Johannes Grenzfurthner (German: [joˈhanəs ˈgrɛntsfʊrtnə]; born 1975 in Vienna) is an award-winning Austrian artist, filmmaker, writer, actor, curator, theatre director and lecturer. He is known as the founder, conceptualist and artistic director of monochrom, an international art and theory group. Most of his artworks are labelled monochrom.
Recurring topics in Grenzfurthner's art and writing are film, technology, political activism, contemporary art, performance art, humour, philosophy, sexuality, critical theory, robotics, postmodernism, media theory, cultural studies, popular culture studies, science fiction, and the debate about intellectual property.
In the early 1990s, Johannes Grenzfurthner was an active member of several BBS message boards. He used his online connections to create a zine or alternative magazine that dealt with art, technology and subversive cultures, and was influenced by US magazines like Mondo 2000. Grenzfurthner's motivation was to react to the emerging conservativism in cyber-cultures of the early 1990s, and to combine his political background in the Austrian punk and antifa movement with discussion of new technologies and the cultures they create. The publication featured many interviews and essays, for example by Bruce Sterling, HR Giger, Richard Kadrey, Arthur Kroker, Negativland, Kathy Acker, Michael Marrak, DJ Spooky, Geert Lovink, Lars Gustafsson, Tony Serra, Friedrich Kittler, Jörg Buttgereit, Eric Drexler, Terry Pratchett, Jack Sargeant and Bob Black, in its specific experimental layout style. In 1995 the group decided to cover new artistic practices and started experimenting with different media: computer games, robots, puppet theater, musical, short films, pranks, conferences, online activism, which Grenzfurthner calls 'Urban Hacking' or more specific: 'Context hacking', a term that Grenzfurthner coined.
- Context hacking transfers the hackers' objectives and methods to the network of social relationships in which artistic production occurs, and upon which it is dependent. In a metaphoric sense, these relationships also have a source code. Programs run in them, and our interaction with them is structured by a user interface. When we know how a space, a niche, a scene, a subculture or a media or political practice functions, we can change it and "recode" it, deconstructing its power relationships and emancipating ourselves from its compulsions and packaging guidelines.
The group is known for working with different media, art and entertainment formats. Johannes Grenzfurthner calls this "looking for the best weapon of mass distribution of an idea".
Grenzfurthner is the group's artistic director.
Conferences and festivals
Grenzfurthner is head of Arse Elektronika festival in San Francisco (2007 – ), an annual academic and artistic conference and anthology series that focusses on sexuality and technology. The first conference was curated by Grenzfurthner in 2007 to answer questions about the impact of sexuality on technological innovation and adoption.
Grenzfurthner is hosting Roboexotica, the international Festival for Cocktail-Robotics (2002–) which invites researchers and artists to build machines that serve or mix cocktails. V. Vale calls Roboexotica "an ironic attempt to criticize techno-triumphalism and to dissect technological hypes."
Grenzfurthner is head of Hedonistika, a "smorgastic Festival for Gastrobots, Culinatronics, Advanced Snackhacks and Nutritional Mayhem", an event dedicated to approaches in gastronomical robots, cooking machines, molecular cuisine and experimental food performances. The first installment was presented in Montréal at the 2014 'Biennale internationale d'art numérique'. The second installment was presented in Holon, near Tel Aviv, at 'Print Screen Festival'.
Director, film producer
His first feature film as a director was the independent fantasy comedy Die Gstettensaga: The Rise of Echsenfriedl (2014). His first feature documentary is Traceroute (2016). He is working on several feature films (e.g. Sierra Zulu, Nothing to Hide), but his current main project is Tycho, a farcical film musical about the life and times of eccentric astronomer Tycho Brahe.
Academia, writing, lecturing
Grenzfurthner lectures at different universities in Austria (e.g. University of Applied Sciences, Graz, Austria; University of Arts and Industrial Design, Linz, Austria) and in the United States. He works as a thesis advisor, for example for Georg Mir's ethical tabletop roleplaying game Michtim: Fluffy Adventures.
He has published numerous books, essays and articles on contemporary art, communication processes and philosophy including Mind and Matter: Comparative Approaches Towards Complexity, Do androids sleep with electric sheep?, Of Intercourse and Intracourse: Sexuality, Biomodification and the Techno-Social Sphere and Pr0nnovation?: Pornography and Technological Innovation.
Grenzfurthner published the much debated pamphlet "Hacking the Spaces", that dealt with exclusionist tendencies in the hackerspaces movement. He extended his critique through lectures at the 2012 and 2014 Hackers on Planet Earth conferences in New York City.
Entertainment and acting
Grenzfurthner is a comedian and performs at various venues, e.g. Vienna's Rabenhof Theater. Parts of his comedy show "Schicksalsjahre eines Nerds" form the basis of his documentary film Traceroute (2016).
Grenzfurthner sees monochrom as a community and social incubator of critical and subversive thinkers. An example is Bre Pettis of MakerBot Industries, who got inspired to create 3d printers during an art residency with Grenzfurthner at monochrom in 2007. Pettis wanted to create a robot that could print shot glasses for the event Roboexotica and did research about the RepRap project at the Vienna hackerspace Metalab. Shot glasses remained a theme throughout the history of MakerBot.
Grenzfurthner was one of the core team members in the development process of netznetz, a new kind of community-based funding system for net culture and net art together with the culture department of the city government of Vienna.
He is frequently invited as a jury member for festivals and cons.
Grenzfurthner is a professional creative consultant and offers coaching sessions for individuals and companies.
He was behind an acclaimed series of viral marketing videos for Boing Boing Video, dealing with a mysterious packages full of Cheetos. The series is set in the alternative universe of Soviet Unterzoegersdorf.
- If I had not grown up in Stockerau, in the boonies of Lower Austria, than I would not be what I am now. The germ cell of burgeoning nerdism is difference. The yearning to be understood, to find opportunities to share experiences, to not be left alone with one's bizarre interest. At the same time one derives an almost perverse pleasure from wallowing in this deficit. Nerds love deficiency: that of the other, but also their own. Nerds are eager explorers, who enjoy measuring themselves against one another and also compete aggressively. And yet the nerd's existence also comprises an element of the occult, of mystery. The way in which this power is expressed or focused is very important.
Grenzfurthner uses his personal life as an inspiration for his art and activism. On his personal website he states that he deals with his claustrophobic tendencies by "occasionally burying people alive."
As a kid and teenager, Grenzfurthner spent a lot of time at his grandparents' farm in the small village of Unterzögersdorf (a cadastral municipality of Stockerau). His grandparents' stories about Naziism, World War II and the Soviet occupation in allied-occupied Austria (1945-1955) influenced monochrom's long-term project Soviet Unterzoegersdorf.
He identifies as a leftist and atheist.
He is married to filmmaker Anna Grenzfurthner.
- As the director of Udo 77 he won the 2004 'Nestroy Theatre Prize' (Vienna) 2005 (together with 'The Great Television Swindle' by maschek and 'Freundschaft' by Steinhauer and Henning).
- Won a special mention at the 2006 Videomedeja Awards (Novi Sad, Serbia) for Net/Software Category for monochrom's "Soviet Unterzoegersdorf/Sector 1/The Adventure Game", and an honorary mention at the 2007 aniMOTION Awards (Sibiu, Romania) for Interactive Tales for monochrom's "Soviet Unterzoegersdorf/Sector 1/The Adventure Game".
- His short film "The Void's Foaming Ebb" got a special jury mention at the 2008 MEDIA FORUM/Moscow International Film Festival.
- Honoree at the 13th Annual Webby Awards.
- Won (as the artistic director of monochrom) the Art Award of the FWF Austrian Science Fund (2013).
- His feature film Die Gstettensaga: The Rise of Echsenfriedl won Best Foreign Horror Feature at the 2014 Indie Gathering International Film Festival, won Best Hacker Feature at the 2014 PhutureCon Festival, won Best Foreign Cult Movie at the 2014 Fright Night Film Fest, won Best Narrative Feature at the Maker Film Festival. The film was nominated for Best Feature at Colortape International Film Festival and Best Foreign Language Feature Film, Best Director of a Foreign Language Film and Best Soundtrack at the 2015 International Filmmaker Festival of World Cinema (London). Microfilmmaker Magazine awarded the movie an Award of Superiority (9.5/10). The Indie Fest awarded the movie an Award of Merit. The 2015 'DIY Film Festival' in Los Angeles awarded the film a 'honorable mention'.
- His feature documentary Traceroute won Best Documentary Feature at the 2016 Phuture Con Festival (Denver, USA/Sapporo, Japan), won the Award of Merit for Documentary Feature at the 2016 Accolade Global Film Competition, won the award for Best Documentary Feature Film at the 2016 Subversive Film Awards in Los Angeles, won the Award of Merit at The Indie Fest Awards in several categories (Documentary Feature, History / Biographical, Tourism / Travel, Contemporary Issues / Awareness Raising) and won a Honorable Mention at The Indie Gathering International Film Festival 2016. It was nominated for the 2016 Austrian Documentary Award (ADA). The hackerspace Voidwarranties in Antwerp, Belgium awarded Traceroute the title of "Nerd Movie Of The Year 2016". Traceroute is a competition finalist at the 2016 Filmmatic Filmmaker Awards. Diamond In The Rough Film Festival 2016 in Cupertino awarded Traceroute Best Feature Documentary, Celludroid Film Festival 2016 in Cape Town awarded the film Best Documentary and FrackFest 2016 in Oklahoma City gave Traceroute the Best of the Fest award and the Best Doc of the Fest Award. The film is also semi-finalist for the Golden Kapok Award at Guangzhou International Documentary Film Festival 2016.
- Die Gstettensaga: The Rise of Echsenfriedl (2014) – director, writer, producer
- Traceroute (2016) – director, writer, producer
- Shingal, where are you? (2016) - co-producer
- Valossn (2016) - associate producer
- Zero Crash (2016) – actor
- Editor of magazine/yearbook series "monochrom" (1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2010)
- Editor of "Stadt der Klage" (Michael Marrak, 1997)
- Editor of "Weg der Engel" (Michael Marrak and Agus Chuadar, 1998)
- Editor of "Who shot Immanence?" (together with Thomas Edlinger and Fritz Ostermayer, 2002)
- Editor of "Leutezeichnungen" (together with Elffriede, 2003)
- Editor of "Quo Vadis, Logo?!" (together with Günther Friesinger, 2006)
- Editor of "Spektakel – Kunst – Gesellschaft" (together with Stephan Grigat and Günther Friesinger, 2006)
- Editor of "pr0nnotivation? Arse Elektronika Anthology" (together with Günther Friesinger and Daniel Fabry, 2008)
- Editor of "Roboexotica" (together with Günther Friesinger, Magnus Wurzer, Franz Ablinger and Chris Veigl, 2008)
- Editor of "Do Androids Sleep with Electric Sheep?" (together with Günther Friesinger, Daniel Fabry and Thomas Ballhausen, 2009)
- Editor of "Schutzverletzungen/Legitimation of Mediatic Violence" (together with Günther Friesinger and Thomas Ballhausen, 2010)
- Editor of "Urban Hacking" (together with Günther Friesinger and Thomas Ballhausen, 2010)
- Editor of "Geist in der Maschine. Medien, Prozesse und Räume der Kybernetik" (together with Günther Friesinger, Thomas Ballhausen, Verena Bauer, 2010)
- Editor of "The Wonderful World of Absence" (together with Günther Friesinger and Daniel Fabry, 2011)
- Editor of "Of Intercourse and Intracourse – Sexuality, Biomodification and the Techno-Social Sphere" (together with Günther Friesinger and Daniel Fabry, 2011)
- Editor of "Context Hacking: How to Mess with Art, Media, Law and the Market" (together with Günther Friesinger and Frank Apunkt Schneider, 2013)
- Editor of "Screw The System – Explorations of Spaces, Games and Politics through Sexuality and Technology" (together with Günther Friesinger and Daniel Fabry, 2013)
- Interview with Arse Elektronika curator Johannes Grenzfurthner in Kill Screen Magazine: "Stories about orcs and rape: the man behind Arse Elektronika"
- "The story of Traceroute, about a Leitnerd's quest", Boing Boing magazine; April 14, 2016
- Interview with Johannes Grenzfurthner about Traceroute, Boing Boing magazine; April 14, 2016
- "CRE062 Monochrom"
- Marc Da Costa, "Interview with Johannes Grenzfurthner of monochrom, Part 3", Furtherfield.
- "monochrom print".
- "monochrom #26–34 Ye Olde Self-Referentiality", Neural, 15 June 2010.
- Simulacrum Fisticuffs (interview with Johannes Grenzfurthner), Rhysophocles, March 16, 2011
- Erin Kobayashi, "How to be buried alive", Toronto Star, 6 February 2007
- Marie Lechner, "", Libération, 4 March 2008.
- Context Hacking: Some Examples of How to Mess with Art, the Media System, Law and the Market, at O'Reilly ETech 2008, San Diego
- "monochrom: CONTEXT HACKING – Essay".
- "Finding Your Weapons of Mass Distribution: A Conversation with Context Hacker Johannes Grenzfurthner", published on Narrative Design, September 19, 2015
- Silverberg, David (4 October 2007). "Sex Meets Tech at Kinky Conference in San Francisco" Digital Journal. Retrieved 19 February 2012.
- Violet Blue, Special to SF Gate (4 October 2007). "Arse Elektronika 2007: Porn and Tech Conference / Violet Blue holds hope for the future of sex, despite the musical condoms". SFGate.
- "Prosthetic Fetishes and Fan Erotica: Sci-Fi Predicts Future of Sex". WIRED. 24 September 2008.
- 'Dirty Deeds Done Six Feet Deep', in Rue Morgue, January 2011
- Jenna Wortham (12 June 2008). "Bot Bartenders Sling Drinks at Roboexotica USA". WIRED.
- Justin Page. "Sputnikfest 2012 Event Schedule". Laughing Squid.
- Hedonistika; official homepage
- Hedonistika; information on BIAN homepage
- Hedonistika at Print Screen Festival 2016
- "Kritik Theater: Die Außerirdischen in Dir wollen nur Deinen Körper!". DiePresse.com.
- "Improv Reality 'Sitcom' Gets Spacy". DNews.
- Peter Mühlbauer (24 June 2011). "Kotze, Sperma und Inventur im Weltraum". Telepolis.
- ""Protestors" call games industry a "temple of sin," demand repentance". Ars Technica.
- "BBtv: Monochrom's Nazi Petting Zoo". Boing Boing.
- Laughing Squid: "Earthmoving, A Short Film by Monochrom (A Prequel To Sierra Zulu)", 6 February 2012
- Producer of "Traceroute", 2016
- Associate producer of "Valossn", 2016
- "Die Gstettensaga" project page, film download
- "Sierra Zulu".
- 'Earthmoving', A Sierra Zulu prequel, in Film.at, February 2012
- "Nothing to Hide (2016)". IMDb.
- Tycho, official homepage
- FH JOANNEUM Gesellschaft mbH. "Studium "Informationsdesign" – FH JOANNEUM Gesellschaft mbH: University of applied sciences".
- Faculty Page at University of Arts and Industrial Design
- 'Carnegie Mellon Event Calendar – Johannes Grenzfurthner'
- Karin Hodgin Jones. "Visiting Artist".
- "Guerrilla Comm?". 21 April 2009.
- Ingo Vavra. "Kroeger u.a. (Hg.) – Geistiges Eigentum und Originalität".
- A Short History Of A Collaborative Conspiracy, In: AC:Collaborative
- "Every Five Seconds an Inkjet Printer Dies Somewhere".
- "inauthor:"Johannes Grenzfurthner" – Google Search".
- "Hacking the Spaces".
- Hacking the Spaces by Grenzfurthner/Schneider, 2009; in Textfiles.com
- "Johannes Grenzfurthner – fm4.ORF.at".
- "Monochrom: 20 years' worth of Viennese art-weirdness". Boing Boing.
- Dorian Waller. "Pornos und tote Hühner". derStandard.at.
- Heise.de: "Scheiß-Internet"-Preis für PR-Kampagne "Kunst hat Recht", 21 February 2013
- Elevate Festival 2013, Grenzfurthner hosted the opening gala
- "national ANTHEMS" presented by Miki Malör, Vienna, 2005
- Kleine Zeitung: "KOMM.ST 1.6 - Gasthäuser werden zum Wald", 23 May 2016
- Zero Crash, official website
- "CONTEXT HACKING: How to Mess with Art, Media, Law and the Market".
- "MADE IN MY BACKYARD / BRE PETTIS".
- Brandon Griggs, CNN (9 March 2013). "Startup unveils 3-D scanner at SXSW". CNN.
- "Site Offline".
- "Sur la route des hackers évangélistes".
- "Mozilla Bildung: Jeder ist ein Lehrer – brand eins online".
- Ben Jones: Pirates Gather at First International Pirate Party Conference, torrentfreak, September 9, 2007.
- "International Pirate Parties Conference 2007 Wiki". Wiki.pp-international. July 10, 2007.
- Flying Robot Film Festival, judges 2016
- "Johannes Grenzfurthner / Coaching".
- Michael Learmonth. (11 February 2009). "Frito-Lay Puts Cheetos Brand in Bloggers' Hands".
- "Cheetos and Boing-Boing: The Orange, Cheesy-Smelling Future of Advertising?". i C P G.
- "Media As Creative Agency: Boing Boing Does Cheetos". PSFK. 9 February 2009.
- "Cheetos Arrives in Soviet Unterzoegersdorf".
- so2/rhizomatic architecture, 2009
- Philip Steffan (27 November 2014). "Wenn Roboter einschenken: 16. Roboexotica in Wien". Make.
- Interview with Johannes Grenzfurthner about Traceroute, Boing Boing magazine; April 14, 2016
- Johannes Grenzfurthner. "Johannes Grenzfurthner – about.me". about.me.
- "in soviet unterzoegersdorf, game play you", ERF_, 11 December 2010
- FM4: "Kurzbesuch in Sowjet-Unterzögersdorf", 23 July 2002
- Johannes Grenzfurthner. "Johannes Grenzfurthner – about.me". about.me.
- Nestroy Theatre Prize 2005; German Wikipedia
- "aniMOTION". AltArt.
- "MEDIA FORUM 2008 >>> We Are The Users – МЕДИА ФОРУМ 2008 >>> Мы Пользователи".
- "The Webby Awards".
- Press release: Art Award of the FWF Austrian Science Fund (2013)
- "20th Indie Gathering International Film Festival & more! – 2014 Winners".
- "Die Gstettensaga: Best Hacker Feature 2014 at "PhutureCon Festival" – monochrom".
- Maker Film Festival, Durango, official homepage
- Awards listing for Johannes Grenzfurthner on IMDb
- "Hacked By AnonCoders".
- "Die Gstettensaga: The Rise of Echsenfriedl (Straight Shooter Review)".
- "Deadline April 22, 2016".
- ""Die Gstettensaga": We got a honorable mention at 'The DIY Film Festival 2015' in Los Angeles – monochrom".
- Phuture Con Festival 2016
- Accolade Global Film Competition, Awards of Merit 2016
- List of winners of 2016 Subversive Film Awards in Los Angeles
- The Indie Fest Awards, Awards of Merit 2016
- The Indie Gathering International Film Festival, official site
- Austrian Documentary Award (ADA) nominee list 2016
- monochrom blog about Voidwarranties Nerd Movie Of The Year 2016
- Filmmatic Filmmaker Awards 2016, Winners
- Diamond In The Rough Film Festival 2016, list of winners
- Celludroid 2016 winners
- FrackFest 2016, award winners
- Guangzhou International Documentary Film Festival, Traceroute is semi-finalist
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