The Wonderful World of Tools, Techniques and Events 1996-2006

30. August 2006 - 29. October 2006 PHOENIX Halle

Have you ever taken part in International Tree Climbing Day? Did you know that there is a genetically modified “superweed” resistant to current herbicides such as Roundup? How would you react to the statement “Remember, language is not free?” Have you ever heard of “Public Sculpture Climbing” or the “Tour de Fence”? All of these are projects that have taken form around the server in recent years.

On August 27, 2006, the Hartware MedienKunstVerein in the PHOENIX Halle Dortmund is opening a unique exhibition project called The Wonderful World of Techniques, Tools, and Events 1996 – 2006. The show will run from August 30 to October 29, 2006.

Irational is a loose grouping of six international net and media artists who came together around the server, founded by the British net artist Heath Bunting in 1996, going on to make decisive contribution to early net art from the mid-1990s onward. They include Daniel Garcia Andújar / Technologies to the People (ES), Rachel Baker (
UK), Kayle Brandon (UK), Heath Bunting (UK), Minerva Cuevas / Mejor Vida Corporation (MX) and Marcus Valentine (UK).

With dry humor and minimal aesthetics, irational commented the Internet hype of the mid-to-late 1990s, competing with the commercialization-euphoria of the new market by developing its own pseudo-ventures. Net art was immediate during this period, neither needing nor enjoying the safety of a mediating space or instance. This is why irational often hit upon humorless trademark attorneys, who wanted to keep irational from using brand names such as 7-11, American Express, Sainsburys and Tesco. These encounters, which the exhibition documents extensively, were little more than a prelude to more recent developments on the field of copyright, intellectual property, and brand protection. Heath Bunting was the first net artist to retire in 1997, putting an end to his exclusive work in the net and turning back to more intensive work in public space, which the Internet has become such an important part of today. If the activities of irational during its “net phase” were dedicated to calling virtual boundaries into question, its members now experiment with interrogating and overcoming economic, political, and social boundaries in real space, producing a great deal of comic relief, among other things.

Never before have so many complex and relevant artworks from around been shown in such a comprehensive exhibition. Its goal is to use the media of a large-scale showing, workshops, and a comprehensive documentation to make these artistic-activist pieces more accessible to a general public.

The Hartware MedienKunstVerein, which – like irational – is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year, has received significant funding through the Federal Cultural Foundation of Germany.

Inke Arns, Jacob Lillemose

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The ca. 50 works presented in the exhibition can be divided into seven thematic chapters:

Taking corporate aesthetics to another level
In the mid-1990s, the new economy bubble provided a good target for poking fun at capitalism. Therefore, many irational projects make use of corporate aesthetics in a subversive-affirmative way. In the high times of net art, i.e. around 1996-1997, commercial and artistic projects basically shared the same space – the Internet. Sharing that very same space made possible many irritating pseudo-corporate self-presentations, like CERN, the Mejor Vida Corporation, the American Express and the 7-11 mailing lists, and the like. IA

Technologies to the People
Mejor Vida Corporation
Heath Bunting, Vuk Cosic, JODI, Alexei Shulgin, Keiko Suzuki, 7-11 mailing list, 1997
Rachel Baker, TM Club Card, 1997
Rachel Baker, Heath Bunting, Cultural Terrorist Agency, 1999
Rachel Baker, Personal Data Fairy, 2000/2001
Daniel G. Andújar / Technologies to the People, Awards, ca. 1997
Minerva Cuevas / Mejor Vida Corporation, Del Montte International Media Campaign, 2002/2003

Providing gateways and protection
This topic bridges the gap between online and offline activities developed on and around the irational server/community. The projects selected for this category provide secure passages, tunnels and gateways running in parallel or subverting the political, economic or social divisions of existing territories. Irational techniques transgress these fenced-off spaces and provide secure and entertaining ways from point a to point b. Previously unconceivable spaces are being made accessible in simple and intelligent ways. Protection and surveillance systems are detourned and made to serve alternative passage ways. IA

Heath Bunting, CCTV, 1997
Rachel Baker / Heath Bunting, CCTV Sabotag, 1998
Daniel G. Andújar / Technologies to the People, Armed citizen, 1998
Kayle Brandon, Heath Bunting, D’fence cuts, 2002
Kayle Brandon, Heath Bunting, Tour de Fence, 2002
Kayle Brandon, Heath Bunting, Tour de Fence Techniques, 2003
Marcus Valentine, How to be a Community Radio Station, 2003
Heath Bunting, London Pirate Listening Station, 2004
Kayle Brandon, Heath Bunting, Sponsored Influenza Pandemic Evacuation Rehearsal (SIPER), 2005
Kayle Brandon, Heath Bunting, Public Sculpture Climbing, 2006

Attention! Creating situations
Whether in the form of material objects or conceptual information irational likes to create adventurous situations in public space that you can participate in. Through their work they invite you to join them in exploring and experimenting with the laws of nature and the politics of social structures. The character of the situations varies from the playful collective climbing of trees at the annual International Tree Climbing Day to subversive bio-activism in “Natural Reality Superweed”, “a genetically modified anti-capitalist weed” designed to resist Monsanto herbicides and thus threaten the production of genetically modified crops; the weed is open source and distributed freely from irational’s website. As works of art, irational’s situations are conceived as open-ended fields of action where you can experience freedom as well as empowerment. Thus there is a good chance that participation will heighten your awareness of the realities that you interact with in your daily life and furthermore give you an idea of the multiple possibilities the world contains if you use the right, alternative means. JL

Heath Bunting, Vunerability, 1996
Heath Bunting, Cybercafé, 1996
Rachel Baker, Lucy Eyers, Steve Rushton, Cramley Election, 1998
Rachel Baker, Heath Bunting, Natural Reality SuperWeed, 1999
Kayle Brandon, International Tree Climbing day, since 2003
Kayle Brandon, Heath Bunting, The World Downhill Skate Championships, 2005
Heath Bunting, Memorial Stone – Quest for the Forgotten Art, 3 videos/DVDs, 60 min., 60 min., 30 min., 2006
Rachel Baker, Towards Death: Aerobics with Antifamily and Cindy Crawford, 2006
Minerva Cuevas / Mejor Vida Corporation, Student ID Card, 2006

Maps for the global DIY public
From the very beginning irational have been occupied with visual and conceptual ‘maps’ that give directions to both creative and critical engagements with the world in which we live. The public poster is a popular medium for these maps that tell you “it costs more to be poor”, warn you that “equality is deceit” or states that “representation reverses reality”. You can use the maps to learn how to cross the borders within Europe bypassing the official border crossings, read through the Day Planner to learn how “minimalise time spent working or waiting and maximise engagement with pleasure, happiness and growth” or consult the online database Free Food to find free natural food all year round in the city of Bristol. The maps operate without the restrictions of traditional iconographic maps, rather than trying to picture the world as we know it they disclose hidden meanings or generate new meanings that allow us to perceive the world in challenging ways. Also the maps do not recognize rational separations between virtual, physical, symbolic and mental spaces, they operate in all these spaces simultaneously. Follow the directions and become part of the global do-it-yourself public. JL

Heath Bunting, Corporate skip raider’s manual, 1996
Kayle Brandon, Heath Bunting, BorderXing Guide, 2001
Heath Bunting, For Sale, 2003
Heath Bunting, Global Warming, 2003
Heath Bunting, Tag retrospective, 2003
Kayle Brandon, Heath Bunting, Botanists Guide, 2003
Heath Bunting, Poster retrospective, 2004
Kayle Brandon, Heath Bunting, BorderXing Slide Show, 2004
Kayle Brandon, Lunch packs, 2004
Kayle Brandon, Heath Bunting, Food for Free, 2005
Heath Bunting, Day planner, 2006

Collecting data all over the net
Data represents a significant value in the information age. No one is more aware of that than irational. To collect as much data as possible about a wide variety of contemporary subjects irational often uses the well-known format of the questionnaire. The questions can relate to facts about Internet culture, involve philosophical reflections or concern experiences with violence in urban space. Irational exploits the value of the data for their own aesthetic, not financial, purposes. The data collections vary from simple statistics to rather speculative conceptual lists; in any case they are most probably to generate a surplus in the digital network. Through the questionnaires irational not only challenges you to re-engage in the world by asking unexpected and impossible questions; irational also challenges you to ask yourself: How do I want to invest my data? Or rather: How do I want to invest myself as data? JL

Heath Bunting, The pleasur project, 1996
Daniel G. Andújar / Technologies to the People, TTTP Research Department
Daniel G. Andújar / Technologies to the People, Preliminary Basic Application
Marcus Valentine, irational disfunctionality questionnnaire, 1999
Minerva Cuevas, Violence Questionnaire

We deal in Language Property
Over the last ten years language has been turned into a deadly serious commodity. Not only have wars been waged over intellectual property and over copyright infringement cases – today letters and words themselves have become properties of legal owners. Language has become a minefield. This process has been especially visible on the Internet with the battles fought over ownership of domain names. Two works by irationalists have very early onwards predicted this development and have reflected upon this in their own ways. Heath Bunting’s piece “_readme” imagines a world in which each single domain name is sold, whereas Technology to the People’s work “Language (property)” joyfully submerges itself in trademarked sentences – which are the property of their respective owners. Thus we come to realize: “Language is not free” (TP). IA

Daniel G. Andújar / Technologies to the People, Language (property), 1997
Heath Bunting, _readme - Own, Be Owned or Remain Invisible, 1998

Smart tools for a networked society
Irational works do challenge our conceptions of tools as the means of cultural production. Their works of art often take the explicit form of cultural tools that work on both practical and conceptual levels. The tools are smart in the sense that they take advantage of the newest technology and can be used for all possible and unthinkable purposes. You can print out “Unfare” to travel around the London underground for free, use Bar Code Stickers to make shopping a cheaper but more fun and daring experience or you can explore the amazing logic of TTTP’s calculators to compute things you did not know were important. In a more abstract sense you can use the tools to figure out and play with the world. And if applied to the right context you can even make some money. The tools are made for you so they are, of course, free and open source. JL

Heath Bunting, Skint - the internet beggar, 1996
Technologies to the People, Street Access Machine, 1996
Heath Bunting, Unfare, 2000
Kayle Brandon, Heath Bunting, RED#NET, 2003
Kayle Brandon, Heath Bunting, A Guide to Net Making, 2004/2006
Daniel G. Andújar / The New Technologies to the People System, x-devian by knoppix – The evolution of the species, 2003/2004
Minerva Cuevas / Mejor Vida Corporation, Recommendation Letter, 2006
Minerva Cuevas / Mejor Vida Corporation, Various Products and Services in Dortmund, September 15-17, 2006
Kayle Brandon, Irational Transfer Stall, 2006 – irational memorabilia, as iron-on transfers for your clothes. Bring in your own clothes or buy a T-shirt from the stall!

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The Wonderful World of
Tools, Techniques and Events 1996-2006

Daniel G. Andújar (Valencia/ES), Rachel Baker (London/
Kayle Brandon (Bristol/
UK), Heath Bunting (Bristol/UK),
Minerva Cuevas (Mexico City/MX), Marcus Valentine (Bristol/

A project by Hartware MedienKunstVerein
In the framework of medien_kunst_netz dortmund
at PHOENIX Halle Dortmund/Germany
August 30 – October 29, 2006
Opening: Sunday, August 27, 2006, 16:00

curated by Inke Arns, Jacob Lillemose

irational Action Weekend
curated by Francis Hunger

Managing director
Susanne Ackers

Exhibition architecture and technical director
Uwe Gorski

Organisation, coordination
Francis Hunger, Darija Simunovic

Press Contact
Roland Kentrup, Dortmund

A catalogue will be published at the end of October 2006:
Susanne Ackers / Inke Arns / Francis Hunger / Jacob Lillemose (eds.)
The Hartware Guide to irational. Techniques, Tools and Events 1996-2006
Revolver – Archiv für aktuelle Kunst, Frankfurt am Main 2006, ISBN 3-86588-299-4

Hartware MedienKunstVerein (HMKV) at PHOENIX Halle Dortmund
Hochofenstrasse / corner Rombergstrasse

Opening hours PHOENIX Halle
during the exhibitions of HMKV:
Wed 11:00 – 17:00, Thu until Sun 11:00 – 20:00
Tuesday, October 3, 2006, open 11:00 – 20:00

4 Euro / reduced 2 Euro

Guided tours
Each Sunday at 16:00
Individual tours on request (Tel ++49 – 231 – 823 106)

How to get there by subway
U41 direction Hörde until Dortmund-Hörde Bahnhof, 10 min. ride from Dortmund main railway station, then a 10 min. walk

Dr. Inke Arns (Artistic director Hartware MedienKunstVerein)
Susanne Ackers (Managing director Hartware MedienKunstVerein)
Uwe Gorski (Technical director)
Francis Hunger (Junior Curator)
Darija Simunovic (Project coordinator and manager


Funders and Partners

The project is funded by
Kulturstiftung des Bundes
Der Ministerpräsident des Landes NRW
Kulturbüro Stadt Dortmund

You will find press material on this program item in our press area.