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A Hole in the Brain of the Machine

Marina Grzinic, February 2001
0100101110101101.org's life_sharing is a Walker-commissioned Internet artwork--or perhaps, if you prefer, a web-based project--that presents a bizarre shift, a reversal. Rather than moving from dull, drab life into the ecstasy of Internet art, life_sharing takes a radical detour from the thousands of exciting formalistic possibilities of web designing (the innovative interfaces that are always trying to amuse us) and returns to dull, drab existence itself--the disgusting impotence of everyday bureaucracy, the exchange of mail, and the negotiation for new projects.

There are subdirectories and maps, dozens of different documents that include email letters, drafts from ongoing projects by 0100101110101101.org to archives of texts by other authors with 0100101110101101.org's comments, pages of emails, half-completed documents, and personal annotations mixed with samples of critical texts--a whole bank of virtual papers. Such a gesture allows us to enter a private life. If you have time to take a ride, browse through papers, documents, paths, and texts--who knows how long it might take and where you might land. 0100101110101101.org is creating a hole in the brain of the machine as a kind of alien situation, a de-realization of the system of the computer and of the content of so-called everyday life. It is as if we suddenly have access to the constantly microscopically zoomed information content of an individual, in all the dirtiness and business of someone's life. It is as if he or she gives us the possibility to see everything under his or her skin, the intestines of the body, so to speak, and of the computer as well. There is something disgusting and repulsive in this action, but powerful at the same time.

In contrast to obscurantist New Age allusions, namely that the Internet and the World Wide Web make the natural exchange of art and perfect communication possible, life_sharing shows clearly that life is an artifact cobbled from other artifacts, rather than from profound experience. In contrast to the mass media-produced idea that life connected with new media achieves a natural totality, processes of 0100101110101101.org's life_sharing visualization underscore this artificial, mediatized, constructed, and unnatural human life, and her/his/its thoughts and emotions. The use of (re)cycling methods suggests a radical re-questioning of originality and repetition, reality and media simulation.

0100101110101101.org's technique consists of superimposing two incompatible realms, which they nevertheless allow to invade each other: the symbolic realm of representation--making an internet art project with a certain structure; and life itself--the proximity of life, the uncomfortable point of entering, constantly, into somebody's life and taking part in all his/her privacy that is now visible, open, and proposed as a project. Everyday life functions for 0100101110101101.org almost as a decomposing moment of life.

0100101110101101.org's approach is strategic to such an extent that, to paraphrase Christine Buci-Glucksmann's book The Madness of Seeing (La Folie du Voir), the Internet has arrived at the position where "eyes can see how eyes see." life_sharing enables the user to see the bureaucratic, archival, and administrative content(s) of everyday life as well as the users watching this content, being a part of these whole endeavor.

In contrast to the clean, pure space of virtual reality, material reality and life itself were objects of horror and disgust because they were difficult to integrate into the cyber matrix. As Julia Kristeva has pointed out, the material becomes what culture--the sacred--must purge, separate, and banish so that it may establish itself as clean and disinfected in the universal logic of catharsis. If the material is a part of cyberspace, then it becomes not an object, but an abject--the material is reduced to an obscene intervention. life_sharing is this abject; the user gets the feeling that a mistake has been made, that this is a senseless situation. Something is missing here: the glossy design and the kitsch surroundings. Instead, we are confronted simply with a listed number of maps and subdirectories.

The same senseless intervention exists in mistakes that are practiced as a concept and a strategy on the World Wide Web and Internet. The insertion of mistakes into perfect, simulated environments can be viewed, therefore, as a point of developing new aesthetic and conceptual strategies, since the mistake as an object of horror and disgust cannot be integrated into the matrix. A mistake is like a wound in the image; it is an error in the body, or, as formulated by Richard Beardsworth, a failure representing precisely our submission to time. To make a mistake is therefore a process of finding a place in time. This is a situation of producing a gap, a hiatus, where we can insert not only a proper body, but also its interpretation.

Such a mistake is already apparent in the name of the group: 0100101110101101.org. This name forces the user into a process of endless copying. The fact that 0100101110101101.org has such a strange name induces the user/sender to copy and paste it again and again--it is too difficult to remember precisely. So, from the name on we see a constant path of research practiced by 0100101110101101.org of ways of representation on the WWW and articulation of the WWW as a (senseless) archive bound to questions of authorship and copying, pasting, removing, and erasing.

To better understand the life_sharing project, let's browse into the 0100101110101101.org organizational history. In the net.art community, 0100101110101101.org became famous with their "theft" of the private and closed net.art gallery site Hell.com, which they downloaded one weekend and served from their own site for endless use by any visitor. 0100101110101101.org also made "versions" or "remixes" of other well-known net.art sites, such as Art.Teleportacia. Influenced by the methods of the Situationists and, above all, the Neoists (recent activities in Italy had originated under this Neoist pseudonym), they transferred their approach to the Internet.

Their secretiveness concerning the name 0100101110101101.org is an artistic practice pressing the user to repeat the matrix of the computer memory (01)--the structure of the computer brain, so to speak--and the openness of the internet machine, which is all about copying, reusing, re-making history, life.

0100101110101101.org's project Darko Maver--the fake artist prank--was also such a construction: Darko was constructed by photos, or more correctly, by photographic documents of actual atrocities, several of which had taken place in Maver's "home patch" of the former Yugoslavia. The story of Darko Maver's life and death is the following: he was born in 1998 at the webzine site called "Degenerated Art," where 0100101110101101.org started to dispatch information about a mysterious performer-artist who traveled across the former Yugoslavia living in motel rooms and old empty houses, a victim of staged atrocities and ethnic cleansing stories. Maver was born in 1962 near Belgrade, left the Academy of Fine Arts, moved to Ljubljana, and later to Italy. He was arrested and released in Serbia and Kosovo, on several occasions, on the charge of disseminating anti-patriotic propaganda and put in prison in the early 1999. In May 1999, Darko Maver's death in prison, under enigmatic circumstances, was announced.

The Darko Maver and life_sharing projects share the tension to reconnect art with life through an obvious mixture of fake life and real data and places. Darko Maver has to be taken very seriously, as he has to be perceived as a topos and a tropos, a figure, construction, artifact, movement, and displacement. Maver's meticulously constructed life and simulated death(s) are today seen as a commonplace and powerful discursive construction. What we envision here is that the Internet has found itself occupying the place of the impossible--the real object of desire. But there is nothing sublime in it; it is simply that the Internet is occupying the structural place, the forbidden place of enjoyment. Accessibility, nonoriginality, reproducibility--these are the characteristics that we have to attach to it, thanks to 0100101110101101.org.

The aim of 0100101110101101.org's life_sharing is to effect the "ruin of representation" (Jo Anna Isaak) precisely on the grounds of what has been excluded from the nonrepresented object (e.g., life itself). This creates a significance derived from absence, and in this way, investigates the means by which a subject, and the body, are produced. Such counter-narratives are resistant to the point that they can no longer be included within a philosophically binary opposition, but inhabit philosophical oppositions, resisting and disorganizing, without ever constituting a third term (Jacques Derrida). The achievement is this: the decentralization of the subject to the point where instead of outside or inside, there exists a powerful dynamic relation to both outside and inside, dependence and independence, art and nature and, ultimately, to what is real and what is not.

Is 0100101110101101.org (de)archiving life? No, it rather simulates its political and emotional coordinates. Beyond this, the way life is presented in the life_sharing project clearly shows that life via the Internet is only an algorithm. life _sharing is powerful on the libidinal rather than on the conceptual level, on the way we "desire" our own oppression, rather than the way we entertain beliefs. The project aims not so much to show life as something else, but rather to instantiate the idea of dealing with, or living with and through, contradictions. This means that it is not a question of losing life, but actually getting it back through a process of rethinking the place where it was/is produced.

0100101110101101.org uses extreme oppositions to show that life is absolutely mediated, constructed, and fabricated, and that there is a speculative identity of the computer paradigm and of life itself. It shows that instead of being a substantial force, life is composed of cliché. What else is this mountain of e-mails, virtual paperwork, correspondence? The strategy is not to make fakes, but to develop tactics of political and aesthetic articulation of a proper reality and the politics of resistance, as Homi K. Bhabha would say, around a specific kind of subject that is constructed at the point of disintegration.

0100101110101101.org is almost fixated on life, reaching the zero elements of what is perceived to be the central concept of the Internet, which still functions as sublime object. This is a deadly serious vision, as Slavoj Zizek would say, that shows clearly the important quality of technology and clichés. Instead of producing a new identity, something much more radical is produced: the total loss of identity. The subject is forced to assume that s/he is not what s/he thought her/himself to be, but somebody/something else.

Marina Grzinic
Ljubljana, Slovenia



Beardsworth, Richard, Derrida & the Political (London and New York: Routledge, 1996).

Bhabha, Homi K., The Location of Culture (London and New York: Routledge, 1994).

Buci-Glucksmann, Christine, La Folie du Voir: De L`esthethique Baroque (Paris: Éd. Galilée, 1986).

Derrida, Jacques, Positions (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1981).

Grzinic, Marina, "Video Processes of Re-appropriation" in the book of the Artintact 4 CD-Rom edition (Karlsruhe: ZKM and Kantz Verlag, 1997).

Grzinic, Marina, Fiction Reconstructed: Eastern Europe, Post-Socialism and the Retro Avant-Garde (Vienna: Edition selene, 2000).

Isaak, Jo Anna, "Women: The Ruin of Representation," in Afterimage, April 1985.

Kristeva, Julia, in Lajoie, "Psychoanalysis and Cyberspace," in Cultures of Internet, ed. Rob Shields (London: Sage Publications, 1996).

Lacan, Jacques, Television, trans. J. Mehlmann (New York: Norton & Co, 1990).

Zizek, Slavoj, The Art of the Ridiculous Sublime: On David Lynch's Lost Highway (Seattle: The Walter Chapin Simpson Center for the Humanities, 2000).

Marina Grzinic, 2001. First published by Gallery 9 / Walker Art Center for life_sharing by 0100101110101101.org.