Context Hacking: Some Examples of How to Mess with Art, the Media System, Law and the Market (monochrom) – ETech08

Monochrom: Austrian activist art collective.
Austria – little, strange & post-modern. Pac-Man in Wienershnitzel.
Post-modern leftists. Try to take interesting philosophical and political concepts and find a medium to present. Weapon of mass distribution.

Examples: telerobotic social network in ’97; musical about software checking credibility for a bank; database of applied office art, bored with capitalist life; overhead cumshots; Instant blitz copyfight notices captured in movie theaters; Massive multiplayer thumb wrestling; Festival for cocktail robotics; bury people alive for 15 minutes; publish theory around brand culture; puppet film from Kiki & Booboo.

Shift from disciplinary society to a society of control. Shift in the perception of work culture. Differentiation between workers and owners has blurred. Disciplinary society has a clear distinction between workers and authority. Hence, there are clear ways to violate the boundaries and subvert authority. Now, many workers believe they are part of the management, part of the business. Therefore, they stay in line more because they do not wish to revolt against themselves.

Why is it so hard to provoke today? Why is it so hard to provoke? We are now in a society of control. No boundaries. It’s no longer Us against Them, it’s all of us against each other.

Ex: Jackass – more revolting than earlier dadaist & provocative revoutionaries but somehow acceptable. In an open society is is harder to revolt. Late Capitalism feeds on dissent as content. Ex: The Yes Men – Political activists, featured on Hustler. Why? Why is revolt popular culture? In the West, everyone criticizes the system but nothing changes. In Eastern Bloc, no-one was allowed to criticize but the system collapsed.

Georg Paul Thomann, early avant-guard Vienese activist. Didin’t actually exist. Monochrom created him and wrote a 500pg bio (Who Shot Immanence?). Set him up as official Vienese art representative in Sao Paulo biennial world art fair. Monochrom was “technical support team”. Cultivated rumors of his mythology. Created an extremely awful installation. People thought it was really cool. But Georg didn’t show. Made it even cooler cause he was so enigmatic. Artists are tradeable commodities.

LJL. Group of old Austrian artists. I have a deadline & I’m very drunk. Created an Art Lodge, like P2. Lord Jim Lodge (Joseph Conrad). Made a stupid logo. Put it on everything. Try to get memebers but if anyone asks, don’t let them in. No women allowed. Do it for a long time to make the logo famous (more famous than Coka-Cola. Created a series of oil paintings about the creation story of LJL. Last member gifted the Lord Jim Lodge to Monochrom. Monochrom organized a hostile takeover of LJL, franchise it and create spin-off start-ups. Fought Art Market for 15% profit of selling art works that contained the LJL logo (original artists had died and become famous since), had owners in panic for 2 months. Owners offered to settle out of court, but monochrom never took any money. Bought Amish hats and wnet to America and talked to people about making money on LJL. Managed to get 10 thousand Coca-Cola bottles made with the LJL logo! Decided to sell paintings of LJL history and myth. Outsourced painting to China using Coca-Cola money. Put in gallery and sold for 4500 euros each. Money is being shared with the Chinese artist.

China is copying everything, including art. Nothing is sacred in the market. Corporations own much of the cultural heritage of the planet.

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