It’s pouring without mercy, but here this is highly appreciated.
»I like rain«, says Andy Warhol, founder of the famous Factory, as he greets us at the entrance of what appears to be an enormous post-apocalyptic amusement exhibition hall. »The rain suits the atmosphere well.«
»Everything we do should be an in-the-moment experience. Something that people can feel.«, he adds while we are entering the entrance. Inside the massive hall we are overwhelmed how massive it is and how much is going on inside. Only the Gigafactory can equal this in terms of complexity and size. »I like big things.«.
After founding the first Factory in 1962 which was located at East 87th Street, things went very well for Andy. This first studio was also known as »The Firehouse« since it was housed in an abandoned fire station.
The actual famous Factory – the legendary Silver Factory – was situated in Manhattan, between the United Nations headquarters and the Grand Central Terminal. In February 1968 they moved to another place inside Manhattan before the old building was demolished.
»Art is business…«
Under the increasing influence of the employees Paul Morrissey and Frederick Hughes, the factory was finally transformed from the bohemian-like field of experimentation and drug handling to a »clean« security and camera-monitored office.
In July 1968, the Warhol actress and women’s rights activist Valerie Solanas entered the still open new building and shot Warhol, after he had refused to film a script for her manifesto of the Society for Cutting Up Men (SCUM). The loose sixties »factory years« were now finally over and the once spontaneously spiced up studio gave way to a financial-oriented high-gloss art group including board and managing directors.
After entering the entrance, Andy leads us to one of the factory’s conference rooms. »Art is business«, he formulates it while we are passing the first robots of tremendous size and unusual eloquence. »Those robots are quite huge, aren’t they? With them we can produce paintings up to a size of a football field«.
»After the last studio also was getting to small, I decided we needed to get bigger, more flexible for production«. So they went public at the New York Stock Exchange as the first stock run by a fine artist with the ticker symbol PAWF, standing for Public Andy Warhol Factory. Also a much bigger factory was going to be built in Shenzhen, China. It’s the factory we are currently in and it is truly astonishing.
After going public they also established a corporate structure that enabled to gain a maximum of capital to work with and also to let Andy still control the factory. »There a two stocks existing of PAWF. The one for the public only has one voting right, whereas the stock I posses to 71% does include a voting power of ten.« The other 29% of those are controlled by several employees that got more and more important over time. Back then when the Factory was on the track of steep success, the first employees started to demand more stakes for their work.
With the rise of poststructuralism and their pioneers like Jean-François Lyotard, Jacques Derrida and most importantly Michel Foucault, the concept of everything would be constructed out of language and if one would change this, everything could be changed into the way one wanted, history and science became obsolete and also even dangerous. »For us as a fine art factory this was the best possible move that could have happened«, Andy says. Because of this change in thinking, historical narratives no longer mattered and even high art became a waste product for short term consumption. Art no longer mattered trough millenniums, it’s all just a matter of context now. Art can be repeated and reproduced as long as the context changes. And the context is changing every second as time moves on.
Today PAWF is the biggest multi billion dollar company for high and popular art. »We offer art for every size of wallet, wether you have 50 bucks or a multi million. It does not depend on how much you can spend, only your willingness.«. In fact, the Factory can show off with extraordinary growth rates since new sales markets are getting tapped. With every mixture between technical and genetical life forms that are creating more and more life variations and also new places in space to be discovered and utilized, the potential market for art rises steadily. Thanks to »The Declaration of Free Intelligence« all of those new subjects coming to life, guaranteeing free-will for all artificial and natural intelligent life forms, the future of Andy Warhol’s Factory is certainly going to flourish.
Arriving after a longer walk at the conference room, the interior of it is lined with aluminum foil and sprinkled with silver paint, based on an idea of the former employee and photographer Billy Linich. The large windows to the outside are covered with silver foil so that day and night can no longer be distinguished from each other by artificial lighting.
»In the past we did a large amount of screen prints and objects by hand. Now, we use automated ways to produce things.«, Andy says. Indeed, the Factory has changed a lot and is nowadays looking more like a high tech company than an artist’s studio. But nevertheless Andy managed his path as a poor American immigrant to one of the internationally most well known persons in the art scene.
After visiting the conference room, Andy shows us around at the factory, showing us the different sections in it. The whole campus is divided up into several pieces. The biggest section is for installation and art in architecture. Then there is sculpture and painting. The third is for everything that has to do with digital art. The smaller ones consist of merchandising and prints. There is also a separated main tower in where all the art is getting thought trough and trough which every person has to go when entering the company. It is like a think tank for ideas, fueling the complete factory. A piece of art is no longer done with the hand of an artist, but by different kinds of robots and 3 dimensional printers. »And you can’t even distinguish wether an artwork is made by hand or by one of our machines«, Andy is concluding proudly.
Currently the factory is in preparation mode for some commissions which is why we cannot see a lot of interim results at the moment. Nevertheless, interesting things can be seen at the factory. Their current biggest corporate commissioners include public companies like Tencent Holdings, YY.com, JD.com, Apple, Johnson & Johnson, Ajinomoto but also several other collectors who rather want to stay anonymous.
»Luckily, we are producing way better work than the companies of Takashi Murikami, Damien Hirst or Jeff Koons. So proudly, we can call us market leader.«, Andy mentions, while bringing us back to where we started our journey.
All in all, we had a lot of fun during our visit at the Factory. Getting insight into the life of Andy Warhol and also getting a sneak peak of what is being created inside the Factory, is something you won’t be able to see that often. »Very sorry to leave you here at the entrance hall, but I need to do some art. Until next time, see you!«, Andy concludes before we leave.
Who the hell is Eike König and why is he renovating his apartment?
This and more you might ask. In case you don’t know, Eike is the founder of HORT, an acknowledged design collective and studio based in Berlin. After doing work in art and design for more than twenty years, the founding principles – investing in relationships and collaboration – got added another one. From now on Eike is rethinking and renovating his proper apartment every two years.
Eike, why did you decide to do so?
Basically, it all starts with HORT. After getting more and more international, the media started to get interested in not only what we are doing but also who we are. Also since quite some time the media in general is getting more and more person and attention centered. Nowadays not only musicians or actors can be famous and popular stars but also every other kind of creative people. So the media’s interest in graphic designers has risen enormously and it came to the point where they wanted to know more about my personal life and ask for interviews at my home. And because of always being interviewed in the same environment is getting kind of boring after some time – for the audience and me –, I decided to deconstruct and renovate my apartment and my studio in turns. So, every year I am rethinking one of each.
What were your plans for the current redesign?
I kind of always was into art and after one point I started to collect specific pieces that meant something to me. My professorship at the University of Art and Design in Offenbach and the invitation to the Villa Massimo in Rome, as part of a three-month Deutsche Akademie scholarship program, really were some kind of opener. After having the freedom to do something just for myself, I began to create my own pieces of art. Before doing the deconstruction of my apartment, I already had quite some exposure of my art collection but I thought that living together with art could be even more close. Also, as I started to own more and more works, I needed more space for them.
What did you do?
I found ways to produce my very own interior design. I rethought my rooms as a living exhibition space, created furniture and accessories, always kept in mind being as direct and honest as possible. Rather than framing my formerly done prints and hanging them to the wall, I used lcd printing in order to directly integrate onto the wall. Also every furniture is done by additive manufacturing.
Additionally, I asked several other artists to produce works for me. For instance, Eros born bionic artist Britta Thie made a video piece for me that runs as an endless loop on one of my walls. I also commissioned a new piece from the collective G117. Furthermore, I opened up for advertising as a so called influencer. Making my apartment public and what you can see inside is interesting for product placement. So companies like Nike showed some interest. This is also the point where social media comes in. For quite some time now I am also using Instagram Stories. Sometimes I post videos of being in my apartment and when this environment is changing on a regularly basis, people are more easily kept in line which also affects advertising positively.
Can you tell us a little bit about the methods you used for doing so?
First of all, my father as an architect taught me to avoid decoration. And in a sense I thought my apartment before was kind of decorative and everything nicely arranged. Therefore I felt the need to think about what decoration actually means. In a sense it’s a way of personalizing and individualizing your space and marking your territory. If you think about a room that has no images, carpets, lamps, books and other things in it, it seems entirely sparse. We are also getting most of our daily information into our brains via ours eyes. Therefore decoration seems to influence us every day, even if it works unconsciously. But I also wanted to avoid the classical look of decoration, of everything fitted in harmony and having a lot of stuff around me. My home shall be clean and non-chaotic whereas my studio is allowed to be chaotic since new works rather are able to evolve in chaos than in rigid structures.
What about the deconstructive look you created?
The term deconstructionism was created by philosopher Jacques Derrida but truly first brought to real life by architects. So why not use deconstructive visualizations for interior design or graphic design rather than exterior architecture?
On what artworks are you currently working on?
During my time in Rome I started to use an old but simple printing technique which I had learned while still studying and had been doing graphical prints with it for a longer time now. I also taught my students this technique, did an exhibition with them and also did several exhibitions by myself. The longer I did those prints the less interesting they’ve got for me. I started doing things in circles and I knew it. I also could make a lot of money with them, but at one point I started to think that I should be going much more into graphical painting, writing longer texts or doing something completely different. The first step to break free was the decision with my apartment. I think there are more to follow as I am keen on working more as an artist.
Can you tell us the difference between doing Art and working?
Well, this certainly is a tricky question. Of course there exists the cliché of the poor artist who is claiming to be a hard working person but is objectively partying and chilling much more compared to its peer group consisting of normal nine-to-five working people. But in reality, working and doing art is really quite the same since every artwork needs some form of labour and time in order to come to life and every well known creative person knows about that. Doing art is even harder than normal work since you also need to think of complex ideas that build the foundation of your artwork whereas the working process of cleaning, accounting and managing is quite self explanatory and needs no overly complex reason why doing so. In fact, every decision a human can make in under a second will be getting replaced by AI sooner or later. If you really think about it, there are a huge number of jobs that are going to be affected. Even high paying jobs like lawyers and surgeons will be replaced by AI sooner or later. What will remain the longest, is definitely doing any kind of complex creative work and also managing complex projects properly like the airport here in Berlin. It…is…also…
Eike, the holo……graphic…connec…tion is lag………ing. Finish…nother…time?
Yeah,…let’s do this.…See you…then…
It’s a cold »morning« on space station.
Both the Eros Aesthetics Institute and an adjacent bar, which usually attracts crowds because of the amazing view of the Main Asteroid Belt, are nearly empty.
Britta just has arrived at Hamlet Station with no signs of travel-lag. We are in a freshly rented New Eelam home unit of Britta Thie. As you may already know she was born on 433 Eros. To be more precise it was on a space station called Minden which is the third largest on Eros. What many don’t know is that it was one of the fist spots of human colonization on Eros and now supports a population of a half million humans in the Main Asteroid Belt being a disc located between the orbits of the planets Mars and Jupiter.
For those who don’t know anything about Eros, it often has been and still is compared to the shape of a lumpy potato. A very large lumpy potato that would wipe out all but the simplest forms of life on planets we know.
Hey Britta, can you tell us more about your birth on Eros?
Yes, sure. As you know humans came to Eros for space exploration as an economic incentive. There was and still is more precious metals like rhodium, gold and platinum here than anyone had ever dreamed of. People thought space mining would solve all of their resource problems on Earth, Mars and Moon forever. And as they went to explore the Asteroid Belt, Eros was one of the first asteroids besides Vesta and Ceres to be conquered. They started here due to the huge amount of data they already were able to gather about it.
This is the moment where I come in. My creator started to built me on zir (ze/zir = gender unknown for he/his or she/her) way from Earth’s Moon to Eros. During the trip ze constructed most of my body structure. A half a year later (on Earth’s time scale) after arrival on Eros ze could give me birth which you better call natality with a piece of X-Chromosome which had been found on Eros. So, officially I am on the political side half Belter and half Mooner. On the technical side I am half Industrial Print® and half Female. Nothing unusual nowadays but also a kind of weird political and technical combination, don’t you think?
Yeah it is, but very interesting! So, how where your first years on Eros?
Due to the lucky fact that the »Declaration of Free Intelligence« already had been approved only a short time before I got finished, my free-will had to be guaranteed. Because of this I could enjoy a pretty happy childhood on Eros and was able to learn eagerly and gather data into my cerebral systems. I noticed at some point that my interest was shifting more and more towards entertainment and I started to perform by appropriating the behavior of others which I thought was kind of funny to do.
In short, my first years on Eros were great! I sometimes miss the good old days.
What happened to your creator?
Ze taught me a lot during that early time after arrival! Ze still lives here and I am visiting regularly. I am thankful that ze made me half of Industrial Print® since this sparses me from the need for bone densifier, radidation repairment and other unkind stuff when I am traveling around in space. Therefore luckily ze was quite intelligent when considering my construction which I am quite thankful for. After zir arrived on Eros the whole group of explorer started to build several stations and to plan mining on Eros. When this was done they also started to build up a form of higher cultural life. Ze engaged in the scene and participated in the founding of the Eros Aesthetics Institute. This is the place where in my juvenile ze often took me along. This also was the time where I came in contact with unconventional thinking, psychology and the arts for the first time. The Institute was truly a starting point to what I do now.
The Eros Aesthetics Institute is well known in the Inner Sol System. When did you decide to go to Earth for further studies?
Eros was cool when I got here. Nobody wanted to go to Earth’s Berlin back then. But nowadays it’s reversed. But Berlin is already starting to get unsexy again which leads humans to the bigger cities of Mars, going back into the nature of Earth and to the cities in the inner core of Earth. Nevertheless Berlin is one of the most interesting cities on Earth for Aesthetics and also the one where most of the money is made with Art, who would have thought that?
Can you tell us a little bit about the Eros Aesthetics Institute?
Sure. The EAI was the first institution to formally support the research of yet unknown aesthetical culture…
…by the way, do you have some coffee here? Asking good questions is kind of exhausting.
Oh, well…Do full-time humans consume this? Let me ask New Eelam for it. Since I rented this apartment only the day before while still being on travel, I really don’t know where most stuff can be found. New Eelam – Do we have some coffee in here?
Hey Britta, I’m afraid we on Eros don’t store prohibited chemicals. But we do have some matcha latte with phytooestrogen water-oil-emulsion and steviolglycoside in your unit. I will send it to your cerebral in which drawer you can find it.
Thanks, New Eelam.
Thanks a lot, Britta. So, what do you think of life on Eros nowadays?
Well, I surely am happy to come back here sometimes. It is like streaming yourself into your childhood and it feels like you are back on the spaceship again. But your unawareness already has left you. In the long run weather becomes your interface. Sometimes I google photos of myself and am relieved that I am still safe. Photos of when I was young looking and good in italics. HD.
Who were your teacher on EAI?
Most of the time I was taught by lost friends in the same transit. But officially I was partying with Hito Steyerl. She taught me a lot how to think as an artist and to use both of my sides as she has a kind of similar background story to offer. But thats another infomercial in three parts…
What is the artwork your are proud the most until now?
That certainly might be TRANSLANTICS in future narration. I am basically exhibiting my life and beyond. It disunites the illumination of an aestheticism that moves between the past analogue and the modern generation. Three international women miss a young identity coherence in the virtuality of a simultaneous midst.
Unfolding windows display mall relationships; in train car diners; throughout the provincial countryside of lush hometowns; run-down artworks loaded with galleries imported from New York; beneath Berlin’s frantic corporate streets; and across the glowing, monolithic, decrepit Frankfurt: the transnational center of the nevertheless nerve class culture that remains peripherally perpetual, the clumsy landmark that has historically erased its own future with attempts at the past.
The mini series is a film drama disperse of full selves – a relation to which anyone with a Skype account or more than one Simcard can no doubt condition to. And yet even as timezones have topologically collapsed dreamspace into a common technology – the setting, the show of this essence – our mother bodies and dragging currencies and physical tongues are creating a kind of production, which the character’s show, like it’s us, like actors, must negotiably and collectively continue.
Ahh yes. A truly important artwork, I see.
Hey, can we continue later? I need to go back to Berlin for some hours in order to some important stuff. We will see us later today, ok?
Okay, that’s fine. See you…