|  intro |  concept  |  FAQ`s  |  more   |

Already Widespread

by Gerrit Gohlke

 The most contemporary and at the same time the most poetic form of waste management can be viewed at the moment on the WorldWideWeb server of the tenth documenta, where Joachim Blank and Karl Heinz Jeron have created a self-portrait for the Internet as a hall of mirrors. Skeptics are likely to consider their project to be nothing but incredible sarcasm. Whoever expects a zone of unbounded articulation from the electronic world, though, will find the bounds of his own individuality mapped out in the most devious fashion.

 In fact, the surface of the piece called "Without Addresses" bears the "Green Point" [1] symbol which suddenly gains personal characteristics, even though its color has faded. This is the ornament of a steadily growing archive compiled according to the guidelines of the visitors responding to the request to enter their name. Then a program starts a search through the countless homepages of the WorldWideWeb based on the name given. Once it makes a find, it then duplicates the material and dismantles its graphic image, constructing a new page from the textual and pictorial material with the help of a few patterns. In another color, but most importantly cloaked in a font that looks like handwriting, the pages begin to resemble that which many of them perhaps really are: monuments of private expression.

 In a moment full of irony, rŽsumŽs, telephone numbers and whatever else that can be collected in the Internet are now decipherable as foreign handwriting. Transforming the endless flood of information from the Internet into subjective communiquŽs from the erector set is a borrowed individuality, itself nothing but a technically assembled surrogate. The material had already been shaped by formatting and by typified guidelines and written in a rather simple language code. A navigational program, inflexible due to its primary goal of speed, called it up and rendered it legible. And it had to subjugate itself to the laws of a system of communication that depends increasingly upon the mass turnover of graphic signals. The language did not permit itself to be separated from its conventions. After its metamorphosis, however, it becomes purely a facade whose message is at best a persistent disruption. The addresses of the starting pages are visible as vertical ornamentation, to be sure. Jumping from page to page and accordingly, from trail to trail of the names left behind by visitors, is made possible only by the abstractly oblique map that regenerates itself every thirty seconds, upon which the various pages are represented by glowing dots. Choosing a dot with the mouse retrieves material from the archive.

 Therefore, when Blank and Jeron speak of a website that "writes itself", the theory appears to be saturated with guile. The writing is only a copy. And the copy has transformed the language into an ornamentation for which one gesture has as little meaning as the next. From this point of view, the Internet is a copy machine. Its calm mechanical work grants aesthetic pleasure, but is subject to only one law: the upgrade that has long since been advertised for a long time now. (...)

[1] The "grŸner Punkt", or Green Point, marks recyclable packaging in Germany. [Tr.]



Text by Gerrit Gohlke

Translation: Heather Fleming

Published in the art magazine "Texte zur Kunst",  June 1997


© All rights reserved by Texte zur Kunst