Cybernetics

Crafting an alternative history of the twentieth century through cybernetics, psychedelia, and tarot, Suzanne Treister’s sprawling projects 
trace a vertiginously networked world where everything is connected and nothing is meaningless. By Lars Bang Larsen

Walter Pichler, TV-helmet (portable living room), 1967; Courtesy: Contemporary Fine Arts, Berlin

When the Vienna Actionists urinated, masturbated, and vomited at an event titled “Art and Revolution” in Vienna University’s Lecture Hall 1 in 1968, the proceedings were accompanied by a lecture on the relationship between speech and thought by the then thirty-two-year-old Oswald Wiener. One year later his literary montage die verbesserung von mitteleuropa, roman (the improvement of central europe, a novel) was published. With its excurses on linguistics and cybernetics, it now reads as an astonishing foreshadowing of the Internet and virtual reality. Later, Wiener turned to the figure of the dandy, who maintains his difference from machines by cultivating a practice of self-observation. Hans-Christian Dany visited him at his home in southeast Austria to talk about the peculiar standstill of art and science in the digital age.