FWF Art Award 2013

monochrom

is an international art-technology-philosophy
collective. Its members are Franz Ablinger, Daniel Fabry, Günther
Friesinger, Evelyn Fürlinger, Roland Gratzer, Johannes
Grenzfurthner, Harald List, Anika Kronberger, Frank Apunkt
Schneider

ISS

All the members of monochrom are fans of space travel. In 2001, during a visit to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, Johannes Grenzfurthner bought four sets of blue overalls. They were meant to be costumes for a play dealing with life on the International Space Station (ISS) and criticising the end of space travel as a utopian project. However, it took more than ten years for the play to become reality. But then, in early 2011, an old dream came true: space travel. The sitcom “monochrom’s ISS” shows workaday life in space. How do people live and work in the special conditions of a space station, with zero gravity and the dictatorship of functionality? In eleven episodes, we see the crew’s adventures in the form of an improvised sitcom. The ISS project is a good example of monochrom’s interdisciplinary approach, which incorporates theatre, fine arts, media arts, science, performance and installation.

The play “ISS” also deals with the implicit dialectics which characterise day-to-day life in a space station. On the one hand, it represents the age-old utopian vision of “reaching for the stars”, and on the other hand the real possibilities (and limits) of interstellar transport contradict the science fiction idea of discovering and colonising space as well as potential encounters with alien civilisations. This theme is addressed by the characters in the play again and again. In this context, the play elucidates the actual utopian potential of manned space missions, a potential which lies more in international (cross-border and “cosmopolitan”) cooperation than in the discovery of unknown civilisations. The key question is: How does exploring space actually benefit humans? One possible answer provided by the project might be that space (as a counterpoint to the conditions on earth) helps them perceive humanity as a whole and to overcome the artificially created ethnic and national barriers which humanity has created for itself. This is probably the most important challenge humans face in the new millennium.