The Internet as a Tool for Art

(or: "The Karen Eliot Strategy")




You are studying to become a famous artist?


Then you might have 2 problems:

1. Most people don't give a shit about gallery openings.

2. Most people would love to be famous.




Issue No.1: Cultural Hegemony

Why do mass media reproduce their contents, rather than produce "something new"?



- cognitive psychology: controlled and automatic information processing

---> automatic = well known patterns, easy to receive, the process of learning (makes life easier)
---> controlled = new information, emotional pressure, because thinking = effort

human brain rather focuses on the well known, than on new, strange messages

But also boredom evokes bad emotions, so little "news" integrated in well-known patterns are accepted, too.

Media consumers look for amusement to distract themselves from the mechanised work process in factories and offices.

This is why mass media rarely transmit critical information, media companies produce contents that are easily received and porcessed.

--> automation of work time and leisure




John Fiske (Cultural Studies): there is a subversive potential in pop culture

"we buy all the same mass products in the super market, but cook our unique meals"

This supermarket is our open space, the source for art.


And then, in the 70s, Enzensbergers idea of a networked mass medium, in which every receiver is a sender:

This is the internet, with all of us as senders and receivers, is the first democratic mass medium in history.


"Whoever controls the media, controls the mind."

(Jim Morrison)


We wake up, make coffee and the first thing we do in the morning is checking emails...definitely a powerful thing.

What if we all were the ones controlling it?


- network/rhizome rather than hierarchical structures of information (also known as "tree of knowledge")
- we select and look for information ourselves
- we are used to be active, not passive (in oppostion to watching TV...)

- we don't just participate, we can even change / create the environment (such as online platforms, private websites, second life,...)



- the wisdom of the crowds ("ask the audience joker" in who wants to be a millonaire)

- Shareconomy and DIY (Youtube videos, etc.) vs. Dependency on Market Economy

(matches the lifestyle of an artist very well, btw...)

- the "Social Sculpture" (might be interesting for artists, too)





Issue No.2: Individualism

A main tool in the capitalistic society ( I call it the "American-Idol-Syndrome"...)

- to make the people in an automated everyday life feel like "someone special"
- to avoid groups (and therefor protest) (Henry Ford)
- to provoke competitive thinking
- for mutual (!) surveillance and discipline (= Panopticon without guards)

Internet as a tool for seperation of people


+ Collecting Data and economic Surveillance

This is also the Internet.




Facebook thinks I'm Karen Eliot...


- Anonymity/ Pseudonymity - Deliberative Discourse (Habermas)

---> social status/ hierarchies are less important than what people say
---> due to anonym conversations, prejudices are almost impossible
(nobody knows if he is talking to a man or a woman, to a white or a black guy, rich or poor,...)

+ You are free to say and do almost anything you like, instead of being tied to self-marketing.

If you don't want to sell yourself, you can give up your well maintained CV.

Then it's hard to be tracked, controlled, or even handled by institutions or companies.

So there was this point in my life, when I understood, I'll probably never become a famous artist,

and exactly this might be a lot of fun.




Guerilla Communication - A Quick Start Manual:


"World War III will be a guerilla information war, with no division between military and civilian participation."

(Marshall McLuhan)


How to use the system for subversive Acts:


We can use the existing structures to inject some kind of virus, a trojan horse...