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114 Leonardo Reviews can easily imagine their use in certain parts of the Global South as well) represent a technology whose form and function perfectly coincide with their intended outcome, even if they also aim to further advance ideas of immateriality and invisibility. In the final essay, Ploeger’s political and activist analysis explicitly refers to Barthes’s semiotic analysis of the myth, in other words the socially accepted discourse that helps frame a cultural object as perfectly natural and thus without any links to context, materiality, or history. As in Barthes’s Mythologies (1953), the aim of decoding a myth is not only to disclose what lies underneath the universalizing and dehistoricizing discourse of daily life technology but also to elaborate a counter-discourse capable of liberating us from both the myth and the society that is built on it (by the way, similar concerns could already be found in Marshall McLuhan’s The Mechanical Bride (1951), which the author presented among other things as a manual on how to escape the “fallout” of modern advertisement culture). Ploeger sticks to the same ambition, which he develops in two stages. First, he shares with Barthes the desire to oppose the myth with the creation of counter-myths, that is by analyzing the technologies of daily life not to dissimulate the role of materiality, politics, and history but instead to unearth and stress these ordinarily hidden aspects. Second, he expands this counter-mythological discourse to a larger call for revolution —without actually saying what he really means by that, although the artistic research projects that are briefly referred to in the final compendium of the book may give a first flavor of such a revolution, whose main target is the dead end of mindless overconsumption. Deserted Devices and Wasted Fences is an interesting contribution to the critical reflection on modern consumer technology. While always closely focusing on specific objects, Ploeger makes an excellent use of theoretical references and powerfully shows the possibilities of translating general insights in very specific and concrete reappropriations, both in real life (the core of this publication) and in art and technology/science research projects (which the reader is encouraged to visit, for example on the author’s website: https://www .daniploeger.org/). Parallel Public: Experimental Art in Late East Germany by Sara Blaylock. The MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, U.S.A., 2022. 328 pp., illus. Trade. ISBN: 978-0-26-204663-3. Reviewed by Jan Baetens. https://doi.org/10.1162/leon_r_02329 Parallel Public is an important and truly thought-provoking contribution to the study of the art and life of the avant-garde in a non-Western and non-capitalist country, the former German Democratic Republic. The book should be read in tandem with Sarah E. James’s Paper Revolutions: An Invisible Avant-Garde (reviewed here in June 2022), even if this new publication has a totally different take on the GDR avant-garde. It foregrounds indeed another generation , that of the young artists coming to the fore in the 1980s, the first ones to be born “into” the communist system and aggressively opposed to it, which was not the case of the first GDA avant-gardists, while also living in a decade in which this system had started to dissolve and would eventually collapse. It also foregrounds forms of art that avoid the traditional genre and medium boundaries, namely performance and intermedia art. Finally, it looks very carefully at the key feature of GDR’s cultural life, the impact of an intrusive and massively present state control, yet not as something that is naively opposed to avant-garde but as a force that makes it possible. Blaylock’s approach is extremely innovative in this regard, for she includes fascinating closereadings of Stasi reports made by “unofficial collaborators,” all methodically spying on each other, not least in the avant-garde circles themselves, as well as endlessly sending detailed, yet not always very clear, reports to the ministry. Sara Blaylock gives a brilliant, attractively illustrated, and very wellwritten overview of these avant-garde activities, highlighting the work of the most important artists in the various intermedia and performance scenes (with a very welcome emphasis on the...

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