by Morgan Russell
In honor of former MONDO editor and co-publisher Morgan Russell’s ashes finding their way back from Austria to his home state of Wisconsin, we present this marvelous unfinished piece he sent us about a Chaos Computer Club gathering in what was once East Berlin. The piece ended suddenly when Morgan didn’t send us the ending, but the fun is more in getting to the conference and getting in the conference than in the conference itself… or at least that’s what one would imagine.
“Chaos. It’s more than just a name. It’s our way of doing business!”
Germany’s Chaos Computer Club is known in the US primarily for its incursions into U.S. military and NASA computers (see Clifford Stoll’s The Cuckoo’s Egg). Then there was the well-publicized information-for-money deal with the KGB that got busted. The latter was perpetrated by persons who, while not official club members, are at least within the Chaos Computer Club’s ambit. Little more is known about the Chaos group outside Germany.
Chaos members who might enlighten the rest of the world as to the nature of their organization seem to be nonexportable. One of their better-known members, Steffen Wernery, was arrested on charges of computer vandalism on his arrival in Paris where he had a speaking engagement. He was imprisoned for months. Other well-known members are understandably loathe to leave Germany.
Contact between the Chaos Computer Club and the East Berlin Computer Club was established at the CCC’s Christmastime ’89 Kongress in Hamburg. When I received calls from Hamburg and Amsterdam alerting me that the next CCC Kongress was imminent and to be held in the “East Zone,” as the West German computer security journal Daterschutz-Berate quaintly termed it, I immediately left for Europe.
Arriving in Amsterdam, I learned that I was a full month early. I suspect my informant was a bit hazy on the exact dates simply because he wanted an Amerikan around to talk to. No matter. I purposefully occupied my time doing preliminary fieldwork in Amsterdam, checking out its hacker underground, squatters’ movement, pirate radio and TV, and the newly identified Anti- Media Movement
Battle-cry of the Anti-Media Movement
I got my first glimmer of the Anti-Media Movement talking to a member of a group known as ADILKNO (The Foundation for the Advancement of Illegal Knowledge). ADILKNO publishes manifestoes in a hyperintellectual art and media journal, Mediamatic. A magazine for the well-read polyglot, its matter is well-nigh impenetrable without a thorough knowledge of Baudrillard, Virilio, Bataille, and Eco, for starters. Its motto is, “We watch media like others watch TV.”
ADILKNO first proposed its attack on media in a Squatters’ Movement document: “By isolating the media, we will reach many more people! Within the movement, many feel we must give our opinions to the press.
The time in which we can reach our goals through public opinion has long been over!”
ADILKNO believes a “massive defection to reality” is occurring now that everything seems to be covered by the media. “The increasing need to make history in a hobby or tourist atmosphere, away from work, is consciously placing the media in the shadow of the event. For the moment, people have no more time for the media. . . Beyond the media traps, people clear the way tor themselves to do the right thing elsewhere. In Western museum cities, an avant-garde has formed the anti-media movement, which puts an end to all connections under the slogan, ‘Let’s pull down another media!’ With disappearing acts, it creates temporary and local media-free spaces. . . It is a pre-eminently secret movement because it carefully keeps itself out of the press and makes its existence known only through jamming and sabotage. All events that don’t appear in the media are claimed as a victory by the movement. . . The survival strategy of the media is to remain more interesting than reality.” Like that.
In the newly published Movement Teachings:Squatting Beyond the Media (as yet available only in Dutch), Geert Lovink and Arjen Mulder describe the “outer-medial experience” as “making history on the streets through ‘immediate’ (i.e. ‘media-free’) contact.”
The Anti-Media Movement is contentless. It can only be discerned, in Lovink and Mulder’s formulation, as “curious cuts in the data stream.” It is a question of “how we should read the gaps. Is it an accident or the Anti-Media Movement?” One needs “an eye for it.”
Hoping to catch traces of the meaningful gaps of the “AMM” at the CCC Kongress, I mobilize Special Forces: DFM Radio-Televisie.