inter medial mixed reality performance

by Luc Gross,
verlag trauma , 2010

The umbilical cord is the core image and medium in Process Data Exchange. It is acquired from Bedouin women in exchange for tents, golden rings, but also for money and this way becomes an object of trade and represents data exchange – it is symbol, tool and finally a material for the production of art. The strand of data in its original form becomes an equivalent for our digital intoxication with data. Stem cells of goats from the desert are trans medially driven to binary pastures by Barbara Husar. Terms such as second life, Farmville, herd phenomenon, organism, net structure and dynamics fertilise themselves and emerge from basic spheres of two entirely different worlds – Husar advances into both of them by means of the umbilical cord. On the one hand there is the archaic culture of the desert dwellers for whom survival depends on minimal improvisation, on the other hand there is the high tech society of the western world. The culture of the Bedouins is channelled into the art system and - vice versa - the art system into the Bedouin culture.

The shepherds of the Sinai desert were very sceptical when Husar first asked for umbilical cords in 2007. The Bedouins assume that the seat of the soul is in this mysterious cord (habl surri which is Arabic, meaning umbilical cord). The artist was asked to acquire a flock and to communicate any further matters directly with Allah. The subsidies for new media supplied by NetzNetz and the City of Vienna were subsequently invested into a flock of goats and their upkeep. In the meantime other Bedouin women became interested in networking and they enabled Husar to take 79 umbilical cords back home as early as 2010; as a shepherd of her hard drive, which stores the data exchange with the guardians of ancient nomad traditions she uses them as a medium of transport.

In the process of producing DataExchange, terms taken from the digital field like interface, information design, hardware or software are used naively and philosophically; Husar weaves them into trans medial organisms. All the digitally developed creatures are used for a wide range of media like experimental documentaries, performance, animation, installation, painting, photography, drawing, etc and culminate in the virtual space of the internet.

Buckles of shoes become interfaces, baskets used for deep frying become wires for passing on information and umbilical cords become cables made of fibreglass. Thus not only conclusions are continuously drawn about current mechanisms of communication but also the nervous system in its function for cell-communication and the potential of stem cells are discussed.

The result is an inter medial Mixed Reality Performance, which explains the interchange of the real and the virtual in a private language which at the same time is an art language, even a language used for programming. The alphabet of this programming language is introduced with classic, permanently changing elements and is documented with a collection of – at present 642 – stamps. This collection is constantly growing and the stamps help in the production of constantly changing, analogous permanent screenshots of a purposefully created universe: the ongoing Process Data Exchange whose sole purpose is to produce a hammock made from umbilical cords.

Data Exchange needs to be apprehended as a holistic sculpture transcending cultures. In this process the auratic piece of art incorporates an abundance of elements alien to the system and it can be comprehended as an organism with its own dynamics.

The most minimal form of the Organism Data Exchange becomes manifest in a goat pill, which – among other ingredients – consists of pulverized umbilical cords. This allows an approach to the neuronal nature of the desert goat, which grazes far away from data battles. The pill can balance possible incessant floods of stimuli. It is an essential communicative element in any exhibition of Husar.