Monday, July 04, 2005

Deleting money

The Delete! project, by Christoph Steinbrener and Rainer Dempf, was an "installation" in the middle of the tourist zone of Vienna, Austria. It seems like a logical consequence of The Untitled Project. In TUP, the erasing of all written signs was symbolic - made by manipulating the photos. Here, it's the real thing. It reminds me of an article about the power of Yves Klein's picture of jumping into the void (yes, that again...). The author (I'll try to remember who) suggests Klein's photomontage was taken seriously by many artists and influenced the artists that came after him to move into body art, where the artists' bodies were (and still are today) actually abused for aesthetic - or more broadly: artistic - goals. Here, we have a similar move from virtality to the real thing. Steinbrener and Dempf probably don't even know Matt Siber, but I guess it was just something in the air. Zeitgeist.
What's wrong with that?
For one, as this comment suggests, it is a rather naive critique of consumerism. Granted we read it as an actual critique. If, on the other hand, we consider it as a merely aesthetic realization, one could argue (as the author of the comment does) that the yellow signs are not really prettier than the original shields. Then again, one could also argue about the aesthetic value of Christo's and Jeanne-Claude's project - which doesn't (and shouldn't) stop them from making them. And if they could cover up the world, why can't others?
The one thing I found disappointing was the quality of the work, as a production: behind the yellow plastic, we can clearly distinguish the signs...
The work stayed on for two weeks. By week two, some storekeepers simply couldn't resist it:
Bad? Well, many other people couldn't resist either:

The idea also reminds me of the numerous artistic endeavors with burning money (starting with Klein's performances at the bank of the Seine river in 1962, I believe). This time, it is erasing, bleaching the print. The one thing that seems to make it quite different from the oldendays is that Delete!, just as Christo's works, is temporary. Which, of course, is good. And bad.
More pictures od Delete! here and a great Quicktime VR (360º).


Hans said...

I do not get the cited "angry" commenter. That ads had been important for Graffity and Popart, doesnt has to mean that those ads must be forever hanging in our environment. Nobody gets asked, thats the point, the industrie claims my brain and my senses with their mostly really bad designed and notjoky joky (fuck that sort of jokes) ads. Its really rare, that I see a good billboard f.e. in Berlin, and even then I am disturbed of that. Town politics thinks so far today in Berlin, to cut roads smaller, because towns are urban area not only for cars and drivers. But when will they start to think about brainwashing billboards. I really would appriciate to live in a wrapped town like Vienna at the time of the project. It gives the senses freedom for something creative. For that, such a project is important, I can even live with with the "bad" quality of the yellow plastic, that it is just shiny covered, and maybe that was intented by the artists.

slomoquithi said...

I don't really see the difference between, say, religious imagery in old churches and commercial images in the streets.
Commercial images aren't bad at all in my view - they testify of subjects that are important to our society.
They reflect important ideas in a similar way that religious murals do, they even take a similar place in public space.
Now, I'm from Amsterdam which is filled to the brim with old stuff, maybe that makes a difference to, for example, being from the US.
To me the picture shows something that's missing, rather than something that shouldn't be there.
And by the way, I really enjoy those 15 metre high billboards, if only for their scale.

I always get annoyed when people talk about commercial processes as if they take place without them, or about multinationals as some kind of abstract evil "other" that is trying to "brainwash" them.
The idea of a city without commercials seems naive and straight out of a commercial.

Hans said...

I think you are brainwashed already, as I am free to go in a church or museum, but I have to cross the street anyway for basic needs, I do not want to see that faked information about products anymore, because I easily can find something better or cheaper via a search engine. Then I get the ads, but can switch out whenever I want. Whats the hype about buying your 27th pairs of Jeans, do you need for that brainwash 999 others of us ? A city with commercials, I say you what it is: Out of time- you dont make really money anymore out of this ads, because they're not influencing for a buy anymore. This is advertisement for historians or sentimental folks like you. Finish is finish, only the Marketing guys didnt get it yet. Search for some new channels and crack those fucking billboards down !

slomoquithi said...

That's a surprising plot twist!
I thought you were preparing your case against commercials in general, but I understand that you're saying that companies should use more contemporary means to advertise themselves.

I agree.
I also think that contemporary architects should replace these horribly oldfashioned buildings in Vienna. They are blocking my view of the future!


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