Statistical Hypagognia (2021)

Single-channel video, sound, 12:26 min.

Based on research into statistics and legislation of the GDR from the 1960s to the 1980s, Statistical Hypnagogy discusses the importance of statistics for economic planning and electronic data processing.

In the GDR, almost all procedures, institutions, and legal frameworks were based on statistical data. The legislation also established the State Central Administration for Statistics and the Central Office for Primary Documentation at the House of Statistics. From here, work was done for the State Planning Commission, which was responsible for implementing the goals of socialist economic planning in a five year plan

Statistics as a materialisation of governmentality plays a specific role here: 1. It is a materialisation of acts of governmentality, 2. the legislation anchors statistical practices in the everyday life of a non-democratic socialist society, 3. the Haus der Statistik becomes a concretisation of Guattari’s »axiomatic abstract machines« in form of a building and its practices, 4. the GDR’s software implementation called Sachgebietsorientierte Programmiersysteme (SOPS) transfers statistical practice into computer software, a machinic extension of bodily functions (Leroi-Gourhan).

In this video work, commissioned by the Center for Net Art, Berlin, Francis Hunger uses historical footage from the House of Statistics to examine how bureaucracy, statistics, and computing technology were implemented in the everyday administrative life of the GDR and inscribed themselves in the language of GDR socialism.

In the video, unwieldy, bureaucratic terms and historical footage echo through the building and counteract today’s cityscape at Alexanderplatz. The work is part of the artist’s larger research into Eastern Socialism.

Lecture: Kybernetik war nicht alles – Die langen Ketten bürokratischer Praktiken im DDR Sozialismus

May 5, 2021, Haus der Statistik, Berlin/online lecture