Forum "Ästhetik digitaler Literatur", 20./21. Oktober 2000, Kassel
In my opinion the product-cycle, the hype, of E-Commerce as cause or material of a net-art-project has come to an end; as a theme for a new product it has worn itself out and cannot be reflected on any more. This was different one year ago when the New Economy was still booming, when enormous toy-wars had razed enormous dot-com companies. So let me take you back to the golden age of autumn 1999, when "Fabrikverkauf" was born and when "startup" was still a magic word, when e-commerce was the wand.
Fabrikverkauf [www.fabrik-ver-kauf.de] takes the affirmation of community and e-commerce as an opportunity for the user to create the art-performance of the [walking exhibition]. To do this the customer has to order a t-shirt (on which I printed self-designed artmotives) via www in the e-shop of "Fabrikverkauf". On delivery the customer at the same time gets a password that takes they on the site of "Fabrikverkauf" and there he/she can publish when and where he/she will wear this specific t-shirt, i.e. where the body-worn art, the exhibition he/she gives , the date of the walking exhibition can be looked at. So far the walking exhibition has 120 exhibition dates worldwide.
The Family bonds
Who co-signs as responsible for this project, what family bonds back it historically? The Godfather is of course Andy Warhol. The sale of popular finished products produced in series will forever be linked to his name. Let me quote Beat Wyss from his aptly-named book "Die Welt als T-Shirt". "Everyday the epiphany of Andy Warhol´s spirit can be observed in all super-markets (please mentally add e-shops, J.A.) of the world: The mystic unity of article (product), advertisment and artform in reality! The prophecy of avantgarde is fulfilled: Art has become a living thing and lives amongst us." (WaT, S.117). And this is why Fabrikverkauf is a genuflection, well lets say a curtsey in particular to Andy´s factory. I say curtsey because in Andy´s family history we will immediately meet his great-uncle who - as I quoted before - Beat Wyss calls the "prophecy of the avantgarde"
Thanks, uncle, for the ready-made! Even if it has lost its aura. Great-godfather Benjamin was right: if technically reproduced the artwork loses its aura – T-shirts included. And that is bad for business. Who would want to bring home a repro-artwork without aura and – on top of it – pay for it. Sorry Walter, here we have to trick a little bit and go right to the aura of the T-shirt wearer. And it´s your fault, Walter: Did you not say and I quote literally: "every person today has a right to be filmed." (1,2, S. 493), in other words every person has the right to be a star for 15 minutes as Andy more concisely formulated it? So: By wearing the T-shirt the aura of the artwork is reanimated, hanging so to speak like a parasite on the infusion of the wearer's temporary star-individuality in which he/she of course strongly believes. The trick is: The T-shirt-wearer makes the [artwork] when he/she wears the T-shirt in the walking exhibition. And this worn T-shirt which lies directly on the skin, caresses and massages it with every movement, just as step-uncle Marshall McLuhan said: "The medium is the massage". We know of this genealogical relationship thanks to a reference from Reinhard Döhl. A last word to the family: As we are passing by, a quick visit to our favorite uncle Beuys. He makes it easy for us, the anglisized form of his name (buys') binds him closely to our project anyway. Apart from this he gave us the social sculpture. And so with the [walking exhibition] we want to say "thank you" very politely.
Although the story is almost completely clear and has explained everything, it has also cast us a solid foundation on which we now venture the direct contact with "Fabrikverkauf".
"Fabrikverkauf" is a hybrid project: It takes place as E-shop
and Community-platform in the www and has a strong real-life component
in the [walking exhibition]. The [walking exhibition] is so to speak the
traditional exhibition place of the project. And exhibitions are usually
advertised with invitation cards and opened with speeches. Therefore we have designed,
printed and sent invitation cards for "Fabrikverkauf".
In keeping with the E-commerce-plan it has the form of a dollar note and of course was adapted for the project.
Since then the sale is on and the [walking exhibition] shows its
exponants continously. To finish off: As I mentioned at the beginning:
In my opinion E-commerce as net.art-material has had its day.
On the other hand "Fabrikverkauf" as an E-commerce
project is successful and is unexpectedly making profit. Will net.art
now become appealing demonstration material for the success in E-commerce?