Günther Domenig & Eilfried Huth

Medium Total, 1969-1970

In this installation presented at the Nächst St. Stephan Gallery in Vienna in 1970, which Huth and Domenig qualify as a “utopian project,” they borrow ideas from cybernetic theory and transform architecture into a mutant biological organism. Inhabited by the “supra-hominids of the future,” Medium Total is a cellular membrane that adapts to its environment, by transforming and evolving: it expands or contracts, becomes denser or thinner, sometimes to the point of forming new autonomous colonies. Medium Total functions as a network with multiple information flows running through it: each “cell” acts and reacts according to exchanges maintained locally or globally with the matrix, which in turn processes each bit of information for the purpose of self-regulation. The more active the “cells” are, the more Medium Total develops. With this “biotechnological” proposal, Huth and Domenig imagined the future that Medium Total held for humanity. The destruction of Earth would force Medium Total to migrate into space in the form of subsystems that would form “celestial extraterrestrial bodies.” Once the solar energy system stabilized, “Medium Total clusters” would return as satellites of Earth, and then colonize the oceans. That is when the “nova-supra-hominids” would appear, who would spread across the land masses in the form of tribes, leading to new frictions, new emulations and new wars. Huth and Domenig: “The third phase of the history of hominids can begin with the infinitely distant memory of the birth of the redeemer and the ‘medium total’ recognition of the irreparable!” The panels of the installation illustrate the colonization of the Moon and Mars. On Earth, Medium Total acts as a cataplasm, a balm covering the territories threatened with destruction (the overpopulated bay of Rio; the region of the Sinai, theater of the Six-day War in 1967), or known for their extreme conditions (a mountain). Huth and Domenig offered a vision that was both ironic and utopian – between bacteriological invasion and therapeutic bandage – in the sociopolitical context of the period, marked by the Cold War and the fear of overpopulation.

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