(June 23-27, 2001)
 in the frame of XXIII Moscow International Film Festival Rambler's Top100

F e s t i v a l & C o n f e r e n c e



Media Forum Video Programs

"Transmediale" Berlin International Media Art Festival
Program curator: Susann Jaschko

Susanne Jaschko (born 1967) did a PhD in Art History at the RWTH Aachen and worked as a freelance journalist during her studies and later as a gallery assistant in Berlin. She initiated an number of small exhibitions of contemporary art, e.g. at the Ludwig Forum for International Art in Aachen. Since 1997 she has worked as a curator at the transmediale - international media art festival berlin - where she is deputy director now. In 1999/2000 she was in charge of the programme management at the monomedia - the intenational conference on the cultural changes posed by new media - at the Berlin University of the Arts.

The transmediale.01 video selection  contains video works that differ strongly in the way they were produced. Consequently, these videos give a wide-ranging insight into the dimensions of current artistic video production in form and content. The selection also includes the two ex-aequo winners of the transmediale.01 video award (Kantor, LalibertИ) and two of the runners-up (Ellis, Niskanen).

ASCII Alphabet by Dorion Berg (CAN), mind's eye by Oliver Whitehead FIN), Course by Jordan Crandall (USA), and Broadcast by Istvan Kantor (CAN) give critical reflections of the digitalized urban society.
Ironical comments on artistic production with modern digital media can be found in the videos Sarcophagus by Zhel (CRO) and Video Hacking by Manuel Saiz (UK).
The video works A Girl Bathing in the Kitchen Sink by Pekka Niskanen (FIN), Telling Lies by Simon Ellis (UK), and De Tuin by Geesin and Rots (NL) look behind the curtain of private human relations constricted in a consumption-oriented society.
With L'outil n'est pas toujours un marteau, Sylvie Laliberte (CAN) refers to the same subject in her own special way, but provides us with a much more general statement on modern everyday life.
Last but not least, R4 by Michaela Schwentner (A) is a formal video experiment which explores iconographic reduction in relation to electronic sound.
The videos are in English or in the original language with English subtitles. Screening Copy is a Beta SP Pal tape (90 min.)

transmediale.01 Video-Selection

Dorion Berg (Canada 1999) : ASCII Alphabet, 5 min

ASCII Alphabet is a humorous and intelligent look at the „digitality” of the information object. It consists of pairs of opposing images, taken from antiquated childern’s encyclopedias, and accompanying sounds. These paired binaries are arranged according to one of the most commonly used binary text encoding schemes: the ASCII code. In ASCII code each character of the alphabet can be reduced to a 7 digit binary string. “ASCII Alphabet” is structured so as to slowly reveal the encoded alphabet. It is an attempt to give insight, for our analog consciousness, into the nature of digital information.

Sylvie Laliberté (Canada 1999): L'outil n'est pas toujours un marteau, 9 min 
(transmediale.01 award - ex aequo, category video)
A guide for almost all vital matters of life. Sylvie Laliberté presents a pastel-coloured world that, owing to its broken simplicity, does not appear to be kitschy. Her cosmos rests between a few fundamental concepts over which irony always hovers - an Ultrapop philosophy of life. The coherence between the simple visual means, the music and the dramatic presence of the author lends the work its quality and subversive charm. This is in the true sense of „Do It Yourself“: the magic wand of Slyvie Laliberté is a bread knife with a star stuck on it, which really anyone could make for themselves. Instead of forever discontentedly grasping at unreachable stars, Laliberté knows that it is wiser to fabricate your own.

Oliver Whitehead (Finland 1999): mind´s eye, 4 min
(First price - ex aequo, Medienkunstpreis 2000 ZKM/SWR, category video)
Oliver Whitehead's video work "mind's eye" shows the view from a train. A pale and featureless suburban landscape passes by. Individual objects can be focused on and followed for a moment, and then they disappear on the edge of the field of vision. The camera is looking for graffiti that youngsters have sprayed on to the walls of buildings, bridge piers, tunnels, level-crossing huts and signals. We see these sprayed drawings somewhere between text and image, with no time to decipher them. Anyway most of them are illegible, occasionally you can make out mysterious combinations of letters, names perhaps, or strange acronyms. These images are accompanyed by an artificial voice of a text-to-speech computer program which recites extracts from an English thesaurus, under the heading of creativity. Without purpose and without emotion, this spoken text, from which the title "mind's eye" is also taken, duplicates the indifferent rhythm of the images, and at the same time reflects on the idiosyncratic forms of expression in which the graffiti condense.

Pekka Niskanen (Finland 1999): A Girl Bathing in the Kitchen Sink, 15 min
(Honorary mention transmediale.01, category video)
In the tangle of confessions, semi-philosophical reliquishments and charged situations, the established stereotypes of cinematic narrative, such as production, characterization and dramatization, become blurred. The plot is replaced by an endless series of conversations, which, when entering rooms, calling on each other, lingering together, develop and become further concocted. The radicalness of this work, which appears to be accessible but remains incredibly closed, contrasts with the straight forward beauty of a sequence of images that are interwoven with the dialogue with equal validity.

Michaela Schwentner (Austria 2000): R4, 5 min
Michaela Schwentner’s video to “R4“ by the Viennese music trio Radian translates the abstract quality of the music into a single image, reduced but concrete: The shot which shows sets of tracks running in divergent lines from a train station and a train as it departs is transformed into a grainy black-and-white image reminiscent of Super 8 by means of various filters. This scene is compiled to form a new jerky sequence controlled by an invisible digital hand. The reptilian train creeps out of the train slowly. This evacuation repeats what was captured in the formal reduction at the beginning.

Dan Geesin / Esther Rots (Niederlande 1999): De Tuin (The Garden), 11 min
An idyllic pastoral mansion is the setting for a showdown of the compexity of human relations. The polished facade of a whole generation crumbles due to the hidden, underlying human drives.The videomakers Geesin and Rots use a cinematic aethetics closely related to advertising: they show us a series of images of clean and rich people in a civilized family environment in order to reveal a society in decline due its own clichés and stereotypical patterns of behaviour.
The idiosyncratic editing of the video, and the back and forth of single sequences, hold up the action so as to generate the highest degree of possible attention. Thus single gestures and actions appear loaded with meaning.
The staccato of images moreover refers to the fragility of the idyllic picture that is drawn in the first part of the video. It dismantles itself and demonstrates the repetition of stereotypes also on a formal level.

Simon Ellis (Great Britain 2000): Telling Lies, 4 min 
(Honorary mention transmediale.01, category video)
Spoken and written words are the medium and leading actors in Ellis’ video. Within four minutes, it tells the story of a separation, a night of drinking, two amorous adventures and the hangover afterwards. The absence of images and the concentration on the difference between spoken and written words is unusual for the video format. Particulary convincing is the sureness of style of the minimal graphics, the compact dramaturgy and the rendering of the depicted joke.

Zhel (Croatia 1999): Sarcophagus, 6 min
A videoclip about the shooting of a videoclip. In the age of MTV and Viva, it relentlessly reveals the secrets of how to produce a videoclip. The evident rules which the clip production relies on - like close-ups with sun glasses and live shootings on a tower block roof - are ironized and trivialized to the point of banality. Nevertheless, the tape works in a way that the viewer gains a positive audiovisual experience - which could mean that visual clichés can in fact offer comfort and retreat in times of sensual overstimulation and boundless visual experiments.

Manuel Saiz (Great Britain 1999): Video Hacking, 4 min
The fictional documentation deals with an artistic activist who rents videotapes, particularly classics of cinema history, and manipulates them with the computer. He understands himself as an artist in his own right and thus poses the question of copyright and original - which is virulent not only within digital culture.
The seemingly unprofessional use of the camera and the idiosyncratic editing of “Video Hacking” are clearly deliberate and add a tint of authenticity to the story.

Jordan Crandall (USA 2000): Course , 5 min
“Course“ belongs to the series “Heatseeking“ which contains 7 videos that were shot with 16mm film, surveillance systems, and Infrared cameras used by the US Border Patrol. Traditional film technology is combined with techologies of warfare. Cinematic formats are combined with a military-driven “strategic seeing.” Vision interwines with tracking and targeting devices. A postcinematic language emerges that is resonant with the complex visual networks which we are now embroiled, and which points at the power dynamics around contemporary moving images: sites where body and sensorium are adjusted, oriented, “armed”, and contoured within complex new formats of movement.

Istvan Kantor (Canada 2000): Broadcast, 20 min 
(transmediale.01 award - ex aequo, category video)
“Broadcast” by Istvan Kantor is a well thought-out provocation devoid of any spontaneity. The video focuses on the body as a transmitter and a weapon. Derelict precincts on the periphery of technology-based urban society are transformed into the main scenario for the staging of excessive performances by a masked, „machine-sex“ action group. “Broadcast” appears to break taboos without making provocation an end in itself. It does not constitute pornography. The stylisation of performance actions into a conceivable form of media terrorism occasionally reveals a touch of irony. The montage, rhythm and fragility of “Broadcast” - and, above all, the expressive aestheticism in the design of what is written - afford a look ahead to aesthetics of the future in the medium of television. The coherence between form and content make the video all the more convincing.


    © 2001 MediaArtLab; design - @division