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
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