Author: G.H. Hovagimyan --- Date: 1/17/97 --- Copyright: ThingReviews NYC

General Idea-Zero Tolerance-TAZ

Viral Thoughts on the WEB


G.H. Hovagimyan

If you missed General Idea's exhibit at MoMA like I did, you can still see and download the AIDS screensaver from the web site put up jointly by Adaweb and MoMA. The screen saver is a cutesy pie blinking GIF animation grid that replaces Robert Indiana's famous LOVE poster from the sixties with the letters AIDS. General Idea is or was (most of the members have died from AIDS) a Canadian art collaborative that surfaced in the late sixties/ early seventies. Their first media exposure was in the core underground art magazine Avalanche, which was put out by Willoughy Sharp and Liza Bear. General Ideas' roots seem to harken back to the Surrealist performance balls of the twenties. More importantly General Idea marked the beginning of a gay discourse/ critique of art iconography, interpretation etc.. Subsequent post-conceptual groups such as ACT - UP, Gran Fury and so on, owe their starting point to G.I.. This ongoing discourse on gender interpretation and politics is a key issue in most Graduate level art programs. The title of various posters/ actions, art works done by General Idea for the past few years is Image Virus. The allusion is pithy, ambiguous and up to date. A virus overwhelms and consumes it's host system as in computer virus, as in the AIDS virus. Mediated information, re-interpreted perhaps mutated, becomes virulent as it is released back into the non-stop info-soup of global media.

A popular TV program in the US called the Burning Zone explores the virus metaphor albeit from a pop- pysche vantage POV. Moving onto the Web and away from the TV entertainment matrix one gets to the rhizomatic root of the matter. A visit to ZeroTolerance extends the matrix. Next to the clinical horrors of the plague and the discussions of body as metaphor Troeger's chilling revelations of vivisections done on world war II pow's by Germans and Japanese revise and extend the ontological bracket. The website project unit 731 by Troeger, presents the various documents and photos of the experiments conducted. Troeger's Zero Tolerance site is taking shape as a major information art work, media virus for our 21st century world.

The World Wide Web is barely four years old. What seems to be forming is a new informational paradigm, a TAZ or Temporary Autonomous Zone. A visit to the Hakim Bey web site helps one to get a handle on the particulars. Scrolling down to the section titled the Net and the Web we have an excellent starting point for a new definition of cultural production. "Culture is our Nature--and we are the thieving magpies, or the hunter gatherers of the world of Comm Tech." This is the action starting with General Idea, seize the image, present the new interpretation. With Troeger, take the information out of political World War II discourse, present it as an information art virus on the web. From a general infection to a world wide burning zone.

G.H. Hovagimyan

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Zero.Tolerance --

This is the WORKING link to Zero.Tolerance.