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There is the need to express what it is like to be a feeling, thinking, young person growing up on the southern tip of the African continent today, and this, from a generation who have had to cope with and survive the pressures of brain washing or intellectual laundering that an education in a State school in South Africa usually enforces. It is a generation trying to come to terms with information that has been filtered through the organs of the State radio and television systems, which routinely exclude news not deemed to be in the public interest, and substitutes an iconology dedicated to the values of sunny skies, beer and braaivleis.(Dubow 1986: 60)

As an artist living in South Africa, I am part of the generation that has had to cope with the 'intellectual laundering' Dubow speaks of. I have experienced the ways in which apartheid, as a cultural norm governing society, has been constructed. It is around these issues that the title, An electronic laager: A sculptural interpretation of post-industrial society's cybernetic order forms a concise description, and 'key' to an interpretation and understanding of the various issues which have amalgamated to inform my iconography, and the way in which these issues have been transformed into sculptural expression.

The National Party, which first and foremost catered to the needs of the Afrikaner, came into power in 1948 and gave the white minority in South Africa economic and military power over the black majority. They presented a racial policy based on separation between the races. From the moment of their election victory, the Nationalists set about turning their principles into reality. Their exercise in social engineering was called apartheid. [Figure 1]

Figure 1: The Nationalist Cabinet in 1948.

The impact of apartheid on the black population has been, for obvious reasons, enormous, while the social engineering practiced by the apartheid regime has also affected the white population. In order to sustain the 'project', Afrikaner Nationalist 'mythology' was propagated through the elaborate networks of educational, religious and communications institutions. 'Not only has it dominated the historical consciousness of most Afrikaners, but it has also been imposed on the minds of other sections of the South African population, especially since the National Party won control of the state machinery in 1948.' (Thompson 1985: 46) They created a 'panoptican society' 1 whereby people were controlled, and whereby the masses policed themselves.

The Broederbond, a secret organisation supporting the National Party, was the 'computer' that programmed the machinery of apartheid and guided the processes of social engineering. Founded by a small group in 1918, these men aimed to develop 'an organisation in which Afrikaners could find each other in the midst of great confusion and disunity and be able to work together for the survival of the Afrikaner people in South Africa and the promotion of its interests.' (Klopper in Harrison 1981: 87) [Figure 2] The Broederbond became a secret organisation in 1921 and gradually built up an extensive cell organisation, similar to that of the Communist Party's cell structure. By 1977 there were 810 cells with twelve thousand members. To become a member of the Broederbond during the reign of the National Party, a candidate had to measure up to a list of stringent standards: 'he [sic] had to strive for the internal existence of a separate Afrikaner nation with its own language and culture'; he had to give preference to 'Afrikaners and other well-disposed persons and firms in economic, public and professional life'; he had to uphold Afrikaans in his home, in his job and in the community at large; he had to be a Protestant; he had to be 'principled, faithful and cautious enough to meet the demands of the Bond'; he had to be financially sound; and he had to be 'able and willing to take part actively, regularly and faithfully in all the functions and activities of the Bond'. (Harrison 1981: 91)

Figure 2: The First Executive Council of the Afrikaner Broederbond, 1918.

The goal of the Broederbond was to dominate every aspect of South African society. As Hendrik Verwoerd put it in 1943: 'The Afrikaner Broederbond must gain control of everything it can lay its hands on in South Africa. Members must help each other to gain promotion in the Civil Service or any other field of activity in which they work with a view to working themselves up into important administrative positions.' (Thompson 1987: 74) In achieving this goal, the Broederbond has been enormously successful. Since 1948, all South African prime ministers have been Broeders; so have a very large percentage of Afrikaans church ministers and heads of the great state corporations, including ISCOR (the South African Iron and Steel Corporation), SABC (the South African Broadcasting Corporation), SASOL (the South African Coal, Oil, and Gas Corporation), and ARMSCOR (the Armaments Corporation of South Africa). The flow of information within the Broederbond enabled the executive council to monitor the thoughts on relevant issues of the various members within the cells. These information mechanisms were so well organised that the executive council could, in turn, 'transmit' recommendations to the Broeders. This cybernetic system enabled the members, acting in secret collusion, to spread their influence to all walks of life - among national and local politicians and administrators, editors and journalists, clergy and business-people, and police and military officers.

Education was given the highest priority right from the beginning of the Broederbond, and it subsequently infiltrated every aspect of the education process. Its members included teachers, headmasters, school inspectors, lecturers, professors and rectors of universities and teacher-training colleges. These people influenced policy, the curriculum of state schools, examination and teacher training. By enforcing the segregation of people, Afrikaners put themself in power in 1948. This philosophy of difference kept them there for more than forty years. 'Christian National Education' became the 'antenna' by which the programmers broadcast their philosophy.

Hennie Serfontein, a journalist who wrote for the Sunday Times newspaper and who published various articles concerning the Broederbond's influence on education, wrote: 'if you come from twelve years in school, where you have been under Broederbond control, then four years in a teacher training college, being indoctrinated with Broederbond thinking, with separation and the whole of that philosophy, by the time you are a teacher, it is not important whether you are a Broeder or not. The fact is, you will teach Broederbond philosophy because you do not know any other.' (Harrison 1981: 200) In this way the feedback loop was completed. A closed system, one which left no gaps for intervention by information that did not comply with that sanctioned by the National Party's 'programmers', was firmly, and seemingly irrevocably, put in place.

In its bid to impose an Afrikaner world view on the whole of South Africa, the Nationalist government formed a monopoly structure through the most pervasive medium of communication, that of broadcasting. The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) had a declared policy to report on 'positive achievements' and, in this way, to counteract the negative criticism of both the privately owned English press and the outside world. [Figure 3]

Figure 3: P. W. Botha in Soweto, the first South African Prime Minister to go there.

As such, the government's viewpoint infiltrated every news bulletin: ministers attending public functions were shown in such a way as to make the best of impression on the TV screen. Critics and enemies of the government were markedly absent from live discussion. Views of the opposition parties in parliament were carefully edited, while news from abroad suggested a world continually obsessed with matters concerning South Africa. The rest of Africa was portrayed as an absolute failure (confirming the logic of apartheid), while the pressures of sanctions on the South African economy were seen as contributions to the expansion of South Africa's own industries, all the while ignoring the massive cost of sustaining apartheid.

Inside the SABC nothing was transmitted before being thoroughly checked and censored to comply with Nationalist policy. A 'make believe' message was transmitted and the receptors of these messages reacted in a way similar to the party members in Orwell's 1984: [Figure 4]

To know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies, to hold simultaneously two opinions which cancelled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them, to use logic against logic, to repudiate morality while laying claim to it, to believe that democracy was impossible and the Party was the guardian of democracy. (Orwell 1949: 31)

Figure 4: George Orwell, 1943.(Shelden 1991)

It was ultimately the experience of the state control of the South African information structures which made me aware of the way in which information structures in society influence people's actions and perceptions. Having realised that information structures include interpersonal relationships and intercultural communication, I focused my current body of work on the information structures set up by the state, political parties and the mass media. Currently, new power relations are being formed in South Africa and the information structures and feedback mechanisms of the various political parties are having a profound impact on the country. On a global scale, the advances in information technology are changing the way society functions; from the way in which people conduct their work and play, to the way they make war. Consequently it is notions of communication, or cybernetics, comprising all systems in which information plays a role, which have evolved as a central theme in my work.

In this study I analyse the relevance of cybernetics as a metaphor of control. I attempt to show that information structures underlie the contemporary paradigm of post-industrial society 2, and that the concept of cybernetics can reflect on this development. A theoretical analysis of the electronic media and the way artists have respond to the new electronic era will be examined. The ways in which science fiction predictions have become the realities addressed by the genre of cyberpunk are explored. Finally, I show how the above issues combine in the body of sculptural work that forms the exhibition; 'An electronic laager: 3, A sculptural interpretation of post-industrial society's cybernetic order'.

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