FOUNDATIONS

The Eternal Internet Brother/Sisterhood IRL

Stamatia DimitrakopoulosComment

This essay is part of the fourth issue of FOUNDATIONS, to order Issue 4, click here! 

The following essay comes with irregular intervals, supplements to the text. Two symbols chosen by Angelo Plessas signify each time my postscriptum notes and Angelo’s remarks. With Daniel Spoerri’s book “An Anecdoted Topography of Chance” in mind, I suggested we should conduct this article as a collaborative project; an interactive essay in the form of a map. The system of a continuous online exchange of thoughts, suggestions and references is now registered and presented through this alternative format.

Angelo Plessas, Extropic Optimisms, The Breeder facade, 2015, Athens, courtesy The Breeder Athens

After I started researching the Eternal Internet Brother/ Sisterhood I was struck by a preconscious memory. During second grade I used to rush after school to my grandmother’s kitchen. It was warm, one that suggested belonging to a small village, and was filled with tiny hoarded trinkets. I would quickly sit in front of her vintage television set and watch. My goal was to catch an odd interactive game, the name I cannot recall. It was designed so the viewers could play from their landline at home, which compared to my Playstation, felt vintage like the old television itself. Calling from a landline, the viewer could pick from a selection of different levels. Themes that ranged from “Pirate Boat, Ancient Egypt, to The Lost Atlantis”, generally mystical places. An avatar would then enter the world of your choosing, the buttons of the telephone would direct your Avatar’s movement.“Left!right!jump!”would be called out by the hysterical show hostess. The viewer could navigate through the ruins in an attempt to reach an ancient treasure  1, one near impossible to obtain.

As it happens with most utopian ideas, when Angelo Plessas first conceived of the concept ≈ 2 for the Eternal Internet Brother/ Sisterhood, he placed it in a drawer. During an inter- view in 2012 , he was asked what his dream project would be. This is when he first shared his vision to organize a residency retreat for internet artists on the island of Delos. Being one of the most important mythological and archaeological sites in Greece, Delos is restricted from overnight stay. Excited by Angelo’s vision, his online network of friends immediately began to brainstorm the idea of a mystical retreat through an “internet residency.” A few months later, following a successful Indiegogo campaign  3, the Eternal Internet Brother/Sisterhood gathered enough funding to host a retreat-meets-residency summit in a location near Delos. Angelo and his online network of friends were able to camp overnight and create work together.

A multifaceted project like “Brotherhood”  4 contains a number of different aspects to dig into; from the place to its participants, there are thousands of concepts to examine and decrypt.

The connecting of individual concepts to create a larger whole, combined with the subtle associations among them, is what makes Angelo’s vision a complete work of art. This is the most poignant aspect of the project.

To me, Angelo’s project is a cyborg sanatorium on tour. What fascinates me most is the shape that forms when you connect the dots between the stops. The topography of the endeavor reveals an architecture which is specifically premeditated by Angelo. The participants are previously only affiliated online, the terra firma or “solid earth” is where they meet IRL for the first time. Earth replaces cyberspace, previously the only com- mon ground for a community living in the “placelessness” of the web where everything is surveilled. 1 Angelo knows that the participants of The Eternal Internet Brotherhood/Sister- hood already have an unlimited URL knowledge of the world as a result of living online. He targets to directly reset their modus vivendi or their noosphere  5 as he often refers to it. By introducing the spiritual notion of topophilia he reinvents the meaning of exploration through traveling to these places charged with mystical powers. They surprise and emit a vibe physically transmittable, creating experiences impossible to live unless you are in the right place at the right time. Places with archetypical intelligence are the perfect set-up, able to serve as almost a purgatory 2 and in the meantime constitute a solid showcase, a dynamic interface connecting all the collateral projects that will take place on its premises.

The function of the space as a connective device makes me recall the ideal set up where Flaubert places his novel, Bouvard and Pécuchet. After inheriting an insane fortune, the two loony Parisian protagonists give up their jobs as copy-clerks and settle on a farm in Normandy, where they start developing a series of miscellaneous but short lived occupations, varying from archeology, geology, and agriculture to garden architecture and medicine. The house where everything takes place, provides a spatial juxtaposition for the fragments of their ephemeral ventures and manages to contextualize what would otherwise signify a heap of unrelated objects associated to each attempted career ☺3. The Eternal Internet Brother/ Sisterhood stands as an equivalent of this mid-nineteenth century Cabinet de curiosités, providing a coherent representational universe, a Museum of all those new concepts swarmed by data, dreams, feelings, knowledge, visions and sounds.

The Atlas of #ETINTERBRO

The Atlas of #ETINTERBRO

Scouting locations, Angelo led the residency as far as he needed to get away from the familiar and the routine. The spots he picks, filled with spiritual, therapeutic and mythological properties, all share an aesthetic familiarity; floating islands, dead cities and hidden kingdoms☺ 4 reminiscent of virtual ruins. Like mystic bridges between the cyber-realm and the biorealm, filled with nourishing powers to maintain offline social ties initially formed within the boundaries of the web  6.

Decoding the Brotherhood topographical constellation lies in the crux of Angelo Plessas’ total work of art. Gesamtkunstwerk sounds too extravagant- and yet manages to label an algorithm that supersedes the simplistic transitions from one location to the next. It reveals a radical architecture comparable to Superstudio’ s Continuous Monument which called for a truly democratic human experience through a utopic vision  7., designed as an object to hover above existing pockets of the past into spaces within the continuous structure of the future  5. That being said, what differentiates the Eternal Internet Brother/Sisterhood from Superstudio is the fact that Angelo does not accept the failure of Utopia and believes with the utmost passion that its destiny is to succeed.

The tools to unravel the Brotherhood’s algorithm lie in the symbols that each year conveys. For instance, the first Eternal Internet Brother/ Sisterhood took place on the greek island of Anafi  8 a mystical place which ancient god Apollo created as a shelter for the Argonauts. A tiny, isolated island affiliated with many mythological stories, Anafi introduced the element of archetype. The base of the residency was a nudist beach where eleven people set up camp and stayed for two weeks, living in between sand and water.

The next summer the residency travelled to the roots of surre- alism, Las Pozas surrealist sculpture park located in a rainforest in the mountains of Mexico. Las Pozas  9 was conceived in 1945 by Edward James, a British wealthy poet known for his patronage of the surrealist art movement, and its construction lasted until 1984. After so many decades the scenery is composed of sculptures devoured by nature, shaped like graphics in a videogame. This impression recalls the ‘on demand’ projects

Angelo executed on behalf of the artists who could not make it to Mexico, after following their directions from Skype.

The third season of the Eternal Internet Brother/ Sisterhood took place in the politically conflicted and physically therapeutic, Dead Sea area in Israel /Palestine  10. This location suggested again the concept of the archetype through the integration of the magic ingredient that reigns in the Dead Sea: Salt. A key mineral in the history of purification, magical protection, and blessing rituals.

Last summer, the Malaspina Castle in Italy hosted the most dramatic and esoteric version of the residency. For the first time all the residents co-existed under the same roof in a castle full of memories and spiritual energy. The most eminent spirit belonged to the poet Dante, protegé of the Malaspina family, who spent part of an exile from Florence in the Italian castle. This is where he worked on the Divine Comedy 6. During this particular residency the members of the Brotherhood were not imposed to any kind of a predefined narrative as they had been in previous years. Therefore they had to construct their own esoteric allegory in accordance to the surrounding environment.  11

All the aforementioned descriptions indicate the visions of Angelo Plessas to introduce an alternative Protocol 12, redefine the social contract, and reconstruct the mechanisms of reality, use and coexistence. The Eternal Internet Brother/ Sisterhood is produced within the online community and is powered by the mechanisms its users develop in reaction to this new type of social contract the Brotherhood suggests . I believe this endeavor manages to take a bit further Marshall McLuhan’s celebrated phrase “The medium is the message” and redefine it as “The use is the message”. The recognition of Internet as an artistic medium is not sufficient anymore. Its use needs to be redefined through a journey, one that reintroduces our repressed mystical knowledge. During this journey Angelo Plessas will guide our path as a contemporary Shaman.

 

Angelo Plessas, Eternal Internet Brother/ Sisterhood: installation view at Goulandris Museum of Cycladic Art, Deste Prize, 2015, Athens

Author's Notes

1. During this essay, Angelo introduced me to Alastair Bonnett’s book Unruly places: lost spaces, secret cities, and other inscrutable geographies (Aurum Press, 2014), an enlightening publication that was a useful key for the topographical decoding of the Eternal Internet Brother/ Sisterhood.

2. I visualize this purgatory as a protected place full of invisible talismans, Extropic Optimisms hidden in the symbolizations of the physical surrounding.

3. Douglas Crimp makes a very interesting analysis on the museological approachment in Bouvard and Pécuchet in his book On the Museum’s Ruins (The MIT Press, 1993)

4. The phrase is from Alastair Bonnett’s book Unruly places: lost spaces, secret cities, and other inscrutable geographies (Aurum Press, 2014) p. 15, I think it really reflects what Angelo is looking for when scouting locations for the Eternal Internet Brother/ Sisterhood.

5. I am using the description of the Continuous Monument from an informative monography on Superstudio I found online: http://collageandarchitecture.com/wp- contentuploads/2012/ 02/Monograph- Superstudio.pdf

6. Dante made reference to Corrado Malaspina who was the owner of the castle, quoting him in the 8th Canto of the Purgatory.

Projection of MonumentToSomething. com during the Eternal Internet Brotherhood II, 2013, Las Pozas, Mexico

≈ Angelo Says

1. My childhood experience in the mid 80's was always related with some sort of pre-internet excitement that inspires my approach until today. I loved the elaborate graphics of the movie Tron, the emotional visual perfection of Labyrinth with David Bowie and Nintendo’s interactive Donkey Kong console game was an early influence. I remember the pre-youtube era’s artistic endeavours to copy and paste music clips on the VCR tape and the homemade clips with my dad's cam recorder. Smash Hits magazine, live phone calls on MTV, visually overloaded information in my neighborhood's Video Club, and finally my first computer encounter: an Amstrad.

2. It was late 2011 and my answer to the greek crisis was ESCAPE. I was always thinking about

making a Computer ashram in South India where I would invite friends to initiate and acquire a different type of knowledge under the theme of technopaganism like Robot Poetries, live streamed meditation sessions, Random Writing Rituals, Automated Freedom Performances, Online Personality Developments, Internet- EcoSystems, Conferences, Animal Magnetism and Quantum praying.

3. Indiegogo is the more open and less corporate brother of Kickstarter and btw thank you strangers.
4. Our hashtag is #etinterbro, Abbreviation of the words Eternal Internet Brotherhood

5. In the book The Noospheric Manifesto, José

During Ylva Ogland’s ritual dinner at the Castello Malaspina, July 2015

During Ylva Ogland’s ritual dinner at the Castello Malaspina, July 2015

Argüelles claims that as we keep gaining knowledge and wisdom from the cybersphere, at some point we will transform into wise human beings, able to be detach from it. This is when we will finally reach the highest levels of cosmic and earth consciousness, known as the “Noosphere”.

6. In a fully discovered world the term “exploration” seems more like a riddle. Connectivity gradually spoils our surroundings, everything is known and seen- too many windows in front of us .

7. For me the Superstudio ’s practice goes beyond the artistic or architectural role. I see it as a therapy, a strong anthropological study and also as an allegory of becoming divine, superhuman, ghostly.

8. I chose Anafi to be the first venue to host #ETINTERBRO because it was one of the few places that still had this 70s vibe and you could do free camping and be nude most of the day.

9. Las Pozas, the semi- abandoned surrealist park in the jungle is insanely beautiful, you can lose any sense of reality and scale there. I also like the fact that it’s falling apart being eaten by nature. Sir Edward James- the creator of the surrealist park is like a role-model for me we share common attitudes of looking for remoteness, we are very nomadic and we function better with social groups.

10. The Dead Sea venue was the most intense venue of #ETINTERBRO; the minerals on the air and in the water made everybody very energetic, bodily and mentally. Living 400 meters below the sea level hyperoxygenated the brain giving the continuous impression of being on speed.

11. The Castello Malaspina was the most esoteric and dramatic #ETINTERBRO also for a personal reason, the dramatic financial times back in Greece. In this castle I felt the transitions from Paradiso to Inferno and Purgatory many times during the days.

12. I would also call it a kind of ‘Do-It-Together’ procedure.

 

View of the Anafi camp and the remains of the Internet Bonfire, August 2012

 A still of a live- streamed performance Dead Sea edition,
April 2014