Playground Under Surveillance.  Installation Art in the Control Society Exemplified by Jon Kessler’s “The Palace at 4. A. M.”

Ludwig Seyfarth


“We live in an age in which highly educated professionals dedicate themselves to the task of entering the collective public mind with the object of manipulating, exploiting, and controlling.”[i] This is the opening sentence of Marshall McLuhan’s first masterwork of media theory, The Mechanical Bride (1951), a collage of chapters devoted primarily to analyzing the manipulative effect of advertising.

What McLuhan observed concerning consumer culture over fifty years ago now seems to have taken hold of the entire political and social life of America and many other nations. In the wake of the September 11 attacks, if not before, ostensibly democratic societies have increasingly become paranoid control states where as much as possible is monitored round the clock. Thanks to biometric screening, even a slightly unusual head shape can give cause for suspicion, as demonstrated recently at the railway station in Mainz, Germany. From October 2006 to January 2007, two hundred people helped to test a video surveillance system meant to identify individuals within big crowds. Experts in data security made the criticism that the system automatically recorded data on many other passing people without their consent.

In unfamiliar situations, it may even happen that one no longer recognizes oneself. Standing in front of a screen, unaware that the image is coming from a surveillance camera, you realize after a while that the person standing around, rather out of place, not cutting an especially good figure, is actually you.

Some years ago, an advertisement in Manhattan asked, “On an average day you will be captured on CCTV cameras at least a dozen times; are you dressed for it?”[ii] The advertisement calls on us not to be afraid of permanent control, but to enjoy it with the same narcissism as Jennifer Ringley, a young American woman who was already streaming her private life online via webcam ten years ago, awakening curiosity above all concerning the possibility of sex scenes. Countless porn websites have since been named after “Jenny.”           

            “The pleasure principle of the voyeur, to see everything, and the pleasure principle of the exhibitionist, to show all, have shifted from the fates of private drives to social norms,”[iii] writes Peter Weibel. Narcissism, too, he adds, is changing from a psychological to a social category, a development foreseen by McLuhan as early as 1964, when he dedicated a chapter of Understanding Media to narcissism as “narcosis.” He contradicts the traditional interpretation of Narcissus’s self-infatuation and raises doubts as to whether Narcissus recognized himself in the mirror at all. McLuhan interprets narcissism in terms of media theory as man’s infatuation with the devices he has created, as narcosis by the technical extensions of the body.[iv]

In this reading, being in love with one’s own mirror image means identifying with the mediated image of oneself to the extent of no longer being able to tell oneself apart from it. In this state, a clear view of things is just as impossible as it is in the fear-laden arousal of a state of moral outrage. Instead of not looking at all out of sheer abhorrence, one should be alert to the mechanisms that maintain a subliminal hold over us.

In The Mechanical Bride, McLuhan calls moral outrage a bad guide if one is not to drown helplessly in the vortex of media images. But how is one to act? McLuhan uses a literary metaphor and refers to Edgar Allan Poe’s story “A Descent into the Maelstrom,” in which a shipwrecked man in a seemingly hopeless situation manages to save himself from drowning. In the midst of a huge whirlpool that threatens to drag him down, he has an idea that causes him to suspect he is delirious: “I even sought amusement in speculating upon the relative velocities of their several descents toward the foam below.” By behaving like the objects that are floating upward, the sailor stays alive. By analogy, in The Mechanical Bride, McLuhan attempts to “set the reader at the center of the revolving picture created by these affairs where he may observe the action that is in progress and in which everybody is involved”.[v]

            McLuhan’s reading of Poe’s story anticipates artistic strategies that were to develop over subsequent decades, exposing the viewer to a three-dimensional scenario that appears initially as chaotic superabundance and only becomes clearer on closer observation of details. The works in question, although very different in character, all fall within the category of “installation” in the broadest sense. Since it is more difficult here than in other fields of art today to arrive at meaningful categorizations, typologies, and genre definitions, it seems appropriate to programmatically refrain from doing so, as Juliane Rebentisch does in her study that approaches the theme of the installation from the point of view of philosophical aesthetics.[vi] This notwithstanding, I would like to outline some basic tendencies in order to give a more precise idea of the specific qualities of Jon Kessler’s installation art.

The tendency toward the chaotically overfilled installation, an insatiable accumulation of materials, may appear hypertrophic and megalomaniac. Listing them more or less chronologically from the 1960s until the present, I am thinking here of artists like Edward Kienholz, Paul Thek, Anna Oppermann, Paul McCarthy, Mike Kelley, Jason Rhoades, John Bock, and Jonathan Meese.

If I do not include Jon Kessler and “The Palace at 4 A.M.”[vii] in this “category,” then it is because in spite of their size and fullness, there is a different tendency or tradition at play in his works, one of scenarios that are sparser and more clearly structured. A typical feature of such installations is an often-disconcerting use of security cameras, which we also find in Kessler’s work—about which more later.

            Installations occupy space, giving them a theatrical or stagelike quality, even if no dramatic action in the form of a performance or happening takes place. As such, an installation is also a kind of picture rendered in three dimensions that depends on the actions of its’ viewers to set it in motion. This is true of “The Palace at 4 A.M.” in a particularly subtle sense, thanks to the presence of a “second level” where that which appears to move (i.e., that which we see on the innumerable screens) is also frozen at a standstill. The influx of images is strictly limited in two ways. First, no prerecorded images are shown (with the exception of a computer-simulated satellite picture and map of Iraq, a sequence that ends in a satellite image of Hamburg-Harburg, suggesting a bomber pilot’s view of the exhibition venue. A corresponding video also featured when the installation was first shown, at P.S. 1 in New York). And second, the screens only show what is to be found within the installation (including individual views out of the windows). In spite of its technical sophistication, the installation is in fact an apparatus that does not really “work.”

This can be compared with the installations of the Belgian artist Guillaume Bijl, who in 1979 began to reconstruct consumer venues and other locations of life within society—but purely as exhibits. In Bijl’s driving school, you cannot take a driving test; you cannot shop at his supermarket, you cannot bid for anything at his auction house, and no quiz show is being filmed at his television studio.[viii]

For all its supposed realism, Bijl’s TV Quiz Decor, 1993, is a dummy, pure facade. Looking behind the scenes of the brightly glittering scenario, one does not find any kind of studio capable of performing any kind of broadcast. Although in Kessler’s work the technical installation works, it only registers what is inside the installation. Whereas in Bijl’s installations there is no behind-the-scenes, Kessler realizes the “backstage” but leaves nothing out front that could be meaningfully processed.

While Bijl presents the settings of consumer society as nonfunctioning still lifes, Kessler does a similar thing with reporting on war and terrorism in the media. He leads the viewer into a gigantic homemade playground of war with soldier figures; punched and bent sheet metal; large-format photographs mounted on plywood; postcards of the World Trade Center rotating like a paternoster lift; apparatuses performing various circular, rotary, or jerky movements to which pictures, various objects, or cameras are fastened; endless cable connections, often hung right across the space; and innumerable screens, suspended, standing on podiums, or assembled into walls.

            Kessler displays the entire technical apparatus to us, frustrating any kind of voyeurism by showing that, for the voyeuristic gaze at least, there is nothing to see. We are allowed to walk in and through anywhere, to crawl through narrow openings, even through the cutout crotch of a massively enlarged porn photo, but we will never get through to what lies behind, to the inside of the labyrinth, because there is no inside. We already are “inside.” The cables and devices are like the exposed bundles of nerve fibers of the worldwide electronic brain that McLuhan has long since declared us to be parts of.

The unsettling and reversing of relations between interior and exterior is also characteristic of installations created around 1970 by artists whose work addressed the relationship between architecture and surveillance, especially Bruce Nauman and Dan Graham. One is filmed, sees oneself from behind or with a time lapse somewhere else in the exhibition. Nauman is interested in the medium of video “as an electronic mirror and surveillance device.”[ix]

Environments whose construction appears simple develop complex relationships between seeing/not seen and observed/hidden. In his current works, Graham still uses the two-way mirrors that first featured in his installation Two Viewing Rooms in 1975. The mirror separates two adjacent box rooms: One room is dark, the other light. In the light room, as the visitors come in they see their own image in real time on a screen positioned in front of the mirror. In the dark room, other visitors can observe those in the light room, who do not notice they are being watched until they realize that the camera filming them must be behind the mirror.

Graham has also written theoretical texts dealing with the social and political function of surveillance systems.[x] A number of artists have developed the Nauman-Graham paradigm in various directions. Peter Weibel’s Beobachtung der Beobachtung: Unsicherheit (Observation of Observation: Insecurity), 1973, was an early European take on Nauman’s closed-circuit-monitor setups. Since the 1980s, Julia Scher’s work has dealt consistently and in immediately recognizable form with the issue of surveillance. Other artists and filmmakers analyze less the technical equipment than the automatically recorded image material. Michael Klier’s film Der Riese (The Giant), 1984, consists almost entirely of footage recorded by surveillance equipment in major German cities. For Suicide Box, 1996, the Bureau of Inverse Technology edited together images from a camera that was aimed toward the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco for one hundred days, also recording the suicides regularly committed here.[xi]

            Crucial inspiration on the theme of surveillance, on links between power relations and lines of sight, came from theoretical writings of Michel Foucault. In Discipline and Punish (1975), Foucault analyzed Jeremy Bentham’s panoptical prison concept from the early nineteenth century. From the center of the circular structure, the guards were able to monitor the prisoners in the surrounding cells, while themselves remaining unseen by the inmates. In 1979, Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas’s entry for a competition to redesign Arnheim jail proposed a reversal of the one-way lines of sight, with the guards sitting in glass-walled rooms. It goes without saying that Koolhaas’s project was not realized. Although it was conceived of as “real” architecture, in social terms it was so utopian that it took on a status between architecture and art, coming close to some of Graham’s ideas.[xii]

            “Many of the surveillance systems we have today are based on Bentham’s principle—especially where the devices are left switched off or are just dummies anyway, containing no film or video tape or transmission cables, but still fulfill their function, then they recall Bentham’s Panopticon,”[xiii] writes Thomas Y. Levin, curator of the “Ctrl [Space]” exhibition at ZKM Karlsruhe (2002). The only direct comparison, however, is the uncertainty over whether one is actually being watched. Streets, shops, garages, banks, stations, and airports—the indoor and outdoor urban spaces watched over by security cameras—are not prisonlike “sites of confinement.” In Foucault’s analysis, these sites of confinement are characteristic of the disciplinary societies that existed from the early nineteenth century until World War II. They were marked by established institutions—the prison, the hospital, the factory, the school, the family—which regulated both normal social life and temporary or permanent exclusion from it, for example by means of prison sentences. But even the lives of individuals who were not incarcerated passed through a series of sites of confinement: school, university, long-term job, etc.

         Although these sites of confinement have not disappeared, the disciplinary societies have increasingly transformed themselves into “control societies”—a process described by Gilles Deleuze in his development of Foucault’s theory of power.

         In the control society, the role of architecture in constituting sites of confinement breaks down. Instead of disciplining people by subjecting them to rules in spatially confined settings, controls take place everywhere and all the time. Surveillance is no longer something exercised tangibly on the—confined—body. At the same time, one never knows where one really stands in life. One is expected to develop continually, keep learning, change jobs—to be “flexible,” as discussed by the American sociologist Richard Sennett in The Corrosion of Character (1998): Factories with rigid hierarchies have been replaced by “enterprises,” owners have been replaced by a succession of managers, and jobs may now be lost due to bad speculation on the part of the shareholders.

         In his “Postscript on Control Societies” (1990),[xiv] Deleuze cites the use of electronic tagging as an alternative to conventional custody as a metaphor for the control society. The offender does not have to stay in jail, but he is also not really free in his movements, since his location can always be checked. The inventor of electronically controlled house arrest, a magistrate from New Mexico, has explained that he got the idea from a 1979 Spiderman comic.[xv]

Unlike the early installations by Graham and Nauman, in which one is subjected to a kind of test setup in more or less closed spaces, in the case of Jon Kessler, the viewer is more like someone tagged with an electronic shackle. You can walk around as you please, but the control system always knows where you are. And when we notice a familiar face from our circle of friends on one of the screens, we may be just as surprised as if we had seen it on television. We just happened not to know that this friend was also visiting the exhibition at the same time as us.

Real-time transmission makes us sure the friend really is present in the space. This authenticity effect is seen by Thomas Y. Levin as the main reason for the ever-increasing interest in security cameras and real-time broadcast: “The ‘semblance of reality’ . . . which in the past was guaranteed by the indexicality of photography is now achieved by the rhetorical power of so-called ‘real time.’”[xvi]

            Jon Kessler takes this semblance of reality and renders it absurd. What we see on the screens are newspaper photos, collages, toy soldiers, punched and shaped pieces of sheet metal, “Fuck You” written in black paint, lines drawn on a rotating drum (quoting Duchamp’s chocolate grinder), puppets hanging on the wall, light refracted through colored transparencies—pictures and three-dimensional arrangements possessing no value in terms of a reality effect. Kessler thus takes literally postmodern image theory, which, according to Peter Weibel, “does not begin with an observation of the world, but, rather, with an observation of the image.”[xvii]

The insight that art, too, is a contemplation of images and not of the world also has a pleasant influence on the way Jon Kessler deals with September 11 and ensuing changes in the political climate. He steers well away from the idea that an artwork could compete with acts of terrorism and their real effects—the idea behind the unfortunate comments by Karlheinz Stockhausen, who, in a press conference a few days after the attacks, called them the greatest artwork ever.[xviii]

But maybe his argumentation was simply out-of-date, repeating thoughts aired more than two centuries ago by Edmund Burke, who, in his Philosophical Enquiry (1757), wrote: “Chuse a day on which to represent the most sublime and affecting tragedy we have; appoint the most favourite actors; spare no cost upon the scenes and decorations, unite the greatest efforts of poetry, painting, and music; and when you have collected your audience, just at the moment when their minds are erect with expectation, let it be reported that a state criminal of high rank is on the point of being executed in the adjoining square; in a moment the emptiness of the theatre would demonstrate the comparative weakness of the imitative arts, and proclaim the triumph of the real sympathy.”[xix]

The idea that art should be seen not as something that competes with reality but as its reflection is already present in Kant’s thinking on the sublime. By relating the property of sublimity not to physical objects but to the subject’s cognitive faculty, Kant presents a way out of the dead end into which Burke’s argumentation automatically leads. But even today, Stockhausen is not alone in attesting to the relative weakness of artistic fictions. One year later, Damien Hirst looked back with admiration at the real power of the terrorist act: “The artist Damien Hirst said last night [in an interview with BBC Online News] he believed the terrorists responsible for the September 11 attacks ‘need congratulating’ because they achieved ‘something which nobody would ever have thought possible’ on an artistic level. Hirst, who is no stranger to controversy, said many people would ‘shy away’ from looking at the event as art but he believed the World Trade Center attack was ‘kind of like an artwork in its own right.’”[xx]

            The question of whether or not acts of terrorism and wars are artworks is not even raised by Kessler, as his installation competes neither with actual reality nor with the global power of visual media. As they rattle, gyrate, wobble, or clatter like artillery fire, his apparatuses can hardly constitute an attempt to compete with the technological and strategic might of those responsible for the global distribution of images of 9/11 or the Iraq war. While the freewheeling motion of Jean Tinguely’s motorized iron sculptures playfully ridicules the functionalism of the machine age as it comes to a close, Kessler’s ramshackle theatrical arrangement can be seen as a grotesque caricature that parodies the global diffusion of stereotypical media images in the form of a gigantic kinetic sculpture.

         Kessler’s sculptures and objects from the 1980s and early 1990s continued in the tradition of kinetic machines. It is only in recent years that Kessler has also begun to focus on video technology, which he uses mainly, as in “The Palace at 4 A.M.,” in the form of small surveillance cameras integrated into his objects and installations. An intelligent game of make-believe is also played out here. Kessler proceeds as if the development of image-producing media to the present day had taken place as it has done—except that there is still no possibility of recording and storing pictures. This leaves us with one foot in the eighteenth century, when Lessing discussed the problem of motion using the example of a marble sculpture.

But even at that time, there were numerous mechanical apparatuses and toys that generated or simulated motion and also made use of the afterimage effect later exploited by film. The richness of this pre-cinematographic world with its links to the cabinet of curiosities is evident in the well-documented collection of the German filmmaker Werner Nekes, which includes anamorphic pictures, distorting mirrors, peep shows, shadow theaters, and optical conundrums.[xxi]

Many of the apparatuses in “The Palace at 4 A.M.” recall the simple construction and the often-sophisticated play with surfaces featured in these pioneering developments, which, although still unable to record them, made images move. In this light, one might also say that Kessler’s installation equips the world of mechanical picture machines and pre-digital kinetic sculptures with modern security cameras. But it would not be possible to entirely forego chemical and digital recording. Otherwise, the reproductions hung on the walls, mounted on stands, or revolving mechanically in circles could not exist.

Moving to another, slightly different level of description, one might ask whether Kessler is not also acting as if the camera obscura model of perception were still current and had not been, as Jonathan Crary demonstrates in Techniques of the Observer, replaced during the last century by a neuronal model. The fact that science no longer described seeing as light falling into the eye, but as the stimulation of nerve cells, led in the long term to the development of “techniques that are relocating vision to a plane severed from a human observer. . . . Most of the historically important functions of the human eye are being supplanted by practices in which visual images no longer have any reference to the position of an observer in a 'real,' optically perceived world.” This “relentless abstraction of the visual”[xxii] is described by Paul Virilio, whom Kessler cites explicitly, as a “vision without a gaze.”[xxiii] Kessler denies this separation: Every picture that appears on one of the screens reveals itself to our gaze, which identifies it and thus locates it within the space. As in the case of a sculpture, the viewer perceives the full complexity of the installation by moving around it, seeing it increasingly clearly, making a mental image of its overall form.

The reception of the installation, then, is also an imaginary drawing in space, and in this sense, Kessler seems to have borrowed more than just the title of Alberto Giacometti’s table sculpture The Palace at 4 A.M., 1932. Giacometti’s palace is a structure consisting mainly of thin struts that looks like a drawing materialized in three dimensions.

In spite of the muddle, the spatial relations in Kessler’s work always add up. The arrangement of the various individual elements is dictated by his sculptural approach, which constitutes a fundamental difference between his approach and that taken by many other artists who see their installations and performances not in terms of sculpture, but as a kind of three-dimensional painting. Kessler’s work also lacks any performative element, except, of course, that visitors might deliberately act out performances that could be watched somewhere on the screens by other visitors. Ultimately, each individual who walks through the installation sees something different, making Kessler’s stage like arrangement similar to the recent work of Christoph Schlingensief, the German director and actionist who directed “Parsifal” in Bayreuth for the past two years. Lately he has produced immersive installations such as “Church of Fear” at the Venice Biennal and his “Animatographs”, such as “Kaprow City” at Berlin’s Volksbühne Theatre. The concept of the “Animatograph” is a revolving stage consisting of two counter-rotating discs on which are positioned many separate rooms of different sizes where parallel plot strands are acted out by the cast of a film that is produced and edited live. In “Kaprow City”, one section of the audience is seated on the stage, another off the stage behind the curtain. Most sit in the auditorium and are separated from the action onstage almost the entire time by a projection screen. But they see direct transmissions of individual scenes in poor quality, as if recorded by a webcam.

Instead of bringing the different viewing levels together, the confused spectacle surrounding Jenny Elvers-Elvertshagen’s performance as Lady Di, a homage to the inventor of the happening, Allan Kaprow, tends instead toward entropic decay, also—at least in the performance I saw—in terms of the way the live action increasingly stagnates and breaks down into discrete moments. And the use of the camera corresponds to the pornographic character of video surveillance predicted by Warhol, who said people would use video cameras mainly to make porn films and spy on their neighbors.

Kessler, too, has the aggressively pornographic aspect of universal media visibility in his sights, but the way he highlights things has more in common with the nonchalant way staff at Cambridge University realized the first online broadcast via webcam in 1993. It showed the coffee machine in the computer lab, and it was “on air” until 2001. Did anyone keep watching the whole time?

Anyone who keeps watching with Kessler will keep discovering new things, only to realize in the end that everything stays the way it is. “The Palace at 4 A.M.” is one of the subtlest media and video sculptures made to date. Like Nam June Paik’s video sculptures, one could see it as an allegory of our media age. But Kessler avoids direct objective and symbolic associations like the robot like figures, crosses, stars, and gates formed by Paik out of dozens of monitors. Kessler neither relies on the easily identified pictoriality of such a “narrative-objective overall structure”[xxiv] nor uses the physical heaviness of sculptural materials to symbolically crush the fragility of technical devices, as Wolf Vostell did, for example, with his televisions and cars set in concrete. Rather than immuring us in a Depression Endogène (as Vostell titled one of his television sculptures in 1984),[xxv] Kessler leads us into a seemingly open system where, like Edgar Allan Poe’s sailor, we must first locate ourselves; and images are the orientation.


[i] Marshall McLuhan, The Mechanical Bride: Folklore of Industrial Man, Gingko Press 2002 (1951).


[ii] Quoted in: Thomas Y. Levin, “Rhetoric of the Temporal Index: Surveillant Narration and the Cinema of ‘Real Time,’” in: Ctrl [Space]: Rhetorics of Surveillance from Bentham to Big Brother, catalogue, ZKM Karlsruhe, Karlsruhe/Cambridge, Mass. 2002, pp. 578–593, here p. 579.


[iii] Peter Weibel, “Pleasure and the Panoptic Principle,” in: Ctrl [Space], op. cit., pp. 207–223, here p. 208.


[iv] Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man, paperback, London 1967, p. 51 ff.


[v] McLuhan, The Mechanical Bride, op. cit.


[vi] Juliane Rebentisch, Ästhetik der Installation, Frankfurt 2003.


[vii] “The Palace at 4 A.M.” is based in part on the installation “Global Village Idiot” (2004, Deitch Projects, New York). The title, a reference to McLuhan’s concept of the global village, is also the title of a collection of Guardian columns by the English best-selling author John O’Farrell, with critical and satirical political commentaries, including some on the Iraq war.


[viii] The most extensive analyses of Bijl’s oeuvre are: Frank van de Veire, “The Funerary Scene of the Object: On the Installations by Guillaume Bijl,” in: Guillaume Bijl, exhibition catalogue, Museum van Hedendaagse Kunst, Antwerp, Kunstverein Hannover, Freiburger Kunstverein, et al. 1996, pp. 17–39, and the chapter on Bijl in: Stefan Römer, Künstlerische Strategien des Fake: Kritik von Original und Fälschung, Cologne 2001, pp. 215–239. However, by concentrating on the Conceptual side of the work and on Bijl’s reception by art critics, Römer doesn’t devote sufficient time to strategic illusionism, which also manifests itself in the way Bijl understands the real objects he uses as sculptures.


[ix] Barbara Engelbach in: Bruce Nauman: Versuchsanordnungen. Werke 1965–1994, catalogue, Hamburger Kunsthalle 1998, p. 37.


[x] See “Video in Relation to Architecture” and Graham’s texts on individual surveillance installations in: Dan Graham, Two-Way Mirror Power: Selected Writings by Dan Graham on His Art, Cambridge, Mass./London 1999.


[xi] The best overview of artistic approaches to the issue of surveillance is: Ctrl [Space]: Rhetorics of Surveillance from Bentham to Big Brother, catalogue, ZKM Karlsruhe, Karlsruhe/Cambridge, Mass. 2002.


[xii] Rainer Metzger discusses Koolhaas’s project in relation to Dan Graham in his book: Kunst in der Postmoderne—Dan Graham, Cologne 1996, p. 149.


[xiii] Thomas Y. Levin, “Die Rhetorik der Überwachung: Angst vor Beobachtung in den zeitgenössischen Medien,” in: 7 Hügel. Bilder und Zeichen des 21. Jahrhunderts, catalogue, Berliner Festspiele, Berlin 2000, volume 6: Zivilisation, pp. 49–61, here p. 61.


[xiv] Gilles Deleuze, “Postscript on Control Societies,” in: Negotiations 1972–1990, Columbia University Press 1995, pp. 177–182.


[xv] Cf. Levin, Rhetorics . . . op. cit., p. 58.


[xvi] Levin, Die Rhetorik . . . op cit., p. 56.


[xvii] Weibel, op. cit., p. 210.


[xviii] When asked whether there was not a difference between art and crime, he did admit that he considered the terrorists criminals, “because people did not consent. They didn’t choose to attend the concert,” but at the time, most people saw his position as nothing but inappropriate cynicism. Transcript of the press conference of September 16, 2001: MusikTexte 91, November 1991, pp. 69–77 (online:


[xix] Edmund Burke, Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful, Oxford University Press World Classics 1998, p. 43.


[xx] The Guardian, September 11, 2002 (online:,12361,790059,00.html).


[xxi] Ich sehe was, was du nicht siehst! Sehmaschinen und Bilderwelten: Die Sammlung Werner Nekes, catalogue, Museum Ludwig, Cologne, Göttingen 2002.


[xxii] Jonathan Crary, Techniques of the Observer: On Vision and Modernity in the Nineteenth Century, Cambridge/London 1992, pp. 1–2.


[xxiii] For example in: The Vision Machine, London 1994.


[xxiv] Konstanze Thümmel in a catalogue piece on Paik’s Passage, 1986, in: Kunst der Gegenwart, inaugural catalogue, Museum für Neue Kunst/ZKM Karlsruhe, Munich/New York 1997, p. 202.


[xxv] Heinrich Klotz wrote that “Vostell’s Depression Endogène is an illness which offers pictures but which nearly chokes them in concrete or, worse still, pleasantly trivializes them” (ibid., p. 276).



Translated by Nicholas Grindell