IVAR VEERMÄE

We are as gods and might as well get good at it

 

4-channel full HD video, 02:09; 01:37; 02:47; 01:50 min, 2015

 

The work is combined from four different sources:

1. Astronomical images used by various technology companies recorded at the IFA (Internationale Funkausstellung), Berlin; 

2. Satellite systems patent application drawings;

3. Satellite images of the earth including the very first image combined with two different text sources (Steward Brand, 1968 and John Barry Barlow's A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, 1996);

4. Footage recorded at the NSA's former listening station on the hill Teufelsberg, Berlin.

The title of the work originates from Steward Brand, who is an important figure in American counterculture and formed the Whole Earth Network. Between 1968 and 1972 he published a widespread low budget magazine titled the Whole Earth Catalogue, supporting the notion of 'do it yourself' (DIY); the editorial focus is on self-sufficiency, ecology and alternative education. It also provided a new image for the computer as a tool of personal liberation rather than a machine of bureaucracy as it was mostly thought of at the time.

At the beginning, the movement was about immaterial ideas, to achieve mental and spiritual liberation, and equilibrium with nature. A geodesic dome that is now mainly used in satellite surveillance facilities seemed to be a perfect architectural form of the age, transmitting a feeling of wholeness.

 

But as Fred Turner writes:

Counterculture opened the doors of the youth movement tothe complex delights of consumer culture. Fred Turner, From Counterculture to Cyberculture: Stewart Brand, the Whole Earth Network, and the Rise of Digital Utopianism (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2006), 32.

 

The rise of the Internet was accompanied by a second wave of immaterial thinking. It was seen, or rather communicated, as a new opportunity for counterculture, which had failed to relive its ideals in non-material cyberspace. One of the most important texts from this era is 'A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace', written by John Barry Barlow in Davos during the World Economic Forum, and is a perfect example of this kind of thinking:

 

Governments of the Industrial World, you weary giants of flesh and steel, I come from Cyberspace, the new home of Mind. On behalf of the future, I ask you of the past to leave us alone. You are not welcome among us. You have no sovereignty where we gather.

Peter Ludlow, ed., Crypto Anarchy, Cyberstates, and Pirate Utopias (Cambridge MA: The MIT Press, 2001),,28.

 

The rhetoric and visual representation based on former ideas - which often refer to dominance over nature, even on a planetary, or an even bigger scale, but in the form of harmony and wholeness - are still dominant in the PR materials of various technology companies.

TO: ECHELON

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