#TM17 Analysis v.3: Tipping Over the Monolith…


{ From the Exhibition “Alien Matter” at HKW }

more XLT analysis work-in-progress…

“In Arthur C. Clarke’s Space Odyssey, monoliths are machines built by an unseen extraterrestrial species….  The response of the characters to their discovery drives the plot of the series. It also influences the fictional history of the series, particularly by encouraging humankind to progress with technological development and space travel. … The first monolith appears at the beginning of the story, set in prehistoric times. It is discovered by a group of hominids and somehow triggers a considerable shift in evolution, starting with the ability to use tools and weaponry. “

- Frpm wikipedia on the Monolith in Clarke’s 2001 series.

On the closing weekend of Transmediale’s 30th edition, we wondered around the Alien Matter exhibition to get a last glimpse. Like all good + bad + mediocre art these days, the XLterrestrials let it swim around in our own thoughts, connect it to our current times and situations, observe how the objects and ideas of an exhibition space dissolve like a chemical reaction into a mixture of sentiments, perceptions and transformations, and then attempt to squeeze out the substance that will drive, illuminate and color-in our map of human and/or alien strategies in dangerous, uniquely predatory times.

The image above ( from Joep von Liefland’s ” Video Palace “) is a collection of unlabeled, unsearchable, unviewable, random video tapes stacked and shelved like bricks to comprise one super-sized video tape, which becomes an enter-able architectural space, a little green empty room within.

Allowing this work to enter into our own extensive XLT analysis and critiques forming over the last decades ( as media artivists and transmigrationists ), we imagined this as a media cultures Monolith.  Only now, tipped over by the prehistoric monkeys – us – flailing to survive in the 21st century.

- under construction -

We can now remember and replay this media landscape presented here in one tangible retro-graspable obsolete package. This non-place – we in realtime so precariously inhabit – is not from some alien other species, but our own strange creation encouraging monkeykind to progress, to make “tools and weaponry”, to go where no monkeymind has gone before…  [ Timpani drums... dramatic Jerry Goldsmith Star Trek + 2001 mash-up theme here.]

The green hatch lures you to enter and behold the underbelly: an eerie unuseable emptiness. No sharp emotional knife of emptiness, no grandiose Kubrickian insights, rather just a mildly unpleasant feeling of having been duped, by an academic exercise, no more, no less. A monkey’s final cynical circus thesis act perhaps, or a brief history of frenzied jumping through the hoops of arts + media studies / industries. There were far too few community rewards in these telecommunications theaters, and existing in an almost sacredly apolitical, but preciously guarded, artworld display case.

That’s not to say that’s the only way to take this clever centerpiece; Everyone will make their own internal juxtapositions, or not, and then walk to gawk at the next object. For others it might sit and burn for awhile, even cook itself into an alchemical agent…. and a necessary discontent.

Certainly there are many more important moments and discoveries at #TM17 that reveal other truths about where we’re at now.. And we will try to feature them in our next CiTiZEN KINO episodes, where we attempt to face our dark predicaments and sociological errors, and look for clues for next level (R)evolutionary goals and directions.  Participation will unlikely become clear without bringing to it an interventionist will to pull them these things and of course the people from the collapsing frames and begin planting other social commitments in a fertile plot far from the mediated dumping grounds.

Well that’s the XLterrestrials perspective this morning, searching in the “exhibition ruins”* for some meaning and some maps in the context of :

An Agent Orange and his entourage’s threatened bloody horrorshow extravaganza 24/7, the monumental refugees crisis, anthropocentric climate crashing, endgames and ecocide, hyper-nationalism and hyper-individualism on the warpath, ubiquitous corporate + consumerist plunders, and the ongoing cybernetic regime change.

In these times, the arts and culture platforms are not all lost, but we”l need to invent more engaged practices within them.


much much more to come… IF there’s time…


We didn’t expect…

Laurie Anderson’s presence at TM#17 to be much more than a crowd-pleaser closure and finale … But in the afternoon she gave a revealing 45min. talk and a Q+A with Kristoffer Gansing.

We were more imagining if we decided to go that it would be something to give us plenty of fuel for critique ( about art worlds in times of crisis ), but in fact there were many elements of her discussion that became a fascinating measure of how even an artist in the comfort zones of pop culture (experiments) and museum bubbles are becoming radicalized by the dire situations. The description of her latest works on the prison industrial complex were actually strangely impressive… and we’ll add more about that later.

We would have liked to trigger a debate regarding her views on whether or not art could or should change the world… It’s a big topic, that will take time to formulate, but definitely some valuable insights and points to counter. We are after all in the land of Brecht, where the hammers are absolutely required on all fronts… But she seemed extremely timid about art as a force for changing society or diving in to the political arena. We’ll have to elaborate…

And her narratives about Mars, a 1st (and possibly last) NASA artist residency, prisons and Guantanamo, working with scientists, and a virtual art project on open heart surgery… were all material that provides a launching point for further investigations and analysis… and upping the level of radical provocations, or better,  serious interventions.


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