Ars Electronica 2007
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Festival 1979-2007


Public Space, Private Security and Strategic Communication

'Konrad Becker Konrad Becker

Global Security Alliance is a security provider with a broad range of solutions and applications. GSA offers persuasive science communication services with the power to influence what people believe and do in a world where mediated perception is reality. Turning risk into opportunity, new security culture sets the trend for a future where art is a service, a process dealing with realities not pictures.

GSA perceptual alignment management is customized for the individual client. Full spectrum dominance in unrestricted conflicts is realized through technologies of the imagination. Soft control, through cultural technologies that go beyond the need of mission or ideology, proves to be more effective and economically efficient than hard enforcement or physical threat.

The GSA security and strategic communication plan for the City of Linz includes black helicopter paintings in public space. A fleet of 12 full-scaled monochrome silhouettes visible from outer space is positioned as psycho-geographical virtual security in urban space. In the psychological arena of a subjective security experience, locative media shadow technology architecture is based on geo-social statistics, digital crime-mapping, predictive triangulation and micro-geographic strategies.

Outer space and the urban space are the theaters of new security operations in relief and discomfort management. Creating cultural imprints on urban streets GSA targets potential conflicts not only on the level of private psychological subjectivity but pattern detection of satellite space reconnaissance.

Extraterrestrial Biopolitics and Creative Industries

Global media and business networks create a planetary environment for geopolitical experimentation with global parameters of life—and death.

The “Grand Chessboard” of the geo-strategic world has expanded to outer space and inner space. Conflict management has migrated into the military entertainment complex, the domain of culture, media and the creative industries.

The space age began with a grand media spectacle. In the 1960s, for the first time in history, planet Earth was emerging in the consciousness of a global audience, terrestrials on a pale blue dot in the vastness of the skies. But the innocent picture of Man on the moon was diverting attention from an advanced weapons program for the militarization of space. The rockets of the United States’ space program and the Soviet Union’s Cosmic Troops were based on the V-2 ballistic missiles of World War II. In 1945Wernher von Braun and his team, who developed and manufactured the V-2 based on slave labor, were brought to America. This operation named Project Paperclip included scientists linked to human experiments in concentration camps. Nazi military officers were at the core of Defense Department projects that centered on carrying military personnel up into space and moving them around, but also on the use of robotic weapons in orbit, nuclear missiles and the setup of armed “Death Stars”.

In the 1950s the Army’s missile program and later NASA’s space program began a concerted effort to sell the idea of space flight to the American public and ensure adequate funding of the space program.Walter Elias Disney, an ardent supporter of right-wing politics, joined Wernher von Braun to sell terrestrial audiences on the idea of space. When they communicated a vision of space in simple terms but with the authority of science, audiences became moonstruck. The same year von Braun worked on Disney TV programs about “Man in Space”,“Man and the Moon” and “Mars and Beyond”, Disneyland opened its doors. In 1955 Disneyland became a milestone in the exploitation of the human imagination, an environment where people enjoy being manipulated. Visitors to this experimental theme park happily indulged in artificial cheerfulness that was comfortable, reassuring and very well operated. Disney, an early sympathizer of the American Nazi movement and a main figure in McCarthyism’s Hollywood witch-hunt, developed a model of experimental psychological totalitarianism where subjects gladly settle for containment in an artificial illusion of power and autonomy.

In 1960 the rocket development center was transferred from the U.S. Army to the newly established NASA and von Braun, converted to a born-again Christian, became director of the Marshall Space Flight Center. Even though programs were shifted to a supposedly civilian organization they have never been much about science or space exploration. Apollo missions were driven by a military offensive in support of ideological domination and global nuclear warfare while a grand media spectacle created the illusion of a peaceful mission for all humankind. When the US military sent air force pilots to the moon in 1968 it officially declared space as “Today’s Front Line of Defense” and the extension of weapons systems beyond the lower atmosphere as “natural and evolutionary”. Star Wars, Ronald Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) in the 1980s, became a smokescreen for a plethora of approaches to global warfare that go far beyond galactic weapons systems. However, most of Reagan’s “Star Wars” ideas had been conceived in the 1950s, including details of antiballistic systems in space with hundreds of satellites armed by scores of missiles. Even today's Space Shuttle design has its source in Third Reich research for an orbital bomber plane. Military strategies in the 1990s confirmed space as the “real priority for national security” and concepts for new exotic weaponry advanced. Recent projects focus on networks of space-based lasers, directed-energy cannons, radar satellites, exo-atmospheric kill vehicles and a range of other projects including high-powered global non-lethal weapon systems.

When humans went to space for the first time in history, a mission to the terra incognita of the human mind had a lift-off too. At the very same time when technology extended the arena of human conflicts into outer space, the mapping of inner space and the policing of the cognitive act were skyrocketing. The first mind control projects in the 1950s simply aimed at finding ways to force and to prevent unauthorized extraction of information. Programs for colonization and 146 militarization of outer space have gained momentum synchronously with the quest for counterintelligence truth serums in the 60s. When rockets were launched into space, the first mass production and large scale involuntary testing of psychotropic and mind-altering drugs took off as well. A series of exotic psychological experiments were initiated alongside a massive diffusion of psychoactive substances worldwide. Secret human tests evaluated the offensive uses of unconventional interrogation methods, including hypnosis and the sophisticated combination of drugs.

Experimentation with human guinea pigs extended to practical try-outs on the lethal dose of LSD for a bull elephant. Donald Cameron, a member of the Nuremberg medical tribunal who became President of the new World Psychiatric Association in 1961, expanded some of the German experiments on humans. Beyond psychoactive and paralytic drugs combined with sleep deprivation, Dr. Cameron specialized in extreme electroconvulsive shocks, months of druginduced coma with exposure to audio loops as well as extended memory and sensory modification tests.

Missions of covert research programs aimed at the creation of “Manchurian” killer marionettes, and ranged from brain telemetry with intra-cerebral control devices to the possibilities of using telepathic control and remote viewing. The dislocated German scientists provide an important historical, technical and ideological link between these programs for supremacy in outer and inner space.

The successful collaboration of Walt Disney and Wernher von Braun, Disney’s expert on the “World of Tomorrow”, was deeply emblematic as it represents a historic point in time and the beginning of a new era of geopolitical domination beyond the planet. It marks the chemical wedding of technologies of war and the mind, the conception of cosmic warfare and the birth of the new military-entertainment complex. Pong, the first videogame ever, developed at Brookhaven National Laboratory in the late ’50s, was based on missile trajectory plotting; and the first game for a digital computer in 1962 was named Spacewar. The digital entertainment of today has its source in the massive investment in cold war military research and computer science. By now technologies of warfare, war games and combat training, 3D simulations and recreational computer games have converged on many levels. The marriage of the security com- plex and the entertainment industry is breaking the ground of what experts consider the future of post-human conflict management.

Disneyland and the global media sightings of men on the moon are exemplary for the universal power of imagination management and the spectacle. Receptiveness for the spectacle is deeply embedded in human desires for excitement, stimulation, knowledge acquisition and the construction of self-esteem. Largely based on the bio-cybernetic exploitation of human response mechanisms that influence emotion, excitement and thrill, the technological spectacle in its play with danger and disorientation is rooted in the biology of ancient neural patterns. But its arena has been dramatically extended through technology. The machinery of the spectacle generates affect by triggering failures of orientation and control. This can be loss of physical balance, a rollercoaster ride or cognitive dissonance. The intensity of affect is directly correlated with the depth of disorientation, and the more that vital human response structures are touched, the deeper the effect. Contextual parameters of relatively secure environments allow appreciating these disorientations as hedonistic experiences instead of discomfort and panic. These mechanisms trigger delight and numinous experiences,moving and enthusing audiences.

The 18th century political economist Adam Smith based his lycanthropic mythology of social order on “invisible hands” and fear. The business of politics historically implied a delicate equilibrium of hope and terror, but with the end of the bipolar world of the cold war, the balance of devices to uphold authority tipped from positive to a negative reinforcement stimulus. In the 21st century, the social engineering of dread and longing evolved into a bio-political arena of terror and a psycho-political culture of internalized domination. The globally deployed technology of the spectacle transforms to a creative panic industry, the pacification of the self and the silencing of multitudes.

With no visible alternatives to universal pan-capitalism there seems to be no need for payoffs for the disenchanted, no necessity to bribe the dissenting segments of the population and no incentive to grant extension of freedoms. Instead of peddling hope and visions of mutually shared commonwealth, authority is maintained by the production of synthetic fear and the need to secure property against some other.

Deimos and Phobos, the gods of panic, angst and terror dominate the omni-directional realm of geo-psychological strategies in an asymmetric world war against invisible enemies without qualities. Market concentrations benefit neo-feudal power structures that know how to use access to media, private security and intelligence services to advance their interests. Private oligarchic networks of finance and business cartels cultivate relations to governmental entities controlling state agencies and military units. Media narratives and public relations strategies transform synthetic fear into advantages that produce windfalls of power and profit. This theater of fear is a skillful interplay of compartmentalized information units, privatized command centers, loyal officials and gatekeepers as well as professional Special Forces. Productions of artificial angst call for scenarios of counter-terrorist theater rehearsals and paramilitary actors as well as the professional staging of scapegoats and dupes. The dark networks draw on privatized intelligence units, so called “asteroids”, business entities that provide cover for compartmentalized operations.

Space was formerly known as heaven and manned space flight from earth could be understood as the mechanical equivalent to an ascent to divinity. Johannes Kepler suspected paradise to be located on the moon and Konstantin Tsiolkowsky, the Russian pioneer of modern rocket science, saw manned space flight as a freeway to the supernatural. In his novel Gravity’s Rainbow Thomas Pynchon contemplates the ambiguous interrelations between sex, rockets and magic.

Jack Parsons, a key figure in American rocketry, lost his reputation and security clearance in obsessive pursuit of occult rituals and sexual mumbo-jumbo before he diffused into space in a lab explosion in 1952. A crater on the dark side of the moon is named in memory of Parsons, a tribute to the shady cofounder of the famed Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). The 19th century spiritualist pseudoscience of a world of ghosts and occult belief in spirits, a complex adaptation to modernity, has morphed into 20th century sciences. From social theories and “optimization” of the workplace, from operations research to scientific communication and applied psychology, many genres of academic disciplines and the influence business are rooted in the twilight zone of the netherworlds.

When Norbert Wiener, who developed his work on cybernetics from ballistics research, writes that “Communication and control belong to the essence of man’s inner life, even as they belong to his life in society” he evokes the ancient art of assessing the human personality and exploiting motivations. Developed out of clandestine mind control programs in the 1960s, the methodical application of Personality Assessment Systems became standard operating procedure in business and intelligence. Systems of discipline and control that took shape in the 19th century on the basis of earlier procedures have mutated into new and aggressive forms, beyond simplistic theories of state and sovereignty. In the past, the science of power branched into the twin vectors of political control and control of the self. In the 21st century the technologies of material control and subjective internalization are in a process of converging. The traditional twin operations, with which the authorities aim to win the hearts and minds, the binding maneuvers of law enforcement and the dazzling illusionist control of the imagination, are transforming into each other. Not unlike werewolves using the powers of the moon for a violent metamorphosis, contemporary agencies of power turn into shape shifters and fluctuating modes of dominance. Star Wars technology shape-shifts into applications of creative industries, into the domain of desire, imagination and mediated lunacy. Technologies of individualization bound to controllable identities and the global machinery of homogenization are superimposing to a double-bind of contemporary power structures. The renaissance heretic Giordano Bruno anticipates these developments in his visionary treatise “De Vinculis in Genere”—Of Bonding in General— on operational phantasms and the libidinal manipulation of the human spirit. The disputatious philosopher of an infinite universe, beyond his unique investigation into the imaginary and the persuasion of masses and the individual, also challenged the ontological separation between the spheres of the heavens and the sublunary world of his time. Today, in a technological marriage of heaven and earth, there is a full spectrum military entertainment fusion of global conflict management. A strategic analysis of the enforced colonization of space and mind will certainly provide a more comprehensive understanding of the parameters of life and death on planet Earth.