a role in someone else's dream or being stuck in the
idling mode of habits is a reasonable image of the fear
of a postmodern social death. In this sense the emergence
of media art is not only an art genre, but is also based
on the collective forces of desiring in opposition to
this postmodern death. If the potentials of individual
possibilities for agency oscillate between technical
and social developments, then that which is subsumed
under the category of media art is also the expression
of a resistance against this postmodern death of desubjectivation.
the 80s, with the invasion of audio-visual apparatuses
and the computer into the area of private living, the
computer now occupies the most important place in the
home next to the bed. An "audio-visual production
of the self" with PCs, camera, sound machines,
etc. has since then shaped the spaces of imagination
and agency of a first, second, and meanwhile even fourth
or fifth generation of media consumers/producers and
determined new social categories. Stephan Geene describes
this "production of the self" as a "second
self with media", a term he has borrowed from the
investigations of the psychologist Sherry Turkle into
the relationship between subject and technology. According
to Turkle, the computer has "a second nature as
an evocative object, as an object that fascinates, disturbs
our composure, and propels our thinking towards new
horizons. The computer is a metaphysical machine, a
psychological machine, not because one can speak of
the psychical unconscious of the machine, but because
it influences how we think about ourselves ...".
The "second self with media" is "not
an artificial subject, but rather the product of a reflective
self-observation that depends on a disposition in the
social network," according to Geene.
The individual update of flows of information intensifies
and accelerates the interplay and exchange between consumption
and production, between the reception of stereotype
verbal and image affects (e.g. through television),
and the production of an interruption of the flows of
time, the creation of an interval, because the influence
of the flows of images, sound and information is always
processive memory work, in which collective references
and personal experiences are superimposed.
"audio-visual production of the self" becomes
the message material in the mass media flow of information,
the collective "body" of the media recipient.
This message material activates new processes and channels
in both directions, it co-determines the circulation
of information, it is the drug of postmodern rituals.
It is introduced into the collective echo chamber, the
bodily and immaterial space of memory, in homeopathic
doses. It inscribes itself as a painful process into
collective memory, painful because it is first rejected
and then utilized when it has become part of the social
machine through uninterrupted repetition.
flow out of the molecular production space of private
media producers for the creation of new relations of
memory from the perspective of new conjunctions of perception.
Conversely, every generation of producers is tied to
"their" mass media. In an interview that we
conducted in Paris during the first Gulf War, Félix Guattari declared that
"every generation has the media it deserves."
The television viewer, whom Guattari called an agent
rather than a consumer long before the computer revolution,
is taking leave of their victim role as a recipient
of manipulated mass media. Today the television viewer
is a producer making use of the refraction of public,
stereotype flows of affects as an element of self-production
(even if the viewer does not realize any audio-visual
productions). The television viewer is dependent on
movements in the media echo chamber, not an independent
author and critic.
necessity of making it possible to examine and convey
one's own processes of perception and subjectivation
gave birth to a critical reflection with machines that
has become popular with electronic art production since
the sixties. This thinking with machines within "social
machines", which is doped by the effect of a "machinic
unconscious" (Deleuze/Guattari), oscillates between
repetition and difference, between an automated and
a created memory, between habit and invention. It would
be too simple to dismiss this "production of the
self" as an elitist phenomenon of the first world.
Today computers and cameras are almost cheaper than
machine guns and politically more effective, in my opinion,
where it is a matter of gaining access to the collective
public sphere of technicized societies. There are examples
of this from every part of the world where political
conflicts are carried out.
art operations, however, in which the traces of this
"self-production" first found a public sphere,
the inflationary way it began to appear became a problem.
The "production of the self" reserved to a
small group lifts art out of its traditionally exclusive
and elite sphere. The star cult becomes the sure sign
of a mass commerciality, in which only a small portion
of new processes of subjectivation can be contained,
because if the question of subjectivation is tied to
disposition in the social network, then it cannot result
from a one-sided relationship between consumption and
production. The representations of the "production
of the self" are not long-lasting, they are a temporary
expression of a process, but the instance that generates
this process is alive. For this reason, exhibition spaces
have turned into platforms for encounters, which have
long since redefined the social function of art in society.
world of cinema, as well, which has been controlled
and determined since World War I by the propaganda ministries
and since World War II by nation-state media institutions,
until recently ignored the microscopic, economic strategies
of increasingly differentiated production possibilities.
However, this may be due more to the power interests
of the major media, which can operate temporarily, similarly
to military institutions, above and beyond any economic
end of the great history (of progress, of revolution,
of the new, modern human being and the machine) in literature
and history had already been sealed, though, according
to Maurizio Lazzarato. "The crisis of representation
was already evident before the world wars in art and
politics at the same time. The most important research
on memory, the brain and mental space was conducted
before World War I. It anticipated a social experience
that was to mark the twentieth century: the cooperation
between brains. The world becomes memory. In a world
that is becoming a collective brain, the life of human
beings is as uncertain and probable as the relations
among the synapses. Life has no history in the literal
sense. It does not run its course directed to a goal,
but concatenates situations and can run in all directions.
It cannot be described as a dramatic sequence until
it is over. Only then can all the events be ordered
into a history and become visible as necessary actions
in a sequence. Viewed from this perspective, life cannot
to Henri Bergson, memory is an accumulation of time
to introduce the possibility of an intentional selection.
We can chew the cud of a brief moment from our childhood
a whole life long. This means that we can expand or
compress certain fragments of input-time at will. By
forming intervals memory brings the past into the present,
letting "the dead" appear in "the living".
technology operates as time technology. Electronic image
technologies do not double reality, but rather imitate
a function of perception by forming intervals: a new
system synthesizing duration and intensities. As a technical
system the camera functions as a sensory-motoric (bodily)
memory: it records movements (of light) and modulates
them through contraction and expansion into electromagnetic
currents or frequencies, which are time. The movement
of the video image is directly determined by the wave
motion of the material. The camera operates as a system
of input and output time within the light waves. It
is a technical system, however, because there are no
opportunities for "intentional influence",
in other words, because contraction and expansion are
repeated automatically. The montage functions as a system
of contracting and expanding these flows of time, which
can be intentionally influenced, because relations and
durations of time are manipulated in the montage (ten
seconds of material can be generated from one second
of material). The camera and montage are thus the two
essential types of memory that Henri Bergson defines
in his "Matière et Mémoire", and video (camera
and montage) can be described as a technical system
that simulates the neurological function of memory.
images have a pre-representative life: a molecular life
of (tape) speed, (light) intensities, (camera) movements,
and (video) streams of light, which are determined by
the smallest forces of desire and affects. Electronic
images, sounds and their smallest pixels are understood
here as bodies, which affect other bodies, because every
image is a body and every body is an image. Every camera
shot has a kind of birthplace, an incision in the time/space
continuum, the past and present of which remain invisible.
A virtual time appends itself directly to the segment,
future settings of possible events in the montage. This
portion of the fictive is part of every actuated camera
image. The video image is a "circuit center",
a visual memory, which functions as an agent and not
as a replica. There is no objective/documentary image.
Camera locations are event locations open to a multitude
of streams (of consciousness). They contain virtual
actuation potentials that can later be developed in
video "Passing Drama" reflects the acoustic
image of my family history. It tells the refugee story
of my Greek family that came to me across three generations
as a fragmentary and fairy-tale-like image. Flight as
the fundamental motif of the story became the videographic
theme of narrative, history and memory.
is the name of a small town in northern Greece, where
many refugees (including my grandparents) from Asia
Minor settled, who had survived the trauma of the so-called
"Asia Minor catastrophe". Between 1922 and
1925 the Greek minority (around 1.5 million people)
living in various areas of Asia Minor, today Turkey,
were deported and displaced. Many children of these
refugees (including my father), who were born in northern
Greece in formerly Turkish villages (the Muslim population,
about 500,000 people, were evacuated from Greece in
accordance with the Lausanne Agreement of 1923) or had
experienced the exodus from Turkey as children, came
to Austria and Germany in 1942 as forced laborers. This
part of northern Greece had been occupied by the Bulgarian
army, which was allied with Hitler. Poverty, racism,
the concealment of historical facts, but most of all
the inner necessity of forgetting the traumatic experiences
of the deportation from Turkey and forced labor in World
War II marked this acoustic image of a flight that was
retold again and again from one generation to the next,
from one place to the next.
association of the title "Passing Drama" with
stage and film is intended to indicate the performative
character of the narrative. The "now-time"
was a defining force for the narrator in the video.
The performative act of recounting determined the content
of what was conveyed. The refugees told me their story
at an advanced age; they had lived their life, yet it
seemed to be the first time that they were asked about
their history. Their stories indicate a structure of
oral tradition marked by survival: the echo chamber
of a mental fight for survival, which still determined
the present. The text level of the video consists of
interviews with this second generation, who had heard
their parents' story as children. These were sentences
like stones. Sentences whose vocal melodies had been
inscribed in collective and individual memory across
three generations. Forgetting yesterday had become interwoven
with forgetting the day before yesterday and mingled
with forgetting today. Across the generations this narrative
profited from the theatrical talent of its narrators,
who extended or abridged single moments and repeated
inextinguishable fragments themselves, which became
a kind of song about flight through repetition and transfer.
and discontinuities gaped open in the transfer of memory,
of knowledge, of habits of thinking and living. Yet
the blocks and aphasia in the memories of these inhabitants
that had become migrants contains a truth that does
not only apply to them. For what happened to them has
also happened to us: a radical change in living one's
memory and one's time."
or the notation of forgetting is expressed in "Passing
Drama" through the montage of various levels of
the past. Each place represents a different level of
time in the narrative: the farther back the location
of the story was, in other words the farther back in
the past that the events were that happened in this
location, the more the image manipulation and montage
was impelled in this place. From one image generation
to the next, I constructed different levels and degrees
of abstraction through the image manipulation, which
were attributed to the "generation" of the
represents the machine location (here and now - Germany).
This image material was not influenced in post-production.
These are images of industrial weaving machines that
repeatedly come up between the sequences. They are not
only sociological descriptions (many refugees worked
in the textile industry), but also function as a paradigm
of the narrative construction. History appears in "Passing
Drama" as industrial machinery that devours minorities
on behalf of an invisible majority.
describes a location of the documentary, the location
of the narrative (2nd Generation: Greece/Germany). A
single generative level of transfer influences the course
of the narrative. Distortion becomes palpable, but the
degree of fragmentation does not yet destroy the conventional
image sequences. The material was manipulated once in
the post-production process by decelerating or stretching
it, so that my reading process was appended or added
into the next generation of images once. My observation
time flowed into the next generation of images, similar
to the way memories are actuated in oral tradition and
longer periods of time result from brief moments. The
more dynamic picture sequences (two levels of transfer)
represent the "generated" image of a place
that was passed on to the narrator (Asia Minor), which
he never saw himself. The extension and compression
of time was impelled to the most extreme in the material.
The levels of information intrude, the text remains
fragmentary, the intensity of sifting through the material
is most massively inscribed in the original material.
My own imagination distorted the material most.
camera shots and the images and sounds processed in
this way were digitized and constituted a time-mapping
in the computer, a memory from images, intensities,
speeds and movements from the various locations of the
story of flight, which became different levels of time
and past. This database was coupled in non-linear editing
with a linear runtime system. The moments of tension
emerged from the constant back and forth between the
archive order and the resultant linear course. The "montage"
was defined from the ability to navigate within the
archive-memory to reveal new links and montages. The
possibility of layering material in a linear sequence
resulted in different text/image/sound fields for image
and sound, which determined the emphasis or deletion
of information. The flows of image and sound were newly
interwoven again and again based on motifs, in order
to define a different mental and material space allowing
for possibilities of a non-linear narrative, in which
various modes of perception can be interlocked.
its narration structure "Passing Drama" is
neither a documentation nor fiction. Instead it deals
with the choice between polyvocality and unanimity,
between shorter or longer vocal phrases, between open
and closed logics of a story, which characterizes the
refugee story in general. Trauma, dramatic escapes and
survival strategies determine the levels of the perception
of the stories as constitutive psychologies.
'Passing Drama' the viewer is compelled into other dimensions.
(This both touches and disturbs the viewer at the same
time, because the viewer's own sensibility allows them
to intuitively recognize the pre-individual, pre-representative
life of their subjectivity.) We are transported to another
dimension, which psychologists refer to with the lovely
expression 'a-modal perception': as in the pre-verbal
life of the newborn, here we still have the freedom
of not fixing what touches us in categories of image,
sound or the designation of the object, but rather of
gliding from one emotion into the next. It is not a
matter of countering the representative image with its
infinitesimal elements, but rather of moving from one
into the other, for example from the molecular to the
molar dimension, just as it is constantly practiced
in life. The discovery of this dynamic in both directions
leads us to the source of our own creativity. With the
compression and extension of movement, with the weaving
and interweaving of the flows of images and sounds,
new experiences of perceptions and logics arise, which
are for the viewer vectors of dehumanized subjectivity
at the same time. In 'Passing Drama' the infinitely
small lines of flight (molecular becoming) indicate
the minorities (migrants). The video image becomes the
echo of the movement of the migrant proletariat (the
great deterritorialized). In this work the images of
the looms function paradigmatically. Here one might
recall that Plato's metaphor for politics was weaving.
Yet flows of images cannot be represented. One can only
conjoin and compose them. They cannot be dissected to
be rearranged (hybridization). The impossibility of
the political representation of minorities and the impossibility
of their aesthetic representation are equally caused
by the deterritorialization of the flows."
as a method of non-linear montage is a narrative of
the process of memory. The framework of meaning is constantly
newly constructed. Every new element is integrated in
the fabric like in a network of relationships. These
relations are mutually "remembering" or "forgetting"
(fiction, quotation, account). These two fundamental
directions influence the flowing or blockage of information
and the narrative logos. Linking different logics of
the dramaturgy especially emphasizes the moments of
transitions. Transitions become the hinges determining
the contents. The way events become intense in memory
finds a correspondence in the intensification of audio-visual
transitions. These mental transitions and here the transitions
of different narrative logics are moments that particularly
occupy our attention. The monotony of a logic ends in
the transition. Habits of seeing and hearing are opened
up. Our attention navigates from node to node, from
one link to the next, from one transition to the next.
As soon as logics of a sequence settle into a longer
duration, our attention dwindles (relaxation). It is
activated again as soon as the dynamic of an emerging
event is anticipated. We observe an event unfolding,
a story growing, or a framework of meaning falling apart.
ethics and politics of the image in 'Passing Drama'
constitute an ecology of the intellect for machine subjectivities."
video "Passing Drama" was also shown as a
performance by mixing additional sound levels live during
the screening. This was intended to take the story back
to the open process, from which it was born: the process
of montage. Taking recourse to the open time period
of the stage ties into the performative situation of
the protagonists by including the "second self
with media". It is an attempt to allow a trace
to emerge, leading back to one's own story, the perception
of which was shaped by the use of media apparatuses,
which co-determine the possibility of the process of
concept of the video project TIMESCAPES developed from
"Passing Drama". TIMESCAPES investigates the
aesthetics of non-linear film montage as collaborative
processes among video authors from different countries
in western and southeastern Europe. It is a collaborative
non-linear montage project (with Hito Steyerl, VI.DEA_Media
Collective Ankara, Dragana Zarevac and Freddy Viannelis)
within the research project "Transcultural Geographies"
by and with Ursula Biemann, Lisa Parks and Ginette Verstraete.
examines representation, memory, politics and poetics
of the video image in the montage process, in order
to visualize pre-individual and collective subjectivation
processes and explore new forms of videographic narrative.
This research illuminates different story formations
that characterize the collective memory of technicized
societies today and have characterized them in the past.
This presupposes that electronic image and sound production
and networked modes of production simulate functions
deconstruct habitual images (clichés) and concatenate
them differently, TIMESCAPES first examines new camera
and montage techniques. Digital post-production as a
web instrument is also a possible paradigm for image
construction here. The development of information and
duration in the montage (cut) are the key to this discussion
about representation, memory and minority politics,
which relates to a methodological practice here and
constitutes the montage process in terms of both form
and content. The goal of the research is to learn to
understand the internal dynamic of a group working in
different locations as a constituting process. Force
fields of pre-representative potentials can be grounded
in this as open opinion fields, generative processes
of notation in montage, connective and disruptive interfaces
between text, image and sound from different fields
of perception (hearing, seeing, logic) and from different
positions, and amalgamations, distortions and selections
of memory can be investigated as a creative potential.
goal of the collaboration is a linear story on video,
yet this only serves to focus the working process, which
is foregrounded as the formal solution of the problem
of representation. At the same time, new representation
surfaces for the screen are examined, which make sense
for the artists' collaboration.
its concept and mode of production, TIMESCAPES deals
with the theme of "private story versus world politics"
or the interlinking of micro and macro political worlds
(local/global, minority/majority, male/female) in relation
to narration and to memory. The starting point is given
by the spatial reality, which is an initial element
of the story as the birthplace of the camera image:
along the European axis, which was strategically determinant
for the German empire before the two world wars and
still forms the axis of the streams of migration to
TIMESCAPES is also a social film network, because each
of the authors becomes producer and agent of the project.
interprets the "entry of the living into history"
as a positive possibility for thinking of the "political
subject as an ethical subject", specifically contrary
to the traditional western way of thinking, which defines
the political-ethical subject solely in the form of
the "legal subject". When power makes life
itself the object of its authority, then Foucault is
interested in determining what resists this power: the
forms of subjectivation and living that elude this power.
TIMESCAPES interprets the "entry of the living
into the audio-visual story" as a positive possibility
for representing the politics of representation themselves
as a process through exploring collective processes
Drama, 1999, 66 min