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festival, electronic media moved into the foreground of the group's work. No longer were the media a means to an end, but increasingly the carrier of the actual message. Via several intermediary stages, this development culminated in the «Piazza Virtuale» created for the documenta 9 (1992) by the now re-named group Van Gogh TV. For one hundred days, the potential of television as an interactive mass medium was tried out for the first time, with viewers being able to interfere over the telephone in a TV program that had been transformed into a multimedia screen.
In 1992,Van Gogh TV put in place an open broadcasting concept with the extraordinary effort then still required for an undertaking soon to be vastly facilitated by the Internet and new digital technologies. The opening up of the Internet in the mid-1990s meant that potentially every user–even when traveling–could become a broadcaster without the need for hi-tech equipment (albeit without reaching the mass audiences of television).
One of the first German communication projects involving the (pre-WWW) Internet was the group Handshake founded by Barbara Aselmeier, Joachim
Blank, Armin Haase and Karl Heinz Jeron in 1993. Later Handshake spin-offs would include the International City Federation. Implemented as an interactive installation, Handshake acted as an interface between the electronic network and living world. Prepared communication and perception experiments (such as the Rorschach Test) on the basis of text, visuals and sound pointed to cultural peculiarities and common ground of the participants. The networking and participatory potential offered by the Internet were of particular importance, also in the «Net art» that came into being as graphical web interfaces were enhanced from the mid-1990s onward. Gerhard Rühm wrote in 1975: «Throw a bright tone out the window and send it around the world. wait until it returns through the door backwards–enriched by all the tones it has encountered on its path. then let this tone knock you off your feet.» His words read like a poetic description of cooperative sound experiments on the Internet, such as those conducted by the «Xchange» network initiated in late 1997 by the Riga-based E-Lab (now Re-Lab). The participating groups in London, Ljubljana, Sydney, Berlin and many other cities use the