“23 WORKS” is a video series documenting the history of the art/tech group monochrom. monochrom has chosen 23 projects, anecdotes and stories out of their 20 years of material and recreated them as dioramas and machines.
Episode #6 tells a story from 2001 — about the early days of Soviet Unterzoegersdorf.
“Wir sind Nerds, die in der Kunst gelandet sind”, sagen Johannes Grenzfurthner und Günter Friesinger von monochrom. Das neunköpfige Kunst-, Theorie- und Bastelkollektiv feiert noch bis Ende April im Wiener Musa seinen 20. Geburtstag. In der “Die waren früher auch mal besser” betitelten Ausstellung blickt monochrom auf ein bewegtes Schaffen zurück, das von Cyberpunk-Fanzines über Videos, Theaterstücke, Musicals, Perfomances und Konferenzen reicht. Die futurezone hat mit Grenzfurthner und Friesinger über Nerdtum, Hedonismus, Technologie und Crowdfunding gesprochen.
We currently celebrate 20 years of monochroms with an exhibition at MUSA in Vienna. As part of the show we also present an anecdote about Soviet Unterzoegersdorf, dating back to 2001. We chose the format of two jumping jacks connected to an audio player. The piece tells the story of an Austrian police officer who tried to question Commissar Chrusov (played by Johannes Grenzfurthner) — and fails.
Another day at the United Nations Offices in Vienna. The Austrian Foreign Affairs Ministry invited members of the European Protocol Service, the UN Strategic Command Center for Central Europe, the United States Air Forces and a regional politician from Lower Austria to talk about the future of Soviet Unter-WHAT?!
Yesterday we finalized the glorious bureaucratic creation of a US-based company for monochrom.
US collaborators, actors and film festivals are easier to deal with if you can show that you are ‘one of them.’ Let’s call it financial mimicry, comrades.
Applause for monochrom Propulsion Systems, LLC
Based in Washington, DC
(Left: our financial consultant Nick Farr and monochrom’s producer Guenther Friesinger)
Illustrator and designer Josh Ellingson on his role in the production of Sierra Zulu.
(Interview/editing by Eddie Codel.)
Josh Ellingson lives and works as an illustrator in San Francisco, California. In 1999, Ellingson graduated art school and headed west. Since then, Josh has contributed artwork to popular publications and websites worldwide and worked with clients ranging from toy makers to tequila companies.
Partial client list: Wired Magazine, Popular Science, PC Magazine, Hasbro, Adobe Systems, Robogames.
Exhibitions (Solo shows):
2010 All The Best, Mission: Comics & Art, San Francisco, CA;
2009 Bots, Bugs, and Beasts, The Art of Joshua Ellingson, The Museum of Robots, Second Life;
2009 South Carolina State University, Fine Arts Building, SC;
2006 Super7 Gallery, San Francisco, CA; 2003 KidRobot, San Francisco, CA
My name (and it is indeed a very Austrian one) is Johannes Grenzfurthner. I’m part of art-tech-philosophy group monochrom and I’m the director and co-screenwriter of “Sierra Zulu.” We are developing this feature-length film together with multi-award winning production company Golden Girls Filmproduktion — and I can’t tell you how excited we are about this project.
I was always interested in strange and obscure concepts, even as a kid. I loved science fact (Carl Sagan is still my only media idol) and science fiction, especially John Brunner and William Gibson. And I was always interested in the political dimension of near-future sci-fi. It’s hard to imagine, but I became a punk and antifascist because I devoured cyberpunk novels and watched shows like Max Headroom.
monochrom was officially founded in the early 1990s. The project started as a print fanzine about cyber-topics, politics, bizarre art and covert culture. There was some stuff going on in the US of A — like Mondo2000 — but it was all too hippieish, too liberalish, indulging in what Richard Barbrook and Andy Cameron later called the “Californian Ideology.” monochrom wanted to share and propagate a reflective leftist European perspective in relationship to socio-technological change. We published a couple of issues, low circulation, and — as the name suggests — we were barely able to finance the black and white xeroxes. But we kept working, created our first internet site in early 1994, and shortly afterwards we decided that we didn’t want to constrain ourselves to just one media format. We knew that we wanted to create statements, create viral information, spread thoughts, and do it in an entertaining way — in the form of sugar-coated info-bullets. Some messages definitely work better as a computer game or art installation or puppet theatre or robot or performance, some should better be presented as ASCII files… and some are the right stuff for a feature film. And that’s where we are right now.
Creating a film is an exciting, yet dangerous task. But we decided to take the risk. The story we want to tell is our approach to the political struggles of postwar, post-industrial Europe. We’re looking at the cracks in the foundation of knowledge society and transnational cognitive capitalism in a playful, grotesque and amusing way.