unabhängig davon haben sich zahlreiche,
immer unkonventionellere Ansätze innerhalb oder an den Rändern
bestehender Institute und Institutionen entwickelt, die die gängigen
Ausbildungsmuster und Routinen gegen den Strich bürsten und
bildungspolitische Zielvorgaben systematisch ausweiten anstatt diese
bloss zu verteidigen.

SUMMIT bringt aus den verschiedensten Genres unterschiedliche Ansätze
zusammen, die die vorherrschenden Blockbildungen verwerfen und sich
sowohl der Tendenz zur Bürokratisierung wie zur Privatisierung von
Bildung und Wissen zu entziehen versuchen.

Im Vorfeld von SUMMIT haben sich 350 Delegierte aus über 40 Ländern
registriert. Das Spektrum erstreckt sich von Professoren an
Kunstakademien über die Vertreter von Migrantengruppen bis zu
Software-Entwicklern, von Künstlern, Kuratoren und Museumsdirektoren
über die Initiatoren von freien und selbstorganisierten Akademien bis
hin zu Gewerkschaftsaktivisten.

Ziel von SUMMIT ist es, eine Deklaration und einen Aktionsplan zu
verabschieden, der am Montag, den 28.5. um 11:00 der Öffentlichkeit
vorgestellt wird.

SUMMIT besteht aus einem Abendprogramm im Berliner Theater "Hebbel am
Ufer (HAU)" mit Vorträgen, kuratierten Dialogen und Performances, den
eigentlichen Gipfelberatungen in Ausschüssen und Arbeitsgruppen, sowie
offenen Foren. Die viertägige Gipfelberatungen werden auf vier
thematischen Feldern stattfinden: "Knowledge and Migrancy",
"Self-authorization, -organization, -valorization", "Creative
Practices" und "Education unrealized and ongoing".

SUMMIT wird konzipiert von der Londoner Theoretikerin Irit Rogoff,
Professorin am Goldsmiths College, und Florian Schneider, freier
Filmemacher und Medienaktivist, in Zusammenarbeit mit Kodwo Eshun,
Susanne Lang, Nicolas Siepen und Nora Sternfeld.

Das Programm von SUMMIT wird neben vielen anderen gestaltet von:
Filmemacher John Akomfrah (UK), Gewerschaftsaktivistin Valery Alzaga
(US), Medienkünstlerin Shaina Anand (IN), anarchitektur (DE),
Architekt Aristide Antonas (GR), Künstler und Kurator Jeebesh Bagchi
(IN), Filmkritiker Michael Baute (DE), Medientheoretiker und Philosoph
Franco "Bifo" Berardi (IT), Kunstkritikerin und Theoretikerin Beatrice
von Bismarck (DE), Theoretiker Gavin Butt (UK), Architektin Celine
Condorelli (UK), Musiker und Autor Detlef Diederichsen (DE), Autor
Diedrich Diederichsen (DE), Museumsdirektor Charles Esche (UK),
Leiterin palästinensischen Kunstakademie Reem Fadda (PS),
Bildungsexperte Munir Fasheh (PS), Kurator Anselm Franke (DE),
Soziologin und Autorin Avery Gordon (US), Künstlerin Beatrice Gibson
(UK), Sozialforscher Stefano Harney (UK), Autor Stefan Heidenreich
(DE), Architektin Sandi Hilal (IL), Architekt Nikolaus Hirsch (DE),
Gründer Wissenschaftakademie Rafael Horzon (DE), Medienaktivist
Mansour Jacobi (LB), Medienkünstler Jaromil (IT), Gewerkschaftsführer
Stephen Lerner (US), Philosoph Dieter Lesage (BE), Medienrechtsexperte
Lawrence Liang (IN), Künstlerin Susan Pui San Lok (UK), Autor und
Theoretiker Oliver Marchart (AT), Autor und Kurator Armin Medosch
(AT), Videokünstlerin Angela Melitopoulos (DE), Architekt Philipp
Misselwitz (DE), Aktivisten vom 9eme collectif des Sans Papiers (FR),
Autor und DJ Hans Nieswandt (DE), Architekt John Palmesino (CH),
Musikerin Quio (DE), Künstlerin Béatrice Rettig (FR), Medienaktivistin
Joanne Richardson (RO), Kunsttheoretiker Adrian Rifkin (UK),
Theaterregisseur und Choreograf Jan Ritsema (NL), Künstler und
Professor Stefan Roemer (DE), Choreograph Marten Spangberg (SE),
Kunst- und Kulturtheotiker Rob Stone (UK), Architekt und Künstler
Ashok Sukumaran (IN), Musiker und DJ Tobias Thomas (DE), Kunstkritiker
Jan Verwoert (DE), Künstler und Kurator Anton Vidokle,
Germanistik-Professor und Autor Joseph Vogl (DE), Ana Vujanovic (RS),
Autorin und Software-entwicklerin Jo Walsh (UK), Architekt Srdjan
Jovanovic Weiss (US), Architekt Eyal Weizman (IL), Künstler und
Kurator Adnan Yildiz (TR), Sozialforscher Aelim Yun (KR), Künstler
Florian Zeyfang (DE), Filmemacher Zelimir Zilnik (RS), Architekt
Philippe Zourgane (RE) und viele andere mehr

Auszug aus dem Programm: http://summit.kein.org/program

DONNERSTAG 24. Mai

Vom Wunsch zu Wissen
Eröffnung von SUMMIT mit Kodwo Eshun, Susanne Lang, Irit Rogoff,
Florian Schneider, Nicolas Siepen, Nora Sternfeld
20:00 HAU 1 großer Saal

FREITAG 25. Mai

Organisierung der Unorganisierbaren
Caucus mit Valery Alzaga, Franziska Bruder, Lisa Fithian and Leo Penta u.a.
11:00 HAU 1

Urgent Thought: Neue Begriffe von Bildung
Statements von Munir Fasheh, Avery Gordon u.a.
15:00 HAU 1

Was können wir von Architektur lernen?
Caucus mit Eyal Weizman, John Palmesino, Nikolaus Hirsch, Aristide
Antonas, Sandi Hilal, anarchitektur u.a.
17:00 HAU 1

Geschichtsstunde: Black Audio Film Collective
John Akomfrah im Gespräch mit Kodwo Eshun
20:00 HAU 1

Öffentliches Redigieren der Deklaration #1
mit Stephen Lerner, Lawrence Liang u.a.
22:00 HAU 1

Learning by Tracks
DJ Battle mit Detlef Diederichsen und Quio
22:00 WAU

One Step ahead of Ourselves
Party mit Tobias Thomas
23:00 WAU

SAMSTAG 26. Mai

Geschichtsstunde: Re-Education
Vortrag und Filmbeispiele von Nora Sternfeld und Philip Grabher
11:00 HAU 1

Taking time
Workshop mit Adrian Rifkin, Rob Stone und Susan Pui San Lok
13:00 HAU 1

Urgent Thought: Neue Begriffe von Bildung
Statements von Dieter Lesage, Franco Bifo Berardi u.a.
15:00 HAU 1

Ein oder zwei Dinge, die wir von Prekarisierung wissen
Workshop mit Stephen Lerner, Klaus Dörre
16:00 HAU 1

Performing selves
Caucus mit Nicolas Siepen, Jan Ritsema, Rafael Horzon, Amy
Franceschini u.a.
18:00 HAU 1

Geschichtsstunde: Eine kurze Einführung in die wahre Geschichte der
Bewegung der Blockfreien
Vorträge von Zelimir Zilnik und Jeebesh Bagchi
20:00 HAU 1

Öffentliches Redigieren der Deklaration #2
mit Avery Gordon, Franco Bifo Berardi, Jan Ritsema u.a.
22:00 HAU 1

SONNTAG 27. Mai

Collegiality
Workshop with Lawrence Liang and Aristide Antonas
11:00 HAU1

Urgent Thought: Neue Begriffe von Bildung
Statements von Oliver Marchart, Jeebesh Bagchi u.a.
15:00 HAU1

Rethinking the Art Academy
Caucus mit Beatrice von Bismarck, Stefan Roemer, Reem Fadda u.a.
17:00 HAU 1

Performing Education: Hospitality
Debatte mit Charles Esche, Franco Bifo Berardi u.a.
20:00 HAU 1

Öffentliches Redigieren der Deklaration #3
mit Diedrich Diederichsen, Anselm Franke u.a.
22:00 HAU 1

You don't know, Shake it
Party mit Hans Nieswandt
23:00 WAU

MONTAG 28/05

Pressekonferenz:
Verabschiedung von Deklaration und Aktionsplan
11:00 HAU 1

Akkreditierung für Presse und Medienvertreter:
http://summit.kein.org/press

Organisation: Multitude e.V. in Zusammenarbeit mit Goldsmiths College
(London) und Witte de With (Rotterdam) und Hebbel Theater (Berlin).
Gefördert von Kulturstiftung des Bundes.

Border transmissions

ISEA, the International Symposium on Electronic Art initiated in 1988, is the world's premier media arts event for the critical discussion and showcase of creative productions applying new technologies in interactive and digital media. Held biannually in various cities throughout the world, this migratory event is being held in Asia for the second time in its history, after Singapore successfully secured this bid.
This symposium consists of three aspects of peer reviewed conference, internationally juried exhibition and various in-conjunction and partner events. ISEA2008 is proud to announce an Artists In Residence programme supported by the National University of Singapore that will run for the year leading up to the 2008 Symposium.

Of a people who are missing

OF A PEOPLE WHO ARE MISSING is a ciné-club to discuss the aesthetical and political significance of the films by Danièle Huillet and Jean-Marie Straub for contemporary image production. Huillet/Straub are among the most controversial, uncompromised and yet widely unknown filmmakers of both the presence and the history of cinema. Their films span over five decades and cover a wide range of topics, references and materials from arts, literature, theatre, and music. From November 12 to December 21 2009 OF A PEOPLE WHO ARE MISSING will open as a platform for both, the viewing and making of films. The exhibtion space in Extra City, Antwerp, is structured by five studios which will act as showrooms as well as independent production spaces. Each studio is used in a different configuration of archive material, film excerpts, actual footage and the critical discourse around it. Every Thursday to Saturday one studio will host invited guests and contributors for a series of screenings, lectures and debates.

Missing image: Films by Michael Mrakitsch

"For the first time, an international meeting highlights documentary practices across disciplines. BERLIN DOCUMENTARY FORUM demonstrates the increasingly significant role of the documentary in the visual arts, performance, literature and cinema. The new biannual festival at Haus der Kulturen der Welt was conceived by curator Hila Peleg. Its first edition features five days of thematic programmes, devised by curators Catherine David and Okwui Enwezor, video artist Angela Melitopoulos, filmmakers Florian Schneider and Eyal Sivan, and film programmer Eduardo Thomas."

Florian Schneider conducts long-term research on political documentary films for German television produced from the 1960s to the early 1980s. This period marks the peak of a sub-genre of exceptional standing in the history of television that is nearly forgotten today. The project begins with a presentation of films by one of the most idiosyncratic and exacting protagonists from this period, Michael Mrakitsch, about whom Die Zeit once wrote: ‘Mrakitsch – this is the triumph of documentary over fiction.’

On continuity

Continuity in the cinematic sense involves fabricating the illusion of consistent time and space. When cinema deals with the history of colonialism and fascism it is confronting continuity of a different kind: historical continuity that is hijacked to reveal the presence of the past in the here-and-now.

Screening and conversation – Florian Schneider with Thomas Heise

Der lachende Mann – Bekenntnisse eines Mörders
Walter Heynowski/Gerhard Scheumann, GDR 1966, 35 mm, 66 min
“The laughing man – Confessions of a murderer” is a documentary about the German mercenary Siegfried Müller, known as “Congo Müller”. In 1964 Müller was involved in the suppression of the Simba rebellion in the Republic of the Congo (now DR Congo). The GDR film crew place Müller against a black background, letting him get increasingly drunk on Pernod as they intersperse their questions with covertly obtained photographs and tape recordings.

Notre Nazi
Robert Kramer, France/FRG 1984, 116 min
“Notre Nazi” is a making-of documentary filmed between takes of another film, Thomas Harlan’s “Wundkanal”. Harlan managed to cast Alfred Filbert in “Wundkanal” as an 80-year-old Nazi officer kidnapped and interrogated by a filmmaker. The former city commander of Vilna, “actor” Filbert was in fact a Nazi directly responsible for thousands of deaths.

Tod und Teufel
Peter Nestler, Germany 2009, Beta Sp, 56 min
“Death and Devil” examines the legacy of the director’s grandfather, Count Eric von Rosen, a Swedish aristocrat, ethnologist, explorer, hunter and adventurer whose racism and Nazi sympathies (he was brother-in-law to Hermann Göring) were counterbalanced by a personal fascination for Africa, evidenced by his travels to the former Belgian Congo in the aftermath of colonial genocide.

Imaginary property

Florian Schneider

The difficulties in fully grasping today’s property relations—conceived as increasingly immaterial—through traditional conceptions of selfhood and objecthood is generally acknowledged. It has almost become a truism that the proliferation of “new technologies” has come along with substantial reinterpretations of the meaning and the effects of ownership and control.

In discourse critical of capitalism, the term “privatization” is used to characterize the “complex array of interconnected processes and relationships through which political rights, social membership, and knowledge production, and the related spheres that constitute personhood are increasingly brought within the ambit of the capitalist marketplace.” The neoliberal agenda of “rampant privatization” is countered with widespread attempts to propose “commons” or “the common” as a central narrative that would fight the excesses of postindustrial capitalism, and abolish, delimit, or soften its effects.

The concept of “imaginary property” takes a different route. Rather than denouncing the private and therefore “privative” character of property while leaving the general abstract concept of property more or less intact—as is the case in the concept of Creative Commons—the focus has to be shifted to the very idea of property and its problems as such. Rather than discussing the dialectics of a conception of the private as substantially inalienable and alienable at the same time, this project draws attention to relations of production whose forces are considered as primarily speculative.

Property as the mirror image of a (self-owning) self may no longer be reserved to the reciprocal production of a responsible subject in the legal realm of bourgeois society; instead the illusionary character of property is set free as a specter, a ghostly force that seems to constantly mirror everything. Due to their endless mirror effects, postmodern economies have often been perceived as a funhouse where you can bet on anything, for, like in a hall of mirrors, reality is just the image of an image.

Meanwhile, it has become obvious that the incalculable effects of networked realities in globalized capitalism are not confined to a kind of virtual amusement park but have irrevocably changed the world and how we perceive it; they have pounded to pieces the relationship between property and personhood—a relationship that was formerly known as eternally valid and is still promoted as universally applicable.

***

In its simplest form, the problem that is at stake in imaginary property is articulated as the absence of the object that is owned. The immaterial, non-tangible expressions of a creative mind is an issue the moment when it starts to circulate and proliferate in an uncontrolled fashion, when it escapes traditional forms of arrest and becomes fugitive.

The critical analysis of imaginary property has to depart from a specific understanding of the passage from a mechanical production of reality to a networked production of realities, which should not be mistaken as a similar binary to that of the analog and digital. In fact the concept of imaginary property presupposes no essential distinction between analog and digital, material and immaterial. Instead it marks the intersection or collision of two vectorial lines, two modes whose crossover characterizes contemporary means of production.

Mechanicity or the mechanical reproduction of the real turns everything into things, reifying living beings by abstracting from their concrete qualities, capturing their forces, arresting movement, and then remobilizing the stagnating entities as disciplined items in controlled environments.

The networked mode of production turns everything into images, while animating them as flows of information, concretizing the vast variety of data in the fluidity of constant exchange. At first sight, networked reality seems to be ungraspable, opaque, fugitive (expressed in the vulgar notion of “virtuality”). The real reoccurs only partially and only temporarily in the image as a storage unit for framed portions of psychic reality. In the digital, networked economy a copy (no matter whether it is text, sound, picture) appears as a mirror-image that is not isolated, rather refers to another.

Traditional forms of ownership are applied to new types of digital imagery, while the seemingly immaterial character of production and networked distribution has long undermined the vulgar concept of property as a somewhat stable relationship between persons and objects. We might sense intuitively that things themselves cannot be owned, only their social relationality. What one owns, when one owns, is always the imagined efficacy of an acclaimed ownership within a given social environment as long as the effects of that ownership remain subject to manipulations.

In order to make things ownable, to enforce a claim, things need to be turned into images. This is at least the concrete truth of the saying: “A picture says more than a thousands of words.” This transformation of a thing into an image characterizes the very act of seeing. This is the very capacity of our eyes to appropriate reality as a visual property, or what Konrad Fiedler called Sichtbarkeitsbesitz. But the process of appropriation is everything but seamless. On the contrary, ownership comes into being as a mistake, an oversight—in German, Versehen: watching, but always omitting something crucial.

The mistake is the actual success of representation. One has to forget that one can own things only by assigning or providing them with a self. The self of a thing is the surplus that is expropriated; it is conceived as “data,” the abstract representation of the object that is given to sensual experience and prehension— through “perspective.”

The self of the thing—its “soul” or “aura”—is the invisible that becomes visible in property. It stands for a creativity that is not subjective but objective; for it refers to creation and permanent recreation of the thing, the fact that it itself has been created in a former or ongoing activity. Property therefore is the appropriation of that activity as the self of the thing and not as the thing itself.

Property establishes an imaginary social relationship between the owner and the self of a thing, its immaterial and yet invisible data relating to its creation or creativity. Against this backdrop we have to understand the widespread myth of photography as a “stealing of souls.”

In everyday life, we are pretty much familiar with the animation of that self, insofar as it constitutes the commodity fetish under the regime of industrial capitalism: the abstraction of an exchange value that relates to quantified and expropriated human labor from a use value that remains inherent to the quality of the thing itself and may not affect property relations.

Things become complicated when they encounter the reproduction of that self, not only in legal terms. The division of a thing into two, its double character—as visible and invisible, use value and exchange value, original and copy—needs to be brought back into congruence, in particular when it is supposed to be reproduced and multiplied (as a picture, an investment, etc.).

The production of such coherence and consistency in time and space is ensured by the means of and for the sake of continuity. Continuity is the expression of property on “the screens of the symbolic” : it is its appropriateness as far as it demonstrates the successful inheritance of data from one occasion to the other.

The main characteristic of contemporary image production is the fact that it also operates in the reverse direction: it appears as a force that alienates the image from itself in order to make it ownable as if it were a thing. This is indeed only possible by turning the image back into a thing—understanding it as data.

Again, it does not appropriate the image as such, but its potential social relations insofar as they are subject to an endless array of readings, manipulations, and recreations. The extraction of metadata, the production of algorithmic identities through indexing technologies, the reduction of the visible to the legible, the recognition of reiterating patterns—these are serving the very purpose of the reorganization of the image as the data of past events or former experiences.

But it is not possible to eliminate entirely all the ambiguities of an image, even if it is digital. The ghost that is haunting imaginary property is the self of the image: it is constituted by a failure rather than a success, by its contingency rather than its continuity. The estranged “anti-aura” of the digital image resides in its noise; that is, what cannot be compressed and therefore needs to be discarded in the moment when the image becomes ownable as a digital object or data. The provisional character of imaginary property is realized as a contingent remainder in the self of the image.

***

In imaginary property we reencounter the problem of “over-appropriation” as the appropriation of what already has been appropriated. Bernard Edelman coined this term in 1973 when he set out to analyze the emergence of French copyright law in the advent of photographic and cinematic technologies in the course of the nineteenth century. “Over-appropriation of the real” characterizes acquisition through superimposing on an already established property.

How can one own an image of a thing that is already someone else’s property? The creation of the image needs to become a property in its own right, assuming that it does not harm the property that is depicted (like in a quotation)—or that the property is everyone’s property (like a landscape). But it is not enough to reproduce the real in the image, since then it would remain someone’s or everyone’s property (the public domain is the general abstract expression of property). Law assumes a certain threshold of creativity for “intellectual” appropriation: the real needs to be produced rather than reproduced and only in doing so law generates a subject that is creative.

In order to compensate for the technology’s inability to reproduce reality exactly, the impossibility of a perfect analog copy has opened a wide space for a certain variety of privileged notions of professional creativity. The access to this space has been regulated through a relative scarcity of the means of image production.

Digital technologies have changed the situation dramatically: the general acceptance and accessibility of the tools to produce a hypothetically loss-free and cost-free copy and to distribute it in so-called real time shakes the juridical construction of property that is both immaterial but real, produced by the creative subject and producing a creative subjectivity.

The bourgeoisie “creative class” is panicking. It fears losing its traditional privileges. At the same time, a new mass-creativity has emerged in which anyone can be a filmmaker, photographer, writer, or artist. Anyone can therefore claim the right to produce reality and consider it their own property based solely on the appropriation of the means of image production—as opposed to their former role as wage-laborers essentially deprived from accessing the means of production for their own purposes.

While theory, politics, and jurisprudence insist on continuing to apply nineteenth-century protectionist models of “intellectual property,” capital responds to the new situation, characterized by the inflation of imaginary property, by a devaluation of the real. The real has ceased to produce a creative subject, which produces reality as its property—as was the case when it was about turning things into images. Instead, creativity is produced by the imaginary. When images turn into things, creativity results from the extraction of rather precarious data from images. Currently, creativity is reified as a productive force; it has become a machine that does not reproduce but produce images.

Consequentially, there is no longer a need for a creative subject in order to solve the riddle of the over-appropriation of the real. The problem today is the over-appropriation of the image: how to own images that are already owned. It can be solved only by the production of data that produce new data.

If creativity refers to a model of data that is generated from images and simultaneously generates new images, imagination as the power to make images appears as algorithmic control imitating or simulating movement rather than confining it. This is the very nature of surveillance, which calculates desire based on data extracted from images.

***

In a similar way to how private property relates to the division of labor in industrial capitalism, the concept of imaginary property leads to an analysis of imagination as a “rule of production,” which then triggers the question of the division of labor in digital, networked image production.

The traditional form of division of labor in industrial capitalism appears in the separation of manual and intellectual labor. It reflects the division of the thing and its self, its material and immaterial character, its value in use and exchange. It operates through the expropriation of surplus labor and generates a notion of exclusive ownership of the means of production that constitutes a specific form of private property.

In the algorithmic mode of computing, workload seems to be divided into a radically idealized version of the assembly line: code that is written by a creative human mind assigns a finite number tasks to a machine; these tasks have to be executed logically, in a determined and deterministic fashion.

The algorithm, the chain of commands that foresees its outcome, can be characterized as an incarnation of Vorstellung, a notion of imagination usually translated as “representation.” It is a “pre-positing of a being-posited,” as Jean-Luc Nancy comments on Martin Heidegger’s considerations of Immanuel Kant’s image theory in his “Kantbuch.” Algorithmic control is creative as an imaginative force, as it refers to time as a pure image or “a schema-image” in the Kantian sense. “There is no given present that is not preceded by the pre-givenness of its givability, identical to its receivability.”

“The imagination is therefore time, since time is the non-present, the non-instantaneous, of a look that does not see its own unity (its concept) directly, but only in and as the Bildung (formation) of the unity of the manifold, many-folded (if you will) into itself and from out of itself in order to image itself.” Algorithmic control divides a task into a finite number of subtasks that are executed consecutively. Its power is twofold: it is the power of a look which is preempting positions that are essentially deprived of seeing the process in its unity; but it is also the power of foreseeing the allocation of time slots in which each task or subtask has to be fulfilled. Both culminate in a notion of real time, where chronological time seems to have collapsed into an instantaneity that is only imagined as the identity of giving and receiving.

In that sense, globalized economies of late capitalism are self-imagined economies. The social divisions of labor of industrial capitalism are not overcome but radically applied on a global scale: contract manufacturing, just-in-time production, clustering. At the same time, new technical divisions of labor have emerged through the advance of digital registration procedures ranging from the cadaster to the stock exchange (“algo-trading”). These processes claim to operate in so-called real time—run by algorithms, which exploit the asynchronicity of milliseconds and therefore cannot be critically evaluated.

These phenomena cannot hide the fact that even the most complex systems of algorithmic control are based on the quantitative increase in the number of operations in a given time frame and their constant re-prioritization in an hierarchically structured operating system, which, in the end, simulates a Fordist division of labor.

Today, systems that are inspired by formal logic and are algorithmically controlled and equipped with digital electronics have reached their limits of complexity. Furthermore, the paradigm inherent to networked computing seem to be in contradiction to all principles that characterize the current challenges of “biopolitical” control: from self-organizing and self-learning systems to neural networks and creative infrastructure.

The conceptual need for new models of organizing workflows creatively is obvious when it comes to artificial vision as the ultimate instance of imaginary property. It fails precisely in the moment when it is confronted with the self of the image. Ambiguities, paradoxes, productive misunderstandings, and contradictions form the poetic character of an image as an image that was made creatively.

What is at stake are hybrid divisions of labor, which actively involve the self of the user in the actual creation of code; that combine algorithmic and poetic work, disciplined and undisciplined activities, deterministic and precarious states, paid and unpaid labor. The result will be automatization of a kind that we can already experience in rudimentary forms within corporate notions of social networking where the degree of freedom of movement correlates to the function of algorithmic control.

A hybrid division of labor requires a different conception of the self. It is not the mirror image of a subject that owns itself and through that acquires the capacity of ownership as such. It is not the creative self that mirrors its imaginative power in the product of its labor.

The charismatic notion of the self is characterized by a permanent sense of crisis and the resulting need to perform itself in real time. The charismatic self marks the arbitrary datum identified in the midst of exponentially growing relational value. It is the point zero that makes the measurement of imaginary property possible again (as clicks, followers, or friends).

It acts as a clearinghouse for heterogeneous streams of data that are extracted from the myriads of circulating images and need to be differentiated by ad-hoc judgments. The charismatic self is constituted by the very capacity to have a distinct opinion even in a networked environment where the hierarchical production of meaning is messed up and relational value is generated without a plan or purpose. Its ambition is to overcome the perplexity that results from the chaos of an inflation of data inherited from past events.

By interacting with it, the charismatic self makes itself immune against the threat of automatization as extinction of the individual or as the end of the specialist. The mythology of networked automatization has estranged creativity from the process of creation. In order to generate relational value, the image becomes valuable in an alienated context—one other than its own. Through relational value, the charismatic self reconnects the image and a self, which must not necessarily be either the original creator or authorized owner.

Verteidigung der Wirklichkeit

Florian Schneider

Das Kino verhandelte das Unbewusste, das Fernsehen modulierte Entfernung. Heute geht es darum, nicht nur im, sondern vor allem mit dem Netz zu arbeiten. Wie aber kann ausgerechnet in einem Medium, das vorgibt, alles und jeden zu dokumentieren, das Dokumentarische wiederentdeckt oder gar neu erfunden werden?

"Die Auseinandersetzung mit dieser Gesellschaft muss in dem Medium stattfinden, das dominiert". Mit dieser Parole erklärte der Filmemacher Michael Mrakitsch seine eigene und die Entscheidung vieler anderer Filmemacher in den 1960er und 1970er Jahren, im Fernsehen gegen das Ferrnsehen zu arbeiten, anstatt sich in den Nischen des Cineastischen ein Auskommen zu suchen.

Wenn es stimmen sollte, was Mrakitsch gesagt hat, dann ist es höchste Zeit. Politische und ästhetische Strategien, die das Gegebene nicht nur verdoppeln oder illustrieren sollen, müssen die Konfrontation suchen mit neuen Konfigurationen von Macht und Ohnmacht, die in vernetzten Umgebungen simuliert werden. Der damit einhergehende Verzicht auf die Illusionen künstlerischer Freiheit mag aus heutiger Sicht befremdlich wirken, wo doch die Produktion des Dokumentarischen fast komplett vom Fernsehen in noch ältere Medien wie Museum, Theater oder neuerdings auch wieder Kino migriert ist - allerdings nicht aus politischen oder ästhetischen Überlegungen heraus, sondern bestenfalls als eine der wenigen verbliebenen Überlebensstrategien.

Längst ist es ein schrecklicher Gemeinplatz, die Vorherrschaft des Internet über fast alle Lebensbereiche festzustellen. Weit weniger selbstverständlich aber ist es, eben jenes Medium auch zum Austragungsort einer Auseinandersetzung zu machen, die die Fabrikation sozialer Fiktion in Frage stellt und antritt, das Wirkliche zu verteidigen. Die Schwierigkeit, dem Netz ausgerechnet im Zeitalter von so genanntem "Social Networking" einen besonderen Reiz als Ort für kritische Auseinandersetzung abzugewinnen, die über Fragen des Geschmacks, Klatsch und die notorischen Schwierigkeiten seiner Beherrschbarkeit hinausginge, hat sicher vielerlei Gründe.

Sei es, dass vernetzte Realität immer noch als "virtuell" wahrgenommen wird und ihr ein übler Nachgeschmack des Unwirklichen anhaftet, der als Bedrohung von Authentizität und Originalität verstanden wird. Gleichzeitig formieren sich über das Internet-Protokoll vernetzte Dienste zu Apparaturen, die von sich aus jede mögliche Bewegung aufnehmen und speichern, überwachen und protokollieren. Vor dem Hintergrund allgegenwärtiger Dokumentation und im trügerischen Schein einer Wirklichkeit zweiter Ordnung steht das Dokumentarische auf doppelt verlorenem Posten.

Je dominanter bestimmte Angebote im Netz werden, die die Sichtweisen von Wirklichkeit auf das unmittelbar Notwendige und eindeutig Bezifferbare reduzieren, desto schneller schwindet das Wissen und die Neugier, wie das Netz eigentlich sonst noch oder wie es gar gegen den Strich genutzt werden könnte. Stattdessen wird Internet in seiner profanisierten Form als Warenverkehrsweg oder bestenfalls als ein Werkzeug begriffen, das sich gefälligst neutral zu verhalten habe. Doch jede noch so ambitionierte Nutzung eines erklärtermaßen auf die Übermittlung von Daten beschränkten Übertragungswegs dürfte dazu tendieren, das Gegebene als solches hinzunehmen – im wahrsten Sinnes des lateinischen Wortes Data, das übersetzt Gegebenes bedeutet.

Es wirkt so, als hätte sich der Spielraum, in dem unabhängig von Verwertungszwang und überkommenen Sehgewohnheiten mit den Möglichkeiten eines neuen Mediums experimentiert werden könnte, bereits in Bereiche ausserhalb des Wahrnehmbaren verflüchtigt. Walter Benjamin hatte schon in Zusammenhang mit der analogen Fotografie bemerkt: "Nicht der Schrift-, sondern der Photographieunkundige wird, so hat man gesagt, der Analphabet der Zukunft sein." in diesem Sinne geht es heute darum, mithilfe von neuen Maschinen und gleichzeitig diesen Maschinen zum Trotz, neu sehen zu lernen.

Sichtbar machen heisst Weglassen, egal wie hoch der Grad der Mechanisierung ist. Nicht nur technisch gesehen ist visuelle Produktion immer eine mehr oder weniger bewusst vollzogene Reduktion: Bilder ausschneiden, die Menge und Komplexität des Gegebenen auf das einigermassen Verdauliche komprimieren, Störendes ausfiltern und Uneindeutigkeiten unter die Rauschgrenze abdrängen. Fabriziert wird die Fiktion, als wäre Wirklichkeit konsumierbar.

Solange diese Prozesse standardisiert und einigermaßen allgemeinverbindlich waren, liess sich trefflich darüber streiten: Sehen wir wirklich alle dasselbe? Wem oder was nützt das Gezeigte? Der Zweifel ist die Triebfeder des Analogen, zumindest im Nachhinein und aus heutiger Sicht. Aber erst die Standardisierung der Bildproduktion individuierte die mangelnde Wahrnehmung so weit, dass sie "subjektiv" wurde und Subjektivität produzierte.

Nur solange es allgemein gültige Normen gab, in welcher Qualität Bilder aufzunehmen und zu übertragen sind, welche Auflösung und welches Seitenformat die Regel zu sein habe, worin eine handwerklich ordentliche Kadrierung bestünde, gab es eine nachvollziehbare Berechtigung, die unterschiedlichen Auswirkungen des Gesehenen zu diskutieren.

Verglichen mit den ideologischen Debatten über die Macht der Bildern unterstellte Macht war deren Einfluss auf die Wirklichkeiten des Industriezeitalters wohl eher geringfügig und wurde systematisch überbewertet. Die Bildproduktion war der Wirkmächtigkeit der im gleichen Masse standardisierten Realitäten der Fabrikgesellschaft offensichtlich unterlegen. Dem ist es aber zuzuschreiben, dass normierte und individuierte Wahrnehmung sich so eigenmächtig fühlen konnte, im Gesehenen ein gewisses Maß an Authentizität zu generieren oder zumindest genießen zu können.

Heutzutage sind die Produktionsbedingungen von Bildern Gegenstand von Verhandlungen, die kontinuierlich und ad-hoc stattfinden. Die digitale Komprimierung, das Enkodieren und Dekodieren der Daten, deren Übertragung und Weitervermittlung, sowie die Rezeption und Verarbeitung ergeben sich unter Umständen, die keinen Standards gehorchen und von daher kaum mehr in Frage gestellt werden können. Die Ergebnisse dieser Verhandlungen sind nicht unbedingt vorhersehbar, auf keinen Fall verallgemeinerbar und erst recht nicht bestreitbar.

Authentizität resultiert nun aus einer ungünstigen Verhandlungsposition aufgrund von Faktoren wie mangelnder Bandbreite, zu geringer technischer Kompetenz oder argem Zeitdruck. Sie ergibt sich jedenfalls nicht mehr aus dem Minderwertigkeitskomplex der zum Zusehen verdammten, aber zur Kritik bevollmächtigten Wahrnehmung, die vor allem im Sinn hat, die eigene Ohnmacht zu kompensieren. Stattdessen ist die Aufrichtigkeit von Bildern gerade noch dazu in der Lage, Mitleid oder Häme auszulösen.

Die komplett deregulierte Bildproduktion postmoderner Affektindustrien und der damit einhergehende, spezifische Zynismus des Digitalen kümmert sich nicht mehr um Details. Hier stellt sich ganz schlicht und einfach die Machtfrage: Was bedeutet es, ein Bild zu besitzen? Wer verfügt über die Gewalt und die geeigneten Mittel dazu?

Anders als die fiktionale Bildproduktion musste das Dokumentarische von jeher die Eigentumsfrage stellen: Wem gehört das Sehen? Und daran anschließend weitergehende Überlegungen anstellen: Verringert oder vergrössert ein Bild den Wirklichkeitsvorrat, der in einer bestimmten Zeit vorhanden ist?

Genau darin besteht heute die besondere Bedeutung des Dokumentarischen. Die Auseinandersetzung mit Wirklichkeiten, die in vernetzten Umgebungen produziert werden, kann sich nur dort ereignen. Nur wenn die Verfügungsgewalt über die Mittel, Wirklichkeit mit zeitgemäßen Mitteln zu produzieren, eingefordert wird, ist es möglich, ein Bild zu machen, das zu seiner Gemachtheit steht, das die Wirklichkeit nicht verrät, sondern vermehrt.

Ein herkömmlicher Begriff des Dokumentarischen beruht auf der Idee, Wirklichkeit fest zu halten und zu fixieren, um sie später wiedergeben zu können. Ein besonderer Moment oder spezifischer Punkt werden identifiziert, isoliert, in ein neutrales Speichermedium transferiert und als Ereignis so rekonstruiert, dass anschauliche Formen von Wahrheit generiert werden, die über ihre jeweiligen Bedingtheiten in Zeit und Raum hinaus einen gewissen, wenn auch nicht unbedingt vorhersehbaren, Bestand haben sollen.

In vernetzten Umgebungen ist eine solche Herangehensweise wohl zum Scheitern verurteilt. Wo Ungewissheit die Voraussetzung jeder Äusserung und Instabilität der Normalzustand ist, müssen womöglich völlig gegenteilige Strategien, Wahrheit zu produzieren, erfunden und entwickelt werden.

Es reicht sicher nicht aus, zu betonen, dass alles auf die eine oder andere Weise zusammenhängt, mit einer gewissen Wahrscheinlichkeit aufeinander abfolgt und sich auf dieser Basis verselbständigen liesse. Es ist zu einfach, zu verlangen, dass überall Transparenz und Offenheit herrschen solle, ohne das Wirkliche in seiner Einzigartigkeit jedes Mal von Neuem hervorbringen zu müssen. Und es ist eine fürchterliche Vorstellung, das Reich der optischen und damit auch der anti-optischen Erfahrung ohne jeden Widerstand dem Diktat einiger weniger Konzerne und deren proprietären Codes zu unterwerfen.

Ein bestimmendes Merkmal vernetzter Umgebungen besteht darin, dass die Produktion von Bildern definitiv nicht mehr im Kopf stattfindet, wie es bis vor kurzem immer noch so schön hieß. Ein wesentlicher Teil der visuellen Produktion ist ausgelagert worden und findet in Geräteumgebungen statt, die wesentliche Entscheidungen, was Wahrnehmung, Erkenntnis und Vorstellungskraft anbelangt, vorwegzunehmen trachten.

Das Dokumentarische muss Einstellungen finden und auch Stellung beziehen gegenüber einer post-industriellen Produktion von Fiktion, die die Wirklichkeit zusehends in Beschlag nimmt: Verfahren der Mustererkennung, maschinelles Sehen und automatisiertes Bildverstehen erobern wesentliche Bereiche des Alltagslebens in der Kontrollgesellschaft und unterwerfen es ausgefeilten Algorithmen. Empirische Anschauung wird schließlich immer weniger zur Angelegenheit der Sinnesorgane, sondern von kybernetischen Apparaten übernommen, die mit den ihnen eigenen Unterstellungen arbeiten und letztlich nichts als Tautologien produzieren.

Dagegen muss die Wirklichkeit verteidigt werden. Sie kann aber nicht mehr festgehalten und verdoppelt, sondern muss mobilisiert und flüchtig werden. Was aber könnte das heißen? Wohin kann das Dokumentarische flüchten? Letztlich ist es keine Frage des korrekten Umgangs mit Technologie, sondern vielmehr des Gegenteils: Wie kann Technologie entgegen der ursprünglichen Absicht genutzt werden?

Digitale, vernetzte Umgebungen weisen die fast unwiderstehliche Verlockung auf, ein Bild darauf zu reduzieren, was lesbar ist oder lesbar gemacht werden kann. Alles, was in irgendeiner Form unlesbar sein könnte, ist dagegen unmittelbar vom Aussterben bedroht. Denn es wird als unverständlich, als unnütze Information disqualifiziert und demzufolge ignoriert und aussortiert. Die Lesbarkeit der Bilder erlaubt es, sie wie Text zu behandeln und entsprechend ein- und auszulesen. So können sie gesucht und gefunden, kategorisiert, indexiert und etikettiert werden.

Aufschluss über Wirklichkeit gibt das aber kaum. Im Gegenteil, denn letztlich handelt es sich um ein recht redundantes Unterfangen. Die Visualisierung von Daten als Sichtbarmachung des Gegebenen und Verifizierung des ohnehin Offensichtlichen lässt keinen Spielraum für eine Auseinandersetzung mit Wirklichkeit, die die Regeln, unter denen sie zustande kommt, noch in Frage stellen könnte, geschweige denn das Recht reklamieren könnte, die Produktion selbst in die Hand zu nehmen. Darin aber bestünde die Bedeutung des Dokumentarischen: Wirklichkeiten hervorzubringen, die sich von gesellschaftlichen Zwangsvorstellungen befreien und der Vereinnahmung alles Lebendigen durch technische Apparaturen widersetzen.

Ein solches Vorhaben muss sich heute zurückziehen in Bereiche unterhalb der Rauschgrenze. Der visuelle Untergrund findet sich nicht mehr zwischen, vor oder hinter den Bildern, sondern mitten in ihnen: diesseits und jenseits des Sichtbaren, im Rauschen der angeblich unnützen Information. So wie die Körnung einst die Schönheit des Dokumentarischen ausmachte, berauscht es sich heute an der Unregierbarkeit des vermeintlich Überflüssigen.

Wahrheit entzieht sich dem Kalkül der Wahrscheinlichkeit, sobald Bilder zu einem gewissen Teil wieder unlesbar werden und die vorhandenen Informationen sich nicht gänzlich komprimieren lassen. Der unregierbare Rest und seine unvorhersehbare Vieldeutigkeit stellen die Grundlage eines Begriffs des Dokumentarischen in vernetzten Umgebungen bereit, der die Grenzen des vorhandenen Zeichen- und Begriffsvorrates einer magersüchtigen Realität zu überschreiten trachtet. Ein Dokumentarisches, das darauf aus ist, ein Mehr an Wirklichkeit hervorzubringen, ist heute mit einer paradoxen Feststellung konfrontiert: Kommunikation im Netz tendiert mittlerweile dazu, den Vorrat an Wirklichkeit aufzuzehren, anstatt ihn weiter aufzuhäufen, wie das in den Techno-Utopien der 1990er Jahre gedacht und zum Teil auch umgesetzt wurde.

Immer weitere Bereiche sozialen Austausches, sowohl individueller Kreativität wie auch gemeinschaftlicher Affektivität werden heute einem aberwitzigen Kapitalverhältnis unterworfen, selbst wenn sich damit auch auf absehbare Zeit kein Profit schlagen lässt. So wird Wirklichkeit aber nicht nur quantitativ verringert, sondern auch reduziert auf die algorithmische Berechnung und Ausbeutung von Meta-Daten, die das Nutzerverhalten einzulesen, auszumessen und dann vorwegzunehmen sucht.

Kunst des Dokumentarischen ist von daher Widerstand gegen Kommunikation. Sie besteht darin, sich der allgemeinen Kommunizierbarkeit in vernetzten Umgebungen zu entziehen, mit Brüchen und Unverständlichkeiten zu arbeiten, den semantisch vereinheitlichten Raum des Netzes zu verlassen und die Bereiche unter der Grenze des dort Sicht- weil eben Lesbaren zu erkunden.

Im vernetzten Bild der Wirklichkeit verändert sich jedoch nicht nur die Wahrnehmung von Raum, der von einem perspektivischen zu einem semantischen Gebilde mutiert. Auch die Vorstellung von Zeit verkümmert zu einer Illusion von Echtzeit, in der das Gleiche nurmehr im Gleichzeitigen auftaucht.

Der Übergang von Similarität zur Simultaneität ist auf vielen verschiedenen Ebenen zu beobachten und aus den unterschiedlichsten Motiven kritisiert worden: Sofortige Verfügbarkeit ist paradigmatisch für die Produktion wie auch die Distribution von Bildern. Statt Vergangenheit, Gegenwart und Zukunft gibt es nur noch Echtzeit oder "On-Demand". Der Vormarsch vernetzter, digitaler Technologien ging einher mit dem Gebot, beim Herstellen wie Konsumieren von Bildern keine Zeit zu verlieren. Denn jegliche Verzögerung würde Verlust von Realität bedeuten; augenblickliche Bereitstellung wird dagegen als ein Gewinn verbucht, der weit mehr als nur ein Zeitgewinn ist, weil er mit dem Akt der Aneignung kurzgeschlossen wird.

Beim digitalen Simulakrum kollabiert die lineare Zeit zu einer vernetzten Allgegenwärtigkeit, ohne dass die Frage, inwieweit ein Bild seinem Vorbild ähnelt, noch zur Debatte stünde beziehungsweise überhaupt beantwortet werden kann. Egal ob Videoüberwachung, Live-Übertragung oder Reality TV: Die Herstellung von Authentizität ist endgültig zu einer Frage der Inbesitznahme geworden, die unverzüglich zu erfolgen hat und keinerlei Dauer kennt.

Deswegen muss sich das Dokumentarische auf die Suche nach der falschen anstelle der echten Zeit begeben: Zu früh oder zu spät, auf keinen Fall im richtigen Moment, um ein Bild auf- und damit in Besitz zu nehmen. Das Scheitern, das mit der falschen Zeit einhergeht, ermöglicht neue Einsichten, die in dieser Form nicht kalkulierbar und vorhersehbar waren. Es mag dazu führen, einen Blick auf den Quellcode der vernetzten Wirklichkeit zu riskieren und die Eigentümlichkeit von Bildern wahrzunehmen, die sich nicht besitzen lassen, niemands Eigentum sind und deswegen jedes Mal, wenn sie erblickt werden, anders aussehen können.

Die falsche Zeit ist also eine Zeit, die zumindest nicht vorgibt, echt zu sein. Wahrscheinlich lässt sie sich ebenso schwer ausfindig machen wie seinerzeit der falsche Schnitt. Schließlich ist es verhältnismässig einfach festzustellen, wann der richtige Zeitpunkt sein könnte. Was aber eine falsche Zeit wäre und nach welchen Kriterien sie zu bestimmen ist, darin liegt eine der grossen Herausforderungen des Dokumentarischen.

Bei der falschen Zeit und dem unlesbaren Rest handelt es sich sicherlich nicht um völlig neue Ansätze, die erst mit den digitalen Informations- und Kommunikationstechnologien zur Verfügung stünden. Im Gegenteil, es ließe sich bestimmt nachweisen, dass das Dokumentarische im Vergleich zur Dokumentation in gewisser, wenn auch vielleicht nicht entscheidender Weise, durch zwei Verweigerungen gekennzeichnet ist: sich auf das Lesbare reduzieren zu lassen und einen flachen Begriff von Aktualität und Zeitgemässheit einzulösen.

Doch bei der Verteidigung des Wirklichen können der unlesbare Rest und die falsche Zeit heute eine womöglich entscheidende Rolle spielen. Ausgerechnet diese beiden Merkmale des Dokumentarischen sollten in der Lage sein, die herrschende Produktion von Kontinuität zu unterbrechen, die pausenlos stattfindet, um dem Bestehenden die im Zeitalter der Vernetzung so dringend benötigte Legitimation für die von ihr beanspruchten Exklusivrechte an der Wirklichkeit zu liefern.

Traditionell resultiert Kontinuität aus der Fabrikation von linearer Zeit und zusammenhängendem Raum: Uneindeutigkeiten werden eliminiert, Widersprüche versöhnt, das Unmittelbare standardisiert, um das nicht Begeifliche auf eine bequeme Auswahl sich ständig wiederholender Fakten zu reduzieren. Kontinuität fungiert dann als eine Art ideologisches Fitness-Studio für die Seele. Dort wird in einer von Fremdeinflüssen isolierten, geschützten Umgebung der drohende Ich-Verlust trainiert, um das Selbst ständig seiner selbst zu vergewissern.

Welche Bedeutung aber hat Kontinuität heute - in einer scheinbar geschichtslos vernetzten und konvergierenden Medienwelt? Verglichen mit traditionellem Filmhandwerk wird Kontinuität in vernetzten Umgebungen unter jeweils entgegengesetzten Vorzeichen hervorgebracht. Denn die Wahrnehmung sowohl von Zeit als auch von Raum inmitten von vernetzten Umgebungen haben ihre Bedeutungen vertauscht.

Bestand im klassischen Film die Aufgabe von "Continuity" darin, synthetische Zeit und konsistenten Raum so zu etablieren, dass sie von den Zuschauern als ebenso plausibel wie verführerisch erachtet werden, ist Kontinuität heute keine Frage von Mechanik und Geometrie mehr. Statt aus einer vermenschlichten Perspektive das Geschehen in eine schlüssige Abfolge zu bringen, geht es heute darum, ein Ereignis und seine Repräsentation gleichzeitig herzustellen.

Solange die Kontinuität des Netzes auf den Prinzipien von sofortiger Verfügbarkeit und allgemeiner Austauschbarkeit basiert, verlangt sie das Ausgestalten von vereinheitlichten semantischen Räumen und treibt sie unaufhaltsam das Fingieren von Echtzeiten voran, in denen es weder Vergangenheit noch Zukunft gibt.

Ein kritischer Begriff von Kontinuität muss sich diesen Zwangsvorstellungen von einer homogenisierten Wirklichkeit entziehen. Zunächst könnte dieser Begriff dadurch gekennzeichnet sein, dass die Gegenwart als der Beginn der Vergangenheit und nicht als deren Ende verstanden wird. Kontinuität müsste dann nicht in einer unablässigen Selbstvergewisserung bestehen, sondern könnte im Kampf gegen die Allgegenwärtigkeit des sich unvermeidlich Wiederholenden neu verstanden werden. Es verwiese nicht nur auf die zu Unterhaltung verkommene Beschäftigung mit Geschichte; mit Brüchen und Pausen, Stillstand und plötzlicher Bewegung würde sich Vergangenheit auch jeder Form von Bewältigung widersetzen.

Die falsche Zeit des Dokumentarischen würde somit den Beginn einer selbstkritisch vernetzten Unzeitgemässheit beschreiben, in der die herrschenden Prioritäten und Abhängigkeitsverhältnisse gehörig durcheinander gebracht werden könnten. Der falschen Zeit muss allerdings eine der Kardinaltugenden der analogen Audiovisualität geopfert werden, die im Zeitalter der digitalen Produktion ohnehin fast in Vergessenheit geraten ist: Das nachträgliche Synchronisieren von Bildsequenzen und Tonspuren. Mittlerweile ist dieser Vorgang automatisiert und geschieht deswegen unbemerkt.

Im Blick auf Netzwerke, zu deren ursprünglichen Eigenschaften die multidirektionale Verbreitung und das beliebige Empfangen von Inhalten gehört, drängt sich aber auch der Gedanke auf, diese vermeintliche Selbstverständlichkeit zu revidieren. In einer falschen Zeit stünde die Tonspur nicht länger im Frondienst der Bilder, würde die durch die Handlung erzwungene Warenförmigkeit und Austauschbarkeit der Wahrnehmung in Frage gestellt und würde die freiwillige Selbsterniedrigung der Zuschauer als zur Stummheit verdammtes Publikum offensichtlich. Schliesslich braucht das Dokumentarische die Unleserlichkeit und Vieldeutigkeit des Wirklichen nicht zu fürchten. Es wird vielmehr darauf aus sein müssen, die heterogenen Datenströme aufzugreifen und umzuwerten. In diesem überwältigenden Chaos von geradezu mythischem Ausmaß ist eine ungeheure Bandbreite von politischen, sozialen und kulturellen Auseinandersetzungen aufzuspüren.

Jedes Mal, wenn sich der Begriff des Dokumentarischen erneuert hat, ging die Neuerfindung einher mit einem radikalen Milieuwechsel: von der frühen Landschaftsfotografie in die Porträt-Ateliers, von den "lebenden Porträts" im Wander- und Jahrmarktkino in die Studios des Stummfilms und von dort dann in die Fabrik, den Krieg oder zurück in die Natur. In den 1960er Jahren war es die Strasse, in die das Dokumentarische befreit von den Fesseln der schwerfälligen Studiotechnologie überwechselte. Kamera- und Tonaufnahmegeräte wurden tragbar, Filmemacher und Videokünstler nutzten die Gelegenheit und schleppten die Geräte raus auf die Strasse, wo unkontrollierbare Lichtverhältnisse und ein nicht zu identifizierendes Stimmengewirr herrschten. Es ging darum, sich den Reizen des Lebendigen auszusetzen, ein öffentliches Leben wahrzunehmen und eine Wirklichkeit zu fassen zu kriegen, die einst unabhängig von medialer Vermittlung existierte.

Mittlerweile sind die Straßen mit Kameras überwacht und öffentlicher Raum ist eine Ansammlung öffentlicher Bilder im Netz geworden. Im Umkehrschluss heisst das aber auch: Die Straße des Dokumentarischen von heute ist das Netz. Hier, in der Republik der Bilder, ist es nicht weniger riskant und gefährlich und der Kontrast zu der herkömmlichen Art Film zu machen, könnte nicht größer sein. Wir müssen es nur neu sehen.

Enklaven, Ausnahmezustände und die Camps als Gegenlabore

Florian Schneider

Es ist die Nacht des 29. Septembers 2005: 215 Männer und Frauen, die bis dahin ein Dasein gefristet haben müssen, das sich am Rande des bloßen Überlebens bewegt, haben eine folgenschwere Entscheidung getroffen. Nachdem sie wochenlang notdürftigen Unterschlupf in Zelten oder niedrigem Gebüsch gefunden hatten und dort ausharrten, ohne an Geld, Nahrungsmittel oder gar Wasser zu kommen, soll es nun endlich weiter gehen.

So nahe am Ziel einer Reise voller Gefahren und Enttäuschungen scheint die Perspektive/Situation plötzlich in ihr Gegenteil verkehrt: Je länger sie still stehen, umso weiter bewegen sie sich weg vom eigentlichen Endpunkt ihres Unterfangens. Europa, oder zumindest das, was offiziell als Territorium der "Europäischen Union" bezeichnet wird, ist nurmehr wenige Meter entfernt.

Sie hatten das Problem in unzähligen nächtlichen Treffen diskutiert. Sollten sie das Risiko eingehen und in einer einzigen Nacht alle zusammen losgehen oder auf eine bessere Gelegenheit warten? Sollten sie weiter versuchen, die Grenze zu höchstens einem Dutzend zu überwinden, so dass ihre geringe Anzahl auf keinen Fall größeres Aufheben verursacht?

Die Menschen, die hier im Wald leben, haben sich in Kleingruppen mit 15 bis 20 Mitgliedern zusammengeschlossen. Die meisten von ihnen organisieren sich entlang ihrer Herkunftsländer; aber es gibt auch etliche, die sich der Gruppe eines anderen Landes anschließen. Die Gruppenmitglieder wählen Sprecher, die sich wiederum mit denen der anderen Gruppen treffen, um zu beratschlagen und weitergehende Entscheidungen zu treffen.
Die Entscheidung, die Grenze am 29. September gemeinsam zu überschreiten, wurde beinahe einstimmig getroffen, allerdings ohne das Einvernehmen der Altvorderen, die mitunter "Fathers of the Forest" genannt werden. Denen muss nämlich klar gewesen sein, was für einen Skandal eine solche Entscheidung hervorrufen würde; sie müssen die Folgen eines solchen Exodus vorhergesehen haben und vor allem, dass sich danach die Situation im Wald für alle, die zurückbleiben oder später ankommen werden, dramatisch verändern würde.

***

Die Bilder der Überwachungskameras der "Guardia Civil", der spanischen Grenzpolizei, zeigen, wie einige Dutzend Menschen mit selbstgebauten Leitern über den drei Meter hohen Zaun klettern, der auf 50 Kilometern um die spanische Enklave Ceuta gezogen ist, einen militärischen Außenposten im Äußersten Norden Marokkos.

Es ist nicht leicht, sich vorzustellen, wie schmerzhaft es für einen menschlichen Körper ist, sich durch den Stacheldraht zu winden, um dann drei Meter in die Tiefe zu springen – auf eine Strasse, die zwischen den beiden Zäunen verläuft.

Fast alle waren verletzt. Gebrochene Arme und Beine, zertrümmerte Knöchel, und auch Kopfverletzungen. Sieben Menschen verloren ihr Leben. Entweder sie überlebten nicht den freien Fall in das, was heutzutage Europa genannt wird, oder sie wurden tödlich von den Gummigeschossen der Grenzschützer getroffen.

Das Material, das die Nachrichtenagentur Reuters in den folgenden Tagen verbreitete, stellt einerseits ein Sakrileg dar in Sachen seriösen Journalismus. Es besteht aus einer gerade einmal neun Sekunden langen Sequenz von Bildern der am Zaun postierten Überwachungskameras, die im Zeitraffer beschleunigt wurden. Diese Bilder wurden über mehrere Tage in fast allen Ländern dieser Welt ausgestrahlt und stündlich wiederholt; im OFF räsoniert eine Stimme vom "Sturm auf die Festung Europa".

Andererseits handelt es sich um ein, wenn auch unfreiwilliges, Stück Medienkunst, dessen konzeptuelle Radikalität, formale Bestimmtheit und ideologische Entschlossenheit alles in den Schatten stellt, was gutgesinnte und politisch engagierte Künstler zu zahllosen Anlässen und all den einschlägigen Gelegenheiten zustande brachten, die sich seit mehr als einem Jahrzehnt in steter Regelmäßigkeit und mehr oder weniger oberflächlich mit den Thema Grenze und Migration beschäftigen.

Im Werk von Reuters wird die Grenze in ihrem beinahe perfekten postmodernen Design dargestellt: Sie wird vorgeführt als Skandal – also einen Vorfall, der zum einen weithin bekannt gemacht ist und zum anderen Vorwürfe mit sich zieht, die moralische Entrüstung auslösen sollen.
Was aber ist so skandalös an diesen Bildern? Auf den ersten Blick besteht der Skandal in dem kollektiv organisierten Versuch, die Grenze zu überwinden, der selbst verantwortet und selbst durchgeführt wird, ohne die Autoritäten, die sich dafür zuständig fühlen, in irgendeiner Art und Weise in die Entscheidungsfindung einzubeziehen.

Es ist ein Skandal im wahrsten Sinne des Wortes, das sich ableitet vom lateinischen "scandere", "Klettern". Obendrein eröffnet sich auch die etymologische Perspektive auf das alt-griechische Original: "Skandalon", Stoplerstein, oder eben die Grenze als Stein des Anstoßes.

So gesehen sind Ereignisse der Nacht vom 29. September 2005 ein Paradefall dessen, was von Theoretikern und Aktivisten der "noborder" Netzwerke seit den frühren 1990er Jahren als "Autonomie der Migration" zu bezeichnen versucht wird. Bei dieser Parole geht es darum, Migrationsbewegungen nicht auf Flucht aus Elend und Unglück zu reduzieren, sondern als wesentlich komplexere Prozesse zu begreifen, die auf der Rückeroberung des Rechts basieren, selbst zu entscheiden, wo Menschen leben wollen und wie.

Denkmuster, die Migranten pauschal zu Opfern machen, sind ebenso weit verbreitet, aber wahrscheinlich wesentlich effektiver als das allgegenwärtige Grenzüberwachungssystem. Die Strategie der Viktimisierung vereint Verfechter und viele der Widersacher eines sogenannten neoliberalen Kapitalismus in dem Ansinnen, Migration als Resultat von Kapitalbewegungen zu verstehen, als reine Nach- oder zumindest als Nebenwirkung.
"Autonomie der Migration" fordert stattdessen von aktivistischer Praxis aber auch von der Forschung, die auf diesem Feld unternommen wird, ein wenig Abstand zu nehmen von den ständig wiederkehrenden Tropen von Mitleid und Mildtätigkeit. Es ginge vielmehr darum, die Vielzahl von sozialen und politischen Prozessen wahrnehmen zu können, die praktischer Weise von Nöten sind, eine Grenze ohne den sonst üblichen Papierkram zu überqueren, und auf theoretischer Ebene die Produktion zeitgenössischer migrantischer Subjektivität konstituieren.

Bei Migration handelt es sich eben nicht um die Aktivität von isolierten, a-sozialen, ausgewiesenen Individuen. Im Gegenteil, die soziale und subjektive Dimension von Migration wird in der Autonomie und Unabhängigkeit von einer Politik deutlich, die sie zu kontrollieren versucht. Ein Herkunftsland zu verlassen, Grenzen zu überschreiten und woanders ein besseres Leben zu suchen, sind von daher eminent politische Akte, auch wenn weit verbreitete Vorurteile und die allgemeine Gesetzeslage auf dem Gegenteil zu beharren versuchen.

***

Was aber in dieser Nacht vom 29. September geschah, hat noch wesentlich größere Bedeutung. Modernste Kontrolltechnik schien nicht in der Lage zu sein, ein paar Dutzend Menschen aufzuhalten, die sich aus abgebrochenen Ästen einfache Leitern gezimmert hatten. Schließlich wurde die redundante Ansammlung von High-Tech-Gadgets vorgeführt, deren Zweck vor allem darin besteht, die technologische Überlegenheit des Grenzregimes rund um Ceuta, aber auch in vielen anderen kritischen Gegenden rund um die EU zur Schau zu stellen.

Alle paar hundert Meter steht ein Wachturm, der mit Suchscheinwerfern, Lärmsensoren, Bewegungsmeldern und Videokameras ausgestattet ist, die das Bildmaterial der permanenten Überwachung durch unterirdisch verlegte Kabel an eine zentrale Kommandostelle liefern.

Die Entscheidung der "Guardia Civil" dieses Material zu publizieren, war bewusst gewählt, hat doch die Öffentlichkeit normalerweise keinen Zugang zu den Daten. Der Skandal besteht aber nicht in der plötzlichen Veröffentlichung der Bilder vom 29. September. Er besteht vielmehr in deren Manipulation. Die gewöhnlicherweise niedrige Bildwechselfrequenz der Aufnahmen der Überwachungskameras, die sich zwischen 5 und 15 Bildern pro Sekunde befindet, ruft bei der unkorrigierten Übertragung auf die im Fernsehen üblichen 25 Bilder pro Sekunde zwangsläufig eine unnatürliche Beschleunigung der Ereignisse hervor.

Dieser Effekt ist, wenn er bewusst eingesetzt wird, als "Zeitraffer" bekannt und wird für gewöhnlich dazu benutzt, um Prozesse hervorzuheben, die zu subtil sind, als dass sie das menschliche Auge noch wahrnehmen könnte.

Im Falle der Bilder aus Ceuta ist der tiefere Sinn einer solchen Operation nur allzu offensichtlich: von den 215 Menschen, die den Zaun in dieser Nacht überquerten, sind nur ein kleiner Bruchteil in dem veröffentlichten Material festgehalten. Die nachträgliche Manipulation der Bilder transformiert nun eine bestimmte, klar umrissene Zahl von Individuen in eine unbestimmte Masse, die ausschwärmt zum "Sturm auf die Festung Europa", wie der Nachrichtensprecher orakelt.

Im Englischen wird der Zeitraffereffekt als "Undercranking" bezeichnet: die Frequenz der Bildfolge wird sinnbildlich angekurbelt. Das Resultat verkörpert dann die ganze Heuchelei des allgegenwärtigen Geredes von der "Festung Europa", das doch nur ein Ziel hat: Handlungsfähigkeit selbst denen abzusprechen, die sich ein Herz fassen und eine vermeintlich günstige Gelegenheit zu nutzen wagen.

Ironischerweise verwandelt ausgerechnet die Animation der Bilder die darauf eigentlich abgebildeten Menschen in etwas Unmenschliches: das Stakkato ihrer abgehackten Bewegungen erinnert im besten Fall an wilde Tiere; aber viel eher noch kommen Assoziationen an Insekten, die in einer imaginären Plage Europa befallen und die Außenposten seiner Festungsanlagen schon überrannt haben.

***

Dies führt zur dritten Dimension des Skandals: laut Definition ist ein Skandal üblicherweise das Produkt einer Mischung aus realen und imaginären Zutaten. Verdrängt oder vertuscht wird die Grenze zwischen Realität und Imagination, die beide ununterscheidbar werden. Vor diesem Hintergrund operiert der Skandal mithilfe der unausgesprochenen Gesetze, die zu regeln haben, was den einen erlaubt und den anderen nicht erlaubt ist.
Die realen Bewegungen der Menschen, die über den Grenzzaun klettern, erscheinen in den Nachrichtenbildern verhackstückt, sie wirken unwirklich, weil holprig und ruckartig. Um dennoch Kohärenz zu demonstrieren, müssen sie sich untrennbar vermischen mit den ebenso banalen wie unausrottbaren Vorurteilen und Gemeinplätzen zum Thema "illegale Migration".

Der Skandal ist eine Reinterpretation des Geschehens mit dem Ziel, eine moralische Entrüstung hervorzurufen, deren Resultat dann die Reaffimierung der Grenze ist. Einer Grenze, die ansonsten unsichtbar sein, in Frage gestellt oder der misstraut werden könnte.
Der Skandal macht klar, dass es die Grenze noch gibt, und dass sie immer wieder wirklich ist. Die damit einhergehende Homogenisierung von Realem und Imaginärem rückversichert uns auf begrifflicher Ebene; sie erlaubt uns ferner, die Grenze zu genießen und mit einem Regime zu kooperieren, das eigentlich auf recht brüchigem Boden und ziemlich haltlosen Tatsachen besteht. Wir dürfen uns dann sogar über seine Auswüchse Sorgen machen und seinen gewalttätigen Charakter moderat kritisieren.

Außerhalb der Kadrierung des Überwachungsbildes befindet sich das, was wir nicht sehen, aber uns umso besser vorstellen können: Moderne Homogenität auf der einen, primitive Unartikuliertheit auf der anderen Seite, die ungebrochene Verlängerung von Kolonialismus in Post-Kolonialität.
Kurz zusammengefasst heißt das also: jede der drei Dimensionen des Skandals ist durch das Bildfenster hindurch und innerhalb seiner eigenen Grenzen verwirklicht. Die Kadrierung verweist auf die notwendige Homogenisierung von realen und imaginären Elementen. Die Außengrenzen des Bildes legen nicht nur fest, was sichtbar ist und was nicht, sondern auch was gesagt werden kann und was nicht.

***

Und dennoch ist da etwas, was nachhaltig verstört. Etwas jenseits des Bildes, und in der Tat jenseits der Rahmenbedingungen der Skandalisierung, die Raum und Zeit homogenisiert. Es verweist auf ein Anderswo, das sich nicht unbedingt links oder rechts des Bildfelds befindet, sondern auf einen abstrakten Raum bezieht, der sich zunächst einmal in den Richtungen befinden könnte, aus der die Grenzgänger kommen und in die sie gehen. Nichts davon existiert in der künstlich generierten Unmittelbarkeit der Nachrichtenbilder vom 29. September 2005. Beides muss ignoriert und, wenn nötig, negiert werden in der Inszenierung der Festung Europa.

Moussa K., zum Beispiel. Er floh vor dem Bürgerkrieg in Sierra Leone im Jahr 2003, um irgendwo in Europa ein anderes Leben zu beginnen. Über Guinea, Mauretanien und die West-Sahara schafft er es bis nach Marokko, wo er zuerst versucht, spanisches Territorium in Las Palmas zu erreichen. Der Versuch scheiterte, weil er von der marokkanischen Polizei gefasst und nach Oujda an der marokkanisch-algerischen Grenze abgeschoben wurde. Zusammen mit einigen Weggefährten beschloss er, es in Ceuta erneut zu versuchen.

Nach 25 Tagen Fußmarsch durch 900 Kilometer Wüste erreichten sie im Juni 2005 Castillago, die kleine marokkanische Grenzstadt nahe der Grenze zu Ceuta. "Wir lebten wie Tiere, es war wie in Kriegsgebiet" erinnert er sich an die drei Monate, die er versteckt im Gebüsch vor der Grenze verbracht hat.
Am 28. September 2005 beschloss er, an dem gemeinsamen Versucht teilzunehmen, über den Stacheldraht des Grenzzauns zu klettern, um nach Ceuta zu kommen. Die Parole lautete: "Kein Rückzug, kein Ergeben!"

Er zimmerte sich seine eigene Leiter aus Aststücken und Zweigen und schaffte es – im Gegensatz zu dem Freund, mit dem er zusammen unterwegs gewesen war und der in dieser Nacht umkam. Ein paar Wochen später sind die Verletzungen, die Moussa K. davontrug, beinahe verheilt. Er hofft jetzt auf eine Aufenthaltserlaubnis in Spanien und will dann irgendwo in Europa Bergbau studieren.

Worum es an der Grenze wirklich geht, ist nicht das, was vielleicht nicht zu sehen, aber dennoch zu vermuten ist, weil es sich zwar im OFF aber immer noch im Bezug zum Sichtbaren setzt: Geographische Ziele, Entbehrungen, Sehnsüchte, sondern absolute Vernichtung jeglicher verbleibender Subjektivität. Jeder Mensch weiß, auch wenn er oder sie sonst nichts weiß, dass die wesentliche Funktion des Grenzregimes darin besteht, jede vormalige Erfahrung der illegalisierten Grenzgänger auszulöschen und unschädlich zu machen, ganz zu schweigen von künftigen Plänen. In dem Moment, in dem die Grenze überquert wird, werden Ingenieure zu Putzkräften, Akademiker zu Sexarbeitern, Professoren zu Gelegenheitsarbeitern in der Agrarindustrie oder privaten Haushalten – gebrauchsfertig für die Überausbeutung auf den informellen Arbeitsmärkten des späten Kapitalismus.
Weit entfernt davon, sich über mangelnde Fairness zu beklagen oder sich selbst als Opfer zu verstehen, scheint Moussa K. den Grenzübertritt als einen Prozess extremer Desubjektivierung begriffen zu haben, angesichts der über weite Strecken geradezu unmenschlichen Bedingungen. Was er beschreibt hat nicht ansatzweise mehr mit Menschlichkeit zu tun. Wenn, dann erinnert es allenfalls, was Foucault womöglich mit "negativer Freiheit" beschrieben haben würde.

Die Modalitäten jeglichen Seins wirken grundlegend verändert, und es eröffnet sich ein paradoxes Potential für eine radikale Transformation in Hinblick auf ein Selbst und eine Welt. Dieses Potential existiert weder in den Bildern noch in den Vorstellungen von der Grenze und ihrem Regime, das auf deren Skandalisierung beruht; es besteht woanders fort und harrt woanders aus, einem absoluten OFF außerhalb des Bildes.
In seinen beiden Büchern über das Kino hat Gilles Deleuze dieses absolute OFF mit dem Bergson’schen Begriff der Dauer in Verbindung gebracht. Anstatt aufeinander folgende Bewegungen in homogenem Raum zu messen, schlug er eine heterogene, nicht repräsentative Bedeutung von Zeit vor, die unumkehrbar, unwiederfindbar und unteilbar ist; ein manchmal schnellerer und manchmal langsamerer Fluss des Werdens oder der reinen Beweglichkeit.

***

In der Tat ist es nämlich sehr erstaunlich zu erleben, was passiert, wenn die Neun-Sekunden-Bild-Sequenz der im Zeitraffer animierten Grenzübertreter vom 29. September 2005 im Computer zurückgerechnet wird zu einer Bildfrequenz, die die Menschen, die damals über den Zaun geklettert sind, als Echtzeit erlebt haben mögen. Die Gespenster, die da angeblich die "Festung Europa" nieder rennen, scheinen auf einmal still zu stehen, sobald sie eine gewissermaßen realistische Geschwindigkeit zurückerlangt haben. Jedes Einzelbild ist in eine fast unerträgliche Länge gezogen.

Wegen der niedrigen Bildfrequenz der Überwachungskameras, die in diesem Fall – ursprünglich vielleicht sogar aus technischem Unverstand – zu dem Zeitraffereffekt führte, muss jeder Versuch, die Geschwindigkeit der Bilder wieder an die Wirklichkeit anzupassen, in einer auf den ersten Blick überflüssigen Aufdopplung und schier endlosen Vervielfachung der ursprünglich verfügbaren Einzelbilder resultieren, die so insgesamt zu Standbildern mutieren.

Mit einer Ausnahme allerdings: der einzige Teil des Bildes, der sich weiterhin bewegt, ist das oben rechts eingeblendete Laufwerk des Timecodes, der mit einem Mal sanft von Einzelbild zu Einzelbild wechselt, wobei er jedes Bild mit seiner Kopie ersetzt, eine gefälschte Identität misst, und jeden 25. Teil einer Sekunde so präsentiert, als wäre sie als reine Zeit erfahrbar, während der gesamte Inhalt des Bildes auf den nächsten Moment wartet, als ob dieser einer der Befreiung sein könnte.

Und dennoch kommt es zu merkwürdigen Erscheinungen, wenn die Bewegungen der Grenzüberschreiter für einen Augenblick angehalten werden, der jetzt wie unendlich wirkt. Die Blockierung des übermediatisierten Inhalts führt zu einem Kollaps der Zeit, der von der zweifachen Manipulation der Bilder herrührt: erst der Zeitraffer, der der Skandalisierung dient, und dann die Umkehrung des Zeitverlusts durch die Zeitlupe. Bei letzterem handelt es sich um die mögliche und ethisch zwar notwendige, aber ganz offensichtlich willkürliche Restaurierung der Zeit, in der das was passiert ist, auch tatsächlich passiert sein könnte - ganz als ob das noch irgendeine Rolle spielte.

Anstatt sich nun gegenseitig zu widersprechen oder aufzuheben, passiert etwas Überraschendes. Die Wiederkehr einer imaginären Echtzeit, die durch die wiederum gefälschte Zeitlupe hervorgebracht wird und in der die Zeitsprünge mit redundanten Bildern bloß aufgefüllt sind, produziert neue Blöcke von Unsichtbarkeiten: mögliche Verstecke zwischen den Bildern, die sich nicht ändern, oder unkontrollierbare Zonen zwischen den Bildern, die immer wieder dasselbe reproduzieren.

Paradoxerweise eröffnet eben der Stillstand der Bilder den Blick auf eine neue Fläche. Vielleicht als eine Allegorie zur "Autonomie der Migration", oder zumindest aber als Antizipation einer Bewegungsfreiheit, die sicherlich noch nicht Wirklichkeit ist, aber dennoch schon jetzt etwas zu erreichen imstande ist, was eigentlich als ein Ding der Unmöglichkeit gelten sollte: der präemptive Charakter der Überwachungstechnologie ist völlig vergebens.

Towards a theory of borders

Florian Schneider

A border is always a matter of imagination. It appears as a feign condition that is supposed to limit mobility for a certain people and in a certain situation. Allegedly, a border marks a distinction: it may be visible to some, and to others not. It may be considered artless or genuine if seen from one perspective but rather critical or bogus from another.

What seems like a commonplace at the first glance, is precisely the reason that makes it so difficult to speak about borders, let alone acting on them. In order not to be rendered useless, a border needs to refuse any attempt to abstract from its latent ambiguity in pratical terms.

Borders are ambigrams: Illusionary images, that depict two mutually exclusive motives. For instance, it becomes evident at specific locations of the Mediterranean Sea where the two different mobility regimes of wealthy tourism and clandestine migration overlap and holiday ressorts are situated next to detention camps while not disturbing each others presences at all.

It does not come as a surprise that the inherently uncertain meaning of borders has turned out as both, the subject matter and the structuring device of great narratives and mythologies of migrations: From the splitting of the red sea that saved the lifes of the Hebrews and destroyed the army of Egyptians to "Star Trek" which was originally marketed as a "Wagon Train to the Stars", across a new frontier of outer space; from the "Underground Railroad", a secret network of safe houses and clandestines routes that helped slaves to escape to the free states in the north of the US and to Canada, to the metaphorical belittlement of the EU border regime as "Fortress Europe".

To leave one's country behind, to flee from persecution, to seek happiness or at least a better life somewhere else -- if not sanctified or bureaucratically approved beforehand, the crossing of a border implies in the first place a collision with or at least the change of a regime of mobility that in very specific terms constitutes a certain notion of freedom of movement.

Rather than enclosure, rather than confinement to a country or any other disciplinary regime, the postmodern border regime is characterized by a deregulation of mobility that increasingly becomes subject to ad-hoc management: Temporarily granted in real time it can get revoked as quickly as it got accorded -- without any need for further mediation. It is enforced by a system of control that is no longer limited to specific checkpoints or focus areas; it is in place virtually everywhere.

Borders fold and shift inwards or outwards, they are advanced into third states and expanded into the hinterland. Controls are no longer limited to the margins of a nation states but cover the inner cities' traffic junctions and supra-regional traffic routes to the same extent as they are extended into semi-public or private spheres.

There is an ubiquity of control. The drawing up of borderlines is becoming virtual and its repressive character is hardly generalisable any more: it could happen here as well as there, for this reason or another, and with a series of different consequences.

Yet, the discourse on borders is still ruled by the predominance of a somewhat outdated kind of liberal ideology that operates through the patterns of inclusion and exclusion. Regardless of its intentions, no matter whether it is used in favor of migrants or at the service of xenophobic resentments, the dichotomies of inclusion and exclusion trace back to the core concept of the modern nation state as the unique reference point: The idea of a homogenized and unified people as collective agency and the resulting need of a high degree of cohesion through identity.

In the last instance any understanding of borders as a device that regulates inclusion or exclusion affirms a sieve principle that is supposed to act as a filter. It reduces the complexities of migratory movements to a single plot that switches between the alternate binaries of either "in" or "out". The more it feeds the fiction of the nation state, the less it is capable of grasping the paradoxical, but increasingly relevant realities of transnational mobility and immobility.

The illusion of a governmentality that would be able to restrict the freedom of movement on a global scale, the as naive as popular set of beliefs as if politics would be able to reduce migration to "zero-migration" claims to be considered as a matter of course. In fact, it lacks any empirical basis and it is mere propaganda that has been spreading out only most recently.

It has come along with apocalyptic scenarios of a massive influx of so-called illegal immigrants towards Europe and North America; it was accompagnied by the fable that misery and poverty were causing movements of people at a scale so far unseen; and it generated a number of related mythologies, such as the notorious "brain drain", unproductive money remittances, or failed integration, just to name a few and most popular rumors.

Fact is that borders are beyond control (1). But if it cannot prevent what it promises to hold off, what is then the function of the border? Obbviously, the illegalization of migration creates the conditions for the over-exploitation of migrant labor force on the informal markets of late capitalism.

And those who are crossing the border without the necessary paperwork, may experience the passage from one regime of mobility into another as the nullification of any remaining subjectivity. It is an extreme process of desubjectivation -- oftenly characterized by living in ways that are almost unliveable.

As soon as the border is crossed, engineers turn into cleaners, academics into sex workers, professors into casual farm laborers or domestic workers. Pushed beyond the conditions and limits of what is often described as "human", their experiences become a sort of negative freedom.

On a regular basis mainstream media is providing the footage that illustrates what is supposed to be going on out there at the border: Reckless fortune seekers who try to make it across the borders against overwhelming odds. It is a scandal in the truest sense of the word (2): In order to enter countries like Spain, Italy or Greece, they are climbing fences, squeezing into overcrowded boats, hiding under trucks or trains.

The border does not only justify itself by a scandal, it is performed through a scandal. The grammar of its performativity consists of scandalization: a continuos loop of images and imaginaries that are widely publicized in order to produce allegations of wrong-doing or disgrace. In that respect, the postmodern border regime appears as a global soap opera that reiterates what anyhow anybody seems to know. Its looping plot is solely based on the implicitness of unuttered laws which regulate that which is permitted to some and not permitted to others.

There is no point in exposing this scheme, since any further critique on a practical level runs danger to increase the efficiency of its performance. Scandalization transforms an otherwise ignorable event to solicit a moral outrage whose purpose is nothing but the reaffirmation of the border —- a border that may otherwise be invisible, disputed or disbelieved.

As the product of a mixture of both real and imaginary incidents it suppresses any distinction between certain degrees of documentary value and what needs to be considered as fiction. The result of this blend is a single-purpose device: The scandal affirms that the border is still there, still true.

Its conceptual homogenization of real and unreal, documentary and fictitous elements reassures a collective identity that is thrown into crisis due to the fading power of nation states. In a perfectly postmodern fashion it allows to enjoy and to cooperate with a regime that relies on the frail and ineffectual facts on the ground as long as they provide the illusion of a border that can be controlled. Then, one can even worry about its excesses and moderately criticize its violent character.

But the other side of the coin is no less irritating. The scandalization of the border comes along with concurrent strategies of victimization. First of all it is the illegalized migrant that is deprived of any agency and turned into a victim. At the mercy of human traffickers, kidnapped and abducted, they are reduced to human beings that only deserve sympathy.

Left wing and human rights activism often falls into the same trap, when it reduces migration to misery and calamity and understands it as a logical result of the movements of capital, as its unsavory aftereffect or appendix.

Even contemporary right-wing populism can be conceived as a set of mirroring strategies that double the victimization of migrants. In the aftermath of multiculturalism, right-wing populism mobilizes the desire of a non-migrant, anti-urban mentality for becoming a minority itself, it inverts the patterns of vicitimization. It reverse engineers virtues that were formerly known as progressive. It recacles and reads against the grain the ideology of inclusion and exclusion, the morals of participation.

Blaming right wing populism as racist or xenophobic is missing the crucial point: White, male, middle-class or heterosexual subjectivities that have usually been rather identified as perpetrators and that are gradually loosing their privileged positions -- all the sudden they manage to seize the opportunity to frame themselves as victims, as an endangered species, or as a native population that will soon be overrun by heinous invaders.

As far as it concerns a certain need to treat the fading certitude of western supremacy in the sunset years of its world domination, both the scandalization of borders and the subsequent victimization of migrants may have turned out as a quite successful therapy of the collective psyche. But its pain relieving and alleviating effect is only temporary and there is even no great must to unmask it.

Instead there is an urgent need for a theory of borders that rejects the permanent temptation to remain descriptive and illustrative, to act in an ultimatevily affirmative sense and to provide a decoration of the border by indulging in returning tropes of charity and compassion, nostalgia and resentment.

As soon as the border becomes actual and concrete, every sign is subjected to a wide range of possible interpretations due to ever changing perspectives. The imaginary character of the border is not only constituted by the deficiencies of laws and a lack of interpretive authority; first and foremost it manifests itself in an indiscernibility of real and unreal, an undecidability of true and false.

The phenomenona of borders result from the experiences that the distinctions between these terms keep changing round. The constant exchange of meaning renders almost impossible any form of independent let alone subversive thinking.

The only way out is a radically different approach. A theory of contemporary borders has to dare a maximum degree of abstraction as the only possibility to undo the picture puzzle. It needs to take into account a series of hypothesises.

First, the border is not the limit but the differentiator of mobility. In its postmodern condition it does not narrow freedom of movement as such, but it modulates it. As soon as it is seen from a global perspective, a border appears as a circuit rather than as a line.

The border regime operates as an amplifier. In all its paradoxity it marks the shift from actuality to potentiality. But it acts in a sense that always contains within it its own the potential to not be. What is at stake at the border is a very specific notion of impossibility.

It is a border that manages its violations rather than ignoring, let alone preventing them from happening. It is subject to permanent experimentation in a vast laboratory that is set up to prove under varying circumstances that there is no absolute freedom of movement, only a relative one.

Nevertheless, the concept of freedom of movement needs to be understood as the derivative of both, a desire for autonomy as well as its limitless postponement in societies of control, amidst ever convoluted regimes of communication and mobility.

A notion of "transnationality" could be the vanishing point in the distorted view of such a theory of borders. Somewhere out of the field, beyond the borders of framed reality, outside of homogenized space and time, it anticipates something that is neither seen nor understood, but nevertheless perfectly present within the everyday life of both, a mobile livelihood as well as social movements.

Transnationality is a radically different form of organizing and unorganizing which transcends the idea of the nation state as the only reference of different degrees of mobility. Instead, it dares to imagine the fragments of an absolute freedom of movement.

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(1) In 2001, the EU Commissioner for Justice and Home Affairs, António Vitorino, acknowledged that Europe had lost its battle against clandestine migration. "Europe must avoid repeating the zero immigration mistakes of the past," he said, concluding with surprising precision, "restrictive laws have done nothing to halt the flow of clandestine migrants." On the contrary, “the ability to control migration has shrunk as the desire to do so has increased. Borders are largely beyond control and little can be done to really cut down on immigration”, as the economist Jagdish N. Bhagwati argued in 2003.

(2) Scandal derives from the Latin 'scandere,' to climb. But there is yet another, no less compelling, etymological perspective: the border as 'skandalon,' which is the ancient Greek word for a stumbling block.

Notes on the division of labor

Florian Schneider

DISCLAIMER

The following is neither a fully comprehensive analysis nor a finally thought-through elaboration on the topic of the division of labor.

It should rather be understood as an expose for further research, discussion and development. It reflects the results of a series of test or trial drillings into a topic that is extensive and might turn out as of enormous relevance.

***

In 1931 the Philips Eindhoven corporation commissioned the first dutch sound film: "Philips Radio" or "Industrial Symphony" is a documentary by Joris Ivens that was shot at the peak of economic depression and at the advent of the breakthrough of radio technology for a mass market.

The 36-minutes film was supposed to show the modern production process of radios in the factories and offices in Eindhoven. What we see is a celebration of images, that aims to re-compose the industrial division of labor in the form of an artwork.

Most prominently the film features the very notion of sound by deconstructing the industrial mass production of the radio receiver as transmitter of sound. Ivens and his collaborator Helen van Dongen were using a sampling technique combining noises of work, music, radio broadcasts and pure abstraction.

The fascination by the abstract beauty of the machinic processes on one hand, and on the other the concrete portrayal of the hard work that is carried out by the workers constitute a filmic piece whose ambiguity was irritating for both, the ordering party as well as most critics.

The corporation reportedly refused to show the film in its original version, while the christian newspaper "Het Volk" considered it a "document of inhumanity". Apparently Ivens does not expose the assembly line as subjugation of the worker under the rule of the machine in the same way as Chaplin did in the famous opening sequence of "Modern times" or Rene Clair in a strikingly similar scene of his "À nous la liberté!".

Rather than a caricature Ivens tried to make the "cinematic expression of a, rather _the_ twentieth century production line manufacturer." Its non-complicity, the distance from the cliches of both, advertising the success of the company as well as mere anti-technological propaganda, may constitute a rather unexpected value of the film today.

Eyal Sivan who selected the film for the screenings of his favorite documentary films as a honorary guest of last years documentary film festival in Amsterdam writes: "Instead of a valiant film parade through all the departments, he reveals the working conditions in a modern mechanized factory and captures the step-by-step development of radio parts along the way. Of course, Philips had a say in the social content of the film. Although Ivens understood Philips's point of view, he tried to compensate for his dissatisfaction by striving for great technical perfection. He exploited every tint of the glass and metal surfaces in the factory and moved his camera in a highly stylized manner. The sensual emphasis led Parisian critics to coin an alternate title for the film: 'Symphonie Industrielle'."

It is the precise depiction of a division of labor that is at stake: The specialization of labor that is necessary in order to sell, by the time when the film was made more than 100 millions of vacuum tubes.

Ivens shows the entire chain from advanced glassblowing techniques to the assembly of complete radios, from the research laboratories to the typing pools with hundreds of secretaries and the packaging of the radio set.

***

"Division of labor" is a concept that has been first systematically explored by William Petty, whom Karl Marx considered "the founding father of political economy". Petty observed enthusiastically how in the course of the 18th century specialization in clothmaking, watch manufacturing and shipping was supposed to increase overall productivity by its cheapening effects:

"Cloth must be cheaper made, when one Cards, another Spins, another Weaves, another Draws, another Dresses, another Presses and Packs; then when all the operations above mentioned were clumsily performed by the same hand.

In the making of a Watch, If one Man should make the Wheels, another the Spring, another shall Engrave the Dial-Plate, and another shall make the Cases, then the Watch will be better and cheaper than if the whole Work be put upon any one Man."

Petty tried to explain the material basis of the contrast between Dutch economical success and poverty in Ireland. In fact he applied the principle of the division of labor which he experienced in shipyards in the Netherlands to his survey on Ireland by putting into practice the very notion of a division of scientific labor. He split up the statistical tasks into what could be easily done by unskilled soldiers and what would need professional attention.

***

On the 13th of March 2007 the Bank of England issued a new style 20 pound note that successively replaces the old one with portrait of Sir Edward Elgar on the back. Along with a different ‘look’ of the note, the main change is the inclusion of a portrait of Adam Smith on the back of the note, along with the image of a pin-making factory and a summary of Smith’s observations on the benefits of the division of labour, drawn from his major work, "An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations".

In the famous example of a pin factory, Smith explained how co-operation between workers in the factory to divide tasks between them raised their combined output. He went on to explain how, by trading with others, both at home and abroad, we could specialise our own production and society as a whole would benefit from higher incomes and standards of living. The banknote depicts the division of labour in the pin factory, with a caption based on The Wealth of Nations: “and the great increase in the quantity of work that results”.

"To take an example, therefore, from a very trifling manufacture; but one in which the division of labour has been very often taken notice of, the trade of the pin-maker; a workman not educated to this business (which the division of labour has rendered a distinct trade), nor acquainted with the use of the machinery employed in it (to the invention of which the same division of labour has probably given occasion), could scarce, perhaps, with his utmost industry, make one pin in a day, and certainly could not make twenty. But in the way in which this business is now carried on, not only the whole work is a peculiar trade, but it is divided into a number of branches, of which the greater part are likewise peculiar trades. One man draws out the wire, another straights it, a third cuts it, a fourth points it, a fifth grinds it at the top for receiving, the head; to make the head requires two or three distinct operations; to put it on is a peculiar business, to whiten the pins is another; it is even a trade by itself to put them into the paper; and the important business of making a pin is, in this manner, divided into about eighteen distinct operations, which, in some manufactories, are all performed by distinct hands, though in others the same man will sometimes perform two or three of them."

***

"The average man in a communist society would be able to go fishing in the morning, work in a factory in the afternoon and read Plato in the evening ". According to bestseller author Alain de Botton Karl Marx must have imagined communist utopia as an "implausibly high-minded combination of activities".

Within one single working day one would enjoy unhurried peasant lifestyle, benefit from the effiency of industrial production and then turn to the blessings of brainwork. In such an idyllic scenario communism would be everything else but boring.

As a celebration of the whole variety of human capacities it would mark the unification of body and mind in an integral approach. And isn't precisely that what in the 19th century Marx is supposed to describe as an utopia today the reality for a growing number of highly skilled workers, namely in the "creative industries"?

There is only one little problem. The quote which the author who is most recently responsible for projects with titles like like "The School of Life" assigned to what he calls the "concluding volume" of "Das Kapital" is the invention of de Botton himself.

Unfortunately, Marx has not made any remark like that in any of the volumes of "The capital". Instead, there are remarkably different lines in "The German Ideology", a book he wrote 30 years earlier:

"In communist society, where nobody has one exclusive sphere of activity but each can become accomplished in any branch he wishes, society regulates the general production and thus makes it possible for me to do one thing today and another tomorrow, to hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticise after dinner, just as I have a mind, without ever becoming hunter, fisherman, herdsman or critic."

After that Marx did not dare to give any further hint about how one should imagine communism although permanently pressured by the growing proletarian movement to reveal his vision of a communist utopia. Marx refused a religious, utopian notion of communism and insisted instead on the "scientific" character of his research.

In deed, much more interesting than the distribution of concrete practices between hunting, fishing and hearding plus some criticism after work is the rather abstract thought that comes after that:

"This fixation of social activity, this consolidation of what we ourselves produce into an objective power above us, growing out of our control, thwarting our expectations, bringing to naught our calculations, is one of the chief factors in historical development up till now."

***

In the first volume of "Das Kapital" Karl Marx has introduced a sharp distiction between a division of labor that is a technical or economic division of labor and that is supposed to increase efficiency in the process of co-operation.

But then he also identified a social division of labor that is socially constructed. The result is a double division of labor:

- the technical division of labor in the enterprise and in a particular industry that broke down the production process into a sequence of tasks and

- the social division of labor among enterprises, industries, and social classes that was mediated through commodity exchange in market relations.

Division of labor appears as a double relation along two axes or "connections" whose specific combination constitutes the historical uniqueness of a mode of production (Althusser and Balibar in "Reading Capital"):

1. A relation of real appropriation designates the structure of the labor process, that is, the relation of the laborer to the means of production by which the transformation of nature is undertaken. This relation constitutes the "technical division of labor" or the forces of production.

2. A property relation designates the mode of appropriation of the social product. This relation, the "social division of labor" or relations of production, implies the intervention of an individual or a collectivity, who, by the exercise of economic ownership, controls access to the means of production and the reproduction of the productive forces.

***

The success of Ford's model T ("a motor car for the great multitude") was made possible by the introduction of a new factory system that characterizes first of all a new technical division of labor.

It was based on an enormous increases of

- precision: only interchangeable parts were used in manufacturing

- specialisation: breaking up the assembly of a car into 84 distinct steps

- synchronization: A minimum time spent in set-up between these steps. motion studies by Frederick Taylor had to determine the exact speed at which the work should proceed and the exact motions workers should use to accomplish their tasks.

The Model T was the first automobile mass produced on assembly lines with completely interchangeable parts. Machines were used to reduce complexity of the production process in 84 areas in order to streamline the assembly process of a car from 12.5 hours to 93 minutes. Instead of skilled craftsmen, low-skilled or untrained workers were hired who needed skills and knowledge in only one of the 84 areas.

At the same time Fordism has triggered a dramatic expansion a new social division of labor from what was by then called productive to reproductive work: Workers are not only supposed to produce products at a much greater efficiency, but due to relative high wages, they were at the same time targeted as consumers. The intensification and differentiation of the production process is partly compensated by increasing amounts of free time and higher wages that in the return had to be spent for the consumption of the same products.

The intensification of the labor process was accompagnied by the moral regulation of the private lives of workers. Work and non-work life became increasingly linked up. In his famous text on "Americanism and Fordism" Gramsci argues that the new methods of work are inseparable from a specific mode of living and of thinking and feeling life."

***

For Emile Durkheim, founder of modern sociology as an academic discipline, the principal cause of the progress of the division of labor is what he coined "organic solidarity" -- as opposed to primitive societies which are characterized by a "mechanical solidarity" that is based on resemblance.

"Each organ, in effect, has its special physiognomy, its autonomy. And, moreover, the unity of the organism is as great as the individuation of the parts is more marked."

Durkheim rejects the utilitarian explanation of division of labor by gains in efficiency. Instead he introduces the idea of a "moral density" between previously unrelated social units and the emergence of a new "conscience collective".

Besides the highly problematic analogy of society as a biological organism Durkheims theory of the division of labors draws from two sources that seem constitutive for the emergence of modern humanities:

- the binary opposition of primitive versus civilized society which is inseparably linked with 19th century colonialism

- the direct transposition of Darwins "struggle for survival" to the idea of economic competition as the mediating mechanism between a growing social volume and advances in the division of labor.

***

[the problem of moral:

the morals of enlightement and division of labor in the orgy: de sade's juliette (horkheimer/adorno), godard, teamwork ]

***

The separation between manual and intellectual labor is constitutive for industrial capitalism: The separation of those who work "with their hands" and those who work with their "brain" is the fundamental proposition of the class society.

Alfred Sohn Rethel sees the division of manual and intellectual labor in close correspondance with the real abstraction of the commodity form and the epistemological implications of a philosophical tradition that understands thinking as a product of thinking and ultimately seperates between theory and practice and opens up the gap between conception and execution.

The exchange commodities goes along with an abstraction from the specific goods. Only the value of these goods is important. This abstraction is called 'real abstraction' because it takes place without a conscious effort, whether anybody is aware of it or not is of no importance. "People do not know it but they do it" (Marx). Sohn-Rethel argues that the real abstraction of the commodity form to be the real basis of formal and abstract thinking. All of Kant's categories such as space, time, quality, substance, accident, movement and so forth are implicit in the act of exchange.

Sohn-Rethel sees the transcendental unity of self-consciousness as an intellectual reflection of ‘the form of exchangeability of commodities underlying the unity of money and the social synthesis’.

***

Adolf Eichmann, the manager of the logistics of the masstransports of European Jews to the extermination camps during World War 2 has been considered as the personification of the specialisation of labor in industrial capitalism and the inherent collapse of morality.

Rony Brauman and Eyal Sivan have edited the archive footage of the trial as their award winning docuemntary "The Specialist - portrait of a modern criminal". When Eichmann was brought to court in Israel in 1961 his line of defense was built on denying any legal responsibility for the deportations to the death-camps although Eichmann is referring to his reputation as a "specialist" in his field of all the logistics regarding expatriation, expropriation, and deportation of Jewish people.

In her report from the trial for the magazine "New Yorker" Hannah Arendt coined the expression of the "banality of evil". In Eichmann she did not discover a lack of empathy, as many other observers, she detected no stupidity, rather thoughtlessness.

It seems that the specification of knowledge and its celebration in managerialism coincides with a collapse of thinking since the fragmented action evacuates itself of any responsibility or even meaning.

Besides the massive proliferation of all sorts types of subjectivity related to the specialist (like the TV-expert, the nerd, the indian IT expert, just to name a very few) within culture industry we can encounter the opposite in the realm of production: A re-injection of individual creativity, overall responsability, forced collective liability, group or peer-pressure in ever smaller, isolated units of production under the banner of teamwork and co-operation.

***

Facing its increasing political irrelevance the official marxist debate in the course of the 20th century has more or less systematically shifted the focus from a materialist analysis of the division of labor towards phenomena of the superstructure: the culture industry, consumer society, society of spectacle etc.

What we experience today as "creative industries" is the reintegration of all sorts of practices that have not been considered productive under the reign of a new social division of labor. Political theory and organizing practices, have to re-address the issues of political economy in an significantly extended version.

How would it look like if instead of reasoning about the essence of immaterial production or the very character of creative industries one would investigate contemporary forms of the division of labor in postindustrial production processes?

1. At the first sight an increased level of control seems to be the ultimate purpose of a technical division of labor today.

2. While the segmentation of the work process in industrial production lead to an evacuation of meaning, in so-called immaterial production it is the other way around: meaning needs to be resampled through the re-collection of isolated practices under capitalist command or in more friendly words: co-operation. It is the proprietary code itself which does not only regulate access to the means of production and the repoduction of the productive forces, but establishes itself as a goal on its own.

The decomposition of the factory and the break-up of its theatrical unity of location, time, and story line have produced a new social division of labor that reflects that decomposition. The technical division of labor is sourced out to individual mini-entrepreneurial units with various split occupations across time and space.

The molar segmentations of the traditional division of labor that was based on reducing complexity, decreasing the knowledge that is needed for the steps of production is replaced by a rather molecular segmentation. The linear dramaturgy of the assembly line has turned into a transversal organization of work without an end or any limit.

This should lead us to research other divisions of labor beyond the technical and social division of labor. For example, the intensified fordist production in free trade zones expresses a global division of labor that runs parallel to colonial exploitation in the 19th century by providing ressources like cheap labor force on which the boom of the creative industries relies; gender-specific divisions of labor that have overhauled the fordist model of the small family, and hence demand new, migrant domestic labor.

***

If "division of labor is limited by the extent of the market" (Adam Smith) and the number and relative density of the population is a necessary condition for the division of labor (Karl Marx) it is as urgent as obvious that an analysis of the social division of labor today neesd to open up a new perspective on the effects of both, migration movements, as well as new information and communication technologies that have emerged in the end of the 20th century.

The ongoing lament about the precarization of labor provides if any, then only very superficial insight on the results of a massive reconfiguration of the work process. A radical political theory and praxis need at least attempt to get to the root of the problem and investigate a new division of labor that occurs as a response to the change in the mode of production.

At the same time, the booming praise and worship of the common appears as unadulterated kitsch. Instead of indulging in utopianism, rather than proclaiming an alleged commonality, that would exist a-priori to the hostile conditions of the postmodern workplace, a political project has to reflect how exactly one mode of production is superseded by another, the division of labor is altered, and the understanding of what constitutes fulfilling self-activity is redefined.

In the same way as the concept of proletarian solidarity was raising against the fragmentation and segmentation of workers subjectivity at the assembly line, an upgraded version is to be developed that would be capable of resisting the new social division of labor in postindustrial production or even propagating a new workerism of the creative industries. A concept of collaboration, as a refusal of co-operation, based on the experience that the only thing we have in common might be the fact that we have nothing in common.

(Nietzsches concept of negation, affirmation of the affirmation)

The concept of "imaginary property" is situated at the crossing of two axes: Images and an image production that become increasingly a matter of proprietarization, since the expansion of the capitalist accumulation towards image production is no longer limited to the frontiers of certain media or technologies (like film industry) but sets out to colonize the entire realm of imagination. This axis intersects with a process of accelleration in which the very notion of property itself becomes more and more a matter of imagination (as we experience it today in the crisis of education).

In terms of division of labor that means that the real appropriation, the relation of the laborer to the means of production by which the transformation of nature is undertaken, needs to be understood as a over-appropriation of the real (the production of images), while the relations of production, the exercise of economic ownership, the control of the access to the means of production becomes more and more imaginary or in other words: indiscernible in terms of what is real and what is not real.

In the field of design we encounter the chance to virtually undo the separation between intellectual and manual labor. It is not only because design may be situated in a grey zone between theory and practice. It is rather because of the double role, that characterizes design in its intrinsic relation to both the technical and social division of labor which is both subject to processes of design as well as shaping the very work of the designer. And this is by no means about an omnipresence and omnipotence of design, on the contrary:

PROPOSAL

The concrete proposal at the end of this very preliminary collection of material and associated thoughts is the following:

The question of a new division of labor needs to be addressed simultaneously radically practically as well as radically theorretically. A framework needs to be invented that can facilitate a wide range of experiments from research to campaigning. It could be exemplified by a "design-union" which is both: a think tank for the future of self-organization in the creative industries directly connected to an organizing campaign. It is about designing a union and at the same time a union for designers.

Notes on the division of labor
By Florian Schneider

DISCLAIMER

The following is neither a fully comprehensive analysis nor a finally thought-through elaboration on the topic of the division of labor.

It should rather be understood as an expose for further research, discussion and development. It reflects the results of a series of test or trial drillings into a topic that is extensive and might turn out as of enormous relevance.

***

In 1931 the Philips Eindhoven corporation commissioned the first dutch sound film: "Philips Radio" or "Industrial Symphony" is a documentary by Joris Ivens that was shot at the peak of economic depression and at the advent of the breakthrough of radio technology for a mass market.

The 36-minutes film was supposed to show the modern production process of radios in the factories and offices in Eindhoven. What we see is a celebration of images, that aims to re-compose the industrial division of labor in the form of an artwork.

Most prominently the film features the very notion of sound by deconstructing the industrial mass production of the radio receiver as transmitter of sound. Ivens and his collaborator Helen van Dongen were using a sampling technique combining noises of work, music, radio broadcasts and pure abstraction.

The fascination by the abstract beauty of the machinic processes on one hand, and on the other the concrete portrayal of the hard work that is carried out by the workers constitute a filmic piece whose ambiguity was irritating for both, the ordering party as well as most critics.

The corporation reportedly refused to show the film in its original version, while the christian newspaper "Het Volk" considered it a "document of inhumanity". Apparently Ivens does not expose the assembly line as subjugation of the worker under the rule of the machine in the same way as Chaplin did in the famous opening sequence of "Modern times" or Rene Clair in a strikingly similar scene of his "À nous la liberté!".

Rather than a caricature Ivens tried to make the "cinematic expression of a, rather _the_ twentieth century production line manufacturer." Its non-complicity, the distance from the cliches of both, advertising the success of the company as well as mere anti-technological propaganda, may constitute a rather unexpected value of the film today.

Eyal Sivan who selected the film for the screenings of his favorite documentary films as a honorary guest of last years documentary film festival in Amsterdam writes: "Instead of a valiant film parade through all the departments, he reveals the working conditions in a modern mechanized factory and captures the step-by-step development of radio parts along the way. Of course, Philips had a say in the social content of the film. Although Ivens understood Philips's point of view, he tried to compensate for his dissatisfaction by striving for great technical perfection. He exploited every tint of the glass and metal surfaces in the factory and moved his camera in a highly stylized manner. The sensual emphasis led Parisian critics to coin an alternate title for the film: 'Symphonie Industrielle'."

It is the precise depiction of a division of labor that is at stake: The specialization of labor that is necessary in order to sell, by the time when the film was made more than 100 millions of vacuum tubes.

Ivens shows the entire chain from advanced glassblowing techniques to the assembly of complete radios, from the research laboratories to the typing pools with hundreds of secretaries and the packaging of the radio set.

***

"Division of labor" is a concept that has been first systematically explored by William Petty, whom Karl Marx considered "the founding father of political economy". Petty observed enthusiastically how in the course of the 18th century specialization in clothmaking, watch manufacturing and shipping was supposed to increase overall productivity by its cheapening effects:

"Cloth must be cheaper made, when one Cards, another Spins, another Weaves, another Draws, another Dresses, another Presses and Packs; then when all the operations above mentioned were clumsily performed by the same hand.

In the making of a Watch, If one Man should make the Wheels, another the Spring, another shall Engrave the Dial-Plate, and another shall make the Cases, then the Watch will be better and cheaper than if the whole Work be put upon any one Man."

Petty tried to explain the material basis of the contrast between Dutch economical success and poverty in Ireland. In fact he applied the principle of the division of labor which he experienced in shipyards in the Netherlands to his survey on Ireland by putting into practice the very notion of a division of scientific labor. He split up the statistical tasks into what could be easily done by unskilled soldiers and what would need professional attention.

***

On the 13th of March 2007 the Bank of England issued a new style 20 pound note that successively replaces the old one with portrait of Sir Edward Elgar on the back. Along with a different ‘look’ of the note, the main change is the inclusion of a portrait of Adam Smith on the back of the note, along with the image of a pin-making factory and a summary of Smith’s observations on the benefits of the division of labour, drawn from his major work, "An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations".

In the famous example of a pin factory, Smith explained how co-operation between workers in the factory to divide tasks between them raised their combined output. He went on to explain how, by trading with others, both at home and abroad, we could specialise our own production and society as a whole would benefit from higher incomes and standards of living. The banknote depicts the division of labour in the pin factory, with a caption based on The Wealth of Nations: “and the great increase in the quantity of work that results”.

"To take an example, therefore, from a very trifling manufacture; but one in which the division of labour has been very often taken notice of, the trade of the pin-maker; a workman not educated to this business (which the division of labour has rendered a distinct trade), nor acquainted with the use of the machinery employed in it (to the invention of which the same division of labour has probably given occasion), could scarce, perhaps, with his utmost industry, make one pin in a day, and certainly could not make twenty. But in the way in which this business is now carried on, not only the whole work is a peculiar trade, but it is divided into a number of branches, of which the greater part are likewise peculiar trades. One man draws out the wire, another straights it, a third cuts it, a fourth points it, a fifth grinds it at the top for receiving, the head; to make the head requires two or three distinct operations; to put it on is a peculiar business, to whiten the pins is another; it is even a trade by itself to put them into the paper; and the important business of making a pin is, in this manner, divided into about eighteen distinct operations, which, in some manufactories, are all performed by distinct hands, though in others the same man will sometimes perform two or three of them."

***

"The average man in a communist society would be able to go fishing in the morning, work in a factory in the afternoon and read Plato in the evening ". According to bestseller author Alain de Botton Karl Marx must have imagined communist utopia as an "implausibly high-minded combination of activities".

Within one single working day one would enjoy unhurried peasant lifestyle, benefit from the effiency of industrial production and then turn to the blessings of brainwork. In such an idyllic scenario communism would be everything else but boring.

As a celebration of the whole variety of human capacities it would mark the unification of body and mind in an integral approach. And isn't precisely that what in the 19th century Marx is supposed to describe as an utopia today the reality for a growing number of highly skilled workers, namely in the "creative industries"?

There is only one little problem. The quote which the author who is most recently responsible for projects with titles like like "The School of Life" assigned to what he calls the "concluding volume" of "Das Kapital" is the invention of de Botton himself.

Unfortunately, Marx has not made any remark like that in any of the volumes of "The capital". Instead, there are remarkably different lines in "The German Ideology", a book he wrote 30 years earlier:

"In communist society, where nobody has one exclusive sphere of activity but each can become accomplished in any branch he wishes, society regulates the general production and thus makes it possible for me to do one thing today and another tomorrow, to hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticise after dinner, just as I have a mind, without ever becoming hunter, fisherman, herdsman or critic."

After that Marx did not dare to give any further hint about how one should imagine communism although permanently pressured by the growing proletarian movement to reveal his vision of a communist utopia. Marx refused a religious, utopian notion of communism and insisted instead on the "scientific" character of his research.

In deed, much more interesting than the distribution of concrete practices between hunting, fishing and hearding plus some criticism after work is the rather abstract thought that comes after that:

"This fixation of social activity, this consolidation of what we ourselves produce into an objective power above us, growing out of our control, thwarting our expectations, bringing to naught our calculations, is one of the chief factors in historical development up till now."

***

In the first volume of "Das Kapital" Karl Marx has introduced a sharp distiction between a division of labor that is a technical or economic division of labor and that is supposed to increase efficiency in the process of co-operation.

But then he also identified a social division of labor that is socially constructed. The result is a double division of labor:

- the technical division of labor in the enterprise and in a particular industry that broke down the production process into a sequence of tasks and

- the social division of labor among enterprises, industries, and social classes that was mediated through commodity exchange in market relations.

Division of labor appears as a double relation along two axes or "connections" whose specific combination constitutes the historical uniqueness of a mode of production (Althusser and Balibar in "Reading Capital"):

1. A relation of real appropriation designates the structure of the labor process, that is, the relation of the laborer to the means of production by which the transformation of nature is undertaken. This relation constitutes the "technical division of labor" or the forces of production.

2. A property relation designates the mode of appropriation of the social product. This relation, the "social division of labor" or relations of production, implies the intervention of an individual or a collectivity, who, by the exercise of economic ownership, controls access to the means of production and the reproduction of the productive forces.

***

The success of Ford's model T ("a motor car for the great multitude") was made possible by the introduction of a new factory system that characterizes first of all a new technical division of labor.

It was based on an enormous increases of

- precision: only interchangeable parts were used in manufacturing

- specialisation: breaking up the assembly of a car into 84 distinct steps

- synchronization: A minimum time spent in set-up between these steps. motion studies by Frederick Taylor had to determine the exact speed at which the work should proceed and the exact motions workers should use to accomplish their tasks.

The Model T was the first automobile mass produced on assembly lines with completely interchangeable parts. Machines were used to reduce complexity of the production process in 84 areas in order to streamline the assembly process of a car from 12.5 hours to 93 minutes. Instead of skilled craftsmen, low-skilled or untrained workers were hired who needed skills and knowledge in only one of the 84 areas.

At the same time Fordism has triggered a dramatic expansion a new social division of labor from what was by then called productive to reproductive work: Workers are not only supposed to produce products at a much greater efficiency, but due to relative high wages, they were at the same time targeted as consumers. The intensification and differentiation of the production process is partly compensated by increasing amounts of free time and higher wages that in the return had to be spent for the consumption of the same products.

The intensification of the labor process was accompagnied by the moral regulation of the private lives of workers. Work and non-work life became increasingly linked up. In his famous text on "Americanism and Fordism" Gramsci argues that the new methods of work are inseparable from a specific mode of living and of thinking and feeling life."

***

For Emile Durkheim, founder of modern sociology as an academic discipline, the principal cause of the progress of the division of labor is what he coined "organic solidarity" -- as opposed to primitive societies which are characterized by a "mechanical solidarity" that is based on resemblance.

"Each organ, in effect, has its special physiognomy, its autonomy. And, moreover, the unity of the organism is as great as the individuation of the parts is more marked."

Durkheim rejects the utilitarian explanation of division of labor by gains in efficiency. Instead he introduces the idea of a "moral density" between previously unrelated social units and the emergence of a new "conscience collective".

Besides the highly problematic analogy of society as a biological organism Durkheims theory of the division of labors draws from two sources that seem constitutive for the emergence of modern humanities:

- the binary opposition of primitive versus civilized society which is inseparably linked with 19th century colonialism

- the direct transposition of Darwins "struggle for survival" to the idea of economic competition as the mediating mechanism between a growing social volume and advances in the division of labor.

***

[the problem of moral:

the morals of enlightement and division of labor in the orgy: de sade's juliette (horkheimer/adorno), godard, teamwork ]

***

The separation between manual and intellectual labor is constitutive for industrial capitalism: The separation of those who work "with their hands" and those who work with their "brain" is the fundamental proposition of the class society.

Alfred Sohn Rethel sees the division of manual and intellectual labor in close correspondance with the real abstraction of the commodity form and the epistemological implications of a philosophical tradition that understands thinking as a product of thinking and ultimately seperates between theory and practice and opens up the gap between conception and execution.

The exchange commodities goes along with an abstraction from the specific goods. Only the value of these goods is important. This abstraction is called 'real abstraction' because it takes place without a conscious effort, whether anybody is aware of it or not is of no importance. "People do not know it but they do it" (Marx). Sohn-Rethel argues that the real abstraction of the commodity form to be the real basis of formal and abstract thinking. All of Kant's categories such as space, time, quality, substance, accident, movement and so forth are implicit in the act of exchange.

Sohn-Rethel sees the transcendental unity of self-consciousness as an intellectual reflection of ‘the form of exchangeability of commodities underlying the unity of money and the social synthesis’.

***

Adolf Eichmann, the manager of the logistics of the masstransports of European Jews to the extermination camps during World War 2 has been considered as the personification of the specialisation of labor in industrial capitalism and the inherent collapse of morality.

Rony Brauman and Eyal Sivan have edited the archive footage of the trial as their award winning docuemntary "The Specialist - portrait of a modern criminal". When Eichmann was brought to court in Israel in 1961 his line of defense was built on denying any legal responsibility for the deportations to the death-camps although Eichmann is referring to his reputation as a "specialist" in his field of all the logistics regarding expatriation, expropriation, and deportation of Jewish people.

In her report from the trial for the magazine "New Yorker" Hannah Arendt coined the expression of the "banality of evil". In Eichmann she did not discover a lack of empathy, as many other observers, she detected no stupidity, rather thoughtlessness.

It seems that the specification of knowledge and its celebration in managerialism coincides with a collapse of thinking since the fragmented action evacuates itself of any responsibility or even meaning.

Besides the massive proliferation of all sorts types of subjectivity related to the specialist (like the TV-expert, the nerd, the indian IT expert, just to name a very few) within culture industry we can encounter the opposite in the realm of production: A re-injection of individual creativity, overall responsability, forced collective liability, group or peer-pressure in ever smaller, isolated units of production under the banner of teamwork and co-operation.

***

Facing its increasing political irrelevance the official marxist debate in the course of the 20th century has more or less systematically shifted the focus from a materialist analysis of the division of labor towards phenomena of the superstructure: the culture industry, consumer society, society of spectacle etc.

What we experience today as "creative industries" is the reintegration of all sorts of practices that have not been considered productive under the reign of a new social division of labor. Political theory and organizing practices, have to re-address the issues of political economy in an significantly extended version.

How would it look like if instead of reasoning about the essence of immaterial production or the very character of creative industries one would investigate contemporary forms of the division of labor in postindustrial production processes?

1. At the first sight an increased level of control seems to be the ultimate purpose of a technical division of labor today.

2. While the segmentation of the work process in industrial production lead to an evacuation of meaning, in so-called immaterial production it is the other way around: meaning needs to be resampled through the re-collection of isolated practices under capitalist command or in more friendly words: co-operation. It is the proprietary code itself which does not only regulate access to the means of production and the repoduction of the productive forces, but establishes itself as a goal on its own.

The decomposition of the factory and the break-up of its theatrical unity of location, time, and story line have produced a new social division of labor that reflects that decomposition. The technical division of labor is sourced out to individual mini-entrepreneurial units with various split occupations across time and space.

The molar segmentations of the traditional division of labor that was based on reducing complexity, decreasing the knowledge that is needed for the steps of production is replaced by a rather molecular segmentation. The linear dramaturgy of the assembly line has turned into a transversal organization of work without an end or any limit.

This should lead us to research other divisions of labor beyond the technical and social division of labor. For example, the intensified fordist production in free trade zones expresses a global division of labor that runs parallel to colonial exploitation in the 19th century by providing ressources like cheap labor force on which the boom of the creative industries relies; gender-specific divisions of labor that have overhauled the fordist model of the small family, and hence demand new, migrant domestic labor.

***

If "division of labor is limited by the extent of the market" (Adam Smith) and the number and relative density of the population is a necessary condition for the division of labor (Karl Marx) it is as urgent as obvious that an analysis of the social division of labor today neesd to open up a new perspective on the effects of both, migration movements, as well as new information and communication technologies that have emerged in the end of the 20th century.

The ongoing lament about the precarization of labor provides if any, then only very superficial insight on the results of a massive reconfiguration of the work process. A radical political theory and praxis need at least attempt to get to the root of the problem and investigate a new division of labor that occurs as a response to the change in the mode of production.

At the same time, the booming praise and worship of the common appears as unadulterated kitsch. Instead of indulging in utopianism, rather than proclaiming an alleged commonality, that would exist a-priori to the hostile conditions of the postmodern workplace, a political project has to reflect how exactly one mode of production is superseded by another, the division of labor is altered, and the understanding of what constitutes fulfilling self-activity is redefined.

In the same way as the concept of proletarian solidarity was raising against the fragmentation and segmentation of workers subjectivity at the assembly line, an upgraded version is to be developed that would be capable of resisting the new social division of labor in postindustrial production or even propagating a new workerism of the creative industries. A concept of collaboration, as a refusal of co-operation, based on the experience that the only thing we have in common might be the fact that we have nothing in common.

(Nietzsches concept of negation, affirmation of the affirmation)

The concept of "imaginary property" is situated at the crossing of two axes: Images and an image production that become increasingly a matter of proprietarization, since the expansion of the capitalist accumulation towards image production is no longer limited to the frontiers of certain media or technologies (like film industry) but sets out to colonize the entire realm of imagination. This axis intersects with a process of accelleration in which the very notion of property itself becomes more and more a matter of imagination (as we experience it today in the crisis of education).

In terms of division of labor that means that the real appropriation, the relation of the laborer to the means of production by which the transformation of nature is undertaken, needs to be understood as a over-appropriation of the real (the production of images), while the relations of production, the exercise of economic ownership, the control of the access to the means of production becomes more and more imaginary or in other words: indiscernible in terms of what is real and what is not real.

In the field of design we encounter the chance to virtually undo the separation between intellectual and manual labor. It is not only because design may be situated in a grey zone between theory and practice. It is rather because of the double role, that characterizes design in its intrinsic relation to both the technical and social division of labor which is both subject to processes of design as well as shaping the very work of the designer. And this is by no means about an omnipresence and omnipotence of design, on the contrary:

PROPOSAL

The concrete proposal at the end of this very preliminary collection of material and associated thoughts is the following:

The question of a new division of labor needs to be addressed simultaneously radically practically as well as radically theorretically. A framework needs to be invented that can facilitate a wide range of experiments from research to campaigning. It could be exemplified by a "design-union" which is both: a think tank for the future of self-organization in the creative industries directly connected to an organizing campaign. It is about designing a union and at the same time a union for designers.

(Extended) Footnotes On Education

Florian Schneider

What follows is a series of loose considerations and fragmented thoughts relating to debates that have emerged over the past few years around the topic of education. On a rather abstract level, they are intended to reference discussions and struggles presently taking place in other fields; in another, more concrete sense, they might be of preliminary use in developing criteria for practical interventions in a situation widely perceived to be in crisis.

1. Learning

We learn nothing from those who say: “Do as I do.” Our only teachers are those who tell us to “do with me,” and are able to emit signs to be developed in heterogeneity rather than propose gestures for us to reproduce.1

In the preface to his first, seminal work Difference and Repetition, Gilles Deleuze articulates the challenges of pedagogy in a vivid, precise fashion. Deleuze claims that everything that teaches us something emits signs, and every act of learning is an interpretation of these signs or hieroglyphs. Using the example of learning how to swim, he points out that in practice we manage to deal with the challenge of keeping afloat only by grasping certain movements as signs. It is pointless to imitate the movements of the swimming instructor without understanding them as signs one has to decode and recompose in one’s own struggle with the water.

Such repetition is no longer that of the Same, “but involves difference—from one wave and one gesture to another, and carries that difference through the repetitive space thereby constituted.”2 The potential of such an approach to teaching and learning is huge: as soon as a notion of learning is decoupled from the possession of knowledge, as soon as difference is liberated from identity, repetition from reproduction (or resistance from representation), we may encounter what is at stake in today’s debate about education.

Rather than simply lament the decline of public institutions, the ongoing privatization of knowledge, and the resulting precariousness of access to education, we should challenge ourselves to learn how to respond to the current situation without drowning in it.

The discovery of possible points of resistance to these oncoming waves of privatization, appropriation, and commodification of knowledge has become urgent.

The system of public education is threatened by a crisis with multiple sources, a crisis that exceeds the limits of our imagination and is essentially beyond measure since what is put into question is the very idea of measurement and commensurability as such. It is a crisis of property, which has become increasingly “imaginary” in the sense that one can no longer be sure of whether or not it is real.

In an age of cognitive capitalism, however, the crisis presents itself with the very same rhetoric of quantitative measurement that was so recently implicated in the near-collapse of the financial system. Certain risks present themselves as perfectly measurable as long as they are systematically obscured; their impact becomes noticeable only when it is too late.

The problem is not just that of the inherent difficulty of assessing how critical the situation is, it is that we have reached an impasse, a failure to generate counter-concepts that could characterize a different proposal, an alternative to the existing order. We are faced with a systemic crisis of the imagination.

How can we envision, design, develop, and enjoy environments in which one learns “with” someone else instead of “from” or “about” others, as Deleuze suggested? How can we invent, create, and compose “spaces of encounter with signs” in which distinctive points “renew themselves in each other, and repetition takes shape while disguising itself?”3 What would make these spaces different to the ones we have been forced to experience in the past?

2. Exodus

The emergence of the modern educational system in the Western world was characterized by public institutions aimed at regulating the movements of both individuals and the collective social body in order to produce well-disciplined, coherent subjects on a mass scale.

Through a system of spatial control, the reproduction of gestures was drilled over and over again; the disciples’ proper internalization of these movements became the ruling principle of the passage from one disciplinary regime to the next. There was not a great deal to learn besides the fact that any kind of refusal of the discipline would lead to exclusion from one institution and referral to another.

It comes as no surprise that bodies of knowledge have been called “the disciplines.” The disciplinary institutions have organized education as a process of subjectivation that re-affirms the existing order and distribution of power in an endless loop. From the moment Nietzsche realized that, for the first time in history, knowledge “wants to be more than a mere means,” education has appeared as the arena of an inescapably circular relationship between the ways in which power can “produce knowledge, multiply discourse, induce pleasure, and generate power.”4

At a certain moment such circularity became uncomfortable. In the course of the 1980s, in both Western and Eastern Europe, an exodus took place: large segments of a generation who would normally have formed the next progressive intellectual elite refused to participate in the system of higher education in universities and academies. Unlike previous generations—especially those associated with the protest year 1968—this generation did not consider the academic field (with its specific capacity to forgive the sins of one’s youth) as a semi-public arena or training ground for social struggles or radical political agendas.

Those who realized that it had become pointless to reproduce the gestures of their masters did not only understand that there was nothing left to learn from, within, or against the institutions; they decided to take an interest in precisely the disciplining character of those institutions, the confinement of knowledge and subjectivities, the exclusion of differing and deviant forms of knowledge production.

As a result, learning could suddenly take place anywhere: in the streets, in bars or clubs, in self-organized seminars, in the office spaces of so-called social movements, in soccer stadiums, through subcultural fanzines, in squatted houses or even science shops (“Wissenschaftsläden” as they were called in German).

At the same time, the topic of learning became increasingly popular, addressing everyday practices of resistance which, back then, were ignored by the traditional system and entered the academy only after a significant delay—like poststructuralist French theory, cultural studies, or postcolonial theory. There was a plethora of unexpected places where one could learn anything and everything, at least until the mass exodus from the educational institutions caused those institutions to discover a new territory: the network.

3. The Education of a Self

Today’s crisis of the educational system, with all its consequent phenomena, can also be understood as a result of the refusal to be subjugated by the command of an educational system that represents the fading paradigm of industrial capitalism. Many of those who made careers have managed to inject the knowledge they accumulated in subcultures and social movements of the late 1970s and 1980s directly into the entrepreneurial experiments of a first wave of immaterial production by advertisement agencies, independent micro-enterprises and their cooperative networks, or new political conglomerations that popped up with the establishment of ecological networks and other social movements.

The advent of digital technologies and deregulated networks triggered a long-overdue process of deinstitutionalization and deregulation that from today’s standpoint appears to be irreversible. This process was based on a fatal promise: self-organized access to knowledge, independent of any further mediation other than that of the medium itself.

Consequently, public institutions’ state-approved monopoly over the manufacturing of knowledge gradually lost its function, its own existence rendered pointless or at least resistant to any kind of upgrade that would run the risk of radically putting their own functioning into question.

But the demise of public institutions laid the groundwork for turning education into a business, as Deleuze suspected early on:

In disciplinary societies you were always starting all over again (as you went from school to barracks, from barracks to factory), while in control societies you never finish anything . . . school is replaced by continuing education and exams by continuous assessment.5

All of a sudden, self-managed education is confronted with its caricature: the education of a self, subject to constant renegotiation and trading. The alleged rigidity of academic grading is replaced by all sorts of informal and proprietary codes ranging from corporate certificates to confirmations of internships. Above all, these codes stress the fact that one is not only responsible for oneself, for the evaluation of oneself, but also that the infinite process of self-examination is an end in itself.

As soon as learning becomes an exclusively private concern, the primary goal of what is by then a required self-education is to demonstrate and perform the permanent availability of the self in real time rather than just perform discipline in a system of spatial control. It becomes necessary to continuously perform “selves”: not as mirror-images that reproduce the gestures of a master, but as self-managed profiles, animated images of a self that needs to be multiplied infinitely in order to satisfy the insatiable demand for omnipresence that renders possible the very idea of control.

Rather than being a re-appropriation of the means of education, the current proliferation of concepts of self-education points to a major shift in and a fundamental confusion about configurations of the “self” in prevailing social thought.

4. Institutions and Ekstitutions

Under the banner of “self-education,” the effort, the costs, and the resources needed to perform an efficient system of control are outsourced to the individual. Obviously, this goes along very well with the praise of chivalries such as horizontalism, flat hierarchies, charity, and sharing. Teamwork and a flattering notion of “collaboration” have turned out to be key components of a renewed educational managerialism.

In a society of control, the postulate of lifelong learning challenges traditional views of radical, emancipatory pedagogy in both institutional and non-institutional contexts. What was formerly known as “progressive” may all of a sudden and without warning turn out to be repressive, or indeed, vice-versa.

For this reason it is necessary to revaluate the concepts of both institutions and their opponents: networked environments, deinstitutionalized and deregulated spaces such as informal networks, free universities, open academies, squatted universities, night schools, or proto-academies.

In-stitutions insist: basically they insist on the inequality between those who know and those who do not know. But they also insist that the unequal who has become equal will himself then drive the system that produces inequality by reproducing the process of its diminution. Institutions are based on the concept of limiting the transmission of knowledge, of managing the delay, of postponing equality indefinitely for the sake of infinite progress.

Networked environments or what could be called “ekstitutions” are based on exactly the opposite principle: they promise to provide instant access to knowledge. Ek-stitutions exist: their main purpose is to come into being. They exist outside the institutional framework, and instead of infinite progress, they are based on a certain temporality.

What characterizes ekstitutions is their absolute indifference towards inequalities, since it does not matter at all who possesses knowledge and who does not. One can instantly get to know what one needs to know, even if only for a limited amount of time or from distinct places. This is the formula of the ekstitution’s postulate of an equality that is essentially unfinished.

The challenge that ekstitutions permanently face is the question of organizing, while in institutional contexts the challenge is, on the contrary, the question of unorganizing. How can they become ever more flexible, lean, dynamic, efficient, and innovative? In contrast, ekstitutions struggle with the task of bare survival. What rules may be necessary in order to render possible the mere existence of an ekstitution?

Like it or not, these rules need to establish an exclusivity, something which is of vital importance; by its very nature, the institution has to be concerned with inclusion. It is supposed to be open to everybody who meets the standards set in advance, while in ekstitutions admission is subject to constant negotiation and renegotiation.

The obscurity and nebulosity in accessing ekstitutions from the outside relates, paradoxically, to their egalitarian ideology, once one reaches the inside. In institutions it is usually the other way around: no matter how difficult, they need to be generally accessible from the outside; inside, obscurity rules, barely concealed by hierarchies, formalities, representative procedures.

Ekstitutions have usually appeared as alternatives to institutions, or at least they have emerged in that order. There are of course numerous examples of ekstitutions that have first evolved and then been swallowed up by institutions. The opposite direction is still hard to even imagine, since an institution would rather cease to exist than abandon the pretense of its own infinitude.

It is crucial to acknowledge that institutions and ekstitutions cannot mix—there is no option of hybridity or of simultaneously being both, although this may very often be demanded by rather naïve third parties.

Today it seems that institutions and ekstitutions correspond to complementary rather than antagonistic modalities. What once appeared a challenge to the traditional educational framework, turns out in the current situation to be a correlate that compensates for the deficits of institutional frameworks that are gradually losing their conceits.

Probably the most underrated effect of the current crisis in education is a shift that has brought both institutions and ekstitutions much closer together. The privatization of learning has produced friction between these two different, once polarized, but now adjacent concepts.

Border economies have emerged, allowing an increased variety of actors to smoothly switch from the mode of institutions to that of ekstitutions and back—seemingly without compromise. They actually profit from the sharp boundaries between institutional frameworks and ekstitutional networks.

At the same time, new coalitions appear: in the past few years, waves of protest have emerged against cuts in public education, the rise of tuition fees, and staff layoffs. Rather than original propositions or sharp conclusions, these movements demonstrate a new desire for alliances across the boundaries of groups that are reduced to clienteles once education becomes a business. But there is also a manifest interest in what will appear beyond the institution and its diminishing privileges: precarious labor, lifelong apprenticeship, permanent self-monitoring and self-profiling, and so forth.

5. A New Division of Labor?

It is that friction zone, the wider or narrower grey area between institutions and ekstitutions, that matters strategically: here the fault lines of a new division of immaterial labor are currently taking shape.

Under the regime of Fordism, highly skilled, white-collar workers calculated the time necessary to perform a certain task on the assembly line, and low-skilled, blue-collar workers repeated the gestures invented by their masters. The idea behind such a division of labor is usually described as an increase in efficiency: the production process is broken down into a series of steps that do not require any knowledge about the overall process; the result being a dramatic deskilling of labor, which then had to be concerned only with a specific task.

Costs were expected to decrease enormously with a systematic focus on precision, specialization, and, most importantly, the synchronization of the steps that had to be measured in time and compared against the output of others.

At first sight, it may appear as one of the paradoxes of the current debate about education that what is known as the “Bologna Process” attempts to introduce absolutely equivalent ideas of specialization, synchronization, and commensurability into a system of knowledge production that has traditionally been immune to the virtues of the standardized mass production of commodities.

It is even more surprising that these initiatives have arisen long after the Fordist model of the assembly line was surpassed by paradigms like “teamwork” that aim to encourage workers, reorganized in groups, to take overall responsibility and self-control their labor performance.

Material and immaterial production seem to have swapped some of their attributes: once considered un-commodifiable, knowledge has been turned into a standardized commodity form subject to the rudest forms of propertization, while industrial products arrive in ever more customized and singularized forms, pleasing the sophisticated desires of an increasingly differentiated customer base.

But the seemingly contradictory character of these intertwining processes may also indicate that there is another, greater shift taking place that concerns the social division of labor over and above the technical, perhaps indicating an entire reformulation and reconfiguration of the separation between manual and intellectual labor as such.

The key element of Frederick Taylor’s “scientific management” was the expropriation from workers of any production-specific knowledge in order to make the best use of expensive machinery. Through an analysis of the relevant temporal sequences, the management was able to appropriate the competence of which it was formerly deprived, knowledge that high-skilled blue-collar workers were reluctant to share with their employers. “Scientific management” claimed to mathematically systematize the expropriated knowledge and return it to the workers as alienated forms of knowledge reduced to mathematical formulas for “sliding scales” that calculated respective time targets for the fragmented work.

The appropriation of workers’ concrete experience and its abstraction as engineering science constituted a specific separation of manual and intellectual labor that seems constitutive for modern notions of science.

If we understand the situation today as the passage from a formal subsumption of immaterial labor under the rules of capital towards a real subsumption of the same, the historical analogies to Taylor’s and Ford’s intensification of the exploitation of the labor force are striking.

In the context of increased attention to the creative industries, the very idea of a systematic measurability of practices that were supposed to be essentially beyond measure has had to be sought, developed, and enforced at the core of knowledge production—in universities, design schools, and art academies. Such measurability does not emerge naturally, it cannot be discovered or researched. It needs to be implemented through the appropriation of a knowledge that has until recently been alien to capital.

At the end of the nineteenth century, the idea of measuring the labor power of a highly skilled proletarian worker would probably have appeared as absurd as if one were to consider the immaterial work of a computer programmer or professor at an art academy today. But as with the worker, capital will once again discard further ontological considerations and proceed to establish a system of temporal quantification for the sake of global exchangeability. The outcomes are foreseeable: a deskilling of the cognitive workforce through fragmentation and its resynchronization under the command of creative capital, as well as the alienation of living knowledge and its innovative potential.

The current crisis of the global financial system is only accelerating this process of expropriating specific knowledge. Budget cuts in public institutions, the privatization of the educational system, the precarization of (not only) immaterial work, and the excesses of imaginary property in general will create, on a wider scale, the experimental conditions for the technical elaboration of methods of measurement.

Finally, late capitalism can only survive a few more decades by way of an unseen intensification of exploitation in immaterial production. This would need to happen to at least the same extent as Fordism managed to reinvent itself against the growing self-confidence of proletarian workers.

6. The Virtual Studio

Historically, the workers’ movement responded to the redesign of the factory as assembly line by reinventing the concept of the union. Rather than a lean and flexible militant network that had to struggle with persecution in the workplace and in political life (such as the “socialist laws” in the 1880s in Germany), the very idea of the union was redesigned as a hierarchical mass organization with a bureaucratic apparatus capable of accommodating the talented leaders of the movement, a majority of whom were not able to adapt to the changing conditions of a deskilled workplace.

Today’s crisis may suggest a different response: in the tension between institutions and ekstitutions, new formats of organizing and unorganizing have to be invented, which—certainly not in the first place, but maybe in the long run—may lead to a reconceptualization of the idea of the “union” as a tactical and strategic alliance of very heterogeneous actors.

Neither self-institutionalization nor a further deregulation in networks remain as options. Instead, we need to ask how to reconnect actors who operate in a field characterized by an indispensable “nonalignment” towards both the privatization of knowledge as well as the fading power of public institutions. The outlines of such a project are beginning to show themselves, albeit still in very rudimentary forms; and of course they will be contested and subject to wild criticism from all parties involved and not involved. Nevertheless, there is an urgent need to develop experimental formats for generating findings that bring forward a process of “self-valorization” of knowledge that jumps across the pitfalls of the contemporary self.

Not as a conclusion, but rather as a very preliminary proposal, one of these formats thought to resist the sliding scales of neo-Taylorism in the creative industries could be entitled “virtual studio.” In the first instance, the studio has striking associations with both the workplace in creative industries and the permanent need for self-organized studies.

A studio as such is configured as a working environment that is not confined to the individual but opens up to possible worlds, to a multitude of collaborations, in unforeseeable and unexpected ways. Such collaborations are not directed towards a notion of the “common”: distinguished by logistics or infrastructure, studios can be used for very different purposes and by very different occupants; or the same occupants can constantly reconfigure a studio according to changing goals and needs.

A virtual studio is characterized by a setting that allows actors to switch their selves between varying coulisses, blue screens, and sceneries, actualizing experiences that are only virtually there. Everything is imaginary, but that does not lower the impact of what we perceive. On the contrary, it urges us to question and challenge the very notion of experience.

At the same time, any form of studio acts as a learning space that is neither public nor private. While remaining open to a varying degree it enables a specific focus on problems that are unresolved and may not be resolved easily. At a minimum it allows us to rediscover a notion of learning that is productive rather than reproductive, that is compositive rather than representational.

But the virtual studio is more than just a place. It needs to be understood as a “time-space,” expressing the intrinsic connectedness of temporal and spatial relationships; very much like how in Mikhail Bakhtin’s theory of literature the chronotope was “the place where the knots of narrative are tied and untied,”6 the virtual studio is the place where organizing and unorganizing can happen simultaneously. It is a distinct point where time and space intersect and fuse, enabling a new engagement with reality.

Precisely in the context of resisting the forces currently let loose to measure, compare, and commodify networked knowledge and render it susceptible to new forms of imaginary property, the virtual studio insists on the distinctiveness of a specific spatial arrangement that is not reproducible as such.

Furthermore, this distinction is supported by the very notion of the “working” mode; it asserts the unfinished character of the studies undertaken, which culminates in an otherwise precluded appreciation for the aleatory essence of both working and studying.

Ultimately, one may be able to rediscover in studio-like configurations a Deleuzian notion of learning “with” instead of “from” or “about.” Such a “with” reveals the truly collaborative character of working and learning. Collaborations resist any predefined notion of a common denominator, a common ground or a common goal, since they defy the technical division of labor that characterizes any form of cooperation in the last instance.

In that respect, collaborations are a practical way of reading the division of labor against the grain, and may turn out to be a way of swimming against the current of an enforced and blatantly absurd measurability of immaterial labor. Only in collaborative environments is it possible to embrace the infinitesimality of what is essentially beyond measure. The outcome of a collaboration is rampant, unforeseeable, and always unexpected. Sometimes it may not turn out nicely, it may even be harsh, but one thing is for sure: it cannot be calculated, it has to be imagined.

1 Gilles Deleuze, Difference and Repetition, trans. Paul Patton (Continuum International Publishing Group, 1994), 23.

2 Ibid., 23.

3 Ibid., 23.

4 Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science, trans. W. Kaufmann (New York: Vintage, 1974), 180. Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality, Volume 1: An Introduction, trans. Robert Hurley (New York: Pantheon Books, 1978), 73.

5 Gilles Deleuze, Negotiations, trans. Martin Joughin (New York: Columbia University Press, 1995), 179.

6 M. M. Bakhtin, “Forms of Time and Chronotope in the Novel,” in The Dialogic Imagination, ed. Michael Holquist, trans. Caryl Emerson and Michael Holquist (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1981), 250.

(Extended) Footnotes On Education

Florian Schneider

What follows is a series of loose considerations and fragmented thoughts relating to debates that have emerged over the past few years around the topic of education. On a rather abstract level, they are intended to reference discussions and struggles presently taking place in other fields; in another, more concrete sense, they might be of preliminary use in developing criteria for practical interventions in a situation widely perceived to be in crisis.

1. Learning

We learn nothing from those who say: “Do as I do.” Our only teachers are those who tell us to “do with me,” and are able to emit signs to be developed in heterogeneity rather than propose gestures for us to reproduce.1

In the preface to his first, seminal work Difference and Repetition, Gilles Deleuze articulates the challenges of pedagogy in a vivid, precise fashion. Deleuze claims that everything that teaches us something emits signs, and every act of learning is an interpretation of these signs or hieroglyphs. Using the example of learning how to swim, he points out that in practice we manage to deal with the challenge of keeping afloat only by grasping certain movements as signs. It is pointless to imitate the movements of the swimming instructor without understanding them as signs one has to decode and recompose in one’s own struggle with the water.

Such repetition is no longer that of the Same, “but involves difference—from one wave and one gesture to another, and carries that difference through the repetitive space thereby constituted.”2 The potential of such an approach to teaching and learning is huge: as soon as a notion of learning is decoupled from the possession of knowledge, as soon as difference is liberated from identity, repetition from reproduction (or resistance from representation), we may encounter what is at stake in today’s debate about education.

Rather than simply lament the decline of public institutions, the ongoing privatization of knowledge, and the resulting precariousness of access to education, we should challenge ourselves to learn how to respond to the current situation without drowning in it.

The discovery of possible points of resistance to these oncoming waves of privatization, appropriation, and commodification of knowledge has become urgent.

The system of public education is threatened by a crisis with multiple sources, a crisis that exceeds the limits of our imagination and is essentially beyond measure since what is put into question is the very idea of measurement and commensurability as such. It is a crisis of property, which has become increasingly “imaginary” in the sense that one can no longer be sure of whether or not it is real.

In an age of cognitive capitalism, however, the crisis presents itself with the very same rhetoric of quantitative measurement that was so recently implicated in the near-collapse of the financial system. Certain risks present themselves as perfectly measurable as long as they are systematically obscured; their impact becomes noticeable only when it is too late.

The problem is not just that of the inherent difficulty of assessing how critical the situation is, it is that we have reached an impasse, a failure to generate counter-concepts that could characterize a different proposal, an alternative to the existing order. We are faced with a systemic crisis of the imagination.

How can we envision, design, develop, and enjoy environments in which one learns “with” someone else instead of “from” or “about” others, as Deleuze suggested? How can we invent, create, and compose “spaces of encounter with signs” in which distinctive points “renew themselves in each other, and repetition takes shape while disguising itself?”3 What would make these spaces different to the ones we have been forced to experience in the past?

2. Exodus

The emergence of the modern educational system in the Western world was characterized by public institutions aimed at regulating the movements of both individuals and the collective social body in order to produce well-disciplined, coherent subjects on a mass scale.

Through a system of spatial control, the reproduction of gestures was drilled over and over again; the disciples’ proper internalization of these movements became the ruling principle of the passage from one disciplinary regime to the next. There was not a great deal to learn besides the fact that any kind of refusal of the discipline would lead to exclusion from one institution and referral to another.

It comes as no surprise that bodies of knowledge have been called “the disciplines.” The disciplinary institutions have organized education as a process of subjectivation that re-affirms the existing order and distribution of power in an endless loop. From the moment Nietzsche realized that, for the first time in history, knowledge “wants to be more than a mere means,” education has appeared as the arena of an inescapably circular relationship between the ways in which power can “produce knowledge, multiply discourse, induce pleasure, and generate power.”4

At a certain moment such circularity became uncomfortable. In the course of the 1980s, in both Western and Eastern Europe, an exodus took place: large segments of a generation who would normally have formed the next progressive intellectual elite refused to participate in the system of higher education in universities and academies. Unlike previous generations—especially those associated with the protest year 1968—this generation did not consider the academic field (with its specific capacity to forgive the sins of one’s youth) as a semi-public arena or training ground for social struggles or radical political agendas.

Those who realized that it had become pointless to reproduce the gestures of their masters did not only understand that there was nothing left to learn from, within, or against the institutions; they decided to take an interest in precisely the disciplining character of those institutions, the confinement of knowledge and subjectivities, the exclusion of differing and deviant forms of knowledge production.

As a result, learning could suddenly take place anywhere: in the streets, in bars or clubs, in self-organized seminars, in the office spaces of so-called social movements, in soccer stadiums, through subcultural fanzines, in squatted houses or even science shops (“Wissenschaftsläden” as they were called in German).

At the same time, the topic of learning became increasingly popular, addressing everyday practices of resistance which, back then, were ignored by the traditional system and entered the academy only after a significant delay—like poststructuralist French theory, cultural studies, or postcolonial theory. There was a plethora of unexpected places where one could learn anything and everything, at least until the mass exodus from the educational institutions caused those institutions to discover a new territory: the network.

3. The Education of a Self

Today’s crisis of the educational system, with all its consequent phenomena, can also be understood as a result of the refusal to be subjugated by the command of an educational system that represents the fading paradigm of industrial capitalism. Many of those who made careers have managed to inject the knowledge they accumulated in subcultures and social movements of the late 1970s and 1980s directly into the entrepreneurial experiments of a first wave of immaterial production by advertisement agencies, independent micro-enterprises and their cooperative networks, or new political conglomerations that popped up with the establishment of ecological networks and other social movements.

The advent of digital technologies and deregulated networks triggered a long-overdue process of deinstitutionalization and deregulation that from today’s standpoint appears to be irreversible. This process was based on a fatal promise: self-organized access to knowledge, independent of any further mediation other than that of the medium itself.

Consequently, public institutions’ state-approved monopoly over the manufacturing of knowledge gradually lost its function, its own existence rendered pointless or at least resistant to any kind of upgrade that would run the risk of radically putting their own functioning into question.

But the demise of public institutions laid the groundwork for turning education into a business, as Deleuze suspected early on:

In disciplinary societies you were always starting all over again (as you went from school to barracks, from barracks to factory), while in control societies you never finish anything . . . school is replaced by continuing education and exams by continuous assessment.5

All of a sudden, self-managed education is confronted with its caricature: the education of a self, subject to constant renegotiation and trading. The alleged rigidity of academic grading is replaced by all sorts of informal and proprietary codes ranging from corporate certificates to confirmations of internships. Above all, these codes stress the fact that one is not only responsible for oneself, for the evaluation of oneself, but also that the infinite process of self-examination is an end in itself.

As soon as learning becomes an exclusively private concern, the primary goal of what is by then a required self-education is to demonstrate and perform the permanent availability of the self in real time rather than just perform discipline in a system of spatial control. It becomes necessary to continuously perform “selves”: not as mirror-images that reproduce the gestures of a master, but as self-managed profiles, animated images of a self that needs to be multiplied infinitely in order to satisfy the insatiable demand for omnipresence that renders possible the very idea of control.

Rather than being a re-appropriation of the means of education, the current proliferation of concepts of self-education points to a major shift in and a fundamental confusion about configurations of the “self” in prevailing social thought.

4. Institutions and Ekstitutions

Under the banner of “self-education,” the effort, the costs, and the resources needed to perform an efficient system of control are outsourced to the individual. Obviously, this goes along very well with the praise of chivalries such as horizontalism, flat hierarchies, charity, and sharing. Teamwork and a flattering notion of “collaboration” have turned out to be key components of a renewed educational managerialism.

In a society of control, the postulate of lifelong learning challenges traditional views of radical, emancipatory pedagogy in both institutional and non-institutional contexts. What was formerly known as “progressive” may all of a sudden and without warning turn out to be repressive, or indeed, vice-versa.

For this reason it is necessary to revaluate the concepts of both institutions and their opponents: networked environments, deinstitutionalized and deregulated spaces such as informal networks, free universities, open academies, squatted universities, night schools, or proto-academies.

In-stitutions insist: basically they insist on the inequality between those who know and those who do not know. But they also insist that the unequal who has become equal will himself then drive the system that produces inequality by reproducing the process of its diminution. Institutions are based on the concept of limiting the transmission of knowledge, of managing the delay, of postponing equality indefinitely for the sake of infinite progress.

Networked environments or what could be called “ekstitutions” are based on exactly the opposite principle: they promise to provide instant access to knowledge. Ek-stitutions exist: their main purpose is to come into being. They exist outside the institutional framework, and instead of infinite progress, they are based on a certain temporality.

What characterizes ekstitutions is their absolute indifference towards inequalities, since it does not matter at all who possesses knowledge and who does not. One can instantly get to know what one needs to know, even if only for a limited amount of time or from distinct places. This is the formula of the ekstitution’s postulate of an equality that is essentially unfinished.

The challenge that ekstitutions permanently face is the question of organizing, while in institutional contexts the challenge is, on the contrary, the question of unorganizing. How can they become ever more flexible, lean, dynamic, efficient, and innovative? In contrast, ekstitutions struggle with the task of bare survival. What rules may be necessary in order to render possible the mere existence of an ekstitution?

Like it or not, these rules need to establish an exclusivity, something which is of vital importance; by its very nature, the institution has to be concerned with inclusion. It is supposed to be open to everybody who meets the standards set in advance, while in ekstitutions admission is subject to constant negotiation and renegotiation.

The obscurity and nebulosity in accessing ekstitutions from the outside relates, paradoxically, to their egalitarian ideology, once one reaches the inside. In institutions it is usually the other way around: no matter how difficult, they need to be generally accessible from the outside; inside, obscurity rules, barely concealed by hierarchies, formalities, representative procedures.

Ekstitutions have usually appeared as alternatives to institutions, or at least they have emerged in that order. There are of course numerous examples of ekstitutions that have first evolved and then been swallowed up by institutions. The opposite direction is still hard to even imagine, since an institution would rather cease to exist than abandon the pretense of its own infinitude.

It is crucial to acknowledge that institutions and ekstitutions cannot mix—there is no option of hybridity or of simultaneously being both, although this may very often be demanded by rather naïve third parties.

Today it seems that institutions and ekstitutions correspond to complementary rather than antagonistic modalities. What once appeared a challenge to the traditional educational framework, turns out in the current situation to be a correlate that compensates for the deficits of institutional frameworks that are gradually losing their conceits.

Probably the most underrated effect of the current crisis in education is a shift that has brought both institutions and ekstitutions much closer together. The privatization of learning has produced friction between these two different, once polarized, but now adjacent concepts.

Border economies have emerged, allowing an increased variety of actors to smoothly switch from the mode of institutions to that of ekstitutions and back—seemingly without compromise. They actually profit from the sharp boundaries between institutional frameworks and ekstitutional networks.

At the same time, new coalitions appear: in the past few years, waves of protest have emerged against cuts in public education, the rise of tuition fees, and staff layoffs. Rather than original propositions or sharp conclusions, these movements demonstrate a new desire for alliances across the boundaries of groups that are reduced to clienteles once education becomes a business. But there is also a manifest interest in what will appear beyond the institution and its diminishing privileges: precarious labor, lifelong apprenticeship, permanent self-monitoring and self-profiling, and so forth.

5. A New Division of Labor?

It is that friction zone, the wider or narrower grey area between institutions and ekstitutions, that matters strategically: here the fault lines of a new division of immaterial labor are currently taking shape.

Under the regime of Fordism, highly skilled, white-collar workers calculated the time necessary to perform a certain task on the assembly line, and low-skilled, blue-collar workers repeated the gestures invented by their masters. The idea behind such a division of labor is usually described as an increase in efficiency: the production process is broken down into a series of steps that do not require any knowledge about the overall process; the result being a dramatic deskilling of labor, which then had to be concerned only with a specific task.

Costs were expected to decrease enormously with a systematic focus on precision, specialization, and, most importantly, the synchronization of the steps that had to be measured in time and compared against the output of others.

At first sight, it may appear as one of the paradoxes of the current debate about education that what is known as the “Bologna Process” attempts to introduce absolutely equivalent ideas of specialization, synchronization, and commensurability into a system of knowledge production that has traditionally been immune to the virtues of the standardized mass production of commodities.

It is even more surprising that these initiatives have arisen long after the Fordist model of the assembly line was surpassed by paradigms like “teamwork” that aim to encourage workers, reorganized in groups, to take overall responsibility and self-control their labor performance.

Material and immaterial production seem to have swapped some of their attributes: once considered un-commodifiable, knowledge has been turned into a standardized commodity form subject to the rudest forms of propertization, while industrial products arrive in ever more customized and singularized forms, pleasing the sophisticated desires of an increasingly differentiated customer base.

But the seemingly contradictory character of these intertwining processes may also indicate that there is another, greater shift taking place that concerns the social division of labor over and above the technical, perhaps indicating an entire reformulation and reconfiguration of the separation between manual and intellectual labor as such.

The key element of Frederick Taylor’s “scientific management” was the expropriation from workers of any production-specific knowledge in order to make the best use of expensive machinery. Through an analysis of the relevant temporal sequences, the management was able to appropriate the competence of which it was formerly deprived, knowledge that high-skilled blue-collar workers were reluctant to share with their employers. “Scientific management” claimed to mathematically systematize the expropriated knowledge and return it to the workers as alienated forms of knowledge reduced to mathematical formulas for “sliding scales” that calculated respective time targets for the fragmented work.

The appropriation of workers’ concrete experience and its abstraction as engineering science constituted a specific separation of manual and intellectual labor that seems constitutive for modern notions of science.

If we understand the situation today as the passage from a formal subsumption of immaterial labor under the rules of capital towards a real subsumption of the same, the historical analogies to Taylor’s and Ford’s intensification of the exploitation of the labor force are striking.

In the context of increased attention to the creative industries, the very idea of a systematic measurability of practices that were supposed to be essentially beyond measure has had to be sought, developed, and enforced at the core of knowledge production—in universities, design schools, and art academies. Such measurability does not emerge naturally, it cannot be discovered or researched. It needs to be implemented through the appropriation of a knowledge that has until recently been alien to capital.

At the end of the nineteenth century, the idea of measuring the labor power of a highly skilled proletarian worker would probably have appeared as absurd as if one were to consider the immaterial work of a computer programmer or professor at an art academy today. But as with the worker, capital will once again discard further ontological considerations and proceed to establish a system of temporal quantification for the sake of global exchangeability. The outcomes are foreseeable: a deskilling of the cognitive workforce through fragmentation and its resynchronization under the command of creative capital, as well as the alienation of living knowledge and its innovative potential.

The current crisis of the global financial system is only accelerating this process of expropriating specific knowledge. Budget cuts in public institutions, the privatization of the educational system, the precarization of (not only) immaterial work, and the excesses of imaginary property in general will create, on a wider scale, the experimental conditions for the technical elaboration of methods of measurement.

Finally, late capitalism can only survive a few more decades by way of an unseen intensification of exploitation in immaterial production. This would need to happen to at least the same extent as Fordism managed to reinvent itself against the growing self-confidence of proletarian workers.

6. The Virtual Studio

Historically, the workers’ movement responded to the redesign of the factory as assembly line by reinventing the concept of the union. Rather than a lean and flexible militant network that had to struggle with persecution in the workplace and in political life (such as the “socialist laws” in the 1880s in Germany), the very idea of the union was redesigned as a hierarchical mass organization with a bureaucratic apparatus capable of accommodating the talented leaders of the movement, a majority of whom were not able to adapt to the changing conditions of a deskilled workplace.

Today’s crisis may suggest a different response: in the tension between institutions and ekstitutions, new formats of organizing and unorganizing have to be invented, which—certainly not in the first place, but maybe in the long run—may lead to a reconceptualization of the idea of the “union” as a tactical and strategic alliance of very heterogeneous actors.

Neither self-institutionalization nor a further deregulation in networks remain as options. Instead, we need to ask how to reconnect actors who operate in a field characterized by an indispensable “nonalignment” towards both the privatization of knowledge as well as the fading power of public institutions. The outlines of such a project are beginning to show themselves, albeit still in very rudimentary forms; and of course they will be contested and subject to wild criticism from all parties involved and not involved. Nevertheless, there is an urgent need to develop experimental formats for generating findings that bring forward a process of “self-valorization” of knowledge that jumps across the pitfalls of the contemporary self.

Not as a conclusion, but rather as a very preliminary proposal, one of these formats thought to resist the sliding scales of neo-Taylorism in the creative industries could be entitled “virtual studio.” In the first instance, the studio has striking associations with both the workplace in creative industries and the permanent need for self-organized studies.

A studio as such is configured as a working environment that is not confined to the individual but opens up to possible worlds, to a multitude of collaborations, in unforeseeable and unexpected ways. Such collaborations are not directed towards a notion of the “common”: distinguished by logistics or infrastructure, studios can be used for very different purposes and by very different occupants; or the same occupants can constantly reconfigure a studio according to changing goals and needs.

A virtual studio is characterized by a setting that allows actors to switch their selves between varying coulisses, blue screens, and sceneries, actualizing experiences that are only virtually there. Everything is imaginary, but that does not lower the impact of what we perceive. On the contrary, it urges us to question and challenge the very notion of experience.

At the same time, any form of studio acts as a learning space that is neither public nor private. While remaining open to a varying degree it enables a specific focus on problems that are unresolved and may not be resolved easily. At a minimum it allows us to rediscover a notion of learning that is productive rather than reproductive, that is compositive rather than representational.

But the virtual studio is more than just a place. It needs to be understood as a “time-space,” expressing the intrinsic connectedness of temporal and spatial relationships; very much like how in Mikhail Bakhtin’s theory of literature the chronotope was “the place where the knots of narrative are tied and untied,”6 the virtual studio is the place where organizing and unorganizing can happen simultaneously. It is a distinct point where time and space intersect and fuse, enabling a new engagement with reality.

Precisely in the context of resisting the forces currently let loose to measure, compare, and commodify networked knowledge and render it susceptible to new forms of imaginary property, the virtual studio insists on the distinctiveness of a specific spatial arrangement that is not reproducible as such.

Furthermore, this distinction is supported by the very notion of the “working” mode; it asserts the unfinished character of the studies undertaken, which culminates in an otherwise precluded appreciation for the aleatory essence of both working and studying.

Ultimately, one may be able to rediscover in studio-like configurations a Deleuzian notion of learning “with” instead of “from” or “about.” Such a “with” reveals the truly collaborative character of working and learning. Collaborations resist any predefined notion of a common denominator, a common ground or a common goal, since they defy the technical division of labor that characterizes any form of cooperation in the last instance.

In that respect, collaborations are a practical way of reading the division of labor against the grain, and may turn out to be a way of swimming against the current of an enforced and blatantly absurd measurability of immaterial labor. Only in collaborative environments is it possible to embrace the infinitesimality of what is essentially beyond measure. The outcome of a collaboration is rampant, unforeseeable, and always unexpected. Sometimes it may not turn out nicely, it may even be harsh, but one thing is for sure: it cannot be calculated, it has to be imagined.

1 Gilles Deleuze, Difference and Repetition, trans. Paul Patton (Continuum International Publishing Group, 1994), 23.

2 Ibid., 23.

3 Ibid., 23.

4 Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science, trans. W. Kaufmann (New York: Vintage, 1974), 180. Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality, Volume 1: An Introduction, trans. Robert Hurley (New York: Pantheon Books, 1978), 73.

5 Gilles Deleuze, Negotiations, trans. Martin Joughin (New York: Columbia University Press, 1995), 179.

6 M. M. Bakhtin, “Forms of Time and Chronotope in the Novel,” in The Dialogic Imagination, ed. Michael Holquist, trans. Caryl Emerson and Michael Holquist (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1981), 250.

Theses on the Concept of the Digital Simulacrum

Florian Schneider

1.

The deceptive nature of the digital image is not evoked by a certain resemblance of original and copy, or reality and its simulation. No matter whether faithful or unfaithful, the similitude of the simulacrum seems no longer a question of likeness or unlikeness. Instead, similarity has turned into simultaneity; it has become a question entirely occupied by time: synchronized time and temporal command.

The digital image is characterized by a promise of instant availability in so-called real time that comes along with the idea of global compatibility. Today, the illusionary character of the image lies in the proclamation of immediate access to the recorded data as well as in the idea of unlimited exchangeability bypassing any actual resemblance.

2.

The realm of the digital is organized by discrete signals and it has to result in a limited amount of data. The illusion of instant availability is based on a prompt compression without sensible delay and without any kind of processing, development or conscious manipulation over time. It stands for a dramatic diminution of raw data that are reduced to what various algorithms of the format may identify as useful information according to recurring patterns. Allegedly useless information is discarded without further notice; this negotiation happens constantly and without a public possibility to interfere.

3.

The process of reduction used to characterize the act of creation, as by framing, focusing, and composing it was supposed to structure the image and define visibility, to produce meaning and to give order to what would be otherwise considered as unsolicited. With the digital simulacrum these traditional techniques are backing out and they become subject to automatization themselves. Ironically, the act of photography regresses to the state it was conceived of at its very beginning: rather than the product of an act of creation the image itself is a simple reproduction, a soulless replica and the photographer appears just as a prolongation of the machine.

4.

The elimination of uncontrolled and uncontrollable creativity over time seems to allow the re-inscription of the ancient property regime of the original into the copy. Neither iconicity, nor indexicality and symbolicity are any longer inherent to the image; they are attached to the image post festum and with a relevant effort afterwards or independently from the act of creation. The singularity of the image, its documentary function appears as a supplement that is added only in the form of separate metadata.

These metadata appear as coordinates which have to be synchronized in order to anchor the digital image that is always on the move in a real life and that otherwise would have no connection to reality. It becomes obvious that metadata are the surplus value which is to be appropriated and expropriated from the images.

5.

Contemporary image production is condemned to pose the question of property at the intersection of two axes: property that becomes increasingly a matter of imagination and images that are subject to ongoing propertization.

In an economy based on imaginary property the real abstraction of the exchange has turned into its opposite, the real-time exchange of data that are abstracted from the image which does not portray or equal anything anymore. What matters instead is the instant comparison of metadata that are divested and transformed into relational value.

Relational value is everything but beyond measure. In fact it solves a fundamental problem: how can one quantify the appropriation of images in terms of value if what is produced is immaterial or merely affective, let alone imaginary? What can be counted, measured and traded are in fact the relations generated from the abstraction of metadata out of images.

The passage from real abstraction to the abstract reality of an economy of metadata inverts the laws of exchange:

The solipsism of the exchangers is replaced by gregarious networking; the constancy of the commodity form has become precarious and instable always threatened by decay; exchange and use are no longer separated in time, but happen simultaneously; the principal of exchangeability is outsourced from the commodity itself and its abstract singularity to all its potentially ubiquitous and simultaneous relationships.

What reveals itself is nothing but the common in the commodity form.

6.

Consequentially the simulacrum has lost its potential to challenge and overturn privileged positions, and open up to the lived reality of the sub-representational domain. On the contrary, the privileged position of ownership, no matter whether legitimate or illegitimate, has seized the subversive power of the simulacrum.

In the society of control, permanent availability has replaced the idea of representation. That means that the attempt to represent has expanded beyond any limit of gravity and it contracts in the notion of real-time. This is only possible because of a shift: what is in fact subject to control are just images rather than the lives of individuals themselves; while the micro-mechanisms of disciplinary power are concerned with the production of a self, the society of control operates through profiling: instead of copies of an original these profiles are animated images of a self that needs to be multiplied infinitely in order to satisfy the insatiable demand for omnipresence which renders possible the very idea of control.

7.

The subversive potential that once characterized the simulacrum has been dispelled to an imaginary area below the noise margin. Here, in a state of exile it enjoys a regained freedom of movement that is opposed to the very idea of purification through compression. Rather than the border of the image being an underground territory, that is unconscious or whatever, the noise margin folds into a spatio-temporal matrix where data is pointless in the three dimensions of solicitation, purpose and meaning. In a fourth dimension the linearity of time has collapsed: too early, too late, in any case a false time that is radically opposed to real-time. In the society of control this is the area of retreat for any resistance against communication.

Notes on the division of labor

Florian Schneider

On the 13th of March 2007 the Bank of England issued a new style 20 pound note that successively replaces the old one with portrait of Sir Edward Elgar on the back. Along with a different ‘look’ of the note, the main change is the inclusion of a portrait of Adam Smith on the back of the note, along with the image of a pin-making factory and a summary of Smith’s observations on the benefits of the division of labour, drawn from his major work, "An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations".

In the famous example of a pin factory, Smith explained how co-operation between workers in the factory to divide tasks between them raised their combined output. He went on to explain how, by trading with others, both at home and abroad, we could specialise our own production and society as a whole would benefit from higher incomes and standards of living. The banknote depicts the division of labour in the pin factory, with a caption based on The Wealth of Nations: “and the great increase in the quantity of work that results”.

"To take an example, therefore, from a very trifling manufacture; but one in which the division of labour has been very often taken notice of, the trade of the pin-maker; a workman not educated to this business (which the division of labour has rendered a distinct trade), nor acquainted with the use of the machinery employed in it (to the invention of which the same division of labour has probably given occasion), could scarce, perhaps, with his utmost industry, make one pin in a day, and certainly could not make twenty. But in the way in which this business is now carried on, not only the whole work is a peculiar trade, but it is divided into a number of branches, of which the greater part are likewise peculiar trades. One man draws out the wire, another straights it, a third cuts it, a fourth points it, a fifth grinds it at the top for receiving, the head; to make the head requires two or three distinct operations; to put it on is a peculiar business, to whiten the pins is another; it is even a trade by itself to put them into the paper; and the important business of making a pin is, in this manner, divided into about eighteen distinct operations, which, in some manufactories, are all performed by distinct hands, though in others the same man will sometimes perform two or three of them."

"Division of labor" is a concept that has been first systematically explored by William Petty, whom Karl Marx considered "the founding father of political economy". Petty observed enthusiastically how in the course of the 18th century specialization in clothmaking, watch manufacturing and shipping was supposed to increase overall productivity by its cheapening effects:

"Cloth must be cheaper made, when one Cards, another Spins, another Weaves, another Draws, another Dresses, another Presses and Packs; then when all the operations above mentioned were clumsily performed by the same hand.

In the making of a Watch, If one Man should make the Wheels, another the Spring, another shall Engrave the Dial-Plate, and another shall make the Cases, then the Watch will be better and cheaper than if the whole Work be put upon any one Man."

Petty tried to explain the material basis of the contrast between Dutch economical success and poverty in Ireland. In fact he applied the principle of the division of labor which he experienced in shipyards in the Netherlands to his survey on Ireland by putting into practice the very notion of a division of scientific labor. He split up the statistical tasks into what could be easily done by unskilled soldiers and what would need professional attention.

"The average man in a communist society would be able to go fishing in the morning, work in a factory in the afternoon and read Plato in the evening ". According to bestseller author Alain de Botton Karl Marx must have imagined communist utopia as an "implausibly high-minded combination of activities".

Within one single working day one would enjoy unhurried peasant lifestyle, benefit from the effiency of industrial production and then turn to the blessings of brainwork. In such an idyllic scenario communism would be everything else but boring.

As a celebration of the whole variety of human capacities it would mark the unification of body and mind in an integral approach. And isn't precisely that what in the 19th century Marx is supposed to describe as an utopia today the reality for a growing number of highly skilled workers, namely in the "creative industries"?

There is only one little problem. The quote which the author who is most recently responsible for projects with titles like like "The School of Life" assigned to what he calls the "concluding volume" of "Das Kapital" is the invention of de Botton himself.

Unfortunately, Marx has not made any remark like that in any of the volumes of "The capital". Instead, there are remarkably different lines in "The German Ideology", a book he wrote 30 years earlier:

"In communist society, where nobody has one exclusive sphere of activity but each can become accomplished in any branch he wishes, society regulates the general production and thus makes it possible for me to do one thing today and another tomorrow, to hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticise after dinner, just as I have a mind, without ever becoming hunter, fisherman, herdsman or critic."

After that Marx did not dare to give any further hint about how one should imagine communism although permanently pressured by the growing proletarian movement to reveal his vision of a communist utopia. Marx refused a religious, utopian notion of communism and insisted instead on the "scientific" character of his research.

In deed, much more interesting than the distribution of concrete practices between hunting, fishing and hearding plus some criticism after work is the rather abstract thought that comes after that:

"This fixation of social activity, this consolidation of what we ourselves produce into an objective power above us, growing out of our control, thwarting our expectations, bringing to naught our calculations, is one of the chief factors in historical development up till now."

In the first volume of "Das Kapital" Karl Marx has introduced a sharp distiction between a division of labor that is a technical or economic division of labor and that is supposed to increase efficiency in the process of co-operation.

But then he also identified a social division of labor that is socially constructed. The result is a double division of labor:

- the technical division of labor in the enterprise and in a particular industry that broke down the production process into a sequence of tasks and

- the social division of labor among enterprises, industries, and social classes that was mediated through commodity exchange in market relations.

Division of labor appears as a double relation along two axes or "connections" whose specific combination constitutes the historical uniqueness of a mode of production (Althusser and Balibar in "Reading Capital"):

1. A relation of real appropriation designates the structure of the labor process, that is, the relation of the laborer to the means of production by which the transformation of nature is undertaken. This relation constitutes the "technical division of labor" or the forces of production.

2. A property relation designates the mode of appropriation of the social product. This relation, the "social division of labor" or relations of production, implies the intervention of an individual or a collectivity, who, by the exercise of economic ownership, controls access to the means of production and the reproduction of the productive forces.

The success of Ford's model T ("a motor car for the great multitude") was made possible by the introduction of a new factory system that characterizes first of all a new technical division of labor.

It was based on an enormous increases of

- precision: only interchangeable parts were used in manufacturing

- specialisation: breaking up the assembly of a car into 84 distinct steps

- synchronization: A minimum time spent in set-up between these steps. motion studies by Frederick Taylor had to determine the exact speed at which the work should proceed and the exact motions workers should use to accomplish their tasks.

The Model T was the first automobile mass produced on assembly lines with completely interchangeable parts. Machines were used to reduce complexity of the production process in 84 areas in order to streamline the assembly process of a car from 12.5 hours to 93 minutes. Instead of skilled craftsmen, low-skilled or untrained workers were hired who needed skills and knowledge in only one of the 84 areas.

At the same time Fordism has triggered a dramatic expansion a new social division of labor from what was by then called productive to reproductive work: Workers are not only supposed to produce products at a much greater efficiency, but due to relative high wages, they were at the same time targeted as consumers. The intensification and differentiation of the production process is partly compensated by increasing amounts of free time and higher wages that in the return had to be spent for the consumption of the same products.

The intensification of the labor process was accompagnied by the moral regulation of the private lives of workers. Work and non-work life became increasingly linked up. In his famous text on "Americanism and Fordism" Gramsci argues that the new methods of work are inseparable from a specific mode of living and of thinking and feeling life."

For Emile Durkheim, founder of modern sociology as an academic discipline, the principal cause of the progress of the division of labor is what he coined "organic solidarity" -- as opposed to primitive societies which are characterized by a "mechanical solidarity" that is based on resemblance.

"Each organ, in effect, has its special physiognomy, its autonomy. And, moreover, the unity of the organism is as great as the individuation of the parts is more marked."

Durkheim rejects the utilitarian explanation of division of labor by gains in efficiency. Instead he introduces the idea of a "moral density" between previously unrelated social units and the emergence of a new "conscience collective".

Besides the highly problematic analogy of society as a biological organism Durkheims theory of the division of labors draws from two sources that seem constitutive for the emergence of modern humanities:

- the binary opposition of primitive versus civilized society which is inseparably linked with 19th century colonialism

- the direct transposition of Darwins "struggle for survival" to the idea of economic competition as the mediating mechanism between a growing social volume and advances in the division of labor.

The separation between manual and intellectual labor is constitutive for industrial capitalism: The separation of those who work "with their hands" and those who work with their "brain" is the fundamental proposition of the class society.

Alfred Sohn Rethel sees the division of manual and intellectual labor in close correspondance with the real abstraction of the commodity form and the epistemological implications of a philosophical tradition that understands thinking as a product of thinking and ultimately seperates between theory and practice and opens up the gap between conception and execution.

The exchange commodities goes along with an abstraction from the specific goods. Only the value of these goods is important. This abstraction is called 'real abstraction' because it takes place without a conscious effort, whether anybody is aware of it or not is of no importance. "People do not know it but they do it" (Marx). Sohn-Rethel argues that the real abstraction of the commodity form to be the real basis of formal and abstract thinking. All of Kant's categories such as space, time, quality, substance, accident, movement and so forth are implicit in the act of exchange.

Sohn-Rethel sees the transcendental unity of self-consciousness as an intellectual reflection of ‘the form of exchangeability of commodities underlying the unity of money and the social synthesis’.

Adolf Eichmann, the manager of the logistics of the masstransports of European Jews to the extermination camps during World War 2 has been considered as the personification of the specialisation of labor in industrial capitalism and the inherent collapse of morality.

When Eichmann was brought to court in Israel in 1961 his line of defense was built on denying any legal responsibility for the deportations to the death-camps although Eichmann is referring to his reputation as a "specialist" in his field of all the logistics regarding expatriation, expropriation, and deportation of Jewish people.

In her report from the trial for the magazine "New Yorker" Hannah Arendt coined the expression of the "banality of evil". In Eichmann she did not discover a lack of empathy, as many other observers, she detected no stupidity, rather thoughtlessness.

It seems that the specification of knowledge and its celebration in managerialism coincides with a collapse of thinking since the fragmented action evacuates itself of any responsibility or even meaning.

Besides the massive proliferation of all sorts types of subjectivity related to the specialist (like the TV-expert, the nerd, the indian IT expert, just to name a very few) within culture industry we can encounter the opposite in the realm of production: A re-injection of individual creativity, overall responsability, forced collective liability, group or peer-pressure in ever smaller, isolated units of production under the banner of teamwork and co-operation.

Facing its increasing political irrelevance the official marxist debate in the course of the 20th century has more or less systematically shifted the focus from a materialist analysis of the division of labor towards phenomena of the superstructure: the culture industry, consumer society, society of spectacle etc.

What we experience today as "creative industries" is the reintegration of all sorts of practices that have not been considered productive under the reign of a new social division of labor. Political theory and organizing practices, have to re-address the issues of political economy in an significantly extended version.

How would it look like if instead of reasoning about the essence of immaterial production or the very character of creative industries one would investigate contemporary forms of the division of labor in postindustrial production processes?

1. At the first sight an increased level of control seems to be the ultimate purpose of a technical division of labor today.

2. While the segmentation of the work process in industrial production lead to an evacuation of meaning, in so-called immaterial production it is the other way around: meaning needs to be resampled through the re-collection of isolated practices under capitalist command or in more friendly words: co-operation. It is the proprietary code itself which does not only regulate access to the means of production and the repoduction of the productive forces, but establishes itself as a goal on its own.

The decomposition of the factory and the break-up of its theatrical unity of location, time, and story line have produced a new social division of labor that reflects that decomposition. The technical division of labor is sourced out to individual mini-entrepreneurial units with various split occupations across time and space.

The molar segmentations of the traditional division of labor that was based on reducing complexity, decreasing the knowledge that is needed for the steps of production is replaced by a rather molecular segmentation. The linear dramaturgy of the assembly line has turned into a transversal organization of work without an end or any limit.

This should lead us to research other divisions of labor beyond the technical and social division of labor. For example, the intensified fordist production in free trade zones expresses a global division of labor that runs parallel to colonial exploitation in the 19th century by providing ressources like cheap labor force on which the boom of the creative industries relies; gender-specific divisions of labor that have overhauled the fordist model of the small family, and hence demand new, migrant domestic labor.

If "division of labor is limited by the extent of the market" (Adam Smith) and the number and relative density of the population is a necessary condition for the division of labor (Karl Marx) it is as urgent as obvious that an analysis of the social division of labor today neesd to open up a new perspective on the effects of both, migration movements, as well as new information and communication technologies that have emerged in the end of the 20th century.

The ongoing lament about the precarization of labor provides if any, then only very superficial insight on the results of a massive reconfiguration of the work process. A radical political theory and praxis need at least attempt to get to the root of the problem and investigate a new division of labor that occurs as a response to the change in the mode of production.

At the same time, the booming praise and worship of the common appears as unadulterated kitsch. Instead of indulging in utopianism, rather than proclaiming an alleged commonality, that would exist a-priori to the hostile conditions of the postmodern workplace, a political project has to reflect how exactly one mode of production is superseded by another, the division of labor is altered, and the understanding of what constitutes fulfilling self-activity is redefined.

In the same way as the concept of proletarian solidarity was raising against the fragmentation and segmentation of workers subjectivity at the assembly line, an upgraded version is to be developed that would be capable of resisting the new social division of labor in postindustrial production or even propagating a new workerism of the creative industries. A concept of collaboration, as a refusal of co-operation, based on the experience that the only thing we have in common might be the fact that we have nothing in common.

The scandal - Notes on the autonomy of the image

Florian Schneider

It is the night of the 29th of September 2005. 215 men and women have made a momentous decision. Over several weeks or months they have been eking out an existence reduced to bare survival; seeking cover in a low forest or shrubland, camping in flimsy tents, with no access to food or water, and without money.

Although they came so close to the final destination of a journey full of privations, what opens up now is a reverse perspective: the longer they are standing still the further they get from the finish. Europe, or at least the official territory of what is considered the 'European Union,’ is only a few meters away.

They have been discussing the problem in many nightly meetings. Should they take the risk and leave one night all together or wait for another opportunity? Should they continue to try to cross the border in small groups of at most a dozen people—in such low numbers that it does not cause a stir?
The people living in the forest are well organized in small groups of 15 to 20 members. Most of them gather according to their countries of origin, but there are others who join a group of a different country. A group elects a leader among its members, and the group leaders meet in a council.

The decision to cross the border in the night of the 29th of September is almost unanimous, though apparently without the consent of the elder leaders who are sometimes called 'the fathers of the forest.' They must have feared the scandal such a decision would cause; they were aware, at least, that such an exodus and its aftermath would dramatically change the situation in the forest.

The images taken by the CCTV cameras of the Guardia Civil, the Spanish military police, show dozens of people using improvised ladders to climb the three-meter-high fence running along the 50 kilometer border around Ceuta, a military outpost in the north of Morocco.

One can only guess how painful it must be for a human body to crawl through the barbed wire; and then one sees them jumping the three meters down onto the road that runs behind the fence.

Almost everybody was hurt. Broken arms, legs and sprained ankles, injuries to the head. Seven people lost their lives. They did not survive the fall into Europe. Or they were shot by the border patrol's rubber bullets.

The footage spread by Reuters over the next few days is a sacrilege of serious journalism. It consists of a nine-second sequence from the images of the surveillance cameras, animated in fast motion. Broadcast all around the globe, looping every hour, a dribbling voice-over gabbles about the 'storming of Fortress Europe.'

The sequence turns out to be an unintentional piece of art. In its conceptual radicalism and determination it far outstrips many 'politically engaged' works seen at biennials and art exhibitions which deal—more or less superficially—with the issues of borders and migration.

Instead, the border appears here in its almost perfect postmodern design: performed through a scandal, in a widely publicized incident involving moral outrage, disgrace, and allegations of wrongdoing.

But what is so scandalous about these images? At first sight, the scandal relates to the collective attempt to overcome the border, the self-authorized and self-organized transgression of the fence.
It is a scandal in the truest sense of the word, which derives from the Latin 'scandere,' to climb. But there is yet another, no less compelling, etymological perspective: the border as 'skandalon,' which is the ancient Greek word for a stumbling block.

In this respect, the events of the 29th of September serve as an exquisite example of what activists and theorists of the 'noborder network' have, since the early 1990s, called the 'autonomy of migration.'

This expression seeks to understand migration as a much more complex process than its usual reduction to misery and calamity. The patterns of victimization are as omnipresent as the ubiquitous control system. Both advocates and adversaries of the contemporary border regime seem to understand migration as a logical result of the movements of capital—as its unsavory aftereffect or appendix.

The 'autonomy of migration' claims that both research and activism should refrain from indulging in recurrent tropes of charity and compassion. Instead, it recognizes the manifold social and political processes needed to practically cross a border. These processes are, politically, constituting migrant subjectivities.

Migration is not the action of an isolated, asocial, expelled individual. Its social and subjective dimensions appear, rather, in its autonomy and independence of the political measures that try to control it. To escape one's country of origin, to cross borders, to perhaps seek something more somewhere else, is an eminently political act.

But the night’s events had an even wider impact. They exposed the redundancy of the hi-tech gadgets central to the staging of technological supremacy around Ceuta (and in many other border sites).

Every few hundred meters, there is a watchtower equipped with spotlights, sound and movement sensors, and video cameras providing CCTV footage to a central control booth via underground cables.

The decision of the Guardia Civil to release the footage was deliberate. Normally it is inaccessible to the public and the press.

Yet the scandal is not the release of the images; rather, it lies in fast-forwarding them. The low frame rate of the recordings of the surveillance camera is accelerated through an additional time lapse. Normally this video effect is applied in order to highlight processes that would appear rather subtle to the human eye.

The purpose is all too clear: of the 215 people who crossed the fence that night, only a few dozen were captured in the published footage. The manipulation of the images transforms the distinct number of individuals into a swarming mass.

The animation effect, also known as ‘undercranking,’ transforms them into animals—even insects, bereft of all human agency. Their staccato, choppy movements reveal an imaginary plague beleaguering Europe, over-running its outposts and fortifications.

According to the dictionary, a scandal usually is produced by a mixture of both real and imaginary events. The scandal suppresses the distinction between the real and the imaginary. It operates through unuttered laws which regulate that which is permitted to some and not permitted to others.

The real movements of the border crossers who appear in the news footage are chopped up and broken into the smallest possible pieces, jerky, saccadic movements. In order to reconstruct an impression of coherence, they have to merge inseparably with the most banal, enduring fantasies and 'common sense' about illegal immigration.

The scandal transforms the event to solicit a moral outrage, the purpose of which is nothing but the reaffirmation of the border, which would otherwise be invisible, disputed or disbelieved.

The scandal affirms that the border is still there, still true. Its conceptual homogenization of real and imaginary reassures us. Moreover, t allows us to enjoy and to cooperate with the regime that relies on the frail and ineffectual facts on the ground. On the same basis, we can even worry about its perversions and moderately criticize its violent character.

Each of these three notions of the scandal are instantiated by the frame of the image as well as within the frame. The frame is the allegedly necessary homogenization of real and imaginary elements. It is the border that limits what is and is not visible, and thereby establishes what can and cannot be said.

And yet there is another, a more disturbing presence, beyond the field of the image and its homogenization of space and time— indeed, beyond the frame of the scandal and its homogenization of real and imaginary.

It takes place out-of-field, outside of the frame, and it testifies to an elsewhere; not to something literally to the left or the right of the frame, but rather to the spaces where the border crossers come from, and where they are going. Neither exists in the immediacy of the footage of the events; both must be negated, ignored, in the mise-en-scene of 'Fortress Europe.'

Moussa K., for example: he fled from the civil war in Sierra Leone in 2003 looking for another life in Europe. Passing through Guinea-Conakry, Mauritania, and the Western Sahara, he tried to enter Spanish territory in Las Palmas, but was caught by Moroccan police and deported to Oujda on the Moroccan-Algerian border. With some comrades he decided to try again in Ceuta.

In June 2005, after a month of walking across 900 kilometers of Moroccan desert, they reached Castillago, a small town near the border at Ceuta. 'We lived like animals—it was like in a war zone,' he recalls of the three months he spent in the shrubs.

On the 28th of September he decided to take part in the collective attempt to climb across the barbed wire fence and make his way into Ceuta. The slogan of the collective effort was: 'No retreat, no surrender.'

Moussa made his own ladder from small tree trunks and branches and succeeded—unlike his friend, who died from police gunfire. A few weeks later his injuries were almost healed. He now hopes to obtain a residency in Spain and to study mining somewhere in Europe.

But what is really at stake is not the relative out-of-field, such as geographical destinations, privations and longings, motivations and identities, but the nullification of any subjectivity. The essential function of the border regime is to render innocuous any past experience of the border crosser, let alone future desires. As soon as the border is passed, engineers become cleaners, academics turn into sex workers and brain surgeons become taxi drivers—ready-made for overexploitation on the informal labor markets of late capitalism.

Rather than lamenting the unfairness and considering himself a victim, Moussa K. seems to understand border crossing as an process of extreme desubjectivation—in large part by living in ways that are almost unlivable. Pushed beyond the conditions and limits of what is often described as 'human,' his experiences become a sort of negative freedom, as Foucault might say.

Border crossing exists neither in the images nor in the imaginaries of the border and its regime of scandalization. It rather insists or subsists somewhere else, in an absolute out-of -field or hors-champ'

In his cinema books, Gilles Deleuze associated an ‘absolute out-of-field’ with the concept of 'durée' or duration. Instead of measuring sequenced movements in homogeneous space, he suggested a heterogeneous, non-representative notion of time which is irreversible, irretrievable and indivisible.

Something quite stunning happens when the published, animated nine second sequence of border crossers at Ceuta are re-rendered back into what might have been experienced as 'real time.' The specters supposedly overrunning Fortress Europe seem to stand still. Every single image is stretched and prolonged to an almost unbearable extent.

Since CCTV cameras usually run with a lower frame rate, in this case compensated for by the speeding up of the video material into fast motion, any attempt to slow it down again results in what, at first sight, seems a pointless duplication of each single original frame.

With one exception: the only moving part of the image is the counter of the time code running smoothly from frame to frame, replacing one image with its double, metering a faked sameness and presenting every 25th part of a second as if it were enjoyable as pure time while all the content of the image is waiting for the next moment of release.

As the movement of the border crossers is halted for a moment that feels infinite, one witnesses a strange kind of apparition. The deadlock of over-mediated content causes a collapse of time. It has emerged as the result of a two-fold manipulation of the footage: first a fast-forwarding for the sake of the scandal, then its reversal through slow-motion: an ethically necessary, but apparently quite arbitrary restoration of the time in which what seemed to happen could have actually happened.

The elapsing of time produces new blocs of invisibility, potential hide-outs between the still images—uncontrolled zones between the frames.

Blank Space

Annett Busch and Florian Schneider

1.

"When I grow up I shall go there." The nine year old Konrad Korzeniowski points his finger into the middle of nowhere. The grown up, then called Joseph Conrad later designates it as "the blankest of all blank spaces". The little Konrad was a noble polish boy, son of a patriotic writer, who was exiled to the cold north of Russia. He was looking at the map of Africa and chose his destination with "absolute assurance and amazing audacity" as he recalls himself when he became the famous writer Joseph Conrad.

"To open to civilization the only part of our globe which it has not yet penetrated, to pierce the darkness which hangs over entire peoples..." With these words the "King of the Belgians", Leopold II. welcomed the participants of the "Geographical Conference" that took place in September 1876 at the Royal Palace in Brussels. Only nine years after nearly one million square miles in central Africa, an area that Joseph Conrad once called "the blankest of all blank spaces", has been named the "Congo Free State". For the next 23 years it was the private property of Leopold II. During that period at least 8 million people lost their lives under a regime of terror and exploitation.

Blank spaces are not blank at all. They have been blanked out in order to be appropriated. It is a negative act of imagination that eradicates anything that is there in order to be able to properly own it. The blank space is the canvas on which imagination projects: an allegedly empty signifier which may stimulate the phantasies of nine-year old Konrad.

But in fact it has been emptied out of meaning. Leopold and his handyman in the Congo, well-armed explorer H.M. Stanley managed to make treaties with nearly 500 "native chiefs" in which they signed over their land to the "king of the belgians" for almost nothing, like a few pieces of cloths and a couple of bottles of gin. With the help of an Oxford scholar Leopold promoted the right of private companies to act as if they were souvereign countries.

2.

Blankness and ignorance correspond to a fascination for depth and darkness. In the perspective of imperial romanticism the blank and the dark are mutually dependant: They refer to unknown and unconscious streams that are running in the deep inside. "What greatness had not floated on the ebb of that water into the mystery of an unknown earth?... The dreams of men, the seeds of commonwealths, the germs of empires." Joseph Conrads "Heart of Darkness" opens on the river Thames, in the very centre of colonialism.

On the other side, the Congo river then is described as "a mighty big river, that you could see on the map, resembling an immense snake uncoiled, with its head in the sea, its body at rest curving afar over a vast country, and its tail lost in the depths of the land." The jungle and African wilderness is used as a metaphor for human sub- or unconscious, which is penetrated "deeper and deeper into the heart of darkness". Africa becomes increasingly "impenetrable to human thought".

From late 19th century literature, silent movies in the 1920ies to todays TV series and soap operas this pattern is repeated ad nauseam: the scramble for Africa is depicted as a kathartic experience that rectifies the unsettled psyche of the colonizer in crisis who tried to escape from either bourgeois ennui or social declassation.

Like Edward Said wrote: "What they saw as a non-European "darkness" was in fact a non-European world resisting imperialism so as one day to regain sovereignty and independence, and not, as Conrad reductively says, to re-establish the darkness."

3.

Joseph Conrads "phantom world of darkness" is inhabited by a prototype of radical evil, the industrialized mass murder that several decades later has been carried out to perfection. Hannah Arendt who called Heart of Darkness "the most illuminating work on actual race experience in Africa" has noted that in the "fictituous world of totalitarianism" radical or absolute evil may appear as sheer banality.

The new adventurers are "reckless without hardihood, greedy without audacity, and cruel without courage". It is hollowness that shapes the characters from King Leopold II to the blueprints of Mister Kurtz like station chief Leon Rom or ivory trader Georges Antoine Klein, from the infamous "Kongo-Mueller" of Heynowski/Scheumanns documentary "The laughing man" to german mass-murderer Carl Peters whom Arendt considers the model for Conrad's Kurtz.

Hollowness fuses blank surfaces and the dark interior. Humanitarianism and genocide, racism and philantropy are not opposed to each others at all. Leopold robbed his private colony and set up his slave labour regime of all things on the basis of the noble cause of abolitionism. At the before mentioned "Geographical conference" in 1876 he proposed the establishment of an international benevolent committee for the "propagation of civilisation among the peoples of the Congo region by means of scientific exploration, legal trade and war against the 'Arabic' slave traders."

What at the first glance may appear as hypocrisy constitutes in fact a topology of industrialism that is both, radical in its desire to exterminate the other and banal in the sense of a bureaucratic vanity that takes care of the atrocities.

4.

1890, Joseph Conrad finally realised his childhood ambition and, as a captain, travelled in a steamer up the Congo river. Based on these experiences he wrote his novella "Heart of Darkness" which gained him worldwide fame as a fiction writer.

In the same year George Washington Williams adressed an "Open Letter to His Serene Majesty". Williams was an african-american minister and lawyer who originally was seriously impressed by Leopolds anti-slavery rhetorics and met him in Brussels before he started his expedition into the "Congo Free State".

"Good and Great Friend", he starts his report of twelve "carefully investigated charges" against Leopolds government: "How throroughly I have been disenchanted, dissapointed and disheartened, it is now my painful duty to make known to your Majesty in plain but respectful language."

Long before it was used in the Nuremberg trials Williams coined the term "crimes against humanity" in order to characterize the regime of terror, exploitation, and atrocities carried out by King Leopold as the sole proprietor, banker and stakeholder of the "Free State of Congo". But it took another 18 years, many letters and international campaigning before the Belgium government was forced to annex the Congo by buying it from King Leopold. In recognition of the "great sacrifices" he has made for the Congo, Leopold received a huge payout on top of the riches he has extracted from Congo in the years of the rubber boom.

5.

According to Edward Said the postcolonial situation is characterized as a network of interdependent histories. Letters written out of these histories cannot be sorted and delivered to their legitimate addressees; they keep bouncing and return to the sender.

If it is safe to say that industrial capitalism is based on colonial genocides that pave the way to the natural resources and raw commodities, what are the blank spaces today? There is a blankness that expands from the proxy wars that turned the independency of Congo in 1960 after only a few months into a battlefield of the cold war, that runs across the three-decade dictatorship of Mobutu propped up by western allies and multinational corporations and leads to todays "Tantalum wars" financed by the exportation of Coltan, a metal powder that is used for the production of capacitors for portable computers and mobile phones.

Matonge is a neighbouhood in Ixelles, in the south of Brussels. The quarter near Porte de Namur intersection, is renamed after the marketplace and the commercial district with the same name in Kinshasa. It is situated about five hundred meters from the Royal Palace and in between two upmarket zones: the European ‘Leopold' quarter and the Avenue Louise. Since the late 1950ies immigrants from Congo moved into the district and shaped the neighbourhood in a style to resemble the original Matonge.

Today, the blankest of all blank spaces is called Europe. And one of the many bouncing letters to Leopold keeps telling the story of those who may today point their fingers on the map towards Europe saying: "When I grow up I shall go there."

Kollaboration

Florian Schneider

Fast unbemerkt hat sich in den letzten Jahren ein Begriff im zeitgenössischen Wortschatz breit gemacht, der sich durch eine gewisse Heimtücke auszeichnet. Spätestens seit der Lobpreis von "social networking" den Katzenjammer nach der "New economy" vergessen macht, ist "Kollaboration" zur Losung geworden, um neue Formen von Zusammenarbeit in immateriellen Produktionsverhältnissen programmatisch zu umreissen.

"Kollaboration" ist Fremd- und Lehnwort zugleich; eine Code, der auf den hauchdünnen und spiegelglatten Oberflächen der sich vernetzenden Sprachräume Konnotationen verschiebt und neue Bedeutungszusammenhänge stiftet.

Dabei könnte es etymologisch kaum einfacher zugehen: Kollaboration stammt vom lateinischen "collaborare" ab und heisst ganz einfach "Zusammenarbeit". Im Angelsächsischen hat sich der unbescholtene, unmittelbare Wortsinn erhalten - zugespitzt auf vornehmlich intellektuelle Bestrebungen, die eben nichts mit hartem Zupacken, Schweiss oder Dreck unter den Fingernägeln zu tun haben.

Im Deutschen war es von Anfang an komplizierter: Kollaboration ist seit Beginn des 19. Jahrhunderts vor allem dazu verwendet worden, um in Zeiten kriegerischer Auseinandersetzungen die willentliche Zusammenarbeit mit einer Macht zu kennzeichnen, die eigentlich als feindlich angesehen werden muss und zu der zumindest keine legitimierte Verbindung besteht.

War die Frage der Zusammenarbeit deutscher Intellektueller mit den französischen Revolutionstruppen zu Zeiten der napoleonischen Kriege noch Gegenstand heftiger Debatten mit unterschiedlichen politischen Implikationen und kollidierenden Wertesystemen, hat sich der eindeutig abwertende Wortsinn von Kollaboration erst im Laufe des Zweiten Weltkrieges herausgebildet. Nachdem Marshall Petain die Franzosen im Oktober 1940 in einer Radioansprache zur "Collaboration" mit dem Hitlerfaschismus aufrief, griff auch die französische "Resistance" diese Wortwahl auf und brandmarkte so die Anhänger des Vichy-Regimes als Opportunisten und Feiglinge.

In den meisten europäischen Sprachen hat sich in der Nachkriegszeit die pejorative Konnotation von Kollaboration wenn nicht durchgesetzt, so doch zumindest erhalten. Umso erstaunlicher ist es, dass sich mit dem Siegeszug von Internet und den sich damit ausbreitenden strukturellen Anglizismen mittlerweile eine Synonymität von Kollaboration und Kooperation eingestellt zu haben scheint, die eher dazu führt, die spannenden begrifflichen Dimensionen einzuebnen.

Im Gegensatz zu Kooperation, die zunächst einmal durch eine von vorneherein fest stehende Integrität besticht, ist Kollaboration ein Kampfbegriff, der, eben weil er anrüchig, umstritten und hart umkämpft ist, reichlich Aufschluss gibt über die Widersprüche und Eigensinnigkeiten in bestimmten Konstellationen.

Heute wirkt es sinnvoller denn je, prinzipiell zwischen Kollaboration und Kooperation zu unterscheiden; nicht zuletzt, um nicht Gefahr zu laufen, Produktions- und Arbeitsverhältnissen zu glorifizieren, die vorgeben, sich über räumliche und zeitliche Distanzen hinwegzusetzen und die Widersprüche in einem harmonischen Miteinander zugunsten eines übergeordneten Ganzen aufzulösen versuchen.

Bei Kollaboration geht es schließlich um genau das Gegenteil dessen, was die Managementtheorie seit den 80er Jahren als "Teamwork" verbrämt hat - also den Akt der Unterwerfung der eigenen Subjektivität unter das allgegenwärtige Kontrollregime der Gruppe, die den Vorarbeiter ersetzt hat und die Steigerung der Arbeitsleistung nicht mithilfe von Repressalien, sondern mithilfe einer aberwitzigen kollektiven Identifikation einer kleinen Zahl von Kollegen als miteinander konkurrierende Kleingruppen herstellt.

Kollaboration stellt den Idealismus von Kooperation und Teamwork vom Kopf auf die Füße. Kollaboration bedeutet, Geheimnisse untereinander auszutauschen. Und zwar nicht aus sentimentalen Regungen, aus philantropischen Impulsen oder um der Effizienz willen, sondern aus eigenem Interesse - was auch immer das sein mag.

Statt die vermeintliche Generosität einer Gruppe zu bemühen, in der die Einzelnen einander entweder solidarisch oder auf Befehl verbunden sind, handeln Kollaborationen von einem eher schroffen, im Prinzip ungenerösen Modus, in dem die Einzelnen, je mehr sie ihre eigenen Interessen verfolgen, umso stärker aufeinander angewiesen sind.

Es ist eigentlich unmöglich, Kollaborationen zu planen. Sie passieren vielmehr. Es handelt sich um performative und transformative Prozesse, die nicht an ihren Inhalten, ihren jeweiligen Bestandteilen und möglichen Ergebnissen interessiert sind, sondern im Gegenteil: Kollaboration verkehrt die gewohnte Abfolge und gegenseitige Unterordnung der beteiligten Komponenten.

Es geht um das plötzliche Bedürfnis, die gewohnten Grenzen der eigenen Erfahrungen, Fertigkeiten und intellektuellen Resourcen zu überschreiten, um in namenlose und fremde Territorien vorzudringen, in denen Fähigkeiten, die bislang als individuell verstanden wurden, sich auf wundersame Art und Weise mit denen anderer verbinden.

Vor allen Dingen handelt es sich nicht um das mehr oder weniger großzügige Gewähren von Zugang, sondern die Anerkennung einer unerwarteten Vielfalt und völlig ungewissen Verortung von Zugangsmöglichkeiten.

Während Kooperationen eindeutig identifizierbare Individuen innerhalb oder zwischen Verschiedenen Organisationen involvieren, drücken Kollaborationen differenzierte Beziehungen von heterogenen Elementen aus, die als Singularitäten bezeichnet werden können.

An sich nicht identifizierbar oder Gegenstand von vereinheitlichenden Kategorisierungen, definieren sie sich über die gerade entstehenden Beziehungen untereinander. Kollaboration findet außerhalb der herkömmlichen Kategorien statt, ist außergewöhnlich und produziert Diskontinuität. Sie beginnt eben an dem Punkt, von dem aus alles weitere unberechenbar wird.

Rationalität wird durch eine Art Relationalität ersetzt, die Informationen immerfort zerlegt und wieder neu zusammensetzt, um sich vorübergehend unerwartete Dynamiken und Kontingenzen zunutze zu machen.

Exzessivität ist das wesentliche Kennzeichen von Kollaboration. Sie befindet sich jenseits jeder Messbarkeit und trifft sich mit der mathematischen Definition von Singularität als dem Punkt, an dem eine Kurve ins Unendliche abdriftet oder sich sonstwie unberechenbar benimmt.

Die Singularität verweist auf das Prekäre in Kollaborationen, ihre systemische Instabilität statuiert ein Exempel der Krise, die heutzutage mit den Umbrüchen und Transformationen der Arbeitsgesellschaft assoziiert wird - allesamt Prozesse, die durchaus auch als Übergang vom Paradigma der Kooperation zu dem der Kollaboration verstanden werden können.

Von der Börsenspekulation zur Entwicklung von Netzwerkprotokollen, von der Produktion neuer ästhetischer Fragestellungen in Kunst und Kultur bis hin zu politischem Aktivismus auf globaler Ebene: Menschen kommen zusammen und arbeiten unter Umständen zusammen, in denen ihre Leistungen, Effizienz und Arbeitskraft nicht mehr für sich genommen zu würdigen und zu bemessen sind, sondern sich immer auf die Arbeit jeweils anderer beziehen.

Das eigene Schaffen ist einzigartig, aber nur in immer bloss vorübergehend existierenden Netzwerken hervorzubringen, die sich aus unzähligen, unverwechselbaren Abhängigkeitsverhältnissen zusammensetzen. Verbindungen knüpfen und über einen gewissen Zeitraum aufrecht zu erhalten wird wichtiger als Ideen einzufangen, abzulegen und einzulagern.

Es ist ein steter Kampf ums eigene, prekäre Überleben in Geflechten aus Freiwilligkeit, Enthusiasmus, Kreativität, vorübergehender Beschäftigung, immensem Druck, regelmäßig wiederkehrendem Selbstzweifel und Verzweiflung: Modell für im Rest der Gesellschaft immer weiter um sich greifende Beschäftigungsverhältnisse, die sich hinter der geheuchelten Rhetorik von Kooperation, Vernetzung und Clusterbildung verbergen.

Solche Formen von Zusammenarbeit sind nun alles andere als romantisch und haben allenfalls gemein, dass sie nichts mehr miteinander gemein haben. Das Gemeinsame erscheint unvorstellbar und kann nurmehr als Negativität begriffen werden, dessen Quadratwurzel eine imaginäre Zahl ergeben muss.

Kollaborationen sind die "schwarzen Löcher" der Informations- und Wissensregime. Sie schlucken alles und produzieren Nichts, sie generieren reine Opulenz und ungewöhnliches Verhalten, das von den Normen der institutionellen Logik abweicht. Die damit einhergehende Unvorhersehbarkeit ist Wesenzug und eigentliche Stärke der Kollaboration.

Im Unterschied zur Kooperation, die immer einen von außen auferlegten Sinn beinhalten muss, ist Kollaboration eine immanente und illegitime Praxis. Schließlich stellt sie den Versuch dar, inmitten der in Echtzeit operierenden Netzwerke der Kontrollgesellschaft ein größtmögliches Maß an Autonomie zurückzuerlangen.

Productive Anticipation

Irit Rogoff and Florian Schneider

“The subject is the boundary of a continuous movement between an inside and an outside... If the subject cannot be reduced to an externalized citizenship, can it invest citizenship with force and life ?” (Negri to Deleuze) 1

The visible modes of power, those invested in institutions of governance, bureaucracies, multinational corporations, international agencies, military-industrial complexes, media monopolies etc. are relatively easy to locate and characterise. But what of emergent configurations of power? Those not sustained by permanently constituted institutions and therefore less easily discernable, more difficult not just to locate and characterise, but also to imagine as being meaningful.

Instead of attempting an alternative mapping of forms of power just ‘coming into vision’ we are proposing a notion of ‘productive anticipation’. A state which is both reflective and participatory but not one of indications and navigations, not one that tries to didactically point to where one might look and what one might see. This processual mode of observing and narrating a perception of the politics we are all mired in, this mode of political ‘becomings’, is one that we feel exemplifies ‘contemporaeinity’ and is exemplary of a politics which is, as Rosi Braidotti might say , ‘transposed’ from one modality to another 2. It might also require us to produce and inhabit a series of fictions which serve as a location inhabited by new modes of politics, since the observation of so called realities around us might not quite be able to host, or allow legibility to what we are in search of. So in the first instance we need to see what might be out there, of how it is configured when it takes the form of so called ‘cultural’ activity rather than so called ‘political’ activity. Subsequently we might try our hand at seeing what kind of vocabulary these activities have generated in order to think through a coming politics..

Our inquiry focuses on the ways in which newly configured notions of ‘activism’ and ‘participation’ are providing alternative entry points and strategies of taking part; in politics, in culture, in life in general.

We are obviously aware that there is a proliferation of activisms at present – we understand their issues, we understand the relations between the groups and movements. But do we fully understand how this proliferation has changed our notion of access to the political? It is here, in the reflection on access that activism and participation become a complex continuum of modes providing a relation to access; to institutions, to world events, to one another. This leads us to ask ‘what is urgency’ and how does it differ from ‘emergency’, to an understanding that ‘emergency‘ is always a response to a set of immediate circumstances while ‘urgency’ is a recognition of the systemic shift in relations between the constitutive elements of the world we live in. It is at this point that one can begin to chart relations between older groups such as “Amnesty International”, “Greenpeace” and “Doctors without Borders” to more recent alter-globalisation movements and many others. Equally this produces a frame to understand why professional groups such as doctors and architects for example, have begun intervening in the political sphere from the perspective of what they specifically know and understand.

At the heart of our argument is an attempt to ‘look away’ from the centres of power as defining both the questions that are being asked and the means we might have at our disposal to respond to these. Instead we want to focus our attention on the proliferation of ‘activist’ and ‘participatory’ manifestations around the globe. It is becoming clear that these are marking the desire of people to actually articulate their own questions and find ever more inventive modes of taking part in the processes that are determining their lives. Equally that they are doing so in ‘minor gestures’ that don’t pretend at wholesale change but manifest an engagement and an involvement through series of minute transformations. It equally exemplifies the very significant shift between analysing long lines of developments and acting in the moment.

In addition we have become interested in the exceptionally manifest and performative quality of this new sensibility: The sheer numbers of people marching, demonstrating, writing statements, making their way to the World Social Forum, banding together on the internet, communicating ferociously, figuring out alternative ways of educating themselves for contemporary needs that are unfathomed by institutions. The new uses of cultural spaces such as art institutions, music festivals and international exhibitions as communicative forums – all these have clearly moved these activities away from the traditional model of ‘ideological protest’ and towards an understanding that there are possibilities for insisting that ‘one is in the world’ and ‘one is heard’ without rushing to establish new institutional structures that will replace the old ones.

The blurred boundaries of what it is and what it means to be inside / or outside and the resultant instability of the identities involved in making and remaking the world, have led us to shift our attention somewhat from new categories of identity such as global citizenship. Instead the very concept of 'investment' moves center stage making clear that it is not the inhabitation of power but the processes of intermingling subjectivities with it, that is at stake. This 'investment' does not imply the outlay, expenditure or the expansion of exiting structures. Instead it functions in an 'anticipatory' mode, which means the translation of a general unease into a series of potentialities. Within this anticipatory mode, procedures are suspended, operating modes are speculative, issues are just on the cusp of articulation, analysis is not yet possible - In this mode the subject does not have a clear cut position or a stable place from which to think its position and therefore acts in a speculative mode. The visible indicators of change are evolving in less formal and structured ways and which are sometimes more difficult to discern since their manifestations are at times ephemeral and contingent. What concerns us here is the drive to appropriate the right to make changes, the right to transform the protocols by which subjects take part in the culture of politics both locally and globally. Equally it is to address questions of how people give themselves permission to voice positions when they have not been asked to do so, how do they evolve new strategies for taking part in cultural and political events and processes, when these do not yet exist for eliciting their participation.

Instead of an analysis one has to produce a fiction in order to have a framework in which to operate, to grasp an idea of the strength and transformative power that it might have to offer. Political movements like, the so-called anti-globalization movement or even the notorious "movement of 1968", have never properly existed as tangible, experienceable or questionable expressions of power or counter-power, they came to life as a sort of 'social fiction' that have tremendous performative effects in the world.

Contrary to proper functionality and epistemological facts, such social fiction does not only refer to its very essence of being 'made' or 'made up' of something, as a concoction by mixing different desires as ingredients for a collective identificatory scheme; it involves us at the level of narrative fiction, a possibility of considering something before it exists properly in time and taking up developments that are not yet in place. It is anticipation in the most productive sense and it needs to be discerned from reproductive anticipation as pure pre-emptiveness that works on the basis of a predictable and projected repetitivity.

From migration to new media, in the last instance the discourse of globalization is driven by imaginative powers: the power to anticipate circumstances as if they were already given and hence they obtain their force to actualize what exists as a virtuality.

The ability of illegal bordercrossers to anticipate a world without borders constitutes their real threat to the current border regimes - because it questions the widely propagated idea of migration management, the paradigm of directing, filtering and selecting migratory fluxes in principal and not just on the basis of an individual case or by sheer numbers. Or, the capacity of peer-to-peer or filesharing networks to anticipate free and equal access to the sources of wealth in a knowledge economy which is the real basis of their superiority over traditional distribution systems.

Productive anticipation means playing with the unforseeable, unpredictable, uncalculable. The objective of any activity in this respect is what cannot be forecasted. Insofar it has nothing to do with dreaming about a better world or utopianism, it rejects the quasi-religious connotations of hope; its elementary openness, its experimental character puts forth a certain asynchronicity and strangeness while being entirely focussed on the here and now. Productive anticipation marks precisely the unexplicable and unexploitable rest that makes the difference between networking and the "new economy", between wild and immanent forms of collaboration and the predictable, purpose-driven nature of co-operation, between freedom of movement on a global scale and narrow-minded notions of mobility.

When addressed through 'culture' the implication of this conceptual shift is that this is not a representational field in which the political developments of the material world are reflected. Not founded in analysis or in a set of material conditions, the ability to speculate and anticipate becomes central to its formation and its emergence. Culture then transforms from a set of mirroring effects through which you can read various material and systemic shifts, to the staging ground of irreconcilable paradoxes.

Thus for example the anti-globalisation movement has produced an actual notion of the global, that which it seemingly opposes. As such it is producing a far more coherent concept of 'global' which in turn gets taken up and worked through the major agencies of global management. It would seem that both a coherent category and its major points of concern, arrived at by an oppositional movement, have in fact become the lynch pins of the official discourse.

We do not see such paradoxes as the 'failure' to arrive at an all encompassing insight or at an operational model but as precisely 'anticipatory'. Rather than creating conditions, dependencies and causalities such notion of speculative anticipation can be characterized by opening up spaces in which new forms of activities can take place even before they are actually grounded or rooted in a situation or context. In his speculation on the ferocity of the Chinese government’s response to the protests in Tiananmen Square, Giorgio Agamben says: “What was most striking about the demonstrations of the Chinese May, was the relative absence of determinate contents in their demands (democracy and freedom are notions too generic and broadly defined to constitute the real object of conflict, and the only concrete demand , the rehabilitation of Hu Yao-Bang, was immediately granted). This makes the violence of the State’s reaction seem even more inexplicable... The novelty of the coming politics is that it will no longer be a struggle between the state and the non-state (humanity), an insurmountable struggle between whatever singularity and the state organisation... What the state cannot tolerate in any way, however, is that the singularities form a community without affirming an identity, that humans co-belong without any representable condition of belonging (even in the form of a simple presupposition.”3 What Agamben is sketching out, even in the midst of a real crisis, is an anticipatory mode, a way of indicating a change in the rules without prescribing an alternative.

Thus productive anticipation is a mode of precipitating what is not explainable by by the given context of a situation. It requires operating with a certain variability instead of reflectivity. In a world where everything gets modified and modifiable, what are the ways in which culture becomes an investment of citizenship with life and force ? How would we understand this notion of investment ? Perhaps this investment signals the non reflective mode of culture ? Culture then might be distanced from a creative mode in which representational forms for the existing and clearly discernable problems of the world are invented.

It seems at least too early if not impossible to propose adequate answers to these questions. Instead, we suggest five terms to elaborate the entanglements of activism and participation:

1. Access

The dissemination of contemporary culture, operating through institutions such as funded museums, theatres, festivals etc’, is under increasing pressure to be 'accessible' since it is seen as having a purpose , and its purpose is to rehearse in another modality and with greater emphasis on subjectivity, conditions which exist in the world. Since the demise of the mid 20th century model of culture as a source for contemplation and edification , an ever increasing pressure has set in to activate audiences and make them ‘aware’. The discourses of ‘accessibilty’ propagated by both the state and the public institutions of culture, are aimed at providing ‘points of entry’ that forge an illusion of transparency and inclusion. Inadvertently they also espouse what is deemed as a necessary simplification on behalf of a notion of communicativeness. It is the role of culture, it would seem, to mediate between two levels of reality; objective and subjective and to put forward a model of translation and like in any other model of translation, clarity and comprehension are its paramount values. The problem with these discourses of ‘accessibility’ aside from the fact that they are deeply condescending, is that they produce a simplification of conditions that people experience as extremely complicated and we would argue that instead of producing a simplified comprehension people might be searching for access to complexity.

And so instead we might posit an understanding of cultural practices viewed as inventing points of 'access' to engaging urgent issues which are in the process of articulation. 'Access' seems to us to be one of the most urgent drives of contemporary culture. In contemporaeinity it is a question of ‘access’ – of how do we get to know things ?, how do we get to take part in them ?, how do we work out a position ?, how do we intervene not as a response to a demand to participate but as a way of taking over the means of producing the very questions that are circulating ?

The state of ‘productive anticipation’ we have broached encompasses the tension between the desire for ‘access’ and the ability to actually inhabit the conditions and issues that shape our lives.

2. Direction (directed and undirected participation)

The question that dominates this understanding of participation is ‘what does it mean to take part in culture beyond the roles that culture allots us for this purspose?’ . Beyond being viewers, listeners, visitors , beyond being voters, inmates and fillers of census forms ?

As these we mostly encounter directed participation in which we are allotted both roles and protocols to follow. Even in the art world and even within those practices that have attempted to actually thematise participation as their subject , we find mostly instances of directed participation. Throughout the 1990s we saw many exhibitions that attempted to stage the viewer as an active participant in the life of the exhibition. Each one of these exhibitions, more or less successfully dealt with issues of the representation of the marginal and with strategies of participation within the larger map of culture. All put forward an alternative to that model of participation determined by the good intentions and democratic aspirations of curators and organizers. Running the gamut from Hans Ulrich Olbrist's project "Take Me I'm Yours" at London's Serpentine Gallery in 1996, to Christine Hill's far more complex "Thrift Shop" at Documenta X in 1997 -- these exemplify the models of participation predicated on a predetermined strategy, its rules set out as if in a game, its audiences treated like mice in some scientific experiment in which they scuttle through mazes and pedal on carousels in order to prove some point. What is so disappointing about such projects is not the effect of the projects themselves but the curatorial assumptions which sustain them . Assumptions about processes of democratizing cultural institutions by giving audiences some mechanical task to carry out and involving the materials of every day life; old clothes, chewed gum, newspapers, anonymous photographs etc'. In these choreographed games no attention is paid to the power bases of the institutions themselves, to the needs of the audiences, to the possibility that these visitors might have something of value and relevance to say if only given the space and the possibility and the legitimacy to articulate it. Perhaps most irritating is the use of everyday materials galvanized to act out some fantasy of democracy in action. These materials are familiar and not highly valued and therefore presumably perceived as 'popular', in setting them up a priori as a set of alternative cultural materials not only is nothing new being introduced into the discursive realm of the exhibition but that very possibility of actually encountering either an unknown formulation or the unexpected subversive deployment of them, a Situationist 'detournage' of familiar materials, is effectively blocked.

A conjunction of ‘access’ and of ‘participation’ in a contemporary vein would allow audiences and publics to set out the questions and to invent modes of participation , would allow us to take part also at the level of the unconscious; gathering, muttering, nodding our heads, catching a glimpse from the corner of one’s eye and adding all these together to some mode of a collective and meaningful presence.

3. Singularities

To unpack 'singularity' we are using Giorgio Agamben's argument in "The Coming Community" that asks how we can conceive of a human community that lays no claims to identity? Of how a community can be formed of singularities that refuse any criteria of belonging? A community whose collective basis is neither the shared ideological principles nor the empathies of affinity and similarity?
"The coming community is whatever being... The whatever in question here relates to singularity not in its indifference with respect to a common property (to a concept, for example; being red, being French, being Muslim) but only in it’s being such as it is. Singularity is thus freed from the false dilemma that obliges knowledge to choose between the ineffability of the individual and the intelligibility of the universal. … In this conception, such-and-such being is reclaimed from having this or that property, which identifies it as belonging to this or that set, to this or that class (the reds, the French, the Muslims) - and it is reclaimed not for another class nor for the simple generic absence of any belonging but for its being-such, for belonging itself. Thus being-such which remains constantly hidden in the condition of belonging and which is in no way a real predicate, comes to light itself: The singularity exposed as such is whatever you want, that is, lovable.”

Agamben continues, "Whatever is the figure of pure singularity. Whatever singularity has no identity, it is not determinate with respect to a concept, but neither is it simply indeterminate; rather it is determined only through its relation to an idea, that is, to the totality of its possibilities. Through this relation, as Kant said, singularity borders all possibility and thus receives its omnimoda determinato not from its participation in a determinate concept or some actual property (being red, Italian, Communist) but only by means of this bordering.”4

The potential of ‘singularity’ in relation to issues of ‘access’ and of ‘participation’ is that it proposes another relation between subjects, one of being. As J.L.Nancy argues this allows us a transition from a collective of ‘having (something) in common’ to one of ‘being in common’ 5. Thus ‘singularity’ is another mode of relationality, another possibility of building community not around a shared set of claims but rather around the sharing of momentary proximities and affiliations.

4. Collaboration and collectivities

Facing the challenges of digital technologies, global communications, and networking environments, as well as the inherent ignorance of traditional systems towards these, exciting new modes 'working together' have emerged. Collaboration has become one of the leading terms of a contemporary political sensibility that characterizes a new generation of practices in the fields of art, political activism, as well as software development.

In contrast to cooperation, collaboration is driven by complex realities rather than romantic notions of common grounds or commonality. It is an ambivalent process constituted by a set of paradoxical relationships between co-producers who affect one another.

Collaboration entails rhizomatic structures where knowledge grows exuberantly and proliferates in unforeseeable ways. In contrast to cooperation, which always implies an organic model and a transcendent function, collaboration is a strictly immanent and wild praxis. Every collaborative activity begins and ends within the framework of the collaboration. It has no external goal and cannot be decreed; it is strict intransitivity, it takes place, so to speak, for its own sake.

Collaborations are voracious. Once they are set into motion they can rapidly beset and affect entire modes of production. "Free" or "open source" software development is probably the most prominent example for the transformative power of collaboration to "un-define" the relationships between authors and producers on one side and users and consumers on the other side. It imposes a paradigm that treats every user as a potential collaborator who could effectively join the development of the code regardless of their actual interests and capacities. Participation becomes virtual: It is enough that one could contribute a patch or file an issue, one does not necessarily have to do it in order to enjoy the dynamics, the efficacy and the essential openess of a collaboration.

In the last instance collaborations are driven by the desire to create difference and refuse the absolutistic power of organization. Collaboration entails overcoming scarcity and inequality and struggling for the freedom to produce. It carries an immense social potential, as it is a form of realisation and experience of the unlimited creativity of a multiplicity of all productive practices.

5. Ownership

In the juridical sense ownership means exclusive possession or control of property. With the increasing digitization of knowledge and immaterial as well as material goods exclusivity as the determinant aspect of ownership is more and more pressurized. The loss- and costfree copyability of digital content and its distribution in networked environments poses the question of radically new models of ownership, that do no longer operate on the basis of identity and leave the logics of inclusion and exclusion behind.

The emergence of open licensing models in the free and open source software movement, its expansion as "creative commons license" into the field of cultural production as well as non-legal forms of appropriation usually coined as "piracy" show the tremendous urgency of inventing, trying and evaluating a variety of concepts that facilitate multiplication and widest possible distribution regardless of their compatibility with the legal standards of western civil law. Against the vision of digital rights management scenarios which are supposed to enable a system of control that operates in real time and is very likely to kill every aspect of further creativity, a notion of syndicated ownership is about to come into being which explicitely embraces asynchronicity, appropriation and further modification.

What Ravi Sundaram calls "pirated modernity"6 has in deed become the blueprint of another globalization, one that opens up a notion of the global that runs through places: "Local markets, neighbourhood music/video stores, grayware computer and audio-video assemblers, independent cable operators are usually part of the pirate network of distribution, which also ‘bleeds’ into other parts of the city. The commodities of the copy are multi-use, recombined/recycled and in near-constant circulation. In Delhi the media copy exists in a symbiotic relationship with all other commodities and industries: clothes, cosmetics, medicine, household goods, and also car and machine parts. As is evident, copy culture pits pirate modernity right into a global social conflict on definitions of property."

The manifolded and unlimited variations which characterize pirate copy cultures and their imaginative strategies in launching ever new modes of re-distribution may ironically lead back to an aspect that is constitutive for any kind of ownership: first of all ownership is a matter of imagination, an act of determining space and time, a rule of production. In order to own one needs not only to construct oneself as a coherent and self-identical subjectivity, one also has to make others believe in such a construction and suggest to be powerful enough to sustain it over a certain period of time and according to a certain territory. The more fluid property becomes the more unpromising these efforts seem: In order to mobilize imaginatory forces to hold up such constructions in the realm of immaterial production, it would require a despotic homogenisation of time and space on a global scale which makes the current discourse of globalization look just like a walk in the park.

These five terms may be taken as a basis for creative investigation and experimentation with a series of terminologies and methodologies that might be capable of examining the potential of what it could mean to “invest citizenship with force and life”. What needs to be researched are processes of subjectivation and – like Deleuze suggests in his answer to Negri's question that opened up this text – “the extent to which they elude both established forms of knowledge and the dominant forms of power”.

Culture which has first re-appeared in the debate on globalization under the banner of a "Cultural exception" cannot be characterized as an area that needs to be protected. Instead of lamenting about the “MacWorld”, we have to believe in our powers to make world.

Collaboration: Some Thoughts Concerning New Ways of Learning and Working Together

Florian Schneider

If one principle could be seen to inform the opaque surface of what in the 1990s was called a "new economy" -- the shifts and changes, the dynamics and blockades, the emergencies and habit formations taking place within the realm of immaterial production -- it would certainly be: "Work together".

Facing the challenges of digital technologies, global communications, and networking environments, as well as the inherant ignorance of traditional systems towards these, 'working together' has emerged as an unsystematic mode of collective learning processes.

Slowly and almost unnoticeably, a new word came into vogue. At first sight it might seem the least significant common denominator for describing new modes of working together, yet "collaboration" has become one of the leading terms of an emergent contemporary political sensibility.

Often collapsed into the most utilitarian understanding, 'collaboration' is far more than acting together, as it extends towards a network of interconnected approaches and efforts. Literally meaning working together with others, especially in an intellectual endeavor, the term is nowadays widely used to describe new forms of labour relations within the realm of immaterial production in various fields; yet despite its significant presence there is very little research and theoretical reflection on it. This might be due to a wide range of partly contradictory factors that are interestingly intertwined.

As a pejorative term, collaboration stands for willingly assisting an enemy of one's country, especially an occupying force or malevolent power. It means working together with an agency with which one is not immediately connected. Most prominently, "collaboration" became the slogan of the French Vichy regime after the meeting of Hitler and Marshall Petain in Lontoire-sur-le-Loir in October 1940. In a radio speech Petain officially enlisted the French population to "collaborate" with the German occupiers, while the French resistance movement later branded those who cooperated with the German forces as "collaborators".

Despite these negative origins, the term collaboration is mostly used today as a synonym for cooperation. Dictionary definitions and vernacular uses are generally more or less equivalent; but etymologically, historically and politically it seems to make more sense to elaborate on the actual differences between various coexisting layers of meaning.

Is it in principle, possible to make a relevant distinction between cooperation and collaboration and to what end? If so, what characterizes the constellations, social assemblages and relationships in which people collaborate? And last but not least: Does this have any impact for the current debate on education?

What follows are seven notes and propositions in which I try do adress these questions in a very preliminary, eclectic and sketchy way.

1.

In pedagogical discourse, both cooperation and collaboration are relatively new terms. They emerged in the 1970s in the context of "joint learning activities" and "project-based learning", which were supposed to break with an authoritarian teacher-centred style of guiding the thinking of the student.

What might be defined as "educational teamwork" corresponds to an idea promoted at the same time by management theory; that is, in a teamwork environment, people are supposed to understand and believe that thinking, planning, decisions and actions are better when done in cooperation.

At the beginning of the last century and well ahead of his time, Andrew Carnegie, steel-tycoon and founder of Carnegie Technical Schools, said: "Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision, the ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results."

To this day, this famous quote has probably featured prominently in a myriad powerpoint presentations by human resource managers across the globe, but its central argument only became a reality in the early 1980s, when the crisis in the car manufacturing industries triggered the first large scale proliferation of the concept of teamwork in the realm of industrial production.

Factories that had hitherto been characterized by a highly specialized division of labour usually coupled with a strong self-organization of the workers in trade unions were turned upside down: teamwork started being considered as a prerequisite for breaking the power of the unions, dropping labour costs and moving towards so-called 'lean' production, which was seen at the time as a response to global competition and the success of Japanese exports to the US and Europe in particular.

In late industrial capitalism the notion of teamwork represented the subjugation of workers' subjectivity to an omnipresent and individualized control regime. The concept of group replaced the classical one of "foremanship" as the disciplining force. Rather than through repression, cost efficiency was increased by means of peer-pressure and the collective identification of relatively small groups of multi-skilled co-workers.

The model of teamwork soon spread across different industries and branches, yet without any great success. Meanwhile, various research studies showed that teams often make the wrong decisions, especially when the task involves solving rather complex problems. Teamwork frequently fails for the simple fact that internalized modes of cooperation are characterized by "hoarding" or stockpiling, quite the opposite of knowledge sharing: in the pursuit of a career, relevant information must be hidden from others. Joining forces in a group or team also increases the likelihood of failure rather than success; awkward group dynamics, unforeseeable external pressures and bad management practices are responsible for the rest.

This overall failure is even more staggering if we consider that rapid technological development and the availability of global intellectual resources were supposed to have increased the pressure on individuals to exchange knowledge within and between groups. Yet as knowledge became the main productive force, neither the free wheeling and well-meaning strategies of anti-authoritarianism nor the brutal force of coercing cooperation seemed capable of establishing any new dimensions of the dynamics of 'working together'.

2.

Increasing evidence shows that 'working together' actually occurs in rather unpredictable and unexpected ways. Rather than through the exertion of the alleged generosity of a group made up of individuals in the pursuit of solidarity, it often works as a brusque and even ungenerous practice, where individuals rely on one another the more they chase their own interests, their mutual dependence arising through the pursuit of their own agendas. Exchange then becomes an effect of necessity rather than one of mutuality, identification or desire.

This entails an initial level of differentiation between cooperation and collaboration: in contrast to cooperation, collaboration is driven by complex realities rather than romantic notions of common grounds or commonality. It is an ambivalent process constituted by a set of paradoxical relationships between co-producers who affect one another.

In "Le Maître ignorant", published in 1983, Jacques Rancière indicates that ignorance is the first virtue of the master or teacher. He gives the example of Joseph Jacotot, an exiled French revolutionary, professor of French literature at the University of Louvain in Belgium from 1815. Jacotot taught French to his Dutch-speaking students in the absence of a shared language, through what appears to be an entirely collaborative method: without setting up a common agenda, identifying a common ground or communicating through a shared set of tools, he "placed himself in his students' hands and told them, through an interpreter, to read half of the book with the aid of the translation, to repeat constantly what they had learned, to quickly read the other half and then to write in French what they thought about it." This "teaching without transmitting knowledge", as Rancière defines it, seemed to be incredibly successful, because it granted a level of autonomy to the students who acquired their own knowledge as they deemed useful and independently from their teacher.

Rancière's example is particularly enlightening in the context of collaboration and its relation to notions of hierarchy which so much of collaborative disoiurse deems to have vanquished. It exposes the hypocrisy of the supposed anti-authoritarianism that essentially underlies many notions of cooperation. This misconception might be seen as the practice of liberally weakening the position of power, yet ignoring the inherent paradox of doing so, so that in an infinite line of regression power reappears even stronger than before. The more it tries to explain, mediate, communicate or teach, the more it reaffirms the distance, inequality and dependency of those who lack knowledge on those who seem to possess it. The same applies to cooperation and teamwork: a presumption of equality actually extends both discrimination and exploitation while seemingly providing continuous evidence in support of such an illusion, as if there were no radically different modes of working together.

3.

The work of Jacotot's students can be seen as a form of collaboration with their teacher that flattens the hierarchies and does away with the teacher-student relationship altogether, without romanticising it. Through collaboration hierarchies are neither criticised nor morally disapproved of and hypocritically discarded. This way of working together is capable of ignoring the ignorance of the ignorant and of pauperizing the poverty of the pauper precisely because collaborators are neither questioning obvious authority nor pretending to be equal. Instead they have worked out a system not of exchange but of flow in which these positions are avoided altogether.

Collaborations are the black holes of knowledge regimes. They willingly produce nothingness, opulence and ill-behaviour. And it is their very vacuity which is their strength. Unlike cooperation, collaboration does not take place for sentimental reasons, for philanthropical impulses or for the sake of efficiency; it arises out of pure self interest. Collaborations could reveal the amazing potential whereby an ignorant, poor or otherwise property-less person can enable another ignorant, poor or otherwise property-less person to know what he or she did not know and to access what he or she did not access. It does not entail the transmission of something from those who have to those who do not , but rather the setting in motion of a chain of unforseen accesses.

Shifting the focus away from its components and outcomes, collaboration is a performative and transformative process: the sudden need to cross the familiar boundaries of one's own experiences, skills and intellectual resources to enter nameless and foreign territories where abilities that had been considered "individual" marvellously merge with those of others. In this sequence, outcomes and processes follow an inverse relation as do the relations of power. For what comes about is not the 'granting' of access but a recognition across the board of those involved in the process, that it is the unexpected multiplicity and uncertain location of the points of access that is at stake in the exchange.

4.

Translating the concept of collaboration back to the context of education also points to a reverse-engineering of the teacher's role. Etymologically, in Greek and Latin "pedagogue" or "educator" means "drawing out" or "pulling out" and refers to an ancient Greek practice: a family slave called "pedagogue" used to walk the child from the private house to a place of learning. Rather than the teacher, who was supposed to have and transmit knowledge, the pedagogue was the person who accompanied the student to the place where the teacher imparted it.

This rather spatial notion of bringing somebody across a specific border evokes striking associations with human trafficking. The escape agent or "coyote" - as it is named at the US-Mexican border - supports undocumented border crossers who want to make it from one nation state to another without the demanded paperwork. Permanently on the move, only temporarily employed, nameless, anonymous and constantly changing faces and sides, the coyote is, in an ironic way, the perfect role-model for both education and collaboration. As a metaphor it serves the purpose of destabalising the idea of 'knowledge in movement' away from its always assumed progressive direction. Instead it allows for a certain degree of illegitimacy inherent in all forms of collaboration and distinguishes it from the always perfectly sanctioned and legitimate nature of cooperation. By extracting a principle of mobility and perceiving the lack of legitimacy as enabling as opposed to criminally inhuman and disabling, the 'coyote' who may or may not be motivated by self gain without ideological committment, produces a possibility whose parameters cannot be gaged.

The "coyote's" motivations remain unclear or, shall we say, do not matter at all. The "coyote" is the postmodern service provider par excellence. The fact that there is no trust whatsoever between those engaging in the transcation, does not actually play any part in the unfolding of its play. Here , we might say, conceptual insecurity overrides the financial aspects of the collaboration and triggers a redundancy of affects and perceptions, feelings and reactions. Those who do not need the coyote's support hunt and demonize it; those who rely on the coyote's secret knowledge and skills appreciate it all the more. The extreme polarities of these responses instantiate the range of the collaborative field and the impossibility of navigating it through moralising vectors.

Ultimately, collaboration with a coyote generates pure potential: ranging from the dream of a better life to the reality of pure living labour power ready to be over-exploited in the informal labour market. If it wasn't for its totally deregulated character, this practice would bear similar results to that of traditional educational systems; we might say that in this exchange nothing can be claimed for material existence, let alone possession, but neverthelss something very precious and entirely precarious comes into being; pure imagination, yet potentially powerful beyond measure.

5.

Against the background of postmodern control society, collaboration is about secretly exchanging knowledge independently of borders. It stands for the attempt to regain autonomy and get hold of immaterial resources in a knowledge-driven economy. It no longer matters who has knowledge and who owns the resources; what matters is access: not a generously granted accessibility but a direct, immediate and instant access, often gained illegally or illegitimately.

While cooperation involves identifiable individuals within and between organizations, collaboration expresses a differentiated relationship made up of heterogeneous elements that are defined as singularities. As such they are not identifiable or subject to easy categories of identity, but defined out of an emergent relation between themselves. As such collaboration is extra-ordinary in so far as it produces a discontinuity and marks a point of unpredictability, however deterministic. Its unpredicatbility takes the form of not being able to entirely categorise the components of the collaborative process, even when its general aim or drive may be steering it in a particular direction.

Rationality has here been replaced by a kind of relationality that constantly decomposes and recomposes information in order to make temporary use of unexpected dynamics and contingencies: from stock market speculation to the development of network protocols, from the production of new forms of aesthetics in art and culture to a generation of political activism with global aspirations.

People meet and work together under circumstances where their efficiency, performance and labour power cannot be singled out and individually measured; everyone's work points to someone else's. Making and maintaining connections seems more important than trying to capture and store ideas. One's own production is very peculiar yet it is generated and often multiplied in networks composed of countless distinct dependencies and constituted by the power to affect and be affected. At no point in the process can this be arrested and ascertained, for it gains its power by not having explicit points of entry or exit as a normative work scenario might.

This excess is essentially beyond measure; collaboration relates to the mathematical definition of singularity as the point where a function goes to infinity or is somehow ill-behaved. The concept of singularity distinguishes collaboration from cooperation and refers to an emerging notion of precariousness, a systemic instability. this in turn can be seen as the crisis associated with the shift and transition from cooperation to collaboration in modes of working together.

The nets of voluntariness, enthusiasm, creativity, immense pressure, ever increasing self-doubt and desperation are temporary and fluid; they take on multiple forms but always refer to a permanent state of insecurity and precariousness, the blue print for widespread forms of occupation and employment within society. They reveal the other side of immaterial labour, hidden in the rhetoric of 'working together'.

6.

Today it is tremendously urgent to learn how to deal with such excess. This is not simply the realm of an exclusive minority of geeks, nerds, drop-outs and neurotic freelancers; it invests a rapidly growing global immaterial labour force that is confronted with the prospect of life-long learning witout the complimentary prospect of there ever having a teacher or a schoolbook in store, because knowledge emerges as useless as soon as it can be commodified and reproduced as such.

The crucial question is how a form of education to collaboration is possible that is not reduced ad absurdum to become the application of truism after truism. Certainly this would not mean the staging of a collaborative process within the classroom or other spaces of learning. This debate can take place at a meta-level or around the issue of "un-organizing" oneself in order to be aware and ready for the future challenges of collaborative working environments. It can takle place in the fragementation of the components of bodies of knowledge and their re-alignemnt with one another according to other principles. Or it can take place in the removing of pre-determined directions around the flows of knowledge.

Cooperation necessarily takes place in client-server architectures. It follows a metaphorical narrative structure, where the coherent assignment of each part and its relation to the others gets reproduced over and over again. The current educational system mirrors this structure and is therefore essentially incapable of responding to contemporary challenges, let alone future ones. Even worse, the more the system attempts to re-modernize itself, the more it sinks in the swamp of commodification, homogenization and hierarchization. Obviously the problem lies with the educational system's understanding of what contemporary imperatives are and its insistance that these must have an 'applicable' function. If a model of collaboration were to be applied to educational cultures , then it would have to accept an inabilty to predetermine outcomes even while sharing a set of aspirations or directives or being anchored in a set of recognised probelamtics.

7.

Collaboration entails rhizomatic structures where knowledge grows exuberantly and proliferates in unforeseeable ways. In contrast to cooperation, which always implies an organic model and a transcendent function, collaboration is a strictly immanent and wild praxis. Every collaborative activity begins and ends within the framework of the collaboration. It has no external goal and cannot be decreed; it is strict intransitivity, it takes place, so to speak, for its own sake.

Collaborations are voracious. Once they are set into motion they can rapidly beset and affect entire modes of production. "Free" or "open source" software development is probably the most prominent example for the transformative power of collaboration to "un-define" the relationships between authors and producers on one side and users and consumers on the other side. It imposes a paradigm that treats every user as a potential collaborator who could effectively join the development of the code regardless of their actual interests and capacities. Participation becomes virtual: It is enough that one could contribute a patch or file an issue, one does not necessarily have to do it in order to enjoy the dynamics, the efficacy and the essential openess of a collaboration.

In the last instance, the democratic or egalitarian ambition has migrated into the realm of virtuality: Open source developer groups usually do not follow the patterns and rules of representative democracy, the radical notion of equality reveals in the general condition that everyone has instant and unrestricted access to the entire set of resources that form a development. The result is as simple as it is convincing: Those who disagree may "fork" and start their own development branch without loosing access to the means of production.

On the internet, distributed non-hierarchical information architectures are characterized as "peer-to-peer" (P2P) networks. They emerged in the 1990s and triggered a revolution of the conventional distribution model. These networks were first designed to exchange immaterial resources such as computing time or bandwidth, mainly in scientific academic contexts. Their aim was to overcome technological limits, incapacities and shortages by combining the existing free resources.

Since the late 1990s the same network architecture has been used to exchange relevant content: music and movies were distributed amongst ordinary personal computers that worked as both downstream and upstream nodes in mushrooming networks.

The enormous success of these projects, from "Napster" to "BitTorrent" - currently estimated to account for nearly half of the total of internet traffic - enabled people who do not know each other and probably prefer to not know each other to actually "share" their hard drives. In fact, their anonymous relationships are based on the irony of sharing, even in a strictly mathematical sense: due to lossless and cost free digital copying the object of desire is indeed multiplied rather than divided.

In the last instance collaborations are driven by the desire to create difference and refuse the absolutistic power of organization. Collaboration entails overcoming scarcity and inequality and struggling for the freedom to produce. It carries an immense social potential, as it is a form of realisation and experience of the unlimited creativity of a multiplicity of all productive practices.

The possibility of relating these notions of collaboration to contemporary education and pedagogy, have less to do with emulating their operating modes and more to do with their ability to inspire a realignment of the relations in the field. Not limited to the seeming good intentions and democratising impulses of the 'working together' dimension of collaboration, in education this might mean rethinking both the direction and flow of its activities. For example the shifting of the focus of attention away from the exclusive direction of instructor to instructed, or shifting the directions of the exchanges that take place towards a circulation that values everything that is already within it. It might also mean thinking education's outcomes away from previously established criteria and towards the ability to constantly affect and restructure its own field.

Der Fluchthelfer

Florian Schneider

Er sieht aus wie ein mittelgroßer Hund, mit einer schmal zulaufenden Schnauze und steil aufgerichteten Spitzohren. Sein Fell ist gräulich bis rot schimmernd, Beine und Pfoten rostfarben. Hals und Bauchpelz sind meist weißlich, auf dem Rücken erstreckt sich ein schwarzes Band, das bis zum Schwanzende reicht. Rein äußerlich ähnelt er einem Schäferhund, doch der Ruf, den der Kojote unter den Menschen genießt, könnte zwiespältiger kaum sein: Er gilt als schlau und verschlagen, feige und anpassungsfähig, rastlos und immer in Bewegung. Für die einen ist er Inbegriff der Niedertracht, für die anderen symbolisiert er unbändige Vorstellungskraft, Unabhängigkeit und unbedingten Überlebenswillen. Amerikanischen Ureinwohner gilt Coyote als eine mythische Gottheit, die für die Welt, wie sie ist, Sorge trägt. Siedler sehen dagegen ihre Viehbestände in Gefahr und denunzieren den Präriewolf bis heute 1.

Im Grenzgebiet zwischen den USA und Mexiko wird nicht nur der biologische canis latrans als Kojote bezeichnet, sondern auch ein besonders verruchter Menschenschlag: "Coyote" heißen Fluchthelfer, die gegen ein gewisses Entgelt dabei behilflich sind, die Staatsgrenze ohne den ansonsten üblichen Formalkram zu überqueren. Um seine Dienste denjenigen anzubieten, die aus eigener Kraft nicht weiter kommen, muss der Fluchthelfer sich offenbar in ein Tier verwandeln. Genauer gesagt: eine Art Hund werden, der in der Lage ist, einen verborgenen Weg aufzuspüren, um die ihm Anvertrauten dann entlang dieser Fährte vom einen Land ins andere zu führen.

„Coyotes“ kommen aus dem Nichts und verschwinden dorthin auch wieder. Ihre Motivation gibt nur Rätsel auf. Geld mag bei manchen eine Rolle spielen, aber wohl nicht die entscheidende. Die Herausforderung, die auf den Fluchthelfer wartet, ist schließlich wesentlich komplizierter und das Risiko viel größer, als dass die erbrachte Dienstleistung mit einem finanziellen Vorteil aufgewogen werden könnte. Anderen bei der Flucht zu helfen, bedeutet dann, wenn die Menschlichkeit aussetzt, das Menschsein hinter sich zu lassen, Tier-werden eben. Es bedeutet, einen anderen Ausweg zu finden.

Von der Öffentlichkeit kann sich der Fluchthelfer dabei kaum Sympathien erhoffen, im Gegenteil. Der Schlepper gilt heutzutage als Staatsfeind Nummer Eins, als Inbegriff von Geldgier und Menschenverachtung, der sich am Elend der Ärmsten der Armen noch bereichere. Organisierte Fluchthilfe wird meist in einem Atemzug mit Menschenhandel, Drogenschmuggel und Mafia-Kriminalität genannt, gleichzeitig wird von offizieller Seite gerne die Ohnmacht der Behörden gegenüber den international operierenden Banden beklagt. Das Bundeskriminalamt definiert „Schleuserkriminalität“ als „in der Regel gewerbs- oder bandenmäßig begangenen Unterstützungshandlungen zur unerlaubten Einreise und zum unerlaubten Aufenthalt von Ausländern“ 2. Die Vereinten Nationen verurteilten „das Schlepperunwesen als eine Praxis, die gegen das Völkerrecht, gegen innerstaatliches Recht und gegen sonstige Übereinkommen zwischen Staaten verstößt und die die Sicherheit, das Wohl und die Menschenrechte der Migranten mißachtet.“ 3

Fluchthelfer haben viele Gesichter und mindestens ebenso viele Namen. Die hektische Konjunktur der Fluchthilfe spiegelt sich schließlich auch in dem begrifflichen Durcheinander wider, das sich um die Beihilfe zum illegalen Grenzübertritt gebildet hat. Im Deutschen werden Fluchthelfer seit einigen Jahren als "Schlepper" oder "Schleuser" bezeichnet: Begriffe, die der Fahrzeugtechnik entlehnt sind, aber darüberhinaus eindeutig abwertend konnotiert sind. Anderswo werden, wie in Mexiko und dem Süden der USA, Namen aus der Tierwelt bevorzugt: Britische Seeleute nannten die Vermittler blinder Schiffspassagen "Sharks", Haie. Im Chinesischen gibt es den "Shetou", im Englischen den "Snakehead". Es meint einen Menschen, „der schlau ist wie eine Schlange und seinen beweglichen Kopf zu nutzen weiß, um sich durch schwierige Hindernisse einen Weg zu bahnen.“ 4 Nur auf Französisch wird die Unterstützung beim informellen Grenzübertritt ziemlich nüchtern bezeichnet: "Passeurs".

Fluchthelfer sind Weggefährten, die den Abstecher über die Grenze organisieren. Ihr Organisationsgrad, ihre spezifischen Kenntnisse und Fähigkeiten variieren stark: Es kann eine besondere Idee sein, sich auf die Bereitstellung von erforderlichem Personal erstrecken und bis hin zur Organisierung einer umfassenden Infrastruktur reichen. Der Fluchthelfer mag im Besitz des Schlüssels sein, der eine verschlossene Tür öffnet. Er kann über die notwendigen Kontakte und ein Netzwerk verfügen, das ihn bei der Abwicklung seiner Tätigkeit unterstützt. Oder er operiert auf der Basis einer ausgefeilten Arbeitsteilung und Anordnung von ineinander übergreifenden Hilfsmitteln, die auf die technische Umsetzung des Grenzübertritts ausgerichtet sind. Klassische Fluchthilfe ist die Überquerung der grünen Grenze auf unwegsamen Gelände, aber auch die Besorgung falscher Ausweispapiere oder das Fälschen von Sichtvermerken und Visa. Neuere Formen der Fluchthilfe haben sich auf das Verstecken von Personen in den Stauräumen von PKW's, Lastkraftwagen, Zügen oder Flugzeugen verlegt. Ebenso gängig ist, Botschafts- und Grenzbeamte zu bestechen. In besonderen Fällen wurden Tunnels gegraben, und heutzutage werden ganze Schiffe, ja sogar Flugzeuge gechartert oder umdirigiert.

Eine Frühform systematischer Fluchthilfe war die so genannte "Underground Railroad". Vor und während des amerikanischen Bürgerkriegs brachten die Abolitionisten entlaufene Sklaven nachts und auf sicheren Wegen aus den Südstaaten in den sicheren Norden der USA oder nach Kanada. Die Abolitionisten sahen ihre meist religiös motivierte Aufgabe vorrangig im Kampf gegen den Rassismus und in der Errettung von Menschen, denen der sichere Tod drohte, sobald sie sich dem System der Sklaverei entzogen. Die Grenze, über die es ihnen hinwegzuhelfen galt, war eine Demarkationslinie, die innerhalb eines Landes verlief, die Grenzüberschreitung war ein Überschreiten der Grenze von feudaler Gesellschaft und landwirtschaftlicher Produktion hin zur kapitalistischen Industrieproduktion. Letztere gab erst einmal vor, keinen Unterschied zwischen den Menschen zu machen.

Mit den beiden großen Proletarisierungswellen Mitte und Ende des 19. Jahrhunderts brach das vom Wiener Kongress restaurierte Grenzregime in Europa fast völlig zusammen. Arbeiter aus dem Süden und aus dem Osten wurden vom Land in die Stadt und natürlich über alle staatlichen und nationalstaatlichen Grenzen hinweg mobilisiert. Abgesehen von Frankreich und Russland waren Grenzgänger bis zum ersten Weltkrieg auch nicht genötigt, eine entsprechende Erlaubnis oder einen Pass vorzuzeigen, wenn sie von einem Land in ein anderes wechseln wollten. Offizielle, durch und durch kommerziell motivierte Fluchthilfe boomte derweil: So spezialisierte sich die Reederei Hapag mit ihrer Hamburg-Amerika-Linie fast vollständig auf das legale Geschäft mit Auswanderern und gründete 1901 im Hamburger „Veddel“ eine eigene Stadt, um ausreisewillige Migranten, die ihrer Heimat bereits den Rücken gekehrt hatten und sehnsüchtig auf ihre schnellstmögliche Beförderung in die USA warteten, in großem Maßstab in die neue Welt zu schleusen 5.

Bedarf für organisierte, illegale Fluchthilfe meldeten bis dahin politische Flüchtlinge, Deserteure und Kriegsdienstverweigerer an. Ähnlich den entflohenen Sklaven hatten sie die spezifische Absicht, „disziplinarischem Innendruck“ zu entkommen. „Ärmliche Besoldung und rigorose Disziplinierung, aber auch kollektive Unzufriedenheit und konfessionelle oder familiäre Solidarität zogen Desertionen nach sich“, konstatiert Michael Sikora schon für das 18. Jahrhundert, dem Zeitalter massenhafter Desertion aus den steehenden Heeren6. So zeitlos das Phänomen Desertion und deren organisatorische Unterstützung ist, so aufschlussreich ist der Widerstand gegen die staatliche Verfügungsgewalt über die rekrutierten Untertanen allerdings im Zusammenhang mit der Formierung des modernen Nationalsstaates. Generalmobilmachung und Kriegsökonomie des ersten Weltkrieges führten schließlich in ganz Europa zur Etablierung von Grund auf erneuerter Grenzregimes, die auf modernem Passwesen, also Identitätsnachweis mit entsprechenden Sichtvermerken, basierten. Unmittelbar an der Staatsgrenze sollten Menschen von nun an in zwei Kategorien eingeteilt werden können: Solche, denen der Übertritt gestattet sei und solche, denen der Zugang zum Disziplinarraum des Nationalstaates verwehrt werde. Erfolgte ein Grenzübertritt bislang nur aus sehr spezifischen Gründen, die wiederum eng mit den Fluchtursachen verknüpft waren, besser im Geheimen, wird er von nun an pauschal illegalisiert, sofern gewisse Papiere nicht vorliegen, beziehungsweise nicht vorliegen können. Zumindest theoretisch verallgemeinert sich der Bedarf an Fluchthilfe von diesem Moment an.

Bis das moderne Grenzregime dann auch praktisch durchgesetzt war, dauerte es aber fast bis zum zweiten Weltkrieg. Der Vormarsch von Faschismus und deutscher Armee trieb Zehntausende von Gegnern und Opfern des Nationalsozialismus in die Flucht. Schnell stellte es sich als Trugschluss heraus, dass es mit dem Überschreiten einer einzigen Staatsgrenze bereits getan wäre. Die Flucht vor dem Faschismus geriet trotz oder gerade wegen wachsender Mobilität zu einem wesentlich komplizierteren und weitreichenderen Unterfangen. Paradoxerweise betätigten sich bis zum November 1938 auch deutsche Grenzbehörden als illegale Fluchthelfer, indem Zoll und Grenzpolizei Juden entweder aus politischem Eifer oder gegen Zahlung hoher Bestechungsgelder über die grüne Grenze nach Belgien und die Niederlande schleusten.7

Die Gestapo hatte schon Mitte der 30er Jahre die ersten Ermittlungsverfahren wegen organisierter Fluchthilfe gestartet. Zunächst waren es Kommunisten und Sozialisten, die mithilfe von Belegschaftskontakten Transportmittel wie Eisenbahnen und Schiffe benutzten, um Illegale, Widerstandskämpfer oder Flüchtlinge über die Grenze zu bringen. Später dann Quäker, die konfessionslose Juden zumindest vorübergehend in Sicherheit zu bringen versuchten. Je niedriger der politische Organisationsgrad, umso zwangsläufiger musste der Grenzübertritt über die "grüne Grenze" passieren. Dank der Zusammenarbeit mit Ortskundigen und Einheimischen, aber auch mithilfe kommerzieller Fluchthilfeorganisationen8 gelang es vor allem vor, aber auch während des 2. Weltkriegs in wahrscheinlich Zigtausenden von Fällen, die schärfer werdenden Kontrollen vor allem an der deutsch-belgischen, der deutsch-tschechischen und den schweizerischen Grenzen zu umgehen. Fluchthilfe in ihrer ursprünglichsten Form funktionierte vor allem deswegen, weil die lokalen Grenzbeamten, wie sie das seit Jahrunderten gewohnt waren, gerne ein Auge zudrückten, wenn andere Ortsansässige die Grenze überquerten und dabei unerlaubte Waren oder -- vor allem in Kriegs- und Krisenzeiten -- eben auch Menschen mit sich führten.

In dem wohl bekanntesten Dokument antifaschistischer Fluchthilfe, dem Roman „Das siebte Kreuz“ schildert Anna Seghers die Flucht von sieben Häftlingen aus dem Konzentrationslager Westhofen. Der Kommandant läßt für die sieben Entflohenen jeweils ein Kreuz auf dem „Tanzplatz“ des Lagers aufstellen. Während vier Flüchtlinge von der Gestapo gefangen genommen werden, einer stirbt und ein weiterer sich freiwillig stellt, gelingt es einem Einzigen, dem Mechaniker Georg Heisler, dem Nationalsozialismus zu entkommen. Das siebte Kreuz, das leer bleibt, wird zum Symbol des Widerstands. Der Lagerkommandant merkt, „daß er nicht hinter einem einzelnen her war, dessen Züge er kannte, dessen Kraft erschöpft war, sondern einer gesichtslosen, unabschätzbaren Macht.“9 Nicht durch die Hilfe eines Apparates oder einer Organisation, sondern durch die tatkräftige Unterstützung vieler einzelner, meist einfacher Menschen, die ihrerseits ihr Leben und das ihrer Angehörigen aufs Spiel setzen, schafft Heisler nicht nur die Flucht in die Freiheit, sondern stellt noch wesentlich mehr unter Beweis: „Ein entkommener Flüchtling, das ist immer etwas, das wühlt auf. Das ist immer ein Zweifel an ihrer Allmacht. Eine Bresche.“10

Schon zwei Jahre vor dem zweiten Weltkrieg war die Grenze zwischen Frankreich und Spanien war von französischer Seite aus dicht gemacht worden. Ziel war, den Internationalen Brigadisten im Bürgerkrieg den Zugang zu verwehren. Die Rotspanienkämpfer überquerten daraufhin ab Mitte 1937 mithilfe sogenannter "réseaux irrégulairs" die Pyrenäen. Am 6. April 1940 gab der Präfekt des Departement Pyrenées-Orientales dann den Erlaß bekannt, daß klandestine Grenzübertritte einen Straftatbestand darstellten und die Täter sich von nun an vor Gericht verantworten müssten. Ein Schicksal, dem der Amerikaner Varian Fry und viele andere Fluchthelfer immer wieder nur knapp entgingen. Am 3. August 1940 war der damals 32-jährige Amerikaner im Auftrag des Emergency Rescue Comitees mit 3000 Dollar nach Frankreich gereist. Sein Auftrag lautete, einige der wichtigsten politischen Flüchtlinge vor den vorrückenden Nazis in Sicherheit zu bringen. Obwohl Fry über keinerlei Erfahrungen auf dem Gebiet des Menschenschmuggels verfügte, gelang es ihm, eine weitverzweigte und gut getarnte Fluchthilfe-Organisation aufzubauen und – statt der vorgesehenen zehn - an die 2000 Flüchtlinge meist von Marseilles aus über die spanische Grenze und von dort aus über Portugal in die USA zu schmuggeln. Ähnlich operierten zahlreiche andere Widerstandsgruppe wie die um Joachim von Zedtwitz und die Schriftstellerin Milena Jesenska im besetzten Prag, bis ein Spitzel die Organisation auffliegen liess. Ziel war, Juden, tschechische Offiziere und andere gefährdete Personen mit dem Auto in die Gegend von Mährisch Ostrau zu bringen. Von dort wurden sie von ortskundigen Einwohnern über die grüne Grenze nach Kattowitz in Polen geführt, wo Engländer ein Auffanglager unterhielten.

Jesenska, hatte in einem ihrer Texte einmal geschrieben: "Ein jeder kann mit einem anderen Menschen nur insoweit mitfühlen, als er imstande ist, sich das Schicksal des anderen vorzustellen."11 Das Bild des Fluchthelfers aus dieser Zeit ist jedoch geprägt vom Klischee des mitleidlosen, desillusionierten Zynikers, den Humphrey Bogart in den Spielfilmen "Casablanca" und vor allem ”To Have and Have Not” darstellt. Der unbeteiligte Fremde, der alle Konfliktparteien gegeneinander auszuspielen weiss, dem jede lokale Spitzfindigkeit geläufig ist, hat keine Intention und keine Identität. ”Wo liegen ihre Sympathien?” wird der Schlepper Bogart in ”To Have and Have Not” andauernd gelöchert. ”Ich kümmere mich um mich selbst”, ist seine Antwort. Und Lauren Bacall, die gefragt wird, wer sie sei, sagt: ”Niemand. Eine Art Freiwillige.”12 Wirkliche Fluchthelfer dürften aus einer etwas präziseren Bestimmung heraus agiert haben, nichstdestotrotz gibt es eine Leerstelle in der Subjektivität des Fluchthelfers. Georg Lukacs bemängelte, in „Das siebtes Kreuz“ das „tiefe Warum des Kampfes“13 nicht ausmachen zu können. Vergleichsweise mystisch heißt es bei Anna Seghers heißt es zum Schluss: „Wir fühlten alle, wie tief und furchtbar die äußeren Mächte in den Menschen hineingreifen können, bis in sein Innerstes, aber wir fühlten auch, daß es im Innersten etwas gab, was unangreifbar war und unverletzbar.“14

Auch Lisa Fittko, die im Auftrag von Varian Fry zum Beispiel Walter Benjamin und Hannah Arendt über die Pyrenäen brachte, erinnerte sich: "Und immer wieder fragten und stritten wir uns: wo gehören wir hin? Wir haben eine Aufgabe. Unsere Aufgabe ist jetzt, aus dieser Falle zu entkommen. Wir müssen uns selber retten - wir müssen versuchen, uns gegenseitig zu retten."15 Im Widerspruch zur recht banalen Pragmatik der Flucht scheint es eine Esoterik der Fluchthilfe zu geben, die die Grenze unmittelbarer, eigener Betroffenheit überschreitet und die Grenzen blanken humanitären Engagements ins Unermeßliche ausweitet.

Während in vielen antifaschistischen Widerstandszirkeln nur über politische Programmatik gestritten wurde, wollte Milena Jessenska mit einer "unmittelbaren, praktischen Aktion zur der Bekämpfung des Nationalsozialismus beitragen"16. Sie verzichtete schließlich sogar darauf, sich selbst in Sicherheit zu bringen und wird im KZ Ravensbrück umgebracht. "Oh, Gott, was ist das für eine Grenze" schrieb sie in einem Artikel Ende 1938, "ein Stückchen Draht über das Feld, eine Stange übern Weg, ein Strick von Baum zu Baum, ein Kind könnte das Ganze niederreißen, es ist zum Weinen."17 Die Unerbittlichkeit der Grenze manifestierte sich damals sicherlich nicht im Grad ihrer Befestigung; es galt, eine Totalität von Überwachung und Unterdrückung zu unterlaufen, die im Inneren der Grenze herrschte und andauernd ausgeweitet wurde.

Umfangreich befestigt, militärisch hochgerüstet und schier unüberwindbar wurden Grenzen im Kalten Krieg, als die Welt für ein knappes halbes Jahrhundert in Machtblöcke und starre Einflussphären aufgeteilt war. Offensichtlich wurde die neue Bedeutung der Grenze an der Berliner Mauer oder dem 38. Breitengrad, der Nord- und Süd-Korea voneinander trennt. Vor der endgültigen Festschreibung der Nachkriegsordnung flohen – gegen den heftigen Widerstand Großbritanniens - schätzungsweise eine Viertelmillion osteuropäische Juden in drei großen Migrationswellen von 1945 bis 1949 auf abenteuerlichen Wegen über Österreich und Italien nach Palästina. „Bricha“, zu deutsch "Flucht", war eine Fluchthilfeorganisation, die um den Jahreswechsel 1944/1945 in Ostpolen und Litauen entstanden war und sich um das Schicksal der Überlebenden der Shoah sich kümmerte, die als „Displaced Persons“ eine Leben im Transit in den Lagern der Alliierten führten. „Aufgrund der britischen Blockade der Wege ans Mittelmeer wurde es immer aussichtsloser, aus Österreich nach Palästina zu gelangen. Für die Mehrheit der Flüchtlinge blieb als einzig realistische Option die Weiterreise in die US-Zone Deutschlands als vorläufigem Endpunkt ihrer Flucht. Nur eine Minderheit - immerhin rund 50.000 - konnte die Bricha aus Österreich nach Italien schleusen.“18

1961 riegelte die DDR-Führung alle bis zu diesem Zeitpunkt noch offenen Fluchtwege ab, um einen Abwanderungsstrom einzudämmen, der bis zu diesem Zeitpunkt mindestens 100.000 Menschen pro Jahr ausmachte. Mit dem Bau der Berliner Mauer wurde jedoch keineswegs der Wille zur Flucht gebrochen, sondern "im Gegenteil herausgefordert, auch wenn die Republikflucht schwieriger und gefährlicher geworden war. Fluchthilfe, und zwar organisierte wurde so geradezu zwangsläufig provoziert."19

Nachdem es ihm gelang, mithilfe einer Fluchthilfeorganisation seine in der DDR zurückgebliebene Geliebte in den Westen zu schleusen, beschreibt Uwe Johnson in der Erzählung "Eine Kneipe geht verloren" detailliert Aufbau und Arbeitsweise einer Fluchthilfeorganisation von jungen Westberliner Studenten. Johnson bricht mit dem diesseits und jenseits der Grenze herrschenden Tabu, über die Methoden der Republikflucht entweder Schweigen zu wahren oder Missfallen zu äußern. Denn ausgerechnet, als es die geringst mögliche Distanz zwischen zwei Staaten zu überwinden galt, wurde Fluchthilfe tabuisiert, verdammt, heroisiert und ideologisiert wie nie zuvor. Johnsons Fluchthelferin dagegen sieht sich nicht bemüßigt, einen Grund anzugeben, "aus dem Leuten über die Grenze zu helfen wäre"20. „Manchmal macht man eben Sachen ohne zu wissen warum“, sagt auch Erik Schumann als Grenzpolizist Kaufmann im deutschen Spielfilm-Melodram „Himmel ohne Sterne“, bevor er ein Kind über die Grenze schmuggelt - in diesem besonderen Fall sogar von West nach Ost.21

Johnsons Fluchthelferin ist mit den anderen war durch "nichts als ein Drittes verbunden"22 und dennoch verschleisst sie die gesamte Erbschaft, um Menschen auch dann noch über die Mauer zu helfen, als "zwei Überführungen ungefähr so teuer wie ein vollständiger Serienwagen der Mittelklasse"23 wurden und die bloss politisch motivierten Fluchthelfer das Feld längst kommerziellen Anbietern überlassen hatten. Bald nach dem Mauerbau war es nämlich nicht mehr nur damit getan, Gesetze zu umgehen, "die im Osten wie im Westen der Stadt peinliche Strafen androhten für den Mißbrauch von staatlich ausgestellten Personalpapieren"24. Fluchthilfe wurde zusehends aufwändiger und gefährlicher: Gefälschte Pässe, Fluchttunnel, Fahrzeuge mit geheimen Hohlräumen waren notwendig, nachdem die DDR-Grenzer den einfachen Tricks der Fluchthelfer auf die Schliche kamen.

Wohl spektakulärstes Beispiel für Fluchthilfe in dieser Epoche ist der 126 Meter lange Tunnel unter der Bernauer Strasse von Ost- nach West-Berlin. Fünf Monate lang hatten knapp 50 Studenten den Tunnel von einer alten Fabrik im Stadtteil Wedding bis in den Keller eines Ostberliner Wohnhauses gegraben, um am 14. September 1962 insgesamt 29 Menschen zur Flucht zu verhelfen. Geleitet wurde das Unternehmen von Hasso Herschel, der ein knappes Jahr zuvor mit einem falschen Schweizer Pass aus dem Osten in den Westen überwechselte und mit dem Tunnel seine Schwester sowie seine Nichte zu sich holen wollte. Finanziert wurde der Tunnelbau vom Fernsehsender NBC, der für die Filmrechte 50.000 Mark bezahlte. Herschel will später noch zwei weitere Tunnel durch das Berliner Erdreich gegraben haben und per Hubschrauber sowie mithilfe von umgebauten Autos rund 1000 Menschen den illegalen Grenzübertritt ermöglicht haben.25

Ende 1963 waren die meisten studentischen Gruppen und Feierabend-Fluchthelfer zur Aufgabe gezwungen. An ihre Stelle traten ab Mitte der 60er Jahre professionelle Unternehmen wie die Schweizer "Aramco AG", die mit den enormen Auslagen hantieren, auf entsprechende Erfahrungen und Infrastruktur zurückgreifen konnten und deswegen für die Schleusung meist mehrere Zehntausend Mark berechneten. Weitgehend ungeachtet ihrer gewerbsmäßigen Struktur und kommerzieller Motive wurde Fluchthilfe sowohl von den DDR-Gerichten als auch von sympathisierenden Kreisen im Westen weterhin als brisanter politischer Akt begriffen. "Fluchthilfe war Widerstand – das Eintreten für die Wahrung oder Wiederherstellung des Rechts auf Freizügigkeit," ist die These des Kölner Publizisten Karl Wilhelm Fricke26. Die Gegenseite sah das ähnlich und sprach schon vor dem Mauerbau bei halbwegs organisierten Grenzverletzungen pauschal von "Menschenhandel" und später dann von "staatsfeindlichem Menschenhandel", dem ab 1968 sogar ein eigener Tatbestand im DDR-Strafgesetzbuch gewidmet war27. Im Paragrafen 105 wird die Beihilfe zum "ungesetzlichen Grenzübertritt" mit einer interessanten Terminologie belegt. Wer es demnach unternahm, DDR-Bürger "abzuwerben, zu verschleppen, auszuschleusen oder deren Rückkehr zu verhindern", musste mit mindestens 2 Jahren Gefängnis rechnen28.

Schon kurz nach dem Fall der Mauer war das Thema Fluchthilfe im wiedervereinigten Deutschland wieder aktuell. Bundesdeutsche Behörden übernahmen einigermaßen bruchlos die DDR-Terminologie vom „Schleppen“ und „Schleusen“ und wandten sie für einen Tatbestand an, der im Westen bis vor 1989 konsequent als „Fluchthilfe“ geadelt war. So wenig vergleichbar der politische Kontext ist, so frappierend ist doch die Übereinstimmung im Bemühen, die Beihilfe zum unerlaubten Grenzübertritt pauschal als verbrecherischen Akt des Menschenhandels zu diskreditieren. Bald nachdem die Euphorie über die Öffnung der Grenzen verflogen war, machten sich Bundesgrenzschutz, Innenministerien und Bundesregierung daran, die erneute Abschottung der Grenze, diesmal allerdings ein paar Kilometer weiter östlich zu betreiben. Eine angebliche „Asylantenflut“ und eine Welle osteuropäischer Einwanderer wurden als Gefahr für die Innere Sicherheit und Verfasstheit des Landes beschworen, der nur durch eine konsequente Aufrüstung der Ostgrenzen begegnet werden könne. Fortgesetzt wurde auch die systematische Verkehrung von Ursache und Wirkung, wenn die für das neue Grenzregime verantwortlichen Politiker gebetsmühlenartig die menschenverachtenden, kriminellen Methoden der Schlepper und Schleuser beklagen.

Sobald jedoch von staatlicher Seite die Logik des Einschlusses durch die des Ausschlusses ersetzt wurde, verlagerte sich der Schwerpunkt der Fluchthilfe: Immer weniger geht es um das blosse Entkommen, als vielmehr um ein Ankommen. Der Fluchthelfer bietet eine Dienstleistung an, die plötzlich ohnehin hoch im Kurs steht: Er ist in der Lage, Zugang zu verschaffen. Diese Macht, oder besser Gegen-Macht, scheint den betroffenen Nationalstaat oder das, was von ihm übrig geblieben ist, aber auf das Äußerste herauszufordern. In fast allen europäischen Ländern sind im Laufe der 90er Jahre neue Gesetze gegen Fluchthilfe eingeführt worden oder bestehende Regelungen drastisch verschärft worden. Auf internationaler Ebene treffen sich eigens eingerichtete Komissionen, die sich der "Bekämpfung der Schlepperkriminalität" verschrieben haben. Spätestens ab Mitte der 90er Jahre scheint sich auch in der Europäischen Union der Migrationsdiskurs auf einen Kampf gegen illegale Einwanderung im allgemeinen und das so genannte „Schlepperunwesen“ im besonderen zusammengezogen zu haben.

Es ist jedoch fraglich, inwieweit diese Dämonisierung der Fluchthilfe neben ihren einigermaßen durchsichtigen politischen Motiven überhaupt auf so etwas ähnlichem wie einer empirischen Grundlage basiert.29 Polizeiliche Fahndungs- und Ermittlungserfolge gegen Schlepperringe sind selten – zumindest verglichen mit den geschätzten 500.000 illegalen Einwanderungen in EU-Länder pro Jahr. Präventive Maßnahmen scheinen gar völlig aussichtslos, weil jeder Aufgriff und jede Rückschiebung von Illegalen in der Regel neue Versuche, die Grenze zu überschreiten nach sich ziehen. Wenn, dann werden spektakuläre „Schläge gegen die Schleuserkriminalität“ propagandistisch aufgebauscht, konkret nachzuweisen sind die Vergehen äußerst selten – vor allem, wenn die Fluchthelfer nicht auf frischer Tat ertappt werden. Der Polizei ins Netz gehen dem Vernehmen nach ohnehin nur kleine Fische, die vielbeschworenen Drahtzieher und Hintermänner bleiben im Dunkeln oder zumindest außerhalb der Reichweite der zuständigen Behörden. Ebenso dürfte es in die Irre führe, von spektakulären oder symbolisch verdichteten Fällen der Fluchthilfe auf das gesamte Geschäftsfeld zu schließen: Was in den Medien entweder turnusmäßig oder zufälligerweise breiten Raum einnimmt, sind Fälle von Massenflucht, wie die mit Hunderten von Menschen überladenen Schiffe, die an Italiens Stränden immer wieder anlangen, oder tragische Unfälle, die von fahrlässigen oder betrügerischem Umgang mit den Passagieren zeugen.

In der offiziellen Reiseindustrie werden für solche Zwischenfälle schnell „schwarze Schafe“ verantwortlich gemacht, die den guten Leumund einer ansonsten seriösen Branche in Verruf bringen. Sobald es aber um Fluchthilfe geht, wird die Dienstleistung als solche in Frage gestellt. "Ein gut gehendes Geschäft, eine Art Kleinunternehmen, ist es schon, na und ja auch nicht ohne Risiko", sagt ein kommerzieller Fluchthelfer über seine Tätigkeit in einem Interview. "Der Preis ist vorher festgelegt und bleibt gleich. Das heißt, mit der einmaligen Bezahlkung gibt es quasi eine Ankunftsgarantie. Der Organisator kann zwar nicht versprechen, wie lange es dauert, dass nicht irgendwelche Probleme auftauchen, aber nachgezahlt werden muss nichts, auch nicht bei Rückschiebungen. Das gehört zu den Abmachungen."30

Am Strand von Tarifa, einem kleinen Ort an der Meerenge von Gibraltar, dort wo Spanien und Marokko nur durch eine 15 Kilometer lange Schiffspassage getrennt sind, landen in den Sommermonaten in jeder Nacht bis zu Tausend illegale Grenzgänger an. Fluchthelfer bringen sie für rund 1000 Dollar auf Pateras, kleinen Holzbooten, auf die in der Regel über 50 Menschen geladen werden, ans spanische Festland. Einige Boote werden jede Nacht von der Guardia Civil aufgebracht, einer Einheit des spanischen Militärs, der Polizeiaufgaben wie die Sicherung der Grenze übertragen wurde. Hunderte von Menschen ertrinken pro Jahr in der schweren See. Unzählige Flüchtlingen schaffen es jedoch, sich im Gebüsch am Strand und in den Berghängen zu verstecken. Bürger aus Tarifa und Umgebung haben sich in den letzten Jahre zu einem informellen Netzwerk zusammengeschlossen, um den illegalen Grenzgängern Unterstützung zu gewähren.

Sie werden angerufen, organisieren einen Transport, kümmern sich um Verletzte, kämpfen gegen Rückschiebungen, überlegen die Weiterreise oder Legalisierung. Sie verstecken Illegale in ihren Häusern, beraten sie über die Situation und planen zusammen den Weg weiter nach Norden: In teuren Wägen, meist mit Kennzeichen aus Barcelona oder Madrid, werden die Flüchtlinge durch die Polizeikontrollen geschmuggelt, die alle paar Kilometer an der Küstenstraße aufgebaut sind. Für Nieves, eine der Schlüsselpersonen in dem Fluchthilfe-Netzwerk, ist die Unterstützung der Flüchtlinge keine Frage, sondern eine Selbstverständlichkeit. Sie ist stolz auf das, was sie tut, und macht das, was sie mit ihren Möglichkeiten eben machen kann. Nieves sieht keine Veranlassung, ihr Verhalten zu verheimlichen, sondern nützt den Schutz der Öffentlichkeit und die Tatsache, dass sich in einer Kleinstadt jeder und jede kennt. In Tarifa rufe kein Mensch die Guardia Civil, wenn ein illegale Flüchtling im Garten sitzt oder an der Tür klingelt. "Die Leute rufen stattdessen bei uns an.“31

„Pateras por la vida“ heisst „Boote für das Leben“ und ist eine klandestine Organisation, die im Süden Spaniens operiert: Maghrebinische Migranten, die in Spanien leben, haben sich zusammengeschlossen, um für Freunde und Verwandte eine sichere Überfahrt und den erfolgreichen Weitertransport vom Strand weg nach Norden zu ermöglichen. Ihr Erfolgsgeheimnis ist die Diskretion und die Zuverlässigkeit, mit der der gesamte Verlauf der Reise eingefädelt und abgewickelt werden. Auch wenn sie in großem Umfang betrieben wird, ist und bleibt Fluchthilfe schließlich von einigen aufsehenerregenden Ausnahmen abgesehen Kleinarbeit, die meist innerhalb, aber auch zwischen den jeweiligen Communities organisiert wird. Polizeibehörden heben „das arbeitsteilige Zusammenwirken unter Gruppierungen verschiedener Ethnien“32 hervor.
Doch ein langjähriger österreichischer Fluchthelfer sagt in einem Interview: "Ich bin immer wieder baff, wenn im Zusammenhang mit Schlepperei von organisiertem Verbrechen die Rede ist. In Wirklichkeit sind die fürchterlich schlecht organisiert." 33

Fluchthilfe als solche entzieht sich nicht nur einer klaren begrifflichen Definition und objektiven Berurteilung, sondern vor allem einer generellen moralischen Bewertung. Es handelt sich um absolut singuläre, nicht wiederholbare und verallgemeinerbare Ereignisse. Auch wenn bestimmten Routen immer wieder verwendet werden, so ändern sich doch die Begleitumstände jedes Mal und kein Weg ist wie der vorige. Dies hat nicht zuletzt damit zu tun, dass der Fluchthelfer im Unterschied zum Schmuggler keine Waren transportiert, sondern ein lebendiges, ganz besonderes Gut: Menschen. Und zwar die unterschiedlichsten Menschen, die sich aus den unterschiedlichsten Gründen auf den Weg gemacht haben, und sich durch die Illegalität in einer bis zum Äußersten zugespitzten Situation befinden. Der Fluchthelfer ist immer wieder auf dadurch hervorgerufene Unwägbarkeiten konfrontiert. "Von daher muss auch immer mit unliebsamen Überraschungen gerechnet werden, mit unvorhergesehenen Wartezeiten, mit auch mal sehr improvisierten, schlecht vorbereiteten Grenzüberschreitungen zu Fuß oder ganz eng im LKW."34

"Wir können uns nicht wirklich aussuchen, wer mit uns über die Grenze geht, noch wollen wir es", sagt einer der anonymen Fluchthelfer aus Österreich35. Auch deren Motivation ist zwiespältig: "Unser Ziel war es von Anfang an, Grenzen zu übertreten. Zuerst, weil es uns einen Riesenspaß gemacht hat, später immer mehr, weil viele von uns darin die einzige Chance sehen, Grenzen ad absurdum zu führen."36 Auch wenn diese Gruppe Fluchthilfe vor dem Hintergund eines ausgeprägten politischen Bewusstseins praktiziert, geben sich die Fluchthelfer keinerlei Illusionen über die politische Wirksamkeit ihres Handelns hin: "Was wir tun, ist nicht besonders hervorhebenswert, weil es genau genommen recht wenig politische Auswirkungen hat. Es befriedigt uns, und es hilft Einzelpersonen."37

Eine trennscharfe Unterscheidung zwischen politisch oder privat motivierter, organisierter oder nicht-organisierter, kommerzieller oder nicht-kommerzieller Fluchthilfe macht heutzutage wohl kaum einen Sinn. Die Übergänge sind fließend, denn es liegt in der Natur der Sache, dass Fluchthilfe möglichst organisiert von statten gehen muss und dass für die Fluchthilfe je nach Gefährdungs- und Schwierigkeitsgrad unterschiedlich hohe Kosten anfallen. Eher schon spiegelt eine solche Kategorisierung Projektionen wie die gängige Einteilung von Flüchtlingen in solche aus politischen und solche aus wirtschaftlichen Gründen wieder, die den Migrationsdiskurs der 80er und 90er Jahre beherrschte.

Über die vordergründigen Motive hinaus - seien sie nun überwiegend humanitärer oder kommerzieller Natur - wird Fluchthilfe von dem Verlangen getrieben, im konkreten, einzelnen Fall über die abstrakte Unmenschlichkeit der Grenze zu siegen. Mit der Staatsgrenze werden aber fast zwangsläufig die vorgefassten Grenzen von Mitleid und Eigennutz überschritten. Wenn auch nur vorübergehend und für einen klar umrissenen Zeitraum löst sich die Ungleichheit zwischen Flüchtling und Fluchthelfer auf. Ana Maria Rodriguez, die sich von El Salvador aus zu ihrem Freund nach New York aufgebrochen ist, beschreibt ausführlich ihre Erlebnisse mit den Fluchthelfern, die ihr den Weg über die verschiedenen Grenzen geöffnet haben: Die „Coyotes“ haben für Unterkunft und Verpflegung gesorgt, Autos und Boote organisiert, Verzagten Mut gemacht, Grenzer und Polizisten bestochen, wurden zusammen mit den Flüchtlingen verhaftet, die sie nicht verraten haben, und zusammen mit ihnen zurückgeschoben. Wenn ein Versuch des Grenzübertritts gescheitert ist, haben sie es nach einer Verschnaufpause nochmals versucht und einen neuen Weg aufgetan. Kein Wunder, schließlich bezahlen die Verwandten erst nach erfolgreicher Ankunft in den USA.38

Grenzen sind dazu da, überschritten zu werden. Der Fluchthelfer kann völlig zu Recht annehmen, dass es unmöglich ist