How can I control my irritation

published electronically in March 2004 at

Can one describe the body as a communication system, as an operationally closed system in which there is neither an input nor an output?

The concept of the body is too reduced for me. I would prefer to speak of a living organism, which is more to me than a body, because the phenomenon of life is part of it. In the case of the body, I reduce my perception and my thinking to a physical-biological substance. If I imagine a body, it can also be a corpse. But of course this coincides with the more recent research that has been developed by Humberto Maturana, Francisco Varela and also by Niklas Luhmann that compared to the immense internal activity of an organism, the sensory input and output is negligible. Therefore one has to rethink the whole relationship between an organism and its environment. If it is indeed the case that the sensory input is marginal, that it is bad, faulty, fragmentary and incomplete, then the question arises, what does a living organism do with these defective, fragmentary, incomplete inputs and how does it come about that he perceives the world as uniform, full, continuous and rich. And if you think about this question further, at some point you have to get to the point where you say that what the living organism does in itself and for itself is an immensely rich activity that for us from the outside is only very much hard to describe.

Does it make sense to distinguish the body as a medium from the body as a media carrier? That would then mean to thematize it once as a picture, the other as a canvas that is structurally hidden.

The body could well be described as a kind of media carrier. That would make sense too. To understand the body itself as a medium? You can do that too, but then you work with this reduced term again. If so, I would rather say that the living organism or the person who lives can be a medium in a social milieu or in an environment. The physical-biological body is then perhaps the material carrier substance or the carrier structure. And when we think of it that way, we always have this possibility that the body is the condition of the possibility for action, for perception, for social action, etc.

Can you compare it with the canvas, can you say that the body carries the human drawing surface, but remains structurally hidden at the moment when the human drawing surface functions as an image?

If I direct my distinction to the surface of the human being, then I cannot observe its internal structure. But if I want to observe its internal structure, then I cannot turn my attention to its surface at the same time. They are just two sides of the same distinction. In this context I prefer to speak of embodiment rather than body, i.e. embodiment in the sense of embodiment, as Walter Freeman and Francisco Varela have tried to address. Then you have this important difference between the organization and the structure of a system. The organization is, so to speak, an abstract description of his identity within a certain class. For example, we can say that a person is made up of a skeleton, has a heart, two lungs, two eyes, two ears, two nostrils, a bloodstream, a nervous system, etc. That is the beginning of a description of his organization. But when I describe the structure, I am describing a very concrete embodiment, that is, a very concrete, historically living person. And I think the question of embodiment is also very important in digital media. In the past, people have repeatedly spoken of the immateriality of digital media and of virtual worlds. But I see it the other way around, an electronic organization of data must also be embodied in concrete terms. Here, too, this distinction between the organization and the structure of a system makes sense. But if we come back to the question of the alternative body or living organism, then one can say that in a living person this distinction between organization, structure and surface makes sense. And depending on what you focus on, you can perform different operations, that sounds so medical now, or different observations.

Does this passage behind the surface, into the depths, into the inside of the body really exist, or do I just change the section on the surface? Whether I look at a skeleton, the skin or the whole body, in the end there is always a perceptual image and I remain on the surface of the perception.

Well, sure I always remain an observer no matter what I observe, but I work with other distinctions. I direct my attention to other details of my observation and through this I also get other observation results. Whether one says now that one is possible and the other is not possible is a completely different question. That would be a question that would have to be discussed in the context of what is actually possible when observing and what is not. Then one could ask again whether the internal structure of a body is accessible to observation or is it not. I would say intuitively, of course it is. I mean, on the other hand, if you want to explain how the brain works, you will see very clearly that you will not get any further with an analysis of the internal structure alone. The interesting thing is that there are also limits. Maybe you can compare it to the television. I can also open the back wall and look in back there and then it hums, flashes and cracks and when I take out a tube, the sound is suddenly gone. From this I cannot for a long time draw the conclusion that the tone capacity is localized in the tube. I can gain limited insights through observation and above all through methodical variation of observation, but of course there are also points where observation is over.

How does the body stabilize? That this happens from within is hardly imaginable, the subjectivity or the subject are actually used up. Could you say, through the context, from the outside?

The context was such a model to explain that. The term comes from literary studies and had a strong discursive color. Today I think we have to think further. We simply have to understand how living organisms actually live and that means that they always live in an environment or a milieu. This milieu acts on the one hand on the living organism and, on the other hand, the living organism also acts on the milieu and its environment. So it is a reciprocal, reciprocal relationship in which both constantly produce, reproduce and calibrate each other anew. That is, in the end, an environment can exist without a living organism, but a living organism cannot exist without an environment. He needs this embedding as support. For example, we need very specific values ​​when it comes to oxygen, temperatures and food intake, otherwise we just die. That has to be fulfilled and we can only exist at all within these extremely narrow limits. The body stabilizes itself in this constant exchange with its environment by absorbing something from its milieu and its environment and also giving it back to them, and that this happens in a permanent structural coupling as long as it lives. And when the organism dies, this structural readaptation is canceled. I've actually been of the opinion for a long time that you need three things: one thing is the object, be it an image or a body, the second is the observer and the third is the milieu. You can't leave anything out of this trilogy. To observe images or bodies, you need an observer. You cannot observe without an observer, even if you can pretend you can. You need two eyes and you need a living organism that can move around the world through exploratory action. But that's not enough either, because every form of observation, of art, of images, of films, of bodies, whatever you want, always takes place in a very specific environment, in a specific social milieu that is defined by specific parameters is: a museum, a private apartment, a church and so on and so forth. Of course, you can also take it to the extreme and reduce the relationship between a living organism, an object of perception and its environment to more and more basic elements, which has also been done. The problem that arises is that you then create complete artifacts that no longer have anything to do with reality. And I mean, a lot of empirical perceptual research in psychology is the production of such isolated artifacts.

However, only the performance is directly accessible to the observer. Don't we always need models in order to be able to say something about the body beyond the current plot?

We can of course draw conclusions about internal structures from what we observe in terms of performance, we do that all the time. But we can only check whether this is reliable if the person performing something provides information about it in some publicly observable medium. It also depends on how well we can read and understand expressions in particular media. If you now imagine that someone is doing something, e.g. someone is pouring a glass of water on the floor. Then we can say, "Okay, he has now poured a glass of water on the floor". But if we want to ask further, why did he do that, then we can charge explanations for his behavior that have a certain probability or plausibility. We can say, "Well, with everything we've seen now, he was angry and he just poured it over because he was angry". But it could also have been completely different: You could say “This is a performance artist and he's doing a provocation performance here”, everything points to it. I would say that we always have certain probabilities in these explanations. But, as we also know, these probabilities are exactly where we can be wrong. An explanation actually creates the phenomenon it wants to explain. Without explanation, this phenomenon does not exist, that is, if I want to explain the body, then I create the body with it. It's actually circular. Explanations are therefore not problem solvers, but problem generators. They first create the problem that they actually - well meant - wanted to solve.

How important is the artist as a producer in contemporary art? One speaks more often now of the dictatorship of the beholder. The avant-garde always wanted dictatorship over the viewer, e.g. they actually wanted to change, control and direct people's perception. Think of the Surrealists or Malevich, who compares the effect of painting with bacterial infection, I look at a picture and in the end I am transformed without even knowing it. The classic avant-garde preferred the idea of ​​a dictatorship between producers and consumers.

We all want to control the environment. And when I imagine that I am an artist, then of course I want to have complete control over all of my viewers. Unfortunately, that just doesn't work, I can't control the viewer, I can only stimulate, inspire or irritate them. There have always been theories that have tried to derive such control theoretically. But if you take recent brain physiological or neurobiological studies seriously, you will find that a living organism can only be irritated. What he then does internally with this irritation is entirely his decision, not that of the irritating medium. And if the artist now thinks that he could control any observer in a targeted manner by deliberately irritating them, then I believe that there is a misunderstanding in the communication. Even an artist can only have an irritating effect on others through his work. What these others do with this irritation depends on the overall cognitive, emotional, biological, and environmental condition of these irritated people and we cannot predict that. Incidentally, the whole situation also contains a considerable risk, because we do not know exactly what we will trigger in another person when we do something. But, it's not that bad, because most of the time we know each other very well, that is, we move in different social milieus and networks, in which we actually know exactly what we have to do to get certain reactions to evoke. It works best when you know someone very well. You know exactly which button you have to press or which note you have to strike so that it bursts and goes up. (laughs) It's a story of familiarity, direction and consensual irritation. Targeted irritation only works in milieus of familiarity, in which one really knows exactly what to do in order to trigger something specific in another. The more unfamiliar or the more incalculable the milieu, the more difficult it becomes to deliberately irritate.

What is the difference between the perception of a cow in a meadow, the perception of a painted cow in a meadow, or the perception of a photograph or a filmed cow in the meadow?

So, the interesting thing is actually that there can never be a deception about it and that all image theories that rely on the deception argument are myths. See Mark Tansey's "The Innocent Eye Test". Because in a normal everyday situation the following applies to an observer: he has two eyes, he has a head with two ears and two nostrils, he can move the head in a very complex way with the help of atlas and turner, he can move the upper body back and forth move, he can move his feet forwards, backwards and sideways.In order to perceive, he also needs his knee in the sense of Joseph Beuys “I think with my knee anyway”. With every little exploratory activity he will be able to determine immediately that it is a real cow, a three-dimensional one that moves around the world by itself or that it is a two-dimensional cow that does not move or that it is a three-dimensional, let's say Ron-Mueck is a cow that doesn't move, but looks like real. The observer notices this in a tenth of a second. And that is also the ecological efficiency of our perception. All those who argue with the deception argument mostly overlook the fact that we have two eyes. They always think that seeing works with one eye where there is no longer any lateral disparity. That is, the difference between the perception of the image of a cow in a meadow and the perception of a real cow in the meadow is simply that this difference between the image and the real situation is immediately noticed by the observer as a form of resistance against normal 3D perception. Edmund Husserl worked this out very well. And then it just becomes interesting how an observer uses this noticed difference for further perceptual processes and conclusions. Noticing this difference and the resulting consequences for a changed perception behavior do not address most semiotic image theories at all. Because if he does not notice this difference, he confuses the image of a cow with a real cow and that is really embarrassing, or rather uncool! (laughs) But that happens almost only to semiotic people, there are only very few special cases where you don't notice it right away. If, for example, the head is squeezed in, there is no possibility of movement, the entire environment is hidden by a blinker, then as a test subject you can perhaps say very briefly, I don't know whether this is real or portrayed.

Of course, that is also the utopia of virtual realities.

Yes exactly. Take a cave with six projectors. Even the cave euphorists keep forgetting that I - even when I have these 3D glasses on and the movement stick in my hand - always have feedback that runs internally within myself, feedback about proprioception. Every perception of an external state is always accompanied by the perception of an internal state. There is no perception of the world without a perception of oneself. If one breaks this structural coupling, we are dead. And one could only deceive people in a virtual reality situation if one succeeds in completely eliminating the observer's proprioception to deceive with drugs or surgery. But proprioception is always part of every perception and therefore, even in a cave, there can never be the illusion that one takes it for real. Virtual reality is a dream city. I think you have to understand the motive to develop this longing for an artificial world that we should confuse with the real one. In the end, there is always the fear of death and the desire for immortality and eternal youth behind such longings. Alfred Kubin already in 1909 The other side an answer to the cave has long been given. So, it's more about the motives, the wishes and the fantasies that stand behind them and not about the question of whether this is a technical or a perception-theoretical problem.

Edmund Husserl repeatedly told his students about an experience he himself had as a student at the Berlin Panoptikum. A girl stood next to him who, like him, was looking at the showpieces with a catalog in her hand. The girl struck him as suspicious and what he originally thought was a visitor turned out to be part of the Panopticon itself, a mechanically moved doll made of wood and wax. The visit to the Panoptikum is, so to speak, the initiation experience for Husserl, which then led to the development of phenomenology. In terms of perception, can a person still be distinguished from a doll or an android as clearly today as it was at the beginning of the 20th century?

Yes, but there are no androids. (laughs) Or would you call your father an android with an artificial hip joint? So, I mean, we'd have to talk about how much artificial prosthetics in a living organism there is an android, yeah ...

There is a suspicion that was of course raised by the media, e.g. Hollywood, but also by romantic literature. And this room of suspicion that the other person sitting across from me might not be a human but a mechanical doll, of course, still exists.

Exactly. But it's a different motive. Well, first of all, I don't believe Husserl's anecdote anyway, it's all just a legend. If he has really experienced what he describes in his anecdote, which I cannot believe from him, then he was a blind man, then he could not see. But I don't believe that Edmund Husserl was blind. Because he's an incredibly close observer. Many philosophers are blind, but Husserl by no means. Well, I think rather that he told this story on purpose in order to convey something to his students that he wanted to make clear to them in this way with the help of an example. I don't believe a word of this doll story. The anecdote has a didactic purpose. She introduces distrust and resistance to the visible into the debate about the image. And to come back again to the difference between androids and humans: if we were outside in everyday life, we would immediately recognize every android by its difference to normal people and by its resistance to "normal", that's no problem at all.

But much of the commercially successful products of mass culture are about nothing else like this question or fear.

One would have to ask what the social motive or problem behind this fear is. It is probably to the point that we may no longer be able to create our own "human" identity satisfactorily if we are constantly communicating with machines. In the adventure society we are constantly subject to a temporalization of our identity. I mean, I actually don't find this idea too bad if I now imagine that you are now an android and I am giving an interview to an android. I would say, yes, there is somehow a skin over there now, but underneath everything is kind of metal, I wouldn't have any problems with that. But I'd know right away if you were one. So, from there, no problem, (laughs) no fear.

In general, expectations have been set quite euphorically in the media. Of course, this also applies to the body. Take McLuhan, for example, who says that media are extensions of the body, substitute organs, so to speak, that allow us to find our way in an increasingly complex environment. In the sense of Peter Weibel, media are a way of leaving the physical prison. The American network community even speaks of the possibility of transubstantiation of the body. These hopes were particularly directed towards the Internet.

Well, this thought pattern is typical again and again. As soon as a new medium arises, one obviously cannot be neutral towards it, it becomes emotionally charged. So, in this strong oscillation between euphoric and pessimistic, a look at history always helps. I would strongly advocate taking the emotion out of this emotionally heated debate about new media and seeing it historically.

Is this turning away from media utopia reflected in net art?

As far as I can see, I don't think so. So far, there has actually been relatively little reflection. There are a number of interviews with net artists, most of whom have conducted Tilman Baumgärtel and Josephine Bosma; these are, so to speak, important first primary sources in a historical context that ensure a collection that is very timely. But of course there was also something like a media-theoretical reflection on net art. Art on the net has been compared with all other possible media with which it can be compared, really with everyone. You want to understand the new and you compare it with something old - with video, abstract painting, performance, with telecommunications, with fax, mail-art, etc. At some point you realize that you won't get any further. Then it's over for the time being, then you don't know what to do next. We are now on the threshold of historicizing Net Art. Now the whole thing has subsided, it's not so hot anymore, some of the things are still there, and some of them have already disappeared. It would actually be a good phase now to work through the whole thing historically: What are important works? Which ones do we need to preserve for posterity? Which were rather unimportant, unimportant works? How do we convey this new form of art to our fellow citizens? Some of these questions have not yet been properly addressed at all.

All other types of media art that you have described are ultimately legitimized by archives. Namely because they are archived in the space of art, in the art system - however one would like to see it - in the museum or in the art association, as far as I am concerned, also as a series of art catalogs and thus connected to the art system. It seems to me that the problem with net art is that that is precisely not the case, unless I now put the computer with this net art work in an exhibition hall, which of course was not the intention of net art.

There are now a number of publications on this art form. Using this form of sacralization, the works have of course already been archived in the collective memory of a society. On the other hand, as far as museum archiving is concerned, it is still relatively much in its infancy. There are a few collecting institutions like the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis or the Guggenheim Museum in New York. But I have always wished that an institution in Germany would take on this matter systematically and collect it with professional competence. But we just miss that, well, maybe we just have to wait, maybe it will still take place at some point. But what is also interesting here is the behavior of the artists who, on the one hand, do not want to have anything to do with the art system in the traditional sense and stage themselves as subcultural anti-artists, so to speak, but on the other hand have one eye on recognition and the Cross-eyed consecration through the art system. So, e.g. Jodi is such a typical case, who always stage an unbelievable anti-attitude, but then still apply for the ZKM's International Media Art Prize, which they then get and then again perform the attitude of the bored anti-artist at the award ceremony in front of running cameras who hates the establishment and pretends not to want the price at all, as if it was really forced on you.

That's a typically avant-garde figure. They claim to blow up, to leave the art system and to destroy art and with this gesture of destruction or, as you say, the subcultural gesture, one does not want to achieve anything other than entry into the art system. A strategy of planned return, so to speak.

Yes, but that's actually pretty boring. We've known that since 1910. (laughs) But the really interesting thing is again, for example, that these artists apparently did not consciously reflect on the ideology of the subcultural attitude of refusal. So, in terms of their social habitus, they are actually at the level of a total refusal from the Wilhelmine Empire.And for me, sociologically and historically, this is a much more interesting problem of the art system that the social habitus of artists actually seems completely antiquated in many areas.
The utopia of virtual reality naturally also includes the desire to leave one's body. One hopes for survival, that is, to avoid decay or putrefaction of the body.
Yes exactly. That's my guess. If certain terms or certain ideas experience a kind of trend or fashion, then this indicates a social problem. If something is taken for granted in our society, then we don't need to talk about it, then we don't have to write books or essays, and we don't have to produce any pictures. But at the moment when something can no longer be taken for granted, it has to be talked about, theories, utopias and discourses have to be developed. This means that terms that suddenly have a certain meaning again, so to speak, in a certain time become hot terms that they point backwards, through the back door, to a problem. If we just take it for granted that the discussion about the body is currently an important discussion, then for me there is actually a social problem behind it in the understanding of the body. The body is then no longer a matter of course in our society. Because if he were, no one would lose a weary smile at it. It would be really interesting to ask what the problem society has with the body.

Then one would have to ask the question: “When do I start philosophizing?” According to Wittgenstein, I start philosophizing exactly when I notice a fault, when the system no longer works. Hasn't the fault always occurred? It is also a utopian idea to assume that there were times when we had an intimate relationship with the body.

Yes, that's that Arcadia motif. The person who never thinks about any problems or disturbances in his life world is the completely happy person who lives, so to speak, one to one in an Arcadian relationship with his environment. I mean, of course we don't know if that ever existed, probably not. Because even if we go back to the time of the cave dwellers, 35,000 BC, then we also find there that they had considerable problems and nothing was taken for granted and that precisely this, namely that nothing is taken for granted, probably simply belongs to life . There are, so to speak, only a few moments of smooth coupling with the world that we call happiness. Then there are a number of moments when life is in considerable conflict with the world. And that’s going to be dangerous, right?

How seriously were the avant-garde demands for a new person? So, now, of course, not only in relation to the human body, to the individual body, but also to the social body? The surrealist movement naturally wanted to create a different body consciousness, a different physical perception, by working with the unconscious. Parts of the Bauhaus - Johannes Itten, for example, as a supporter of the Mazdaznan movement - believed that healthy art could only develop in a healthy body. From there it's not that far to the athletic bodies of Leni Riefenstahl and Alexander Rodschenko. Or take the photos where Bauhaus students do gymnastics together before they go to work.

Yes, but you have to differentiate more. What Johannes Itten did with the Mazdaznan is completely different from what Leni Riefenstahl portrayed in the Olympic film. They have nothing to do with each other. That is far too generalized. Certainly there have always been attempts to influence society through design. At the Bauhaus through product design that migrates into life. You will find this will to systematically shape society from A to Z, especially before the First World War among the Expressionists and the Futurists, after the First World War only among the Russian Constructivists and the Bauhaus. Ultimately, you end up with the “total work of art Stalin”. But then you have the problem of what to do with those who do not believe in the new people, who defend themselves against it. Do you lock them up or do you put them in a re-education camp or do you put them up against the wall? That is also the problem with Joseph Beuys that in his social model everyone has to work on social sculpture. What does Beuys do with those who absolutely do not want to work on social sculpture? There are only very hidden indications of this. But you have to be very clear, from today's point of view, it was a mental error. Art cannot influence politics and transform society. It can only be art. It also depends on how you conceptualize society. If one assumes that the environment can be directly controlled and manipulated, then some totalitarian artist could possibly arrive at the utopian idea that one could directly influence politicians with art. But if you argue systemically, then you have to say that the art system is a closed communication system that creates communication offers in the form of works of art. How these offers are received by other systems of society, let's say by politics, by education, by the economy, by the law, that is not under the control of art, but under the control of law, economy, education and politics. Education, economics and law can only incorporate suggestions of another system into themselves as a service if their own overall situation is taken into account. So the idea that you could change society with a teapot is just silly, I think. So, if you want to be politically active, you have to go into the political system. If you want to be economically active, you have to operate in the economic system. If you want to educate, you have to be educated. In art one can only make art and communicate as art. So, these are questions of social theory, what is society, how does it work, how do we describe it? And depending on this description, it is possible to exert influences or not. And I would say that this idea of ​​a new person, a new social body, as you have defined it, comes from outdated notions of society that we no longer really have today. So I would say it was a problem of the avant-garde and an outdated 'idea of ​​a social body, not of us. (laughs) And a mistake, yes. ... Like the phlogiston theory, this phlogiston never existed either.

Lately there has been a lot of discussion about the inner relationship between art and terror, either in the reading “the artist as a prevented terrorist”, ie art as an attempt to break the space of art, the avant-garde demand “art and life to unite ”, read as an attempt to break the system of art. Or then the second reading “the terrorist as a prevented artist”, who does not find a modern art system in his culture in which he can live out his violent fantasies. Perhaps a brief comment on this, and then, is there a similar relationship between the artist and genetic engineering?

So, the attempt to connect terrorists with artists, I can only describe as cynical and I reject that in any form. Maybe I'm old-fashioned or something, but there is no way of doing it, because the perfidious thing about terrorism is that people are being killed here, and that on purpose, that is nothing more than cowardly mass murder ... And me I oppose describing art as a form of mass murder or mass murder as a form of art.

This is not how the relationship has been described. What is meant is that the art system, that the space of art practically offers a possibility to sublimate this violence and to live it out in a socially acceptable way and on the other hand, where this space of art is missing, this possibility is not given.

So, I am of the opinion that the art space is an as-if space in which, so to speak, acts symbolically. I don't know if you know the work of Gregory Green installing working bombs in showrooms. And I still remember well that at “Shift”, a closing exhibition at De Appel in Amsterdam, he installed a working bomb with TNT and detonator on the main pillar of De Appel. The Swiss ambassador was there too and that was shortly after the attack in Oklahoma and you can well imagine how the emotions went up there. The ambassador refused to enter the exhibition rooms. Well, it's pretty quiet around Gregory Green by now. I also don't know whether he really still has the nerve to continue exhibiting and showing this work after September 11th. But this example shows very clearly that the intention is completely different. The terrorists want to kill people through mass murder and the artist wants to draw the observer's attention to certain connections through increased emotional effectiveness. One wants to kill the body and the other wants to irritate the body, i.e. work with consciousness.

The end of the terror at the end of the 19th century can also be associated with the emergence of the avant-garde, with the emergence of an autonomous art space. In this area of ​​art, e.g.

You can also take this Luis Bunuel film in which the epic killer randomly shoots people out of the window, no. Wherever I partly thought of this mass murderer in America who shot people out of parking lots at gas stations and supermarkets, that he could almost be a figure like the "Epic Murderer" of Bunuel. But the really crucial difference is simply the intention. In art it can indeed be a real act, as in performance, but it is always meant as a symbolic act, just as a picture. And that makes the difference and it is aimed at the change in the consciousness of the observer and not on his health or the state of his life forces.

Was there at least an attempt to break up the art system?

Yes, there were repeated attempts. That's exactly what's interesting that there are a number of artists who have explicitly written a manifest that they are getting out of art. Peter Weibel once spoke of leaving art as the highest form of art. If one speaks of a relatively closed, autonomously operating system, as the art system obviously is, then one can also declare one's exit from this system in a manifest. You can simply no longer communicate in this system if you no longer want to or you can get out of this communication system and back in 10 years later, that works too. So, it is clear that this idea of ​​a systemic connection of social subsystems naturally also carries the figure of an outside and a border. The question then is how do we describe the border, how do we describe the outside and then the question is, can you as an artist address this border and if so, from which side, from the inside or from the outside or only from the inside and then from the outside or first from the outside, then from the inside, both are possible.

The system of art would only no longer work if, for example, the material carriers were omitted, i.e. if the archives actually no longer exist ...

If every trace of life were erased! (laughs)

Let us return once more to the relationship between the artist and the genetic engineer, who both feel responsible for the area of ​​human shaping and human shaping. Of course, the performance artist, for example, is someone who stages torture, he stages it with bombs as in your example, but as a result he also consciously enters into a competitive relationship with the terrorist or the torturer.

But the difference is, he's just pretending, and that's the main difference.

Clearly, but then there is certainly jealousy involved.

You would have to ask the artists that. So, I mean, when I think about what an artist and a genetic engineer have in common, then on a very general level I might come to the conclusion that they are both interested in knowledge: knowledge of the world, knowledge of things that we don't yet know. So, the genetic engineer decodes the DNA substance, so to speak, and finds things in the process that no one has known before, that he has discovered for the first time. And so there is such a difference as to someone like Leonardo da Vinci, who was also someone who had an extreme interest in the knowledge of the world, not so great. I would say that artists are per se, by definition, people who are interested in knowing the world, but in a certain sense, namely in a visual sense. You are interested in the visual structure of the world and the decoding and understanding of this visual structure of the world and of people. And the genetic engineer is also interested, so to speak, in the visual structure and the decoding of the world, but for a different purpose. The goals are different and that makes the difference.

Whereby the genetic engineer has a potential advantage, because he can work with the physical intensities, he can potentially change perception, change our perception by interfering with the body. Of course, the artist can only do that from the outside, he can only change the perception of the observer or the public with his art objects.

Well, artists like Carsten Höller, Georg Winter or Fabrice Hybert have also used certain medical indications to change perception, e.g. oxygen inhalation, hallucinogenic mushrooms or euphrasia officinalis. All of this was practiced by the artists in the 90s. In principle, that was a kind of artistic expansion of perception through medical indication. But I would say that the goal of knowledge is completely different in art and genetic engineering.


The conversation was recorded on September 19, 2003 in Stuttgart-Birkach.