Follow the wires into a dynamic equilibrium among energy-consuming devices. Exhibition by Peter Behrbohm & Markus Bühler
About the exhibition
This is a journey to the center of the decentralized world, to the origin of what would have become a different Internet. Guided by an artificial search dog, Behrbohm and Bühler follow the data streams to the west coast of North America. Between submarine cable landing stations, data centers and cable ships, they suddenly end up in the dusty archives of an visionary data-network-society that has fallen into oblivion long ago.
In the 1920s and 1930s, 'Technocracy Inc.' conceives a social order based on the equal distribution of energy, archived by a data network ceaselessly connecting everything and everyone. Scientists are to replace politicians and businessmen and a perishable energy currency is rendering money obsolete. The technocrats are examining the entire continent for wasted energy as they are planning to create a most efficient society. Land, means of production, housing and vehicles are soon to be shared instead of owned, objects will last as long as possible and the amount of work by each citizen will be reduced to the minimum. Despite enormous popularity in the 1930s, supporters dwindle, for the technocrats reject a revolution just as much as they reject standing for election. In 1947, 'Technocracy Inc.' makes one last attempt to propagate its eco-technological utopia: 'Operation Columbia'. A ten-mile-long motorcade of grey vehicles driven by members in grey suits and equipped with loudspeakers and rooftop signs heads from Los Angeles to Vancouver and back, installing billboards, distributing publications, giving lectures and promoting their ideas. Despite the tremendous effort, the movement is hopelessly ahead of their time and soon forgotten.
Whether it is coincidence or not - the area encircled by the motorcade subsequently indeed becomes the birthplace of the Internet we know today and Elon Musk, the grandson of the movement's Canadian director, becomes it's tycoon and enfant terrible.
Behrbohm and Bühler follow 'Operation Columbia' with their expedition vehicle. Along the route they soon not only encounter the headquarters of all the major Internet corporations, but cross hackerspaces, the Internet Archive and Crypto Castle, run into 60s avant-garde architects 'Antfarm', 90-year-old YouTubers, the developer of Apple's LISA and many more... In particular, along the way the opportunity arises to take pictures in the dusty archives of 'Technocracy Inc.' for the first and last time(!), and to save parts of the collection from their imminent destruction, as it is cleared out shortly after.
Images and artifacts obtained from the expedition are turned into a volatile and steadily growing archive, partly to be discovered at panke.gallery, partly through the cables that have been surveyed: www.thetechnate.net
Peter Behrbohm and Markus Bühler After studies in architecture, film and media art at the University of Arts Berlin, the Royal Technical Institute Stockholm and the Berlage Institute Rotterdam, Peter Behrbohm (*1987) and Markus Bühler (*1984) received their diploma degree in architecture. Peter's works are surgical interventions in public spaces and routines. He regards reality a medium that he uses to implant fictions. Markus’ work is driven by analytic and operative precision, often based on found narratives of varying media. Among others, they have been awarded the «BDA-SARP Award» for the best German graduation project, the «Max-Taut-Prize», the «Elsa-Neumann» Scholarship as well as the «MAK Schindler Scholarship Los Angeles», without which this project would not have been possible.
with: Bill Adams, Jim Carruther, Marc Graham, Paul Hajnes, Kinnard Hockenhull, Arlene Landwehr, Chip Lord, Michael Round, Curtis Schreier, Aurora Tang and George Wright Website: David Liebermann, Maximilian Kiepe und Jana Reddemann Sound: Burgundt T Brandt Voice: Lizzy Davis / Camera assistance: Nikolas von Schwabe
Antfarm, CLUI Center for Land Use Interpretation, The Internet Archive, Noisebridge, Ovidiu Anton, Carola Behrbohm, Anthony Carfello, Tobin Gutermuth, Gottfried Haider, Scott McMullen, Rebecca Pynoos, Bärbel Vischer and Technocracy Inc.