– Autumn/Winter 2007

I (not love) Information

Anthony Huberman

The enemy is information. While nothing can ever escape its grasp – this very text is information, exists because of it, makes use of it and creates more of it – challenging its ubiquity and its effects has never been a more urgent and necessary task.

Sure, we need information to understand the world, but the systems we have invented to generate, disperse, translate and consume information have become poisonous. Meant to grease the wheels of freedom, today's information machines and economies instead have thrown the human mind into a vicious circle of addiction, withdrawal and fleeting satisfaction. Like all drugs, information takes hold of everything, surrounds it, swallows it, clings to it, bludgeons it and spits it back out.


Starting with Pop, artists took on the 'phenomenon' of information. The tears, sweat and passion of Jackson Pollock's paintings had led to the silence, hard-edges and formal discipline of Donald Judd sculptures, and it was time for Andy Warhol to turn painting, sculpture, form, content (and even himself) into wonderful information. Suddenly, information – already and always everywhere, as Warhol pointed out – was everywhere. As of the early 1960s, Conceptual artists dug into its systems, its patterns, its brute force. Following Warhol, they were drawn to the raw blankness of information, which they saw as a powerful opponent to the tyranny of 'content': art matters because it is, not because it is about something. Moving beyond the Warholian sphere of celebrity and popular culture, however, these artists shifted toward Wittgensteinian philosophy and considered the fundamental rawness and blankness of language, perception and knowledge, and what it all had to do with art. Mel Bochner presented

  1. Glenn O'Brien, 'Indulgences: 95 Theses or Bottles of Beer on the Wall', Parkett, no.79, 2007, p.30.

  2. See Yona Friedman, MANUELS Volume 1, Paris: CNEAI, 2007.

  3. Susan Sontag, 'Against Interpretation', Against Interpretation and Other Essays, New York: Picador, 2001, pp.4-5 and 7.

  4. See Jacques Rancière, 'The Emancipated Spectator', Artforum, March 2007, p.275.

  5. See Roger M. Buergel and Ruth Noack, 'Things we don't understand', Things we don't understand, Vienna: Generali Foundation, 1999.

  6. S. Sontag, 'Against Interpretation', op. cit., p.10.

  7. See Michael Taussig, 'Viscerality, Faith, and Skepticism: Another Theory of Magic', Walter Benjamin's Grave, University of Chicago Press, 2006.

  8. Seth Price, Dispersion, www.distributedhistory.com, PDF download, 2002.

  9. Ibid.

  10. Simon Ford, The Situationist International: A User's Guide, London: Black Dog Publishing, 2005, p.95.

  11. Daniel Birnbaum, The Art of Education, Artforum, Summer 2007, p. 474.

  12. See Stuart Bailey, Towards a Critical Faculty, in Frances Stark and Stuart Bailey (eds.), On the future of Art School: A Primer, Los Angeles: University of Southern California, 2007. Also available at http://www.lulu.com/content/642748 (last accessed on 31 July 2007).

  13. Dietrich Karner, Foreword, in R. M. Buergel and R. Noack (eds.), Things we don't understand, op. cit., p. 9.