Abteilung bürokratischer Umsturz
Site specific sound installation
"By the way, I’ve never yet managed to set eyes on him myself, he can’t come down here, he is so overworked. As his office has been described to me, all the walls are hidden behind towers of huge bundles of files stacked one above another, and these are only the files on which Sordini is working at present. Since files are always being taken out of the bundles or put back into them, and it’s all done in a great hurry, the towers are always collapsing, and the sound of them constantly crashing to the floor has become typical of Sordini’s office. Well, Sordini is a real worker, and he devotes the same attention to both the smallest cases and the largest." (Kafka, F. (1926). The Castle, Oxford University Press, S. 61)
Abteilung bürokratischer Umsturz (eng. department of bureaucratic overthrow) is a work that explores the relationship between bureaucracy and technology. Its point of departure lies in an excerpt from Kafka‘s 1926 novel fragment Das Schloss (The Castle), which deals with the surveyor K. and his struggle against the omnipresent, anonymous, and impenetrable bureaucracy of a castle administration. In it he depicts the study of Sordini, a civil servant famous for his conscientiousness but nevertheless lowly. His office is staged as a fictitious room embedded in the corporate design of the Angewandte. Instead of the sounds described by Kafka, however, a recording of the electromagnetic field of a smartphone resounds behind the door of Abteilung bürokratischer Umsturz. The electromagnetic waves emitted by its display and circuits, which determine this field and were recorded by means of a special microphone, tell of a bureaucratic practice that has inscribed itself into the foundations of digital infrastructure beyond the paper forms. To what extent do the databases and communication protocols and further the online platforms of multinational corporations, reflect forms of power that Kafka already described in 1926? The name of the department of Sordini, added to the literary figure, combines two opposite temporalities, administration and revolution. The interlocking of these two tenses marks an exaggeration or idealization of algorithmic processes, which also runs as a fetish through the classical forms of bureaucratic exercise of power in Kafka.