Ryota no maki The New Way: Musuko yo Oh, My Son! So much more than a single shot gimmick. Complete unity of form and content.
Walter Benjamin described the figure on it as a hapless creature, helplessly carried away by the storm of progress, while staring backwards at a rubble heap growing sky high in its wake.
But it has a surprising and overlooked consequence, if we take its spatial arrangement seriously. There is no rubble depicted on the drawing whatsoever.
Since the angel faces us as spectators, and — according to Benjamin — also faces the rubble, the wreckage must be located in the hors-champ of the drawing. This means that the rubble is where we are.
Or, to take it one step further: We might be the debris of history, those who somehow made it through the twentieth century, but not unscathed. We have become discarded objects and useless commodities caught in the gaze of a shell-shocked angel who drags us along as it is blown away into incertitude.
Are rubble and wreckage not outdated notions for an age in which information is supposed to be copied without loss and infinitely retrievable and restorable? What could refuse look like in a digital age that prides itself on the indestructibility and seamless reproducibility of its products?
When information presumably has become immortal and immune to the passing of time? Actually, the contrary is the case: Its wreckage keeps on piling sky high.
Moreover, digital technologies provide additional possibilities for the creative wrecking and degradation of almost anything. They multiply options for destruction, corruption, and debasement.
They are great new tools for producing, cloning, and copying historical debris. As they get amplified by political and social violence, digital technologies become not only midwifes of history, but also its plastic surgeons. Despite its apparently immaterial nature, digital wreckage remains firmly anchored within material reality.
Among its contemporary manifestations are toxic recycling cities like Guiyu in China, where mainboards and hard disks are being scavenged and the ground water is poisoned. But in the digital age, debris is not only composed of destroyed buildings, torn concrete and decaying steel, even though digitalized warfare, the computerization of production, and real estate speculation produce these items in abundance.
Digital wreckage is both material and immaterial, data-based debris with a very tangible physical component to it.
There is hardly any better example of such digital debris than spam. Around 80 percent of all email messages have been spam in recent years. Spam forms the bulk of digital writing, its essence. And it too has a firm grasp on reality.
It is an active and extensive substance.
Far from being secondary and accidental, this form of digital debris is a substantial expression of a period that has elevated superfluity into one of its guiding principles.
And if rubble means spam at present, this is the name that the angel bestows on us today. All the customers are Vikings. Mr and Mrs Bun enter—downwards, on wires. What have you got, then?
Have you got anything without spam in it? Spam, spam, spam, spam Baked beans are off. This process is celebrated by a band of Vikings and other incongruous participants. Spam inundates the plot and even the final credits at the end of the show.
In the sketch spam initially refers to the canned meat of the same name. But then this meaning is twisted around to emphasize verbal reiteration and the uncontrolled replication of the term itself. This second meaning came to be amplified in the realm of newly emergent online practices.“In the Flow not only aptly describes Boris Groys’ brilliantly astute state of mind when writing this book, but also signals the incredible journey the reader will take around some of the most pervasive cultural constructs of our time: the museum, the archive, and the Internet.
Walther Konig Verlag Trade Distribution Contact for U.S.A. and Canada exhibition catalogs, art books, online publications title list of forthcoming, in print, and out of print titles from D.A.P.
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“Duty Free Art” by Hito Steyerl offers a highly original and useful philosophy of art in the age of inequality. Professor Steyerl is an acclaimed writer and video artist who lives in 5/5.
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