Stories across the oceans


About the project




Travelling in the backpack of globalisation you will find the standardisation process of our cultural wealth. Lead by the giants of the food industry like Coca-Cola and McDonalds, reinforced by the appearance of same faces and values in films, to the streamlining of tastes in music, all the way through to universal values in art. This development is not new - American GI's brought chewing gum to Europe, and just a few hundred years earlier Europeans had exported flu to America. In terms of civilisation, both are unfortunately fairly advanced examples of intercultural communication - we can take the facts surrounding the respective conquest and destruction as read.

At first glance it seems it is only the speed of technological development today that is constantly increasing, and that gaps are being bridged ever faster. And even at the very ends of the world it is also becoming increasingly difficult to discover new exotica under the guise of folklore that satisfy our longing for something different/the "other".

New technology is to blame for all these developments or perhaps it is a better world thanks to new technology. Depending on the point of view, the situations calls for either a whipping boy or a philosopher's stone. We have for the most part forgotten the role of the end of the cold war as an accomplice and global economic processes as the driving force. We sit, beyond the reach of such discussions, happily in front of our flimmering TV sets, pleased by the boundless communication that always sends the same message: "Hi, how are you - hi, who are you?

And this is where it suddenly gets very interesting. The same discussions that we are familiar with from our neighbours, questions about our multicultural society: What makes us different from each other? Which values do we have in common? Where do we misunderstand each other? Can we learn anything from each other? Who are we? Our forefathers often had to wait a long time to enjoy this kind of enriching exchange - until a travelling trader found his way to the village.

The Internet, the new global media embody a contradiction in that the enriching exchange can only take place if we accept global standards. This begins with English as the common language, and "netiquette" which sets the standards for what is acceptable behaviour on the net, to a particular and mostly unconsidered way of presenting images and dealing with copyright. Sampling and quoting have been raised to the status of cultural progress - which are worthy of the label when they are used intelligently - but are usually a straight rip-off taken without permission from or consideration of the artist.

This project is based on real encounters from which grew the desire for better understanding. The main subject is art encircled by the performing arts - music, performance, theatre. The Internet is the carrier whose suitability will be tested throughout the project. Can we get along with one another - can we feel out the differences and similarities - at the same time as pursuing and developing our own work?

These are the main themes of real artistic undertaking, extended to the often asked question: How does virtual space alter our reality? Going virtual – staying real. Questions crop up concerning identity, the body and its relationship to the real and virtual environment, migration, colonisation etc.

We will feel out the answers step by step during this "work in progress", and see how these themes further develop during the process. We're not offering a group exhibition, a representation of real works on the Net but a shared experimental laboratory.


max spielmann October 1998 / translation: ania dardas








copyright by individual artist © 1998/99