Johannes Grenzfurthner

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Johannes Grenzfurthner
Johannes Grenzfurthner at Museumsquartier, Vienna (2011).jpg
Johannes Grenzfurthner at Museumsquartier, Vienna (2011)
Born 1975
Occupation artist, writer, curator, theatre director, film director
Nationality Austrian
Citizenship Austria


Johannes Grenzfurthner (German: [joˈhanəs ˈgrɛntsfʊrtnə]; born 1975 in Vienna) is an award-winning Austrian artist, filmmaker, writer, curator and theatre director. 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.

He is one of the most outspoken researchers in the field of sexuality and technology, and one of the founders of 'techno-hedonism' (see also: barbots).

Recurring topics in Grenzfurthner's art and writing are contemporary art, film, activism, performance, humour, philosophy, sex, communism, robotics, postmodernism, media theory, cultural studies, popular culture studies, science fiction, and the debate about copyright.

Career overview[edit]


Johannes Grenzfurthner founded monochrom in 1993. He wanted to create an 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,[1] and to combine his political background in the Austrian punk movement with discussion of new technologies and the cultures they create.[2] The magazine featured many interviews and essays, for example by Bruce Sterling, HR Giger, Richard Kadrey, Arthur Kroker, Negativland, Kathy Acker, Michael Marrak or DJ Spooky,[3] in its specific experimental layout style.[4] In 1995 the group decided to cover new artistic practices[5][6][7] and started experimenting with different media: computer games, musical, short films, pranks, online activism, which Grenzfurthner calls 'Urban Hacking'[8] or more specific: 'Context hacking', a term that Grenzfurthner coined.[9]

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.[10]

Grenzfurthner is the group's artistic director.

Conferences and festivals[edit]

Grenzfurthner is head of Arse Elektronika[11][12][13] festival in San Francisco (2007 – ), an annual academic[14] and artistic[15] 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,[16] 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."[17]

Johannes Grenzfurthner and Pedobear at ROFLcon 2009

Grenzfurthner is head of Hedonistika,[18] 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'.


Grenzfurthner wrote and directed a range of theatre plays,[19][20][21] street theatre performances[22][23] and short films.
His first feature film was the independent fantasy comedy Die Gstettensaga: The Rise of Echsenfriedl. He is currently working on several feature films (e.g. Sierra Zulu,[24][25] Over Lunch) and the documentary features traceroute and Nothing To Hide.[26]

Academia, writing, lecturing[edit]

Grenzfurthner is a professor of art theory and practice at the University of Applied Sciences, Graz, Austria and is a lecturer on culture jamming at University of Arts and Industrial Design in Linz, Austria.[27][28] He has been a guest lecturer at numerous universities in the United States as well.[29][30]

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.[31][32][33][34][35]

Grenzfurthner published the much debated[36] pamphlet "Hacking the Spaces", that dealt with exclusionist tendencies in the hackerspaces movement.[37] He extended his critique through lectures at the 2012 and 2014 Hackers on Planet Earth conferences in New York City.

He writes for various online/print magazines and radio stations (e.g. ORF,[38] Telepolis, Boing Boing[39]).


Grenzfurthner is a comedian and performs at various venues, e.g. Vienna's Rabenhof Theater.[40] Parts of his comedy show "Schicksalsjahre eines Nerds" form the basis of his documentary film Traceroute (2015).

Community work[edit]

Grenzfurthner sees monochrom as a community and social incubator of critical and subversive thinkers.[41] 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.[42] Shot glasses remained a theme throughout the history of MakerBot.[43]

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 started the "Hackbus" community,[44][45][46] a platform[vague] and movement for mobile hackerspaces.

Commercial work[edit]

Grenzfurthner is a professional creative consultant and offers coaching sessions for individuals and companies.[47]
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.[48][49][50][51][52]
He conceptualized and co-built a robot installation to promote the products of sex toy company Bad Dragon.[53]


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).[54] He 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",[55] and an honorary mention at the 2007 aniMOTION Awards (Sibiu, Romania) for Interactive Tales for monochrom's "Soviet Unterzoegersdorf/Sector 1/The Adventure Game".[56] His short film "The Void's Foaming Ebb" got a special jury mention at the 2008 MEDIA FORUM/Moscow International Film Festival.[57] He was an honoree at the 13th Annual Webby Awards.[58] He won (as the artistic director of monochrom) the Art Award of the FWF Austrian Science Fund (2013).[59] His feature film Die Gstettensaga: The Rise of Echsenfriedl won Best Foreign Horror Feature at the 2014 Indie Gathering International Film Festival,[60] won Best Hacker Feature at the 2014 PhutureCon Festival,[61] won Best Foreign Cult Movie at the 2014 Fright Night Film Fest,[62] won Best Narrative Feature at the Maker Film Festival.[63] The film was nominated for Best Feature at Colortape International Film Festival[64] 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).[65] Microfilmmaker Magazine awarded the movie an Award of Superiority (9.5/10).[66] The Indie Fest awarded the movie an Award of Merit.[67] The 2015 'DIY Film Festival' in Los Angeles awarded the film a 'honorable mention'.[68]

Personal life[edit]

Johannes Grenzfurthner lives and works in Vienna and Durango, Colorado. He grew up in rural Lower Austria and talks about it in his stand-up comedy "Schicksalsjahre eines Nerds". He identifies as a leftist and atheist.[69] He was married to digital artist Heather Kelley.[70]



  • 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)


  1. ^ "CRE062 Monochrom"
  2. ^ Marc Da Costa, "Interview with Johannes Grenzfurthner of monochrom, Part 3", Furtherfield.
  3. ^ monochrom back issues 1993-2010
  4. ^ "monochrom #26-34 Ye Olde Self-Referentiality", Neural, 15 June 2010.
  5. ^ Simulacrum Fisticuffs (interview with Johannes Grenzfurthner), Rhysophocles, March 16, 2011
  6. ^ Erin Kobayashi, "How to be buried alive", Toronto Star, February 6, 2007
  7. ^ Marie Lechner, "[1]", Libération, March 4, 2008.
  8. ^ Urban Hacking: Culture Jamming in the Risky Spaces of Modernity, book review by Molly Hankwitz in OtherCinema, September 24, 2011
  9. ^ Context Hacking: Some Examples of How to Mess with Art, the Media System, Law and the Market, at O'Reilly ETech 2008, San Diego
  10. ^ Context Hacking: How to Mess with Art, Media, Law and the Market, essay, published 2013 by Grenzfurthner
  11. ^ Silverberg, David (4 October 2007). "Sex Meets Tech at Kinky Conference in San Francisco" Digital Journal. Retrieved 19 February 2012.
  12. ^ Arse Elektronika 2007: Porn and Tech Conference, In: San Francisco Gate
  13. ^ Interview with Arse Elektronika curator Johannes Grenzfurthner in Kill Screen Magazine: "Stories about orcs and rape: the man behind Arse Elektronika"
  14. ^ Prosthetic Fetishes and Fan Erotica: Sci-Fi Predicts Future of Sex, In: Wired Online
  15. ^ 'Dirty Deeds Done Six Feet Deep', in Rue Morgue, January 2011
  16. ^ Bot Bartenders Sling Drinks at Roboexotica USA, In: Wired Online
  17. ^ 'Counter Cultural Hour by RE/Search Publications', September 2008
  18. ^ Hedonistika; information on BIAN homepage
  19. ^ 'Die Außerirdischen in Dir wollen nur Deinen Körper!' by Norbert Mayer in "Die Presse", 04/24/2006
  20. ^ 'Improv Reality Sitcom Gets Spacy', on
  21. ^ Kotze, Sperma und Inventur im Weltraum, Telepolis Magazine, Peter Mühlbauer, June 24, 2011
  22. ^ "Protestors" call games industry a "temple of sin," demand repentance in: Ars Technika, 03/09/2012
  23. ^ Nazi Petting Zoo: on Boing Boing TV, July 2008
  24. ^ 'Sierra Zulu' project page
  25. ^ 'Earthmoving', A Sierra Zulu prequel, in, February 2012
  26. ^ 'Nothing To Hide', IMDb entry
  27. ^ Faculty page at University of Applied Science, Graz
  28. ^ Faculty Page at University of Arts and Industrial Design
  29. ^ 'Carnegie Mellon Event Calendar - Johannes Grenzfurthner'
  30. ^ 'Webster University Visiting Artists'
  31. ^ Guerrilla Comm, In: ORF Online
  32. ^ 'We're only Markenwert. Die Übernahme der Lord Jim Loge durch monochrom', in: "Geistiges Eigentum und Originalität", published by Verlag Turia+Kant, 2011
  33. ^ A Short History Of A Collaborative Conspiracy, In: AC:Collaborative
  34. ^ Every Five Seconds an Inkjet Printer Dies Somewhere, In: Kino unter Sternen
  35. ^ 'Google Books - Author Johannes Grenzfurthner'
  36. ^ "Hacking the Spaces" at P2P Foundation
  37. ^ Hacking the Spaces by Grenzfurthner/Schneider, 2009; in
  38. ^ Johannes Grenzfurthner's column on the website of Austrian National Broadcast ORF
  39. ^ Various works for Boing Boing
  40. ^ "Pornos und tote Hühner", Johannes Grenzfurthner at Rabenhof Theater; in Standard
  41. ^ Context Hacking: How to Mess with Art, Media, Law and the Market, reader, published 2013 by Grenzfurthner
  42. ^ Interview in 'Open Design Now', published by Waag
  43. ^ CNN about Bre Pettis printing shot glasses at SXSW 2013
  44. ^ Hackbus: migratory learning and teaching units
  45. ^ Sur la route des hackers évangélistes, Sabine Blanc, OWNI, September 1, 2011
  46. ^ Jeder ist ein Lehrer, in: Brand Eins Magazine (by Oliver Helbig), 2011
  47. ^ Grenzfurthner, coaching website
  48. ^ Frito-Lay Puts Cheetos Brand in Bloggers' Hands, in "Ad Age", Michael Learmonth; February 11, 2009
  49. ^ Tom Cunniff/iCPG, 2009
  50. ^ PSFK Agency, 2009
  51. ^ Chas Edwards' blog, 2009
  52. ^ so2/rhizomatic architecture, 2009
  53. ^ Wenn Roboter einschenken
  54. ^ Nestroy Theatre Prize 2005; German Wikipedia
  55. ^ Videomedeja archive pages
  56. ^ altart/aniMOTION archive pages
  57. ^ Mediaforum archive pages
  58. ^ monochrom: Category: Blog - Culture/Personal at The 13th Annual Webby Awards
  59. ^ Press release: Art Award of the FWF Austrian Science Fund (2013)
  60. ^ The Indie Gathering International Film Festival, Winners 2014
  61. ^ monochrom/blog entry, July 30, 2014
  62. ^ Fright Night Film Fest, official homepage
  63. ^ Maker Film Festival, Durango, official homepage
  64. ^ Awards listing for Johannes Grenzfurthner on IMDb
  65. ^ 7th International Filmmaker Festival of World Cinema, London 2015, nominations
  66. ^ Microfilmmaker Magazine, Award of Superiority, August 2014
  67. ^ The Indie Fest Film Awards 2014, August 2014
  68. ^ The DIY Film Festival, Honorable Mention, March 2015; on
  69. ^ Official homepage, 2014
  70. ^ Personal information on IMDb

External links[edit]