Twelve stories
by Werner Hammerstingl ©1997

Story 1

Unexpected discovery: During a visit of an ageing relative: "ethics" , who is whiling away it's remaining time on this planet reminiscing about the good old times, our writer accidentally discovered "Art". Art, by itself, in a clean 'white cube style' room, looked old. Appearing fatigued and frail, Art was asleep, alone in the room and hooked up to a full life-support system. After all the recent claims at sighting Art in various locations around the world, put forward by critics and academics and the odd citizens (who wouldn't recognise art if it fell on them .... ie. anyone without an arts degree), it seems peculiar that Art was discovered in such an inactive state. Obviously someone is interested in keeping Art alive, despite it's obvious frailty and the unlikeliness of Art recovering it's vigour which we all remember so fondly. Who?

Story 2

Ingres did the entire painting from sketches. Data projector lashes into action. The lecturer quietly converses with his computer: yes, the software has everything ready. All the URL's are already pre-loaded into the presentation panel. Netscape 24.1 is sooo intuitive.. Before the the words "Jean Auguste Dominique" have completely rolled of his tongue, before the badly pronounced "Ingres" has a chance to follow, the computer has already anticipated and created the necessary links. The lecturer continued to make references to various sketches and to demonstrate how these sketches convincingly make up most of the figurative content of the circular canvas. The students are mostly dozing. If they need any of the information presented here, they will get it of their laptops. Nobody has used the word plagiarism for years. Some drawings were excecuted several years before 1852 when the painting itself began. The "Turkish bath" no longer hangs in the Louvre. Why?

Story 3

Interlace the Futurist manifesto with O.S. error message listing. Pick colours that also work well in Grayscale. Will this work?

Story 4

Disembodied intellects proliferate the interface. They compete for primary positions. This means the retention of the margin. How?

Story 5

Imagine the memes of the entire aesthetic dimension of our time suffering from a variant of Huntingtons disease. Can you?

Story 6

Can "Art" take on a new name and identity, like someone in some witness protection program, start again...someplace else.. Can it?

Story 7

Digital Aesthetics. Yes, I know about that. I use a Holbein Number 5 brush, having of course rounded the pig-bristles a little more away from the flattish middle of the curving tip by lovingly re-scripting that part of the brush . The Shaft of the brush was moulded to my fingers by a Korean custom stylist. My avatar does all my work. I make tiny "likenesses" in the style of Daguerre. Precious, stilted and restrained likenesses for my publicity shy clients. They pay me well. For what?

Story 8

Something about passion: "After all this time, we still don't know where passion goes when it goes". This sentence stayed on after all the other words from the book were forgotten. I think it was Tom Robins that typed them first for "Still-life with woodpecker". I wanted to write something about passion and all I could come up with was a quotation, a drifting fragment. I am learning more from what I cannot do, from what I could never do, or from the unlearned skills that are barely a flicker of information in the now barren expanse of my memories. Who was I before?

Story 9

Something about truth. We had just walked through a romantic and awe-inspiring frozen gorge. Wet and clammy granite around us, natural drama unfolding in the form of water rushing past bends which would slow it enough to cause it to freeze. The Hoelentalklamm near Garmish-Partenkirchen is beyond Wagnerian. I was eight or ten . The whole family was on one of it's rare outings. My mother had purchased an Agfa camera recently. It was chrome and warm grey, with a grey vinyl case and strap. She lovingly allowed me to carry this, the most advanced and precious technology in our household through the gorge. Naturally I was not allowed to view the damp and dangerous beauty of the gorge through the camera or take the camera of my shoulder for that matter. It dropped. I could feel the sudden limpness of the loose strap sliding of my shoulder. The impact of the camera on granite produced a clatter which terrifyingly pre-empted my mothers hysterical reaction. Last Christmas: my son, age twelve, gave my mother a present. He plays politics better than his father so he produced a card to go with the present. I mean he made the card himself. How? He scanned one of Larsons cartoons, one he liked, into Photoshop, positioned the image, coloured some parts and printed it with one side blank to allow for folding and captioning. He wrote some standard Christmas greeting, but personalised for my mother (it included her name) into the blank half. She exclaimed superlatives about the fact that he made this card for her and that he is so clever, knowing how to use a computer and "that she could never do anything like that". These two events will always mean more to me than the sum of their parts. Why?

Story 10

Something about expectations. We mine the future for elements of truth that we are not yet able to contradict. Does certainty provide comfort?

Story 11

Forgetting Acid on a Rembrandt, a virus in the software, grass finally growing on a mass-grave. Upset ?

Story 12

Remembering The first computer I used was a Tectronics desktop. In 1978 it felt important to sit in front of this machine and make myself familiar with code named "basic" (learning quickly that "basic" and "simple" actually mean quite different things). That same year I learned a lot about Dada and Surrealism. Marcel Duchamp became my hero. I worshipped his mind, his clarity and understanding and insatiably read everything I could find on his life and work. There was a lot. I still have a bookshelf full of books on Duchamp and I still admire his mind. The Techtronics machine had cost about three times the cost of a new family car or half the value of a house. It had less intelligence than a family pet, but roughly the same capacity of built-in memory. My analogies between the Techtonics and the family pet does not stop here, the similarities continue when I remember my bloody-minded all-nighters working on a programme for "hidden line removal". It fits the same category as trying to make a cat eat something it prefers not to. Even if you succeed, you have had to endure more than the corresponding value of outcome. Duchamp understood our craving for empiricism, absolutes, truth and value. That's why he maneuvered these expectations into a check-mated position so frequently and so easily. Are we having fun yet?

Ending © Werner Hammerstingl 1997