Saturday July 4th, 1998

scanner++ — Ortsbegehung 4 NBK Berlin


Ortsbegehung 4 – body of the message
Sandra Becker • Blank & Jeron • Daniel Pflumm

4 July – 16 August 1998

The Neuer Berliner Kunstverein is now showing the fourth exhibition in the Ortsbegehung (“site inspection”) series: an annual presentation of contemporary positions in new art featuring three representatives from Berlin. We place each of these projects in the hands of guest curators in order to guarantee the necessary pluralism of opinion, and do justice to the varying approaches possible in view of a diverse spectrum of artistic observation, experience and conclusions. After the first three “Site Inspections” of the past years, the fourth presentation now organized by curator Inke Arns is titled body of the message, and features installations deploying new electronic media – video, computer, Internet.

The works to be premiered in the exhibition by Sandra BeckerDaniel Pflumm and Joachim Blank & Karl Heinz Jeron are linked by a common interest in the radical re-structuring/re-invention of public space currently in progress. Although invisible to the human eye, the process has far-reaching implications. The works are concerned with those new types of media structures that, as nomadic and ephemeral extensions, graft themselves onto our public spaces, and qualitatively change them – in a political sense, too. The artists strive to make visible the unseen motion in these new urban spaces of transit, to visualize specific streams of signs, merchandise, bodies and information – those elements, in other words, that are in transit through these new territories. The term “body of the message” comes from the field of e-mail communications, where it designates that part of an electronic message addressed to a human reader as opposed to the program code directed to the machine.

Becker, Pflumm, and Blank & Jeron choose approaches which scrutinize various aspects of “message bodies” in contemporary mediatized urban spaces: the movements by people in these spaces; the fluctuation of signifying bodies, as well as the increasing digitization (i.e. the radical reduction) of bodies that, until now analog, are caught up in a process of transition into the realm of information.

The positions represented in body of the message are ones of a generation of artists that uses new media as part of its “natural” environment, so to speak, and therefore does not need to explicitly labour the concept of “media art”, in part even rejects this notion. They work with a minimum of technical expenditure (consumer technology), and have no need of a large battery of machines – in contrast to the spectacular works of media art meantime canonized in the museums.

For her work metro scan (4 videos, combined with large format photographies, 1998) Sandra Becker uses recorded images of passers-by in the subways of New York, Berlin, Moscow and Tokyo. The “message bodies” shown to us by Becker are obviously “real”: human bodies in motion, standing on escalators, rushing in their hundreds along subway passages. Although Sandra Becker is citing in her work the aesthetic of public surveillance cameras, she immediately subverts the normative distanced totality of this view by adopting a number of standpoints. It is de Certeau’s metaphorical or migrational city that one encounters in her works.

In Daniel Pflumm’s “minimalist” video (1998) the “message bodies” are reduced to the “glossy veneer” of pure surfaces: colourful logos, corporate identities and brandnames frenetically alternate with each other. These “message bodies” point to supra-individual, multi-national corporations, geographically distributed enterprises making products sold worldwide in a globalized economy, and therefore requiring images that are globally recognizable. These control characters pass through the urban realm and collective global subconscious, indicating in passing the velocity of an almost instantaneous worldwide presence. At the same time, there is something especially fragile and transient about those logos the artist “censored” or “de-cored” – stripped of all text and reduced to their minimal graphic form. Daniel Pflumm’s videos are archives recording the rapid transformations in advertising and media aesthetics.

Scanner++ (12 scanners, computer, video projection, Internet, 1998) by Joachim Blank & Karl Heinz Jeron is a hybrid project that incorporates the Internet at the same time as it extends into “real” space by means of an interactive installation. Via a “walk-on” scanner, “real” bodies enter the virtual realm, their physical mass becomes information, “traces of bodies”; compatible, globally retrievable and archivable <>. The principle of the search engine, actually an industrious, invisible software program scouring the Internet for information, is here lent almost obscenely material form as a symptomatic object now superimposed over real space, which it proceeds to systematically scan. Blank & Jeron ironically blur the narrow precipice separating information from disinformation, and with their contribution they question the “true value of information in our society”.

A bilingual catalogue (German / English) will be published (18 DM, 64 p., many illustrations, full colour; with texts by Inke Arns, Ralph Lindner, Gerrit Gohlke, Thilo Wermke).

We would like to invite you for a preview of the exhibition, which will take place at 11 a.m. on the day of the opening (3 July 1998). The artists and the curator ofbody of the message will be present between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.