Total Refusal

Artist

Leonhard Müllner (AT)
Robin Klengel (AT)
Michael Stumpf (AT)
TOTAL REFUSAL Digital Disarmament Movement (Robin Klengel, Leonhard Müllner, Michael Stumpf)   The vast majority of contemporary video games is characterized by combative gameplay. This seems especially remarkable now that video games have long arrived in the entertainment mainstream and have managed to drop the boy’s room stigmata. With gaming becoming both commercially and culturally more and more relevant, the question arises how artists can modify and make use of this media for their own purposes. In “Total Refusal”, artists Robin Klengel, Leonhard Müllner and Michael Stumpf aim to peacefully appropriate the existing mechanics of digital gaming media in order to find new use for their virtual combat zones. As such, “Total Refusal” is a pacifistic statement, realized in digital space.
Money is a Form of Speech
  • © Leonhard Müllner, Robin Klengel, Michael Stumpf
  • © Leonhard Müllner, Robin Klengel, Michael Stumpf
  • © Leonhard Müllner, Robin Klengel, Michael Stumpf
  • © Leonhard Müllner, Robin Klengel, Michael Stumpf

work-in-progress

 

“Money is a Form of Speech” is a lecture ballet through the digitally recreated Washington D.C. in an online shooter game. Using the limited body language provided by the game, the avatars dance and perform while discussing the questionable liaison of democracy and capitalism. Accompanied by a live musician and narrated on stage, the audience witnesses a peaceful Situationist intervention through the digital capital of the Western World.

Viewers follow a group of travel companions, crossing the digital battlefield of “The Division 2” (Ubisoft Entertainment 2019) -- a dystopian multiplayer online shooter game. Although armed to the teeth, these avatars come with peaceful intentions. Using the limited body language provided by the game, the in-game performers dance and perform through the battleground, create compositions and interact with the landscape while avoiding acts of violence.

They stop at trouble spots and observe the digital image of this city, which stands like no other as the ventricle and symbol of the liason of democracy and capitalism and the role of international organisations in it. Institutions aiming for civil liberty and equality and those targeting commodification can be found side by side in D.C. In fact, as being erected with the help of slavery for the sake of cost-efficiency, the history of D.C. and US American democracy both involves tendencies of liberation as well its restriction to an economic elite from the very beginning. 

From its inauguration in 1800 until today, Washington D.C. is not a city like any other but also a very strong and contested symbol. It is characterized by its thousand statues and representative buildings and was always understood as a monument itself. What can be learned about democracy in its current state by analyzing D.C.s digital representation?

 

 

EMAP/EMARE grants of Total Refusal