Communication-project 1993-1994

Barbara Aselmeier, Joachim Blank, Armin Haase, Karl Heinz Jeron

Def. handshake .."a connection-oriented protocol exchanges control information with the remote system to verify that it is ready to receive data before sending it. When the handshaking is successfull, the systems are said to have established a connection."

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Stephen Kovats about Handshake
The 1993/94 HANDSHAKE project by the former Berlin based art group LuxLogis, was such a venture. Packaged as an art based telecommunications construct HANDSHAKE used the pre-browser internet of 1993 as its field of execution. The work was realized as an installation where CPUs, dial-up modems and monitors formed the actual physical manifestation of an artistic interaction which exposed itself to the newly plumbed space of global telecommunications. The intersections between electronic and real (physical) space illustrated the moment of connection as the product of artistic enterprise. The ensuing dialogue however between artists and media practitioners around the globe discussing the proceedings of a live event space, where the installation was set up, became frivolously negligible.

The project addressed, in an early webchat and pre-stream environment 'the human capacity of making communicative action itself the subject of communication.' As such HANDSHAKE was not to be seen as a finished work of art - rather as a continuous process that 'intended to observe the behavior of humans and automats in an electronic network', where each handshake evoked an artistic element leaving a critical trace within the expanding, self-generating system-space of the pubescent Internet. In HANDSHAKE, connections sparked and snapped, channels of communication opened and closed dependent on the 'stability' of the connection. Outwardly the project manifested itself primarily through the dialogue achieved by the participants, however the true artistic essence of the project lay in the incapturable substance of the handshake protocol. Its depth and materiality created an infrathinic membrane that is difficult to perceive, but may be imagined, by setting another action, that of the desire to 'communicate' into motion.