A Red herring, I’m putting down a red herring to confound your hound dog, I throw smoke grenades at you. I lure you onto the wrong track.
B Dear A, before Google Hummingbird we had the Google Panda algorithm update in 2011 and Google Penguin in 2012. Hummingbird understands the concepts behind queries and does not search for single words only.
A Police informer, confidant, agent, secret agent. The intelligence. Recruiting. Spy. Undercover agent. Agent provocateur. Stool pigeon. Informant. Source. Human source. A jellyfish. Contact man. Intermediary. COS, Chief of Station. Human Intelligence. Cell. Ring. Spy ring.
B Agents live with backstopped identities, their fictional lives, their parallel lives are cover legends, they are often disguised as economic attachés, press attachés, cultural attachés.
A+B CHAOS MAGIC
A The cover legends artists cast over themselves… Or is it the cover the artists themselves pretend to live? The marketers, disguised as artists. The artists, who live their cover stories, are agents, investigators, eavesdroppers. In their official lives they are artists, we see them as artists.
A+B REPOST: DISPERSION
B I’m always in charge. Fluid. Reality turns into tingling illusion. Tactics, calculation, I love to drag you into it.
A+B REPOST: LIQUIDITY
A Those believing in their own cover stories have always been nothing but deluded!
B They might as well have joined the intelligence right away! How were you actually recruited?
A Hey, wait a minute, I’m not an agent! What gave you that idea?
B St. Elmo’s fire in January 1863, Ludwig Meyn:
Mr. Theodor Dyrssen, a farmer from Strübbel in the district of Norderdithmarschen, wrote that in the evening of said day he and a friend had returned from the new polder of Wesselburen in the outer marshland, both on horseback (…) The intensity of the northwester that, as he wrote, had been blowing for quite a while, grew stronger towards evening and was accompanied by rain, snow and hailstorms, even lightning, though without audible thunder. Suddenly, both horsemen saw flames coming from the ears of their horses and from their own heads, and also from the muzzle of a loaded shotgun, which one of them had hanging on his back. A certainly groundless fear of discharge, although absolutely explainable in the face of the uncanny nature of the rare phenomenon, which was increased by the fact that both could hear the crackle of the flames as from an actual burning, induced him to get rid of his gun, and the horses’ turmoil forced both to dismount until after about ten minutes, when the light phenomenon disappeared with the storm.
A Burning, burning, burning.
B Predicting the future, of states, of minds… Astroturf Astrology.
A Prognosticators, prophets, agents.
A+B REPOST: ASTROTURF
B Agens, the agent is the only one who knows the plan in all its facets. Always backstage. Stage and front. In the audience. On every side simultaneously. Switch. Swap. The trend researcher has a network of committed collaborators that is ultimately sustainable only for him alone. He launches. He manipulates. He anticipates. He spreads rumors. Moods. He casts doubts and fuels a false sense of security. Surveillance of surveillance.
A Sensitive subjects. On-site stringers. Agents that cannot even be identified by other agents. Hummingbirds. Fast and precise and smart. Colibris hover in mid-air.
B I can read your mind.
A Follow me freely.
B In my new novel, art critic Barbara Buchmaier tells a has-been writer from Brooklyn, whose name is also Barbara Buchmaier and whom she wants to hire as a ghost writer, the following story:
A friend told me about a peculiar light phenomenon she experienced. She was walking the dog. Alone, at night, in the countryside. Suddenly, at a small pond something came directly towards her, some kind of ball lightning, but rather slowly, very bright. The dog started to bark and she ran away. Later, the same thing happened to her father. No one has ever figured out what it was. Strange.
A What do you perceive? To what do you grant access? What do you let close to you?
B You, you artist you, you are the wandering subconscious! You seem to be able to store all information. You establish links in your sleep. INSANE. Insanely analytical.
A I see the stars. The spice melange. The most precious substance in the whole universe. The spice expands consciousness. (Dune)
B P. told me that everybody at the gallery now has to drink this stuff, some kind of strawberry juice. She said that she even truly likes it. I mean really.
A Actually, to me it tastes like glue.
B For once, let me find something good.
A Well, they’re getting sponsored by them.
B By the way, how does that even work? Do they call you or do they send you a letter?
A It works through knowing the right people, honey. Hey, are you coming to the movies with us tonight? We are watching Minions. They all love the minions, the whole art world.
A Insider trading, price riggings, cartels, consultants, brokers. Multi-channel-promotion.
B Do you think it could have been a manipulation from the start, a staged setting? Could be. We act exactly according to plan. We are puppets.
A Last week my home phone rang. Repeatedly. The first time they hung up. Then the first question: Are you home alone at the moment? Can you talk?
B 'Iris Schneider' A Iris Plate
B 'Christian Trott' A Kristian Krummbeck
B 'Simon Bromma' A Simon Brenner
B 'Axel John Phillips' A Axel Brinker
A+B Egomaniacs, dreams of omnipotence, mania, flying high. Trance and acid. Acid nightmare.
A I’m such a genius, I’m corrupt.
B Really, he pays you as a review writer? As a guest to his openings? Some even do it for free! For a pair of sneakers. Sneak. Sneaker. Envoys.
A And if you have to sneak, then do it aggressively: put on your shoes and take pictures. Work hard, play hard! Don’t write a phony text about it, write a straightforward text. Do it with pride. There is nothing left to hide here. Believe us: There’s no way out. Give us a sign, though, that you got us. Making advertising texts pass as art reviews is a way to gum up your brain. Those who follow this path are those who still want to function. You don’t want to just function, right?
B Me, I don’t want to function. I’m a functionary against my will. I’m Lost, but I’m Really Moving.
A It’s about fame, baby, about volatile solidarity. My hood, my friends, my network of potential connections. The “Four Cs” – Content, Connectivity, Community and Cash.
B My affinity network. Affiliate marketing.
A That’s our new word for it: Affinity marketing.
A+B POST: AFFINITY MARKETING
A It is not distinguishable. Undistinguishable. One eye, second eye. A hand – then the other one. Janus head. You are my beginning and my end.
B Oh JANUS, God of all origins, of the beginning and the end, of entrances and exits, of doors and gates! God of transitions, seer of future and past! You who are two-faced! “Thou dost see both back and front.” (Ovid)
A The ancients called you God of Chaos!
A+B CHAOS MAGIC
B At a party with the enemies. My friends are artists like myself, for God’s sake. I am my own opponent. Autoimmune disease. Auto aggression, depression.
A+B REPOST: CREATION AND DEPRESSION
B You make one mistake and you’re done.
A The Fashion Failure. How could this happen?
B She never fit the profile. If you search for her now, you can’t find anything about her, as if she had never existed. She has a new life now. All revised, purged. RIPE-wipe-out. From the highest level.
A+B REPOST: FASHION FAILURE! (Emily S.)
A Out, out, out! Quick! Duck down. He’s looking in! Shit, he’s seen us together.
B Cut. Rip. No, yes, run out, up, down, inside, get the keys upstairs, damn! How long does the shock last? When does the blood come?
A The ten-headed dragon. I am invincible! ACID FIGHTER. I burn you out. We’ll meet on the mezzanine of Jannowitzbrücke underground station. Bleached eyebrows. Code word.
B I move between levels. I’m a trend researcher, I’m an advisor, a dealer. I am everything, an agent, that’s the sexiest. I’m an invulnerable creature, completely merged with its element. Fluid. Liquid.
A+B REPOST: LIQUIDITY.INC (Hito S.)
A In my immediate vicinity I throw smoke grenades. You WILL believe me. I have done it a thousand times. I am a professional. Whereas you are experiencing it for the first time. You’re lost if you don’t network. On your own you don’t stand a chance. You are all alone, I can see it! I can see it in your eyes, don’t look at me like that. I don’t give a damn about you like I didn’t give a damn about all those that came before you.
B When I tried to log into my GMAIL account yesterday, after the first two attempts all I could see was an image of two dinosaurs fucking, I couldn’t access my account. Then, suddenly, it worked again.
A Oh no, I opened the document too. Somehow the name of the file didn’t look right, but I still downloaded it.
B Do you think they are scanning your computer now? Damn. I can’t believe it, where would they get the money to pull this off?
A Do they come in through the front door or over the balcony? Do you actually know how easy it is to kick in a door? When they use a lock pick you can’t even tell they were there. That’s the best. Or someone has a position or a task, “mit dem er die Schl. neneht. Just imagine, der haärtuüssel sowieso bekommt.” [sic]
B I don’t need a key. You are my host, I’ve been living INSIDE you. For a long time now.
A You know, I heard they are opening a Centre for Investigative Art Journalism in London, initially focusing on the core countries of Europe and North America.
B I was in Spandau the other day and a drone flew over my head. I was sitting on a terrace, a spot that isn’t normally visible. And suddenly I had this thing circling around me three times until I gestured for it to go away, and then it veered off. Just imagine, it could have taken pictures.
A SHOOTING, it could have started shooting!
B It tingles. Interfering frequencies penetrate my ear. A mobile phone lying somewhere right in front of the loudspeaker. Or is it in my head? A cramping pain. Like a claw. The whole jaw. Everything. Higher frequencies.
A Which side are you on? Who do you report to? What is your job, actually? How do you finance your car? I’d love to see your ID. How did you look like at 18? Hippie, dreads, I see. But you didn’t have those tattoos back then, right?
B She got new bleached-out-looking tattoos, you wouldn’t believe it! Nobody would believe that it is still REALLY her.
A+B REPOST: AVATAR
A Agent = B Artist = A Chaos Magician
B Magician of the Chaos. Magic Chaos. Magic marketing.
A+B POST: MAGIC CHAOS MARKETING!
B Wow, they are really into astrology now!
A+B REPOST: MERCURY RETROGRADE
B He is into it too, and they’ve both recently written essays about it. And about sigils, these ornate monogram letters. Both of them wrote about the same stuff at the same time! A predictable move? A mysterious spin. Targeted from multiple sides.
A Seth Price, Emily Segal. Seth Price, Emily Segal.
Seth Segal, Emily Price, Seth Segal. Emily Price.
A+B CHAOS MAGIC
B It’s the search engine. They are constantly looking up the same words. That’s where those ever-same thoughts come from.
A Do you really think so?
B Short-term content marketing targets: expand your reach through the distribution of content via social media platforms and word-of-mouth, generating social buzz, generating co-occurrences, co-citations and backlinks. Long-term content marketing targets: building communities, building of own communication systems, building a brand, building trust and authority, optimizing reputation, establishing lasting relationships with influencers.
A Working the turf.
A+B REPOST: ASTROTURF
A Affiliate System – Total Freedom. I see the whole universe. I jump off. Turn around. I look ahead, I look back. Everything's the same, in front of me, behind me. All is black. The world is getting blurred in front of my eyes. I blur into the world. I am merged into the matter. I dissolve. You can’t see me anymore. I’m disguised. I’m flying so fast. Your sensors can’t detect me anymore. I’m passing. You can’t perceive me. To you I am invisible. Now I can do whatever I want.
B I am your projection, I am you, you are me. As from today, marketing will be called art.
A I’m telling you, only the investors still don’t want to believe that we now say marketing instead of art. Keeping the price high. We will end up relearning the ABCs. Our language is now being reprogrammed.
B You still haven’t realized that your language has been reprogrammed, the last update was just in 2013. Who knows what is being re-launched without your knowledge? These companies do not have an obligation to tell you what is being reprogrammed and when. Times are changing. We don’t need to conform to yesterday’s laws. We can do whatever we want, nobody controls us. So: Do it.
A New nomenclature: the critic is the brand ambassador for the brand, to which he is identical, equals the theorist, the content manager for the brand, to which he is identical, the artist is the envoy for the brand, to which he is identical, equals the producer, who mixes and tunes it all, the gallery is the concept store, the dealer is the superproducer, what an awesomely delinquent label.
B Fear of missing out. Come on, I rock the joint now. Let´s bring on the business shit. Red Bull content marketing. After all, the product is free! After all, thoughts are free, meaning: the agent’s thoughts. The thoughts of whoever is in charge. Free.
A Art criticism = Affinity marketing. Critics, editors, publishers: Copy and paste! DISmagazine, Contemporary Art Daily, Freunde von Freunden, artists’ lifestyle, etcetera. Things we like, recommendations: Department for Native Advertising.
Discourse with a critical wink, speculations and popular scandals of the art world: Department for Content Marketing. And events as live marketing: a mutual exchange of components of brands, to impress and attract the crowd.
B Artist = A Agent = B Critic = A Marketer = B Advisor = A Brand ambassador = B Scout = A Trend forecaster = B Superforecaster = A Producer = B You = A Me = B Enemy = A Dealer = B Spy = A Advertiser = B Disser = A Lover = B Styler = A Consumer = B Detective = A Criminal = B Accomplice = A Thief = B Adaptor = A System = B Artist = A Cool shit
A+B POST: AFFILIATE SYSTEM – TOTAL FREEDOM
B The artist says: I love this system! This is my element.
A+B REPOST WATER. I LOVE THIS SYSTEM.
A I’ll reprogram you. I’ll give you new words. I’ll turn you into your own twin. Into your own twirl. I’ll turn you into your own doppelganger.
B Janus, two-faced God of the beginning and of the end! You who travels across the boundaries between the mortal world and afterlife! Janus, mediator between Gods and humans! God of all passages and transitions!
A F22 Raptor, to become invisible to a specific system, to a specific sensor. Invisible. I’m becoming invisible. Invisible. Stealth.
A+B REPOST STEALTH
A More instead of less. The physiognomy is getting blurred. My magic hood. Absorber materials: coal dust, titanium oxide, Salisbury screen. Invisible through acceleration. Geometric absorbers. Signature reduction.
B An agent whose real identity is kept from other agents.
A I am an invisible ghost. I am a transparent ghost. How to disappear from here?
A+B REPOST: HOW TO DISAPPEAR …
B I am an invisible guest. I myself am absent. Present as someone other – in disguise and not visible. Anonymous. You won’t recognize me.
A Seal of secrecy. This is classified information.
A+B REPOST: EMILY. SEGAL [SIEGEL].
B I heard that lately they have been crowdfunding for investigative journalists, for utterly fearless informers.
A+B We needed something stronger. We needed magic. Chaos Magic.
A For insiders, the secrets of the world can be like a drug.
It used to be imperative to approach the right people, for example in order to know what the Soviet president’s next plan was. I tell you a secret, you tell me a secret. I am conducting an assessment of the situation for you. Information is relevant when two different sources come to the same conclusion. Clandestinely I pursue my research.
A I belong to a circle that sees the world with different eyes. I could even hurt you.
A+B I want to get out of here. Now.
There is nothing to keep me here.
Forget who I was.
Forget my name.
Things will never be the same again.
B Postscript: Seth Price, Brioni Fall/Winter 2015 Advertising Campaign. Introverted look. Melancholy. The agent who doesn’t make an impact anymore. Grosse Fatigue.
A+B REPOST: BEAU RIVAGE
A Al(i)as, my love, you do me wrong. To cast me off discourteously.
Soundtrack: Cafe del Mar, Energy 52 (Neil Todd Remix)
This text is based on the script for the eponymous performance lecture held on September 18th 2015, as part of “Text Template Activation,” Studio//Bühne Suse Weber, Berlin, published in German in the magazine von hundert, November 2015, translated for Plot by Niels Betori Diehl.