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[Nettime-bold] Re: <nettime> The U-Haul Trucks Are In Your Mind
roya.jakoby on Thu, 11 Apr 2002 03:44:02 +0200 (CEST)


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[Nettime-bold] Re: <nettime> The U-Haul Trucks Are In Your Mind


(That's one amazing piece of art schmooze ... wow! )

If Miltos is the imaginary truck - is his kind of self PR the new kind
of driving force to have? And is Benjamin Bratton the driving instructor
one should evtl. hire for ongoing PR ride?

And I thought that Miltos is just another art guy who happens to know
how to pull some strings in order to get a 80s style publicity stunt
together.. 

laters, roya.



Benjamin Bratton wrote:

> The U-Haul Trucks Are In  Your Mind......
>
> As reported by the New York Times, Newsweek, Le Monde, The Guardian, Salon
> and others, Electronic Orphanage=B9s own Fagin, Miltos Manetas, armed but with
> a web site in drag and exactly 23 invisible U-Haul trucks, hi-jacked last
> month's Whitney Biennial.
>
> While the facts are simple, nobody is really quite sure what happened.
>
> Miltos noticed that for some reason whitneybienniel.com was not taken,
> registered it himself, and there staged an alternate exhibition of nice
> Flash work. Fine and well, except that many of the contributors were under
> the impression (one neither encouraged nor discouraged by Manetas) that this
> was the "real" whitneybienniel.com web site, which by definition, it of
> course was.
>
> Manetas also explained that in addition to the web site, this exhibition
> would take place in 23 U-Haul trucks circling the Biennial's opening
> party.This unlikely specter appealed to those new media artists who (rightly)
> feelthemselves to be still rather misunderstood and underappreciated by the
> "real" art scene, even a technology-forward one like the Whitney. The
> circling U-Haul trucks would be an undeniable presence. They would by sheer
> scale form an ominous obstacle between party and partygoers; out with the
> old, in with the new! These Flash U-Hauls would be the new gatekeepers, the
> new machines that decide who gets in and out!
>
> The Whitney Biennial is, for the convenience of argument, the =B3Las Vegas of
> cultural capital,=B2 and in this casino of cool, Manetas was handing out
> counterfeit currency. But as with any good counterfeiting scheme, the
> currency passed for real long enough that enough people used it, traded it
> as real that it became, in practice, as real as real money.
>
> Many participants from new media art circles were less than pleased with
> their payment in simulated cultural capital. Perhaps because many of them
> are still stinging from the evaporation of stock option wealth, the whole
> counterfeit currency thing isn=B9t so amusing.
>
> Miltos is always is happy to talk at length about the power of simulation,
> and it is in molesting the Reality Principle that his work takes the
> greatest pleasure. Manetas=B9 projects range from traditional oil paintings of
> Sony PS2 gear to the hiring of Lexicon Branding (coiners of post-English
> terms like Powerbook, Pentium, Zima, etc.) to name his new art movement --
> that name is Neen. His Electronic Orphanage un-gallery on Chung King Road in
> Chinatown, Los Angeles is an opaque black box where Neen is allowed but
> confused passers-by from nearby openings often are not. As another incident
> at the Deitch gallery last Fall showed, he is also willing to provoke the
> plagiarism police to hand-to-hand combat.
>
> The current sleight and diversion reaches the highest levels of the reality
> industry. The New York Times reported on March 4 that Miltos=B9 U-Haul's would
> in fact be driving his trucks around the museum =B3tomorrow=B2. In fact the
> Paper of Record gave Manetas=B9 =B3work=B2 as much coverage as the "real" event
> itself. Another story on the Biennial reported after the day the trucks
> didn't come only mentions the forged web site.
>
> Interestingly, it was not the old school art crowd who raised the biggest
> stink when (surprise, surprise) a battalion of U-Haul trucks doubling as
> Flash theaters didn=B9t descend on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Nor were
> they really the butt of the joke anyway. "I love the Whitney. They are
> like family," gushes Miltos.  The truly upset were many (most definitely
> not all) of the apparently more literal-minded new media participants and
> co-sponsors. (name names here?) Maxwell L. Anderson, director of the
> Whitney, was unperturbed and was quoted in the Times linking Manetas=B9 action
> to the venerable tradition of guerrilla action-art. However, a discussion
> forum on Archinect, a design community site that co-sponsored
> whitneybienniel.com took far more offense. "He lied to us!" one post
> shouted. "We went to see the trucks and they weren't there!" But were
> they?
>
> This panic is complex, and more than a bit worrisome. One might hope that if
> anyone appreciates the digital logic of the whole effort -- now even museums
> can have an infinite number of perfect copies =AD it would be new media
> artists. And of course, many including myself do. But the general level of
> outrage was so pitched that this anger at the there-that-wasn't-there may
> prove the most intriguing outcome of all this.
>
> David Copperfield made the Statue of Liberty disappear and then reappear.
> Miltos made the Whitney Museum of Contemporary Art appear and then
> disappear. Of course it was not true, it was better than true. But it wasn't
> false either, and this is the complicated mess that simulation makes of
> representation and the various capitals that rely upon it.
>
> As Krzysztof Wodizcko=B9s projections are and are not graffiti, that do and do
> not de-face architecture, Manetas did and did not Identity Hack the
> Whitney.
> If he had truly broken in and stole something, then things would be a bit
> less disturbing because more black and white. We would at least know what we
> know. As it stands, undecidable because the only thing broken was a promise
> never actually made, itself only imagined, we are left holding the invisible
> bag.
>
> At the gala, this destabilizing ambiguity caused a ripple of curiosity but
> was soon cheerfully absorbed by the "real" Whitney crowds, always jonesing
> for an ironic jostle. The re-absorption is made easier because Manetas sees
> this whole operation not so much a meta-commentary on the ultimate
> arbitrariness of cultural gatekeeping, but as a kind of Urpiece, a giant red
> ribbon placed around the entire event on which he can place his (virtual)
> signature. In cyberspace, WhitneyBienniel.com is Earth Art, a big
> topological gesture referencing the site-ness of its location and
> locatablity.
>
> But as Anderson suggested, all this is not new, and Miltos doesn't claim it
> to be. The brothel in which Jean Genet stages his 1956 play, The Balcony, is
> a repository of illusion, a liminal zone within a contemporary European city
> aflame with revolution. After the city's royal palace and rulers are
> destroyed, the bordello's costumed patrons impersonate the leaders of the
> city. As the masqueraders warm to their roles, they convince even the
> revolutionaries that the illusion created in the bordello is preferable to
> reality, in fact is reality.
>
> In the everyday life of global simulation, everyone is played by many roles,
> and the architectures of cultural venture capitalism =ADin/out, me/you,
> genius/idiot- have an animation of their own, one that conjugates the artist
> more than the other way around.
>
> In Genet's play, as the revolution burns itself out, the patrons emerge in
> the uniforms of the deposed leaders, and to a city now hungry for order,
> their presence fills the vacuum of the real and they are elevated to the
> positions they drag.
>
> The U-Haul trucks are in your mind.
>
> Have some more hors d'oeuvres.
>
> --Benjamin Bratton.
>
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