Transcoding the Clandestine:
BE PREPARED! TIGER!, krcf/sandbichler 2005/2006

credit: jorit aust
. >enlarge image

Re-engeneering and Re-enactment of a stealthboat as shown in a Tamil Tiger propaganda video footage. The Tamil Tiger video footage was found on internet sites of private analysts of clandestine weapon systems. The boat, as supposed financed by North Korea, shows the heroization of an attack boat patrolling river banks. The appearance of the boat looks rather theatrical and cheap spectacular.

BE PREPARED! TIGER! Text by Soeke Dinkla
Many of the discourses on our current understanding of the public sphere start from the assumption that the Habermasian notion of the public sphere, which decidedly makes reference to liberal civil society, is outdated today.' The ways in which we publicly solve conflicts have obviously changed too much. Yet all attempts to redefine the public sphere are based on Jürgen Habermas' reflections and emerge as a disassociation there from. Our general understanding of the public presupposes the transformation of the public sphere, as has been taking place since the 19605: for us, everything that is not private (even if it seems to be dwindling) is public urban space, which is accessible to everyone, and the space beyond the local sphere; the translocal space of public news and opinions; the space of media. Since the 1980s, these areas are being overlapped with a further public sphere: that of global communication in the World Wide Web. An increasing penetration of these public spheres means that patterns of communication and interpretation from all of these areas will become mixed and have a reciprocal influence on their effectiveness. The most recent work by Knowbotic Research, which was produced in collaboration with Peter Sandbichler, responds to these developments. It is based on the premise that in the new, hybrid public sphere, it is less a question of the opposition of public and private than a question of the non-public, of the secret.

The project BE PREPARED! TIGER! operates at and between several interfaces: it manifests itself in local, public urban space in the form of a highly artificial boat moored in Duisburg's inland harbour, where it moves from time to time.

The Lehmbruck Museum presents a video documentation of a journey the boat takes through an idyllic meadowed landscape and a Web page advertising the boat for sale. We receive a further clue at the same time: a short video film shows two armed men sitting upright in and rowing a boat similar to the one moored in Duisburg. The accompanying sounds produce an atmosphere of danger and threat. The presentation in the museum is enhanced by a further interface in Duisburg's inland harbour. The Ludwigturm, an isolated staircase in Dani Karavan's Garden of Memories, serves as a lookout tower from which one can see where the boat, well marked by glowing buoys, is moored. On one of the tower's balconies, a radar unit, which is used in shipping for orientation purposes and for locating objects not visible to the naked eye, helps us to check our sensory impressions: The boat that is visible to us is invisible on the radar screen. The title BE PREPARED! TIGER! is written in large black letters on the tower's facade. It sends us into a state of heightened attentiveness and preparedness to become active. If we enter the interior of the tower, we hear the accompanying sounds of the video showing two armed men in a stealth boat. An Internet platform on the second floor advertises the boat, which is moored in the Duisburg Marina, for sale, and on the next floor two videos are being shown one in which the stealth boat is guided through the meadowed landscape, and another showing the two armed men sitting in a boat. The addition of TIGER! to the title causes us to suspect that the men are guerrillas with the Tamil Tigers.

Both in the exhibition space of the lehmbruck Museum as well as in the staircase tower, several medial and semantic layers overlap, creating different contexts and sending us into a state of decoding and creating different fields of reference. None of the fields can be identified as the starting point, the source, the "original." The high-tech camouflage ability of the American Stealth bomber, a myth of invisibility and invincibility, is the semantic background for making a connection to the stealth boat being driven by the Tamil guerrilla as well as the local version of the boat. The Tamils model their boats on the shape of the Stealth bomber in order to participate in the myth of the invincibility of high-financed American military technology and thus signal power.

With the artistic act of building a replica of this boat, Knowbotic Research create a connection between the two dissimilar "threats of force" and at the same time attempt to create their own chain of action: their stealth boat does not camouflage itself but has been put up for sale. It inscribes itself in economic contexts of use and in doing so opens up different scenarios of civilian use an entertainment/toy for weapon lovers, a status symbol, a vehicle for transporting contra band, or a refugee boat. All of the potential future uses have one thing in common: they contribute to the demystification of American Stealth technology and its (supposed) invincibility. At the same time we are moving in the decoding and mental implementation of the correlating fields of interpretation in the newly emerging public sphere, which in the penetration of local, translocal, and global volumes of information necessitates altered competencies of translating code from a variety of different origins.

1 JürgenHabermas, Strukturwandel der Öffentlichkeit, 5th ed. (Neuwied/ Berlin, 1962)

Produced Non_Public Spheres (Kluge) are nothing else than the modern signification of that dimension of political agency, which before the invention of the bourgeois polarisation between public and private has been the essential opponent of the Public: the Secret. Stefan Nowotny

produced for: PUBLICITY at Duisburger Akzente 06

credit: rainer schlautmann

> Unsichtbare Öffentlichkeiten/ Text von Felix Stalder