FROM M TO M Or, How to Begin in the Midst of Things Modulator—To whom should the invitation be addressed? Does Modulator have an address? No. Modulator is not the name of a group of artists. Is Modulator the name of a work of art? Occasionally it performs that function. And when it is not performing that function, what is it then? A number of variables for presenting exchange. But who exchanges what? The number of participants is undetermined because it includes a recipient who cannot be ordered about. One recipient? Well, perhaps there are several, and so the number of participants cannot be stated. It does happen that an exhibition is visited by more than one person. So are we talking about an exhibition as a presentation in art space? Occasionally that is what the Modulator is, yes. Over the long term, however, it is a format that is undergoing a change of format—from seminar to publication to exhibition, and so on. Your next question is perhaps Modulator as well. Because it could modulate the next answer? Who is directing? The question-and-answer model. So, not modulator? We both have knowledge that the other has signaled a willingness to receive. We exchange, and in the process a third potential is achieved. Modulator appears when neither of us lays claim to possession or authorship of this potential. Is Modulator something like a curator of knowledge? In order to constitute it as a subject, one has to assume that this potential can be represented by a subject. Yet it is potential that has no fixed support. A potential with a material support is no longer a potential but rather capital. And the stage direction? Imagine this: While you ask me a question, you are listening to yourself. Whether you speak and listen simultaneously or one after the other, the Modulator appears when you can imagine playing both of these roles. Does the modulator program my thinking? It is no substitute for a moderator, an adviser, a teacher, or any other function for which we expect the person to have more knowledge than we do. It generates the exchange of roles between me, you, the model for discussion, the stage direction, and the material 142
of the dialogue. Is it then an authority? Certainly, but not like one in a representative democracy where the representatives are elected on the basis of certain content, because content is undetermined and cannot therefore be represented. Rather than representing this or that or its authority, Modulator sets a process of mutual authorization in motion. In other words, can visitors no longer withdraw from the business of understanding an artwork with the justification that they lack knowledge? In order to know that they lack knowledge, visitors must have an idea of this knowledge, otherwise how could they assume they lack it? Do you mean to say that our social institutions and especially educational systems are based on the idea of what someone lacks. I do not intend to say that; I just did say it. No, I said that. Eran Schaerf, “Imaginäres Interview,” 2006 1 2
Jenni Zimmer, Modul (Module), ink on paper, 2005. Modulator (Mareike Bernein, Nadine Droste, Gunnar Fleischer, Axel Gaertner, Oliver Gemballa, Un-ui Jang, Heiko Karn, Jeong Hyun Kim, Alexander Mayer, Katrin Mayer, Nicole Messenlehner, Karolin Meunier, Stefan Moos, Miriam Pietrusky, Christoph Rothmeier, Eran Schaerf, Eske Schlüters, Jochen Schmith, Robert Schnackenburg, Mirjam Thomann, Sabin Tünschel, Gunnar Voss, Karsten Wiesel, Benjamin Yavuzsoy, Joachim Zahn, and Jenni Zimmer), View of installation of the exhibition Akademie: Kunst lernen und lehren, Kunstverein Hamburg, 2005.
Multiple—For Hegel “acting is simply transferring from a state not yet explicitly expressed to one fully expressed.” And “till he has made himself real by action,” “the individual cannot know what he is.” Thus when the individual knows what he is he is a transferred individual. Can he transfer himself back or re-transfer himself? Or does he have to reverse his state of knowledge in return? And how is that to happen if not through the metaphorical deleting of files? Perhaps with the “undercover autobiography” of Eva Meyer in which a story of perception takes place “that casts doubt on the adjective ‘real,’ on the verb ‘to be,’ and on the per-
sonal pronoun ‘I.’ Without question it goes back to the desire to show what is inside through behavior, and that is the moment in which one begins to write a undercover autobiography” (Meyer, Von jetzt an werde ich mehrere sein). That begins with a thing that is “by no means a multilayered thing” but a thing that one “neither knows nor keeps.” “One doesn’t see it directly. One sees the perspective that A has from B’s perspective which in turn sees C.” Once in a while this is seen in this teaching of being several, this indirect perspective that interlocks apart perception in order to arrive at a subject that neither knows nor doesn’t know what the perspective is but that there is still a possibility beyond the alternative knowing or not knowing: the possibility of a “saving as” that is not understood in terms of data management but rather self-reflexively highlights the activity of saving as creative intervention into the future. Sometimes it appears under the name “similar third” sometimes as the difference “between being on one’s own, not being on one’s own, and not thinking about it” (Meyer, Der Unterschied, der eine Umgebung schafft). Often it starts at three, as in Llull’s case. That may be a coincidence. Or the site where one begins when one has not saved one’s own memory of duality thinking or can no longer call it up and, for this reason, is dependent on the coincidence and on sites where a coincidence is able, in fact, to occur. This is also the site where the author’s disappearance occurs by distributing herself across multiple voices. “From now on I will be several. I will never again say of myself that I am this or I am that. From now on I am no longer the extension of a given state. I give expression to the choice between two mutually exclusive possibilities between the state itself and the possibility transcending it.” One gradually discovers that one has no identity “when one is on the point of doing something.” > Live montage Eran Schaerf, “Ähnlich, möglich, unbestimmt: Figuren der Kombination,” introduction to the seminar, HfbK Hamburg, 2004
N Name—1. The false name. I desire something. That happens a lot. Sometimes I fulfill my desire. Sometimes someone else fulfills it for me. In the bookstore I decided to approach the salesman. I asked him for the book I wanted. He said it was not in stock. I was disappointed. But he said he could order it for me and have it the next day. I accepted his offer. I was pleased that I would get it so quickly. I gave him the title and the author of the book. He found it in the list of available titles and told me the price. He asked for my name and address. “Benjamin Kirschbaum,” I said. Meanwhile the friend who was with me stood next to me leafing through a catalog and looking at me. I returned his eye contact. We looked in each other’s eyes briefly until I had to turn to the salesman again. I must have suddenly become alien to my friend. Even more alien than the salesman was to him. What kind of a situation have we gotten into here? No one asked. He didn’t ask me. He didn’t interrupt me. With his consent, which I could expect from him after our 143
exchange of glances and the trust that I sensed in it, I could continue my order. At that moment I alone had to take responsibility for us. The question what he must have felt as I did so occupied all my thoughts. It came unexpectedly— “What just happened?” was one question that came up. After I had given the salesman a deposit and the order was complete, I said goodbye to him, wished him a nice day and said that I would see him tomorrow. My friend had finished leafing through his catalog and wanted to leave the bookstore. It didn’t surprise me. It isn’t easy to endure having to make someone wait. On the street he asked me why I gave a false name. Why had I lied? I gave in to my desire to offer the salesman a closeness to the recent event, to the opening of the Holocaust memorial in Berlin, that I myself sought. I found a Jewish name by means of which I perhaps made him think briefly, could thus perhaps give him a small private event after the large public event, without entering into a personal conversation with him. A name that bore fruit, that I found pretty, as a way of saying thank you for his providing a service. In possession of my new name, I knew it would not last long. But perhaps it had contributed to establishing direct contact between self and other, in order to be able to feel responsibility for both. The improvisation I thought up was employed because the time and situation were right for it. Perhaps it will be employed again. With other means. With you, with me, with us. I don’t know whether the salesman thought of what I wanted to initiate. I couldn’t know it in advance. I didn’t know it while it was happening, and I still don’t know. It is impossible to know. I had the feeling when I left the store that I no longer had anything to do with it. I didn’t want to get to know the salesman. Something could be set in motion. The salesman could tell the story to others. It all happened very quickly. The moment made it so urgent. It could not happen so quickly again. The friend who was with me asked what book I had ordered. “A different one that I had been thinking of,” I said. The next day I picked up my book. Benjamin Yavuszoy, “Der falsche Name,” in . . . als wären vier Wände um sie, Kombinator 4 (Hamburg: Materialverlag, 2006)
2. Not in My Name. Group exhibitions are often presented in a way that the juxtaposition of works is not thought out. Either the respective positions are too sharply demarcated from one another or they are subsumed under a common theme. [. . .] In Not in My Name both the spatial interventions and the substantive positions taken by the artists are concerned with the possibilities and leeway available in locating oneself in group exhibitions. In addition, they refer to the urban surroundings. Press statement on Not in My Name, Ausstellungsraum KX, Hamburg, 2004, with Nadine Böll, Axel Gaertner, Heiko Karn, Katrin Mayer, Sandra Schäfer, Eske Schlüters, Jochen Schmith, Mirjam Thomann, and others
Karolin Meunier, avoir un blanc II, 2004, video projection, view of installation of the exhibition Not in My Name, Ausstellungsraum KX, Hamburg, 2004.
changes to the extent that the solutions accumulate. “The chain of solutions nevertheless discloses the problem” (33). He describes the problem that can be deduced from a sequence of artifacts as their intellectual form, the chain of solutions as their category of being. The chain of solutions establishes the boundaries of a sequence. “When problems cease to command active attention as deserving of new solutions, the sequence of solutions is stable during the period of inaction. But any past problem is capable of reactivation under new conditions” (35), reopening the sequence. Eran Schaerf, “Ähnlich, möglich, unbestimmt: Figuren der Kombination,” introduction to the seminar, Hochschule für bildende Künste (hereafter HfbK) Hamburg, 2004
Network—“The shapes of time are the prey we want to capture,” wrote George Kubler in The Shape of Time, published in 1962. For him, the time of history was “too coarse and brief to be an evenly granular duration such as the physicists suppose for natural time [. . .]. A net of another mesh is required [. . .]. The notion of style has no more mesh than wrapping paper or storage boxes. Biography cuts and shreds a frozen historic substance. [. . .] The monograph upon a single work of art is like a shaped stone ready for position in a masonry wall, but that wall itself is built without a purpose or plan.” (Kubler, The Shape of Time, 32–33) For Kubler every important work of art can be seen as the solution to a problem that has been carefully worked out. “Whether the event was original or conventional, accidental or willed, awkward or skillful” (33) is irrelevant for him. “The important clue is that any solution points to the existence of some problem to which there have been other solutions, and that other solutions to this same problem will most likely be invented to follow the one now in view” (33). The problem 4
R Rehearsal—1. Rehearsal space. An art college is an institutional framework that regulates the action of learning/ teaching by a set of preestablished roles, functions, and formats: teachers and students, the period of study, and the career that begins thereafter, the university context, and the “larger” public, production, presentation, practice, and theory, to name just a few. This set is based on the conceptions of society, finds expression in architectonic measures, and is codified in law. Accordingly, the rooms available for teaching are assigned functions: a classroom in which the students work; a private room for the professor (that in the master-student model was the professor’s studio) to which he or she can withdraw or have discussions about work [. . .]. Calling this set of roles a set of roles means taking it as a stage direction, and thus touching on the freedom of the actors to take responsibility for their interpretation of their roles. In practice—for example, in the seminar on combinatorial analysis that I offer at the HfbK Hamburg—it looks like this: The seminar takes place in a room that was constructed inside my “private space.” Its function is determined anew by the use the students put it to: seminar room, exhibition space, rehearsal space. Whether a work is presented or a discussion organized, studying here means, first of all, remaining open, whether the discussion or the presented work, the two together, or the relationship between them constitutes the artistic practice. The indeterminacy of the 5
context makes it possible to study the domination of the end product and its traditional forms and to explore alternatives. We called the room AvAv—referring to Averhoffstrasse, the street on which the building is located, but repeated, in allusion to the fact that it is a space within a space. Eran Schaerf, “Rollenspiel: Für eine Methode des Unvorhersehbaren,” Texte zur Kunst, no. 53 (2004)
Axel Gaertner, coming apart space, 2003. Suspended sheet of Rigips, projection: Coming Apart, Milton Moses Ginsberg, 1969, 110 min., b/w, loop, view of installation in the AvAv, Hamburg, 2003. Still from Coming Apart. Heiko Karn, Latent Utopias, 2003 drywall construction, wall paint, view of installation in the AvAv, Hamburg, 2003. Robert Schnackenburg, Probestreifen (Test strips), 2003, propaganda paintings, lectern, projection screen, set of lamps, ashtray with remains of a Gewehr 98 rifle. Installation and backdrop in the AvAv, Hamburg, 2003.
location—outside of the building yet inside the school building—that will be paradigmatic for its site-specific performance: the outside wall of the pavilion and its opposite side in the pavilion. [. . .] I chose scenarios whose lines of connections meet along the boundaries and also have boundaries as a theme. It is about characterizing an outside, a rebellion and rejection of existing power relations [. . .] the shooting actions of Niki de Saint Phalle (1961–64), which mark the beginning of her artistic work and a rejection of the male dominated tradition of painting [. . .], another case of a substitute for violence is happening now in a poor suburb of Los Angeles. In South Central young people go out into the street to dance and have dance “battles” rather than joining aggressive gangs and dealing drugs [. . .]. Stripes represent another design element in this project. In the history of the West stripes have stood for, among others things, exclusion, marginalization and marking, [. . .] fools, artists, criminals, prostitutes, the devil. > Fig. 37 Katrin Mayer, Research material for Shaking the Lines on the Mirror of Time and excerpts from the theoretical outline for her thesis in the fine arts, HfbK Hamburg, 2006
S Searching—1. The image. And the power of the imaginary is immediate—direct: I do not search for the image; it leaps abruptly into my eye. Only later do I reflect on it and incessantly cause the good and the bad sign to alternate. Anyone who wishes to know the truth receives strong and vivid images in reply, but they become ambiguous, equivocal as soon as one tries to transform them into signs: as in the mantic arts, the lover search for counsel has to piece together the truth for himself.
Eske Schlüters, Sehen als Denken Sehen (Frankfurt am Main: Revolver, 2006)
2. Searching and re-presenting. The process of appropriating images—even under the aspect of desire that is constitutive of identity—is something I would like to address, reflect on, and illustrate in Shaking the Lines on the Mirror of Time. Our present opportunities for access to infinitely many images—via the Internet, for example—permit a subjective selection of images by which we can construct actively or even unconsciously an image of ourselves and our society. [. . .] For this work I have chosen a place whose 6
Lieutenant commander Norman Wilkinson of the Royal Navy, formerly a marine artist, designer, illustrator, formed the “dazzle section” in 1917 to design paint schemes for ship camouflage. In this photograph Wilkinson is holding up a dazzle-painted ship against one of his marine paintings, 1970. Ship painted in dazzle scheme in the First World War.
Adolf Loos, Josephine Baker house, Paris. Model, circa 1927. Prostitute in the Middle Ages wearing stripes as an obligatory identifying feature. Mural by a student of Giotto, circa 1340, Bolzano, San Domenico. Daddy wig: Niki de Saint Phalle in her film Daddy,1972. William Klein, Op Art still from the film Qui êtes-vous Polly Maggoo?, designed by William Klein, 1966.
Stage—1. The edge of the stage. Place the island. Two guests are on an island. All of the others are workers; they are there to serve the guests. They, the two guests, sleep in a tent. The others in a log cabin (the superiors) or in a Quonset hut (the employees). At the edge of the stage are piles of trash that every night are incinerated “in secret.” At night runs a generator standing in the middle of the camp. In the middle of the stage stands the generator that runs at night and provides energy for light. Whenever the light is burning, the people speaking can hardly be understood. They have to scream their dialogue at those listening. At night rats run around; they are looking for food. The rats aren’t supposed to be called rats, because they insist on having a name. “Otherwise they get mad and the gods do too,” says a boss. In daylight a tent is seen between palm trees, with blue water and white sand in front of it. A horizon is also visible. The edge of the stage is a white line, labeled horizon. The horizon is redrawn by the employees now and again. Two people are speaking, sitting in front of the tent. Workers go by. It is morning.
ture correspond, depending on the context, to certain codes and can thus be appropriated; in the process they become handy and materially available. Moreover, gestures and codes that are appropriated on site turn up in other stages— for example, in videos—and are in turn understood as adopting a role. The character can be understood as a stage. The character thus makes the possibilities of a role available and comes into being in its form as a stage because certain coordinates function as an image. These coordinates can be facades, interiors, or clothing. The stage can also be read as a multiple character, which leads us in turn to a divided authorship. Divided authorship, which functions here as an ensemble, adopts the roles that the “function of the character” makes available. What are we to make of the fact that a character can represent a stage? What is up with the idea of a platform? Or is there perhaps another word than “stage,” because that word refers too directly to the theater or the like? The stage can also be understood as a space of events, as a place at which a person or a subject is influenced by backdrops in vastly different ways (backdrops in the form of consumption-oriented accompanying inventory, of sym-
Sabin Tünschel, “Im Übergang zur Einteilung,” in “Transitökonomia,” theoretical thesis in visual communications/media, HfbK, Hamburg, 2005
15 Sabin Tünschel, Stills from Ort die Insel (Place the island), 2005, video, 35 min.
2. The character as stage. The possibility exists to present credibility by adopting a certain role. By referring to the use of the character that results from adopting a role, the character is appropriated for certain moments and projects. This appropriating points to media trends in general and how one can work with them. From the perspective of appropriation, it is possible for the figure to make use of fields with various codes that, among other things, probe and explore approaches and expectations. A suit or a certain ges-
bolic images of lifestyle-influenced work worlds, hence a stage set as well). An inversion of the spatial is taking place here. Not a subject or an abstraction goes on stage; rather, the stage moves to the subject or through the subject. The place casts back the role, helping to define it. The question is which places are interesting under these aspects. They are places where there are limitations on access or that are connected to the working world: annual meetings of corporations and trade fairs, for example, but also perhaps places for recreation, like adventure worlds and theme parks. In Video Specific Setting there is a still photograph of a historic-looking space that is entered by an employee. She moves slowly past the tables and checks how the places are set. From time to time she makes minor adjustments. Maintaining an accurate staging produces a spatial identity that is reflected in the controlled movements and actions of the employee. The production of the video work was preceded by extensive research in restaurants in Moscow. There since the fall of communism spaces are increasingly designed thematically (theme restaurants). Often the themes are based on historical models. Restaurant visitors are sometimes participants and sometimes coproducers of these staged surroundings. In some restaurants it is possible to take part in performances between courses. > Continuity Jochen Schmith, Gespräche mit Jochen Schmith 0–5, Kombinator 6 (Hamburg: Materialverlag, 2006); press release for Jochen Schmith’s exhibition in the Hedah, Maastricht, 2006 16
17 Jochen Schmith, Stills from Specific Setting, 2006, video, 6 min. 35 sec.
Storage—1. Social storage system. Combing stored images for a speech, something orators did before there were books, resembles the way artists work with information: both speak with images that already exist. By “information” I mean the broad palette from the material by way of the object to the word—everything that finds a place in the world and is stored so that it can be called up again someday and called a “ready-made,” a found object,” or a “found scene.” As helpful as these terms from the jargon of art were 17
and still are in shifting the artist’s creative act from depicting and producing to finding, appropriating, and quoting, they still serve a demand for the authentic by distinguishing themselves from it. Combination as an activity for producing connections, however, shifts the focus from the authentic object to the combination, which always points to the possibility of being put together some other way. Hence a combination is always one of many, and because of this condition of plurality its statement is always in a process of negotiation with its possible variants. The term “information,” which includes various media like object, word, and so on, tries to do justice to two different circumstances: in combining we are not in nature but in a social storage system that we access for images stored by ourselves or by others. These images are for their part already combinations—just as a sentence is made up of individual words. They can be broken down again into partial information—a process that quickly leads into the social context of the information in question and makes the communal properties of an image evident. The combinatorial potential lies in recognizing the “found” image as a “combined” one in order to see the sequence in which the visual information was assembled or to be able to consider the consequences of another sequence. In his book on contemplation Ramon Llull personifies the powers of the soul: intellect, will, and memory in an allegory (as “three noble, beautiful virgins standing on a high mountain”—is this personification intended to consolidate the combined image as a socially anchored visual process?) whose activities he associates as follows: “The first remembers what the second understands and the third wants; the second understands what the first remembers and the third wants; the third wants what the first remembers and the second understands.” The three phrases are combined into three sentences in different order. What difference does
it make if “the first” comes first, second, or third in the sentence? Depending on the order of the elements—and even before that with the order of the places, depending in which place which thing is said—a story can turn out this way or that. Chronology is an order that is as useful as it is hierarchical in order to present a certain course of events as “true” or “correct” or “following the natural sequence of time.” What concerns us here is less “how it was” than how it could be or how it could possibly be again, this way or that. How can an event be considered without ignoring historical connections and without subjecting oneself to them? How does possibility effect the past and become a potential for changing position in time? And what are consequences of this for the idea of sequence or conclusion? Eran Schaerf, “Ähnlich, möglich, unbestimmt: Figuren der Kombination,” introduction to the seminar, HfbK Hamburg, 2004
2. “That has been.” Two images, each of which shows a political assassination or attempted assassination. The photograph shows William J. Gaynor, the mayor of New York, in 1910 boarding a ship in which he planned to travel to Europe. The photographer (William F. Warnecke), who had come to photograph the departure, pressed the shutter release just after the marksman had hit Gaynor in the throat. Gaynor survived the assassination attempt but died three years later from its lingering effects. The second image shows the murder of President Lincoln in the Ford Theater in Washington in 1865 (artist unknown). In the first example, the photograph is probably more famous than the assassination attempt it depicts; the second is one of many illustrations of a famous event. [. . .] But if both of the circumstances shown are similar and both long ago, how is it that the photograph has so much more presence? Or what constitutes the special presence of a photograph? In general, greater documentary character is attributed to photographs than to drawings. But this too should be questioned. [. . .] The Gaynor photograph is one of the great moments of documentary photography: “in the right place at the right time,” which sounds particularly cynical with respect to this scene. Yet the question remains: what exactly makes the photograph seem so close to reality? Roland Barthes describes for himself and his readers over the course of Camera lucida what is special about photography for him. Observing photographs that touch him, both private and not private, he reveals the noeme, the inner idea and makeup of photography. For him it lies in the phrase “that has been.” This phrase is the dominant message of every photograph, for Barthes it is at once the horror, the scandal, and the source of enthusiastic fascination. Looking at a photograph of Napoleon Bonaparte’s brother he says: “I am looking at eyes that looked at the Emperor.” Barthes thus calls photography “magic.” The fascination comes, especially in the case of historical photographs, from the fact that photographs as objects “transport” a motif, an isolated moment through time. Nevertheless, the “that-has-been” is
ambiguous. Barthes did not really see the eyes of the emperor’s brother; he saw a photograph. The print [. . .] is a reference to a photographic situation that took place and in that sense an “emanation of past reality,” as Barthes puts it. Stefan Moos, “später: Einzelfoto und Serie,” theoretical thesis for studies in visual communication and media, HfbK Hamburg, 2004
Summer—1. It is always summer. You are on a meadow, trees in front, in the background fog. A house. A woman is coming toward you out of the house. The woman is wearing a gray jacket, dark gray pants. She is coming directly at you. Turns off, past you. Past a bush. She cries. Walk behind the woman. The woman goes down a steep slope. Don’t be afraid, you won’t fall. The woman stops. Remain standing some distance from the woman. Watch her. If you decide to go to the woman, then press three. If you decide to go to the woman, press three and console her. You have decided not to go to the woman. Cut. > Live montage Mareike Bernien and Charlotte Pfeifer, Es ist immer Sommer (It is always summer), audio, 10 min. 21 sec., in voyohr, Kombinator 2 (Hamburg: Materialverlag, 2006)
2. A summer day. a belt the width of a mobile phone made of dederon polyester stretches diagonally across my upper body. i pull another one over my right shoulder. the bicycle, the street. under a roof i put a u-lock through the rigid mesh of a fence and around the frame of the bike. the seat is my stirrup over the fence. jump. lawn. in the near distance, the murmuring of a group of people. sure of my idea, i go up to them. shouted from the side, why the fence became my entrance. probably the cashier, in the form of a cheerful lady who calls to me and in my response to my announcement of my profession, a tripod on my shoulder seems to testify to my professionalism or credibility, i ask . . . unexpectedly she lets go, without crossing the gate, with a reference to the next time [. . .]. i always swim now with my new technique, breathing in above water and breathing out underwater . . . , so there were two women talking, whenever i surfaced i heard a few snatches of conversation and then i went back under again, then i surfaced again and heard more of the sentence and then under again, their voices became quieter, then i swam back and then they got louder, and i kept hearing about a second’s worth of conversation from them, that was a pretty cool acoustic situation. a cool acoustic situation. a cool acoustic situation, i am probably totally crooked in the picture. Gunnar Fleischer, Freibad, radio play, 10 min. 23 sec., in voyohr, Kombinator 2 (Hamburg: Materialverlag, 2006)
A Addressee—1. Judgment of the reader. If it is the case that I construct the image of a reader in the course of writing, the addressee, simply by virtue of having been addressed, derives in return the right to announce a judgment in the 149
future. This does not, however, imply a simple relationship of dependence vis-à-vis the reader of the writer’s pages: in the moment when an author communicates to another, he places himself in a situation where he will be judged. In order to be able to react to this always conflicting relationship to the addressee, the latter’s possible expectation is anticipated intellectually, so that the communication is a reply to something that was never said. When the sender forms an idea of the reader’s attitude, he begins, conversely, to expect something from him. Hence the judgment of the reader is also a statement that is judged and for which he is responsible. The reader is not the second but just as much the first. Both positions—the provisional judgment of the reader and his image in the imagination of the writer—repeatedly become a mutual occasion to reformulate what already exists. Even the prejudgment is a text, and an openness is certain inscribed in it, to the extent that it is acknowledged provisionally. Karolin Meunier, Der Entwurf des Adressaten, Kombinator 5 (Hamburg: Materialverlag, 2006)
2. Production of the reader. In the reception of public space, however, the crucial role is played not so much by the meaning of individual signs as by their use—for example, if a name is placed in relation to something and possible readings result. The consumer thus makes the things perceived his own. Every form of this appropriate constructs and deconstructs the received, separating a name from its predetermined inscription. The role of the consumer is thus not that of a copyist but of an active designer. Michel de Certeau describes this role in connection with reading a book: “If then ‘the book is a result (a construction) produced by the reader,’ one must consider the operation of the latter as a sort of lectio, the production proper to the ‘reader’ (‘lecteur’). The reader neither takes the position of the author nor an author’s position. He invents in texts something different from what they ‘intended.’ He detaches them from their [. . .] origin.” (de Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life). In this context de Certeau distinguishes between the strategies of companies and institutions that would like to
produce and control social perception and behavior normatively and the tactics of users, who appropriate both consumer goods and their signs by dealing with them in unpredictable ways. In that sense, consuming is not a passive allowing something to happen but a form of practice. If we accept Certeau’s concept, it is reasonable to assume that subversive factors are already inherent in the very process of appropriation. This critical potential can, however, be emphasized only by presuming a clear oppositional separation of hegemonic strategies and subversive tactics. > Rehearsal Heiko Karn, Replay, theoretical outline for his thesis in the fine arts, HfbK, Hamburg, 2006 20 21
Heiko Karn, Replay, Plexiglas, metal fittings, 2006. Robert Schnackenburg, o.T. (Ein Brief) (Untitled [A letter]), 2003, C print.
B Border—1. Borders of architectural space. In conventional cartography borders are represented as lines that delimit one territory from another and encompass political spheres of influence. If at the time of the cold war, of socialist and communist forms of government, borders were generally thought of as confining the population living within their boundaries, then in the globalized world order borders frequently expanded into vast areas and zones that primarily serve to provide protection (against migrants and intruders). The structure of borders appears in this context to be less a physical fact than to be constituted in actu. A constant task of filtering, of exclusion and confinement, of permeability and impermeability leave their mark on the border space. In her writing on this, the cultural theorist Eva Horn says that borders have the potential to dissolve, that is, to become immaterial and “turn inward into the space they surround” (Horn, Über Grenzen). Accordingly borders can be understood as zones of parallel movements that overlap one another and that re-form themselves over and over again. Thus a strengthening of state borders is not achieved through military presence alone. In fact, control is not visibly exercised in a strategic “destruction through design”—that is, through a reorganization of infrastructural networks in certain areas. The dissolution of linear border situations in
favor of overlapping, permanently re-forming parallel sites means a state of collision that, according to the architect Philipp Misselwitz, in its informality also carries within itself the potential for a unpredictable and incalculable development. What direct, indirect, or imagined exchange takes place in a border zone? Such a question hides the attempt to not connote the concept of collision in negative terms but rather to see in it the potential of a third, common space for negotiation that is also shaped via possibilities of violating and transgressing the border. Transitional situations and border zones would accordingly be a site in which overlapping parallel movements are positioned against a hermeticism, that is, against an isolation and the claim of an integrality. The open in-betweenness turns into a possibility for unpredictable patterns of exchange—the concept of inside and outside dissolves in favor of an in-between. 22
Mirjam Thomann, Open Revolving, roofing lath, fiberboard, wall paint, 2005, view of installation of the exhibition Not in My Name, Ausstellungsraum KX, Hamburg, 2004 > Name 2
Open Revolving was a revolving door in the entry/exit area of the gallery through which visitors accessed the exhibition. Entrance into the gallery was delayed, as if by a hurdle, and the smooth procession from one space into the other was interrupted. The “object in between,” in motion, thus pointed, via formal markings, to the intertwining of the two spaces. Repeating graphic elements were carried from outside to the inside and from inside to the outside. I was thus interested in the transitional area between two spaces as an interval that is shaped by the properties of both adjoining spaces and whose essential feature is the mix of the two. > Curtain 3 Mirjam Thomann, Shift (In Between), theoretical outline for her thesis in the fine arts, HfbK Hamburg, 2006 23
While the “incorrectness” of the jump cut comes about through the uncertainty of perception with regard to a time not represented in continuum and a movement that does not seem flowing, the avoidance of the continuity error is to prevent one from being able, or having, to think something additional, something that lies outside of the frame. For instance, like a glass, that was still seen in one shot and which disappeared in a subsequent one; or how it happens that in Casablanca Humphrey Bogart drops a wine glass and then picks up a whiskey glass in the shot that immediately follows. In terms of a congruent story line, sequences edited in this way certainly appear to be mistakes. But perhaps only because it is so astonishing how confusing such a small “inconsistency” in a supposedly so insignificant moment can seem to us, and how it is thus capable of bringing us from impassive seeing via a dulled sense to thinking. Eske Schlüters, “Das narrative dazwischen” (The narrative in between), in Erzähltes erzählen, Kombinator 3 (Hamburg: Materialverlag, 2006)
Mirjam Thomann, Shift (In Between), partition walls of the Hochschule, particle board, fiberboard, mirror, enamel paint, poster, 2006.
2. Jump cut. Even though in film terminology jump cut, crossing the line, and continuity error are spoken of as “violations of the rules,” and although a light-dark difference of takes or a switch from an extreme close-up to a total view are perceived as confusing, one cannot really speak here of impossible or senseless linking of images. For these things also have an effect. For example, the avoidance of crossing the line has the function, first and foremost, of enabling the clear identification of the characters in the film in space through their positions and lines of vision. If it is not first and foremost this function that matters, but rather that which is said, in the broader sense, and not who says it, or rather precisely that utterances are not clearly assigned to one character, as in situations of free indirect speech, then crossing the line cannot merely be considered an error.
C Continuity—1. Thematic and nonthematic continuity. The similarity in activity of producer and recipient refers to a concept of continuity in production. At different times both are involved in the production of a sequence that has emanated from “the work.” Through the importance that we attach to the respective time, we judge it to be either constituting or interrupting continuity. But isn’t continuity perceived first and foremost through events that represent interruptions in it? In his account of the study of iconography George Kubler problematizes iconology as a field whose principle substance is the continuity of theme: “the breaks and ruptures of the tradition lie beyond the iconologist’s scope” (Kubler, The Shape of Time). That which breaks with the continuity of theme is not taken up as an event within it. Kubler criticizes this process of inclusion and exclusion in the service of the 151
establishment of a time structure for writing history and thus directs the reader’s attention to the intermittent classes, which are themselves interrupted and which interrupt other classes: “those which lapse inside the same cultural grouping, and those which span different cultures.” “The history of transcultural diffusion in turn contains several kinds of motion.” From the “wholesale destruction of the native American civilizations”, from which only that survived that was new and necessary for the conquerors “(potatoes, tomatoes, chocolate, etc.)” to the “continuation” of this culture via foreign artists who “enlarged many native themes in their own terms.” Among other examples Kubler brings in that of the architect Frank Lloyd Wright who “renewed an experimentation with Maya corbel-vaulted compositions that had lapsed since the fifteenth century in Yucatan [. . .] These twentieth-century continuations of the unfinished classes of fifteenth-century American Indian art can be interpreted as an inverted colonial action by stone-age people upon modern industrial nations at a great chronological distance.” In “Feeling Global” Heike Behrend describes the productions of the Likoni Ferry Photographers as “a unique local development that makes use of a great variety of images from the outside world.” In the decor of their studios the photographers realize “the vision of a cosmopolitan modernism (or postmodernism) that has freed itself from the logic of a fixed place and does away with the division of exile and home in favor of a global discourse. (The photographers are African migrants and their customers are also African migrants, guest workers, and tourists)” (Behrend, “Imaginäre Reisen”). And yet it is not just the signs of the apparatus of western progress, such as the luxury cruise ship or passenger airliner, that are found in the decorations, but also “a counter-image to the modern urban landscape,” images that fall back upon the hunting tradition, though in “its newer, cheaper variant”: as “touristic safaris into the large animal parks that are organized less for the purpose of shooting wild animals but more as opportunities to photograph them.” “Here we have an innovation, a discontinuity produced a posteriori out of the local consumption of global elements.” If the depiction of an airplane in this context can be described as appropriation, then a reappropriation is put forward with the depiction of the hunting scene as safari—a reappropriation of that which counts as belonging to African culture, and is hard to distinguish from the touristic form of the “safari” shaped by western colonial policy. In the studio the hunting scene takes place on a screen. The studio, which as setting already invokes image production, turns into a spatial medium for the image of the two-dimensional piece of information “hunting scene.” The concept of appropriation, the “taking possession of the unclaimed” or of “the other” is given a varied role here as the “other” contains the “self.” Can a hunting scene only be depicted in combination with tourism? Does one necessarily also invoke the T-shirt industry when invoking Che Guevara’s portrait? It is not only thirty-seven years that separates Kulber’s The Shape of Time
and Behrend’s Feeling Global but also a complex shifting with roles “inverted” that on no account takes place only in language, even if it makes itself felt in language by bringing us to its border. Whether or not the clear demarcation of the categories “other” and “self” was ever more than an illusion—globalization, at any rate, suggests its abolition. For a practice of the inverted roles that interlocks the other and the self concepts like colonization and appropriation don’t appear to be sufficient. Globalization conceals the complexity of this practice when it maintains that the other and the self have merged, that there is nothing to appropriate, nothing to colonize, but also no difference and thus no longer any reason to engage one another. This idea of a single culture characterizes the concept of continuity shaped by globalization as secure from such interruptions like those caused by the Likoni Ferry Photographers. For the duration of a picture they abandon, however, the “the logic of the fixed place” by bringing into the picture the migration history of motifs—and perhaps also their own longed-for migration— between cultures and mediums. And in this way they have arrived at the logic of a plurality of places and thus in the combinatorics of interruptions and continuations and interruptions as continuations. > Addressee > Fig. 24
Curtain—1. Layer. In autumn 2005 renovation work in a basement corridor of the Hochschule für bildende Künste Hamburg uncovered a mural that depicted two Wehrmacht soldiers. Apart from certain details that were carefully uncovered—faces, hands, ammunition belts, rifle butts—the mural was left in a raw state. A note by the school’s art historian next to the finding, which was later published in the HfbK newsletter, attempted to place the work in a historical context and at the same time point out its lack of artistic merit. It also noted “that it is not, as first suspected, a continuous frieze of soldiers but rather a single depiction.” The state of the mural has not been altered since. 26
Eran Schaerf, “Ähnlich, möglich, unbestimmt: Figuren der Kombination,” introduction to the seminar, HfbK Hamburg, 2004
2. The logic of a plurality of places. The installation Heights of Success works with the existing light sources in the Galerie der HfbK as a system of reference to other places/ galleries. On the basis of different measurements of the heights of lights from New York galleries on Twenty-fourth Street the height of the lights in the Galerie der HfbK was changed. A row was left at the original height and functioned as a reference height. Invitation cards to the current exhibitions of the respective galleries were fastened under their respective rows of lights. The cards—in the form of standard labels for works found in museums—contained additional information noted down by hand on the heights of the lights in the respective gallery. > Memory (art of)
Jochen Schmith, Heights of Success, invitation card from the Stellan Holm Gallery with handwritten notations, 2005 Jochen Schmith, Heights of Success, adjustment of the heights of lights, invitation cards with handwritten notations. View of installation of the exhibition PostDouble-Super-High-Opening, Galerie der HfbK Hamburg, 2005. On the wall, Katrin Mayer, Brand New, A0-size posters; right: Mirjam Thomann, Open Revolving. > Searching 2, > Border
Hochschule für bildende Künste Hamburg, View of the corridor
After observing the internal structures of the college and above all the nonreaction to events—the uncovering, for example—we moved the mural two floors higher, in a slightly different place, in order to show it again. We retained only the structure of the efforts at restoration that had been made, with their various layers. Nothing more was exposed; rather, a new layer was applied with glossy acrylic paint. When viewed, the uncovering and the overpainting coincide, which inverts the process of restoration and thus preserves the structure. Two text panels were placed beside the work that refer to the note on the mural. The work attempts to allude to a way of approaching history in postpostwar Germany. In the latter everything is already visible and interruptions (like, for example, such a find) themselves become part of the continuous structure and confirm the
historicizing of events. There is no need for conversation. A critical discourse is not (or no longer) necessary. Mareike Bernien and Kerstin Schroedinger, Press release for Wandbild (Mural), 2006 27
Mareike Bernien and Kerstin Schroedinger, Wandbild, 2006, acrylic paint on white wall, annual exhibition at the HfbK Hamburg, 2006, view of installation Mareike Bernien and Kerstin Schroedinger, Wandbild, 2006, text panels
Wandbild (Mural), 2006 310 x 330 cm, acrylic paint on white wall
The discovery or uncovering of a structure coincides with its overpainting. The application of another layer restores the originally intended state. It conserves that which made the obvious visible by means of the uncovering, so that the painting was completed. For the moment we can only speculate about its origins and function. The possibility that it represents a student work (exercise) from the course on restoration/murals has not been ruled out.
Wandbild (Mural), 2006 310 x 330 cm, acrylic paint on white wall During restoration work at the Hochschule für bildende Künste a mural of two German Wehrmacht soldiers was recently overpainted. It is a painting with a continuous structure to which a new, glossy layer was applied. For the moment we can only speculate about its origins and function. The possibility that it represents a student work (exercise) from the course on restoration/murals has not been ruled out. It is clearly evident from differences in the manner of execution that the painting was never completed. In order to clarify open questions the decision about how to handle it was postponed.
man—Into the telephone—Laughs. Puts down the receiver. Steps departing. Door opens, steps coming closer. [. . .] Gunnar Voss, Im Nebenzimmer (In the adjoining room), stage directions (taken from the radio play Ein Geschäft mit Träumen by Ingeborg Bachmann) 30
2. Behind the curtain. 29
Karolin Meunier, “Open Source / Open Letter no. 01,” sent with the invitation to the exhibition Post-Double-SuperHigh-Opening, Galerie der HfbK Hamburg, 2005. Other artists in the exhibition: Heiko Karn, Katrin Mayer, Jochen Schmith, and Mirjam Thomann.
3. In the adjoining room. Noise: the clattering of a typewriter. Two peals from a distant church bell. A. laughing—rustling of paper. M. puts coat on. A. giggles, very subdued. M. departs with the sound of steps. A. calling after him—sighs. Brief pause. Then door opens. Chairman, unpleasant organ sounds—A. closes the window. Laughs, very subdued. Telephone rings. A. lifts the receiver—to the chair31
31 32 Gunnar Voss, Im Nebenzimmer, exhibition in the Trottoir, Hamburg 2006; the Trottoir is an exhibition space with a display window. A partition separates the room into a display window area in front, in which exhibitions are regularly shown that can be seen day and night, and a back area used for events. The curtain hangs outside about a meter in front of the exhibition space. Inside the exhibition space the partition wall is tipped over and can be walked on as a floor and stage. The stage directions are projected onto the wall in a varied rhythm. > Stage > Border
I Intervention—Into time. Storage does not just mean collecting data. We collect data with the idea that we can perhaps use it again at a later point. So we begin to intervene in the time that is still pending. Storage is also sending. To our selves, who will open the file someday, or to someone else who is not specified at first but clearly we are counting on him, otherwise we would not preserve the transmission in the first place. “Every transmission,” Luhmann writes in Die Realität der Massenmedien, “promises another transmission.” 32
That is not only true of television. Every act of publication is done with an awareness that the public—as blurry as its boundaries may be—causes the work to enter into a time of unspecified duration. During this time the work is available to the social system; it is stored, received, opened to an unspecified reading from which it will emerge as a combination of facts, fictions, interpretations, and analyses. Although the reception of a work differs in its means from its production, seen combinatorially reception is just as much an activity in which what the artist produced is produced repeatedly or combined with other information. The reception of a transmission can be described as its postproduction. Whether or not a work is a work before it appears in the social storage system, once it has been exhibited it is always in the society of reception. Any concept of reception that attributes only a receptive role to the recipient underestimates the (production) share of the recipient in continuing the work and producing a sequence that will be available to other recipients. Even if the producer and recipient are active in different phases of the same process, it does not mean that both are producing the same thing. In all probability during his activity the recipient produces a work of art different from the work that the artist produced. Both cases represent variations. Efforts to define one variation as original and the other as interpretation or cover version are measures to assign the variations to this or that value system in order to make them suitable for economic objectives or for purposes of writing history. The value of the variation in music shows how much such efforts are specific to the art world. When we are active mnemotechnically, we have abandoned not only the omnipresent site of our own memory but also the claim to sole authorship of this or that variation. We are no longer limited to this or that attribution of a role drawn by the line of production-interpretation, even if we entered into the production process at different times. We take interpretation as a translation from one medium to another. We continue that which we ourselves or others have stored for us or not for us and thereby make the resulting combination available to us and others, who will produce in turn their own combination. This process can last millennia or just a few minutes. In the process not only works of art take form but time itself. Eran Schaerf, “Ähnlich, möglich, unbestimmt: Figuren der Kombination,” introduction to the seminar, HfbK Hamburg, 2004
Narrate—1. Narrating the narrated. Meaning is differential, I heard that in a course in at the college. Love is a form of knowledge, I copied it out of my notebook. I cant’t remember where I found it. To know you can die is to be dead already, I read that in a book somewhere. Why do you think knowing’s going to make a difference? I’ve thought that all my life. Well, you’re wrong. Knowing doesn’t mean shit. It doesn’t mean shit. I like you, especially when you don’t seem to know everything.
34 33 34
Eske Schlüters, Sehen als Denken Sehen (Frankfurt am Main: Revolver, 2006). Nicole Messenlehner, Die Worte sind nicht Lüge, sie sprechen eine bedingte Möglichkeit von Wahrheit und Realität (Words are not lies; they speak a conditional possibility of truth and reality), 2006, detail.
2. Fictitious narration. My memory writes a fictitious narration of the life of another. Or of many others. Words are not lies; they speak a conditional possibility of truth and reality. In my artistic work I try to translate built space as a concept of reality. By making the inner world visible the space thus created appears in connection with the outer world constituted through the space. The invisible “inner world,” “counter-world” organizes an outer world in the first place (Baier, Raum. Prolegomena zu einer Architektur des gelebten Raumes). The inner world is subjective, it determines the personal concept of reality. An example: Alice in Wonderland turns her inner world (as image) outward and thereby translates a concept of reality into her world of experience or into her life. I employ written and spoken language as a means to represent the inner world or inner reality, which in turn generates an image. Language has an opportunity here to create and define a space. This is why one can, as Derrida says, live inside the text, if thinking prepares a way, a way opens a text, and architecture writes a building (Meyer, Architexturen). Spoken language, however, monopolizes a different space for itself than written language. Seeing/reading is active while spoken language has to be waited for. I. Woman: We will go from each other wordlessly. As at the beginning when our words were foreign and strange. The words are not lies, they speak a conditional possibility of truth and reality.
II. Man: There is loathing between us. Between you and me. Woman: And a stillness, statue-like, only not from happiness. Man: And it will remain and endure. Woman: We will go from each other wordlessly. III. Woman: If minutes later I had demanded the scarf back that I gave him . . . If the disappointment had been nipped in the early stages. Man: Why did I offer her my hand and why did she take it. As the entrance to the work is also the exit, that is, a spatial dead end, the spectator is shown the way. The possibility to move freely in the space is not given. Basically, a circular movement is to be performed even if not in the conventional geometric sense. A circular movement always leads to the beginning thereby repeating the story, which begins anew without resolution. Nicole Messenlehner, Die Worte sind nicht Lüge, sie sprechen eine bedingte Möglichkeit von Wahrheit und Realität (Words are not lies; they speak a conditional possibility of truth and reality), manuscript for the soundtrack of the installation and theoretical outline for her thesis in the fine arts, HfbK Hamburg, 2006.
hundred yards to the mile. And then came the grandest idea of all! We actually made a map of the country, on the scale of a mile to the mile! (2) About six inches to the mile. (1) What do you consider the largest map that would be really useful?
knew, a very poor, ragged man who was squatting in a dark corner at the back of the room. All sorts of things were discussed, and then it was suggested that everyone should tell what wish he would make if one were granted him. One man wanted money; another wished for a son-in-law; a third dreamed of a new carpenter’s bench; and so everyone spoke in turn. After they had finished, only a beggar in his dark corner was left. Reluctantly and hesitantly he answered the question: “I wish I were a powerful king reigning over a big country. Then, some night while I was asleep in my palace, an enemy would invade my country, and by dawn his horsemen would penetrate to my castle and meet with no resistance. Roused from my sleep, I wouldn't have time even to dress and I would have to flee in my shirt. Rushing over hill and dale and through forests day and night, I would finally arrive safely right here at the bench in the corner. This is my wish.” The others exchanged uncomprehending glances. “And what good would this wish have done you?' someone asked. “I’d have a shirt,” was the answer. (Walter Benjamin, “Franz Kafka,” trans. Harry Zohn)
illustrates an expansion of authorship: in re-presentations of the contents of the archive multiplications come about: adopted roles fuse in the multiple voices of a speaker, the distributing to several performers nevertheless allows them to seemingly perform with one voice. For the last annual exhibition Mayer worked with two fellow students to conceive an information room that documented and made accessible the contributions of the sixty exhibiting artists during the course of the exhibition—that is, “live.” In this way Mayer brought home the message that archiving is not just the work of belated safekeeping but rather can be understood as an approach, like every artistic combination, montage, or collage, and the archivist cannot really hide behind the mask of innocent service provider. > Narrate 3
Alexander Mayer and Tim Weschkalnies; five sentences from Lewis Carroll’s Sylvie and Bruno Concluded (1893) are mounted on a paperwall construction in reverse order to the original. The first sentence the visitor reads upon entering the room is the last in Carroll’s sequence. 39
Alexander Mayer and Tim Weschkalnies, view of the paper-wall construction, installation in the AvAv, 2003
In a Hasidic village, so the story goes, Jews were sitting together in a shabby inn one Sabbath evening. They were all local people, with the exception of one person no one 35 35
Nicole Messenlehner, prompter, research material for Die Worte sind nicht Lüge, sie sprechen eine bedingte Möglichkeit von Wahrheit und Realität (Words are not lies; they speak a conditional possibility of truth and reality), 2006 Nicole Messenlehner, Die Worte sind nicht Lüge, sie sprechen eine bedingte Möglichkeit von Wahrheit und Realität (Words are not lies; they speak a conditional possibility of truth and reality), 2006. Face plate, glass, mirror with pearl-embroidered pillow. Alexander Mayer and Tim Weschkalnies, collage, study for the installation in the AvAv—seminar, rehearsal, and exhibition space for the class Kombinatorische und Prozessuale Formung (Combinatorial and procedural formation), HfbK Hamburg, 2003. Eske Schlüters, Drawing for the jacket of Erzähltes erzählen, Kombinator 3 (Hamburg: Materialverlag, 2006).
3. Useful scale. (6) So we now use the country itself, as its own map, and I assure you it does nearly as well. (5) It has never been spread out yet, the farmers objected; they said it would cover the whole country and shut out the sunlight. (4) Have you used it much? (3) Only six inches. We very soon got to six yards to the mile. Then we tried a 156
Alexander Mayer and Tim Weschkalnies, material from the working process for the installation in the AvAv, 2003
L Live montage—1. The archive presented. After previous examinations of the iconicity of linguistic signs Alexander Mayer gathered textual and pictorial quotations and developed an archival system in which he investigated questions of the possibilities for making reference and the temporalities of systems for ordering. In exhibition situations he presented thematically chosen extracts from this archive, including different mediums, in temporary combinations that call to mind the provisional nature of each arrangement. Thus, for example, in a slide installation in 2002 he analyzed the languages of discourse in different fields such as the culture sections of newspapers, political theory, and art history, and placed these in fragments next to and against each other thereby raising important questions on the textually transmitted construction of reality. In addition to the deconstruction of the traditional categories for works, his research also 157
Eran Schaerf, advisory opinion for Alexander Mayer for the application for project support, 2004
2. Spatial montage. “The starting point of my work was to explore fictitious spatial possibilities,” Luise Wagner writes, and even if not the only one, it is also the starting point for this year’s presentation of the Prozessuale und Kombinatorische Formung class. It could also be said that an archive and its possibilities for presentation are exhibited here. The archive of files, videotapes, and CDs is a compilation of projects that are works in progress or for which the context of the annual exhibition is not suitable and are made accessible to visitors here. The archive is, however, also the potential of that which is available, which in its presentation turns into a possibility. Thus one day Mirjam Thomann, Karolin Meunier, Eske Schlüters, and Alexander Mayer took a look at Mayer’s archive—a collection of textual and pictorial quotations where any notion of infinity comes up short—and presented the possibility. It is neither improvisation, as the material that comes into play is predetermined, nor is it chance, as they arranged to meet and agreed to play as many roles as the archive contains. Thus initially a montage of index card images and reading voices was produced in which one thinks that infinity itself is doing the directing. Subsequently the question posed itself as to whether this montage can also occur in a space. And with
what awareness does one do what one does in a space in which simultaneously and without consultation so much more is done than what one would be in a position to do on one’s own? The montage in space is a camera and microphone work that fragments and at the same time assembles simultaneously occurring actions. But there is more than one camera; and while one records the event, the event continues in front of the other. Someone climbs out of the window while in the sketch the window is just being finished. Hands are washed even though the fight only takes place later. And just in case the actors have already bowed. One cannot know after all whether the piece has already come to an end without being noticed. > Narrate 2, > Narrate 3 Und um halb sechs hab ich dann Ja gesagt (And at Half Past Five I Then Said Yes), press release for the annual exhibition of the Kombinatorische und Prozessuale Formung class, HfbK Hamburg, 2002
(14) G: (in a whisper) Won’t you recognize me? I recognize you. How? By your lies. H: We tell the best lies to ourselves. G: We make eyes at them. (15) D: You have to learn to wait. For the small events as well. C: But you would say everything that is nameless shouldn’t be named. (16) TV: (pure audio track from offstage, two voices) As always time is far too short. And then? For example: if you need my life then come and take it. Alexander Mayer, possible script fragment from Und um halb sechs hab ich dann Ja gesagt (And then at half past five I said yes), 2002 40
41 42 43 Stills from Und um halb sechs hab ich dann Ja gesagt (And then at half past five I said yes), 2002, production with stationary camera, panning camera, and hand camera, stationary and moving microphones, with Sigrid Behrens, Peter Hoppe, Un-ui Jang, Alexander Mayer, Nicole Messenlehner, Karolin Meunier, Stefan Moos, Nina Pelletier, Christoph Rothmeier, Eran Schaerf, Eske Schlüters, Robert Schnackenburg, Peter Steckroth, Mirjam Thomann, Sabin Tünschel, Carola Wagenplast, Luise Wagner, Tim Weschkalnies, Joachim Zahn, and others.
3. Generator of signs. Two signs next to each other and the space between them fills with an interaction of possible relations. The space does not do this on its own, of course; a spectator is required to generate this connection. The spectator thus reads two signs and forms an incalculable number—X-number—of relations. Generator X (2006) attempts to simulate such endless sequence of relations between pictograms, created by the spectator. The Generator is a result of a research, calling into questioning whether sequential arts like such as comic strips in respect to their potential to can be read as a musical instructions, as a musical script, or as narrative elements of in a film. The pictograms are cut into cigarette-paper, framed mounted in slide -frames, and projected onto a black curtain. Two slide projectors are manipulated to run in at different speeds (directed controlled by midiMIDI). Accordingly they produce a tremendous variety and multitude of relations and connections. Slide projector A shows eighty slides while, during the same period of time, slide projector B shows only one; then A shows seventy-nine slides, while B shows two, and so forth, until slide projector A shows one slide and B, eighty. Thus, the projectors rotate in opposite directions. It suffices to shorten slide projector A with the cycle of eighty slides by the projection duration of one slide; consequently it takes eighty cycles until both slide projectors reach their respective starting positions again. The mechanical sound noise of the slide projectors is amplified and permanently modulated in its pitch. > Addressee Christoph Rothmeier, theoretical outline for his thesis in fine arts, HfbK Hamburg, 2005 44
Christoph Rothmeier, Pictograms aus Generator X (Pictograms from Generator X), 2006
4. Fictitious software. In terms of the practice of cinematic montage, the Modulator is imaginary software that moderates the seminar by means of editing and by added contributions and is characterized by the totality of these contributions. As the total number of contributions is theoretically infinite, the Modulator has the potential to reconfigure itself with each additional contribution. Applied to the teaching and learning situation at a college, the Modulator is the expression of a reciprocal authorization: the one has a piece of knowledge that the other is ready to receive. Both the one teaching and the one learning are seen in both roles here. It concerns a model of transmitter and 42
receiver that corresponds to the idea of a nonhierarchical model of dialogue. All participants are required to understand their roles as roles that are not predefined. And the same applies not least to the visitors to the exhibition as well; they perform an intellectual act of montage via their spatial experience of the installation. The conditions that make this change of roles possible identify the seminar as an infinite language in which art is investigated far more than it is transmitted. > Modulator Modulator. Ein Verhandlungsraum für Sender und Empfänger im Rollenspiel (Modulator: A Negotiations Space for Transmitter and Receiver in Role Play), a project of the HfBK seminar on combinatorial analysis, press release for the exhibition Akademie: Kunst lernen und lehren, Kunstverein Hamburg, 2005
M Memory—as activity. The art of memory “seeks to memorise through a technique of impressing ‘places’ and ‘images’ on memory. It has usually been classed as ‘mnemotechnics,’ which in modern times,” Francis Yates wrote in 1966, “seems a rather unimportant branch of human activity. But in the ages before printing a trained memory was vitally important; and the manipulation of images in memory must always to some extent involve the psyche as a whole.” (Yates, The Art of Memory) So it does not concern a technique with whose help one better remembers (> Narrate 2) how something happened; rather it is about how that which happens is saved as an image to be evoked later and combined with further images. In the course of this the event is reconstructed less with regard to how it happened but more with regard to possible events that can be performed via the process of the evoking of the saved images and the conditions of their combination. Possible events distinguish themselves in that they can also be combined in other ways. They do not claim to represent “how it was” or to speculate how it could have been. They represent that that which 43
they represent they can also represent differently. Thus the possible event marks a shifting from the representation of the event to a performance of the event as combination. These events could be called combinatorial events, a reality that doesn’t depict a reality but renders it possible as combination. The first condition of the combinatorial event could be the following: “what we state using certain letters that we have freely decided upon can, as must be recognized, be stated in the same way using any other letters enlisted for the purpose.” (Leibniz, Fragmente zur Logik) > Storage Eran Schaerf, “Ähnlich, möglich, unbestimmt: Figuren der Kombination,” introduction to the seminar, HfbK Hamburg, 2004 45
Katrin Mayer, Spektakelvorwand (Pretext of the spectacle), 2004, Collage. Study for the work Shaking the Lines on the Mirror of Time. > Searching 2
Visual Essay by Eran Schaerf in: ACADEMY, revover publisher, 2006