Squatting, scanning, jamming

Curator Francesca da Rimini previews tours by three techno-anarchist artists

Information wants to be free.

In September/October 1996 the Australian Network for Art and Technology (ANAT) is co-ordinating Virogenesis 2, the second cultural infection of the Australian body. Replicating and mutating the touring template of Virogenesis 1 (Graham Harwood, September/October 1995). Euro-data deviants Fuller (UK), Gomma (Italy) and Scanner (UK) will present talks workshops, gigs and informal exchanges in Adelaide, Sydney, Canberra, Brisbane, Perth and Melbourne.

“The great demographics of Web users—according to a recent A C Nielsen study, the 17.6 million people using the Web in the US and Canada tend to be young, upscale, educated professionals with a household income over $80,000. Also approximately a third of all Internet users are women.”
www company ‘X’

Information wants to be free.

The three artists/activists work with old and new media anarchically, creating hybrid forms, slick grunge, dirty code, infiltrating mainstream and underground zones. Agent Gomma aka E. ‘Gomma’ Guarneri has been deeply involved in the cultural and existential underground since his early teens. In 1985 he managed the punk section in the Calusca bookshop (opened in 1972 in Milano on the model of the San Francisco City Lights bookstore). In 1987 he founded the cyberpunk magazine DECODER, which brought to the project diverse cultural and political experience: anarchists, punks, communists, liberals and autonomists, all working in the field of communication—music, video, radio, graphics, literature, computers, photocopying and mail art. In 1988 he founded the SHAKE co-operative, a publishing house that translates into Italian significant works from the cultural front, including Donna Haraway, Hakim Bey, J G Ballard and Re-Search. Gomma writes for the daily newspaper il manifesto on technology and society, directs a series for Feltrinelli and uses the internet as a site for political activism. His distinctive aberrant poetic style and anarchic attitude permeate the DECODER/SHAKE media projects and disturb the authorities. This is cultural production continually in a state of tension—disruptive, egalitarian, and heretic. Stuff you can be imprisoned for in Italy.

“We’re like many Frankensteins, composed of human members and artificial elements created by technology. I’ve seen one whose hand had three fingers, with the thumb and index finger substituted by a pair of pliers and functioning like a crooked beak. A small antenna came out of his mouth and he spoke in megahertz to a woman who had no ears, but instead two parabolic dishes to capture television messages. Not being able to comprehend each other, the two made love, in such a way that it excited my pity, now with clogged movement from the wheels on his feet, now facilitated by her tongue, magnetic-tape-made, sixty minutes long, while following the rhythm of the electronic drum that beat in their chests. From this incest, DECODER was born, the son of communication, of diversity, and of provocation. It has no more mutations like man, it’s completely technological. A small automaton, self-composed by many means of communication, assembled anthropomorphically with the greatest esteem of speaking a universal language.” Gomma

Information wants to be free.

'The phenomenal growth of the Web—the Net is adding new users, new Web sites, and new capabilities at an incredible rate. Hembrecht & Quist, a leading investment firm, forecasts 200 million Web users by the year 2000.”
www company ‘X’

Agent Scanner aka Robin Rimbaud began his musical explorations at age 11 when, having been exposed to the work of composer John Cage at school, he took to the family piano with nails and screws and hung a tape recorder inside to record the reverberations. He later formed the band Dau Al Set and compiled Peyrere, a cassette AV ‘zine with featured new material by the prime movers of the industrial music scene including Test Department, Coil, Lydia Lunch and Derek Jarman.

One day he chanced upon a tiny mobile radio receiver called a scanner and saw the creative possibilities. Discovering that it could surf through the airwaves and intercept personal telephone calls he began mixing it live into the four-track recordings he’d written. The first Scanner CD was issued in 1992 followed by Scanner 2 and offers of commissions for compilation albums, including Artificial Intelligence 2 for Warp, Trance Europe Express 2 and Types from Kudos. He set up and still runs The Electronic Lounge monthly at the Institute of Contemporary Art in London with DJs including Mixmaster Morris, Locust, Psychick Warriors Ov Gaia, David Toop and Paul Schultze/Uzect Plaush.

In the 1994 Terminal Futures conference at the ICA, Scanner ran a workshop on scanning. He completed writing the soundtrack for the exhibition entitled Fuse at the Royal College of Art in association with graphic designer Neville Brody and has remixed among others, Immersion (Swim), As One (New Electronica), Scorn (Earache) and Oval (Mille Plateaux). Spore, his double album on New Electronica, was released in 1995. He is currently creating radio works and participating in numerous European performances and installations. Scanner’s recent collaborations have included Icelandic singer Björk and American filmmaker David Lynch.

“I believe that there is no such thing as real privacy any more. Video cameras survey [us] in the streets, the underground, the buses, the shops. We are all featured on countless home videos without consent. There is this paradox of privacy and invasion that interests me. What I use is simply available on open access in the shops, but what else exits? What do higher authorities have access to? How much are we being watched without our knowledge? My work is partly about taking technology and finding an alternative use for it so that it becomes relevant to society. These kinds of [surveillance] machines are developed to help those in power keep us at arm’s length. In some ways I feel that my use of it subverts that. Then again, consider—why does someone invent and commercially market a device such as this?” Scanner

“The ability to shorten the distance between advertising, information gathering and sales—[our company] offers instant gratification. Your customer sees your ad, clicks on it to get more information and your information immediately pops up on his screen. Then, he can click on options to receive more info, ask to be contacted by you, send you an inquiry, order your product, whatever is appropriate.” www company ‘X’

Information wants to be free.

Agent Fuller is on the editorial group of Underground, an artists’ free mass-circulation newspaper focusing on critical cyberculture. He is editor of the interactive disk and internet based magazine of fiction and art, I/O/D. Fuller is completing a hyperfictional novel Automated Telling Machine and has published two previous books, Flyposter Frenzy—posters from the anti-copyright network and Unnatural, techno-theory for a contaminated culture. He is a contributing editor to the excellent Alternative X web site.

“[I’m interested in] the wider dynamics of information movement and the intersection of what is in the abstract an open system, with manners of speech, cultural poise and economics that militates against it being such. It might even be possible that the totalising metaphor of the ‘community’ and the false warmth from its hearth both masks a wider and more radical conflagration and fails in its supposed task of providing people with the tools to negotiate the increasing subsumption of the networks with the imaginary, and the attenuating dynamics of the market. The internet constitutes a bifurcation in information dynamics. As an event it is exemplarily complex and cannot be reduced to the sum of the factors that make it possible. A politics of the networks therefore will of necessity be just as seething with what George Bataille called “those linked series of deceptions, exploitations and manias that give a temporal order to the apparent unreason of history.” On with the road rage.” Matt Fuller

“In most cases [our company] is able to ascertain from your network address which organisation you belong to or the service provider you are using. Once we determine your organisation, we are able to better determine information about your organisation such as size, type and location. We do record your interests, which are determined only by [our company’s] member Web sites you visit. However, we only summarise this information and do not retain logs of your specific visits to these sites.” www company ‘X’

Information wants to be free.

Virogenesis 2, curated by Francesca da Rimini, has been funded by the Australia Council (New Media Arts and Community Cultural Development Funds) and is presented in association with participating parties including United Trades and Labour Council, Ngapartji Co-operative Multimedia Centre, Experimental Art Foundation, Carnivale, Art Gallery of NSW, The Performance Space, Artspace, Street Level Inc, University of Western Sydney—Nepean (Department of Design), Zonar Records, Australian National University (Canberra School of Art), Institute of Modern Art, Perth Institute of Contemporary Art and Experimenta.

Full touring details will be available from ANAT later in August.

RealTime issue #14 Aug-Sept 1996 pg. 26

© Francesca da Rimini; for permission to reproduce apply to realtime@realtimearts.net

1 August 1996