Ars Electronica 1998
Festival-Website 1998
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Festival 1979-2007


Eine Kunstgeschichte

'Wolfgang Temmel Wolfgang Temmel

In 1983 the Austrian artist Wolfgang Temmel wrote an art history. This work is a concentrated text consisting of a few lines and represents nothing but the description of the creative process – no more and no less.

There is the claim that art is energy in its most beautiful form and – by agreeing with this assertion – Temmel affirms the existence of art, as he is convinced of its positive force. It is irrelevant here that art and its diverse manifestations in the varied cultures on this planet have in part a totally different social context.

It is the description of creative thought and action in simple and reduced language that raises this text beyond its cultural context and gives it a general validity – over and above all cultural borders.

This text was chiseled into a marble slab and constituted the sole content of a work created by Temmel in 1981 ("Art for many is something like a dead foreign language"), and with it he hit upon a clear, and thoroughly ironic, statement on the readability and comprehensibilty of codes.

To translate An art history in all possible written/standard languages represents a further step in this work and has turned into an enormous project, as it is the (mad) attempt to make the impossible feasible: as for one thing, there is the impossibility of the authentic translation of a text from one language to another, and for another, approximately 2000 written/standard languages exist worldwide today…

Inspite of this or rather for this very reason, Temmel has dedicated himself since 1983 to this project.

'The limits of my language' mean the limits of my world.

Languages are going to disappear – like plants in rain forests – even before they have been discovered. The hegemony of only a few languages at the end of this millennium is pure colonialism, with the difference that this language colonialism has absolutely no interest in other languages, does not want to enrich itself on them or see them as enrichment, aside from a few adapted terms which pepper each of these hegemonic languages like an exotic spice (… the outlook for English is very favorable: it will be used as the Web language and eventually be the only language left). With only a few languages ruling the world, the project "An Art History" is a counterpoint and surfaces on the WWW like an exotic alien being.