esc medien kunst labor, Wüste der Wirklichkeiten

Desert of Realities

Essay by Heimo Ranzenbacher

A rhapsodic motif for the annual programme 2023


Desert of Realities is the title of the esc medien kunst labor's draft programme for 2023, which is intended to outline and communicate the presentations, developments and theoretical events planned for this year.

The title quotes a scene from the first part of the Wachowskis' Matrix Quadrology from 1999, in which two realities are confronted with each other. One resembles the one the audience recognises as theirs, with which they have more or less come to terms; this the film presents as an all-encompassing simulacrum, the Matrix. The other reality is apostrophised as the desert of reality. This desert of reality, in contrast to the general reality of experience, is an apocalyptic landscape of ruins. At the same time, the scene refers to the simulation (the difference becomes evident through the gaze opening out of it) and a reality that claims to be more real by shaking and, through the idea of having to suffer this reality, appeals to the body as an ultimate instance of experience; a reality that is realised when the body, for example, quasi initialises through hunger, the sensation of the ambient temperature, etc., and socially sediments, for example as poverty. Nothing speaks against seeing a simulation of a higher order behind this; but in every respect dependent on perception, perpetual superimposition would in the end only be concluded by death anyway. (In the film Matrix, the body comes into play when the hero Neo falls out of his uterine cocoon that keeps him=his body alive, he coughs, gasps for air, vomits).


Multiple realities

The preoccupation with hypothetical environments, parallel worlds and simulations of all kinds has a long tradition. In the visual arts, it experienced a boom in the 1990s. It was above all the new virtual and augmented reality systems, the (conceivable) substitution of the natural by synthetic sensory input and the (extrapolated) possibilities of the computer that caused uncertainty in the reference to the real (keyword: agony of the real; Baudrillard) and challenged art. At the same time, a massive critique of the mass media and the mediatised society developed, for which Jean Baudrillard - leading the way - prophesied or identified a gradual alignment of reality with fiction, original with copy (true with false) in the wake of an increasing lack of reference to signs and images.

However, getting involved with a subject that addresses reality, and consequently with the dualism of reality/fiction or simulation, is always a delicate undertaking.

A distinction must be made between reality and actuality. (Whereas reality derives from res = thing and refers to the materially concrete, actuality refers to action, a structure of action that has a form of intensification in the English actuality). In this context, the shift of the problems surrounding the reality of things, what something is, to the question of how it appears, would be of increased topicality; for more than decades ago, when the world on the screens first appeared as second nature, this nature is now preparing to become the first world.


Assuming the existence of a soul, it is still possible to philosophise about the ontic difference between the domain of the mind and the domain of the body on the basis of the Cartesian differentiation between mind and body - between res cogitans and res extensa - and thus distinguish between subject and body as different spheres of being. (One saves oneself problems if one assumes an ontic identity, just as one assumes an identity between the substance water and a chemical molecular structure of hydrogen and oxygen (H2O). Or to keep it with Peirce, according to which what is real is what exists independently of our thinking). And while radical constructivists denounce reality as a mere pipe dream of the philosophers and themselves interpret it as a kind of "simulation", which consists, for example, in the difference between what the eye sees and what the brain makes of it into what is seen, the positive, empirical sciences irritate by theoretical considerations of a parallel existence of possibility and reality of things by assuming a multiverse.

In its ambiguity, the term reality itself has something of "multiplicity"; it is difficult to use other than in the plural, and without contouring the closer circumstances, its use would only be daring. The use of the word reality causes hiccups and almost demands an apology. (Which, hopefully, the outline of a spectrum sketched above will recognise as done!)


Movens of art

For the development of its paradigms of contemporaneity, art undoubtedly owes one of its most important impulses to the preoccupation with the duality of reality/fiction or simulation, especially in the context of the potentials of telecommunications systems. Ubiquity (the possibility of being present everywhere at all times and simultaneously), dematerialisation (the emancipation from the material existence of objects), participation (interactivity), mediatisation (communication- and information media-induced perception and interpretation of "reality"), networking (the possibility of being present everywhere at all times and simultaneously), the creation of new forms of "reality", the creation of new forms of "reality". (communication- and information media-induced perception or interpretation of "reality"), networking ... are not only recurring themes, but have been realised in the structural and methodological organisation of art "works" and - with the replacement of the linear in favour of the generative, the processual, inclusion in relation to the surrounding space and the public as an essential paradigm - in the art "concept" itself.

Through the appropriation of cultural technologies, i.e. technologies that create social reality, as a tool, (media) art has automatically positioned itself - as a labourer - in closer proximity to the social centre. However, this opening was often still determined by emphasis. Even Richard Kriesche, more one of the considered diagnosticians, associated "On-Line" with a "networked 'ecstatic user' in which a generally new approach of a digital art comes to light that legitimises itself trans-socially when it invokes a society that once again attempts the human-historical dream of anticipating the transcendent, this time on a technological basis." To this society and to this art, the magical aspect is central. Rena Tangens, voice of the chances of democratisation of society through communication networks, promised a new culture of collaboration from a "mailbox network" based on "public universally accessible terminals" and through a "living organism consisting of a multitude of autonomous human individuals who in their totality form the collective knowledge and consciousness of the network - the matrix."

Emphasis and euphoria already determined Berthold Brecht's radio theory from 1927-1932. Brecht was convinced that by transforming radio from a distribution apparatus into a communication apparatus (which made it possible "not only to make the listener hear, but also to make him speak, and not to isolate him, but also to put him in relation"), a positive social change could be stimulated. In retrospect, the pessimistic assessment of things to come (H. G. Wells) in the cyberpunk theme of the 1980s proved more prescient - with regard to the total commercialisation and economisation of the net as well as politics, the loss of physical and social security of individuals and the use of high technology to monitor and manipulate citizens. The criminalisation of digital space was also "seen", but less so the trivialisation of this space of discourse, once considered essential for a democratic system, through the radicalisation of its users. (From Stanislaw Lem came remarks on a milieu of "dumbing down").

An almost incalculable number of art works and projects - from the early video art works to the scenic-immersive computer image worlds that have the appearance of animation through the use of genetic algorithms - deal directly and indirectly with this complex of themes - with digital, media appearance vs. concrete reality (and its blurring); with virtual, augmented reality vs. visible reality (u.d.V.); with simultaneity in real time vs. being there live (u.d.V.); with virtual/digital extensions of the body vs. robotic extensions (u.d.V.); with cyborg technologies vs. cyborg metaphors (u.d.V.) ...

But why now, in 2023, take another look at what has obviously already been extensively discussed?


Corrections and relations

On the one hand, because what was previously speculative and extrapolative, hypothesis and thus a mere appearance, is now being realised in many ways, especially technologically, because it has become actual (and appears to be becoming reality). And, last but not least, beautiful - as only ideas and views presented with theoretical and philosophical ambition can be perceived as beautiful, sometimes even wild thinking, as poetic and sexy. Umberto Eco used the term "hallucinatory" to describe the state in which, for example, the majority of Marshal McLuhan's reception took place. (In a comparison of the thought patterns of the "apocalyptic" Hans Sedlmayr with those of the "integrated" McLuhan; the term hallucination is also used today by AI researchers for errors and the generation of factual untruth by an AI). Eco accused both of being representatives of the cogito interruptus, although he credited McLuhan with an "exciting, exuberant and freaky" style, thanks to a "permanent intellectual erection".

On the other hand, "reality" is proving to be far less sexy and adventurous (in both senses of the word) than even its dangers were in the mode of theoretical extrapolation. Digital infrastructures and networked technologies have long since become part of everyday life; they permeate almost all areas of life. The world is predictable, human bodies and human actions have become codable. Responsibility and competences are willingly handed over to machines that learn from them, whose modes of operation - almost in return - gradually take effect in our bodies and our consciousness as well as in our social relationships.

Anyone who dares today to examine the "reality" of the climate catastrophe, for example, for its structural (and thus also discursive) integrity, or even to question it, would immediately find himself in bad company. In the case of the Ukraine war, as in the 1990s with both the Gulf and Yugoslav wars, to emphasise the strategic importance of the media and their reception from the point of view of simulation and simulacra would be rather inappropriate, since it would be anachronistic. And even before the media critique, which originally regarded the so-called leading media as the source of parallel worlds, could ever be falsified by reality, it was confronted with the formation of such parallel worlds through social media. Meanwhile, progress in communication technology, with all its promises of a more democratic and free life, confronts us with its inherent regressive moments. The democratisation of information towards communication fosters anti-democratic movements, while a number of "leading and quality media" - perhaps owing to their struggle for survival and reflecting on their importance as the Fourth Estate - can be attributed as a corrective to a liberal-democratic resistance through enlightenment.

In the 20th century, talk of artificial intelligence was still moved by other ideas than, for example, Chat GPT appears in the eyes of its users today, than, for example, route planning in a sat nav, the calculation of the compatibility of personalities by a dating platform; by other experiences than those underlying, for example, the classification of the use of AI by the judiciary in the EU as high-risk and a danger to democracy and the rule of law. Even deep-fake applications are now available for domestic use. Accordingly, issues formerly associated with AI (as they accumulated, for example, in the highly differentiated debate on "strategies of appearance") have shifted from their technophilosophical glamour to questions of technology impact assessment with concrete practical references. Less so where progress has undoubtedly been made, for example in the development of medicines, climate models or weather forecasting - but digitalisation occasionally reminds us of the matrix through accompanying symptoms, such as those found in the tangible reality of life, for example when algorithms perpetuate compromised training material or the ideological conceits of their developers. A new dimension of these processes was reached and is becoming more and more explosive when algorithms began to be granted ethical-moral decisions when they determine the allocation of housing, loans, jobs, insurance ...; when they are used in social media to influence elections and voters; when ethical-moral discretion is called for - be it in autonomous driving, be it in the military context, when, as planned, the autonomy of drones includes the decision on the life or death of people. Usf.



In the last quarter century, "strategies of appearance" have experienced an increasing trivialisation - they have become more commonplace, more tangible; the rapid technological development originally associated with them has been caught up, as it were, by their general availability; technical language efflorescence has mutated into common slang.

Not only is the shift from (epistemic) observations to the observation of things taking place without the voices of thinkers typical of discourse, as they were decisive for observations that were ahead of their subject matter - virtuality, artificial intelligence, simulation, fake have been defined outside of the social sciences and humanities sphere as a "new" concept. Virtuality, artificial intelligence, simulation, fake are topics on "everyone's lips" outside the social sciences and humanities sphere as real-political, socially relevant problem areas and fields of interest - meanwhile, the terms formerly characterised primarily technologically have also been transformed into economic, political-ideological realities, they have become more tangible.

A certain hybridisation (of everyday life) can be observed: The fake acquires depth in the form and consequence of an assimilation to the reality of life. "False facts" and the procedures of their pretence on the most diverse levels experience acceptance as a given - from industrial cheese and all the other fake food to the projections common in marketing and advertising of pretended sustainability and climate neutrality in the production of goods and services, from realities of the kind of artificially created food shortage to support prices by destroying food on an industrial scale to social realities, such as those sedimented in poverty by blatantly rising heating costs in the wake of the Ukraine war, while being "falsified" by the billions in profits made by energy providers, from the virtualisation of money (not only by decoupling it from the value of gold in the 1970s, but in the form of cryptocurrencies through data mining), to those realities that owe themselves to a burgeoning disinformation industry - one, from a burgeoning disinformation industry - one in which a Donald Trump was elected president of the USA, or that of the social upheavals in Great Britain in the wake of the Brexit referendum - realities that allow disinformation to grow on an industrial scale and generate globally relevant revenues, i.e. to become an industry. i.e. grow into an industry.

The assumption that this hybridisation draws its actual momentum from the digital sphere is obvious.

The mass of internet-based free services has long since synonymised them with the internet itself (as if one would say roads to vehicles), and the frequency of use and time spent with them herald an existential dimension: Per MINUTE - the data is a bit stale - more than 200 million emails are sent worldwide, more than 200 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube, more than half a million tweets are written, more than 400 new blog posts are published, more than a quarter of a million photos are uploaded to Facebook, and Google records more than 4 million hits every minute (out of some 6 billion requests daily). ChatGPT recorded around 100 million monthly active users just two months after its launch, making it the fastest-growing consumer app to date. TikTok took another nine months to reach 100 million users, Instagram two and a half years.

This sheer volume, the gigantic scale of production, distribution and storage of data and information, however, is draining the mental capacity to cope. Dialectic of the Communication Society [M. Gottschlich]: The larger the merely accumulative and not integrative growing amount of information, the smaller the chance of meaningful processing. The smaller the chance of meaningful information processing, the smaller the chance of rational judgement as a basis for private as well as public decision-making. The lower the ability and willingness to make rational judgements, the greater the temptation and willingness to follow irrational patterns of interpretation, for example, to grant X a parallel existence as U. If this finding proves to be true for society as a whole, conspiracy theories and the resulting problems of democratic politics will seem like a fad.

The digital hidden object sketched above so impressively demonstrates the shift of life time and content into the sphere of the digital that talk of a parallel world seems entirely appropriate (the once popular idea of an AI that brings itself into being in an act of spontaneous auto-creation in the globally networked computers is probably a thing of the past). Moreover, it announces a blind trust that seems all the more peculiar because one would assume that knowledge of data mining is now common knowledge: "With your permission [!] you give us more information about you, about your friends, and we can improve the quality of our searches You don't have to type at all. We know where you are. We know where you have been. We can more or less know what you're thinking about." What Google CEO Eric Schmidt envisioned as a vision of the future in 2010 has now become reality, thanks to machine learning. The transformation of users has also been completed: paying for free services with personal data also means that you are not a customer, not a user, but the product being sold. How is it that half of humanity, which is concerned and suspicious of the state when it comes to its data, but enters appointments in the Google calendar to organise its daily life, makes personal biotracking accessible via wearables on an industrially productive scale? Etc.


Metaphorics of the desert

With regard to the general reality of life and experience, this matrix - or is it a desert? - seems like a lowbrow variation on its early designs minus its utopian potential. The popular notions of digitalisation that have been broken down to their economic utility value also fit in with this, as politicians strain them in their statements, whose brute character makes a mockery of everything that has ever been thought and researched about digital space.

With its current look at political as well as technical formats of simulation, the programme Desert of Realities focuses on an environment whose digitalisation produces its own laws, regularities, its own culture as well as concrete risks and unexpected side effects. At the same time, the question arises as to whether circumstances that determine the reality of life and experience do not themselves offer evidence of life in a matrix that is fed to a large extent by an attention deficit, a blind spot vis-à-vis "realities and realities" that only take effect indirectly.

From this perspective, the question arises again whether life as it is largely experienced (in Europe) as real and lived in the belief in the possibilities of participation, freedom of decision, social security, a reasonably intact environment, healthy food, etc. pp, has not long since been indebted to a "simulation", a kind of matrix.
By looking at political and technical formats of "simulation" in the light of the present, we also want to take a look at a reality that does not reveal itself as sheer difference, but as the matrix of that desert - in the form of the consequences of climate change, the destruction of huge areas of land in the extraction of raw materials, the pollution of the seas and lakes, of groundwater and springs ... Just as in the destruction of nature, the ruinous and ruined has its counterpart in the erosion of social and democratic political achievements.

The metaphor of the desert naturally also allows the question of "water" and "possibilities of irrigation". For - as experience and the principle of hope say - deserts can be made to blossom temporarily and selectively.



In art, the epistemic consideration of things has an experimental practice. Its advantage over other practices is that art (following its general programme of dissolving boundaries) allows us to expose ourselves experimentally and performatively to a topicality outside of traditional and disciplinary constraints and to gain aesthetic insight from this (from the performativity or the modes of exposure) - independently of epistemic insights.

The view through art is always at the same time a view of art itself, therefore automatically also of the consequences for its self-understanding and the form it takes from its object. What would be seen?

The movement of art towards the "social centre" - among other things through use and decuvrification, i.e. exploration, play, manipulation, distortion, extrapolation ... of technologies that are equally important for art and society (perhaps to be pointed at as the realisation of art in reality) - continues. One observation in this regard concerns, for example, the successive dissolution of the symbolic distance to the object in favour of the affirmative, concrete realisation in the object; or in the living object, as is characteristic of biotech art, for example. Art as a chemical, biological growth process, art as a notation on the stock exchange, art as a business process, etc. This radicalisation of a strategy that has its antecedents may also have to do with the increased appearance of the:r long heralded engineer-artist:in, with the advances that art and science are increasingly making to each other. Another observation, that in many respects the world itself confronts art as a "work of art", is not new, but the problem of demarcation it raises now seems more urgent than ever. Today more than ever, art is confronted with the question of how to reconcile its programmatic developments (from the dissolution of boundaries to the "dissolution in the real") with the claim to meaning, which grants that it cannot be replaced elsewhere.

A thesis by Vilém Flusser fits the concept: it assumes that art has the function of creating "other worlds" and enabling access to "other realities". The production of a work of art not only expresses a part of the life-world circumstances and insights of the producers, but also brings about a "projection of other realities" in dialogue with the observers, by which Flusser means knowledge, experiences, sensations or perceptions. By dedicating itself to this process, art becomes concerned with "changing the world", with expanding human realities. In the midst of society, the dialogical process as an operation in the consensual sphere acquires above all a democratic-political quality: it is able to expand this sphere and contribute to the emergence of new areas of consensus; it initiates an expansion of experiences, knowledge and arguments, which can lead to a change in the horizon of knowledge with regard to the view of reality.

Perhaps it will also be possible to counteract desertification through art.


1 Body as reference of the real. "Real is what we bump into", Vilém Flusser has remarked, explaining that the foot that bumps perceptibly against something is at least more credible than the eye. When the real hurts, it proves to be more real than the reality that is brought before one's eyes. Pain is the possibility of seeing something with different eyes. It is painfully brought before one's eyes, real ... (Christian Morgenstern: The Milestone: Deep in the dark forest it stands / and on it with black paint, / that the wanderer's spirit does not languish: / Twenty-three kilometres. // It is strange and almost laughable, / that this text does not exist, / if it does not please any gaze, / to make it into text through itself. // And even further imagined: / What is he - unseen? / An event completely foreign to us. / Only the eye creates the world.)


2 Plato's much-praised allegory of the cave could be mentioned here, as well as Zeno's paradoxes of multiplicity (according to which a world perceived as dynamically changing is only the illusion of an in reality indivisible, eternal and unchanging being), or Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland and Alice Behind the Mirrors. (And if Alice, then also The Andalusian Dog, Luis Buñuel's and Salvador Dali's film Un chien andalou, understood as a vote of no confidence in the logical consistency of reality). Under the impression of the emergence of information technology, the preoccupation with this subject found expression in the literature of post-modernism - exemplified by authors such as Jorge Luis Borges (e.g. Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius; 1944), Philip K. Dick (e.g. Ubik; 1969), Stanislaw Lem (e.g. Summa technologiae; 1969) and Jorge Luis Borges (e.g. Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius; 1944). e.g. Summa technologiae; 1964) or, more recently, William Gibson (e.g. Neuromancer; trilogy 1984-88) and the artistically least productive Neal Stephenson (e.g. Snow Crash; 1992), who was awarded the Golden Nica of the Ars Electronica as a supplier of ideas for the metaverse and as an avatar conceptualiser.


3 In 1977, Philip K. Dick reported on his suspicion (or conviction) of living in a computer-programmed reality: The only indication of this, he said, was "when a variable is changed and a change happens in our reality. We would have the overwhelming impression of reliving the present - déjà vu."

-> See Nick Bostrom's simulation hypothesis, presented in 2003 in the paper Are you living in a computer simulation? Based on three assumptions, one of which must be true, the Swedish philosopher concludes that the probability of already living in a simulation is somewhat "less than 50%".

-> See also: Konrad Zuse: Rechnender Raum, Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden, 1969. The universe understood as a digital machine.

-> See also the ideas of the "physicist of physicists" John Archibald Wheeler, for example, of a "participatory universe", according to which the universe [...] only takes shape through the questions we [humans] ask and the information in the corresponding answers; or "It from Bit", Wheeler's formula, for the possibility that the material world, "It" - every particle, every field or every force, even the space-time continuum itself - consists entirely or at least partly of information, "Bit". (Quoted from Hans Christian von Baeyer, Das informative Universum - Das neue Weltbild der Physik. C.H.Beck, 2005)


4 This also applies to laws of nature or laws of logic that have merely become accessible to thought. (The sleep of reason gives birth to monsters, and/or even thinking creates fictions).


5 E.g. Heinz von Foerster: "The environment as we perceive it is our invention."


6 Well, Sheldon Cooper recognises (in an episode of Big Bang Theory) evidence of not living in the Matrix from the food in the university canteen: It would be better otherwise! But perhaps the fact that a word like "sanction" can mean the opposite depending on the context is an indication of parallel realities and the partial permeability of their boundaries. Which reality, in turn, Austria's Minister of the Interior inhabits, which is apparently divided into one in which science is one thing and another in which facts are another, is difficult to ascertain, but he is likely to share it with many, since such a publicly stated view did not cost him his office. (Der Standard; Interview with Interior Minister Gerhard Karner, ÖVP. 26 August 2022.)


7 Under which Kant subsumed the totality of an individual's perception of the world through the senses.


8 Let us recall prototypical works and projects such as: Split Reality (Valie Export, 1970-73), or The World in 24 Hours (Adrian X; 1982) or Being-Fiction (Gusztáv Hámos, 1980-81) or The Third Hand (Stelarc, 1980 - and subsequent projects) or The Threshold (Bill Viola, 1992) or Piazza Virtuale (Ponton/Van Gogh TV, 1992) or The Golden Calf (Jeffrey Show, 1994 ) or TerraVision (ART+COM, 1994) or Cartesian Chaos (Peter Weibel, 1992) or Telerobotic Dolls (Lynn Hershman, 1995-98) or Telematic Sculpture 4 (Richard Kriesche, 1995) or Uirapuru (Eduardo Kac, 1999) or Field-Work@Alsace (Masaki Fujihata, 2002) or …


9 Richard Kriesche, One Line : Stand By, lecture at the symposium On Line - Kunst im Netz, Graz 1993.


10 In memory of this: Pierre Levy, L'intelligence collective. Pour une anthropologie du cyberspace, 1995 (Engl. Die Kollektive Intelligenz - Eine Anthropologie des Cyberspace. Bollmann 1997)

11 Umberto Eco, Vom Cogito interruptus. In: Über Gott und die Welt, Hanser 1985 [The popular science bestseller by Hans Morawec Mind Children. Der Wettlauf zwischen menschlicher und künstlicher Intelligenz [The Race between Human and Artificial Intelligence] (Verlag Hoffmann und Campe, 1990), in which the roboticist expounded his hypothesis of a possible uploading of the human brain into a machine. A notion that neuroscience has meanwhile countered with too much to be considered. (Nevertheless: in the meantime, stroke patients or paralysed persons are able to perform body movements by means of brain-computer interfaces, and it is possible to write down thought music or to control other robotic activities "by thought power" (based on the analysis of brain patterns)].


12 /a For example, Derrick de Kerckhofe concluded in 2002 that the "rapid improvement of search engines from their beginnings with Yahoo! to the current state of Gurunet and Google" to "leaps and bounds in cognitive progress" and consequently said: "In the foreseeable future, we can expect MMDC (Mind-Machine-Direct-Connect)[...], a direct human-machine connection that will allow you to retrieve something from the depths of the world's databases just by thinking about it in front of a screen, and even to modify and share it with others just by thinking about it. At a certain point, apart from the electronic or organic source, one will not be able to detect many differences between DOs [digital objects] and MOs [mental objects]. From then on, our thinking will have to be very disciplined so that it doesn't lead us into a world we don't even want, because matter will offer less and less resistance to thinking amplified, augmented, simulated and exercised by electricity." [Emphasis added by the editor] Quoted from Karin Bruns, Ramon Reichert (eds.) Neue Medien - Texte zur digitalen Kultur und Kommunikation, transcript 2007.


12/b In March 2023, the Chinese company Baidu plans to launch its chatbot Ernie Bot and with it the language model Wu Dao developed by Huawei. Wu Dao is to contain ten times as many parameters as GPT-3, which acts as the basis for ChatGPT. The Google language model LaMDA, a text generator, is to be adapted for Google Search under the name Bard. In Germany, the Heidelberg-based company Aleph Alpha is developing an alternative. It is also involved in the development of the European AI language model OpenGPT- X. (Source: RiffReporter) It is easy to imagine what will happen when such applications are hijacked by the masses of those minds whose goings-on now stigmatise social media. Christoph Neuberger of the Weizenbaum Institute in Berlin warns against the use of chatbots in public political discussion: "If people were deprived of the ability to think for themselves and participate in decision-making, it would be a disaster for a mature democracy.


13 From 1996 to 2008, the Cave was in operation at the Ars Electronica Museum in Linz; a powerful VR, AR system for immersive 3D visualisation that drew its power from an Onyx mainframe as big as a small car. Finally, the system ran on a Linux PC cluster (Ars-Box); the interaction and control medium was a commercially available tablet PC.


14 To name a landmark symposium in 1990 and the documentation of the lectures with the same title: Strategien des Scheins - Kunst, Computer, Medien; Boer Verlag 1991.


15 AI is used both in autonomous weapons systems and in military "situation assessment": AI is supposed to help recognise and assess conflicts at an early stage, as well as enemy attacks, in order to then initiate and carry out retaliatory strikes more efficiently than a human ever could. Algorithms are involved in this, as they are supposed to identify terrorists on the basis of travel behaviour, activities in social networks or mobile phone data, and in this way declared the Al Jazeera journalist Ahmad Muaffaq Zaidan a top terrorist in 2015.


16 … Jean Baudrillard, Norbert Bolz, Judith Butler, Vilém Flusser, Donna Haraway, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Immanuel Kant, Friedrich Kittler, Jean-François Lyotard, Marshal McLuhan, Plato, Sadie Plant, Sandy Stone, Alan Turing ... and others, such a typical line-up of the time, to which hardly any publication or lecture could be referred.


17 Greenwashing is part of an "illusion industry", if you will: e.g. the majority of climate-neutral labels are acquired through the purchase of CO2 certificates (offsetting). In this way, label holders are pretended to be something that (if true) is at best someone else. But unlike, say, the claim that milk is encouraging, the consequences of which are limited, greenwashing delays action to save the planet it claims to save. 42 per cent of all sustainability labels investigated by the European Consumer Centre were found to be false, exaggerated or misleading; climate-neutral labels, for example, allowed Shell to advertise fuel loads and AUA to advertise flights as climate-neutral. The New Climate Institute evaluated the published climate plans of 24 large companies and qualified 15 of them as completely implausible.


18 5.2 billion was earned by the Austrian oil, gas and chemical group OMV in 2022, an increase of 85 % compared to 2021. The "Big Five" energy companies, Chevron, BP, Shell, TotalEnergies and ExxonMobil, earned a combined annual profit of almost 200 billion US dollars in 2022. With 91.1 billion US dollars, Exxon and Chevron alone earned more than all the largest American and European oil companies combined in the previous year. The companies owe their billions in profits to Russia's war of aggression on Ukraine and a significant drop in investments in environmentally friendly projects. Refinitiv/Storch Research Institute/ FOCUS online: (02-02-2023).


19 To name just the companies that have recently attracted attention: Internet Research Agency (IRA, Russia), Dark Matters (United Arab Emirates); Cambridge Analytica (USA), Percepto (Israel), Team Jorge (Israel), Eliminalia (Spain). As is well known, you can't see those in the dark.

See also the research of the investigative network Forbidden Stories and its partner media ((among others) Der Standard, Spiegel, ZDF, Die Zeit, Washington Post, Guardian, Le Monde), according to which the Israeli company Team Jorge hacks and manipulates worldwide on behalf of politicians and rich private individuals. The firm admits to having intervened in 33 national election campaigns and referendums with covert campaigns, allegedly "successfully" in 27 cases, mainly in Africa, Asia and Latin America. The digital mercenaries around their boss Tal Hanan aka "Jorge" also worked for the notorious, now dissolved data analysis firm Cambridge Analytica, which used illegal methods to influence the 2016 Brexit referendum and the 2017 US elections.




21 Cognitive dissonance or new-speak reality? Probably both in parallel. For example, it is possible to interpret the conclusion of the ÖVP corruption investigation committee, in which the trial judge explicitly noted corruption, as confirmation that the accusations were unfounded (apparently the facts are one thing, what they speak for is another ;-); is it possible to call a product in which a partial quantity of 5 percent does not meet organic criteria organic; is it possible that the WHO sets its guideline values for air quality acceptable to health lower than, for example, the Austrian Air Pollution Control Act (IG-L); is it possible that food may be interspersed with foreign substances or replaced by foreign substances to such an extent that regular consumption is advised against; is it possible (despite the obligation of advertising not to claim the untruth; truth is obviously something else) that relieving the environment (by buying a certain product) only means a low impact. Kellyanne Conway's notorious statement (reminder: that her view of things, which contradicts the video material, is "alternative facts", fell - basically - on very fertile ground.

And the fact that it is not possible to bring about real gender equality is probably due to the habit of living with contradictory "realities" as parallel compatibles, just like the slow progress of measures against climate change or the unbroken support of a party like the FPÖ, which has proven every time it has been in government (and elsewhere) that it is not capable of doing so. Not to speak of belief systems of all kinds - astrological faith, which governs life in a roundabout way through elected representatives of the people, the whole belief in gods, prophets and other superstitions as the basis of political systems. In comparison, the unconditional belief in homeopathy is just a fad. Cognitive dissonance hardens in worldviews that it becomes a habit to live with - or something like that.


22 „With your permission you give us more information about you, about your friends, and we can improve the quality of our searches [...] We don’t need you to type at all. We know where you are. We know where you’ve been. We can more or less know what you’re thinking about.“ Eric Schmidt in a public interview at the Second Annual Washington Ideas Forum, 2010.


23 If it is a defining characteristic of simulations that one cannot be sure of them, then yes or no :-)


24 The unspeakability of fractal art in the 1990s is still evoked by the first AI-supported attempts at art, in which a conspicuously outdated image of art celebrates its first day: For example, in the 2022 Biennale contribution by the AI robot artist Ai-Da, whose robot produces works of art (painting). With the AI seal, the market-oriented art system experiences a welcome revival of classical aesthetic categories. More interesting is Refik Anadol's installation at MoMA N.Y., which creates multimedia formations by means of AI that feeds on works from the museum's collection. However: structures that billow away like only the unspeakable film Behind the Horizon (What Dreams May Come, 1998, directed by Vincent Ward) was able to endure.


25 On the other hand: in view of a public, published perception of the "Teichmeister case" as a scandal affecting art, such questions as have arisen since the "end of art" proclaimed by Hegel (1828/29) lack urgency.