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Techno Viking trial

The Truth

TRIBE Member
In a Berlin courtroom earlier today, the Technoviking met his maker.

The star of one of the most emblematic Internet cultural phenomenons of the past decade is suing the artist who surreptitiously filmed him, claiming he stole his image and profited from the results.

The birth of the Technoviking character began more than a decade ago, at 2pm on a cloudy day at the 2000 techno music festival Fuckparade in Berlin. Artist Matthias Fritsch had brought his camera to the event and focused it on a crowd of dancers.

If you've watched videos on the Internet over the past five years, you probably know what happens next:

A bumbling dancer stumbles into the frame, crashing into a woman. That's when you see him: Tall, with blond hair pulled back into a ponytail and the menacing musculature of a WWE wrestler, the giant snatches the other man's arms and shoves him away, then points menacingly after him. A few seconds later, satisfied with his display of authority, he starts to march. The other dancers follow in seemingly spontaneous lockstep. Someone runs up and hands him a water bottle, with the cool deference of a dark age thane to his viking lord.


All along, techno music thumps in the background. And then, the gentle giant starts his dance.

It's like you’re watching the birth of a superhero in a Ben Edlund comic book. The sharp contrast between what you expect and what actually transpires, combined with a series of perfectly timed events that almost seem like pieces to a plot, make the whole video a single piece of accidental and hilarious art.

Once people on the Internet found it, they fell in love.

Fritsch let the video collect dust on his personal website for six years, until he finally uploaded it to YouTube in 2006, where it continued to exist in obscurity for months. It took until 2007 for it to really take off. Fritsch has traced the origins of its viral path to an obscure Central American porn site, where the name "Technoviking" was first coined. From there it jumped jumped to Web communities and humor blogs, and at one point racked up 2 million views in a single night.

Fritsch used the video's success to anchor his artistic career as he studied the meme as artform. He made his own remixes and created an online archive of all things Technoviking. The video featured prominently in his lectures as he traveled the world talking about Web 2.0 culture. All told, more than 16 million people watched the original Technoviking video, spawning hundreds of parodies and remixes.

Once it passed 4 million views, YouTube started sending Fritsch checks.

"At the beginning I was reluctant to [do] it, because it could put me in the wrong light." Fritsch told BerlinArtLink. "But I do not sell my art and generally do not consider myself as being part of the fine art scene, so I thought, why not. I can always stop it and it financed my rent and health insurance at the time."

In 2009, the star of the video, whose real identity is still a mystery, hit Fritsch with a legal notice asking him to stop using the video and all derivations of it. Fritsch immediately stopped accepting money from YouTube.

Now, when you load up the original video, you'll be greeted with a message

"My Technoviking video is stopped here... because there is a legal problem with the clip's protagonist which is still unsolved."

That message didn't help. The 2009 letter spiraled into a full lawsuit and trial, which began today in Berlin.

We're not sure of the specific charges levelled against Fritsch. His lawyer—who did not respond to the Daily Dot’s request to comment—advised him only to speak generally about the case and declined to send us official court documents. Here's what Fritsch told us.

I am being accused for creation and publication of images connected to the Technoviking, therefore infringement of personality rights. They also say I am earning a lot of money by that. They argue that gave him the name Technoviking, create 3D characters, comics and more to constantly increase the popularity in order to market Technoviking and therefore cause damage to the protagonist.

If Fritsch loses, so does the Internet. He'll have to scrub any original content he created that featured the Technoviking's likeness, and he'll be barred from creating new content. Worse, the lawsuit accuses him of creating numerous other derivative works, most of which Fritsch says he never touched. He explained:

Besides the original video and stills, this includes also all kind of user created content like comics, drawings, 3D characters etc.

Failing to do that, Fritsch would face a €250,000 ($334,441 U.S.) fine and up to six months in jail. Fritsch said the lawsuit only includes content he allegedly posted, so no matter the result of the trial, other Technoviking remixes around the Web are safe—for now.

"I can't say how far his intentions go for removing content that is posted by other people," Fritsch said. "It would be a Don Quixote action to try removing Technoviking from the Web."

Fritsch, who still won't reveal the Technoviking's identity despite the lawsuit, said he's not really worried about the trial. He doesn't take credit for the Technoviking character, which he believes was born out of the collaborative creativity of millions of Internet users.

"I am only worried that the judge might not understand contemporary web-culture and therefore judges from an old fashioned perspective," Fritsch said. "Artists are not rich usually and I am one of those artists. To put me in a financial emergency is really something I wouldn't like.

"Well, who would?"

Daily Dot | German court to decide the future of Technoviking
Alex D. from TRIBE on Utility Room


TRIBE Member
you'd actually be surprised how well this track works with this. It's meshed with the jazz station on the radio right now!


Boss Hog

TRIBE Member
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TRIBE Member
What I don't get is why someone didn't get a hold of the actual techno Viking and take him on tour. Like do serious mounts of PR appearances... He would be so epic at FanExpo for instance. Who cares if he's too drugged to know what's going on... Just toss cash in his account and use the fuck out of him.
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TRIBE Member
I'm not sure how this guy thinks he's going to get any money.
It's called the internet bubs, sorry they didnt' have it when you landed ashore but it's here to stay.

True, but with Youtube dishing out cash for views (even though the other guy started refusing cheques), it does complicate things.


TRIBE Member
That sucks for the original producer of the video. First off there should be a statute of limitations on when Techno Viking can wake up from his rape and pillaging of distant lands and be able to sue. Second, the guy should not face jail time - wtf is that? Third off, the original creator should have contacted TV and offered him a slice of the pie, no? That may have not caused this problem in the first place had he done so (if there indeed was anything much made from this).

The guy who TV told off appears in the scene down the road dosn't he? On the left?

And TV is a great dancer!

dig this

TRIBE Member
One year at DEMF they were selling Technoviking shirts with the same pose from the Obey picture above. I stole one in a drunken slumber. I always kinda felt that Technoviking would be kinda proud of me for doing that.
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The Truth

TRIBE Member
FIFTEEN years ago, at the 2000 Fuckparade in Germany, a legend was born in the form of a topless raver nicknamed The Techno Viking. Little was known about the muscle-bound man filmed in the 4-minute video, but one thing is for certain; he didn’t like women being pushed around, or being made famous.

The original clip shot by experimental video artist Matthias Fritsch has since been removed from YouTube after a court order, which later saw Fritsch sued by the anonymous figure in 2013, costing him €23,000 in damages and legal fees, rendering him bankrupt.

After a six months of research and hundreds of thousands of euros in detective fees, WWN is proud to exclusively bring you the full story of the mysterious man behind the iconic images that changed the way we viewed the internet forever.

Our journey began in Berlin. The agreement was to meet our guide Gunther at the airport and then he would drive us directly to Techno Viking’s home on the outskirts of the city. Which we did. Gunther was softly spoken with fluent English. He told us that he worked as a biologist and too be honest he was kind of boring so myself and my fellow reporter John found ourselves zoning out through much of his one-way dialogue.

“So how far to his house?” I interrupted Gunther, who was now showing off, naming all the trees in Latin or some bullshit language we didn’t really understand nor care about.

“Not too far now. We should be there in five minutes actually,” he replied, before rambling on again. “Did you know, the oldest living organism on Earth is believed to be the Pando tree colony of Quaking Aspen (Populus tremuloides) in America, also known as the Trembling Giant”.

Enough with his brainy talk, both myself and John put on our headphones to give him the hint.

Following several turn offs and byroads, we finally arrived at our destination.

“Boring house he’s got,” John exclaimed, pointing at the grey bungalow. “You German lads aren’t much for aesthetics”.

“Well, it suits me down to the ground,” Gunther replied, revealing his true identity.


“You’re Techno Viking!” I gasped, scanning his rather slim frame and effeminate jumper. “No. There’s no way. What?”

“Yes. I am the one you call Techno Viking. My name is Gunther Ackerman and I want to tell you my story,” he replied, leaving us both gobsmacked on his pebble driveway.

“But you look so normal, and…am…normal!” I said in disbelief, now confirming his claim with that familiar frown.

“Jesus, you are him!”

Mr. Ackerman led us inside to his living area and began to tell his story.

“I never wanted to be famous. It was all a mistake. A terrible, drug induced mistake,” he started, now clipping a pink plant of some sort. “I hope you don’t mind me pruning while I talk. It helps me relax.”

Gunther explained he was working as a lumberjack at the time of the video, and had many colleagues that “loved to party”.

“We would buy an ounce of base speed between us every weekend and head to free parties around Germany. Man, the comedown off that shit was hell”.

He said he had been awake for four days straight before the historic footage was taken and that he had no idea he was being filmed by Fritsch.

“The fucking snake had the camera resting on his lap. If I had to have known at the time I would have crushed him like a flower,” he explained, caressing the plant he was holding, whispering to it. “Not you honey, I would never crush you. Mwah!”

“Some young fella was acting the maggot and pushed one of the girls, Jessica. He was off his chuck so I left him off with a warning and a good point. Pointing is always good when lads are off their faces. You can’t beat a good point”.

Explaining his dance moves he said: “I just got in the flow I guess. My adrenaline was rushing. I remember grinding my teeth for a good week after that festival. In bits I was; like Lego”.

Gunther said he left the lumberjack business in 2002, after being fired for misconduct.

“Yeah, I got angry at one of the lads and I punched a tree. But the tree fell on top of my supervisor and broke his leg. They don’t make speed like that any more,” he laughed.

The then 26-year-old began studying to be a biologist in Berlin and later secured a job as head researcher for the University he attended.

“It’s a long cry from chomping down bags of base speed, necking pills and maintaining order at dance festivals, but I love it, you know?”

Gunther then went into introducing his long-time partner Steven, showing us a picture from his mantelpiece.

“That’s Stevie plums there. Isn’t he a catch?” he asked, now pointing at us for a positive reply.

“Oh yes! Yes, he’s gorgeous. You’re a very lucky man,” I replied, scared shitless. “Does Steve know about your past as the Techno Viking?”

“Well, yes. Steve is the guy wearing the black vest in the video – the guy I threatened. That night we hooked up and had the best sex of our lives. We got married last year”.

Realising our earlier misjudgement, I apologised to Gunther about our initial shock when he first revealed himself to us.

“Oh, that’s okay. I’m a right nerd at the back of it all. I hope I didn’t bore you to tears here.”

“Not at all,” John replied, hinting at me to make moves home. “Thanks for having us”.

With that, Gunther drove us back to the city. This time we gave him our full attention, listening to every single syllable of his roadside plant lecture, obeying with nods and gestures, pretending to be interested in his stunning ability to bore people to death.

Where Are They Now? Techno Viking | Waterford Whispers News