rainer ganahl


computers - networks - art works

1. Computers are the vanishing point of a history of rationalization, domination, control, efficency and power.

2. This historical development has been persued mostly by military, economic and ideological (religious, secular) centers.

3. These centers are also at the base of the development of communication technologies (Marathon, carrier pigeons, telegraph, telephone to the computer networks)

4. Computers and networks today make up the most powerful tools and infrastructures for domination and colonization on the post-colonial globe. The divisions between people and countries which have productive access to these technologies and those which don't widen the gap between poor and rich, developed and underdeveloped.

5. The power of computers and networks lies in the flexibility to adjust to any new context and to incorporate and reempower previous technologies.
6. The word "info-capitalism" stands for a transformed multinational capitalism based on information technologies. Computers and networks cause the process of de-industrialization and exportation of production and labor.

7. Computers and networks are producing a multimedia consumer culture (fusion of computers, TV, phone, fax, etc.) which with its aggressiveness and seductive persuasivness, the TV turns into a nostalgic domestic trifle.

8. Much of the production and distribution of academic knowledge too is intrinsic to computer and network technologies. For data based research and science, computers and networks are indispensible. All books are published with the aid of these technologies.

9. Art has always had a direct and yet ambivalent relationship with power and advanced technologies. It has been oscillating between affirmation and critique. This is independent of whether or not technologies are incorporated into art works.

10. Computer interfaces are among the variety of technologies which I address in my work.

11. Interfaces are user surfaces that enable the interaction between user and machine. They instrumentalize graphics and language in order to provide an accessible work place for users. Interfacial environments reflect visual and conceptual organisatorial ideologies drawn from modernism, architecture, military and "popular imaginaries" to mention only a few.

12. In my work certain aspects of interfacial landscapes are minimalized, abstracted, and exported from the computer into a new "host" context ranging from architecture, wall paint to photographic supports. These works also fulfill representative qualities since they can also serve as framing devices for indexical materials found in academic books. Indexes, footnotes, table of contents of books are technically speaking interfaces to the texts they administer. Painted on a wall or photographically reprocessed all these materials bring together several technologies: very old and very new ones that are powerful and have potential for criticality.

13. Ironic complicity with these tools of power, manipulation and oppression (the fact that one can also play with them doesn't contradict this) should produce critical distance and analysis. In the field of art that is by definition deprived of having considerable corporate influence, technological fantasies can be distorted by absurd applications that are denounced through realization.


Rainer Ganahl, New York, October 1995; Talk at Sandra Gering, New York