[ISEA95] Keynote: Geert Lovink – Organized innocence and war in the new Europe


Nietzsche would be laughing about Europe. He wouldn’ t be complaining about the impending loss of national identity or the power of the Brussels bureaucracy. He would look down disdainfully at the bumbling, pompous Euro-citizens who, confused and without Witz or Idea, are trying to sidestep their own history. Europeans have the greatest difficulty putting into words the current dialectic of construction and demolition which manifests itself around them. The last intellectuals are still doing their best to characterize the post- 1989 juncture, but they are not succeeding. The amalgam of the war in former Yugoslavia, the strange new media, capitalism without an enemy, the Tigers in Asia, grassroots neo-liberalism, the Shell’s oil platform The Brent Spar and French nuclear tests, foreigners and refugees, the devastation of Chechnya – it’s all impossible to grasp anymore. One group believes it’s arrived in the 21st century, as others are catapulted back a couple of centuries. What one sees as progress spells sheer destruction for another. We observe developments with worry, but can no longer associate them with conclusions. But that’s no longer necessary, for what occupies Europeans.most of all is the development of one’s own lifestyle. And no one is laughing at the little worries of the middle classes.


In my talk at ISEA94 I introduced the work of “Adilkno”, the Dutch group I belong to. Adilkno, the Foundation for the Advancement of Illegal Knowledge, is an association of non-academic
theorists who bumped into each other in the early eighties, in what were then the autonomist movements. In 1994 a first English translation appeared: Cracking the Movement  (Autonomedia, New York 1994) -a book about the Amsterdam squatters’ movement and their dealings with the media. Although Adilkno has been writing about the media since 1984, this theme has become increasingly important since 1989. The result is the book whose working title is The Media Archive. After five years of devoting ourselves with great pleasure and abandon to speculative media theory and potential media figures such as the data dandy, lately we act as if the media have lost their dynamism. To begin with, the introductory phase, “the short summer of the media”, now lies behind us. The commercialization of the new media brings with it a relapse into old, familiar patterns. The rapid expansion of the info-universe leads to an implosion of the power of imagination. The media are once again “the others.”

  • Geert Lovink is a Dutch critic and philosopher of new media. He is a member of ADILKNO, the Foundation for the Advancement of Illegal Knowledge (founded in 1983), and is involved in the “Digital City” project in Amsterdam, a pioneering model for large-scale social “cyber­worlds”. In recent years, he has worked extensively in Eastern Europe as an advisor for media art and independent media.

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