10 (2007), Nr.3/September



Closed Circuit Salzburg. 4662 Zeichen.


When Ira Schneider and Frank Gillette inaugurated a new visual arts genre with Wipe Cycle in 1969 ( which was made prominent in the next two years by Bruce Nauman’s Live Taped Video Corridor ( and Nam June Paik’s TV-Buddha (, nobody would have imagined that the term closed circuit installation would be applied to a system that got nothing to do with it: Closed Circuit Tele-Vision, the four capital letters of which already make suspicious as do those of “TV”. It may be suggested that controversies about the legitimacy of public surveillance indicate concerns about whether and how the power of closing and opening circles may be kept under the control of democratic as well as aesthetic public domain. This is all the more so as gatherings at wall-like block’s easily become a problem for traffic when in a zone of a narrow street running along the Salzach river used for leaving the town by car and hailing taxis a young audience of cult bars indulge in heavy drinking at weekends incited by bargain offers at times. The discussion in the media did not arrive at a pondering which parts of the nightly dead zone nearby called old City – used by the Salzburg Festival for a few summer weeks – could be promoted for the relocation of these bars. It did not even arrive at the conclusion that the bar keepers ought to take responsibly care of difficult guests, especially according to the law. It resulted in advertising the law in the bars and the installment of a two camera surveillance system between the Salzach river and the street. The measure was handed over from the police to one of the innkeepers there. Not much older than the youngsters who stand up for the right to party where business already warmly welcomes them, the innkeepers focus on them with a bar culture of alcohol and time (days) delay closed circuit photography series on screens, mixed with rock and house music. Proud of the founder of the Red Bull company who seems to have done much for Salzburg, bars and consumers are more than willing to convert a tequila, gin, Cointreau, white rum, vodka, orange juice, lemon juice (2cl each) mixed with Red Bull instead of Cola to a “Long Island Energy” drink. Noteworthy that Red Bull made a fortune not to the least by close-circuiting a variety of enterprises that were (re-)branded with the name and concept of that expensive drink coloured like beer, whiskey or urine and coming with a taste and smell like tooth paste or chewing gum for children, effervescent lemonade and a small portion of abyss (patchouli?). It goes without saying that these closed circuits are brands feeded cannily back into the media. Soon after Red Bull drink company was founded in 1984, it refrained from conventional advertising. After ads in the extreme sports markets, the drinks reached cult status by itself at techno parties in the mid 1990ies, especially in France where it was sold for up to € 6,50 a can because of prohibition due to potential dangers as related to the caffeine and taurine substances used among others for enhancing temporary attention, alertness, muscular tension, endurance and memorial capability. This taboo-breaking is reflected by the Red Bull (popular electronic) Music Academy as well as the numerous flashy sports game teams like the RB Salzburg football team and of course the two teams racing in the Formula One circus, an engagement stemming perhaps from sentiments about the old race circuit Salzburgring situated half way between Salzburg town and 15 miles distant Fuschl am See, the world headquarters of Red Bull. You may also believe in RB entering the art circle when looking at Andreas Gursky’s F1 Boxenstopp III of 2007, a C-print reportedly sold for $ 750.000,- each of an edition of six ( It shows a digitally fictionalized picture of cars of the Red Bull and Renault Formula 1 teams surrounded by their service teams, watched by an array of filming spectators much too near to the cars and unconspicuously focused with a single beautiful girl seemingly ignored and yet the most valuable in the men’s game. Gursky’s circuit seems to ironically disclose the illusory because of the multiple aims and effects of all the people running and setting up the car business and technology included the closed circuit TV cameras as installed on the cars. The artistic investigation of closed circuit installations however – with cameras directed at monitors and thereby inviting or necessitating the persons present to “really” close that visual circuit – is aimed at the mediatic différance of the image and picture of one’s, that is the art spectator’s own, between the pictures seen and the process depicted. Like for subway drivers and passengers, the open system lets you witness, share and participate in what is seen on the observation screens. In this way art had broken up the closed circle of consumer TV, the standardized one way feed back of viewer quota, market research and consumer interviews. Red Bull ante portas Salzburg Festival? Or will the people of Salzburg town and country be capable of inventing a new understanding of the arts and the economy in order to prevent from treacherous closed circuits?


© Peter Mahr 2007

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