Nicholas Primich




Section 1: 	Introduction

Section 2:	A Master

Section 3:	An Apprentice

Section 4:	The Workplace

Section 5:	Conclusion


Section 1: Introduction

My argument is that the barrier that once stood between fine art conceptual
thought and design conceptual thinking is being broken down as a result of
globalisation. "The main historical thrust of neoliberal economic globalisation
is to bring about a situation in which private capital and 'the market' alone
determine the restructuring of economic, political and cultural life, making
alternative values or institutions subordinate. Rather than capital and 'the
economy' being embedded in society and harnessed to serve social ends, 'the
economy' becomes the master of society and of all within it, and society exists
to serve the ends of capital and its need for self-expansion. It is a necessary
aspect of this process that 'politics' itself, and 'democracy' in particular,
should become increasingly formalistic, stripped of substantive radical,
revolutionary, or even reformist content, any of which might challenge the
consolidation of the hegemony of capital over society".  What does this mean? It
means instead of society running the economy, the economy runs society. This
affects us in terms of people having to pay for everything; the doctor, the
hospital, etc. The government no longer pays in other words we become a user pays
society.  Social values are not as important as money. This means that money is
valued more than people (Gills 2002). I intend to study this by comparing the
conceptual thoughts and theories of an internationally recognised fine art master
(Joseph Beuys) with the work of a modern day multimedia designer, artist, hacker,
performer and genius (Hans Bernhard).  Joseph Beuys said this (De Domizio
1997:51): "Democratic Creativity is increasingly compromised by the progress made
on the part of bureaucracy, coupled with the savage proliferation of an
international mass culture.  Political creativity continues to be reduced to the
simple delegation of decisions and power.  The imposition of a cultural and
economic dictatorship throughout the whole world, thanks to the economic trusts,
which are in continuous expansion, leads to loss of articulation, ability to
learn, and verbal expression".

De Domizio (1997:115) believes that Beuys’ thought was humanist thought and that
it will continue to grow, because today we have concentrated too much on science
and technology, neglecting true human relationships. The Internet has
unquestionably been a major catalyst of globalisation and its wide spread reach
to the four corners of society.  Hans Bernhard was asked if the Internet has made
the world a better place? To which he replied: "No, just a faster and smaller
place…[Design Indaba Magazine 2001]"

Section 2:  A Master 

Joseph Beuys (Fig.1) was born in Krefeld on 12 May 1921
(Stachelhaus 1991:9).  He grew up in a strongly catholic petit bourgeois
environment near Kleve – where he spent the first years of his life.

Throughout history, this region has been torn by countless wars, from Roman times
up to the world wars of the twentieth century (Stachelhaus 1991:9).  Numerous
historical figures are bound up with this territory, and some of them cast
powerful spells upon Beuys’ imagination.  Among them (Stachelhaus 1991:9), Johann
Moritz von Nassau, of the House of Orange in the 17th Century, attempted building
an ideal city of the soul in Kleve.  Another was Anacharsis Cloots, an ardent
intellectual and revolutionary guillotined for his efforts defending the ideas of
the French Revolution in Europe.  This region at the time, was predominantly
Dutch and Catholic, and placed little if any importance on borders (De Domizio

According to Heiner Stachelhaus (1991:9), Beuys did not have a close relationship
with his parents and took care of himself from an early age.  Beuys, remembered
(De Domizio 1997:18) that for years he acted the part of a Shepard walking around
with a sort of ‘Eurasian staff’ and a flock gathered around him exploring
everything in the vicinity.  At 17 he set up a well-equipped laboratory at home
and engaged in scientific experiments.  Together with his innate talent for
natural sciences, Beuys showed a passion for sculpture (De Domizio 1997:19). 
Announcing only a few days before his own death on 23 January 1986, Beuys
honoured and thanked the man he considered his "Master" (De Domizio 1997:77), the
late Wilhelm Lehmbruck, and then told of his first introduction to Lehmbruck and
Lehmbruck’s work.  Beuys (as quoted in De Domizio 1997:77) continued that one day
by mere chance, he laid his hands on a publication lying on a table with many
others.  Opening it he saw a sculpture by Lehmbruck, and an idea flashed through
his mind, the idea that everything was a sculpture.  He saw a flaming torch and
heard a voice telling him to protect it.  This event accompanied him through
World War II and eventually spurred him on to pursue it (De Domizio 1997:77). 
His favourite topics in literature were philosophy, enthropology, folklore,
Nordic Mythology (De Domizio 1997:19; Stachelhaus 1991:11-14) and other subjects
that were forbidden by the Nazis.

He remained a detached spectator of the Nazi years, and as a sideline his love of
music took him to cello and piano lessons (Stachelhaus 1991:12).  Despite his
love of art, he took his diploma and became a paediatrician in 1940.  From there,
his strong interest in science and technology lead him to join the German air
force in 1941. After being shot down, badly wounded five times, and captured
once, he returned to Kleve in 1946.  Sitting in a lecture one day he recognised
the limitations of science, and decided to dedicate the rest of his life to art,
leaving his grim experiences of war behind him (De Domizio 1997:20-22).

At this time Jack Moffit (1997) believes Beuys discovered, explored and
transformed Austrian philosopher Rudolph Steiner’s anthroposophy theory into his
own theory of art.  Robert Allan (2000:55) defines Anthroposophy as a system of
belief, which holds that there is a spiritual world that can be perceived by
faculties latent in human beings and that these latent faculties can be developed
by systematic training.  According to Alan Bullock & Stephen Trombley (1999:37),
Steiner claimed to derive his teachings "from ‘spiritual research’ based on an
exact ‘scientific’ mode of supersensible perception".

Beuys (as quoted in De Domizio 1997:24) reveals later that in 1951, in a state of
depression, he literally began questioning everything including his own life. 
Seeking the most profound elements in life, art and science, he began seeking a
completely different theory of art, science, life, democracy, capital, economics,
culture and freedom.  During this time he managed to establish the outlines of a
larger theory of art that involved social structures as a whole, the revolution
and evolution of all human development, and an anthropological idea of human

Between 1962 and 1965 (De Domizio 1997:28), Beuys was part of the Fluxus
movement, which based itself on a connection between art and life and was
directed towards a new order of human society.  Often working with the concept of
chaos Beuys awoke to the idea that a new situation could be created from it. 
Another idea of Beuys’ by which art is available to everyone and useable anywhere
and everywhere came from this period (De Domizio 1997:28), namely vehicle art.

Beuys, according to De Domizio (1997:34) never demanded a specific knowledge or
particular reaction from the public to his work, but instead seeked out the
energy points within the field of human power and understanding – with the belief
that man must complete himself through his own efforts (De Domizio 1997:81).

In a certain sense, Beuys was an anarchist (Stachelhaus 1991:106).  He had no
time for the mind-set of democratic compromise, but was rather interested in
breaking through the limitations that had been imposed on democracy.  Beuys meant
very seriously when he said (Stachelhaus 1991:106) that he had nothing to do with
politics but that he only knew art, this keeping within the principles of his
expanded concept of art, the idea that art is the primary factor governing our
existence and our actions.

In 1964 right-wing students accused Beuys of pursuing revolutionary goals, while
in 1969 a group of left-wing students interrupted an action of his in Berlin and
instead accused him of being a reactionary (De Domizio 1997:38).  But despite
these accusations, Beuys (De Domizio 1997:38) felt that belonging to the left,
right or center no longer meant much because the so-called parliamentarian
democracy was being questioned as a whole.  Beuys had defined his objectives as
early as 1967 with the formation of the German Student Party [DSP] (Stachelhaus
1991:107).  The DSP emerged from the great public debates that Beuys regularly
held in his class at the Dusseldorf Academy. Commenting on the DSP’s
establishment, according to Stachelhaus (1991:107), Beuys simply stated: "I want
into parliament!". To broaden the horizons of the German Student Party, Beuys
founded the ‘Organisation for Non-Voters and Free Referendum’ in 1970. Beuys
explains (De Domizio 1997:42): "The educational concept refers to the fact that
man is a creative being.  It is important to be aware of this: to create an
awareness of the fact that he is a creative being and a free being and that for
these reasons he must inevitably behave in an anti-authoritarian fashion.  The
concept of perception theory confirms that only the creative man can change
history, can use his creativity in a revolutionary way.  To go back to my
educational concept, this would mean the following: Art = creativity = freedom of
man [freedom being one of his main motivations]". Beuys goes on explaining that a
revolution is within ourselves, and that the only possible revolution lies in our
ideas, therefore ‘We are the revolution’ and only in our behaviour is there
evolution (De Domizio 1997:47).

From here on his work revolved around many interesting and different points of
view, with subject titles that were not directly a reflection of what we see, but
asked the question of what there was to see (De Domizio 1997:43).

According to De Domizio (1997:7) as early as the 70’s, Beuys warned – in "Aufruf
zur Alternative" (Appeal for the Alternative) and "Aktion Dritter Weg –
Aufbauninitiative" (Third Way Action – Promotional Initiative) – that the human
race was condemned to sink even deeper into ecological crisis; to be
defencelessly exposed to a wild growing threat of war: to stand by impotently as
the rift between rich and poor nations continues to grow; to be persistently
tormented by racial hate, religious struggle, and nationalism, by exploitation
and oppression, by humiliation and violence, by the dictates of political and
economic power, and by biological and social manipulation.  Beuys (De Domizio
1997:8) was the artist who, more than any other, wanted and was capable of going
beyond art by directing all his efforts towards the utopian territories of
natural energy and spiritual communication: reality as a phenomenological specter
of human possibilities.

In 1974 Beuys (De Domizio 1997:49), together with the Nobel Prize Winner Heinrich
Boll, established what could be considered the artist’s most important creation,
aimed at a real form of progress with respect to existing educational
institutions: the ‘Free International University’, (Luckenbach 1997) which
admitted all students and function outside of the existing academic system. 
Often using the blackboard as a demonstrative tool, his actions became lectures
in which he directly addressed his audiences.

Joseph Beuys’ two most singular aspects of thought were reappropriation and free
creativity (De Domizio 1997:9), the former consisting of a rare attitude with
regards to reconstruction rather than conquest, towards discovery rather than
invention and therapeutic improvement as opposed to substitution, in this sense
the need to speak and necessity of communication.  The second aspect is
characterised by that famous free human creativity that he preached and taught. 
Beuys (De Domizio 1997:67) versed his free creativity theory in Bolognano 1984:
"…The only thing that each one of us can do is to begin with the study of his or
her own anthropological powers…[for] the development of human beings on this
planet [it] is a question of freeing ourselves from all dependencies of the past.
 We now must face the realization that it is no longer possible simply to follow
a leader [or] a political ideology…and that the time has come for us to begin to
make full use of the most important of all our powers: the power of creativity
(Creativity is a matter of the possibility of thinking…or thinking power and the
level of the creativity of the feelings)…[and it’s] most authentic
part…freedom…It is our duty to show what we have produced with our
freedom…[since] Freedom mostly means the freedom of others.  When we know that we
are cooperating together as free individuals, then we are also much closer to the
creation of a real and concrete democracy [as] democracy structures have to be a
result of freethinking and of our equality as thinking individuals…the basis upon
which we can then establish a constitution".

Another large part of Beuysian thought was the concept of ‘Social Sculpture’ (De
Domizio 1997:83), whereby art is a daily act, a broadened and dilated action, not
localised, not univocal, not limited to the relative content of the art object
but art as the creative commitment of living, entirely incarnated in behaviour. 
A way of transforming the world into ‘Social Sculpture’, in which no man needs to
acknowledge himself, but rather is and acts as an ‘artist’, the demiurge of every
moment of his life (De Domizio 1997:83).

Being considered as an avant-garde artist probably meant nothing to Beuys
explains De Domizio (1997:82), though he became a media icon partly of his own
making (Luckenbach 1997).  Constantly being photographed and videotaped, he
promoted the ideological causes that made his art a vehicle to bring about
discourse (Luckenbach 1997).  Others called him a charlatan, a diseased preacher,
and even a crafty buffoon, yet some would place Beuys on an artistic altar (De
Domizio 1997:81).  In truth however, he was a tireless agitator, who provoked and
challenged continuously for what he so strongly believed in, crossing the
traditional frontiers of art to open the doors of the ghetto in which it had been
impounded (De Domizio 1997:82).

Well remembered for a popular image of being the man with ‘the felt hat’ he
explained its significance(De Domizio 1997:2): "A rabbit isn’t a rabbit without
ears…[so] Beuys isn’t Beuys without the hat".

Section 3: An Apprentice

Hans Bernhard (Fig.2) was born in New Haven Connecticut in 1973 (Bernhard 2002)
and studied Visual Media Art at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna with a
professor Peter Weibel (MFA Degree 1999).  He is currently working on his PHD in
‘Media Hacking’ (Bernhard 2002).

Bernhard found himself on the Internet for the very first time in 1993 (Design
Indaba Magazine 2001).  Sitting in front of three shells (telnet-sessions) he
asked himself where he was, where he was physically, and where he was mentally? 
Not knowing if he was on a server in Tokyo, in Vienna or on a machine in Cape
Town, he got nervous and began to sweat heavily.  Sparks were exploding in his
brain and immediately he knew that this was it, that this was his future now, and
that this was the future (Design Indaba Magazine 2001). That same year, funded by
Japanese venture capital, in a Swiss mountain training facility, Bernhard and six
other hackers (Fig.3) distributed across Europe founded the multi award winning
and much talked about "Etoy.com" (Bernhard 2002).  Etoy’s goals were to smash the
boring style of electronic traffic channels; to stretch reality by leaving it
behind; and to play the game between business, art, and entertainment, by
kidnapping web-crawling humans and injecting a little uncertainty into life on
the web (Etoy 2002).  Knowing that the highlighting of corporate abuse would
cause such controversy, they began the Etoy tanksystem in 1994 with the very
symptomatic slogan: "Etoy: the pop-star is the pilot is the coder is the designer
is the architect is the manager is the system is Etoy (Bernhard 2002).  The
corporate identity and panic management strategies were central to their
high-pressure explorations.  They used the web as a stage to disrupt the data
flow, abuse technology, and promote pop-music (Bernhard 2002).  It ran from 1993
to 1996, a time when the world-wide-web was unknown to the general public
(Bernhard 2002), yet Etoy was awarded the Golden Nica first prize of the ARS
Electronica festival for new media in 1996 (Bernhard 2002).  In 1996, pop star
singer Bjork from Iceland said the following (Bernhard 2002): "…and all our
children will be playing in the garden of joy surrounded by glamour and perverted
disco tunes…etoy, immature digital priests from another world".  Etoy operated
until 1999, when due to personal conflicts, the board split into two parts
(Design Indaba Magazine 2001).

Today Bernhard and three other founding members are running the Etoy-holdings
company which holds major and minor stakes in all other Etoy companies (Bernhard
2002).  Bernhard’s involvement is purely profit orientated since Etoy-holdings
deals with financial, legal, trademark, buying and strategic planning (Bernhard

In 1999, together with his partner Maria Haas, he founded a network holding of
companies in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and Bulgaria called Ubermorgen
(Bernhard 2002).  These are heavily involved in software development, licensing
deals, fine art, applied design and even high-end consulting services for global
multinationals such as the Allianz Insurance Corporation.  Bernhard’s intentions
at the time were to research and investigate global corporations ["…monsters of
the universe…"] just like it (Bernhard 2002).  Hosting their server farm from
their bedroom, Ubermogen has completed an amazing amount of legal articles,
projects, lawsuits, and publications using global mass media as an art form, as a
fine art, and as a business strategy (Bernhard 2002).

Hans Bernhard has often been called subversive because of the things that he says
he likes doing and the way that he goes about doing them (Design Indaba Magazine
2001).  Bernhard explains (Design Indaba Magazine 2001) that he loves the thrill,
the style, and the aesthetics of action.  Going directly to prison or being
immediately killed are the dangers associated with the supposedly illegal
measures that he takes.  But it is this reality (Design Indaba Magazine 2001)
that he feeds off of and craves – not the threat of dying or a prison sentence –
but that he can show people that certain things [like attacking corporations and
governments] thought illegal, can actually be done or opposed legally, and most
of all, extremely effectively.  This draws relevance from Joseph Beuys’ theory of
free creativity, how freedoms should be shared and displayed as a duty to
mankind, as freedom more often than not means the freedom of others and not just
the individual (Section 2 page 5).  Yet Bernhard claims only to be as
anti-establishment as anybody else is (Design Indaba Magazine 2001).  He does not
regard his ‘anti-motives’ as a result of his work, but merely as a natural
motivation for an individual surviving (Design Indaba Magazine 2001).

Money, as much as it might appear at first glance, is not Bernhard’s real
motivation (Bernhard 2002).  He needs it to live and finance his research and art
ventures but otherwise sees it as a distraction (Bernhard 2002).  Bernhard
explains (Bernhard 2002): "My true motivations are freedom. [T]he freedom to
research what and how and when and where I want.  [T]o publish where and what I
want, to say what I want, where and how I want it.  [T]hat is my pure and true

Beuys shared a similar thought to creative freedom  (Section 2 Page 5).

What Bernhard believes drives him into the right topics, pictures, words and
content is his honesty with himself in constantly thinking about getting more
money and fame (Design Indaba Magazine 2001). Bernhard intentionally does not
only focus on visual aspects, but on what he calls gesamtkunstwerk, which means
the overall art concept (Design Indaba Magazine 2001).  This acts as a meta-level
(similar anthroposophy theory of Beuys) that brings all his legal, corporate, and
aesthetic art forms and activities together (Design Indaba Magazine 2001).  In
general his core focus is on global structures but also on the production and
maintenance of them.  Firstly looked at from a business, financial and profit
driven angle and secondly from a purely artistic one (Bernhard 2002).

Bernhard has been called a maverick businessman, the Etoy promotions hammer and
even the "nasty shock marketing maniac" by media platforms such as Wired
magazine, the Washington Post, underground Italian magazines and German
theoretical publications (Ubermorgen 2002).  Old-school corporations willing to
pay their excessive fees have gotten some of Ubermorgens communications
strategies better known as a character marketing, drama marketing and most
effective – shock marketing – by which you shock the user, and due to this shock
the users channels are wide open so any information can be fed into the users
brain (Design Indaba Magazine 2001).  The Internet today is structured in such a
way, that shock marketing can be used by artists; activists; terrorists; and by
any of the other millions of naēve users that surf it each day (Design Indaba
Magazine 2001). Ubermorgens approach and projects are so dangerous and radical
that possible areas of attack by enemy companies or governments need to be
distributed for liability reasons, so a series of Ubermorgen holding companies
were established in Vienna, Austria; and in Sofia, Bulgaria (Bernhard 2002).
French philosopher Jean Buadrillad said in Cannes 2000 that (Bernhard 2002):
"Ubermorgen means the day after tomorrow, a slight tip towards their aesthetic
and activist vision and prejudice, they are hardcore and radical in their actions
and they are extremely strange and highly intelligent people".

Bernhard however prefers the term uniqueness, unique not because of what
Ubermorgen does but because how, when and where they do it (Bernhard 2002).
Ubermorgen’s uber-slogan originates from a CNN interview questioning the Vote
Auction simulations that Bernhard pursued: "its different because its
fundamentally different" (Design Indaba Magazine 2001).

Section 4: The Workplace

The author of this essay believes that these two individuals can only be likened
and compared in context.  The state of the world and its politics; the degree of
globalisation development; and the combined cost of the above to humanity and
human relationships at the same time, are the three most pivotal factors that
need understanding. Beuys’ vision of the future from back in the 70’s (Section 2
page 4) can still be seen as impressively intuitive, but Bernhard’s is far more
accurate and/or up to date.  Bernhard believes that mankind is looking at and
living in a highly political decade (Bernhard 2002) where global wars will only
get worse.  Military conflicts between the police [USA] and resisting forces
[nations, institutions, networks] will heat up, while conflicts between Europe
and the US will arise (Bernhard 2002).

Beuys was an artist who displayed, performed, and exhibited his works and beliefs
in galleries and institutions, to groups who still relied on the spoken word of
mouth and the live real-time experience.  Others interested would visit his
exhibitions to interact and experience his work for themselves.  However as time
has unfolded, the growth of globalisation and its trends have decreased personal
interaction with human beings and real live experiences drastically - to the
point where greeting grocery store staff is unnecessary thanks to shopping
online, and the adventure of experiencing overseas or the outdoors is lost by
downloads available on screen at home for nothing more than the price of a phone
call. Beuys elucidated the passage (of his work) from a personal experience to a
more fundamental and universal human experience that is paradigmatic of his work
on the whole (Luckenbach 1997).  The author of this essay believes that a similar
description could be given to that of Bernhard’s work across world media. Today,
Bernhard, through media hacking likes causing chaos by misusing the "pseudo"
freedom of the net (Design Indaba Magazine 2001).  Media hackers exploit weak
spots within social, commercial, political and technical networks implementing
disinformation via these subverted interfaces.  Completely different to Beuys,
media hackers, like Bernhard, have dealt with the effects of globalisation on
human communications by forcing their work and beliefs on people via the systems
(world wide web and media) that they depend on most (Design Indaba Magazine

In Joseph Beuys’ discovery of performance art, he combined the theatrical
elements of time and space with props and a directional score (Luckenbach 1997). 
His own function as the artist shifts into a new dimension as a
‘performer-shaman’.  Layering and manipulating "fragments", he acted out a
ritual, which simultaneously is the creation of a new work of art (Luckenbach
1997).  Beuys’ goal was to erase the line separating art and life in the
tradition of the radical modernists Marcel Duchamp and Bertold Brecht, whose
evolutionary steps led to the erasure of this line.  But Beuys’ "gesamtkunstwerk"
(total art work) was the creation of a symbiotic whole – art as a model for life
(Luckenbach 1997).

For a period of four months in 1996, the Etoy gang legally hacked into five major
search engines devising a trap for net travellers and technology tourists of the
time (Bernhard 2002).  With the twilight zone of the medium forming the place of
action, search engines were transformed into a stage, designed as a merger
between a Hollywood action movie script and a real life airplane hijacking
(Bernhard 2002).  This was a shocking experience and a violent attack on the
innocent Internet user of the time.  It became known as the digital hijack
(Fig.4) – and the members of Etoy as the first street gang on the information
super highway (Fig.5) (Etoy 2001).  The role of a ‘performance’ remains very
similar as it occurs here through time and space on the internet, only the stage
has evolved and changed as a result of technology, into a stage on screen.  Where
Beuys used art to create a model for life, Bernhard and other Etoy operators used
art (design and hacking) to insert some humane uncertainty of life back into the
inhuman, super reliable, information super highway (Etoy 2002). Bernhard
illustrated the ‘performer-shaman’ understanding of Beuys’ in another work of
his.  During a presentation, at the Design Indaba 2002 in Cape Town, of a CNN
exclusive video interview with Hans Bernhard on his Vote Auction project,
Bernhard had arranged for two designers from very different institutions, namely
Joshua Davies from Praystation and Tom Roope of Tomato, to assist him in shaving
his head clean on stage in front of the audience (Bernhard 2002).  The Ubermorgen
group then approached the Museum of Modern Art with the shaved hair of Bernhards
as a first ever collaboration artwork between Praystation and Tomato (Bernhard

In language, semantics are the vehicle by which sounds are given form and
thoughts are given meaning, allowing communication to take place (Luckenbach
1997).  Beuys equated the phenomenon of language with evolution, as a catalyst
that moulds and propels human society (Luckenbach 1997).  Believing that the
concept of people is elementally coupled with its language, the looming horrors
of World War II aided Beuys’ choice of sculpture (as it starts with speaking and
thinking), to provide for ideas to take shape through the forward looking images
that present themselves through it as a result (Luckenbach 1997). Bernhard again
has a likeness to this line of thinking only his work has an extremely
controversial (unpopular reaction) and deliberate motive behind it. However he
develops it further, instead of just providing a vehicle for his ideas to
generate on or take shape through, he set up a simulation of his work and let its
trial in reality prove his controversial message correct.  In spring 2000, an
American art student invented a platform for American citizens to offer and sell
their individual votes during the US presidential election that same year
(Bernhard 2002).  On November 7th companies, political parties, and individuals
could then auction off these votes via the Vote-Auction website and buy whole
states.  But due to heavy government official pressure, James Baumgartner (the
inventor) offered the then very small venture to the Ubermorgen group (Bernhard
2002).  Ubermorgen, at the time, had no idea that this was the pay dirt that they
had been looking for. Ubermorgen then took control over Vote-Auction (Fig.6) and
pushed the limits, in terms of shock marketing and public relations to a global
mass media level never seen before – with the core message "bringing capitalism
and democracy closer together!"  (Bernhard 2002)  American principles of
capitalism and democracy were already tightly intertwined, like most democratic
countries corruption of the election process was legal for large corporations but
illegal for individuals (Bernhard 2002).  ‘Vote-Auction just wanted a perfect
market for votes, it would never be political, just purely business, art and
market orientated, with no underlying ideology, just a strong belief in
declaration’ (Fig.7) (Design Indaba Magazine 2001).  For liability reasons
Ubermorgen immediately set up Vote-Auction LTD in Bulgaria even though most
lawsuits were on Bernhard and Baumgartner alone (Bernhard 2002).  During those
four months temporary injunctions, court complaints and many other legal threats
were received from thirteen state attorneys.  Federal attorney Janet Reno, along
with the Central Intelligence Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and
the National Security Agency investigated the case.  Ubermorgen suspected a break
and entry into their own servers and questioned why two domains were illegally
shutdown by United States authorities (Bernhard 2002).  The term Media hacking
came about while Ubermorgen were developing the story in real-time and watching
it later or the next morning on CNN world report (Bernhard 2002).  During those
four months an expected 500 million people were reached with the Vote-Auction
brand and pervert commercial message (Design Indaba Magazine2001).  All that
amassed was an endless story without any proof of illegal activites, all
Vote-Auction representatives were only named plaintiffs (Bernhard 2002).  E-mails
from veterans of World War II read about the aesthetics of the war for democracy
and how Vote-Auction was destroying it.  Amongst these came the occasional death
threat, mainly because of the very painful visuals inserted by Ubermorgen into
the initial website design which was not manipulated much in order to keep it
authentic (Bernhard 2002).  ‘The global media, played the ultimate pop soundtrack
to this techno-political-action-thriller (Bernhard 2002).  Beuysian thought on
Social Sculpture (Section 2 Page 5) seems far from a reality after an experiment
like this proves itself successful.  Vote-Auction becomes a digital sculptural
vehicle upon which ideas can formulate for an answer to a polluted society. After
a project like this Bernhards view on corporate censorship remains senseless,
saying that sometimes it makes no sense to talk about the ethical values of a
semi-technical action as censorship, as the technical aspect overrules the
ethical one – what he prefers, is the practical (or pragmatic) approach (Design
Indaba Magazine 2001).

However, within Beuys’ work, language and communication were often entirely
discrete entities (Luckenbach 1997).  Language was one possible vehicle for
communication; it functioned as a catalyst, whereas communication was more
profound, elemental, and universal – fundamentally biological (Luckenbach 1997).
Beuys’ Multiples were devices of communication, vehicles for the distribution of
ideas that could reach an even wider group of people than could a single work of
art (Luckenbach 1997).  Yet all of Beuys’ objects had meaning only in relation to
his ideas; the objects, however widely distributed, always return to the maker. 
This created a circular motion consisting of Beuys’ art, his persona, and the
metaphors that weave in and out of his work (Luckenbach 1997). One vehicle for
the distribution of ideas that supersedes all others is that of the Internet. 
Hans Bernhard continuously hijacks this vehicle for the very reason that it
allows him to express himself, through his projects, and the concepts behind
them. Characteristically of Bernhard, his use of a ‘Beuys like multiples’
approach also had a subversive tilt. Running as an experiment on the rate of
viral distribution on the net, a staged conspiracy on the biggest PC software
manufacturer was used to attract attention to a website and project of the
Ubermorgen group.  Bernhard explains (Design Indaba Magazine 2001): Media hackers
cannot be afraid of playing with information and information distribution, but
rather have to be able to witfully play with these mechanisms.

In 1999 a press release was issued in the name of the jury of the ARS Electronica
in Linz.  Being the most important new media art festival and new media art
award, Ubermorgen’s initial press release was headlined "Linux wins pris ars
electronica due to Microsoft intervention".  Sent out in the name of the head of
the Jury to journalists, media and cultural people in the global tech-community,
the e-mail was very detailed and in-depth and described the potential bribery of
the net capital jury.  Six hours after the release the first stories claiming
this e-mail to be a fake appeared in international media-art and technology
publications, but this was even to late, the virus had been spread.  On the
opening Monday morning of the festival over 250 journalists requested information
concerning this press release.  Multiplication of the e-mail had gone into the
two digit million figure by viral distribution.  Not even the obvious fake
character of this message could stop hundreds of articles being published about
it worldwide.  Representatives of the Etoy-corporation were questioned
aggressively of any responsibility for this act.  This was just a teaser action
to show off Ubermorgens capabilities in terms of communications and perversion. 
In fact, the use of these guerrilla marketing tactics was merely just to soft
launch the brand Etxtreme.ru and co-brand it with Linux.  Etxtreme (Fig.8) was
one of the early content creations of the Ubermorgen group.

Section 5: Conclusion

Time seems to be all that stands between these two individuals, however, what has
happened and changed in the world during that time seems to make the short
distance between them seem a little further than it really is.  Beuys came across
to the world with greater ease and less tension, never ‘attacking’ anyone and
therefore was always seen as a fairly passive artist with potentially
revolutionary beliefs - but never as a serious threat to any governments or
institutions.  Where presently, Bernhard is seen entirely as a threat as he
lashes out and attacks those government institutions with his potentially
revolutionary actions.  Beuys and Bernhard have very similar long-term goals and
motivations but their places in time/history don’t allow for that likeness to be
seen easily.

Realistically designers are fundamentally different to artists in some ways, for
example: designers and architects are normally more constructive and/or goal
orientated with what they do, often demanding or needing feedback and some
response to work that they have completed, as they do have responsibilities as
designers to sell or make immediate contact/impact.  Whereas an artist, is more
concerned with the message that they leave from themselves within their artwork,
and not necessarily with what they get out of it.

Beuys’ dream of a singular social structure has arrived, only at a very heavy
price.  People in general have lost their individuality and freedoms – as
political and capitalist ventures control and regulate almost everything.  Though
those individuals that have not lost their will to embrace those freedoms
(Bernhard) are seen as going against the grain, in effect being labelled
troublemakers.  Bernhard ideally, if not intentionally through his work, is only
searching for the freedom that Beuys once had dressed as a Shepard boy in his
youth wandering the hillsides.  Old popularity of gallery exhibitions moved
online into the world-wide-web as mankind continues to surround and engross him
self with such technologies.  This can explain why Bernhard continuously looks
for the loopholes within the globalisation-trend-bubble and then exploits them.
Though globalisation has not only made the current world smaller and faster but
it has also blurred the distance between the past and present.

Beuys placed so much importance on language and communication that it could be
understood as a growing interest in the history of graphic design (these two
being the main aspects of graphic design history).  Globalisation might not have
been as active as it is today but this interest of Beuys’ suggests that the
conceptual barrier between art and design was being broken down even then.

In a world where physically coming closer together is actually driving us
personally further apart, communication of any sort becomes increasingly
important – whether you are a designer, artist or just someone asking for
directions on a street corner.

Ultimately, the quest for communicating effectively with ourselves, and the world
around us might be the cataclysmic goal that designers and artists must reach
together, in order for any such barriers between art and design to ever be
cleared for good.


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