. . an electronic theatre work
The FogPatch is an initiative by Daniel Fetzner in collaboration with Georg Hobmeier and Henry Vega based on the life work of Max Bense (1910-1990). The fogpatch project is an attempt to reconstruct a traumatic body experience that came out of two encounters of this German scientist with San Francisco.
Between the matrix body and a body of fog.
At the age of 60 the cybernetician Max Bense experiences the onset of the irrational in his own body. During a
four-day stay in San Francisco in August 1969 he misses the bus in Sausalito. As the physicist Bense walks back
to the city over the Golden Gate Bridge, he encounters a highly complex system of particles. A fog bank rolling in
from the Pacific causes the temperature to fall by 15íC in an instant; the fog envelops the parabola of the steel
construction and drives the power of speech out of the word and gesture generator (9). The shock causes Bense
to experience a nasty renal colic and mortal fear the following night. He makes his first attempts at articulation and
coming to terms with the experience in the Existence Statement from San Francisco. This contains two contrasting observer roles in alternating methodically varying writing styles. On one side are Bense$s subjective
feelings, and on the other his sober rationalising of the situation. Switching between concrete and abstract style,
between semantic and syntactical techniques, as the author has explained elsewhere (1). The longed-for state of
the body is entirely nerve-free. While Jimy Hendrix merges with his guitar in Woodstock Bense only wants to be
like hair, strong and fine, sensitive, word-free and pain-free (3). The pretentious text appears in 1970 as a
collector$s edition of 100 copies with original etchings by the artist Helgart Rothe.
An aggressive defender of the modern, Max Bense was vigorously concerned from the 1940s with the
predictability of the world. His vision was the establishment of a new aesthetic as an exact and empirical science.
The metadisciplinary analysis of the processes of control and feedback were the way to overcome the split
between the "two cultures" of technology and science on the one side, and art and the humanities on the other
side. (5) In pursuing the "Mathesis Universalis" of Leibnitz, Bense starts with a categorial unity of aesthetical and
mathematical forms, as do many of his contemporaries in art and architecture (8). Fascinated by the possibilities
of discrete digital models and early electronic brains, he experiments in the field of creativity, but without doing
any programming himself. Continuing from the Birkhoff formula that calculates aesthetic value as the ratio of order
to complexity, he develops the format of concrete poetry in the 50s and works on the theory of painting. From the
position of existential rationalism, Bense attempts to apply Shannon$s notion of information to creative processes
and for this he introduces the idea of information aesthetics. According to Bense, the quality of works of art,
depending on their internal relationships of order, is somewhere on the scale between banality and chaos and can
thus be calculated.
Max Bense Symposium Fetzner, Hobmeier, Vega
Feb 6th 2010
Jan 31st 2010
Dec 6th 2008