To illustrate some of the issues that have been put into discussion on Point of view, regarding the subject of ‘conceptual devices’ – see posts underneath – I would like to introduce the project Superchannel by the Danish art group Superflex.
I am fascinated by the potential of empowerment and subversive use of the conceptual device as Francesca mentions in her previous post. Superchannel is a fantastic project that illustrates how such subversive powers can be exercised by means of communication tools.
The project provides only for a device – or tool as Superflex defines all their projects – which consists of a television studio and a broadcasting medium (an internet website). It started off in Copenhagen where a free-access studio (available for anyone to use) was build in a gallery. The success of this first studio encouraged Superflex to open new studios, gradually building a network of free-access studios. Some of these were iniated to explore and discuss specific social contexts, such as the Coronation Court project in Liverpool.
Coronation Court is one the oldest housing flats in Liverpool and was about to undergo a major refurbishment when Superstudio was installed. The project dealt specifically with the concept of empowerment because the studio was used as a tool for tenants to discuss issues such as the maintenance, renovations and the rent. They developed a medium that could not only amplify these issues, but had also the potential to create a community that, by its union, was able to participate in the decision making of the building and – on another level – create social cohesion inside the building.
A couple of things intrigue me about this project. First of all, the fact that Superflex has created a playful and simple concept which radically diverts the power of communication and distribution from television studios to their clients: the viewer. And secondly, the position that Superflex takes up as artists. They have limited their role to providing and maintaining the tool and have never interfered in the production of content by its users. This position, I think, is essential to reach the full potential of the conceptual device.