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Since the 1970s, artists have used their work to address the way public space is increasingly being transformed by the influence of (mass) media and private commercial interests. Pioneers in this field include Dan Graham, Hans Haacke, Sanja Iveković, Jochen Gerz and Jenny Holzer.
Hans Haacke's installation «Nachrichten» (1969) makes it clear that immaterial information can structure urban space just as much as built architecture. He made news distributed by the Deutsche Presseagentur (DPA) accessible in the exhibition gallery in real time, via a teleprinter. In his photo-text work «Shapolsky et al. Manhattan Real Estate Holdings, A Real Time Social System, as of May 1, 1971,» Haacke analyzed and recorded the connections between property speculation, ownership relations and the price of living space. The New York Guggenheim's censorship and rejection of this
exhibition has become legendary: Haacke's project had unmasked bogus companies—some involving trustees of the museum—and their entanglements, thus publicizing these trustees' connections right up to the top political circles.
Examining architecture and urban space has developed into an important theme in fine art since the sixties. Key works are Gordon Matta-Clark's so-called «Cuttings,» dating from the 1970s—projects in which real buildings were dissected—and Dan Graham's «Homes for America,» a series of photographs and tables analyzing American suburban architecture. In the early 1970s, Dan Graham turned to interactive video concepts. In the foreground here were questions of privacy, control and media surveillance. The treatment for «Picture Window Piece» (1974), for example, foresaw a kind of ‹two-way surveillance›: a camera and a monitor were to be set up both inside and outside a building, so that the observers standing on the two sides could watch the other people and themselves as they were watching as well.