real[work] - Internet

Root Event

4. Werkleitz Biennale real[work]
real[work] - Internet

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Without God man builds his paradise in the internet

Since about the mid-eighties it is becoming evident that with the help of technology, which has been informing the socio-economic development of the late 20th century, many activities where freed of the strains and pressures entailed by industrialisation.
Together with this development we experience a transformation of our understanding of work as something fixed in space and time, something which needs to be worked-off as a continuous effort to make a living, a definition which had come up and grown during the age of industrialisation. „Work“ is falling apart into many different segments; the lines between work and leisure, residence and office, learning and working, work and retirement, dependent and free-lance work, producers and consumers, as well as the different branches of business are becoming fuzzy.

Wherever these basic categories of working-time, -space, -place and -achievement are dissolving, we can also see a crumbling of the fundamental agreements, our normative „building“, our rules and laws, organisations, structures and institutions, which influence our behavior and values to a much greater degree than we are aware of.
Ulrich Klotz 1

Preparative Work

Without God, man builds his paradise, the internet. The conquest of space and time, of effort and work, is his goal. Machines herald the end of work, the beginning of everlasting leisure. Everything becomes easy and effortless. The burden of millions of years of evolution is taken from our collective shoulders, the resources in this other world beyond are inexhaustible.
The real and material world is etherealized and eternalised by depicting itself in the internet. The net enlarges the individual, the sum of single individuals is not to be counted. Only the kingdom come can still promise „enough“ (plenty) for all. How much information can all the atoms of the world store? We’ve never been this close to paradise.
The image of the world outlives death. Of the individual, and of the world. Chiseled in bits and bytes, one or the other copy will survive the end of the world, at least my end.
This era of transformation offers unique opportunities. The first will be the greatest. During any transformation, new laws are in effect, the chrystalline structures of the here and now usher the spirit along to new frontiers.
The immaterial image of the world in the net is the second Big Bang, the connection of all knowledge ends an existence fragmented by spatial limitations, amends the eviction from paradise and creates a new universal spirit.
Everything is now accessible. I am everywhere. I have no more boundaries. I will live forever.
The mobile phone is telepathy for idiots. I don’t need to develop in order to meet the world, the world develops in order to meet me. I open my mouth and let the fruits of the earth drop into it.
The fruit from the tree of knowledge is spotless, a bite to be taken without remorse.

Parallel Work

The internet is the turbo-driven expression of the information and communication age. Worldwide connections create a joint pool of information. New possibilities in communication render production more effective. Work is becoming scarce. Globalisation. The Industrial Age is coming to its end, and with it goes work as we know it. More and more can be produced by fewer and fewer people. The question arises if it is possible to create sufficient jobs during this transformation, so that a division into those who have and those who don’t doesn’t split the society in two.
„The End of Work (Jeremy Rifkin)“ demands a transformed way of thinking on the private sector (market) and the public sector (government) as well, the development of a civil sector (non-profit organisations). Governments will need to create the supportive frame-work for this. A distribution of income independent of the standard definition of work seems to be necessary.
In „The Age of Access“, Rifkin goes even further. The work-ethos dissolves in the play-ethos where the commodity work is displaced by the commodity play. Cultural production replaces industrial production, the access to information replaces the possession of material goods. In the end, control of this access is the profit-generating factor.

For the humans of the Antique, work in itself held no value - it was done by slaves. Calvin and Luther raised work to the level of a measure for self-education, service to the community and maintenance of a divine order. As Max Weber observed at the beginning of the 20th Century, the protestant work-ethics greatly influenced the economic set of virtues and the development of Capitalism. Believe it or not – with or without religious conviction work has become a precondition to a meaningful life. To be on the dole is not just an economic problem, but also psychological: The loss of work is also the loss of the right to exist.
In the region of Saxony-Anhalt, particularly in the Landkreis Schönebeck, the site of the Werkleitz Biennale, this topic is eminently significant: for several years past, the rate of unemployment here has surpassed 20 %, and tops the list in all of Germany. The sudden loss of traditional resources of employment was caused by the closing of many East German industrial plants following down-sizing or western take-overs.

This exhibition has two objectives: to show how the internet changes the definition of „work“, and to support people in developing initiative, in creating new, enlarged definitions of „work“ in order to arrive at a larger definition of „self“.
In connecting the exhibit with „work“, it is at the same time a „reality check“. Where does the internet enhance life? Can it take on a positive role in transforming this society, or will it be a blessing to a few, and a curse to the others?

Main Work

Since the beginning of January 2000, under http://www. kulturserver.de, I put out the invitation, and a description of the procedure, to hand in net art projects dealing with the topic of real(work), until April 15th 2000. The internet itself was used for this „tender“, all work contributed is accessible and the process is transparent. Only projects submitted in this way are part of the selective process. With this procedure a different choice of net art is encouraged.
Collaborators and myself distributed the URL of the invitation to 360 addresses and mailing lists, reaching approximately 10 000 addressees, of which 1000 have so far visited our page and 64 have contributed projects. Communicating with the artists, I have received 180 mails (and answered 60).

In the end, I have chosen 5 net art projects, which deal with the topic, and which I found intrigueing. Some other projects, dealing with the re-definition of „work“ exemplify specific aspects within this process. The reference to the topic real[work] is the decisive factor in the decision for any project. The more precise the question, the more concise the answer.

Text von

Benjamin Heidersberger

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