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Themesicon: navigation pathSound and Imageicon: navigation pathMontage/Sampling/Morphing
On the Triad of Aesthetics/Technology/Politics
Diedrich Diederichsen


In the discourses concerning fine art and, above all, pop music in the 1990s, sampling was a catchword [1] that was copiously discussed and associated with all sorts of investments, and that appeared to sum up the issue of the forgery, arrogation and authorship of the quote in its various rhetorical contexts in order to place it on the apparently solid basis of a technically or technologically new situation: digitalization. However, problems were being discussed under the label of sampling that existed either manifestly or latently long before there was digitality—issues associated with the use of preexisting material in the arts, thus going back to the first generation of technically-aided arts at the turn of the twentieth century that no longer bore the mark of craftsmanship and manual labor. In the same way there was a pessimistic counter-term for the digital age—simulation—there were also various primarily pessimistic counter-concepts for the techno-optimistic precursor to sampling—the montage—amongst others the concept that technically-aided arts are first and foremost arts of reproduction—and thus of forgery.

However, in a rather obvious sense, the fact that


forgery can be regarded not only as a strategy of theft, but like any other theft as a productive act of appropriation, connects the techno-optimistic styles of speaking—the montage as well as sampling. For the moment I would like to talk about these hopes and investments in this category: of the idea of the appropriation—classically associated with montage and most recently associated with sampling—as a strategy under quite different conditions: as the socialization of exclusively civil property, as a strategy of subversion, and finally as a paradoxical strategy of selffulfillment.

Image: Montage and Modernity

In various meanings, montage was also one of modernism's magic words. It was intended to bring about a connection between, or a reconciliation of, artistic, social and technological progress. If the famous pejorative and pessimistic categories «culture industry» and «spectacle» stood for the irreconcilable difference between art and mass culture on the one hand, and between social and technological progress on the other hand, montage was the category meant to set an optimistic tone, above all in the first half of

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