1984 streichen   Austria   1983


Only fragments of the speech are remembered ? fragments from a manifesto-like, officially read-out voice-over text that makes the video 1984 streichen (Strike 1984) striking. Something is being announced here that belonged to the basic tone of things at the time when it was produced and would have been suitable, or at least adopts a concise stance in a context of its time: "everything is probable and nothing possible. a life in the subjunctive tense. surviving only as possibility. there is no danger. we are only interested in the probability. the lifejacket is in the cabinet next to the fire extinguisher. all of the preparations have been thought through. all the possibilities calculated. ready for all the catastrophes." (text by Ecke Bonk) Something is being attested to here in a preacherly manner, the partial extinguishing and then recombining of the green digital numbers '1984'. This is a rather laconic treatment of the location in the face of security measures, emergency alarm and danger ? in the face of a society that feels closely tied to the dystopia and wallows in emergency plans.
Survival as a form of existence. You haven't got a chance but use it.
Everyday is war.
Originally planned was (according to a statement by Romana Scheffknecht), to publish the text as an advertisement in the German national current affairs magazine Der Spiegel, which was then not possible on financial grounds.
1984 streichen alludes to a specific year as well as to the dystopian novel 1984, written by George Orwell in 1948, where the vocabulary used, the terminology, has become a key Pop culture reference (including Big Brother and Newspeak as a euphemistic diction for totalitarian systems). In Orwell's scenario the state concentrates on finding 'thought criminals' and 'thought crime' ? i.e. the state executive force identifies those people as 'terrorists' who do not conform to the dominant linguistic order and so who are suspected of evolving their own ideas, or of pursuing and developing other ideas. The panic-mongering and the kind of ritual exclusion are a form of social conditioning in the very projections that a culture generates and then shows alarm about.
1984 streichen bears the subtitle Proben für ein Finale (Rehearsals for a Finale) and the spoken text in all of its mannerism is clearly to be understood as a paradoxical manifesto. The deliberately mechanised speaker's voice is hypnotic in style. The thesis-like text is poetic and pathos-laden. The continual glowing and receding of the green lights of the digits is partially covered electronically by a black rectangle. The demand for the striking of a dystopia and the impossibility of its effacement manifests itself visually.
(Judith Fischer)
(translated by Jonathan Quinn)


Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, München/BRD 1983

Lenbachhaus, München, Germany


6min stereo color PAL

Technical protocol



Buero Wien & Nuova Bureau, Paris

Post production

Romana Scheffknecht


Romana Scheffknecht & Ecke Bonk

Copy to see

Niederösterreichisches Landesmuseum, St. Pölten, Medienkunstarchiv Wien

Ecke Bonk: Text zu "1984"