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<nettime> WARDENCLYFFE SITUATION & Notes from the Corporate Underground
Marko Peljhan on Tue, 16 Sep 1997 17:35:08 +0200 (MET DST)

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<nettime> WARDENCLYFFE SITUATION & Notes from the Corporate Underground

update - new video stream information below

The final act of the MAKROLAB project, set up by Projekt Atol for the
first time at this years documenta X exhibition in Kassel, Germany will
take place on Tuesday, September 16 at 22:00 hours CET, 16:00 EST in the
Makrolab, position:
LAT  51į 23' 10" N
LON   9į 35' 40" E
ALT          330 m 

an event hosted by Makrolab 
in cooperation with Carsten Nicolai and Noton 
- webcast will be provided by Bundmedia - 
live video stream at: 
http://www.mediaweb-tv.de/english/dx/live vdo.html
http://www.mediaweb-tv.com/english/dx/live vdo.html

For background information, Makrolab web site found at:


[this is added from another mail /p]

From: Brian Springer <brianspr {AT} buffnet.net>
Date: Mon, 15 Sep 1997 18:10:31 -0400

This text was prepresented during Marko Peljhan's lecture at Documenta X.

Notes from the Corporate Underground

This summer I was a guest researcher at Projekt Atolís Makrolab. During
the course of my residency at Markolab we studied alternative
information collection, display and distribution systems. I say
alternative because we approached the sky hovering over Lutterburg as a
living library of weather systems,  bird migration patterns, and
telecommunication infrastructure. My focus was on telecommunications and
satellite systems in particular. Armed with satellite dishes, radios,
and wires we approached the sky as one large unmarked library with
voice, video and data communication pouring from its shelves. In many
cases the texts intercepted from  the various satellites had no page
numbers, index, or titles. In case you are wondering, such wireless
library investigations or interceptions are totally legal under German
telecommunications laws as long as the communications are not shared
with a third party, such as an audience at an arts event. So Iím not
going to name the names of the authors of our "readings" but we did
stumble across some interesting texts, such as corporate officials
discussing the impending demise of the citizens of Freetown in Sierra
Leone. These authors detailed the role of the diamonds trade in the
conflict and candidly revealed the political mechanisms in the UN which
were and currently still are blocking the citizensí evacuation. They
wondered if  the mercenary assault was immediate or if they would wait
for the rainy season to wash  out the roads and help them cut off  and
starve Freetown. The authors claimed the UN official in charge  would
not order an evacuation before the rains started for purely political
reasons. Had the swallows perched on Makrolab migrated from this
conflict? Would the clouds moving overhead become a part of this
assault? As stated before, legally I cannot say. At Makrolab we were
digital witnesses cloaked in silence. 

Instead of these clouds I could talk about practical satellite
receptions techniques. Or I could talk about the difficulties of using a
global communications system as a medium for appropriation.  Or the need
for artistic strategies when dealing with an un-indexed and endless
library which you cannot get your arms around. Or the dangers and
miracles of this type of open embrace. But for me the most important
question is, can there be a way to publicly disclose the details of the
cloud over Sierra Leone? Is there a way to legally hi-jack the
information super hi-way for journalistic and artistic purposes? Does
the model of abduction of privacy by the security and corporate state
provide any clues?

It has been several weeks since I have left the Makrolab and returned to
my home in the US. Near where I live is the oldest psychic community in
the US. This community was started in the mid 1800s by a number of women
who professed the ability to speak to the spirits, to the dead. At this
time it was uncommon in the US for a woman to speak in public. In the
1800s US women were often considered to be property of their husbands,
and they did not have the right to vote. But in this community they were
encouraged to speak out because they were speaking someone elseís mind.
They were vocalizing the thoughts of  spirits, not their own thoughts.
Empowered by the ability to speak in public these early spiritualists
soon began publicly stating their own thoughts about the rules of
society. They became part of the early women rights movement which
eventually legally transformed women in the US from property into
citizens with the right to vote.

Iím not really overwhelmed with the spectacle power of  spiritualism,
but I do find it an interesting method of alternative information
collection and display. Recently I had a spiritual  reading from a
psychic at this community. The medium said she saw a spirit who was
presenting a number of pieces of pipe, some curved and bent to specific
angles. I told her I had a relative who recently had died who had made
his living as a pipe fitter. She said that this person was showing her
these pieces of pipe because it was his craft to make them all fit
together. He was telling her that the project I was working on is also
all in pieces and that I should not worry about where the pipe was
going, but that I should just keep trying to put the different pieces
together. So in that spirit of things that donít quite fit, these are
some notes from the corporate underground--one possible method for
re-defining public and private in order to explore the corporate body. 

In the US the latest incarnation of virtual reality or the virtual body
really started in the late 1800s when the corporation was given eternal
life and its body was inscribed with the rights of the individual.
Before this time corporations were heavily regulated and in some states
simply illegal.  Many states controlled corporations so that they could
only live for a specific period of time, say 10 to 20 years, in order to
fulfill a project such as building a road, bridge or building. When the
project was complete the corporation in many cases had to die. It had to
dissolve and its assets were liquidated and distributed to its share
holders. Majority and minority shareholders had equal voting rights. .
One corporation could not buy another one. Corporate mergers where
illegal. Their profits were limited and capped. Corporate owners were
more often held liable for harm and debt than a non-corporate entity.
Profit was not seen as the corporationís private property, but instead
was still part of a public system of power. 

Following the Civil War the cyber-infant was born when the US Supreme
Court ruled that a private corporation was in fact a "natural person"
under the US Constitution. The Constitutional amendments which were
ratified some 20 years earlier to protect the rights of freed slaves
were now applied to the corporate body, which could now not be killed
since it had a right to the life and liberty. Like the former slaves the
corporations were also given the right to own property. Now their profit
was their private property. Corporations transformed into a body able to
participate in elections and the process of self-governance before the
former slaves and indigenous peoples, before the female spiritualists at
the psychic community, and before most people without property.
Internationally this type of corporate `legal person' included the
`private company' of English commercial law, and the `Gesellschaft mit
beschrnkter Haftung' of German commercial law.
Endowed with the legal skeleton  of a natural person this new virtual
body began its pursuit of life, liberty and property by merging with
other bodies through corporate takeovers and other contortions of
capital with which you are probably all too familiar. One of the most
important mutations of this new body was its ability to be at two places
at once--an internal reproduction which creates a parallel body,
transnationalism, the flesh of the new telecommunications

So one question Projekt Atol has been asking itself is, is there a way
to inscribe the rights of the individual on its corporate body? Is there
a way to create a parallel version of itself as a transnational in order
to open the doors of this wireless library to the public in order to
reveal the hidden texts of the various corporate bodies surging through
the network? Wouldnít  the existence of such a living library in and of
itself, as a structural act, a corporation intervention, be as important
as any books on its shelf?

Action on the construction of this library is proceeding along a path
dealing with the corporation and individual rights. We have targeted
several host countries which have the necessary legal foundation for
supporting the weight of this project. Our target countries have a
telecommunications policy which allows individuals to listen to or tap
certain types of wireless communications networks. These interceptions
are legal  as long as the person does not share this information with
someone else, a look-but-donít-tell model.  We are currently attempting
to graft this law, the individualís right to listen, onto our new
corporation in same way the rights of a natural person can be grafted
onto the corporate body. Once this inscription has taken place the
corporation will be able to share the communications it has intercepted,
internally, within its body of employees, directors, and most
importantly its stock-holders--a sort of corporate underground.

Of course these texts, journalistic  investigations and artworks  will
not be shared with a third party, such as an audience at an art event.
That would be illegal. To enter this library you will have to rethink
notions of artist and artwork, public and private, owner and investor. 
The pubic will be invited to become a part of this new private entity by
purchasing stock. As stock-holders they will have access to the private
internal artifacts of the corporation. Currently we envision selling
about 5000 shares of stock for about 10 DM per share, limit one share
per person.  If you are interested in becoming a member of this
enterprise you should visit the Makrolab web site and send us an email.
You will be notified about our first public stock offering and the
implications of your investment.

Brian Springer - Projekt Atol - Makrolab http://makrolab.ljudmila.org/

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