Citation
Transformations of the (silver) screen

Material Information

Title:
Transformations of the (silver) screen : film after new media
Creator:
Grieb, Margit ( Dissertant )
Alter, Nora M. ( Thesis advisor )
Bullivant, Keith ( Reviewer )
Futterknecht, Franz ( Reviewer )
Ulmer, Gregory ( Reviewer )
Place of Publication:
Gainesville, Fla.
Publisher:
University of Florida
Publication Date:
Copyright Date:
2003
Language:
English

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Computer games ( jstor )
Computer technology ( jstor )
Film criticism ( jstor )
Motion picture industry ( jstor )
Movies ( jstor )
Narratives ( jstor )
News media ( jstor )
Surveillance ( jstor )
Theater ( jstor )
Viewers ( jstor )
Dissertations, Academic -- UF -- Germanic and Slavic Studies
Germanic and Slavic Studies thesis,Ph.D

Notes

Abstract:
Transformations of the (Silver) Screen: Film After New Media focuses on German cinema and new media productions. Within each of the chapters I examine emerging technologies such as video, digital video, HDTV, videogames, and new technologies of distribution and storage, e.g., Internet, satellite-streaming, CD-ROM, and DVD-Video, and explore their impact on films and filmmakers, including Wim Wenders, Tim Tykwer, and Valie Export. Using Bertolt Brecht's theories of implementing new media technoogies (i.e., film and radio) in his epic theater as a point of departure, I look at how the aesthetic representation of emerging media, embedded within the "older" representational system of film, is employed to enhance and expand the latter's capabilities ofr artistic expression. One of the questions I attempt to answer is: How can Brecht's epic practice be adapted succussfully to the study and employment of new media in art? I also address the relationship between gender and technology, in particular with media that traditionally have been codified as male. I am particularly interested in how artiste re-invent and re-define the form and content of the conventional medium of film and its institutional apparatus, the cinema, through the use of a technical innovation. My arguments throughout the dissertation engage with the work of film, media, culture, and feminist critics of the 20th century, including, among others, Theodor W. Adorno, Walter Benjamin, Jay David Boler, Bertolt BRecht, Hans Magnus Enzensberger, Valie Export, Richard Grusin, Donna Haraway, Katherine Hayles, Friedrich Kittler, Peter Lunenfeld, Roswitha Mueller, Marita Sturken, Sherry Turkle, Gregory Ulmer, and Wim Wenders. ( , )
Subject:
Brecht, cinema, DVD, epic, film, German, HDTV, media, new, theater, video, videogames
General Note:
Title from title page of source document.
General Note:
Includes vita.
Thesis:
Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Florida, 2003.
Bibliography:
Includes bibliographical references.
General Note:
Text (Electronic thesis) in PDF format.
General Note:
Document formatted into ix, 216 pages.

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Holding Location:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
Copyright Grieb, Margit. Permission granted to the University of Florida to digitize, archive and distribute this item for non-profit research and educational purposes. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions requires permission of the copyright holder.
Embargo Date:
9/9/1999
Resource Identifier:
475684116 ( OCLC )

Downloads

This item has the following downloads:

grieb_m.pdf

grieb_m_Page_216.txt

grieb_m_Page_040.txt

grieb_m_Page_063.txt

grieb_m_Page_181.txt

grieb_m_Page_108.txt

grieb_m_Page_219.txt

grieb_m_Page_118.txt

grieb_m_Page_192.txt

grieb_m_Page_084.txt

grieb_m_Page_094.txt

grieb_m_Page_153.txt

grieb_m_Page_115.txt

grieb_m_Page_036.txt

grieb_m_Page_027.txt

grieb_m_Page_225.txt

grieb_m_Page_178.txt

grieb_m_Page_163.txt

grieb_m_Page_198.txt

grieb_m_Page_134.txt

grieb_m_Page_078.txt

grieb_m_Page_194.txt

grieb_m_Page_085.txt

grieb_m_Page_086.txt

grieb_m_Page_116.txt

grieb_m_Page_207.txt

grieb_m_Page_033.txt

grieb_m_Page_171.txt

grieb_m_Page_220.txt

grieb_m_Page_006.txt

grieb_m_Page_074.txt

grieb_m_Page_045.txt

grieb_m_Page_073.txt

grieb_m_Page_064.txt

grieb_m_Page_204.txt

grieb_m_Page_003.txt

grieb_m_Page_130.txt

grieb_m_Page_052.txt

grieb_m_Page_122.txt

grieb_m_Page_071.txt

grieb_m_Page_196.txt

grieb_m_Page_169.txt

grieb_m_Page_059.txt

grieb_m_Page_172.txt

grieb_m_Page_137.txt

grieb_m_Page_161.txt

grieb_m_Page_053.txt

grieb_m_Page_066.txt

grieb_m_Page_120.txt

grieb_m_Page_114.txt

grieb_m_Page_188.txt

grieb_m_Page_057.txt

grieb_m_Page_054.txt

grieb_m_Page_160.txt

grieb_m_Page_019.txt

grieb_m_Page_167.txt

grieb_m_Page_175.txt

grieb_m_Page_013.txt

grieb_m_Page_082.txt

grieb_m_Page_077.txt

grieb_m_Page_191.txt

grieb_m_Page_001.txt

grieb_m_Page_041.txt

grieb_m_Page_011.txt

grieb_m_Page_138.txt

grieb_m_Page_051.txt

grieb_m_Page_044.txt

grieb_m_Page_080.txt

grieb_m_Page_081.txt

grieb_m_Page_205.txt

grieb_m_Page_009.txt

grieb_m_Page_154.txt

grieb_m_Page_180.txt

grieb_m_Page_083.txt

grieb_m_Page_076.txt

grieb_m_Page_203.txt

grieb_m_Page_035.txt

grieb_m_Page_025.txt

grieb_m_Page_173.txt

grieb_m_Page_007.txt

grieb_m_Page_088.txt

grieb_m_Page_034.txt

grieb_m_Page_093.txt

grieb_m_Page_157.txt

grieb_m_Page_141.txt

grieb_m_Page_055.txt

grieb_m_Page_162.txt

grieb_m_Page_087.txt

grieb_m_Page_127.txt

grieb_m_Page_072.txt

grieb_m_Page_016.txt

grieb_m_Page_212.txt

grieb_m_Page_046.txt

grieb_m_Page_037.txt

grieb_m_Page_150.txt

grieb_m_Page_124.txt

grieb_m_Page_024.txt

grieb_m_Page_043.txt

grieb_m_Page_206.txt

grieb_m_Page_030.txt

grieb_m_Page_047.txt

grieb_m_Page_017.txt

grieb_m_Page_139.txt

grieb_m_pdf.txt

grieb_m_Page_005.txt

grieb_m_Page_028.txt

grieb_m_Page_183.txt

grieb_m_Page_010.txt

grieb_m_Page_095.txt

grieb_m_Page_211.txt

grieb_m_Page_221.txt

grieb_m_Page_049.txt

grieb_m_Page_014.txt

grieb_m_Page_182.txt

grieb_m_Page_179.txt

grieb_m_Page_185.txt

grieb_m_Page_146.txt

grieb_m_Page_195.txt

grieb_m_Page_201.txt

grieb_m_Page_092.txt

grieb_m_Page_098.txt

grieb_m_Page_107.txt

grieb_m_Page_032.txt

grieb_m_Page_166.txt

grieb_m_Page_050.txt

grieb_m_Page_224.txt

grieb_m_Page_143.txt

grieb_m_Page_208.txt

grieb_m_Page_170.txt

grieb_m_Page_133.txt

grieb_m_Page_061.txt

grieb_m_Page_026.txt

grieb_m_Page_199.txt

grieb_m_Page_079.txt

grieb_m_Page_068.txt

grieb_m_Page_015.txt

grieb_m_Page_058.txt

grieb_m_Page_065.txt

grieb_m_Page_102.txt

grieb_m_Page_018.txt

grieb_m_Page_117.txt

grieb_m_Page_144.txt

grieb_m_Page_008.txt

grieb_m_Page_069.txt

grieb_m_Page_147.txt

grieb_m_Page_155.txt

grieb_m_Page_096.txt

grieb_m_Page_002.txt

grieb_m_Page_125.txt

grieb_m_Page_200.txt

grieb_m_Page_174.txt

grieb_m_Page_023.txt

grieb_m_Page_209.txt

grieb_m_Page_129.txt

grieb_m_Page_215.txt

grieb_m_Page_213.txt

grieb_m_Page_148.txt

grieb_m_Page_132.txt

grieb_m_Page_039.txt

grieb_m_Page_111.txt

grieb_m_Page_149.txt

grieb_m_Page_089.txt

grieb_m_Page_062.txt

grieb_m_Page_022.txt

grieb_m_Page_126.txt

grieb_m_Page_210.txt

grieb_m_Page_164.txt

grieb_m_Page_119.txt

grieb_m_Page_218.txt

grieb_m_Page_214.txt

grieb_m_Page_222.txt

grieb_m_Page_187.txt

grieb_m_Page_113.txt

grieb_m_Page_142.txt

grieb_m_Page_056.txt

grieb_m_Page_109.txt

grieb_m_Page_020.txt

grieb_m_Page_104.txt

grieb_m_Page_186.txt

grieb_m_Page_176.txt

grieb_m_Page_031.txt

grieb_m_Page_140.txt

grieb_m_Page_177.txt

grieb_m_Page_038.txt

grieb_m_Page_136.txt

grieb_m_Page_223.txt

grieb_m_Page_112.txt

grieb_m_Page_184.txt

grieb_m_Page_189.txt

grieb_m_Page_151.txt

grieb_m_Page_091.txt

grieb_m_Page_168.txt

grieb_m_Page_100.txt

grieb_m_Page_110.txt

grieb_m_Page_012.txt

grieb_m_Page_099.txt

grieb_m_Page_029.txt

grieb_m_Page_190.txt

grieb_m_Page_106.txt

grieb_m_Page_103.txt

grieb_m_Page_067.txt

grieb_m_Page_021.txt

grieb_m_Page_090.txt

grieb_m_Page_042.txt

grieb_m_Page_097.txt

grieb_m_Page_158.txt

grieb_m_Page_202.txt

grieb_m_Page_165.txt

grieb_m_Page_105.txt

grieb_m_Page_217.txt

grieb_m_Page_121.txt

grieb_m_Page_159.txt

grieb_m_Page_101.txt

grieb_m_Page_152.txt

grieb_m_Page_197.txt

grieb_m_Page_145.txt

grieb_m_Page_075.txt

grieb_m_Page_070.txt

grieb_m_Page_048.txt

grieb_m_Page_135.txt

grieb_m_Page_123.txt

grieb_m_Page_128.txt

grieb_m_Page_131.txt

grieb_m_Page_060.txt

grieb_m_Page_004.txt

grieb_m_Page_193.txt

grieb_m_Page_156.txt


Full Text












TRANSFORMATIONS OF THlE (SILVER) SCREEN: FILM AFTER NEW MEDIA


By

MARGIT GRIEB














A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THlE REQUIREMENTS FOR THlE DEGREE OF
DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA


2003

































Copyright 2003

by

Margin Grieb



































For Don















ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

First and foremost, I would like to thank my dissertation committee chair, Prof Nora M. Alter, for providing me with many invaluable years of mentoring and diligent assistance and guidance in every stage of this dissertation. It was her remarkable scholarly expertise that guided my first steps into academic research and her encouragement and knowledge that helped me continue with my studies. I also thank the other members of my committee, Prof Keith Bullivant, Prof Franz Futterknecht, and Prof Gregory Ulmer, for their valuable comments and suggestions. A special note of thanks goes to Prof. Ulmer for sharing with me his creative and insightful perspective on issues concerning new media. I am also grateful to the Department of Germanic and Slavic Studies for providing me with many years of financial and intellectual support. I owe special gratitude to the members of the departmental office staff, Sophia Kurzweg and Annemarie Sykes, who have contributed in many ways to making my life as a graduate student more bearable. Many thanks go also to my friends Yves Clernmen and Will Lehman for patiently listening to my ideas and providing constructive criticism.

Most of all, I am grateful to Don Wilder, without whom I never may have

developed the interest in technology which served as the foundation for this project. Most importantly, his patience, encouragement, and unwavering support have been a constant source of energy and inspiration for me over the years. I also thank Arielle for being my friend and making me smile when I most needed it. Final thanks go to Louis,









Oso, Kodi, and Charlie, whose companionship kept me focused on what is important in















TABLE OF CONTENTS
pM. e

A C K N O W L E D G M E N T S . iv

A B S T R A C T . v iii

CHAPTER

I IN T R O D U C T IO N . I

D e fi n itio n s . I O u tlin e . 6 F o c u s . 7

2 NEW MEDIA IN THEORY AND PRACTICE . 13

T he E xperim ent of E pic T heater . 13
T h e E p ic T h eater Stag e . 17 The Lehrstfick and Schaustfick Meet Technology . 20
B u ild in g o n B rech t . 2 3
Interaction, Participation, and Vergnfigen . 23 H y p erm e d iatio n . 3 4 Brechtian Theory and Recent Developments in the Public Sphere . 47
Conclusion: Brecht after Brecht- Continuations and Transgressions . 51

3 V ID E O A N D F IL M . 56

The Emergence and Development of Video as an Artistic Medium . 56
V id eo an d T elev isio n . 5 6 H D T V . 6 6
Wim Wenders: Rebel without a Clear Cause? . 69
The Superiority of the Filmic Image over Other Recordings . 72 W lenders as D igital G uru . 79 Until the End of the World or How to Split HD from TV . 81
Video Recording as an Act of Violence: Wenders on Surveillance . 90 Video, TV, the Artist/Author and the Auteur: Film as Craft/Handwerk . 98
Conclusion: Technology and the Difficulty of Representing History/Memory . 109
A bandoning G erm an-ness . 109
Recording the Past and Future on Video and Film . 112

4 COMPUTER GAMES AND FILM . 119









The Influence of Digital Technology on Cinema . 119 R u n L a ra R u n . 12 3
Style Eclipses Content: Reinventing Popular Appeal . 123 Films and Games: A Winning Combination? . 129 C onquering Space through Speed . 132 T h e Q u est for N arrativ e . 14 1 Sup erw eib or Superw om an? . 145
Conclusion: Popular Cinema and Reflections on Originality . 151

5 STORAGE AND DISTRIBUTION THROUGH NEW MEDIA . 154

Film Storage and Distribution: From the Early Years to the Internet . 154
Films on CD-ROM: Valie Export's Medial Anagrams . 160
Syntagma and its Function in Bilder der Berfihrungen . 161 Intersections of Feminism and Technology . 166
In te ra ctiv ity . 1 7 3 The Interface as M ise-en-A bym e . 175 L im its an d C o n tro l . 18 0
The Next Generation of Film Storage: The DVD-Video . 183
Laserdisc Makes Way for DVD-Video . 183 Making Films Special: DVD Packaging and Marketing . 187
Setting the Mood: The DVD-Video Interface . 197
Conclusion: What are Film and Cinema? Towards an Expanded Definition . 201

L IST O F R E F E R E N C E S . 205

B IO G R A PH IC A L SK E T C H . 208
















Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy

TRANSFORMATIONS OF THlE (SILVER) SCREEN: FILM AFTER NEW MEDIA By

Margit Grieb

May 2003

Chair: Nora M. Alter
Major Department: Germanic and Slavic Studies

Transformations of the (Silver) Screen: Film After New Media focuses on German cinema and new media productions. Within each of the chapters I examine emerging technologies such as video, digital video, HTDTV, videogames, and new technologies of distribution and storage, e.g., Internet, satellite- streaming, CD-ROM, and DVD-Video, and explore their impact on films and filmmakers, including Wim Wenders, Tim Tykwer, and Valie Export. Using Bertolt Brecht' s theories of implementing new media technologies (i.e., film and radio) in his epic theater as a point of departure, I look at how the aesthetic representation of emerging media, embedded within the "older" representational system of film, is employed to enhance and expand the latter's capabilities for artistic expression. One of the questions I attempt to answer is: How can Brecht' s epic practice be adapted successfully to the study and employment of new media in art? I also address the relationship between gender and technology, in particular with media that traditionally have been codified as male. I am particularly interested in how artists re-invent and re-define the form and content of the conventional medium of film









and its institutional apparatus, the cinema, through the use of a technical innovation. My arguments throughout the dissertation engage with the work of film, media, culture, and feminist critics of the 20th century, including, among others, Theodor W. Adorno, Walter Benjamin, Jay David Bolter, Bertolt Brecht, Hans Magnus Enzensberger, Valie Export, Richard Grusin, Donna Haraway, Katherine Hayles, Friedrich Kittler, Peter Lunenfeld, Roswitha Mueller, Marita Sturken, Sherry Turkle, Gregory Ulmer, and Wim Wenders.














CHAPTER I
INTRODUCTION

[T]here seems to be a good deal of confusion as to what is new and what is old, while fear that the old will return has become mixed with fear that the new will
step in [ . ], artists would be well advised not to rely blindly on the assurance that
new ideas are welcome. Yet art can only find its feet by going ahead [ . ].

Bertolt Brecht, Brecht on Theater

Definitions

In the last decade the term "new media" has all but become synonymous with

emerging digital technologies. Indeed, Lev Manovich, in his seminal study The Language ofNew Media, defines new media as "graphics, moving images, sounds, shapes, spaces, and texts that have become computable" (20), and the equally important Remediation. Understanding New Media by Jay David Bolter and Richard Grusin takes a similar approach equating new media with digital media. My own study employs the terminology new media in a way that relates to the more traditional semantic roots of the term. New media, in the following chapters, are emerging twentieth century technologies, analog and digital, that have in some way influenced, altered, refashioned, redirected, or even replaced the nineteenth/twentieth century technology of film and its institutional apparatus, the cinema.

The designation "new" is not meant to evoke the notion that new media are

historically or aesthetically unique, and developed out of a distinct rupture with any prior systems. On the contrary, I base my inquiry on the premise that new media emerge from within a historical, socio-political, and aesthetic system and draw upon this heritage for









their own definitions. New media, in my study, are emerging representational systems that differ considerably in their technological make-up from existing technologies of the cinema and which are able to expand, change, improve upon, or even replace aspects of the latter's function within society. What renders these media "new" is not a matter of singularity or uniqueness as a whole, but emerges as an unprecedented way of arranging that which is already familiar. I begin my inquiry with an examination of Bertolt Brecht's theory of Epic Theater that perceived as a new medium, capable of transforming the culturally established institution of theater. Although most of the technologies I discuss do, in fact, belong to the category "digital," it is less their binary origin that is definitive for my study than the fact that the digital revolution has exerted more influence on film than any other singular technological development. Even television, which ranks as a close second, has gained most of its influential momentum from digital modifications. As Manovich has pointed out, the computer has evolved as an acting filter for all types of cultural productions (64). Therefore, although the term "new media" may not be synonymous with digital media, but the two often overlap.

In the last decade, a number of studies have appeared that successfully inaugurate the study of new media (speak digital media) as a scholarly field in its own right, one that is no longer delegated as a subordinate category of the greater fields of film, media, visual, popular culture, or cultural studies. Instead, new media studies, exists as a separate field, albeit built on the traditions of film and visual studies. This link to the fields of film and visual studies has, in part, allowed for it to be theorized within the rubric of Humanities generally, and contemporary critical theory, specifically. In other words, theories of new media are decidedly philosophical and cultural in their base, thereby









removing digital technologies from remaining in the exclusive domain of computer science. Theorists thus illuminate how new media function not only as a technology, but also as a dynamic force in contemporary culture. There exists a rich tradition of scholarship concerned with new media which appeared prior to the explosion of digital technology and before new media studies had officially achieved recognition as a field in its own right, such as Marshall McLuhan's Understanding Media (1964), Hans Magnus Enzensberger's Baukasten zu einer Theorie derMedien (1957-88), and Gregory Ulmer's Teletheory (1989), to name but a few. In Understanding Media McLuhan discusses the state of the then beginning explosion of mass media. He offers a media-centered interpretation of history by attempting to isolate types of communication media as the moving force in historical development. McLuhan coined the expressions "global village" and "the medium is the message" to describe how and what we communicate. As a contemporary of McLuhan, Enzensberger takes issue with Understanding Media' s technological determinism and instead situates the new technologies into a socio-political context. In his essays he argues for media to become tools for everyone, instead of remaining in the hands of economic powers, and for them to develop into a productive rather than exploitative apparatus. Like McLuhan and Enzensberger, Ulmer's book also identifies the new media as fundamentally changing the state of communications. He postulates that video and electronic technologies are essential tools to provoke inventive thinking as a privileged discourse in the new era of communications. He argues that video allows for the institutional dissemination of inventive thinking in a similar way that the alphabet allowed for critical literate argumentation.









Since then, in the 1990s, several significant works have contributed to the further development of new media studies, most notably (in chronological order) Donna Haraway's Simians, Cyborgs, and Women (199 1), George P. Landow's Hypertext (1992), Neil Postman's Technopoly (1992), Sherry Turkle's Life on the Screen (1995), and Katherine Hayles's How We Became Posthuman (1999). Haraway's study, in particular her essay "A Cyborg Manifesto," established a connection between new technologies and feminism. Her arguments pointed to a new hybrid humanity, one that no longer operated based on binary categories such as natural and artificial. Although, unlike Haraway's study, Landow' s text is not based on an explicitly feminist premise, he does establish hypertext, with its non-linear structure, to be inherently open to advance the struggles of those underprivileged in society. His study offers the first comprehensive analysis of this new language, used mainly in online applications. While most of the theoretical analyses mentioned thus far have approached new technologies from a positive standpoint, Neil Postman offers a decidedly negative critique of the interaction between culture and technology in Technopoly. For him, a "Technopoly" is a society that holds technology and science in such high regard, that it elevates them into a position superior to human judgment and capable of regulating all human affairs. Sherry Turkle, on the other hand, dispels much of common criticisms about online technologies in her Life on the Screen and sees new technologies of communication as potentially subversive tools and spaces. Finally, Hayles' s How We Became Posthuman builds on Haraway' s cyborg theory and calls for a renewed investment and interest in materialism, especially in conjunction with information technologies.









Studies on new media proliferated immensely as we approached and entered into the new millennium. The aforementioned Remediation (2000), Peter Lunenfeld's Snap to Grid (2000), and The Language of New Media (2002) are the most important examples for this. In Remediation, Bolter and Grusin offer a convincing analysis of the media, as engaged in a constant refashioning of other, prior and contemporary, media. Snap to Grid sees 1989 as a decisive point in history which has brought about a shift in contemporary art and technology. Lunenfeld explores this shift and traces its effect on how we think about and react to our surroundings via the new computer-generated screens. Manovich' s study of the nature and constitution of digital technologies has already become a classic text in the short period of its availability in print.' His basic arguments revolve around the cinematic nature that has shaped all digital media and serves as a filter of how we interact with the environment around us.

In general, most of the books and essays on new media that have appeared in recent years have discussed, at least in part, what impact new technologies have had on existing media. This includes radio, music, photography, literature, graphic novels, television, and many other sites of artistic production. Since film represents the dominating visual technology of the 20 century, new media's impact, digital and analog, on the cinema has arguably been the most conspicuous. Studies that have devoted considerable attention to new media's effects on film include the essays collected in Cinema Futures (1998, edited by Elsaesser and Hoffmann) and The New Media Book (2002, edited by Dan Harries),






1 However, most of Manovich' s arguments in this book have appeared in other publications and were circulating widely online and in print before the publication of The Language of New Media.









and, as already mentioned, The Language of New Media.2 However, these accounts use a descriptive, general approach to evaluate the changes that have occurred in cinema productions of the last few years rather than providing pragmatic analyses of specific films and filmmakers, as do my chapters.

Timothy Druckrey's collection of essays in Electronic Media ( highlights that

contemporary new media studies can trace part of its critical lineage to early 20 -hcentury German philosophical traditions from Martin Heidegger, Walter Benjamin, and the Frankfurt School critics, to Hans Magnus Enzensberger, and Friedrich Kittler, however, recent developments in new media studies have yet to leave a noticeable mark on the state of German studies in general . Although theoretical foundations have been laid through essays by Friedrich Kittler, Florian Rotzer, Peter Weibel, Siegfried Zielinski, and Thomas Elsaesser, among others, there still exists a lack of practical applications of German as well as Anglo-American new media theory to German-speaking artistic productions. My account attempts to address this lack and provide analyses that specifically focuses on German artistic practices and productions within the context of new media.

Outline

As already mentioned, most new media scholarship has been focused on AngloAmerican cultural productions. My study departs from these publications in that it includes German-specific case studies in chapters 3, 4, and 5. 1 am invoking these


2 Another book-long study treating cinematic interaction with new media, Future Cinema: The Cinematic Imaginary After Film, edited by Peter Weibel and Jeffrey Shaw and based on the November 2002 exhibition Future Cinema at the ZMK in Karlsruhe, is due to appear from MIT Press. ' Electronic Mledia features essays by Heidegger, and Enzensberger, as well as essays informed by Critical Theory (a la Frankfurt school), Benjamin, Wittgenstein, Bfirger, and Freud.









specific moments of new media/film interaction in order to show the inseparability of media form, content, and context in my approach, a notion that relies heavily on Brecht's theories. My case studies are drawn exclusively from a broad field of German-language cultural production, "the site of technical superiority" as video artist Martha Rosler calls it (not without irony) (44), rather than covering a more comprehensive geographical area or centering on the U.S., a site where public viewership, aesthetic production, and critical evaluation have witnessed the most widely acknowledged instances of film and new media intersections. Instead of concentrating on general trends in how new media has and is affecting film, I narrow my critical focus to specific examples that illustrate very specific effects. My methodology is defined by evaluating films that are not spawned by the US studio production system. Instead I pay attention to filmmakers who are working within the European state-supported system, which traditionally has allowed more experimental work to emerge (although this is in the process of changing). In other words, this study is an off-center look at some of the most interesting effects of new media technologies on film.

Focus

My emphasis on revealing how the "old" medium of film has fared after its various physical and aesthetic encounters with new forms of visual technology also departs from the loci adopted by most other new media studies which have appeared in recent years. These studies have adopted the opposite stance and look at how new media are building on or changing older technologies. Important books using the "new media after old media" approach include the aforementioned Remediation and The Language qfNew










4
Media, as well as Snap to Grid, How We Became Posthuman, Florian Rbtzer's Digitale

Weltentwfirfe, Life on the Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet, and several others. In

contrast, my critical lens is focused foremost on film and only vis-a-vis this vantage point

do I consider new media technologies. This approach is meant to follow in the footsteps

of Brecht who, in the majority of his theoretical writing, concentrated his efforts on the

theater in order to determine how the new media film and radio could transform it, rather

5
than tracing the vice-versa effect. In contrast, authors of other books in the field, such as

Manovich, predominantly discuss the nature of emerging digital media and, only to

fortify or supplement their analysis, give an account of the relationship new media share

with older technologies (in a variety of contexts such as historical, social, technological,

aesthetic, etc.). This is not to say that one approach is privileged over another, but it is

important to point out this particular perspective, because it constitutes a shift of

emphasis on which my arguments are built.

Within each of the chapters I examine a specific emerging technology such as

video, digital video, HDTV, computer/videogames, new technologies of distribution and



4 Although the predominant portion of The Language offew Media uses the "from cinema to new media" approach, Manovich devotes one chapter to tracing the opposite effect-how have digital technologies changed the cinema. But even in this chapter he continually reverts back to privileging the new over the old (as in his discussion of computer games as cinema).

5 Although Brecht devoted considerable energy to developing a theory of film and radio, which build on his thoughts on theater, his dramatic theories and techniques became his most influential contribution to media theory in the 20thcentury. I use Brecht's theory of the theater rather than his film or radio theory in my project for two interrelated reasons: 1) his theory of the theater addresses the act of adapting and incorporating new media into an existing representational form Oust as my project attempts to do), and 2) his theories of film, radio and sound borrows heavily from his theater ideas and are therefore not dramatically different or new. What I do extract from his media theories, apart from the theater, is his openness to use ideas developed for one specific medium to apply them to another. When we try to come to terms with emerging cultural productions, forms, and apparatuses, we are dependent on our prior knowledge and experience to make sense of the so-called new. The emerging forms and practices themselves come into being that way, they do not empt spontaneously out of nowhere; they incorporate an existing history simply by being preceded by other media.









storage, e.g., DVD-Video, CD-ROM, Laserdisc, Internet, satellite- streaming, etc., and explore their impact on films and filmmakers, including Wim Wenders, Tom Tykwer, and Valie Export. I use Brecht's theories of implementing new media technologies (i.e., film and radio) in his epic theater as a point of departure and expand on his ideas by analyzing and adapting the theories of other media critics to augment my own approach. In general, I am interested in how artists re-invent, re-define, or re-discover the form and content of the conventional medium of film and the cinema as an institution through the use of a technical innovation.

The following chapters also address how artists, filmmakers, and theorists apply gender-specific concerns in their approach to new media and their wide-ranging influences. This includes an account of the creative employment of fictional characters to permeate traditionally defined and restricted categories of what constitute male and female spheres and stereotypes. Although most technologies developed in the 20 th century were initially conceptualized and constructed to serve a patriarchic order (often dealing with concerns of war and world order domination), they are not necessarily opposed to serving feminist ideologies

Chapter 2, "New Media in Theory and Practice," serves as a theory-centered

introduction to the current and historical field of new media. I show special consideration for new media theory that includes arguments concerning the intersections of old and new technologies as well as theoretical discourses which negotiate the intersections of new media and gender studies. Due to the overwhelming presence of digital new media in my study, the theoretical background laid out in the second chapter also reflects this inflection. In this chapter, I rely heavily on critical concepts set forth by Walter Benjamin









(his evaluation of the Epic Theater), Enzensberger (his notion of the consciousness industry), Bolter and Grusin (their terminology of hypermediation, immediacy, and remediation), and Jurgen Habermas, Oskar Negt, and Alexander Kluge (their theories concerning the public spheres), as well as Roswitha Mueller (her evaluation of Brecht's impact on media theory). Apart from covering current and past theorists, I resort to a thinker and artist belonging to the early to mid-twentieth century, Brecht. One of the questions I attempt to answer in this chapter is: How can Brecht's epic practice be adapted successfully to the study and employment of new media in film? I contend that applying an updated version of Brechtian tactics of producing alienation (and the resulting contemplative and critical distance), audience participation, humor, and delivering revolutionary entertainment to a large sector of society can lead to productive interactive experiences with and substantive evaluations of mediated spaces and artworks.

Brecht' s significance to digital aesthetics and film production of the late 20 th and early 2l't century is not simply based on the similarity of the social, economic, and technological changes which he faced in the 1920s and 1930Os and those that we face today. In other words, I do not propose to translate Brecht' s specific techniques without transformations to new media. The new technologies and historical particulars have made these techniques obsolete. Brecht, himself, would have strongly disagreed with such an approach. He saw "the modern Epic Theater [. .] linked with certain trends," (76) and as such historically specific. He adds that new forms of representation demand techniques that are adjusted to fit them specifically. Because our present situation includes media, digital and analog, that were not part of Brecht's context, his ideas have to be adapted to









reflect these media. The filmmakers which I discuss in the subsequent chapters have all attempted to include digital and other new technologies into their filmmaking approach and therefore more or less overtly engaged with Brecht's progressive ideas on changing an existing apparatus by introducing a new technology.

In chapter 3, "Video and Film," I investigate the influence of video and television on other media, especially film. I focus on Wim Wenders's practical employment as well as fictional treatment of video and TV technologies and attempt to explore not only his ambivalence toward advancements in visual recordings but also discuss the reflection of this emotionally unstable attitude within the fictional setting of his films. In my analysis, I use recent films, such as Until the End of the World (199 1) and The End of Violence (1997) to exemplify my arguments. Although Wenders asserts in many of his theoretical remarks that his experimentation with new media confronts the technological and aesthetic limits of the medium in question, I illustrate that his negative assessment of video (digital or not) stems from a dissatisfaction with existing institutional constraints, not the medium itself.

Chapter 4, "Computer Games and Film," analyzes the impact of digital

technologies on film. Specifically, I chronicle the emergence of the videogame-a specific type of digital technology-and its interrelated and productive relationship with the medium film. Tim Tykwer's Run Lola Run (1998) appears as an exemplar of an intrafilmic reference to extra-filmic new media, the computer/videogame, through the employment of a formal rupture. I show that Run Lola Run's reworking of the videogame aesthetic and subject matter represents a successful attempt at opening up dominant









cinematic conventions while still retaining its popular appeal for audiences in Germany and abroad.

Chapter 5, "Storage Distribution through New Media," looks at new technologies of distribution and storage, such as video, laserdisc, CD-ROM, DVD-Video, and the WWW, and examines how these technologies have shaped film consumption, distribution, form and content, as well as traces the effect on their accompanying institutional systems. In this final section I concentrate in particular on Valie Export's CD-ROM Bilder der Beruihrungen to determine the effects of repackaging and recontextualizing her experimental film Syntagma. I pay special attention to Export's feminist ideological goals and how distribution and storage media can undermine or accommodate such ambitions. Moreover, I give an account of the current state of DVDVideo distribution of German language films, especially re-releases of films from the Weimar Republic and the era of New German Cinema, and how this distribution has affected the politics of restoration, as well as the appearance and reception of these films worldwide.

Throughout this study, I address the relationship between gender and technology, in particular with media that traditionally have been codified as male. I am particularly interested in how female and male artists re-invent and re-define gender stereotypes and politics of access inherent in technological conventions. Each medium discussed, including film, carries with it a cultural context in which it appears, and therefore also appears embedded in familiar contentions of gender. In the artistic contexts, in which all of these media appear in my study, these discursive practices are both undermined and reinforced, and, at best, defined in completely new terms.















CHAPTER 2
NEW MEDIA TN THEORY AND) PRACTICE

Anybody who advises us not to make use of such new apparatus just confirms the
apparatus's right to do bad work; he forgets himself out of sheer open-mindedness, for he is thus proclaiming his willingness to have nothing but dirt produced for him.
At the same time he deprives us in advance of the apparatus which we need in order
to produce, since this way of producing is likely more and more to supersede the
present one, forcing us to speak through increasingly complex media and to express
what we have to say by increasingly inadequate means.

Bertolt Brecht, Brecht on Theater

The Experiment of Epic Theater

What matters therefore is the exemplary character of production, which is able first
to induce other producers to produce, and second to put an improved apparatus at
their disposal. And this apparatus is better the more consumers it is able to turn into
producers, that is, readers or spectators into collaborators.

Walter B enj amin, " The Author as Producer"

Walter Benjamin's essays, "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical

Reproduction" (1936) and "The Author as Producer" (1934), emerged in the context of

discussions about the function and responsibility of art in the twentieth century.' Whereas

the former examines the changing appearance, purpose, and effect of art in a new

technological age, the latter presupposes these changed conditions and uses them as a

1 Shortly after these essays were written, the possible intervention of art in political realities culminated in a particularly contentious discourse in the specific context of Germany's National-Socialist government in the so-called Expressionismus-Realismus Debatte of the nineteen-thirties. The discussion involved writers living in exile in order to escape the persecution of the Nazi regime. It addressed their role as dissident cultural representatives and producers, as well as the function of literature in general. The debate initially set out to take up the issue of expressionism as either a direct artistic link leading to the rise of the National Socialist Party and Hitler or as a significant literary precursor of the anti-fascist artistic production, e.g., from expressionistic to anti-fascist works in the case of exile writer Brecht. Essays by Bernhard Ziegler (alias Alfred Kurella) and Klaus Mann dealing with Gottfried Benn's leanings toward fascism were published in September of 1937 in the influential exile literary journal Das Wort. See Schmitt's Die Expressionismusdebatte: Mlaterialien zu einer marxistischen Realismuskonzeption for a collection of the contributions to this debate.









2
point of departure. In "The Author as Producer," Benjamin examines the ways in which the process of reproduction can either render a work a revolutionary tool or only propagate the very social conditions to which it ostensibly reacts. Benjamin uses Brecht's theories of Epic Theater as an illustration of a successful attempt at changing the former bourgeois cultural apparatus, the theater, into a tool that artists can utilize to produce politically relevant material. In his arguments, Benjamin emphasizes how Epic Theater, "instead of competing with newer instruments of publication, seeks to use and learn from them, in short to enter into a debate with them" (266, my emphasis). This dialogical relationship, of course, refers not only to Brecht's transformation of the Aristotelian theater in general, but also applies specifically to his innovative approach incorporating new media forms, especially those already in (ab)use by the Fascist Propaganda Ministry to introduce aesthetics into politics, namely film and radio ("Work of Art" 24). Benjamin responds to and reiterates Brecht's focus on Epic Theater's intention to serve as an institutional critique, emphasizing that the play's effect on the audience is less important than its effect on the theater as an institution (Brecht 22). This emphasis attests to Brecht's conviction that attempting to produce socially responsible entertainment would have a two-fold effect: it would transform the medium, which in turn would change the message, i.e., deliver a revolutionary product to the audience.

Peter Btirger points out in his seminal study Theory of the Avant-Garde that Brecht constitutes an artistic enigma in the context of vanguard art movements and artists of the twenties and thirties. He declares that although Brecht is part of the historical avant2 Benj amin wrote "The Author as Producer' ' in the context of Soviet discussions about the function and task of literature in a socialist society. His essay was delivered as a speech at the Institute for Studies Related to Fascism in Paris, on April 27, 1934. The essay's aim is therefore more praxis-centered than the theorybased "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction."









garde, he is also diametrically opposed to one of this movement's fundamental characteristics: the avant-garde's attempt to destroy art as an institution. Indeed, Brecht does not attempt to abolish the theater as an institutional apparatus.3 Instead, according to Btirger, he intends to sublate theater's bourgeois function in exchange for the "new," ideologically altered, Epic Theater (88-89).4 In retrospect, Brecht's approach constituted a more productive artistic method than that of the other vanguard artists.5 Since art as an institution was destroyed by neither the historical avant-garde in the beginning of the twentieth century, nor by the neo-avant-garde of the sixties and seventies, it becomes questionable whether such an undertaking was ever possible or even desirable.

Brecht's attempts at reworking an apparatus from within its own workings not only has more practical value, but it also makes his approach relevant for contemporary art practice, where the spheres of art and commodification are inextricably intertwined. However, I agree with Btirger when he warns not to try to "adopt Brecht's and Benjamin's solutions along with their recognition of the problem and to transfer them ahistorically to the present" (90). Brecht, himself, would have strongly disagreed with such an approach. He saw "the modern Epic Theater linked with certain [socio-political] trends," (76) and as such historically specific. In his theories on the theater Brecht explicitly states that all methods and stimuli are bound to their historical context and that



'I am using the term apparatus in a Brechtian sense which, for the theater, includes the stage and theater building, the performers and the plays being performed, the promotional system, the social practices that are at work in theater-going, and the institutional backbone of all that involves the theater. In modem usage, Brecht's apparatus would be called a medium.
4 Bflrger defines the Hegelian understanding of sublation in reference to art as "not to be simply destroyed, but transferred to the praxis of life where [art] would be preserved, albeit in a changed form" (49). 5~ For an overview of general avant-garde practices and artworks described in Bflrger's Theory of the AvantGarde, see pp. 55-82.









they must be adapted (or even changed) to be applied successfully to a different historical context; "reality alters; to represent it, the means of representation must alter too" (I 10)

Presently, the means of representation have been expanded beyond film and radio to include post-Brechtian analog and digital media. Therefore, our changed realities can and must be expressed using these new media. Specific Brechtian methods, replicated without alteration, cannot intervene in such changed realities. Many of the innovative techniques aimed at producing alienation in Brecht's Epic Theater have been co-opted by the language system of commodity culture and become almost commonplace in today's sphere of arts and entertainment (and where these two overlap) in mass media. Therefore, Brecht's epic elements would, in Brecht's own words, "lack force and effectiveness" (27)

6
and could not have "the force of what is startling" (71) in contemporary contexts . Frederic Jameson describes this phenomenon (which is symptomatic of postmodern society) as an assimilation of critical elements "to the point where many of our older critical and evaluative categories no longer seem functional" (3 1); this is the moment where an alienating component of Epic Theater becomes an innocuous diversion and/or part of a commercial configuration. Hans Magnus Enzensberger also echoes Brecht's observation when he states: "Once [such a moment is] annexed to the heritage that must be preserved, it is truly deprived of its life, that is, removed from criticism and exhibited as an embalmed holy relic" ("Aporias" 19), but shifts the emphasis away from commercial commodification, as in Enzensberger's comment, to institutional canonization. Either way, alienation no longer takes place. However, Brecht's approach,

6 Benjamin and Brecht both see shock, emerging from unexpected arrangement of the familiar, as a vital part of art's operative effect on the viewer. In a more contemporary account, in "The Work of Culture in the Age of Cybernetic Systems," Bill Nichols sees the effect of shock re-emerging in digital simulations with the recognition of "the reffication of a fundamental social process," such as communication (129).









while not his specific realization of it, is still relevant today due to his use of innovative practices and technology as key elements to administering institutional critiques, invigorating stagnant material and genres, and producing alienation, which collectively result in achieving a productive contemplative and critical distance for audiences. At this point, it is necessary to inquire into some of Brecht's theoretical schemata for his implementation of technological innovations and chances for spectator interactivity in Epic Theater in order to extract some key elements that can "survive" an application in a
7
digital "epic" practice .

The Epic Theater Stage

The use of technological devices on stage was for Brecht an important step toward realizing his Epic Theater project. With the use of technology "the stage began to tell a story. The narrator was no longer missing, along with the fourth wall" (Brecht 71).' He introduced a myriad of devices into the staging of plays, most of which were taken from the domain of popular culture. He included film projections, radio transmissions, gramophone recordings, photographs, and other devices into his stage productions refusing to observe what had previously been regarded as a sphere of high culture, and therefore inappropriate to accommodate mass media.

One of Brecht's underlying motives for changing the character of the institution of theater was his deference and concern for the public as a whole and rooted in his political convictions. His break with conventions of realism and popular entertainment was


' For a more rigorous and comprehensive analysis into Epic Theater's relationship to media theory in general, see Roswitha Mueller's Bertolt Brecht and the Theory ofA4edia. ' By erecting the "forth wall" Brecht meant to signify the Aristotelian theater's practice to create the illusion that the events on stage were "real" and for spectators to be cut off from that reality, so that they can lose themselves in the action.









motivated by his progressive political stance. He re-defined both categories, realistic and popular, in his Epic Theater which tried to be both, but not in terms of conventions. Brecht wanted to turn the theater into an apparatus that could be "used in a way that might mean something to a contemporary public that earns real contemporary beef' (67). The Epic Theater did not just appeal to upper middle class audiences (as did the bourgeois theater), but should speak to the masses as well.9 However, this audience would not be put in a trance and addressed in emotional terms, as was the case in the "old" Aristotelian theater; only an appeal to reason would do (23). Brecht did not view the public as a homogenous mass, unable to conjure up any sensitivity toward aesthetic practices apart from meaningless entertainment. Instead, he points out that society cannot expect persons to act socially and politically responsible, hold them accountable for their actions, but simultaneously assume that their aesthetic competence is that of a child. He declares: "The one tribute we can pay the audience is to treat it as thoroughly intelligent. It is utterly wrong to treat people as simpletons when they are grown up at seventeen. I appeal to the reason" (14). This positive attitude toward the spectator made it possible for Brecht to develop a variety of possible approaches in order to address what he saw as untapped potential and shape his Epic Theater based on the premise of pedagogy. 10 His 9 He sometimes referred to this audience as "audience of the scientific age" (28, 183-188), which lent his experiment the historical impetus to change the theater that still directed itself toward the non-scientific person, the bourgeois spectator.

10 This attitude set him apart from other German cultural critics such as Lukdcs and Adorno. The former believes that the spectator needs a positive hero for identification ("Es geht um den Realismus"), and the latter considers the spectator to be completely consumed by and an object of the culture industry, unable to resist its capitalist ideology ("The Culture Industry" 142). Benjamin, on the other hand, agrees with Brecht and sees a positive change in the reception of art which loses its aura through the invention of mass reproduction (see his essay "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction"). Although, it must be mentioned that Brecht's optimistic attitude toward the public, after 1933, became tarnished by the events that lead up to and took place during the Nazi-era. He concedes that the lack of success of Epic Theater is related to the fact that "their taste and their instincts are oppressed ]"(160), but still maintains the possibility of "success in transforming them" (16 1).









aesthetic tools include technology, humor, and didactics; his goals encompass pleasure and development of critical thinking. Brecht' s ultimate aim was to arrive at meaningful entertainment. In contrast, the bourgeois institution of theater expected the audience to hang "its brains up in the cloakroom along with its coat" (27) (not unlike what Hollywood expects its audience to do in much of contemporary cinema).

In order to produce such meaningful entertainment, Brecht employed the help of technology. He was not alone in his enthusiasm for bringing recent technical innovations into the service of the theater. Brecht' s contemporaries Walter Gropius and Erwin Piscator both sought to use new media as a tool to revamp traditional stage props and techniques. Since Brecht initially collaborated with both Piscator and Gropius on several projects, their methods helped shape his own practices."1 However, unlike Brecht who always insisted on anti -illusi oni sm, Piscator and Gropius saw their innovative ideas as means to "submerge the audience in the heightened illusion of being present at the actual site of scenic events" (Mueller 7). Nonetheless, there are theoretical overlaps between Piscator and Brecht in reference to implementing technology on stage. Like Brecht, Piscator used fiction and documentary film scenes to comment on the dramatic action which they interrupted, in the style of a Greek chorus (9). But most importantly, Piscator envisioned developing a technically enhanced stage practice that "no longer considers the audience a fictive concept, but includes it into the theater as a live force" (quoted in Mueller 7).12 Although these enhancements were meant to bring the audience into the




"Most of these collaborations took place in the late 1920s and included the play Rasputin (based on Tolstoi) and the Good Soldier Schw elk (based on Hasek). 12 For a more detailed account of Piscator' s practices and theories concerning the stage see Piscator by Heinrich Goertz.









dramatic action as participants, Piscator never went as far with this concept as Brecht ultimately did, especially when he introduced the Lehrstuck into his repertoire. The Lehrstick and Schaustiick Meet Technology

In order to "keep the productive apparatus of the working-class theatre well clear of the general drug traffic conducted by bourgeois show business" (Brecht 88-89) and change the attitude of both institution and audience, Brecht developed the concept of the Lehrstick13 (as he translates it, a learning play).14 What makes the concept of a didactic play so interesting and also topical is its emphasis on instruction through active performance, rather than passive observation; it eradicates the distance between performer and spectator ordinarily expected in the theater. In the Lehrstuck the spectator is called upon to become an actor in the play. Through the alienating principles that are applied to acting in Epic Theater, the participator attains a critical distance to the role s/he performs and the materials used in the performance, for example, new technological devices. Underlying this "new" dramatic genre, of course, was Brecht's political commitment and the "notion that moral and political lessons could be taught best by participation in an actual performance" (33). He set up the Lehrstuck in opposition to Aristotelian theater whose main purpose was to show the world as a timeless, static whole. The Lehrstuck, on the other hand, shows the world in a dynamic manner, as constantly changing and, most importantly, as changeable (79). 13 Some examples of Lehrstflicke are Ozean Flug (1929), DerJasager (1929), Die Massnahme (1930), and Die Ausnahme undDie Regel (1930). His most successful and critically acclaimed plays such as Die Mutter (1930), Die heilige Johanna der Schlachthofe (1929-1930), Mutter Courage und ihre Kinder (1939), and Das Leben des Galilei (1938-44, 1945-53) were not conceived as didactic plays but rather as Schaustflcke, created for professional actors.
14 Brecht renders the term Lehrstflck into English as "learning play" (it should actually be "teaching play"). I think this semantic ambiguity conveys the dual function of the didactic play nicely: it is used by the performers and the playwright to teach and to learn simultaneously.









The Ozean Flug (1929), for example, is an experiment in the application of

Umfunktionierung5 to the radio and performed as a Ho6rspiel-Lehrstuck (radio play). 16 Brecht declared that the play is not "intended to be of use to the present-day radio but to alter it. The increasing concentration of mechanical means cal/for a kind of resistance by the listener" (Brecht 32, my emphasis). In the first production of the play, in 1929 at the Baden Baden Music Festival, accompanied by the music of Kurt Weill and Paul Hindemith, Brecht demonstrated the radio's potential as a medium for communication rather than distribution. On the left side of the stage was the radio orchestra with singers and technical gadgets, and on the right side was the actor (intended listener) who performed Lindbergh's part. However, the play was originally conceived as a Ho6rspiel, not a play on stage. Therefore, as a radio play, the part of Lindbergh was meant to be read by the actual listeners at home who were given scripts of the text. In another production, more true to Brecht' s original conception, the play used the radio as a broadcasting device to transmit music and solo performances into schools where the pupils could sing the chorus and play some of the roles themselves. Instead of the radio's usual function, that is the transmission of state- sanctioned materials, it could be used as a device to develop "collaboration [. . .] between participant and apparatus" (3 1).

Brecht had a very specific goal in mind when he developed the Lehrstfick. Its theoretical basis was related primarily to his socio-political outlook and was firmly





15' "Umfunktionierung" is a term coined by Brecht to mean "freeing the means of production and serving the class struggle" (Benjamin "Author " 26 1).
16 This H~rspiel was initially titled Der Lindberghfiug and later changed because of Lindbergh's sympathies with the Nazi Party.









grounded in the historical context of Brecht' s time and location. Roswitha Mueller

explains:

The Lehr stuck [.]marks a qualitative change in the structure of communication
itself. The historical basis for the Lehrstuick is a society in transition to socialism. In
this situation the central concern is to find ways of learning that are adequate for the new state. Lenin's question about how and what one should learn is the basic impulse for the theory of the Lehrstuick. [ . ]The Lehrstuick does not imply total
discontinuity with epic techniques. Brecht emphasizes that epic techniques are the
basis for the Lehr stuck but that many of the projected goals of the "new drama" can
be realized to their fullest extent only within the context of a Lehrstuick. (28-29)

However, elsewhere she notes that the Lehre that was embedded in this type of play

cannot be contained by Marxism-Leninism as a kind of dogmatic thesis play. It
remains a genuinely utopian project. As far as the general goals of the Lehrstuick
are concerned, these theoretical tenets are not meant to tower over the play as
eternal truths. While Brecht departed from and made use of current political
theories, he approached them undogmatically. Aware of their faulty and timebound character, he opened them up for discussion. Brecht expressly pointed out
that the commentary may be changed at any time: "It is full of mistakes with
respect to our time and its virtues, and it is unusable for other times." In that sense
the Lehre and the "opinions" or "theories" are a pre-text, a provisional statement
summarizing the state of the arts and theory as a starting point for further
development. (37)

This further development can be seen as the act of adapting Brecht's Lehrstuick theory

and practice into contemporary contexts of interactive media. However, as in every act of

adaptation, not only changing social and political contexts have to be considered but also

changes in the approach are essential in order to make the transition to another medium.

The nature of the new medium will define how the transition and adaptation can be

successful.

In the Schaustuick technological innovations served a similar function as in the

Lehrstuick. Film projections were used to disrupt the performance, to intrude upon the

"'representation' with 'formulation"' (Brecht 43) (most obvious in the case of titles), and

to historicize events, bringing the background to the forefront (in the case of narrative









projections). Whereas representation effaced the artificiality and intervention of the technological devices, formulation would foreground them as separate media with specific tasks. Film scenes and titles also facilitated the epic style of acting. For Brecht, when the epic performer reads and watches, s/he cannot be carried away by her/his own acting; the performer retains an epic distance from the character that s/he plays (44, 5758).

Building on Brecht

Interaction, Participation, and Vergniigen

The idea of audience/player interaction and participation was taken up again by

Brecht in his theory on the radio. He envisioned the radio to become "the finest possible communication apparatus in public life, if it knew how to receive as well as to transmit, to bring [the listener] into a relationship instead of isolating him" (Brecht 52). Some years later, Enzensberger builds on Brecht's theory and Benjamin's two essays discussed earlier in his treatise "Constituents of a Theory of the Media," 1970. Although formulated over thirty years ago, Enzensberger's observations still circulate in current media criticism. The main argument revolves around the lack of reciprocity in media such as radio, television, film, and video, a lack not stemming from the technology itself, but rather "artificially reinforced" (70) by what Enzensberger terms "the consciousness industry." 17 With this criticism, he implicitly positions himself as counteracting the technological determinism of popular media critic Marshall McLuhan while at the same time setting himself apart from his fellow German culture media critics Theodor W. Adorno and Max Horkheimer, who, in an earlier study had coined the term "culture

1 The essay "Das Nullmedium oder Warum alle Klagen flber das Fernsehen gegenstandslos sind" (1988), analyzes TV and its function in the consciousness industry more rigorously.









industry." 18 In "The Industrialisation of the Mind" (1962) Enzensberger takes issue with Adorno and Horkheimer' s "culture industry" because it fails to acknowledge that critics of such a system are also products of it. Enzensberger believes that the escape from complete commodification does not lie "outside" of the system, e.g., in a privileged position of the critics themselves or in avant-garde art as Adorno claims in his Aesthetic Theory, but that resistance must come from within (the medium and the industry). In order to explain the artificiality of radio's non-reciprocal function further, Enzensberger argues, "the technical distinction between receivers and transmitters reflects the social division of labor into producers and consumers [. . .]"(64). The media industry has a vested interest to keep mass media a one-sided affair, because these media have the primary purpose "to 'sell' the existing order, to perpetuate the prevailing pattern of man's domination by man [. . .]" ("Industrialisation" 10); in other words, mass media is the life support system of the consciousness industry. Katherine Hayles (1993) complicates and opens up this argument further by pointing out that radio and television may transmit and receive signals, but are unable to act as sites for permanent storage ("Virtual Bodies" 262). This impermanence allows these media to resist appropriation by a dominant system. Dominant ideology must be continually re-transmitted because, unlike book technology, it is not preserved in a physical and therefore semi-permanent form. Enzensberger's essay investigates how these transmissions are put into practice. What is "Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adomno did not share Benjamin and Brecht's positive evaluation of mass media technology such as film. They voice harsh criticism in their study "The Cultur Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception" which connects mass media to the culture industry. It is important to note, however, that this study was written during and after WWJJ. Consequently it resonates despair and pessimism as a reaction to the atrocities that had taken place. "Film, radio and magazines make up a system which is uniform as a whole and in every part"' (120) and "the universal triumph of the rhythm of mechanical production and reproduction promises that nothing changes, and nothing unsuitable will appear" (134) is their response to Benjamin and Brecht's engagements with mass media as a potential agent in political and social reform.









especially interesting about his essay is that while he exposes, on the one hand, the artificiality of media's function in society (as transmitters only), on the other, he points out that even those instruments of the media that are functioning ostensibly as two-way apparatuses, for example, the XEROX machine, only allow for participation that "remains socially and therefore aesthetically irrelevant" (70) due to capitalized ownership and control of the technology. 19 In the age of the cell phone (a radio-like device), the Internet, computer games, CD-ROMs, DVD-ROMs, and all media that invite the spectator/participant to engage in interactive relationships, and at the same time allow for less restrictive access to the technology, this is increasingly a relevant issue. Enzensberger's revisiting of Brecht's radio theory, thus can be transposed into the contemporary context.

Apart from Brecht' s emphasis on interactive artistic practices, as outlined in his radio theory, his experiments also include an emphasis on retaining the entertainment value of artistic creations. To some degree interactivity and popular enjoyment already occupy common cultural space in today's realm of the media. Not only do videogames, a favorite pastime for an ever increasing number of people, rely on interactivity to keep players entertained and heighten the fun, but interactivity in general has gained considerable currency in public attitude. In the last couple of decades, interactive experiences have infiltrated all sectors of art and entertainment, high and low, from museum installations and performances to films on DVD and popular television shows. 'Jean Baudrillard criticizes Enzensberger's concept of radio as a two-way receiver/transmitter sharply by pointing out that if all receivers become transmitters the only thing to be gained is socially irrelevant chatter and not a revolution in the communications structures of mass media (Uecker 43). However, Enzensberger anticipates such criticism with his Xerox remark to qualify that two-way communication must include socially and politically relevant speech acts. As with Brecht, form and content cannot be separated for Enzensberger.









Spectators are invited to become participants in a museum display, explore links related to films stored on DVDs, and vote for their favorite "American Idol" star on television. As Greg M. Smith points out in On a Silver Platter, contemporary culture views interactivity as a positive media attribute, because it agrees with society's values that regard action as positive and passivity, usually attributed to the media film and television, as negative (10- 12). In other words, interactivity i s a concept that i s easy to sell to today's public, because it coincides with an already present value system. In Brecht's time, however, letting the spectators co-mingle with and even replace professional actors and actresses and interact with the playwright was unknown. Passively watching (consuming) a play in the theater was a respected intellectual activity in itself and therefore unlikely to allow for any change in audience status (such as audiences turning into actors) .20 But for Brecht, this attitude belonged to the theater of the previous century and its accompanying bourgeois public sphere.

Brecht's overall approach was influenced by his progressive attitude toward artistic practices and experiments .2 1 He attempted to "train" people to appreciate and therefore enjoy art through a more complex reception than simply eliciting empathy and agreement with what was shown to them. He explains why he interjects enjoyment into his theatrical productions:

[My plays] are a kind of report on life as any member of the audience would like to
see it. Since at the same time, however, he sees a good deal he has no wish to see; 20 Blurring the boundaries between professional and amateur acting is experiencing increased popularity right now on so called reality TV programs. However, unlike in Brecht's Lehrstflck practice, including nonprofessional actors in these programs stems primarily from a desire to deliver a more life-like, real-seeming product to a public which seems to respond with interest to such misrepresentations. 21 The avant-garde artists also challenged the notion of the passive spectator with their performances and public exchanges. However, following Bfirger's thesis in Theory of the Avant Garde, their purpose was not to revolutionize the institution of art, as was Brecht's aim, but to destroy it.









since therefore he sees his wishes not merely fulfilled but also criticized (sees himself not as the subject but as the object), he is theoretically in a position to
appoint a new function for the theatre. (43)

This strategy, using the audience's desire for divertissement and then turning it against them, is certainly more prudent, than expecting spectators to understand and "like" an aesthetic practice to which they can in no way relate.

Pleasure, in Brechtian terms, could be divided into two categories, which he

differentiated as Genuss and Vergrnigen. Whereas Genuss is related to passive uncritical consumption, as found in pleasure derived from viewing traditional theater plays, Vergrnigen "points to a productive attitude in the audience-it carries the connotation of expert understanding of the quality and hence the process of production of a play" (Mueller 23). When spectators become participants in Brecht' s Lehrstiick, they experience Vergrnigen through their multifaceted experience (including interaction with the play, the stage and set, the playwright, and the institution as a whole). Part of Vergrnigen, as well as Brecht's progressive political agenda, is the act of inducing in the spectator/participant a sense of alienation, realized in the moment when, through their interactive experience, s/he questions her/his own subject/object status (as a product or reproducer of the dominant system), and subsequently her/his resistance constitutes a political act.

If progressive criticism is what Enzensberger calls "the readiness to revise all

solidified theses, to examine endlessly its own premises" and reactionary criticism that which "considers itself, so to speak, naturally and everlastingly in the right, exempt from reflecting on its presuppositions" ("Aporias" 18), Brecht undoubtedly practiced the former. He understands that it is not just the technological possibility (the opportunity to interact with the medium) itself that makes media function in a politically responsible









way, but that there must be artistic intervention, didactic interference, and a readiness to discard or violate existing conventions. Brecht's artistic undertaking was from the very beginning focused on a radical transformation of an existing institution, the theatre, which was to become part of the "'ideological superstructure' for a solid, practical rearrangement of our age's way of life" (Brecht 23). In other words, his Epic Theater could not be divorced from his Marxist ideology. His theories on how to induce audience awareness of a medium's language and willingness to reflect on the medium's institutional make-up, however, can find a broader spectrum of application. This is especially important with media that resist critical spectator interrogations, most notably film and its institutional apparatus, the cinema. But Brecht's theories are also applicable in the realm of more recent technological inventions, such as the Internet, CD-ROM, and videogames, where the medium may invite such criticism within its formal set-up but too

22
often simultaneously resists it through its content presentation . Although these media all share a popular place in the sphere of mass media entertainment, this appeal is not destined to thrive off the desire for distraction alone but can be directed toward a more meaningful, VergWigen-like experience.

Furthermore, for Brecht, popular entertainment is part of his progressive political stance and used to battle a tradition of banal and escapist distractions. He declares:

'Popular' means intelligible to the broad masses, taking over their own forms of
expression and enriching them / adopting and consolidating their standpoint /
representing the most progressive section of the people in such a way that it can 22 The mere possibility for interactivity is by no means a guarantee for productive critical inquiries into digital domains. If material that is presented lacks substance, then the experience naturally stays superficial. Some scholars attribute the distance between the simulated and physical life as a limitation on the merits of interactive media. Florian R6tzer, for example, views interactive computer games as media where "one constantly sees that which one can neither be nor have" ("Between Nodes" 255). However, I do not see this effect as specific to computer games. TV, films, and books can peddle these desires as well, a feature that advertising companies explore to its fullest.









take over the leadership: thus intelligible to other sections too / linking with
tradition and carrying it further / handing on the achievements of the section now
leading to the section of the people that is struggling for the lead." (108)

Popular does not just apply to that which appeals to the general public, but defines what engages them in the shaping of their own tastes. He declares: "Besides beingpopular there is such a thing as becoming popular" (112). In other words, art has a responsibility to make itself accessible not just to an elite part of the population but to as large a segment as possible. Although it was part of the spectator's responsibility to acquire taste for such art, it was up to the artist to deliver the goods. As Mueller points out:

With the advent of mass culture, film, radio, and television began to take over the
function opera had formerly fulfilled. At the same time the consumer attitude
developed a double character. While passive consumption is, as Benjamin had
pointed out, the attitude of the exploiter, the situation in the case of the mass media is more complex. Exploitation rebounds upon the audience itself Brecht coined the
word "inploitation" (Einbeutung) for the spectator's position, ambivalently split
into exploiter and exploited. Brecht sees the audience as the cause and as the victim
of a system that divides production and pleasure. This state of affairs has
repercussions for both terms-on the one hand, it marks work and productivity, as
devoid of pleasure, and on the other it keeps pleasure free of productivity for the
sake of the work. (24)

In order to extract the consumer/spectator from this ambivalent position in Einbeutung Brecht developed interactive audience experiences. Productivity in the Epic Theater could again be linked to pleasure as Vergnfigen.

Brecht's didactical dimension, manifested in the Lehrstfick which aimed at teaching spectators how to critically approach art, can be transposed onto new media practices that incorporate interactivity into their design. Allowing the spectator to become an active participant in the action leads to the participant's insights into the construction of meaning in art. In other words, by participating in a play, the spectator gains knowledge about the workings of the theater, the play, and the playwright. By letting an interactive participant define his/her own trajectory, action, and juxtapositions, he/she learns









something about the medium itself, as well as what it means to create a work of art in this medium. The medium is no longer a "natural" device but emerges contextualized into its institutional, social, and political background. These effects do not occur simply out of the option to interact with the work, but develop out of a specific type of interaction, one that is able to penetrate the surface of the presentation.

Introducing opportunities for spectators to interact with an artistic product clearly represents an important tendency that has an obvious political dimension. It not only complicates the notions of "author" and "artwork" but also redefines the idea of "spectatorship." Making a choice, declares interactive filmmaker Graham Weinbren, involves a moral responsibility. Therefore, for an author to relinquish his/her power to make all choices involves also giving up the responsibility to represent the world and the human condition (Manovich 44). In other words, when audiences are allowed to make choices, a work of art becomes less of a lesson and more of a choice. The didactical dimension of Brecht's Epic Theater included precisely such decision making.

Interactivity, as Manovich argues, is a confusing term that all to often is defined as a unique feature of digital media. He points out that interactivity is not necessarily a concept that relates exclusively to digital practices, but belongs to a wide spectrum of artistic practice and heritage:

All classical, and even more so modern art, was already "interactive" in a number
of ways. Ellipses in literary narration, missing details of objects in visual art and
other representational "shortcuts" required the user to fill-in the missing
information. Theater, painting and cinema also relied on the techniques of staging,
composition and cinematography to orchestrate viewer's attention over time,
requiring her to focus on different parts of the display. With sculpture and
architecture, the viewer had to move her whole body to experience the spatial
structure. (56)









This complex physical and cognitive interplay between spectator and art was intensified, continues Manovich, with new narrative techniques, such as film montage, abstraction in visual art, interactive happenings, as well as performance and installation art (56-57). Brecht' s Epic Theater obviously constitutes another important forerunner to digital interactive media practices, especially because it often combined cognitive and physical interactivity into one practice. In Schausticke such as Mother Courage and Her Children the spectator is not given a figure with whom to identify easily, as Mother Courage represents a complicated, fluctuating character with changing moral convictions. Each scene that presents her in a different light requires an adjustment in the audience's attitude, leading to active interaction with the provoking material. These types of character complexities are part of Brecht's technique of Verfremdung, which is concerned with the alienation of the familiar, a process that interrupts the smooth flow of narrative to prompt the audience to reflect on rather than simply consume what is presented.23 The audience becomes actively involved with the play by "conjuring up in its own mind other types of behavior and situations, and, in accordance with the events on stage, will hold them up in comparison with those presented by the theater. Therefore, the audience itself 24
turns into a storyteller" (Brecht GW 924). In addition to producing alienation through plot and acting, Brecht interrupted the dramatic action of his Schausticke with songs and



23 This term was first used in an essay in 1936, Brecht used the term Entfremdung in his previous writing. 24 All references to Brecht refer to John Willett's translations in Brecht on Theatre, except when GW is noted, by which is meant Bertolt Brecht Gesammelte Werke 16 Schriften zum Theater 2. With these references I will use my own translation. In the original: "Damit auf spielerische Weise das Besondere der vom Theater vorgebrachten Verhaltungweisen und Situationen herauskommt und kritisiert warden kann, dichtet das Publikum im Geist andere Verhandlungsweisen und Situationen hinzu und hilt sie, der Handlung folgend, gegen die vom Theater vorgebrachten. Somit verwandelt sich das Publikum selber in einen Erzihler."









placards, film projections and other technical devices commenting on the action on stage rather than repeating or emphasizing its message.

The Lehrstuick, however exceeds the Schaustuick' s potential, because it incorporated interactivity to such a degree that spectator and performer merge as one. Even if the play did not physically include all spectators in the performance, Brecht involved them in other ways, such as having the audience complete questionnaires or engage in discussions, the outcomes of which Brecht used to rewrite the plays (Mueller 32, 38, 106). Again, central to Brecht's epic theory was the idea that interactivity equaled enjoyment for the participant, "what the spectator, anyway the experienced spectator, enjoys about art is the making of art, the active creative element" (164). This correlation between interactivity and entertainment is one of the basic ingredients of the commercial success of videogames. It is also applied with outstanding results to other areas of arts and entertainment resulting in hypertext fiction, web design, online museum exhibits, multi-player online games, Net.art, interactive installations and performances, MUDs (Multi User Dungeons) and MOOs (Multi User Dungeons Object-Oriented), DVDVideos, video (with its instant replay), and pedagogical applications.2 In the latter, the didactic relevance of interactivity has gained much attention, because learners appear to respond well to the multi-modal and active approach to learning. Inferring from the results of a variety of empirical studies involving interactive materials, Larry Friedlander observes, "this technology invites us to embrace process, to enjoy the journey as much as



25 Thomas Elsaesser argues that interactivity with narratives often means hyperselectivity instead. Due to limited computing power (in regard to both speed and artificial intelligence) choices are limited and preprogrammed by the author, therefore espousing a "you can go wherever you like, so long as I have been there before"' ("Digital Cinema" 217) logic. However, this is not entirely true for all interactive narratives, because it does not address those that use algorithms, which make unlimited scenarios possible.









the goal. Because it asks its users to intervene with their own choices and opinions, it can challenge authority and help deconstruct received, standard forms of knowledge" (174)2. Here, as in Brecht's plays, the importance of process over goals is stressed which highlights that such materials and practices do not favor dogmatism.

Although trying to reach a wide audience, and therefore incorporating pleasure into his texts, Brecht avoided dazzling his audience with stage productions that tried to efface or "naturalize" the tools which were part of the performances. In the Schaustuick, where he was not able to integrate the spectator physically into the action on stage, he had to rely on other techniques to achieve his alienation effect (Verfremdungseffekt). This effect is achieved through acts of distanciation, e.g., transferring a familiar event, character, or technique into an unfamiliar context, and incorporated a variety of epic techniques, including the use of technology on stage. The purpose of the V-Effekt was to make audiences question what they saw on stage, to let material appear constructed rather than natural. The V-Effekt was predominantly accomplished through separating individual aesthetic and formal elements from one another, e.g., setting off music from speech, film projections from stage set, acting from being the character, historical events from current ones, etc. By separating individual elements and interrupting the flow of the presentation, materials and techniques became visible as constructed (as "unnatural"). Brecht made his epic tools visible; he created a hyper-mediated environment which the audience was encouraged to see as such.



26 These interactive learning environments, including Brecht's Epic Theater, are related to principles of constructivism and constructionism which rely on theories of Dewey, Piaget, and Papert. Constructivism and constructionism postulate that learners construct meaning by actively engaging with materials, through building, creating, and reflecting. However, all three behavioral scientists developed their ideas after Brecht had already formulated some of his basic epic theories.









Hypermediation

In direct opposition to a hyper-presence of mediation, such as in Brecht' s case, stands effacement of the physical world a simulated reality-made possible via the disappearance of any mediating agent in interactions with media simulations, virtual reality objects representing the most dramatic case. This ostensible transparency, which Bolter and Grusin term "immediacy" affords the viewer or participant a sense of having an authentic experience. Hypermediacy, in contrast to immediacy, exposes the fact that all knowledge is transmitted through a medium. Hence the viewer or participant realizes that her/his experience is transmitted through a filter (70-7 1). The authors discuss such concepts of mediation in detail in their book Remediation. Understanding New Media. Remediation, for Bolter and Grusin, is the act of "representation of one medium in another" (45) . 27However, whereas some media acknowledge their indebtedness to rivaling forms of representation, others try to present themselves as "pure" and objective mediators of reality. Remediation describes all media as engaging in a constant remediation of rivalry media forms, incorporating aspects of each other and demonstrating their improvements upon one another, that is, their transparency. It is Bolter and Grusin's categories of hypermediation, which they define as "style of visual representation whose goal is to remind the viewer of the medium" (272) and immediacy as a "style [. . .] whose goal is to make the viewer forget the presence of the medium and believe that he is in the presence of the real" (272-3), which I will adapt in my argument regarding the practice of audience interaction (in its multitude of meanings) with digital


21 When Benjamin emphasizes how Epic Theater, rather than competing against new media, uses these media to "learn from them, in short to enter into a debate with them" ("The Author " 266), he is describing a principle of remediation.









and non-digital "epic" presentations. However, it is important to establish that Bolter and Grusin see hypermediacy as just another form of immediacy, a desire to be in the presence of the real, "by turning it into a fascination with the medium" (122). For example, in television news broadcasting, giving the viewer visual access to the areas of production that often remain obscured in cinema, such as camera equipment, microphones, etc, the viewer is tempted to see the coverage of news as direct access to real events; because the medium shows its mediating elements it is again immediate in transmission of knowledge and experience. Video and film also constitute excellent examples for this theory. While video recordings, in contrast to 35mm film, include telltale signs of the recording medium, such as graininess, unsteadiness of image, and easier access to hard-to-record sources (only accessible with compact equipment), at the same time the very fact that the medium exposes itself convinces the viewer that s/he is accessing the real .28 Likewise, 35mm film, which imitates natural sight, shows its recorded material ostensibly unmediated and therefore also remediates the real. On the other hand, the smoothness of transitions, the clarity of image, etc. could also be interpreted as hyper-stylized, and hence hypermediated, therefore not "real," etc. .29 Of


21 With 16mm film, steady-cams, digital film cameras, and other recording technology that blur the formal and aesthetic boundaries between video and film this comparison becomes less persuasive. 29 While many critics claim that filmmakers employ new media technologies, especially in the form of digital special effects, primarily to produce mimetic representations of physical reality, I would argue that this is often not the case. On the contrary, if images can be obtained in physical reality, there is a tendency to attain them traditionally, that is, through a lens-based recording device and stored on celluloid. Michael Allen, for example, sites the film Jurassic Park to substantiate this common claim. He asserts, "digital imaging technologies and techniques are striving to replicate what already exists: the photographic representation of reality" (110) However, especially in the case of Jurassic Park this motivation for using digital effects seems doubtful. While filmmakers certainly aim to make there creations seem realistic, they are not interested in convincing audiences that they are. Dinosaurs are not part of our physical reality nor will they ever be again (and they probably never existed in the form that they assume in the film either). This is an accepted fact for filmmaker and audiences alike. This also applies to scenes that are digitally created or enhanced to show protagonists performing impossible stunts or allow views of catastrophes that could not be filmed safely from that perspective. What digital technologies make possible in Jurassic Park









course, neither immediacy nor hypermediacy can grant access to an objective, unfettered reality, because no such state exists. In all cases, with video, television, and film, the yearning for authentic experiences serves as the foundation for this paradox.

Although this all -encompassing quest for immediacy of all media is hard to contradict, hypermediacy and immediacy nonetheless operate in degrees and not in absolutes. Every medium encompasses not only the technological ability to transmit knowledge and experience but also includes an institutionalized logic that guides its transmissions. In hypermediacy, it is possible to separate, even if only for the purpose of critique, the medium from the institution that legitimizes its use in society and, in turn, approach the result as a moment during which it becomes more likely to make observations and collect insights concerning the medium's institutional constructedness, its ideological framework. Whereas immediacy, achieved without hypermediation, sees the path to the "truth" or the "real" as unfettered and natural, immediacy produced via hypermediacy displays it as a path with obstacles, and involving an agent (and therefore agency), thus rendering it much more suspect.3 Therefore, hypermediacy can provide an opportunity for viewers and participants to penetrate what Enzensberger calls the "consciousness industry" (only in theory a closed system) which unaided immediacy cannot.

Enzensberger explains that in order for the consciousness industry to exist four condition have to be fulfilled: 1) receivers must believe themselves to have an and other films laden with digital effects is to bring to life the non-existent and fantastic. Digital technologies are able to expand the vocabulary and arsenal of subject matter used in filmmaking to include that which cannot exist in physical reality.
30 Foregrounding the medium as a means to achieve hypennediacy is not necessarily meaningful in itself as was once thought to be true (for example, in certain instances of the French New Wave film practice) as Nora Alter argues in Projecting His tory.









autonomous mind (in the hypermediacy/immediacy paradox this translates into the receiver's belief that s/he possesses the capacity to see the real), 2) human rights, equality, liberty, etc. must be proclaimed (not realized) (this corresponds to the medium's affirmation [not realization] of providing access to the real), 3) a high standard of education must be available to all (viewers must have a general media-savvyness that leads them to believe they have the capacity to separate real from mediated), and 4) a high level of sophistication in technology must be present (the medium must posses the tools to be able to bring the real into the viewer's living room) ("Industrialization" 7-9). Because the consciousness industry feeds off the conditions that allow it to exist, including critique and awareness of its function and workings, its system is nearly selfperpetuating and sealed off to interference. Nonetheless, because the industry incorporates hypermediacy as well as immediacy into its whole it also invites challenges to its system. Enzensberger explains:

The mind industry has a dynamic of its own which it cannot arrest, and it is not by
chance but by necessity that in this movement there are currents which run contrary
to its present mission of stabilizing the status quo. A corollary of its dialectical progress is that the mind industry, however closely supervised in its individual
operations, is never completely controllable as a whole. There are always leaks in
it, cracks in the armor; no administration will ever trust it all the way. (13)

To bring Enzensberger's media analysis back into the context of Bolter and Grusin' s observations, it is necessary to identify hypermediacy as the moment where leakage can occur. It is in hypermediacy that the medium is most vulnerable, because it is exposing its institutional make-up, its constructedness based on convention, and its desire to reinforce society's status quo, thus threatening to undermine all four of Enzensberger's conditions.

Let's return for a moment to Brecht's media project and analyze hypermediacy in the context of Epic Theater. Brechtian theater presentations included materials and









techniques (acts, new media, acting, music, etc.) that were employed very differently from the Aristotelian theater. Instead of merging elements into the play seamlessly, in order to create the illusion of being part of a "natural" setting, Brecht opted for a presentation in which elements drew attention to themselves as artifacts .3 1 Homogeneity on stage was replaced by heterogeneity. This heterogeneity made it possible for the audience and the actors to experience Verfremdung, a crucial step in achieving critical reception.

The separation of parts was, for one, applied to the play's narrative structure to achieve a very specific purpose, as Brecht explains:

As we cannot invite the audience to fling itself into the story as it were a river and
let itself be carried vaguely hither and thither, the individual episodes have to be
knotted together in such a way that the knots are easily noticed. The episodes must
not succeed one another indistinguishable but must give us a chance to interpose our judgment. [. .] The parts of the story have to be carefully set off one against
another by giving each its own structure as a play within the play (201).

In revealing their construction (as individual elements comprising a whole), episodes allow for the spectator to interj ect her or himself into the action and interpret the structure itself as an important component for meaning to emerge. The epic play allows for the audience to agree as well as disagree with its presentation of events. Additionally, the hypermediated environment attracts a reading of events beyond the narration itself and invites instead to include in a reading the conditions for such narration to take place (such as institutional restraints, genre convention, and ideological goals).

Separation of elements in Epic Theater also applies to the set and its materials. This Verfremdungs-effect emerges most clearly on the stage of the Lehrstiick. Technology 31 Brecht's chief criticism of Richard Wagner's Gesamtkunstwerk is based on precisely this concept which uses the "separation of elements" in Epic Theatr and opposes its formal logic to "the process of fusion" in the Gesamtkunstwerk (37-3 8).









played a crucial role in achieving the critical distancing of the Lehrstfick performer to the material that s/he performed. New media, such as film strips and radio, aided in the alienation of the performer from the subject matter of the play, both during the performance and afterward. While performing, the actors were confronted by, what Brecht called "a new, gigantic actor that helped to narrate events, and the stage took up an attitude itself towards the incidents shown." The new media film and radio, were treated as separate entities, not simply used to enhance the effect of speech and acting. The media, exhibited as anthropomorphized elements, produced moments of alienation

32
for actors and audience. Through this technique, the performers were motivated to critically reflect on the new means of representation. Thus, media, such as film and the radio, which were used primarily to advance commercial and state interests had been changed, umfunktioniert, into media able to convey socio-political insights. Film as a recording device could also be used as a medium for preserving the Lehrstfick performance for later study. This re-experiencing of the material and performance from an external viewpoint would lead to further critical distance and reflection.

In addition to presenting the parts of the plot and technological devices as separate elements, Brecht also used a technique of acting and a presentation of music that achieved Verftemdung. Again, in both cases, Epic Theater would not tolerate immediacy. The professional as well as amateur performers were trained to expose their distance to the material they presented rather than to smooth over the boundaries between actor and 12 Samuel Beckett employs this Brechtian anthropomorphizing technique of technology quite literally in his one-act, one-character play Krapp's Last Tape. In this play Krapp listens to tapes which he has recorded as a younger man. The tape-recorder and the cassettes it plays take on the function of an independent character as the audience cannot reconcile the younger Krapp on the tapes and the man listening to them to be the same person. Krapp has changed so muck he himself does not recognize the person he once was. Actor, character, and audience all experienced the tape-recorder and tapes as that "new gigantic actor."









character. Thus, the audience was not encouraged to see the character on stage as a point for identification. On the contrary, the characters were there to be critically analyzed. Music and singing were treated similarly. In the case of singing, Brecht demanded a specific attitude from his performers:

Nothing is more revolting than when the actor pretends not to notice that he has left
the level of plain speech and started to sing. The three levels-plain speech,
heightened speech and singing-must always remain distinct and in no case should
heightened speech represent an intensification of plain speech, or singing of
heightened speech. In no case therefore should singing take place where words are
prevented by excess of feeling. The actor must not only sing but show a man
singing. (44-45)

Accompanying music also had to follow the principle of separation and set itself off from the action as a commentary on rather than an enhancement of the events portrayed.

In sum, Brecht achieved critical distancing of the audience and actors toward the performance through viewer participation as well as alienation (Verftemdung). Verftemdung (through hypermediation) replaced empathy (an element of immediacy), an audience reaction which belongs to the Aristotelian theater. Both forms of distancing, alienation and viewer participation, are achieved in the contemporary technologies of video and digital media through hypermediation as well.

In the case of the most popular branch of the Internet, the World Wide Web,

hypertext is one of the technologies that offers both a distancing of the material through the intervention of the medium (in the form of separate links, windows, applications) and through the interaction with and manipulation of the material presented. Gregory Ulmer notes that "in hypermedia, the scholar does not provide a specific line of argument, an enunciation, but constructs the whole paradigm of possibilities, the set of statements, leaving the act of utterance, specific selections and combinations, to the reader/user" ("Grammatology"). This presentation of argument and invitation for interaction deviates









considerably from authors and critics' practices with printed texts. George Landow, in his important study of hypertext, has pointed out some of the potential political dimensions of hypertext use. He argues that dominant discourses do not necessarily dominate in hypertext due to a lack of textual centrality as well as stemming from a marginality in the organization of material. He remarks: "Hypertext emphasizes that the marginal has as much to offer as does the central," (89) whereas "linearity of print provides the passage with an illusory center" (98); a center, of course, is always linked to a position of power, a center of power. Through its webbed structure, hyperlinks eradicate hierarchies of meaning. Landow also points out that hypertext promotes the organization of arguments set up as juxtapositions and using appropriations of other works to supplement one's own (170-7 1). In other words, hypertext does not rely on normative argumentation but favors

33
a dynamic and multi -perspectivi st presentation of views. This type of argumentation fits well within the frame of Brecht's theory. Like hypertext, Epic Theater "is essentially dynamic; its task is to show the world as it changes (and also how it may be changed)" (Brecht 79), and copyright was never a concern of Brecht's. However, it must be pointed

34
out that commodification of the Internet is well under way. What once served almost exclusively as a forum for the public (and initially the military) has become a successful commercial space. Therefore, the potentially democratizing features of hypertextual





" Hypermediacy is not necessarily a component of computer environments per se. On the contrary, Friedrich Kittler argues in "There is No Software," that the computer industry is trying hard to disguise hardware and software to keep the user in the dark about their tools, to "hide a whole machine from its user" (334). Often, it is at the level of interface, the intersection that connects user to machine, where these deceptions take place.
14 Enzensberger would argue that critical intervention can only address this issue from within the medium, by using the medium to subvert its appropriation by capitalism.










application can also be identified as useful vehicles for commercial ventures.3 Apart from the actual language used on the WWW (e.g., hypertext mark-up language), the interactivity necessary to navigate this highly mediated space, as well as the foregrounding of the constructedness of the presentation, making visible its individual elements and its institutionally (commercial and otherwise) reinforced conventions, achieves the critical distance, the Verfremdung, that Brecht found "necessary to all understanding" (71). Hypermediation was, after all, a key feature of Epic Theater as well.

Digital media, in general, can be linked closely to Brecht' s technique of separating elements to achieve hypermediacy in his Epic Theater. As Manovich points out, all digital objects rely on the logistics of modularity. Media elements, when assembled into a larger project, retain their separate identity apart from the project. These elements also have the advantage of being stored separately, therefore are able to be manipulated without affecting anything else in the meta-project. Even computer programming relies on modularity, because it is composed of independent, small modules which are assembled to function as a larger program (30-3 1).36 This principle can be observed in any multimedia presentation. For example, in a CD-ROM application, created with Macromedia Director, which includes sounds, still images, and video-clips, these individual elements cannot only be accessed separately on the CD (by everyone) but also 15 There are also instances where commercial spaces have been reclaimed as spheres of non-commercial activity, as Andrew Feenberg points out in Questioning Technology. He calls this a "subversive rationalization" of commercial technologies. This act of "democratic technological change" can lead to genuine subversion. Feenberg cites the Minitel videotext system in France as an example. Viewers transformed this infonnational technology into an interactive network. Thanks to the Minitel thousands of people connect for purposes never intended by its crators, as a source for organizing political protests as well as for fonning sexual connections (cited in Light). 36 However, Manovich also mentions an important difference between the modularity of new media objects and computer programming. Whereas in the fonner the independent elements can be removed without harming the larger structure, in the latter such a removal would crash the program (3 1).









rearranged, deleted, or otherwise manipulated (provided one has the original file and the software to do so) without changing any other part of the presentation. The separation of elements is even more obvious in Web pages, where not only images, sounds, and videos are separately stored and accessible, but where each page is an individual element as well, in some cases not even created by the original author but produced by someone else and presented as an external link.

The Internet and CD-ROMs are not the only media environments that foster

hypermediated interactive experiences. Interactive installations and performances also make use of these principles. These hypermediated and interactive art forms can trace their history back at least as far as to Brecht's own time.3 However, it was not until the 1960s that they experienced a surge in artist and audience appeal. The invention of video and later computer technologies allowed performers to augment their acts and enhance their installations. These technologies infused performance and installation art with hypermediation and interactivity simultaneously. The once expected passive role of the art observer was no longer the dominant position for viewing and experimenting art. In the realm of literature, an aesthetic practice not usually associated with interactivity, Roland Barthes had already complicated the notion that the text's meaning resides with the author alone. Instead a "'writerly" textuality emerges, by which is meant that the reader does not encounter a work with a set meaning, but rather writes and re-writes the text through interpretation, which replaces the construct of the "artist as genius," as " Kurt Schwitters's Aerzbau (1923-1943), also called "The Cathedral of Erotic Misery," constitutes an early example of an interactive installation. The lvferzbau was made up of a combination of collage, sculpture, and architecture. It began in 1923 with a small construction in a corner of the artist's studio, a room within his apartment. The project eventually extended over many of the areas of his apartment. He, his family, and his friends interacted on a daily basis with this construction since it also represented their living space. Left unfinished when Schwitters fled Hannover in early 1937, the Merzbau was completely destroyed during an Allied bombing raid in 1943.









creator of the work ("Death")."8 This textuality is enhanced by a new "active" form of spectatorship, but at the same time dependent on the degree and type of interactivity built into the installation or performance. Nevertheless, these forms of artistic works subvert the artist's claim of autonomy over her/his creation, once thought to be an integral part of the artwork. The spectator's interactive experience repositions her/him into the role of cocreator. As in the Lehrstuick, spectator and artist/playwright work collaboratively to complete the artwork/play. For Epic Theater, artistic autonomy was never an issue, any such claims would have rendered the performance, in the case of the Schauspiel as well as the Lehrstfick, innocuous.

Another new media hypermediated space can be found in multi player online game and chat environments, such as MUDs and MO0s, as well as multi-player computer games, such as Ever quest and Sims Online. Sherry Turkle has performed extensive research involving these types of role-playing games, especially those involving MUDs. In her findings she reports that role-playing games, a popular use of MUDs, function as psychologically constructive vehicles, not just a release from the reality found in the physical world (as in immediacy) ("Constructions" 358). This is obviously an important observation, because it stands in stark contrast to common criticisms describing virtual spaces as harbors of escape from the problems encountered in the world. Turkle's overall assessment highlights the computer as a medium that provokes negotiations of categories that usually are experienced as "natural," such as gender, identity, free will, intelligence, life, etc. (362). It is her assessment finally, that in the hypermediated environments of MUDs "old questions are raised in new contexts and there is an opportunity for fresh 38 Interestingly, in "The Death of the Author," Barthes explicitly connects his arguments concerning the dinmshing of the author's importance to the text as an act of Brechtian distanciation (145).









resolutions" (364). This recalls Brecht' s principle of alienation and his conviction that subverting conventions can ultimately lead to changing social conditions.

But hypermediacy is also applicable to video and film, albeit in a limited manner. As already mentioned, video can be used in such a way as to highlight the recording medium, through motion and resolution. It can also appear embedded in a film and be set off as separate through its technological specificity. Film, on the other hand, traditionally works hard to erase its own production process and appear as a reflection of reality. Its immediacy, however, is dependent on convention, rather than technology. There are plenty of techniques that can be employed to highlight film's artificial nature. One such technique is the physical manipulation of film stock to jolt the viewer into acknowledging the apparatus. Examples for this are Valie Export's The Practice of Love (1984) and Richard Linklater's Waking Life (200 1). In the former, a character within the film text makes a slashing motion and the director translates this fictional move into a physical cutting of the film stock where this sequence is stored. In the case of Waking Life a proprietary software was used to manipulate the images of live-action footage to transform them into a cartoonish version of the actual recordings. In both cases the filmmakers do not work with the medium (technological and institutional make-up, convention, commodification, etc.) but against it. Although film and video are not classic examples for hypermediated texts, they are not inherently hostile to hypermediation, but rather have evolved to be used and regarded as remediating the "real."

The Expressionismus Debatte (in which Brecht took part) in the nineteen thirties and, in its wake, similar discussions concerning modem culture have as their central









concern artistic expressions and their (im)possibility for intervention in the "real .,,39 The original debate, which tried to establish once and for all the function, form and significance of art within society, has become a hotly debated issue again in the context of new media forms and technologies. Apart from the continued obsession with the "real," what connects the inauguration of the last century with that of the present is the radical transformation of cultural production and representations made possible by new technologies. Bill Nichols draws on these common characteristics in his essay "The Work of Culture in the Age of Cybernetic Systems," where he not only connects the art of reproduction, whether mechanical or digital, to an altered concept of reality, but also to new identity formations:

My intention, in fact, is to carry Benjamin's inquiry forward and to ask how
cybernetic systems, symbolized by the computer, represent a set of transformations
in our conception of and relation to self and reality of a magnitude commensurate
with the transformations in the conception of and relation to self and reality wrought by mechanical reproduction and symbolized by the camera. (12 1) However, according to Nichols, "the difference between [mechanical and digital reproduction] is being able to remake the world and being able to efface it" (13 1), where the latter has obvious political disadvantages to the former. Although I do not share Nichols's bleak impressions of digital corollaries in the remainder of the essay, I do believe that effacement of artificiality is a problem that must be reckoned with in any digital representation (simulation), hence my argument that hypermediation has more

40
potential as a critical stimulant .


'9 See footnote I for details on this debate.
40 Nichols updates Enzensberger's consciousness industry thesis from 30 years earlier (without mentioning him, however) to the age of cybernetics when he states that "just as the mechanical reproduction of copies revealed the power of industrial capitalism to reorganize and reassemble the world around us, rendering it as commodity art, the automated intelligence of chips reveals the power of postindustrial capitalism to simulate and replace the world around us, rendering not only its exterior realm but also its interior ones of









Brechtian Theory and Recent Developments in the Public Sphere

While Brechtian techniques, implementing interactivity and hypermediacy into

Epic Theory, are particularly important to any epic practice in the realm of contemporary technology, his attempts at transforming the public sphere with his aesthetic practice must also be regarded as a forerunner for contemporary practices. The notion of a public sphere as a formative space for communicative exchanges in society can be used to follow a particularly dynamic history within the German context. In Strukturwandel der Offernlichkeut, Jtrgen Habermas traces the formation of a "public sphere" (Offentlichkeit), a utopian space independent of state, commercial interests, and the realm of the immediate family, to the eighteenth century European Enlightenment project. This sphere, in theory, would grant access to all citizens (at least those that are white and male) who would in turn honor and further the principles of open rational debate, work toward the welfare of the public, and ensure equality for all participants. In the eighteenth century, according to Habermas, the newspapers (along with salons, literary societies, and discussion groups) were the primary spaces for the realization of Qffe ntlichke it. However, today a combination of media, such as newspapers, magazines, radio, and television have taken the once uncontested place of the newspaper press to construct a 20 -hcentury public sphere. According to Habermas, this has had devastating effects on the public sphere project because rather than realizing the above named principles, the new media are corrupted by commercial and state interests and thus no longer function consciousness, intelligence, thought and intersubjectivity as commodity experience" (13 1). Although he does not address the role of the critic of such a system as a potential violator of the system's logic, he still sees a chance "to transgress its predefined interdiction and limits, using the dynamite of the apperceptive powers it has itself brought into being" (143) (Oust as Enzensberger does in "Industrialisation"), but does not comment on who or what the agent in such an explosion might be. Another interesting aspect of Nichols's analysis is his hypothesis that the preservation and propagation of ideology has in the digital age primarily shifted to the judicial apparatus.









independently from such influences. For Habermas, this corruption has led to a "refeudalization" (233) (a state prior to Enlightenment) of the public sphere, therefore reflecting public authority but not truly representing it. Habermas would like to return to the Enlightenment project ideal of Offentlichkeit, but rather than having individuals representing themselves he proposes that those individuals form organizations of democratically structured interest groups (such as political parties, or civil organizations).

In an effort to update Habermas' s concept of the public sphere to better fit into an age of mass media and media convergences, Oskar Negt and Alexander Kluge published their Public Sphere and Experience (1972), ten years after Habermas's Strukturwandel. Their thesis of the public sphere is based upon what they see as its primary material, the concept of experience. However, experience is not a product of individuals but something that can only emerge as a "cooperative action" (52) resulting from public discussions. Therefore, the public sphere simultaneously represents the space where experience is gathered and needs this experience in order to function. If this circle cannot be completed, the public sphere becomes an empty and useless space. Negt and Kluge further argue that Habermas' s bourgeois public sphere operated on a principle of exclusion and separation (it was only accessible to certain social groups and split categories that are culturally intermeshed) and set forth the notion of a more inclusive and fluent public sphere (or multiple spheres). Private experience is now part of the public domain. The public sphere should be analyzed according to the degree and type of social experience that is included in it. This experience can either be put to use as fuel for the dominant powers that shape the public sphere or become a liberating power within its reign.









Negt and Kluge's study was unquestionably informed by Brecht's ideas on the shaping of a public sphere. As Mueller remarks:

When Brecht embarked on the "sociological experiment," the public trial over the
filming of his Threepenny Opera, he was fixing a moment in the process of shifting public spheres, a moment in which we can see the "public spheres of production" in the making. At the same time, Brecht was keen on exposing the ideal categories of
the classical bourgeois public sphere as ideology. (122-3)

In exposing the ideological backbone of the bourgeois public sphere, Brecht's theory set itself apart from the Habermasian project and aligns itself more closely with Negt and Kluge's ideas. For Brecht, as for Negt and Kluge, it was imperative "to wrest the means of communication from the apparatus and place it in the hands of the artists themselves" (123)."

In our current state of technology the public sphere has been changed dramatically yet again. In addition to film and television, there are other media vying to take their place among constituents of the public sphere, such as video, the Internet, and various new technologies of distribution. Collectively, they can no longer describe a coherent, homogenous public sphere. Instead, each one incorporates and often exposes freely the different ideological practices in its make-up and is used in a myriad of ways, both to strengthen and undermine dominant discourses. Video is the most obvious example of a seemingly democratizing medium, in a position to open up the public sphere to various groups and individuals (for example, in the form of guerilla television). In the early years of video proliferation, its potential, based on the medium's versatility and low cost, was seen as a way to turn everyone into an artist, in a true Brechtian and Benjaminian sense, and thus create an alternative public sphere which could counteract the dominant one. 41 Kluge does this in his television shows that categorically subvert all categories set up by dominant television practice and commercial interests. See chapter 3 for a more detailed account of these programs.









Unfortunately, these utopian ideals never came to pass, although various promising attempts were made (see chapter 3). Presently, digital video is in the process of replacing analog video almost completely. Whether this new medium will be able to fulfill the promise of its predecessor is not yet clear.

The various computer technologies, including digital video, incorporate some very interesting prospects for a changed public sphere. As Lunenfeld points out, "the computer becomes an instrument unique in the history of audiovisual media-for the first time the same machine serves as the site of production, distribution and reception" (71). Implicit in this statement is the notion that computers make it possible to collapse several public and private domains into the same physical but also cultural sphere. Digital cultural artifacts are often created in a private setting, then distributed through a network that can neither be defined clearly as private nor public nor wholly commercial (the Internet). They finally arrive, again, in the same private setting in which they originated without having undergone much in the way of institutional manipulation. A good example for this kind of slippery cultural exchange is the peer-to-peer file-sharing service Kazaa. With the help of Kazaa millions of people trade files with a myriad of contents, including music, videos, images, recordings of lectures, e-books, and a wide variety of digital curiosities. Although Kazaa is a commercial enterprise itself, it subverts all conventional categories of pecuniary systems since it allows its users to share copyrighted materials rather than purchase and sell the items. It also allows groups and individuals to trade their personal recordings and therefore circumvent traditionally set up cultural and commercial spheres. These cultural and commercial systems, now part of the public sphere, often permit only a limited amount of material to enter into their ranks and admit only those which support,









not undermine, its internal structure. Kazaa has more than 60 million users around the world, and its users share over 15 million files a month (Woody). Also, Kazaa is only one of several peer-to-peer file sharing services, increasing the total number of shared files by multiples of 10-100. However, commercial forces are working hard to undermine the

42
success of such public services. Napster, a similar file sharing utility which operated based on a different technical principle (it indexed songs on its own server rather than simply acting as a node connecting users in the Kazaa fashion), was shut down by courts in 2000 based on charges of copyright infringements.

In the cornucopia of new media there exist plenty more examples for practices that complicate the conceptualization of the public sphere for our contemporary society. These include practices that I have already mentioned throughout this chapters, which incorporate interactivity and hypermediacy into their logic. Brecht was an important precursor for the expansion of the public sphere to include alternate practices that undermine dominant ideology.

Conclusion: Brecht after Brecht-Continuations and Transgressions

Brecht's media theory has survived a myriad of technical advancements and has been called upon as fuel for disparate media movements. A detailed account of this continuing Brechtian legacy is given elsewhere, a brief summary of the major points will

43
therefore suffice. In the 1960s and 1970s, Brecht's theories were not only adapted to theater productions but also became infused into film criticism. Brecht was particularly 42 In Kazaa's case it is particularly difficult to make a legal case stick, because the company is as decentralized as its service. Its servers are located in Denmark, the software in Estonia, the domain is registered in Australia, and the corporation itself is housed on an island in the South Pacific (Woody). 41 Mueller gives a thorough account of Brechtian influences on various national and historical scenes. She describes the case of France, Britain, and Germany up to the 1980s in detail.









influential for the French New Wave movement, most notably for Jean-Luc Godard, and defined a line of film criticism that bore fruit in the British film journal Screen (predominantly through Colin MacCabe, Stephen Heath, and Ben Brewster)t This latter development led to a contentious debate whether it was in sync with a Brechtian approach to infuse Freudian/Lacanian psychoanalysis into the mix. Mueller notes that it was predominantly the confusion of terminology, in particular the confusing use of the term "separation" with its opposing meanings in Brechtian and Lacanian theories, which fueled the debate (112, 114). Other British critics, such as Martin Walsh, used Brechtian ideas to develop a theory of counter-cinema. In the context of German artistic development, Brecht had the most impact on the New German Cinema movement. As Mueller remarks: "Formally, Brecht is ubiquitous in New German Cinema" (123). The most obvious examples for Brechtian cinema are the films of Alexander Kluge and Rainer Werner Fassbinder. Although the legacy of Brecht' s work weaves itself through several different national contexts, what all of the critics and filmmakers who have built this legacy share is their enthusiasm for an artistic and theoretical practice that has burst through its own historical and national specificity. Turkle, author of several works dealing with new media, points out that certain theories, for example, psychoanalysis, have a degree of "appropriability," which allows people to adapt them as "an object to think with" and about issues that concern culture at large (Psychoanalytic xxvi). I agree with this claim and contend that this can also be applied to Brecht's Epic Theater. So far 44 MacCabe more or less initiated this debate with his article "Realism and the Cinema: Notes on Some Brechtian Theses," published by the filmjournal Screen in 1974. In this article he drew on the ideas of the Bertolt Brecht to develop "a critique of the relationship between narrative systems, discursive hierarchies, and the reproduction of dominant ideology" (52). He focused on the structure of what he called "the classic realist text" which uses a metalanguage, void of contradictions, and supportive of dominant ideology, and denies its own status as mediating reality. These devices of epistemic privileging subdued any attempt of active, critical spectatorship.









Brecht has only been adapted to act in the service of film and radio theory, but I believe other areas of cultural and aesthetic productions can also benefit from his theories.

As I have demonstrated, there exist a number of mediated spaces in the cornucopia of digital and analog worlds where Brechtian tactics of alienation, interaction, and construction can lead to productive interactive experiences and their assessments. Although most of Brecht's theoretical writings are concerned with the artistic practices of the stage, he also applied his epic strategies to other media such as radio and film. I am following this approach in my attempt to formulate a general media theory that takes Brecht as its point of departure. However, I do not propose utilizing Brecht's specific techniques of his Epic Theater and adapting them without mutation to the new media discussed in this study. The new technologies have made certain techniques obsolete. The theater represents a very distinct medium with technological and institutional particularities and therefore resists certain analogies with the cinema and other media institutions. Adapting epic strategies also necessarily involves recontextualizing Brecht's specific methods into the changed socio-political and economic background of the late 20 th and beginning 2l't century. Although there is a perceptible correlation between Brecht's and the current time period, especially in terms of technological developments, other corresponding categories do not fit as neatly. Therefore it is not only important to adapt Brecht's theater methods to fit other media but it is also important to update his theory to correlate with the contemporary historical context.

The examples in the following chapters, mainly Wenders, Tykwer, and Export, all illustrate some of the Brechtian ideas explained above-on the level of the works themselves as well as in the applied criticism. The new and old media objects on which I









focus my attention sustain a tradition of formal considerations that are clearly linked to Brecht's experiment launched in the last century. New media, and old media which incorporate the new, therefore are not as "new" as one might expect, they continue an aesthetic, social, and political trajectory instituted by predecessors. Nonetheless, the specific outcomes of certain media experimentations are far from identical to those initiated in the Brechtian "laboratory." Brecht himself foresaw this when he commented:

So is this new style of production the new style; is it a complete and
comprehensible technique, the final result of every experiment? Answer: no. It is a
way, the one we have followed. The effort must be continued. The problem holds
for all art, and it is a vast one. The solution here aimed at is only one of the
conceivable solutions to the problem [ . ]. (135)

Neither does a specific Brechtian political attitude survive the "transliteration." All media types and media combinations must be evaluated separately and ideological tendencies situated into the appropriate historical and institutional context, for creative media employment and alliances often lead to unexpected results.

In many ways the examples' deviations with respect to Brecht's theory and practice can also lead to important insights into the historical, social, and political specificity of art objects and their function in society. The lack of overt political messages in Run Lola Run, the dogmatic use of images as political message in Wim Wenders films, and the specific type of politics espoused in Export's CD-ROM are the most obvious example of this. Each of these texts speaks to a different audience and adopts a particular type of new technology, in accordance with the technology's suitability to accomplish specific tasks, to support its message. Wenders uses video in order to continue his directorial tradition of independent, "high brow" filmmaking. Tykwer chooses the videogame to open up filmic conventions, because his project is firmly grounded in popular culture and addresses a popular audience. Export opts for the CD-ROM, because this medium is most suited to









her feminist, avant-garde affinity. As becomes apparent, in each of these cases, it is not only the medium that encompasses a specific historical continuity, but also the filmmaker and artist who carries on his or her own tradition. This somewhat counteracts the assumption that using new technological devices to affect old media has the ability to shake things up dramatically. Nonetheless, Tykwer, Wenders, and Export, among others embark on intriguing experimentations which can yield insights into structures, potential, interaction, and limitations of new media. These insights do not necessarily emerge from the filmmaker's productive implementation of new media into their projects, but can result conversely from perceived shortcomings in the practical applications and/or theoretical underpinnings.














CHAPTER 3
VIDEO AND FILM

For the old forms of communication are not unaffected by the development of new ones, nor do they survive alongside of them. The filmgoer develops a different way
of reading stories. But the man who writes the stories is a filmgoer too.

Bertolt Brecht, Brecht on Theatre

The Emergence and Development of Video as an Artistic Medium Video and Television

Video, like other 20th century imaging technologies, emerged as a war-related medium soon after 1945 and was used initially to radio-control planes and aircraft carriers (Virilio "Interview" 324). It entered mainstream culture via broadcast television in the fifties and sixties, and became a popular storage and recording device (to be played on a VCR) during the seventies and early eighties. From its inception, video offered an effective expressive tool to political activists, and it slowly infiltrated the art scene and museums in the form or as part of experimental, avant-garde, installation, and performance art. In the early eighties video technology single-handedly changed the entire pornography industry by making x-rated films accessible-in terms of both production and distribution-to a much larger number of people than ever before; pornfilms moved from seedy, relatively high-profile, and crime-infested inner city sites into the suburban living room. There are even some who argue that JVC's VHS video tapes eventually won the format war against Sony's Betamax because the latter's tight









licensing control shifted the pornography business to VHS-tapes (Kohn cited by Krochmal).'

In the course of its multi-faceted history, video has been implemented as an artistic medium in the "war" against dominant cultural establishments (such as institutionalized art movements, museums, and sources of funding). It has served as a counter-broadcasttelevision medium on the one hand, and as a testing ground for (semi- and non-) commercial television program content and direction on the other. Video has also supplied additional advertising venues for cultural products (e.g., as music videos, infomercials on tape, how-to product accompaniments, travel and tourism videos, etc.). Video technology has been implemented in the areas of law enforcement, private property protection and monitoring of persons, evolving, over time, into the quintessential surveillance apparatus. However, it is when employed as the raw materials for broadcast, cable and satellite television programming, that video demonstrates its full potential. Television, a mass medium and powerful cultural institution since the 1950s, exerts its influence on almost all areas of modern life, on art, entertainment, politics, education, information, fashion, economics, and culture in general. The impact of television programming on everyday lives cannot be underestimated. Indeed its preeminence is attested by the fact that most families and individuals in industrialized countries own and operate at least one (often more) television set in their homes (in fact, there are more TV-sets in operation then there are telephones [Peters 1]).

In 1935, the first television service (utilizing 25 frames per second and 180-lines per frame resolution) was inaugurated by the city of Berlin. Images were produced on 1 For a more detailed account of the history of the videotape see Eugene Marlow and Eugene Secunda's Shifting Time and Space: The Story of Videotape.









film then scanned in using a rotary disk. Shortly thereafter a new electronic camera was developed, the iconoscope invented by Vladimir Zworykin and built by Telefunken, which was able to capture outdoor imagery (Peters 11). Hitler's resourceful, media-savvy propaganda machine put the new medium television to effective use for transmission of the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games. The city even built special viewing locales, called Fernsehstuben, to enable the public to take part in this event (13 ).2 However, it was not until many years later that programs could be transmitted into the domestic sphere of the living room and received by a large number of viewers.

Television began to incorporate video into its formal and institutional organization in the mid-1950s. Before video became a technological viability, film constituted the only medium with which television broadcasts could be recorded. Magnetic tape, already in use for sound, started to interest American television developers who were faced with a geographic dilemma since they were trying to broadcast live shows to an audience across a spectrum of several time zones. In 1956, Ampex developed the first black and white video recording system, soon to be followed by a color system made by RCA. These new systems quickly evolved to expand their function of delaying broadcasts to incorporate editing and other production purposes. The first all-electronic editing apparatus, introduced in the late 1960s, made physical splicing of tape obsolete. Helical-scan recorders (1959) enabled the use of slow motion and variable speed playback as well as

3
other film-like editing techniques (26-27) . Video technology had a profound effect on



2 The verb ftrnsehen was first used by the German physicist Eduard Liesegang in 1890 (Peters 6). ' Television special effects use electronic rather than chemical or optical techniques as is the case in film. A rapid electronic switch controlled by color variations (also called chroma-key technique) operates while two images are being scanned (Peters 27). The advent of digital television production has naturally changed the editing tools and techniques employed in television and transferred the process to the computer.










almost every aspect of television's output capabilities, acutely affecting program content

and broadcasting times. Presumably, television could never have aspired to reach its by

now axiomatic cultural significance without video recording technologies.

Considering video's impressive vita, it is not surprising that it (especially in the

form of television) has provided the focus of much critical discourse in the last fifty

4
years . It goes beyond the scope and purpose of this chapter to comprehensively trace and

explain the different attitudes of critics toward this medium over the years or chronicle

video's diverse production palette. Instead, I will limit myself to citing and relying on

critical observations and examples of specific relevance to selective artistic roots of video

leading to or hindering the complex relationship this medium maintains with its cousin

film (to which it is related in terms of cultural significance but not necessarily through its

technological make-up).



4 Most of the critical television discourse (in both senses of analytics and negativity) feeds on anxieties of potential political misrepresentation in programming and/or interference with and manipulation of cultural practices. Some of the most influential early critical voices concerning television practices, both positive and negative, have been McLuhan, Williams, Hall, Fiske, and Ellis. In 1964 Marshall McLuhan devotes a chapter in his Understanding Alledia to television calling it "the timid giant." In his analysis he determines it to be a "cool medium," meaning it favored viewer involvement and participation (unlike many later theories which tended to see it as a medium which causes viewer passivity). McLuhan's theory was somewhat ahead of its time, because it focused on the medium itself, discrete from its content, but this also infused a certain amount of technological determinism into his ideas. Apart from McLuhaii television as a distinctive medium, did not begin to receive serious scholarly attention until the 1970s. Stuart Hall's "Encoding and Decoding" (1973) and Raymond Williams Television: Technology and Cultural Form (1974) rank among the most influential early theories on the subject. Basing their positions on Marxist cultural theory, Williams and Hall are both concerned with television's ideological message and role in mass society. Williams focuses on television's public aspect as a key component of a potentially democratic medium of communication. He also develops the concept of "flow" (as opposed to cinema's sequence of discrete units) which figures prominently in several later television studies. Hall reflects on the audience's decoding of the television message which either coincides fully, partially, or not at all with the program's intended message, and viewers can therefore legitimize hegemony or potentially subvert it. In the 1980s, two important works theorizing television were John Fiske's Television Culture (1987) and John Ellis's "Broadcast TV Narration" in Visible Fictions: Cinema, Television, Video (1982). The former highlights TV's serniotic system of meaning, its status within popular and mass culture, and its function as a commodity in capitalist society, whereas the latter focuses on television's modes of narration which are primarily dependent on its particular institutional and material nature. For a systematic and general overview of the most important ideas in television studies see John Comer's Critical Ideas in Television Studies (1999).









Although video art (mostly disassociated from commercial venues) has existed for at least four decades since Nam June Paik's recording of the Pope's visit in the US in 1963 (the mythical inauguration event), until recently, it has been perceived by many artists and art critics alike as located somewhere "on the fringes of the art world" and always in need of "defining itself against and in spite of the overwhelming presence of television" (Sturken 102). Art on video has been suffering since its inception from associations with commercial television. Kathy Rae Huffman points out that although there were several experiments attempting to adapt broadcast television as an artistic medium, its unsavory connection to mass entertainment and ties to commercial interests diminished its appeal to artists (81).5 Nam June Paik, often credited for introducing video to the art scene, was an exception. He not only created some of the most acclaimed artistic videos but also used television images to enhance his performance pieces as one of the first and only artists to experiment with broadcast TV . Rather than television failing as an aesthetic medium due to its technological abilities, it was mostly the lack of financial and institutional funding which inhibited fruitful combinations of video art and TV. In the early seventies, Paik' s broadcast entitled Video Commune-The Beatles from Beginning to End served as convincing evidence to document the aesthetic possibilities as well as freedom and openness to experimentation that television can support given generous funding (Huffman 84). This is not to say that Paik championed television in an


5~ Some examples of experiments in the US were led by Boston's public television station WGBH and producer Fred Barzyk ("The Medium is the Medium") as well as the San Francisco's KQED Center for Experiments in Television (in the mid-sixties), WNET in New York (in the early seventies), KTCA in Minneapolis (in the early eighties). In Germany, RTL, a commercial station provided a venue for video art on mainstream TV with the show "Kunstkanal." However, the show did not run for long due to financial concerns.
6 Curiously, the first video art displayed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, however, was not by Nam June Paik, but "Projects: Bill Viola" by Bill Viola in 1979.









exclusively positive light. In the 1960s and 70s he produced several pieces which directly (even physically) assaulted television as an apparatus. Paik altered the circuitry of a TVset to display a single horizontal line, warped TV images by placing a magnet on the set,

7
and gutted a TV casing, replacing the picture tube with a candle.

Yet, it was not only video art that engaged in a struggle against the hegemonic

qualities of commercial television. Videos employed in the service of political activism also benefited from and achieved some of their critical momentum from a similar strife.8 Because video technology was relatively affordable, easy to operate, and portable enough to move around comfortably, it inspired the undertaking of many independent projects. Marital Sturken observes that video's early years are often remembered as a time "when freedom of the spirit abounded, when artists and activists discovered a new medium and took to the streets with it, assured that their 'guerilla' tactics would ultimately change television" (106). But activist video recordings could reach a much greater audience when employing television as a delivery apparatus and thus "guerilla television" was born.9 Video art and activism collaborated with and critically confronted television-the television/video relationship was both too close for comfort and concurrently a creative well for artists and activists.


' Paik's first solo exhibition in 1963, Exposition ofA4usic Electronic Television, at the Galeric Parnass in Wuppertal, Germany featured his early experimentation with television. ' This is not to say that this trend is obsolete today. Paper Tiger Television, for example, although not strictly conceptualized as a medium for political activism, but certainly containing political content, uses a highly self-reflexive style in its own struggle to offer an alternative to mainstream TV. Broadcasting television shows since the early eighties, it defines itself as a "public access TV show" which "looks at the communications industry via the media in all of their forms" and leads an "investigation into the corporate structures of the media and critical analysis of their content [as] one way to demystify the information industry" (About Paper Tiger). Paper Tiger Television appears weekly on a Manhattan public access channel and covers a wide variety of topics.
9 Sturken defines guerilla television as a political protest medium, an instrument which allows activists to point out the foolishness of society and/or a tool to establish an alternative in form and content to commercial television (107-8).









Gregory Ulmer correctly notes in Teletheory that television and video are

intimately coupled because the former can be thought of "as the name for the institution that has arisen to manage and distribute the medium of video" (x). However, video art in particular has come to be institutionalized by museums. According to art historian Martha Rosler, the "museumnization" of video art has over time successfully split the medium from any association with broadcast television (33). 10 Again, video art is not somehow inherently adversarial to television technology, rather concerns related to artistic autonomy encouraged the split. Deregulation and privatization in the US but also in many European countries, beginning in the 1980s and culminating in the 1990s, transformed television into a commercial venue of unequaled proportion. This development has further entrenched attitudes that view television as "guilty by association" and always suspect whenever program content is in question."1 Furthermore, as Huffman explains, the shift from early experimentation on public TV stations to the museumnization of video occurred in the 1980s when media art centers, supported by outside funding, became a more attractive workplace to video artists because of high-tech equipment availability and the lack of commercial pressures (88). The videotapes produced in such centers eventually ended up in museums and artist-created exhibition spaces rather than on the





1In spite of this "museumnization" process, video was originally conceived by many artists as an appropriate artistic medium to be used to attack established institutions such as museums and galleries, because, as Frank Gillette has noted: "Video was the solution because it had no tradition. it was the precise opposite of painting" (quoted in Sturken 107).
11 This critique is not without its merits. A TV-commercial certainly contains and cultivates a specific type of relationship with the program it is interrupting, as do station trailers and other intersegments. Television program content organizes itself around the interruptions, incorporating them into narrative structure, plot, even setting, and flow. Conversely, advertisements are designed to appeal to the target audience of the program into which they are spliced. Often, commercials utilize similar content, rhythm, style, and actors as the main show.









air where artists had to contend with greater restrictions on form and content of their material. 12

While reluctantly infiltrating mainstream "high-brow" art, video concurrently turned to film for inspiration. 13Most obvious was the application of film experience, technique and genres to this new medium. 14In Europe, Jean-Luc Godard was one of the first filmmakers to adopt video as an artistic medium. According to Thomas Elsaesser, it was mainly video's economical and compact recording technology that led Godard to regard it as a proper medium for avant-garde and independent productions ("Cinema Futures" 10). Godard's acceptance of this emerging medium as an image-making technology allowed him to subvert the image-producing dominance of mainstream cinema, avoid commercialized avenues of filmmaking and consequently remain an autonomous and experimental director. Other European artists soon followed Godard' s example and video slowly penetrated domains in which cinema once ruled supremely: the production of fictional entertainment. 15 In Germany, several artists created the first fiction "videofilms" in the early eighties, such as Neonsehatten (1980) by Marco Serafini, Zeichen und Wunder (198 1) by Niklaus Schilling and Der tiefe Spiegel (1982) by Michael Feick (1982). In 1983, Bundschuh and Bauer shot D~ja~ vu oder die gebaindigte Geliebte entirely on video. Apart from using this new material to keep the costs at a


12 In Germany, two of the most successful workshops were Die Medienoperative Berlin (mob) (founded in 1977) and Medienwerkstatt Freiburg (founded in 1978). Both produced political activist videos (Roth 213). 13 The reverse is also true. Timothy Corrigan has pointed out, for example, that certain cinematic developments, such as the promotion of blockbuster films, had an instrumental influence upon VCRs as well as satellite and cable television (26).
14 Video as a medium also served as the main theme for several high-budget and independently produced Hollywood films, e.g., Videodrome (1983), Tapeheads (1988) Sex, Lies and Videotape (1989), The Blair Witch Project (1999), Camera (2000), 15 Minutes (2001), The Ring (2002), etc. 15 Non-fiction videos by filmmakers such as Harun Farocki emerged in the early 1970s.









minimum, these two artists also employed video on the level of plot (the videofilm tells the story of a man who constructs himself a new reality with the help of his home video system) and integrated its technology into their aesthetical approach.

In Germany, a particularly productive relationship developed between statesubsidized television (offentlich-rechtliche Anstalten) and the emerging creative explosion of the New German Cinema movement; this association had significant influence on the latter's success. Virtually all films produced by New German Cinema directors in the seventies and eighties were at least in part financed by television stations such as the WDR (Westdeutscher Rundfunk), the ZDF (Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen), ARD (Allgemeiner Rundfunk Deutschlands), NDR (Norddeutscher Rundfunk), SWF (Sudwestfunk), etc. These films were seen by more people on television (either via broadcast, cable, satellite or on videotapes) than on theater screens. Wim Wenders is an excellent case in point because not only were all of his films financially supported by TV stations, he was also one of the first New German Cinema directors to take advantage of videotapes as a commercial distribution apparatus for his films (Alter 125). Wenders also continued his highly prolific relationship with television after the dissipation of New German Cinema as a distinct artistic movement; he accepted television funding and experimented in his films with traditional and digital video technologies such as HDTV, which were, as the name implies, originally conceptualized to serve television, not the film industry.

In what follows, I explore how Wenders's relationship with technological

innovations have influenced his filmmaking practices in general and films in specific. Although there have been other critical studies of Wenders's aesthetic treatment of and









artistic relationship with video, most notably Martin Baier' s Film, Video undHDTV (1996) and "Global Politics, Cinematographic Space: Wenders's Tokyo-Ga and Notebooks on Cities and Clothes," in Nora Alter's Projecting History (2002), my account departs from or augments them in several ways. Baier examines Wenders experimentation with new recording techniques in Nick's Film, Notebooks of Cities and Clothes, and Until the End of the World within the context of his entire filmic output of the last three decades in order to show that these films fit into the filmmakers' 0euvre overall. This chapter, in contrast, has no such ambitions. On the contrary, I argue that Wenders allows his preoccupation with remaining at the forefront of what is technologically possible in filmmaking to impede upon the quality of work which he is otherwise capable of producing. Also, Baier does not pay attention to the formal specifications of the media which Wenders employs, but concentrates on the overall aesthetic product instead. Indeed, he conflates analog video with digital video technology in his investigation, stating that the latter is merely an improvement upon the former technology, whereas my study makes a clear distinction between the two and treats them as separate technologies altogether. Finally, I also add a treatment of The End of Violence (1997) and mention several other films and practices that are dated after the publication date of Baier's Film, Video, and HDTV, for Wenders an important period of time, because it launches him into a completely new relationship with video technology. My approach to Wenders's experimentations with recording technologies departs from Alter's Projecting History in that I concentrate predominantly on Wenders' s feature films and his use of HDTV, whereas Alter focuses on Wenders's non-fiction productions and









situates the technology (principally analog) into the specific context of the essay film and German history.

HDTV

In 1990 Wenders began to experiment with a new recording technology that was originally developed in Japan. NHK, the Japanese public broadcast television station, started to pursue research on HDTV in 1964 and active development of the technology began in the mid-seventies. But only recently has it advanced as a technology that may soon make most consumer TVs, VCRs, and non-digital professional video equipment obsolete. What sets HDTV and high-definition video apart from their conventional standard definition counterparts is not only restricted to resolution as implied by the name. In addition to HDTV's increased number of luminance picture elements, about 2 Million pixels per frame in 1125 scanning lines, roughly 6 times the resolution of NTSC (the standard video fonnat for the US) and four times the sharpness of PAL (the European standard), it also features a wide-screen aspect ratio of approximately 16:9 (compared to 4:3 for NTSC and PAL), a picture that is almost free of distortion and interference (common problems with analog technologies), and makes interactive programs possible. Additionally, HDTV lowers production, post-production, distribution, and storage costs. Although high definition video is closely aligned with film stock regarding image quality and aspect ratio, it is a much cheaper production and postproduction material in comparison. There are no costs for film prints (ca. $2000 per print) if projection is done digitally, because there exists no negative. Also, HD tape is much cheaper to use than traditional film stock. A fifty-minute tape for the Sony HDW-F900 camera only costs about $65 versus thousands of dollars for film stock of the same capacity (including processing). Moreover, editing and special effects become more cost-









effective due to the efficient manipulation of binary code on the computer. There are also cost-cutting features associated with the prolonged shelf life of the digital format in archives.

Although high-definition technology has only in the nineties become a widely known technology, its was unveiled by Japanese electronics companies to industries outside of the country in the early 1980s. In the mid-1980s a considerate effort was launched to develop international television standards mainly concerned with the rate of scanning lines. However, North American, Japanese, and European governments could not agree on a universal standard. Joseph Flaherty explains that the Europeans, for one, worried that Japanese products would flood the market and ruin the domestic industry if they agreed upon a world-wide standard. They even went so far as to launch and fund research on a strictly European standard, the Eureka project, which would enable the European electronics industry to catch up and eventually monopolize the internal market. European efforts to design their own technical conventions reached a climactic level in 1986 at the ITU (International Telecommunication Union) Plenary in Dubrovnik when standards proposed by American and Japanese developers were rejected. Eventually, however, the European industry abandoned the Eureka project and renewed efforts to devise an international common image format began to take shape. Finally, between 1999 and 2000, Study Group 11 of the ITU composed and adopted "Recommendation ITU-R BT. 709-3," entitled "Parameter Values for the HDTV Standards for Production and Program Exchange." This treatise defines common parameter values for the HDTV image with a fluctuating picture rate that adjusts in order to accommodate different applications (Flaherty). Almost three decades after designs for high-definition television









first circulated in Japan, a common standard, based on NHK technology, has finally made it possible to produce affordable equipment which can record, manipulate and distribute HDTV recordings on a worldwide scale. 16 Recently, high-definition equipment such as the Sony HDW-F900 (with Panasonic lenses) received international exposure and attention, because it was used as the main camera to record the blockbuster Star Wars Episode 2: Attack of the Clones (2002).

The process of producing films for cinema projection with digital video such as HDTV is at first glance not as complicated and different from conventional film production as one may expect. Camera operators still record images in a fashion similar to conventional techniques, albeit with different equipment. While the new technology does not require much in the way of innovation in mise-en-scene composition, certain digital video peculiarities such as lighting and color schemes have to be taken into consideration. Important differences come into play while and after the recording process. Digital equipment is often relatively compact and easy to handle enabling the film crew to produce a series of images through more "natural" movements. As is the case with conventional video, directors can view the recorded action in real-time or immediately after taping and decide on the spot whether re-takes and corrections are needed. Film stock, in contrast, has to be processed overnight before it can be reviewed. The digitally-taped segments are transferred directly from tape to the computer hard drive and can be manipulated in various ways through editing and digital special effects. Digital recordings are deliverable instantaneously, via high-speed data lines, to post16 High definition television received a high-profile, global platform at the United Nations Millennium Summit in 2000 where speeches by world leaders were broadcast in high definition and projected onto 300inch screens in the General Assembly Hall of the United Nations. Another highly visible employment of HDTV has been in the space program. The shuttle has broadcast space images in high definition on several occasions thus far.









production facilities where work can commence without any delay. (With conventional film stock, images must first be scanned in and converted to digital code before computers can add effects to the filmed scenes.) Color corrections are possible in the smallest detail, pixel by pixel. If the finished product is destined to be shown on conventional analog projectors, a negative print has to be created using lasers and a special film printer. From this negative, positive prints can be produced in the traditional manner and sent to theaters. In contrast, theaters that are able to project images digitally can receive the finished digital film with no added steps or costly intermittent chemical processes. The digital "print" is delivered on a portable storage medium such as a DVDROM or a digital tape, or, even more efficiently, sent via satellite data stream. Every copy looks exactly the same; loss in quality due to duplication never occurs with digital code (unless the code is compromised). Although digital film production is merely in its infancy, it obviously operates more efficiently and effectively than the traditional production system. The Sony HDW-F900 represents merely the beginning in what promises to be a productive future for digital video equipment used in film production.

Wim Wenders: Rebel without a Clear Cause? [Video] represents a kind of democratic dilettantism: anyone can do it, anyone may
do it, who gives a shit.

Wim Wenders, On Film (1990)

I'd like to pass on a word of advice: image-makers and producers working in High
Definition should try to learn from a better source and a better tradition than
television. They should try to learn from the far more expressive and civilized
language of the cinema.

Wim Wenders, On Film (1990)

My own view of the future of cinema is less bleak than it was in 198 1, when I made
The State of Things. New perspectives have opened up that were less evident then,
or perhaps some of my old bogeymen have disappeared. There is no longer the









arch-enemy 'television' and the devil 'video,' because behind and beyond them
there is a possible new ally and a new cinematic language in the form of the high
resolution digitally sorted image which is currently being developed.

Wim Wenders, On Film (199 1)

Before Star Wars propelled the Sony camera to international stardom, Wim

Wenders had already experimented with it in his recording of the U2 music video to accompany the song "The Ground beneath Her Feet" (part of the soundtrack for his film Million Dollar Hotel [2000]). But these images were not Wenders's first to be recorded on digital or high-definition equipment. 17 He also shot the low-budget (but relatively successful) documentary Buena Vista Social Club (1999) entirely on Digital Betacam. And almost a decade prior to Buena Vista Social Club, in 1990, he spend several weeks in Tokyo as one of the first Europeans (along with Peter Greenaway) who were allowed to work with HTDTV at NHIK and Sony. Wenders used some of the images from the Japanese HDT V-lab in his 1991 feature film Until the End of the World. Although throughout Wenders's more than 30 years of filmmaking, his wuuvre creates the impression of being exceedingly receptive toward new media, his experiments also exhibit a certain ambivalence, a concomitant distrust and enthusiasm, concerning emerging visual technologies. From his earliest attempts to use a video camera in Nick's Film: Lightning over Water (1980) to further examinations of this technology in the essay film Notebook on Cities and Clothes (1989), to high definition experiments in Until the End of the World and digital video use in Buena Vista Social Club, his artistic use of new imaging technology often exhibits a cryptic constitution. Besides using video to record


1 The terms digital and high-definition are not synonymous. Digital video has lower resolution capability, uses different camera equipment and storage devices than HDTV. It is however possible, to convert digital to high-definition video, but the end result will not exactly match the quality of recordings filmed originally with high definition video.









images, Wenders also incorporates this technology into his films as themes and topics. The End of Violence (1997), for example, features a video surveillance system and the presence of television in one form or another is an ubiquitous element found throughout Wenders's films, from Kings of the Road (1976) to Million Dollar Hotel (2000). " Wenders has been involved in a love/hate relationship with the medium video, using it whenever possible and concurrently expressing disdain and enthusiasm for it (especially television) in interviews, films and his critical writings.

In the 1980 film Nick's Film: Lightening over Water, Wenders records the last days of the dying American director (and Wenders idol) Nicholas Ray, who has directed such Hollywood classics as In a Lonely Place (1950) and Rebel without a Cause (1955). Wenders and Tom Farrell, a student of Ray's, film the sick man who is suffering from cancer not only with conventional equipment but also on video, the former intending to draw an analogy from the video technology to the invasive cancer within the latter's body. This analogy represents an extremely venomous attack when applied generally to video as an artistic medium. Even the most rudimentary knowledge of biology confirms that cancer cannot spread without using healthy cells as hosts, which is to say that video must destroy film (the "healthy" medium in Wenders's analogy) if it is to creatively grow. Whether Wenders intended to extend his analogy's meaning from his specific use in Lightening to a general application and consequently arrive at such an unrelenting statement is not entirely clear. In 1980 he nevertheless exhibits none of the enthusiasm that many of his contemporaries, filmmakers and artists, displayed for this new medium.



" Alter points out in Projecting History that, "TV has forcefully intruded into Wenders's films, insinuating its supposedly malevolent, totalitarian, fascist presence into every nook and cranny of filmed everyday life" (125).









The Superiority of the Filmic Image over Other Recordings

But what exactly defines Wenders' s attitude toward emerging technologies which

threaten to remediate film and the cinema? Before this question can be answered, and if

at all, a short summary of Wenders's development as a film practitioner and theorist

spanning the years between Lightening over Water to some of his recent films can

provide a preliminary insight into the director's possible motivations and beliefs. Soon

after Wenders' s film about Nicholas Ray debuted, the films Reverse Angle, Hammett, and

The State of Things followed in 1982. While none of these films utilize video as a

recording device, Reverse Angle and The State of Things both thematized image-making

technologies and institutions. In the same year Wenders also recorded a short

"documentary" film at the Cannes film festival entitled Chambre 666 which more overtly

revisits his concerns of 1980. For this film, Wenders set up a camera and filmed the

reaction of several directors (Spielberg, Antonioni, Herzog, Fassbinder, Godard, etc.) to

the following question:

Increasingly, films are looking as though they had been made for television, as
regards their lighting, framing and rhythm. It looks as though a television aesthetic has supplanted film aesthetic. Many new films no longer refer to any reality outside the cinema-only to experiences contained in other films-as though 'life' itself no
longer furnished material for stories. Fewer films get made. The trend is towards increasingly expensive super-productions at the expense of the 'little' film. And a
lot of films are immediately available on video cassettes. That market is expanding
rapidly. Many people prefer to watch films at home. So my question is: Is cinema
becoming a dead language, an art which is already in the process of decline?19
(Wenders On Film 182-83)


19 The statement that films use too many points of self-reference is an odd comment, especially coming from Wenders. Wenders has always been an avid practitioner of recycling inter-filmic realities himself. Throughout his career, he has reused characters (e.g., the detective Winter, his "angels" from Wings of Desire [in his 1995 Lumie~re & Company segment]), copied shots from other directors (e.g., Ozu's Tokyo street shot), employed directors that have had influence on his own career as actors (e.g., Sam Fuller and Nicholas Ray), used fashion creations from documentary subjects in his fiction films (Yamamoto), made videos & films of artists that appear on the soundtracks of other films (U2 and BAP), and recycled locations from his films (e.g., the Tokyo Pachinko parlors).









The formulation of the question makes abundantly clear that Wenders's apprehensive stance toward video is chiefly based on his fears that it will replace (not only corrupt as he claims in Lightening over Water) his artistic medium, namely films made for cinema and that his anxiety is chiefly directed at video as television, in other words at the institution not the medium itself. He expresses his concerns more explicitly in an interview in 1990 when he notes:

Now if you accept - for all our attachment to the cinema - that infinitely more people watch videos these days than go out and see films, if you take that as a
given, and if you accept the projection of how things will be in ten years' time, say, then it seems to me you've got to put an end to the deadly enmity between the two,
and accept video as a language. (On Film 72)

Video's prominent place in years to come evidently provides a more convincing impetus to adopt it as an artistic tool than its medium-specific qualities; Wenders's motivations appear less driven by artistic concerns than by his fears that he may be left behind by technology.

In Chambre 666 the filmmakers' reaction to Wenders's question varied, from

Fassbinder's self-assured argument that films deliver what filmmakers infuse into them, while television's money can help realize the filmmaker's individual vision, to Spielberg's criticism of economic pressures produced by Hollywood's insistence on propagating blockbusters (in retrospect a rather ironic reaction from a director who has arguably supplied the blockbuster phenomenon with more steam than any other). Of the responses, one stands out in particular. Michelangelo Antonioni, in his reply, declares that "what we should really do is adapt ourselves to the future world and its modes of representation. [ . ] We must turn our minds not to the immediate but to the distant future" and somewhat prophetically predicts that "high-quality video cassettes will soon bring films into people's homes" (quoted in Wenders On Film 189-90). He defends video









as a medium worthy of experimentation, especially if it harbors the ability to conquer film, as Wenders predicts in the original question. As Baier rightly points out in Film, Video undHDTV Die Audiovisionen des Wim Wenders, Wenders's turning point for his negative attitude toward video (at least in his comments) ostensibly comes after Chambre 666, when he adopts Antonioni's more positive outlook and willingness to experiment with video.20

Wenders's theories in the early 1980s concerning the adverse influence of video on films and the cinema as an institution were, by no means, an isolated critique. Other New German Cinema directors as well as theater owners agreed with Wenders and appended his aesthetic apprehensions with the view that TV would develop into cinema's most precarious competitor for audiences. In general, Hollywood and national film industries outside of the US, including Germany's, viewed television, when it first emerged as a mass medium, as the likely hangman of the cinema. Obviously, in retrospect, this anxiety has proven to be unfounded. However, in the early eighties, with the advent of cable and pay TV, critics, especially in Germany, still (or again) felt uneasy about how this new medium would affect domestic motion pictures. As previously mentioned, this apprehension, in contrast to Wenders' s concerns of aesthetic confluence, predominantly focused on TV as diverting cinema audiences. The Arbeitsgemeinschaft Kino e.V., a group of small movie theater owners who provided a venue for films by New German Cinema directors, declared the following in the early eighties: "Cable television's establishment, the emergence of private television organizations and ever-increasing 20 Baier adds that after and during the filming of Notebooks Wenders acts as if his insights into video are his own rather than a modification of Antonioni's response in Chambre 666. This is not an entirely accurate assessment. In a conversation with Wolfram Schitte in 1982, Wenders clearly acknowledged his high regard for Antonioni's response and singled it out as an attitude which made a considerable impression on him (On Film 206).









broadcasting of fiction films in state and publicly controlled stations are causing conditions under which the majority of German cinemas will eventually cease to be able to exist"(55) (a theme which Wenders treats in his Kings of the Road).21 This bleak conclusion also did not prove to be an accurate prediction. As Hall points out, it was not German cinemas, where most owners' main concerns coincide with high profits from admission prices (which can be achieved more securely with Hollywood blockbusters), that kept New German Cinema alive. Rather it was German television stations, through financial backing and acting as an exhibition venue, that had the greatest effect and a high stake in preserving an alternative national cinema (172).

As noted before, after Lightening and Chambre 666, Wenders not only discarded

his former hostility toward video, showcased as a cancer in the former and defacer of film in the latter, but, practically speaking, wholeheartedly embraced this medium. In a recent real-time chat on the Internet he even went so far as to claim that his animosity toward video dates back to the seventies (although Lightening over Water was completed in 1980) and that a medium that he had once seen as a "devil" and "enemy" now had turned into a welcomed ally. However, it was not until Notebooks of Cities and Clothes, that, almost ten years later and to his own surprise (at least according to the voiceover in the film), Wenders admits to accepting that the specifics of video technology can yield artistic merit. He comments: "I made myself take [video] seriously, and, to my astonishment, found myself enjoying it. And that's why I now believe you can use it in a serious way-in spite of the way I've inveighed against it in the past" (On Film 351).



21 In the original: "Die Etablierung des Kabelfernsehens, die Zulassung privater Femsehgesellschaften und die inflationare Ausstrahlung von Spielfilmen durch die offentlich-rechtlichen Fernsehanstalten fifhren zu Bedingungen, unter denen die Mehrzahl der deutschen Filmtheater nicht mehr weiter bestehen kdnnen."









Indeed, in Notebooks Wenders showcases some of video's advantages over film. For example, when he displays video clips of the fashion show simultaneously with the filmed/live show, he alludes to video's instant replay and real-time properties. In another segment his voice-over comments on the unobtrusiveness of the video equipment on the action in a scene as compared to bulky film cameras. His subjects, Yamamoto and his crew, are more inclined to act "natural" in front of a video camera with a single recording agent than when faced with a film crew and much larger and conspicuous equipment. Wenders often films the video camera itself, so obviously compact and easy to handle, and emphasizes its view-screen, the replay mechanism, in his recordings. Apart from these comments and implementations, however, Wenders cannot completely hide that he still strives with his ambiguous feelings toward video. The voice-over (Wenders) comments on the recordings made of Tokyo: "In its own language, the video camera was capturing this city in an appropriate way. I was shocked: a language of images was not the privilege of cinema." But, in an interview discussing the film, he adds that his use of video is "rescued" when he transfers it ultimately to film because he "would never ever use video that had to remain video" (On Film 353, my emphasis). This, of course, does not in any way echo Wenders's comment that after the seventies he had accepted video as an ally. It makes clear, that even in 1989 he was still struggling with any such concessions.

One aspect that can set traditional video images apart from film is the tendency to favor medium close-up shots over distance and panorama shots mainly due to video's reduced image resolution and the size of the television set as the display medium. In Wenders's films, however, exists an abundance of long shots, a pre-occupation with









scenery (especially in his road movies) and frequent usage of film formats that exceed the size of traditional 35mm film stock. Even at the early stages of his career (especially internationally) the popular press identifies Wenders with a style affected by wide, panoramic images. In a Time International spread in 1979, under the title "The Visions of Wenders," Time depicts the German director with his (now ex-) wife as a bride against the widescreen panorama backdrop of an Idaho landscape ("The Visions"). In the last few years, in order to increase the dramatic effect of his widescreen images, Wenders has employed Cinemascope format in several of his films, such as End of Violence and The Million Dollar Hotel, and 70mm in Until the End of the World, a format which he claims has not been used for any other European film in twenty years (On Film 286) and which many cinemas are not equipped to project anymore (for distribution purposes the film was released on 35mm).22 In the chat forum for Wenders's website (www.wimwenders.com) rumors circulate that the filmmaker is planning on making yet another movie about Berlin, but this time filmed in IMAX, the largest image format in existence today.

Most American films, shot after 1955, use a standard widescreen format with an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and European films usually employ an aspect ratio of 1.66:1. Cinemascope is much wider than these standard formats with an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and movies recorded in this format do so with the help of an anamorphic lens. IMAX, as the most extreme of all formats, must be projected in a special facility, because it features an image size ten times that of the standard widescreen format. In comparison, a typical 22 Interestingly, according to John Belton, digital technology has had a particularly damaging effect on the 70mm exhibition format. He contends that six-track digital sound combined with 35mm is more attractive to studios, because it is cheaper to produce than six-track stereo magnetic sound used for 70mm prints (103).









television set has an aspect ratio of 1.33: 1, which means that films that use an especially wide format have a more difficult time being shown on television or VHS-format video, because so much of the filmed material has to be omitted (or is shrunk to a narrow band). To lesson the impact of this image reduction somewhat, the industry has developed a technique called "pan and scan" where the image is first shown in its entirety in a pan and then remains fixed on one, presumably visually important, section. Of course, this procedure manipulates the filmmakers original version of the film to some degree, and many cineastes prefer to watch the film in its original size on their television, in widescreen, although this reduces the image size overall and adds black bars of variable heights (depending on the original format of the film) to the top and bottom of the picture. By using formats such as Cinemascope and 70mm, it seems that Wim Wenders consistently strives to offer, within his films, images that are, at least to some degree, hostile to television technology .2 Cinemascope, in particular, was invented in the early fifties (and first featured in The Robe [1953]), specifically to lure audiences away from television.2 Wenders evidently uses the format with similar intentions more than forty years later.2






23 Wenders's disdain for projecting his extra-wide formats on a limited display screen is obvious, as attested by his inclusion of a film still from The End of Violence with the film's DVD packaging. This still has inscribed, superimposed over the image of the female lead, the areas of the film still that would not be visible to viewers on a limited size screen.
2TV's technological development, however, has always trailed that of film, for example, concerning resolution (only in the nineties can it approach 3 5mm with HDTV), size (will always be limited because of domestic setting), color (decades after film), audio quality (surround sound technology can only attempt to imitate stereo system in theaters). TV should have felt anxiety about cinema, not the other way around. 25 In theory, both Imax and 70mm yield more visual information and finer image detail than the 35mm format due to the wider gauge of the film stock.









Wenders as Digital Guru

In recent years, Wenders has received much positive critical attention

internationally and in Germany with his experiments in digital filmmaking.26 He acknowledged the significance of an impending digital revolution on cinematic ground as early as 1990 when he states: "The leap from photographic image to digital information really is a revolution: the risk is that film just stands there gawping [sic] with its mouth open, and misses the connection." (On Film 352) It has become apparent that Wenders will not be among those left behind paralyzed in wonder, but will be actively engaged in 27
shaping the future. In 1999 Wenders received the Production Solution Award at the International Broadcasting Convention "Le Nombre d'Or" for his use of digital video as an alternative to 16mm film (a format frequently used for documentaries). At the 2000 Berlinale the all-digital version of Wim Wenders' s The Million Dollar Hotel was projected at the official screening (although the film was shot on conventional stock and later transferred). Wenders also conducted a digital workshop with Das Werk, Sony, and Panavision representatives at the 2000 Berlinale. Moreover, Wenders interest and history in experimentation with image technologies surely contributed to Sarah Moon's decision to include him as one of the forty directors to retro-film a fifty-two-second segment with a vintage Lumiere camera in Lumikre & Company (1995). In 2000, Wenders proved his au courant technical standing when he and his production company RMF (in cooperation with the WDR and the Filmstiftung Nordrhein-Westfalen) publicized their plans to 26 On the other hand, Wenders new-found enthusiasm for the latest innovations in video has also drawn some criticism. Norbert Grob, for example, argues that, "it seems that because of his involvement in these technical aspects Wenders has lost touch with his own cinematic precepts" (203). 2' Although Wenders is mentioned frequently in the popular and critical press as one of the visionaries who have allowed digital images to enter mainstream filmmaking, it was actually Francis Ford Coppola and George Lucas, two Hollywood directors, who initially heralded all-digital film productions. Wenders first experiments in the early nineties came much later.









produce "Radikal Digital," a forum for European newcomer filmmakers, which will include six films recorded digitally and inspired by the Dogma-style of filmmaking. Shortly after "Radikal Digital," Wenders announced on his webpage a competition entitled "E-Motion Bytes" geared toward aspiring filmmakers in Europe. The website declared that "the award aims to celebrate the latest developments in young digital filmmaking, to support new talents and to demonstrate the usage of digital media technology in the realization of images and stories." Wenders also added the somewhat arrogant statement "the E-MOTION BYTES, Road Movies Digital Shorts Award, stands for Road Movies and Das Werk's commitment in new and aspiring filmmaking, confirming their position as world pioneers" ("Forum," my emphasis). The "E-Motion Bytes Road Movies Digital Shorts Awards" were scheduled to take place at the 2001 Hof International Filmdays in Bavaria. Wenders, in collaboration with RMF partner Ulrich Felsberg, was planning to award the prizes (including a DM 10,000 prize), but it was decided to move the ceremony to the following year because they "determined that only a limited number of the submitted entries shed light on the current state of digital filmmaking, i.e., demonstrated the various possibilities in digital filmmaking" ("EMotion Bytes").28 Apparently too many young, aspiring filmmakers were treating this "new" medium little different than conventional film technologies (a charge which I will extend to Wenders himself, a little later).

Although certain aspects of video, especially its association with television,

estranged Wenders from this medium through the 1980s, the subsequent decade brought about a complete reversal in Wenders's attitude-not toward conventional video 28 In the original, "Wir mussten feststellen, dass nur eine unzureichende Anzahl der eingereichten Beitrge die derzeitige Lage des digitalen Filmschaffens beleuchtet, bzw. die verschiedensten M6glichkeiten des digitalen Films demonstriert" ("E-Motion Bytes").









technology, but to emerging digital video technology. As already mentioned, after his experimentation with early HTDTV in Until the End of the World, Wenders recorded his music-documentary Buena Vista Social Club entirely on digital tape with the Sony DigiBeta camera. Since then, he has become an avid user of digital video equipment, especially for his non-fiction work and his music videos. For U2's "The Ground beneath Her Feet" he opted for high-definition again and used Sony's ITDW-F900 camcorder which is able to shoot in 24fps (like a film camera) progressive high definition. His move to digital technology was aided by the 1999 R1VW (Road Movies Filmproduktion, Wenders's production company) merger with Das Werk, a digital post-production company. This alliance ensured Wenders ready access to digital production and postproduction facilities and equipment.

Until the End of the World or How to Split HD from TV

Wenders's use and self-professed, albeit reserved, admiration for video in the film Notebooks of Cities and Clothes, the 1989 essay film about Tokyo fashion designer Yohji Yamamoto, was to be his final experimentation with conventional video technology. However, it was not the last time he directed a film which thematizes emerging visual technologies and their relation to the established medium of film. In Until the End of the World he revisits his interest and preoccupation for any technology which has the potential to displace or negatively affect the cinematic image .29 However, in Until the End of the World, in contrast to Lightening over Water, Wenders does not simply depict video as a technology pitted against film.30 Instead, the film uses a digital video


29 Since the extended UtEotW version is not commercially available (yet), I will confine my comments and interpretations to the shorter, official and autonomous version of the film. 30 1 will henceforth use the acronym UtEotW to refer to Until the End of the World.









technology, namely HTDTV, which is much different from the standard video Wenders used in the past, and he integrates it in a much more problematic and, at the same time, interesting manner into the film's fiction and form. The staging of technology in general in UtEofW, presented in the form of gadgets such as video phones, auditory and tracking surveillance equipment, on-board computers, video faxes, etc., serves an important selfreferential function, in that it reminds the viewer that Wenders has already made the first step into a prospective techno-laden future by using a new technology in the film himself.3 In UtEofW, Wenders explores video's future place in a society (represented in the film by HDTV) that appears saturated with an overload of images. In the fictional adaptation and in the technical realization, video's prospective status as a cultural determinant is dramatized in anything but a positive way. In the film, the main characters experience mental breakdown and one character even dies after having viewed the recorded high definition images.

In 1990, after Wim Wenders spend several weeks in Tokyo experimenting with HTDTV, he appears highly enthusiastic about high definition video's possibilities (in public talks on the subject), especially when applied to the realm of filmmaking. At he same time, however, he reveals an ambivalence about HDTV's intimacy with broadcast television. In fact, in his speeches, interviews, and theoretical writings, he prefers to use the Japanese title for HTDTV which is "High Vision" with the designation "television"~ conspicuously absent. At best, Wenders, a staunch critic of television's influence on film practices and viewer expectations, sees HTDTV as a medium which can aid in distancing viewers from this perceived negative influence. In his opinion, high definition technology 31 Ironically, "the end of the world" is represented by a catastrophe that only targets technology and does not destroy life. All electro-magnetic circuits get wiped from the nuclear blast but people are unaffected otherwise.










is aligned closer with film than with traditional television and therefore able to project

more "truth" (a fantastic claim). Wenders is not alone in asserting HDTV's positive

influence on television as a medium. There are several other critics and practitioners who

32
agree with the basic premise of his analogy. Siegfried Zielinski, for example, makes

similar claims in his essay "Fin de Si&le of Television" as even the title implies. He also

prefers the term Hi-Vision (specifically to disassociate it from TV) and defines HDTV as

a hybrid medium capable of delivering a more natural aspect ratio (which we know from

the cinema), larger image projection (closer to cinema screen size), better image quality

(approaching 35mm film), film-like need for quality set design and compositions, and

adapting many film aesthetics (e.g., "the individual shot may become calmer and

steadier" [as in classic cinema]). Overall, Zielinski's (as well as Wenders's) projected

"improvements" inherent in HDTV over traditional technology all remain concerned with

achieving a more film-like experience, notwithstanding a smaller screen in a domestic

33
setting. However, Zielinski is right to point out that the heightening of realism revealed

in a high-def program in reality translates into heightened illusionism (79-80), whereas

34
Wenders puts forth the rather naive view that more "true images" will emerge. During a


12 Critics like Baier assert that HDTV is not a new technology but rather a technological improvement of conventional video (72). 1 would disagree with this assessment and posit the claim that HDTV is to video what the typewriter is to the computer word processor. Baier underestimates HDTV's otherness. " Zielinski also includes a brief summary of Alexander Kluge's ventures with commercial TV and concludes that Kluge's TV "could be combined excellently with the hybrid medium HiVision: carefully constructed audio-visions for the intimacy of a bourgeois salon' ' (83). However, he never states why HDTV would enhance a Kluge interview show, or what conventional TV lacks in comparison. In my opinion, shows like Kluge's "Kulturmagazine" represent programs that are constructed to make the most of conventional technologies (for which they were conceived). His shows, as they appear presently, do not require better graphical resolution, a change in image format, or digital mutability. Perhaps lower production costs may be of value. Kluge's shows have done relatively well (in terms of critical success) for almost twenty years without HDTV and that may be the best argument yet to stick with the original formula.
14 Elsewhere, Wenders acknowledges and warns of electronic and digital image's excessive beauty and accessibility, and comments that it is "not necessarily more trustworthy" (Act ofSeeing 95), but he links









talk given at the 11ECF in Tokyo Wenders made specific comments on his use of HDTV in Until the End of the World and hi s vi si on for thi s medium's future. He stated:

High Vision could balance the loss of reality by the gain in image resolution.
High Vision, and this is my dream, could help to sharpen our sense of reality; my
nightmare is if High Definition in the long run only continues to undermine any
remaining faith we may have in the truth of images .,,35 (On Film 358-59)

In Until the End he appears to have turned his own nightmare into a cinematic reality. The film's high definition images neither reflect reality (they depict dreams and subjective memories) nor do they evoke faith in any type of true images because they are so highly manipulated. In the rare sequences where the high definition images depict "life-like" subject matter their content is challenged in other ways.

In one of the initial sequences of the film we see Claire, the main protagonist, passing by a large rectangular wall monitor as she is leaving a party. On this monitor plays a music video, some of the very first images of the film shot in high definition video. High definition video is the source material for HDTV, and it is very fitting that the music video depicts a group conspicuously evoking the TV as a medium with its name, the Talking Heads. The term "talking heads," a reference to TV usually derogatory in nature, derives from TV's habitual use of the close-up. Although television literally means seeing from a distance, it uses the close-up more frequently than film. UtEoff, however, true to the genre of the road movie, does exactly the opposite, it presents us with many sweeping long-shots of landscape and scenery, it even exhibits shots of the entire globe as viewed from space (as well as stage the globe in fragments consisting of this development primarily to the loss of an original, "no more proof of 'Truth' [ . ] [causing] the distance between 'reality' and 'second-hand reality' [to be] wider than ever' ' (95). He does not associate the increase of definition with a loss in truth value as Zielinski does. 15 Of course, what Wenders calls a heightening of reality should also be interpreted as an increase in verisimilitude (as Zielinski remarks), since HDTV makes it necessary for make-up specialists, set designers, cinematographers, etc. to pay more attention to detail to retain the illusion of reality.









cities located in five different continents). Wenders has commented in the past that, "television has eliminated the long-shot, which so beautifully conforms to the human eye, and replaced it with the tedium of close-ups" (On Film 356). It is only within the segments filmed in video that close-ups abound in the film. In other words, the film visually celebrates its otherness, that which sets it apart, from television and (to a lesser degree) from the medium video. As early as 1960, the media theoretician Marshall McLuhan noted that one of the main reasons for TV's abundance of close-ups is tied to its screen size and resolution (314). HDTV, however, with its improved resolution and larger aspect ratio is no longer tied to close-ups. It is bound to change the aesthetics of TV as well as video forever. Wenders, however, appears skeptical in his film.

In the filmic techniques employed in UtEotW, Wenders does not treat video as an ally either, but rather showcases it as a rival to what he calls his "'sacred' celluloid images" in Notebook on Cities and Clothes. Although high definition video's principal advantage over conventional video is its clarity in images and realistic depiction of that which is filmed, UtEotW primarily uses it for the dream sequences, memory play-backs of recordings showing Edith and Henry's acquaintances and family, and the highly stylized music video-clip. The images that are presented to the viewer in these sequences have undergone drastic manipulation. They are fuzzy, distorted, and not at all representative of their source material. Instead of capturing HDTV's primary improvements over conventional video, Wenders obscures them through another divergence, digital mutability. Also, Wenders foregrounds the digital nature of the recorded dreams and memories, and therefore highlights their constructedness, through various techniques. For example, several of the high-definition images projected onto the









laboratory's large screen appear highly pixilated or are prefaced by a representation of binary digits.

Throughout the film's staging of HTDTV as a technology, a highly negative

impression is channeled to the audience. The new technology cannot compete with the traditional recordings which make up the main portion of the film. Images captured on video do not appear "real," they remain obvious abstractions of reality. Although Wenders has turned from staunch opponent to avid supporter of video technology in his talks, at least concerning the digital variety, video's output in the form of television has remained a thorn in Wenders artistic side.3 In an interview with Reinhold Rauh, in response to Rauh' s question whether German television is heading in the same deplorable direction for which American TV has paved the way, Wenders goes so far as to declare: "On the whole, I think television is becoming unbearable-naked fascism" ("Excerpts" 82). He even connects television's future course to UtEotWs narrative by calling the medium's development "apocalyptic" (82).

HDTV's association with television and therefore with popular, mass culture, was not only a concern of Wenders' s. In order to inspire enthusiasm for their new technology, Japanese television officials invited two European filmmakers, Greenaway and Wenders, both known for their "high-brow" art films. This decision was surely motivated by the desire to dress up a technology which should not remain associated only with popular culture and the mass medium television. In other words, both directors were summoned to uproot this connection and prove that HTDTV has the potential to be a great asset to serious and even non-commercial filmmakers. In the case of Wenders, the complete 36 To be fair, Wenders manages to set apart digital from conventional video and redeem the former somewhat through an ironic twist in the narrative. In the film digital tapes are not affected by the satellite disaster, conventional video would have failed, of course, due to its electro-magnetic nature.









opposite emerged in the final product; his film highlights rather than obscures HDTV's relationship to television (in the same way that his earlier video recordings retained their TV references). Greenaway' s implementation of HTDTV in Prospero 's Books, on the other hand, appears much different from Wenders' s treatment. The British director seamlessly integrates the technology into his film. It does not remain, as in Wenders's Until the End of the World, set apart as a distinctive medium. The British director most likely bases his synthesizing technique on his general attitude toward cinema. As Rees explains in History of Experimental Film and Video: "For Greenaway, Cinema is the sum total of all technologies which work towards articulating the moving image. Cinema is a continuum. It embraces equally the big movie and the computer screen, the digital image and the hand-made film [. . .]" (4-5). In other words, HTDTV represents only one tool of many for Greenaway to realize his cinema and does or even should not be seen as a medium in and of itself when it appears in his film.

Although Wenders does not paint HTDTV in the best possible light in his film, there are moments when the medium's superiority over film emerges from obscurity into the foreground. The sequences that take place in China, for example, appear as video recordings, within the narrative and in technical terms. Wenders learns one of the advantages of video over film equipment first hand during these shoots. The director was refused permission to set up his film crew in China, which led Solveig Dommartin to film the segments there by herself on the compact, mobile, and user-friendly video camera ("anyone can do it" after all). These sequences are woven into the narrative as videofaxes from Claire to Gene. However, the recordings contain inconsequential, anecdotal information disassociated from the narrative. They appear to only serve one of two









functions, either to highlight how unrefined and careless the video shots are compared to the rest of the film, or to accentuate the compactness and portability of video as a recording medium (or perhaps a bit of both). Since the images exhibit little or no narrative function in the film, they stand out as a directorial comment on the technology itself. But again, Wenders's point of view appears highly ambivalent.

Apart from Wenders's concerns regarding television's aesthetic influence on film practices, his comments in the past also point toward television's commercialization as a well for potential corruption. He claims:

The close ties between television and advertising have also done much to shapeand defonn-the language of television. In short: video culture has undermined and
largely destroyed its predecessor's language. Films nowadays look almost
indistinguishable from television productions [ . ], the audience is so accustomed to TV pictures that it now expects them even in films. television has replaced
cinema by [sic] something inferior. (On Film 3 57)

For Wenders, the commercialization of television has by extension also affected the cinema, because, in the director's opinion, television has been exerting such noticeable influence on films. Elsewhere, he laments the disappearance of film images that serve a narrative function and claims, not without good reason, that "today, images have to sell, not tell" ("Excerpts" 86). His position is however contradictory, since he cannot exclude himself and his own practices from the commercialization of cinema. On the contrary, compared to other German directors, he has emerged as the master in the art of crossmedia promotion, plugging his filmic work via soundtracks, books and photographs, and

37
he has even sold his own image (marketed as director) to American Express.





" In this advertisement, Wenders is depicted sitting in a car with his arm leisurely draped over the steering wheel, making reference to his predeliction for using the road movie film genre.









Furthermore, as Baier points out, in the 1980's Wenders distinguished himself from other directors by making product placement (using Camel cigarettes in Paris, Texas) an acceptable practice in an otherwise "non-commercial" film (114). In recent years, however, Wenders goes one step further and, not unlike his reversal of opinion concerning video, finds a whole new way to relate to advertising. In a 2001 Der Spiegel interview, Wenders remarks that prior to the 1980s "Ingmar Bergman and Frederico Fellini still had to make advertisements in secret, and even Woody Allen was still embarrassed about his first spots. Today, commercials are in many ways the avantgarde of visual art"("Himmel").38 Of course, Wim Wenders has been filming commercials himself since 1994 and therefore would appear as a hypocrite (not to mention inhibiting his potential for reaping profit) if he continued his anti-advertising diatribe. Perhaps RMP's 1999 merger with the digital production company Das Werk helped him overcome his antipathy since Das Werk has such close ties to the advertising world (it emerged from an advertising background to develop its current film repertoire and also owns a majority stake in a German TV production company). One of its founding members, Wolfgang Borgfeld, contends, moreover, that digital video developments, especially digital effects, were and still are primarily driven by the advertising industry in Germany and the rest of Europe (West). With these new business partners and himself emerged in commercial practices, Wenders's relationship to television has slowly turned from black & white to shades of gray. It is not surprising then that the director turns from condemning television to foregrounding another "misuse" of video in his subsequent film, The End of Violence, namely video as a surveillance apparatus. 38 In the original: "[Vor den 80er Jahren] mussten Ingmar Bergman und Federico Fellini noch heimlich Werbung machen, auch Woody Allen hat sich fuir seine ersten Spots noch geschimt. Heute sind die Werbefilme in vieler Hinsicht eine Avantgarde der visuellen Kunst."









Video Recording as an Act of Violence: Wenders on Surveillance

The perfect disciplinary apparatus would make it possible for a single gaze to see
everything constantly.

Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish

Surveillance as a topic provides a rich source for a critique of new media, and

Wenders's depiction of such techniques and equipment in The End of Violence warrants mention. For, with this film the director enters into an already existing lively debate concerning the merits and dangers of surveillance as a technology and social apparatus. As surveillance technology matured and came to be rather sophisticated in the 20 th century, especially after World War 11, it also entered critical discourse as a hotly debated topic.39 Since then it has remained an intriguing issue with discussions ranging from the panopticon to "dataveillance," and more recently, after September 11, in the U.S., covering various types of increased security measures and in Germany including the practice of "Rasterfahndung."4 Surveillance has emerged as a theme in several genre of artistic works and various types of media as well, such as George Orwell's 1984 (fiction novel), Raimond Depardon's Reporters (non-fiction film), Vito Acconci's Following Pieces (performance), Rem Koolhas' Project for the Renovation of a Panoptic Prison


'9 William Bogard points out that even Marx displayed an interest in surveillance with its capacity to assist supervisors in managing labor practices (a facet of Taylorism comically treated in M~odern Times in a scene where even the bathroom is monitored by the factory supervisor). Furthermore, according to Bogard, Max Weber' s theories concerning surveillance as a tool of bureaucratic control over individuals have played a particularly influential role on twentieth-century academic surveillance studies (17-18). Important literature on surveillance includes David Burnham's The Rise of the Computer State (1983), Christopher Dandeker's Surveillance, Power, and M~odernity (1990), Michel Foucault's Discipline and Punish (1979) and The Birth of the Clinic (1975), R. Howard's Brave New Workplace (1985), David Lyon's The Electronic Eye: The Rise of Surveillance Society (1994), Steven Nock's The Cost of Privacy: Surveillance and Reputation in America (1993) and James Rule's Private Lives. Public Surveillance (1973). 40 Rasterfahndung is a practice that dates back to Germany's problems with terrorism in the 1970 and has been rediscovered after September I11 as a tool against potential Islamic terrorists living in Germany. This system aims at discovering so-called terrorist sleepers, agents that are waiting for their deployment. Rasterfahndung employs specific information from university databases and other public sources to seek out individuals that, because they fit into a certain profile, may be terrorists "in waiting."









(architecture), Josh Harris's "we-live-in-public, corn" (net installation), Peter Weibel' s The Panoptic Society or Immnortially in Love with Death (interactive DVD-ROM), or the "Big Brother" TV-series, etc. Recently, the topic also featured prominently in the exhibition CTRL [SPACE] (October 2001) curated by Thomas Y. Levin at the Zentrum fur Kunst und Medientechnologie in Karlsruhe. Wenders enters into this lively discourse and postulates his own theory concerning the practice of surveillance and the technology involved in the methods employed.

As depicted in Wenders' s film, surveillance equipment was once predominantly invisible and used as a tool of public law enforcement. Unmasking or revealing such equipment represented an effective subversive act against the powers-that-be. However, these actions have lost much of their bite in what could be called a new era of surveillance, in terms of technology as well as public attitude. Much of the current surveillance apparatus in existence has become visible and integrated into daily life. Commercial and private equipment far outnumbers governmental equipment. A survey of Manhattan in 1998 revealed that of ca. 2400 security cameras only 10% were not part of a commercial installation, and of that 10o belonged to private entities (Murphy).

Also, because hidden surveillance cannot be as effective unless it includes a large supervisory body, principles of the panopticon are preferred. They operate more efficiently since they utilize a preventative approach through the constant possi bility of observation rather than the cost-intensive practice of total coverage. Computer profiling, stereotyping on the basis of prior actions and/or personal traits, also functions preemptively "as a kind of surveillance in advance of surveillance, a technology of




Full Text

PAGE 1

TRANSFORMATIONS OF THE (SILVER) SCREEN: FILM AFTER NEW MEDIA By MARGIT GRIEB A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLOR IDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2003

PAGE 2

Copyright 2003 by Margit Grieb

PAGE 3

For Don

PAGE 4

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS First and foremost, I would like to thank my dissertation committee chair, Prof. Nora M. Alter, for providing me with many invaluable years of mentoring and diligent assistance and guidance in every stage of this dissertation. It was her remarkable scholarly expertise that guided my first steps into academic research and her encouragement and knowledge that helped me continue with my studies. I also thank the other members of my committee, Prof. Keith Bullivant, Prof. Franz Futterknecht, and Prof. Gregory Ulmer, for their valuable comments and suggestions. A special note of thanks goes to Prof. Ulmer for sharing with me his creative and insightful perspective on issues concerning new media. I am also grateful to the Department of Germanic and Slavic Studies for providing me with many years of financial and intellectual support. I owe special gratitude to the members of the departmental office staff, Sophia Kurzweg and Annemarie Sykes, who have contributed in many ways to making my life as a graduate student more bearable. Many thanks go also to my friends Yves Clemmen and Will Lehman for patiently listening to my ideas and providing constructive criticism. Most of all, I am grateful to Don Wilder, without whom I never may have developed the interest in technology which served as the foundation for this project. Most importantly, his patience, encouragement, and unwavering support have been a constant source of energy and inspiration for me over the years. I also thank Arielle for being my friend and making me smile when I most needed it. Final thanks go to Louis, iv

PAGE 5

Oso, Kodi, and Charlie, whose companionship kept me focused on what is important in life. v

PAGE 6

TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS.................................................................................................iv ABSTRACT.....................................................................................................................viii CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION........................................................................................................1 Definitions....................................................................................................................1 Outline..........................................................................................................................6 Focus.............................................................................................................................7 2 NEW MEDIA IN THEORY AND PRACTICE.........................................................13 The Experiment of Epic Theater.................................................................................13 The Epic Theater Stage.......................................................................................17 The Lehrstck and Schaustck Meet Technology...............................................20 Building on Brecht......................................................................................................23 Interaction, Participation, and Vergngen...........................................................23 Hypermediation...................................................................................................34 Brechtian Theory and Recent Developments in the Public Sphere.....................47 Conclusion: Brecht after BrechtContinuations and Transgressions.......................51 3 VIDEO AND FILM....................................................................................................56 The Emergence and Development of Video as an Artistic Medium..........................56 Video and Television...........................................................................................56 HDTV..................................................................................................................66 Wim Wenders: Rebel without a Clear Cause?...........................................................69 The Superiority of the Filmic Image over Other Recordings..............................72 Wenders as Digital Guru.....................................................................................79 Until the End of the World or How to Split HD from TV...................................81 Video Recording as an Act of Violence: Wenders on Surveillance....................90 Video, TV, the Artist/Author and the Auteur: Film as Craft/Handwerk.............98 Conclusion: Technology and the Difficulty of Representing History/Memory.......109 Abandoning German-ness.................................................................................109 Recording the Past and Future on Video and Film............................................112 4 COMPUTER GAMES AND FILM.........................................................................119 vi

PAGE 7

The Influence of Digital Technology on Cinema.....................................................119 Run Lara Run............................................................................................................123 Style Eclipses Content: Reinventing Popular Appeal.......................................123 Films and Games: A Winning Combination?...................................................129 Conquering Space through Speed.....................................................................132 The Quest for Narrative.....................................................................................141 Superweib or Superwoman?..............................................................................145 Conclusion: Popular Cinema and Reflections on Originality...................................151 5 STORAGE AND DISTRIBUTION THROUGH NEW MEDIA............................154 Film Storage and Distribution: From the Early Years to the Internet......................154 Films on CD-ROM: Valie Exports Medial Anagrams............................................160 Syntagma and its Function in Bilder der Berhrungen.....................................161 Intersections of Feminism and Technology......................................................166 Interactivity........................................................................................................173 The Interface as Mise-en-Abyme......................................................................175 Limits and Control.............................................................................................180 The Next Generation of Film Storage: The DVD-Video.........................................183 Laserdisc Makes Way for DVD-Video.............................................................183 Making Films Special: DVD Packaging and Marketing...................................187 Setting the Mood: The DVD-Video Interface...................................................197 Conclusion: What are Film and Cinema? Towards an Expanded Definition...........201 LIST OF REFERENCES.................................................................................................205 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH...........................................................................................208 vii

PAGE 8

Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy TRANSFORMATIONS OF THE (SILVER) SCREEN: FILM AFTER NEW MEDIA By Margit Grieb May 2003 Chair: Nora M. Alter Major Department: Germanic and Slavic Studies Transformations of the (Silver) Screen: Film After New Media focuses on German cinema and new media productions. Within each of the chapters I examine emerging technologies such as video, digital video, HDTV, videogames, and new technologies of distribution and storage, e.g., Internet, satellite-streaming, CD-ROM, and DVD-Video, and explore their impact on films and filmmakers, including Wim Wenders, Tim Tykwer, and Valie Export. Using Bertolt Brechts theories of implementing new media technologies (i.e., film and radio) in his epic theater as a point of departure, I look at how the aesthetic representation of emerging media, embedded within the older representational system of film, is employed to enhance and expand the latters capabilities for artistic expression. One of the questions I attempt to answer is: How can Brechts epic practice be adapted successfully to the study and employment of new media in art? I also address the relationship between gender and technology, in particular with media that traditionally have been codified as male. I am particularly interested in how artists re-invent and re-define the form and content of the conventional medium of film viii

PAGE 9

and its institutional apparatus, the cinema, through the use of a technical innovation. My arguments throughout the dissertation engage with the work of film, media, culture, and feminist critics of the 20 th century, including, among others, Theodor W. Adorno, Walter Benjamin, Jay David Bolter, Bertolt Brecht, Hans Magnus Enzensberger, Valie Export, Richard Grusin, Donna Haraway, Katherine Hayles, Friedrich Kittler, Peter Lunenfeld, Roswitha Mueller, Marita Sturken, Sherry Turkle, Gregory Ulmer, and Wim Wenders. ix

PAGE 10

CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION [T]here seems to be a good deal of confusion as to what is new and what is old, while fear that the old will return has become mixed with fear that the new will step in [. .], artists would be well advised not to rely blindly on the assurance that new ideas are welcome. Yet art can only find its feet by going ahead [. .]. Bertolt Brecht, Brecht on Theater Definitions In the last decade the term new media has all but become synonymous with emerging digital technologies. Indeed, Lev Manovich, in his seminal study The Language of New Media, defines new media as graphics, moving images, sounds, shapes, spaces, and texts that have become computable (20), and the equally important Remediation. Understanding New Media by Jay David Bolter and Richard Grusin takes a similar approach equating new media with digital media. My own study employs the terminology new media in a way that relates to the more traditional semantic roots of the term. New media, in the following chapters, are emerging twentieth century technologies, analog and digital, that have in some way influenced, altered, refashioned, redirected, or even replaced the nineteenth/twentieth century technology of film and its institutional apparatus, the cinema. The designation new is not meant to evoke the notion that new media are historically or aesthetically unique, and developed out of a distinct rupture with any prior systems. On the contrary, I base my inquiry on the premise that new media emerge from within a historical, socio-political, and aesthetic system and draw upon this heritage for 1

PAGE 11

2 their own definitions. New media, in my study, are emerging representational systems that differ considerably in their technological make-up from existing technologies of the cinema and which are able to expand, change, improve upon, or even replace aspects of the latters function within society. What renders these media new is not a matter of singularity or uniqueness as a whole, but emerges as an unprecedented way of arranging that which is already familiar. I begin my inquiry with an examination of Bertolt Brechts theory of Epic Theater that perceived as a new medium, capable of transforming the culturally established institution of theater. Although most of the technologies I discuss do, in fact, belong to the category digital, it is less their binary origin that is definitive for my study than the fact that the digital revolution has exerted more influence on film than any other singular technological development. Even television, which ranks as a close second, has gained most of its influential momentum from digital modifications. As Manovich has pointed out, the computer has evolved as an acting filter for all types of cultural productions (64). Therefore, although the term new media may not be synonymous with digital media, but the two often overlap. In the last decade, a number of studies have appeared that successfully inaugurate the study of new media (speak digital media) as a scholarly field in its own right, one that is no longer delegated as a subordinate category of the greater fields of film, media, visual, popular culture, or cultural studies. Instead, new media studies, exists as a separate field, albeit built on the traditions of film and visual studies. This link to the fields of film and visual studies has, in part, allowed for it to be theorized within the rubric of Humanities generally, and contemporary critical theory, specifically. In other words, theories of new media are decidedly philosophical and cultural in their base, thereby

PAGE 12

3 removing digital technologies from remaining in the exclusive domain of computer science. Theorists thus illuminate how new media function not only as a technology, but also as a dynamic force in contemporary culture. There exists a rich tradition of scholarship concerned with new media which appeared prior to the explosion of digital technology and before new media studies had officially achieved recognition as a field in its own right, such as Marshall McLuhans Understanding Media (1964), Hans Magnus Enzensbergers Baukasten zu einer Theorie der Medien (1957-88), and Gregory Ulmers Teletheory (1989), to name but a few. In Understanding Media McLuhan discusses the state of the then beginning explosion of mass media. He offers a media-centered interpretation of history by attempting to isolate types of communication media as the moving force in historical development. McLuhan coined the expressions global village and "the medium is the message" to describe how and what we communicate. As a contemporary of McLuhan, Enzensberger takes issue with Understanding Medias technological determinism and instead situates the new technologies into a socio-political context. In his essays he argues for media to become tools for everyone, instead of remaining in the hands of economic powers, and for them to develop into a productive rather than exploitative apparatus. Like McLuhan and Enzensberger, Ulmers book also identifies the new media as fundamentally changing the state of communications. He postulates that video and electronic technologies are essential tools to provoke inventive thinking as a privileged discourse in the new era of communications. He argues that video allows for the institutional dissemination of inventive thinking in a similar way that the alphabet allowed for critical literate argumentation.

PAGE 13

4 Since then, in the 1990s, several significant works have contributed to the further development of new media studies, most notably (in chronological order) Donna Haraways Simians, Cyborgs, and Women (1991), George P. Landows Hypertext (1992), Neil Postmans Technopoly (1992), Sherry Turkles Life on the Screen (1995), and Katherine Hayless How We Became Posthuman (1999). Haraways study, in particular her essay A Cyborg Manifesto, established a connection between new technologies and feminism. Her arguments pointed to a new hybrid humanity, one that no longer operated based on binary categories such as natural and artificial. Although, unlike Haraways study, Landows text is not based on an explicitly feminist premise, he does establish hypertext, with its non-linear structure, to be inherently open to advance the struggles of those underprivileged in society. His study offers the first comprehensive analysis of this new language, used mainly in online applications. While most of the theoretical analyses mentioned thus far have approached new technologies from a positive standpoint, Neil Postman offers a decidedly negative critique of the interaction between culture and technology in Technopoly. For him, a Technopoly is a society that holds technology and science in such high regard, that it elevates them into a position superior to human judgment and capable of regulating all human affairs. Sherry Turkle, on the other hand, dispels much of common criticisms about online technologies in her Life on the Screen and sees new technologies of communication as potentially subversive tools and spaces. Finally, Hayless How We Became Posthuman builds on Haraways cyborg theory and calls for a renewed investment and interest in materialism, especially in conjunction with information technologies.

PAGE 14

5 Studies on new media proliferated immensely as we approached and entered into the new millennium. The aforementioned Remediation (2000), Peter Lunenfelds Snap to Grid (2000), and The Language of New Media (2002) are the most important examples for this. In Remediation, Bolter and Grusin offer a convincing analysis of the media, as engaged in a constant refashioning of other, prior and contemporary, media. Snap to Grid sees 1989 as a decisive point in history which has brought about a shift in contemporary art and technology. Lunenfeld explores this shift and traces its effect on how we think about and react to our surroundings via the new computer-generated screens. Manovichs study of the nature and constitution of digital technologies has already become a classic text in the short period of its availability in print. 1 His basic arguments revolve around the cinematic nature that has shaped all digital media and serves as a filter of how we interact with the environment around us. In general, most of the books and essays on new media that have appeared in recent years have discussed, at least in part, what impact new technologies have had on existing media. This includes radio, music, photography, literature, graphic novels, television, and many other sites of artistic production. Since film represents the dominating visual technology of the 20 th century, new medias impact, digital and analog, on the cinema has arguably been the most conspicuous. Studies that have devoted considerable attention to new medias effects on film include the essays collected in Cinema Futures (1998, edited by Elsaesser and Hoffmann) and The New Media Book (2002, edited by Dan Harries), 1 However, most of Manovichs arguments in this book have appeared in other publications and were circulating widely online and in print before the publication of The Language of New Media.

PAGE 15

6 and, as already mentioned, The Language of New Media. 2 However, these accounts use a descriptive, general approach to evaluate the changes that have occurred in cinema productions of the last few years rather than providing pragmatic analyses of specific films and filmmakers, as do my chapters. Timothy Druckreys collection of essays in Electronic Media ( highlights that contemporary new media studies can trace part of its critical lineage to early 20 th -century German philosophical traditions from Martin Heidegger, Walter Benjamin, and the Frankfurt School critics, to Hans Magnus Enzensberger, and Friedrich Kittler, however, recent developments in new media studies have yet to leave a noticeable mark on the state of German studies in general. 3 Although theoretical foundations have been laid through essays by Friedrich Kittler, Florian Rtzer, Peter Weibel, Siegfried Zielinski, and Thomas Elsaesser, among others, there still exists a lack of practical applications of German as well as Anglo-American new media theory to German-speaking artistic productions. My account attempts to address this lack and provide analyses that specifically focuses on German artistic practices and productions within the context of new media. Outline As already mentioned, most new media scholarship has been focused on Anglo-American cultural productions. My study departs from these publications in that it includes German-specific case studies in chapters 3, 4, and 5. I am invoking these 2 Another book-long study treating cinematic interaction with new media, Future Cinema: The Cinematic Imaginary After Film, edited by Peter Weibel and Jeffrey Shaw and based on the November 2002 exhibition Future Cinema at the ZMK in Karlsruhe, is due to appear from MIT Press. 3 Electronic Media features essays by Heidegger, and Enzensberger, as well as essays informed by Critical Theory (a la Frankfurt school), Benjamin, Wittgenstein, Brger, and Freud.

PAGE 16

7 specific moments of new media/film interaction in order to show the inseparability of media form, content, and context in my approach, a notion that relies heavily on Brechts theories. My case studies are drawn exclusively from a broad field of German-language cultural production, the site of technical superiority as video artist Martha Rosler calls it (not without irony) (44), rather than covering a more comprehensive geographical area or centering on the U.S., a site where public viewership, aesthetic production, and critical evaluation have witnessed the most widely acknowledged instances of film and new media intersections. Instead of concentrating on general trends in how new media has and is affecting film, I narrow my critical focus to specific examples that illustrate very specific effects. My methodology is defined by evaluating films that are not spawned by the US studio production system. Instead I pay attention to filmmakers who are working within the European state-supported system, which traditionally has allowed more experimental work to emerge (although this is in the process of changing). In other words, this study is an off-center look at some of the most interesting effects of new media technologies on film. Focus My emphasis on revealing how the old medium of film has fared after its various physical and aesthetic encounters with new forms of visual technology also departs from the loci adopted by most other new media studies which have appeared in recent years. These studies have adopted the opposite stance and look at how new media are building on or changing older technologies. Important books using the new media after old media approach include the aforementioned Remediation and The Language of New

PAGE 17

8 Media, 4 as well as Snap to Grid, How We Became Posthuman, Florian Rtzers Digitale Weltentwrfe, Life on the Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet, and several others. In contrast, my critical lens is focused foremost on film and only vis--vis this vantage point do I consider new media technologies. This approach is meant to follow in the footsteps of Brecht who, in the majority of his theoretical writing, concentrated his efforts on the theater in order to determine how the new media film and radio could transform it, rather than tracing the vice-versa effect. 5 In contrast, authors of other books in the field, such as Manovich, predominantly discuss the nature of emerging digital media and, only to fortify or supplement their analysis, give an account of the relationship new media share with older technologies (in a variety of contexts such as historical, social, technological, aesthetic, etc.). This is not to say that one approach is privileged over another, but it is important to point out this particular perspective, because it constitutes a shift of emphasis on which my arguments are built. Within each of the chapters I examine a specific emerging technology such as video, digital video, HDTV, computer/videogames, new technologies of distribution and 4 Although the predominant portion of The Language of New Media uses the from cinema to new media approach, Manovich devotes one chapter to tracing the opposite effecthow have digital technologies changed the cinema. But even in this chapter he continually reverts back to privileging the new over the old (as in his discussion of computer games as cinema). 5 Although Brecht devoted considerable energy to developing a theory of film and radio, which build on his thoughts on theater, his dramatic theories and techniques became his most influential contribution to media theory in the 20 th century. I use Brechts theory of the theater rather than his film or radio theory in my project for two interrelated reasons: 1) his theory of the theater addresses the act of adapting and incorporating new media into an existing representational form (just as my project attempts to do), and 2) his theories of film, radio and sound borrows heavily from his theater ideas and are therefore not dramatically different or new. What I do extract from his media theories, apart from the theater, is his openness to use ideas developed for one specific medium to apply them to another. When we try to come to terms with emerging cultural productions, forms, and apparatuses, we are dependent on our prior knowledge and experience to make sense of the so-called new. The emerging forms and practices themselves come into being that way, they do not erupt spontaneously out of nowhere; they incorporate an existing history simply by being preceded by other media.

PAGE 18

9 storage, e.g., DVD-Video, CD-ROM, Laserdisc, Internet, satellite-streaming, etc., and explore their impact on films and filmmakers, including Wim Wenders, Tom Tykwer, and Valie Export. I use Brechts theories of implementing new media technologies (i.e., film and radio) in his epic theater as a point of departure and expand on his ideas by analyzing and adapting the theories of other media critics to augment my own approach. In general, I am interested in how artists re-invent, re-define, or re-discover the form and content of the conventional medium of film and the cinema as an institution through the use of a technical innovation. The following chapters also address how artists, filmmakers, and theorists apply gender-specific concerns in their approach to new media and their wide-ranging influences. This includes an account of the creative employment of fictional characters to permeate traditionally defined and restricted categories of what constitute male and female spheres and stereotypes. Although most technologies developed in the 20 th century were initially conceptualized and constructed to serve a patriarchic order (often dealing with concerns of war and world order domination), they are not necessarily opposed to serving feminist ideologies Chapter 2, New Media in Theory and Practice, serves as a theory-centered introduction to the current and historical field of new media. I show special consideration for new media theory that includes arguments concerning the intersections of old and new technologies as well as theoretical discourses which negotiate the intersections of new media and gender studies. Due to the overwhelming presence of digital new media in my study, the theoretical background laid out in the second chapter also reflects this inflection. In this chapter, I rely heavily on critical concepts set forth by Walter Benjamin

PAGE 19

10 (his evaluation of the Epic Theater), Enzensberger (his notion of the consciousness industry), Bolter and Grusin (their terminology of hypermediation, immediacy, and remediation), and Jrgen Habermas, Oskar Negt, and Alexander Kluge (their theories concerning the public spheres), as well as Roswitha Mueller (her evaluation of Brechts impact on media theory). Apart from covering current and past theorists, I resort to a thinker and artist belonging to the early to mid-twentieth century, Brecht. One of the questions I attempt to answer in this chapter is: How can Brechts epic practice be adapted successfully to the study and employment of new media in film? I contend that applying an updated version of Brechtian tactics of producing alienation (and the resulting contemplative and critical distance), audience participation, humor, and delivering revolutionary entertainment to a large sector of society can lead to productive interactive experiences with and substantive evaluations of mediated spaces and artworks. Brechts significance to digital aesthetics and film production of the late 20 th and early 21 st century is not simply based on the similarity of the social, economic, and technological changes which he faced in the 1920s and 1930s and those that we face today. In other words, I do not propose to translate Brechts specific techniques without transformations to new media. The new technologies and historical particulars have made these techniques obsolete. Brecht, himself, would have strongly disagreed with such an approach. He saw the modern Epic Theater [. .] linked with certain trends, (76) and as such historically specific. He adds that new forms of representation demand techniques that are adjusted to fit them specifically. Because our present situation includes media, digital and analog, that were not part of Brechts context, his ideas have to be adapted to

PAGE 20

11 reflect these media. The filmmakers which I discuss in the subsequent chapters have all attempted to include digital and other new technologies into their filmmaking approach and therefore more or less overtly engaged with Brechts progressive ideas on changing an existing apparatus by introducing a new technology. In chapter 3, Video and Film, I investigate the influence of video and television on other media, especially film. I focus on Wim Wenderss practical employment as well as fictional treatment of video and TV technologies and attempt to explore not only his ambivalence toward advancements in visual recordings but also discuss the reflection of this emotionally unstable attitude within the fictional setting of his films. In my analysis, I use recent films, such as Until the End of the World (1991) and The End of Violence (1997) to exemplify my arguments. Although Wenders asserts in many of his theoretical remarks that his experimentation with new media confronts the technological and aesthetic limits of the medium in question, I illustrate that his negative assessment of video (digital or not) stems from a dissatisfaction with existing institutional constraints, not the medium itself. Chapter 4, Computer Games and Film, analyzes the impact of digital technologies on film. Specifically, I chronicle the emergence of the videogamea specific type of digital technologyand its interrelated and productive relationship with the medium film. Tim Tykwers Run Lola Run (1998) appears as an exemplar of an intra-filmic reference to extra-filmic new media, the computer/videogame, through the employment of a formal rupture. I show that Run Lola Runs reworking of the videogame aesthetic and subject matter represents a successful attempt at opening up dominant

PAGE 21

12 cinematic conventions while still retaining its popular appeal for audiences in Germany and abroad. Chapter 5, Storage Distribution through New Media, looks at new technologies of distribution and storage, such as video, laserdisc, CD-ROM, DVD-Video, and the WWW, and examines how these technologies have shaped film consumption, distribution, form and content, as well as traces the effect on their accompanying institutional systems. In this final section I concentrate in particular on Valie Exports CD-ROM Bilder der Berhrungen to determine the effects of repackaging and recontextualizing her experimental film Syntagma. I pay special attention to Exports feminist ideological goals and how distribution and storage media can undermine or accommodate such ambitions. Moreover, I give an account of the current state of DVD-Video distribution of German language films, especially re-releases of films from the Weimar Republic and the era of New German Cinema, and how this distribution has affected the politics of restoration, as well as the appearance and reception of these films worldwide. Throughout this study, I address the relationship between gender and technology, in particular with media that traditionally have been codified as male. I am particularly interested in how female and male artists re-invent and re-define gender stereotypes and politics of access inherent in technological conventions. Each medium discussed, including film, carries with it a cultural context in which it appears, and therefore also appears embedded in familiar contentions of gender. In the artistic contexts, in which all of these media appear in my study, these discursive practices are both undermined and reinforced, and, at best, defined in completely new terms.

PAGE 22

CHAPTER 2 NEW MEDIA IN THEORY AND PRACTICE Anybody who advises us not to make use of such new apparatus just confirms the apparatuss right to do bad work; he forgets himself out of sheer open-mindedness, for he is thus proclaiming his willingness to have nothing but dirt produced for him. At the same time he deprives us in advance of the apparatus which we need in order to produce, since this way of producing is likely more and more to supersede the present one, forcing us to speak through increasingly complex media and to express what we have to say by increasingly inadequate means. Bertolt Brecht, Brecht on Theater The Experiment of Epic Theater What matters therefore is the exemplary character of production, which is able first to induce other producers to produce, and second to put an improved apparatus at their disposal. And this apparatus is better the more consumers it is able to turn into producers, that is, readers or spectators into collaborators. Walter Benjamin, The Author as Producer Walter Benjamins essays, The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction (1936) and The Author as Producer (1934), emerged in the context of discussions about the function and responsibility of art in the twentieth century. 1 Whereas the former examines the changing appearance, purpose, and effect of art in a new technological age, the latter presupposes these changed conditions and uses them as a 1 Shortly after these essays were written, the possible intervention of art in political realities culminated in a particularly contentious discourse in the specific context of Germanys National-Socialist government in the so-called Expressionismus-Realismus Debatte of the nineteen-thirties. The discussion involved writers living in exile in order to escape the persecution of the Nazi regime. It addressed their role as dissident cultural representatives and producers, as well as the function of literature in general. The debate initially set out to take up the issue of expressionism as either a direct artistic link leading to the rise of the National Socialist Party and Hitler or as a significant literary precursor of the anti-fascist artistic production, e.g., from expressionistic to anti-fascist works in the case of exile writer Brecht. Essays by Bernhard Ziegler (alias Alfred Kurella) and Klaus Mann dealing with Gottfried Benns leanings toward fascism were published in September of 1937 in the influential exile literary journal Das Wort. See Schmitts Die Expressionismusdebatte: Materialien zu einer marxistischen Realismuskonzeption for a collection of the contributions to this debate. 13

PAGE 23

14 point of departure. 2 In The Author as Producer, Benjamin examines the ways in which the process of reproduction can either render a work a revolutionary tool or only propagate the very social conditions to which it ostensibly reacts. Benjamin uses Brechts theories of Epic Theater as an illustration of a successful attempt at changing the former bourgeois cultural apparatus, the theater, into a tool that artists can utilize to produce politically relevant material. In his arguments, Benjamin emphasizes how Epic Theater, instead of competing with newer instruments of publication, seeks to use and learn from them, in short to enter into a debate with them (266, my emphasis). This dialogical relationship, of course, refers not only to Brechts transformation of the Aristotelian theater in general, but also applies specifically to his innovative approach incorporating new media forms, especially those already in (ab)use by the Fascist Propaganda Ministry to introduce aesthetics into politics, namely film and radio (Work of Art 24). Benjamin responds to and reiterates Brechts focus on Epic Theaters intention to serve as an institutional critique, emphasizing that the plays effect on the audience is less important than its effect on the theater as an institution (Brecht 22). This emphasis attests to Brechts conviction that attempting to produce socially responsible entertainment would have a two-fold effect: it would transform the medium, which in turn would change the message, i.e., deliver a revolutionary product to the audience. Peter Brger points out in his seminal study Theory of the Avant-Garde that Brecht constitutes an artistic enigma in the context of vanguard art movements and artists of the twenties and thirties. He declares that although Brecht is part of the historical avant2 Benjamin wrote The Author as Producer in the context of Soviet discussions about the function and task of literature in a socialist society. His essay was delivered as a speech at the Institute for Studies Related to Fascism in Paris, on April 27, 1934. The essays aim is therefore more praxis-centered than the theory-based The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction.

PAGE 24

15 garde, he is also diametrically opposed to one of this movements fundamental characteristics: the avant-gardes attempt to destroy art as an institution. Indeed, Brecht does not attempt to abolish the theater as an institutional apparatus. 3 Instead, according to Brger, he intends to sublate theaters bourgeois function in exchange for the new, ideologically altered, Epic Theater (88-89). 4 In retrospect, Brechts approach constituted a more productive artistic method than that of the other vanguard artists. 5 Since art as an institution was destroyed by neither the historical avant-garde in the beginning of the twentieth century, nor by the neo-avant-garde of the sixties and seventies, it becomes questionable whether such an undertaking was ever possible or even desirable. Brechts attempts at reworking an apparatus from within its own workings not only has more practical value, but it also makes his approach relevant for contemporary art practice, where the spheres of art and commodification are inextricably intertwined. However, I agree with Brger when he warns not to try to adopt Brechts and Benjamins solutions along with their recognition of the problem and to transfer them ahistorically to the present (90). Brecht, himself, would have strongly disagreed with such an approach. He saw the modern Epic Theater linked with certain [socio-political] trends, (76) and as such historically specific. In his theories on the theater Brecht explicitly states that all methods and stimuli are bound to their historical context and that 3 I am using the term apparatus in a Brechtian sense which, for the theater, includes the stage and theater building, the performers and the plays being performed, the promotional system, the social practices that are at work in theater-going, and the institutional backbone of all that involves the theater. In modern usage, Brechts apparatus would be called a medium. 4 Brger defines the Hegelian understanding of sublation in reference to art as not to be simply destroyed, but transferred to the praxis of life where [art] would be preserved, albeit in a changed form (49). 5 For an overview of general avant-garde practices and artworks described in Brgers Theory of the Avant-Garde, see pp. 55-82.

PAGE 25

16 they must be adapted (or even changed) to be applied successfully to a different historical context; reality alters; to represent it, the means of representation must alter too (110) Presently, the means of representation have been expanded beyond film and radio to include post-Brechtian analog and digital media. Therefore, our changed realities can and must be expressed using these new media. Specific Brechtian methods, replicated without alteration, cannot intervene in such changed realities. Many of the innovative techniques aimed at producing alienation in Brechts Epic Theater have been co-opted by the language system of commodity culture and become almost commonplace in todays sphere of arts and entertainment (and where these two overlap) in mass media. Therefore, Brechts epic elements would, in Brechts own words, lack force and effectiveness (27) and could not have the force of what is startling (71) in contemporary contexts. 6 Frederic Jameson describes this phenomenon (which is symptomatic of postmodern society) as an assimilation of critical elements to the point where many of our older critical and evaluative categories no longer seem functional (31); this is the moment where an alienating component of Epic Theater becomes an innocuous diversion and/or part of a commercial configuration. Hans Magnus Enzensberger also echoes Brechts observation when he states: Once [such a moment is] annexed to the heritage that must be preserved, it is truly deprived of its life, that is, removed from criticism and exhibited as an embalmed holy relic (Aporias 19), but shifts the emphasis away from commercial commodification, as in Enzensbergers comment, to institutional canonization. Either way, alienation no longer takes place. However, Brechts approach, 6 Benjamin and Brecht both see shock, emerging from unexpected arrangement of the familiar, as a vital part of arts operative effect on the viewer. In a more contemporary account, in The Work of Culture in the Age of Cybernetic Systems, Bill Nichols sees the effect of shock re-emerging in digital simulations with the recognition of the reification of a fundamental social process, such as communication (129).

PAGE 26

17 while not his specific realization of it, is still relevant today due to his use of innovative practices and technology as key elements to administering institutional critiques, invigorating stagnant material and genres, and producing alienation, which collectively result in achieving a productive contemplative and critical distance for audiences. At this point, it is necessary to inquire into some of Brechts theoretical schemata for his implementation of technological innovations and chances for spectator interactivity in Epic Theater in order to extract some key elements that can survive an application in a digital epic practice. 7 The Epic Theater Stage The use of technological devices on stage was for Brecht an important step toward realizing his Epic Theater project. With the use of technology the stage began to tell a story. The narrator was no longer missing, along with the fourth wall (Brecht 71). 8 He introduced a myriad of devices into the staging of plays, most of which were taken from the domain of popular culture. He included film projections, radio transmissions, gramophone recordings, photographs, and other devices into his stage productions refusing to observe what had previously been regarded as a sphere of high culture, and therefore inappropriate to accommodate mass media. One of Brechts underlying motives for changing the character of the institution of theater was his deference and concern for the public as a whole and rooted in his political convictions. His break with conventions of realism and popular entertainment was 7 For a more rigorous and comprehensive analysis into Epic Theaters relationship to media theory in general, see Roswitha Muellers Bertolt Brecht and the Theory of Media. 8 By erecting the forth wall Brecht meant to signify the Aristotelian theaters practice to create the illusion that the events on stage were real and for spectators to be cut off from that reality, so that they can lose themselves in the action.

PAGE 27

18 motivated by his progressive political stance. He re-defined both categories, realistic and popular, in his Epic Theater which tried to be both, but not in terms of conventions. Brecht wanted to turn the theater into an apparatus that could be used in a way that might mean something to a contemporary public that earns real contemporary beef (6-7). The Epic Theater did not just appeal to upper middle class audiences (as did the bourgeois theater), but should speak to the masses as well. 9 However, this audience would not be put in a trance and addressed in emotional terms, as was the case in the old Aristotelian theater; only an appeal to reason would do (23). Brecht did not view the public as a homogenous mass, unable to conjure up any sensitivity toward aesthetic practices apart from meaningless entertainment. Instead, he points out that society cannot expect persons to act socially and politically responsible, hold them accountable for their actions, but simultaneously assume that their aesthetic competence is that of a child. He declares: The one tribute we can pay the audience is to treat it as thoroughly intelligent. It is utterly wrong to treat people as simpletons when they are grown up at seventeen. I appeal to the reason (14). This positive attitude toward the spectator made it possible for Brecht to develop a variety of possible approaches in order to address what he saw as untapped potential and shape his Epic Theater based on the premise of pedagogy. 10 His 9 He sometimes referred to this audience as audience of the scientific age (28, 183-188), which lent his experiment the historical impetus to change the theater that still directed itself toward the non-scientific person, the bourgeois spectator. 10 This attitude set him apart from other German cultural critics such as Lukcs and Adorno. The former believes that the spectator needs a positive hero for identification (Es geht um den Realismus), and the latter considers the spectator to be completely consumed by and an object of the culture industry, unable to resist its capitalist ideology (The Culture Industry 142). Benjamin, on the other hand, agrees with Brecht and sees a positive change in the reception of art which loses its aura through the invention of mass reproduction (see his essay The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction). Although, it must be mentioned that Brechts optimistic attitude toward the public, after 1933, became tarnished by the events that lead up to and took place during the Nazi-era. He concedes that the lack of success of Epic Theater is related to the fact that their taste and their instincts are oppressed [. .](160), but still maintains the possibility of success in transforming them (161).

PAGE 28

19 aesthetic tools include technology, humor, and didactics; his goals encompass pleasure and development of critical thinking. Brechts ultimate aim was to arrive at meaningful entertainment. In contrast, the bourgeois institution of theater expected the audience to hang its brains up in the cloakroom along with its coat (27) (not unlike what Hollywood expects its audience to do in much of contemporary cinema). In order to produce such meaningful entertainment, Brecht employed the help of technology. He was not alone in his enthusiasm for bringing recent technical innovations into the service of the theater. Brechts contemporaries Walter Gropius and Erwin Piscator both sought to use new media as a tool to revamp traditional stage props and techniques. Since Brecht initially collaborated with both Piscator and Gropius on several projects, their methods helped shape his own practices. 11 However, unlike Brecht who always insisted on anti-illusionism, Piscator and Gropius saw their innovative ideas as means to submerge the audience in the heightened illusion of being present at the actual site of scenic events (Mueller 7). Nonetheless, there are theoretical overlaps between Piscator and Brecht in reference to implementing technology on stage. Like Brecht, Piscator used fiction and documentary film scenes to comment on the dramatic action which they interrupted, in the style of a Greek chorus (9). But most importantly, Piscator envisioned developing a technically enhanced stage practice that no longer considers the audience a fictive concept, but includes it into the theater as a live force (quoted in Mueller 7). 12 Although these enhancements were meant to bring the audience into the 11 Most of these collaborations took place in the late 1920s and included the play Rasputin (based on Tolstoi) and the Good Soldier Schweik (based on Hasek). 12 For a more detailed account of Piscators practices and theories concerning the stage see Piscator by Heinrich Goertz.

PAGE 29

20 dramatic action as participants, Piscator never went as far with this concept as Brecht ultimately did, especially when he introduced the Lehrstck into his repertoire. The Lehrstck and Schaustck Meet Technology In order to keep the productive apparatus of the working-class theatre well clear of the general drug traffic conducted by bourgeois show business (Brecht 88-89) and change the attitude of both institution and audience, Brecht developed the concept of the Lehrstck 13 (as he translates it, a learning play). 14 What makes the concept of a didactic play so interesting and also topical is its emphasis on instruction through active performance, rather than passive observation; it eradicates the distance between performer and spectator ordinarily expected in the theater. In the Lehrstck the spectator is called upon to become an actor in the play. Through the alienating principles that are applied to acting in Epic Theater, the participator attains a critical distance to the role s/he performs and the materials used in the performance, for example, new technological devices. Underlying this new dramatic genre, of course, was Brechts political commitment and the notion that moral and political lessons could be taught best by participation in an actual performance (33). He set up the Lehrstck in opposition to Aristotelian theater whose main purpose was to show the world as a timeless, static whole. The Lehrstck, on the other hand, shows the world in a dynamic manner, as constantly changing and, most importantly, as changeable (79). 13 Some examples of Lehrstcke are Ozean Flug (1929), Der Jasager (1929), Die Massnahme (1930), and Die Ausnahme und Die Regel (1930). His most successful and critically acclaimed plays such as Die Mutter (1930), Die heilige Johanna der Schlachthfe (1929-1930), Mutter Courage und ihre Kinder (1939), and Das Leben des Galilei (1938-44, 1945-53) were not conceived as didactic plays but rather as Schaustcke, created for professional actors. 14 Brecht renders the term Lehrstck into English as learning play (it should actually be teaching play). I think this semantic ambiguity conveys the dual function of the didactic play nicely: it is used by the performers and the playwright to teach and to learn simultaneously.

PAGE 30

21 The Ozean Flug (1929), for example, is an experiment in the application of Umfunktionierung 15 to the radio and performed as a Hrspiel-Lehrstck (radio play). 16 Brecht declared that the play is not intended to be of use to the present-day radio but to alter it. The increasing concentration of mechanical means call for a kind of resistance by the listener (Brecht 32, my emphasis). In the first production of the play, in 1929 at the Baden Baden Music Festival, accompanied by the music of Kurt Weill and Paul Hindemith, Brecht demonstrated the radios potential as a medium for communication rather than distribution. On the left side of the stage was the radio orchestra with singers and technical gadgets, and on the right side was the actor (intended listener) who performed Lindberghs part. However, the play was originally conceived as a Hrspiel, not a play on stage. Therefore, as a radio play, the part of Lindbergh was meant to be read by the actual listeners at home who were given scripts of the text. In another production, more true to Brechts original conception, the play used the radio as a broadcasting device to transmit music and solo performances into schools where the pupils could sing the chorus and play some of the roles themselves. Instead of the radios usual function, that is the transmission of state-sanctioned materials, it could be used as a device to develop collaboration [. .] between participant and apparatus (31). Brecht had a very specific goal in mind when he developed the Lehrstck. Its theoretical basis was related primarily to his socio-political outlook and was firmly 15 Umfunktionierung is a term coined by Brecht to mean freeing the means of production and serving the class struggle (Benjamin Author 261). 16 This Hrspiel was initially titled Der Lindberghflug and later changed because of Lindberghs sympathies with the Nazi Party.

PAGE 31

22 grounded in the historical context of Brechts time and location. Roswitha Mueller explains: The Lehrstck [. .] marks a qualitative change in the structure of communication itself. The historical basis for the Lehrstck is a society in transition to socialism. In this situation the central concern is to find ways of learning that are adequate for the new state. Lenins question about how and what one should learn is the basic impulse for the theory of the Lehrstck. [. .] The Lehrstck does not imply total discontinuity with epic techniques. Brecht emphasizes that epic techniques are the basis for the Lehrstck but that many of the projected goals of the new drama can be realized to their fullest extent only within the context of a Lehrstck. (28-29) However, elsewhere she notes that the Lehre that was embedded in this type of play cannot be contained by Marxism-Leninism as a kind of dogmatic thesis play. It remains a genuinely utopian project. As far as the general goals of the Lehrstck are concerned, these theoretical tenets are not meant to tower over the play as eternal truths. While Brecht departed from and made use of current political theories, he approached them undogmatically. Aware of their faulty and time-bound character, he opened them up for discussion. Brecht expressly pointed out that the commentary may be changed at any time: It is full of mistakes with respect to our time and its virtues, and it is unusable for other times. In that sense the Lehre and the opinions or theories are a pre-text, a provisional statement summarizing the state of the arts and theory as a starting point for further development. (37) This further development can be seen as the act of adapting Brechts Lehrstck theory and practice into contemporary contexts of interactive media. However, as in every act of adaptation, not only changing social and political contexts have to be considered but also changes in the approach are essential in order to make the transition to another medium. The nature of the new medium will define how the transition and adaptation can be successful. In the Schaustck technological innovations served a similar function as in the Lehrstck. Film projections were used to disrupt the performance, to intrude upon the representation with formulation (Brecht 43) (most obvious in the case of titles), and to historicize events, bringing the background to the forefront (in the case of narrative

PAGE 32

23 projections). Whereas representation effaced the artificiality and intervention of the technological devices, formulation would foreground them as separate media with specific tasks. Film scenes and titles also facilitated the epic style of acting. For Brecht, when the epic performer reads and watches, s/he cannot be carried away by her/his own acting; the performer retains an epic distance from the character that s/he plays (44, 57-58). Building on Brecht Interaction, Participation, and Vergngen The idea of audience/player interaction and participation was taken up again by Brecht in his theory on the radio. He envisioned the radio to become the finest possible communication apparatus in public life, if it knew how to receive as well as to transmit, to bring [the listener] into a relationship instead of isolating him (Brecht 52). Some years later, Enzensberger builds on Brechts theory and Benjamins two essays discussed earlier in his treatise Constituents of a Theory of the Media, 1970. Although formulated over thirty years ago, Enzensbergers observations still circulate in current media criticism. The main argument revolves around the lack of reciprocity in media such as radio, television, film, and video, a lack not stemming from the technology itself, but rather artificially reinforced (70) by what Enzensberger terms the consciousness industry. 17 With this criticism, he implicitly positions himself as counteracting the technological determinism of popular media critic Marshall McLuhan while at the same time setting himself apart from his fellow German culture media critics Theodor W. Adorno and Max Horkheimer, who, in an earlier study had coined the term culture 17 The essay Das Nullmedium oder Warum alle Klagen ber das Fernsehen gegenstandslos sind (1988), analyzes TV and its function in the consciousness industry more rigorously.

PAGE 33

24 industry. 18 In The Industrialisation of the Mind (1962) Enzensberger takes issue with Adorno and Horkheimers culture industry because it fails to acknowledge that critics of such a system are also products of it. Enzensberger believes that the escape from complete commodification does not lie outside of the system, e.g., in a privileged position of the critics themselves or in avant-garde art as Adorno claims in his Aesthetic Theory, but that resistance must come from within (the medium and the industry). In order to explain the artificiality of radios non-reciprocal function further, Enzensberger argues, the technical distinction between receivers and transmitters reflects the social division of labor into producers and consumers [. .](64). The media industry has a vested interest to keep mass media a one-sided affair, because these media have the primary purpose to sell the existing order, to perpetuate the prevailing pattern of mans domination by man [. .] (Industrialisation 10); in other words, mass media is the life support system of the consciousness industry. Katherine Hayles (1993) complicates and opens up this argument further by pointing out that radio and television may transmit and receive signals, but are unable to act as sites for permanent storage (Virtual Bodies 262). This impermanence allows these media to resist appropriation by a dominant system. Dominant ideology must be continually re-transmitted because, unlike book technology, it is not preserved in a physical and therefore semi-permanent form. Enzensbergers essay investigates how these transmissions are put into practice. What is 18 Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno did not share Benjamin and Brechts positive evaluation of mass media technology such as film. They voice harsh criticism in their study The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception which connects mass media to the culture industry. It is important to note, however, that this study was written during and after WWII. Consequently it resonates despair and pessimism as a reaction to the atrocities that had taken place. Film, radio and magazines make up a system which is uniform as a whole and in every part (120) and the universal triumph of the rhythm of mechanical production and reproduction promises that nothing changes, and nothing unsuitable will appear (134) is their response to Benjamin and Brechts engagements with mass media as a potential agent in political and social reform.

PAGE 34

25 especially interesting about his essay is that while he exposes, on the one hand, the artificiality of medias function in society (as transmitters only), on the other, he points out that even those instruments of the media that are functioning ostensibly as two-way apparatuses, for example, the XEROX machine, only allow for participation that remains socially and therefore aesthetically irrelevant (70) due to capitalized ownership and control of the technology. 19 In the age of the cell phone (a radio-like device), the Internet, computer games, CD-ROMs, DVD-ROMs, and all media that invite the spectator/participant to engage in interactive relationships, and at the same time allow for less restrictive access to the technology, this is increasingly a relevant issue. Enzensbergers revisiting of Brechts radio theory, thus can be transposed into the contemporary context. Apart from Brechts emphasis on interactive artistic practices, as outlined in his radio theory, his experiments also include an emphasis on retaining the entertainment value of artistic creations. To some degree interactivity and popular enjoyment already occupy common cultural space in todays realm of the media. Not only do videogames, a favorite pastime for an ever increasing number of people, rely on interactivity to keep players entertained and heighten the fun, but interactivity in general has gained considerable currency in public attitude. In the last couple of decades, interactive experiences have infiltrated all sectors of art and entertainment, high and low, from museum installations and performances to films on DVD and popular television shows. 19 Jean Baudrillard criticizes Enzensbergers concept of radio as a two-way receiver/transmitter sharply by pointing out that if all receivers become transmitters the only thing to be gained is socially irrelevant chatter and not a revolution in the communications structures of mass media (Uecker 43). However, Enzensberger anticipates such criticism with his Xerox remark to qualify that two-way communication must include socially and politically relevant speech acts. As with Brecht, form and content cannot be separated for Enzensberger.

PAGE 35

26 Spectators are invited to become participants in a museum display, explore links related to films stored on DVDs, and vote for their favorite American Idol star on television. As Greg M. Smith points out in On a Silver Platter, contemporary culture views interactivity as a positive media attribute, because it agrees with societys values that regard action as positive and passivity, usually attributed to the media film and television, as negative (10-12). In other words, interactivity is a concept that is easy to sell to todays public, because it coincides with an already present value system. In Brechts time, however, letting the spectators co-mingle with and even replace professional actors and actresses and interact with the playwright was unknown. Passively watching (consuming) a play in the theater was a respected intellectual activity in itself and therefore unlikely to allow for any change in audience status (such as audiences turning into actors). 20 But for Brecht, this attitude belonged to the theater of the previous century and its accompanying bourgeois public sphere. Brechts overall approach was influenced by his progressive attitude toward artistic practices and experiments. 21 He attempted to train people to appreciate and therefore enjoy art through a more complex reception than simply eliciting empathy and agreement with what was shown to them. He explains why he interjects enjoyment into his theatrical productions: [My plays] are a kind of report on life as any member of the audience would like to see it. Since at the same time, however, he sees a good deal he has no wish to see; 20 Blurring the boundaries between professional and amateur acting is experiencing increased popularity right now on so called reality TV programs. However, unlike in Brechts Lehrstck practice, including non-professional actors in these programs stems primarily from a desire to deliver a more life-like, real-seeming product to a public which seems to respond with interest to such misrepresentations. 21 The avant-garde artists also challenged the notion of the passive spectator with their performances and public exchanges. However, following Brgers thesis in Theory of the Avant Garde, their purpose was not to revolutionize the institution of art, as was Brechts aim, but to destroy it.

PAGE 36

27 since therefore he sees his wishes not merely fulfilled but also criticized (sees himself not as the subject but as the object), he is theoretically in a position to appoint a new function for the theatre. (43) This strategy, using the audiences desire for divertissement and then turning it against them, is certainly more prudent, than expecting spectators to understand and like an aesthetic practice to which they can in no way relate. Pleasure, in Brechtian terms, could be divided into two categories, which he differentiated as Genuss and Vergngen. Whereas Genuss is related to passive uncritical consumption, as found in pleasure derived from viewing traditional theater plays, Vergngen points to a productive attitude in the audienceit carries the connotation of expert understanding of the quality and hence the process of production of a play (Mueller 23). When spectators become participants in Brechts Lehrstck, they experience Vergngen through their multifaceted experience (including interaction with the play, the stage and set, the playwright, and the institution as a whole). Part of Vergngen, as well as Brechts progressive political agenda, is the act of inducing in the spectator/participant a sense of alienation, realized in the moment when, through their interactive experience, s/he questions her/his own subject/object status (as a product or reproducer of the dominant system), and subsequently her/his resistance constitutes a political act. If progressive criticism is what Enzensberger calls the readiness to revise all solidified theses, to examine endlessly its own premises and reactionary criticism that which considers itself, so to speak, naturally and everlastingly in the right, exempt from reflecting on its presuppositions (Aporias 18), Brecht undoubtedly practiced the former. He understands that it is not just the technological possibility (the opportunity to interact with the medium) itself that makes media function in a politically responsible

PAGE 37

28 way, but that there must be artistic intervention, didactic interference, and a readiness to discard or violate existing conventions. Brechts artistic undertaking was from the very beginning focused on a radical transformation of an existing institution, the theatre, which was to become part of the ideological superstructure for a solid, practical rearrangement of our ages way of life (Brecht 23). In other words, his Epic Theater could not be divorced from his Marxist ideology. His theories on how to induce audience awareness of a mediums language and willingness to reflect on the mediums institutional make-up, however, can find a broader spectrum of application. This is especially important with media that resist critical spectator interrogations, most notably film and its institutional apparatus, the cinema. But Brechts theories are also applicable in the realm of more recent technological inventions, such as the Internet, CD-ROM, and videogames, where the medium may invite such criticism within its formal set-up but too often simultaneously resists it through its content presentation. 22 Although these media all share a popular place in the sphere of mass media entertainment, this appeal is not destined to thrive off the desire for distraction alone but can be directed toward a more meaningful, Vergngen-like experience. Furthermore, for Brecht, popular entertainment is part of his progressive political stance and used to battle a tradition of banal and escapist distractions. He declares: Popular means intelligible to the broad masses, taking over their own forms of expression and enriching them / adopting and consolidating their standpoint / representing the most progressive section of the people in such a way that it can 22 The mere possibility for interactivity is by no means a guarantee for productive critical inquiries into digital domains. If material that is presented lacks substance, then the experience naturally stays superficial. Some scholars attribute the distance between the simulated and physical life as a limitation on the merits of interactive media. Florian Rtzer, for example, views interactive computer games as media where one constantly sees that which one can neither be nor have (Between Nodes 255). However, I do not see this effect as specific to computer games. TV, films, and books can peddle these desires as well, a feature that advertising companies explore to its fullest.

PAGE 38

29 take over the leadership: thus intelligible to other sections too / linking with tradition and carrying it further / handing on the achievements of the section now leading to the section of the people that is struggling for the lead. (108) Popular does not just apply to that which appeals to the general public, but defines what engages them in the shaping of their own tastes. He declares: Besides being popular there is such a thing as becoming popular (112). In other words, art has a responsibility to make itself accessible not just to an elite part of the population but to as large a segment as possible. Although it was part of the spectators responsibility to acquire taste for such art, it was up to the artist to deliver the goods. As Mueller points out: With the advent of mass culture, film, radio, and television began to take over the function opera had formerly fulfilled. At the same time the consumer attitude developed a double character. While passive consumption is, as Benjamin had pointed out, the attitude of the exploiter, the situation in the case of the mass media is more complex. Exploitation rebounds upon the audience itself. Brecht coined the word inploitation (Einbeutung) for the spectators position, ambivalently split into exploiter and exploited. Brecht sees the audience as the cause and as the victim of a system that divides production and pleasure. This state of affairs has repercussions for both termson the one hand, it marks work and productivity, as devoid of pleasure, and on the other it keeps pleasure free of productivity for the sake of the work. (24) In order to extract the consumer/spectator from this ambivalent position in Einbeutung Brecht developed interactive audience experiences. Productivity in the Epic Theater could again be linked to pleasure as Vergngen. Brechts didactical dimension, manifested in the Lehrstck which aimed at teaching spectators how to critically approach art, can be transposed onto new media practices that incorporate interactivity into their design. Allowing the spectator to become an active participant in the action leads to the participants insights into the construction of meaning in art. In other words, by participating in a play, the spectator gains knowledge about the workings of the theater, the play, and the playwright. By letting an interactive participant define his/her own trajectory, action, and juxtapositions, he/she learns

PAGE 39

30 something about the medium itself, as well as what it means to create a work of art in this medium. The medium is no longer a natural device but emerges contextualized into its institutional, social, and political background. These effects do not occur simply out of the option to interact with the work, but develop out of a specific type of interaction, one that is able to penetrate the surface of the presentation. Introducing opportunities for spectators to interact with an artistic product clearly represents an important tendency that has an obvious political dimension. It not only complicates the notions of author and artwork but also redefines the idea of spectatorship. Making a choice, declares interactive filmmaker Graham Weinbren, involves a moral responsibility. Therefore, for an author to relinquish his/her power to make all choices involves also giving up the responsibility to represent the world and the human condition (Manovich 44). In other words, when audiences are allowed to make choices, a work of art becomes less of a lesson and more of a choice. The didactical dimension of Brechts Epic Theater included precisely such decision making. Interactivity, as Manovich argues, is a confusing term that all to often is defined as a unique feature of digital media. He points out that interactivity is not necessarily a concept that relates exclusively to digital practices, but belongs to a wide spectrum of artistic practice and heritage: All classical, and even more so modern art, was already "interactive" in a number of ways. Ellipses in literary narration, missing details of objects in visual art and other representational shortcuts required the user to fill-in the missing information. Theater, painting and cinema also relied on the techniques of staging, composition and cinematography to orchestrate viewer's attention over time, requiring her to focus on different parts of the display. With sculpture and architecture, the viewer had to move her whole body to experience the spatial structure. (56)

PAGE 40

31 This complex physical and cognitive interplay between spectator and art was intensified, continues Manovich, with new narrative techniques, such as film montage, abstraction in visual art, interactive happenings, as well as performance and installation art (56-57). Brechts Epic Theater obviously constitutes another important forerunner to digital interactive media practices, especially because it often combined cognitive and physical interactivity into one practice. In Schaustcke such as Mother Courage and Her Children the spectator is not given a figure with whom to identify easily, as Mother Courage represents a complicated, fluctuating character with changing moral convictions. Each scene that presents her in a different light requires an adjustment in the audiences attitude, leading to active interaction with the provoking material. These types of character complexities are part of Brechts technique of Verfremdung, which is concerned with the alienation of the familiar, a process that interrupts the smooth flow of narrative to prompt the audience to reflect on rather than simply consume what is presented. 23 The audience becomes actively involved with the play by conjuring up in its own mind other types of behavior and situations, and, in accordance with the events on stage, will hold them up in comparison with those presented by the theater. Therefore, the audience itself turns into a storyteller (Brecht GW 924). 24 In addition to producing alienation through plot and acting, Brecht interrupted the dramatic action of his Schaustcke with songs and 23 This term was first used in an essay in 1936, Brecht used the term Entfremdung in his previous writing. 24 All references to Brecht refer to John Willetts translations in Brecht on Theatre, except when GW is noted, by which is meant Bertolt Brecht Gesammelte Werke 16 Schriften zum Theater 2. With these references I will use my own translation. In the original: Damit auf spielerische Weise das Besondere der vom Theater vorgebrachten Verhaltungweisen und Situationen herauskommt und kritisiert warden kann, dichtet das Publikum im Geist andere Verhandlungsweisen und Situationen hinzu und hlt sie, der Handlung folgend, gegen die vom Theater vorgebrachten. Somit verwandelt sich das Publikum selber in einen Erzhler.

PAGE 41

32 placards, film projections and other technical devices commenting on the action on stage rather than repeating or emphasizing its message. The Lehrstck, however exceeds the Schaustcks potential, because it incorporated interactivity to such a degree that spectator and performer merge as one. Even if the play did not physically include all spectators in the performance, Brecht involved them in other ways, such as having the audience complete questionnaires or engage in discussions, the outcomes of which Brecht used to rewrite the plays (Mueller 32, 38, 106). Again, central to Brechts epic theory was the idea that interactivity equaled enjoyment for the participant, what the spectator, anyway the experienced spectator, enjoys about art is the making of art, the active creative element (164). This correlation between interactivity and entertainment is one of the basic ingredients of the commercial success of videogames. It is also applied with outstanding results to other areas of arts and entertainment resulting in hypertext fiction, web design, online museum exhibits, multi-player online games, Net.art, interactive installations and performances, MUDs (Multi User Dungeons) and MOOs (Multi User Dungeons Object-Oriented), DVD-Videos, video (with its instant replay), and pedagogical applications. 25 In the latter, the didactic relevance of interactivity has gained much attention, because learners appear to respond well to the multi-modal and active approach to learning. Inferring from the results of a variety of empirical studies involving interactive materials, Larry Friedlander observes, this technology invites us to embrace process, to enjoy the journey as much as 25 Thomas Elsaesser argues that interactivity with narratives often means hyperselectivity instead. Due to limited computing power (in regard to both speed and artificial intelligence) choices are limited and preprogrammed by the author, therefore espousing a you can go wherever you like, so long as I have been there before (Digital Cinema 217) logic. However, this is not entirely true for all interactive narratives, because it does not address those that use algorithms, which make unlimited scenarios possible.

PAGE 42

33 the goal. Because it asks its users to intervene with their own choices and opinions, it can challenge authority and help deconstruct received, standard forms of knowledge (174). 26 Here, as in Brechts plays, the importance of process over goals is stressed which highlights that such materials and practices do not favor dogmatism. Although trying to reach a wide audience, and therefore incorporating pleasure into his texts, Brecht avoided dazzling his audience with stage productions that tried to efface or naturalize the tools which were part of the performances. In the Schaustck, where he was not able to integrate the spectator physically into the action on stage, he had to rely on other techniques to achieve his alienation effect (Verfremdungseffekt). This effect is achieved through acts of distanciation, e.g., transferring a familiar event, character, or technique into an unfamiliar context, and incorporated a variety of epic techniques, including the use of technology on stage. The purpose of the V-Effekt was to make audiences question what they saw on stage, to let material appear constructed rather than natural. The V-Effekt was predominantly accomplished through separating individual aesthetic and formal elements from one another, e.g., setting off music from speech, film projections from stage set, acting from being the character, historical events from current ones, etc. By separating individual elements and interrupting the flow of the presentation, materials and techniques became visible as constructed (as unnatural). Brecht made his epic tools visible; he created a hyper-mediated environment which the audience was encouraged to see as such. 26 These interactive learning environments, including Brechts Epic Theater, are related to principles of constructivism and constructionism which rely on theories of Dewey, Piaget, and Papert. Constructivism and constructionism postulate that learners construct meaning by actively engaging with materials, through building, creating, and reflecting. However, all three behavioral scientists developed their ideas after Brecht had already formulated some of his basic epic theories.

PAGE 43

34 Hypermediation In direct opposition to a hyper-presence of mediation, such as in Brechts case, stands effacement of the physical worlda simulated realitymade possible via the disappearance of any mediating agent in interactions with media simulations, virtual reality objects representing the most dramatic case. This ostensible transparency, which Bolter and Grusin term immediacy affords the viewer or participant a sense of having an authentic experience. Hypermediacy, in contrast to immediacy, exposes the fact that all knowledge is transmitted through a medium. Hence the viewer or participant realizes that her/his experience is transmitted through a filter (70-71). The authors discuss such concepts of mediation in detail in their book Remediation. Understanding New Media. Remediation, for Bolter and Grusin, is the act of representation of one medium in another (45). 27 However, whereas some media acknowledge their indebtedness to rivaling forms of representation, others try to present themselves as pure and objective mediators of reality. Remediation describes all media as engaging in a constant remediation of rivalry media forms, incorporating aspects of each other and demonstrating their improvements upon one another, that is, their transparency. It is Bolter and Grusins categories of hypermediation, which they define as style of visual representation whose goal is to remind the viewer of the medium (272) and immediacy as a style [. .] whose goal is to make the viewer forget the presence of the medium and believe that he is in the presence of the real (272-3), which I will adapt in my argument regarding the practice of audience interaction (in its multitude of meanings) with digital 27 When Benjamin emphasizes how Epic Theater, rather than competing against new media, uses these media to learn from them, in short to enter into a debate with them (The Author 266), he is describing a principle of remediation.

PAGE 44

35 and non-digital epic presentations. However, it is important to establish that Bolter and Grusin see hypermediacy as just another form of immediacy, a desire to be in the presence of the real, by turning it into a fascination with the medium (122). For example, in television news broadcasting, giving the viewer visual access to the areas of production that often remain obscured in cinema, such as camera equipment, microphones, etc, the viewer is tempted to see the coverage of news as direct access to real events; because the medium shows its mediating elements it is again immediate in transmission of knowledge and experience. Video and film also constitute excellent examples for this theory. While video recordings, in contrast to 35mm film, include tell-tale signs of the recording medium, such as graininess, unsteadiness of image, and easier access to hard-to-record sources (only accessible with compact equipment), at the same time the very fact that the medium exposes itself convinces the viewer that s/he is accessing the real. 28 Likewise, 35mm film, which imitates natural sight, shows its recorded material ostensibly unmediated and therefore also remediates the real. On the other hand, the smoothness of transitions, the clarity of image, etc. could also be interpreted as hyper-stylized, and hence hypermediated, therefore not real, etc.. 29 Of 28 With 16mm film, steady-cams, digital film cameras, and other recording technology that blur the formal and aesthetic boundaries between video and film this comparison becomes less persuasive. 29 While many critics claim that filmmakers employ new media technologies, especially in the form of digital special effects, primarily to produce mimetic representations of physical reality, I would argue that this is often not the case. On the contrary, if images can be obtained in physical reality, there is a tendency to attain them traditionally, that is, through a lens-based recording device and stored on celluloid. Michael Allen, for example, sites the film Jurassic Park to substantiate this common claim. He asserts, digital imaging technologies and techniques are striving to replicate what already exists: the photographic representation of reality (110) However, especially in the case of Jurassic Park this motivation for using digital effects seems doubtful. While filmmakers certainly aim to make there creations seem realistic, they are not interested in convincing audiences that they are. Dinosaurs are not part of our physical reality nor will they ever be again (and they probably never existed in the form that they assume in the film either). This is an accepted fact for filmmaker and audiences alike. This also applies to scenes that are digitally created or enhanced to show protagonists performing impossible stunts or allow views of catastrophes that could not be filmed safely from that perspective. What digital technologies make possible in Jurassic Park

PAGE 45

36 course, neither immediacy nor hypermediacy can grant access to an objective, unfettered reality, because no such state exists. In all cases, with video, television, and film, the yearning for authentic experiences serves as the foundation for this paradox. Although this all-encompassing quest for immediacy of all media is hard to contradict, hypermediacy and immediacy nonetheless operate in degrees and not in absolutes. Every medium encompasses not only the technological ability to transmit knowledge and experience but also includes an institutionalized logic that guides its transmissions. In hypermediacy, it is possible to separate, even if only for the purpose of critique, the medium from the institution that legitimizes its use in society and, in turn, approach the result as a moment during which it becomes more likely to make observations and collect insights concerning the mediums institutional constructedness, its ideological framework. Whereas immediacy, achieved without hypermediation, sees the path to the truth or the real as unfettered and natural, immediacy produced via hypermediacy displays it as a path with obstacles, and involving an agent (and therefore agency), thus rendering it much more suspect. 30 Therefore, hypermediacy can provide an opportunity for viewers and participants to penetrate what Enzensberger calls the consciousness industry (only in theory a closed system) which unaided immediacy cannot. Enzensberger explains that in order for the consciousness industry to exist four condition have to be fulfilled: 1) receivers must believe themselves to have an and other films laden with digital effects is to bring to life the non-existent and fantastic. Digital technologies are able to expand the vocabulary and arsenal of subject matter used in filmmaking to include that which cannot exist in physical reality. 30 Foregrounding the medium as a means to achieve hypermediacy is not necessarily meaningful in itself as was once thought to be true (for example, in certain instances of the French New Wave film practice) as Nora Alter argues in Projecting History.

PAGE 46

37 autonomous mind (in the hypermediacy/immediacy paradox this translates into the receivers belief that s/he possesses the capacity to see the real), 2) human rights, equality, liberty, etc. must be proclaimed (not realized) (this corresponds to the mediums affirmation [not realization] of providing access to the real), 3) a high standard of education must be available to all (viewers must have a general media-savvyness that leads them to believe they have the capacity to separate real from mediated), and 4) a high level of sophistication in technology must be present (the medium must posses the tools to be able to bring the real into the viewers living room) (Industrialization 7-9). Because the consciousness industry feeds off the conditions that allow it to exist, including critique and awareness of its function and workings, its system is nearly self-perpetuating and sealed off to interference. Nonetheless, because the industry incorporates hypermediacy as well as immediacy into its whole it also invites challenges to its system. Enzensberger explains: The mind industry has a dynamic of its own which it cannot arrest, and it is not by chance but by necessity that in this movement there are currents which run contrary to its present mission of stabilizing the status quo. A corollary of its dialectical progress is that the mind industry, however closely supervised in its individual operations, is never completely controllable as a whole. There are always leaks in it, cracks in the armor; no administration will ever trust it all the way. (13) To bring Enzensbergers media analysis back into the context of Bolter and Grusins observations, it is necessary to identify hypermediacy as the moment where leakage can occur. It is in hypermediacy that the medium is most vulnerable, because it is exposing its institutional make-up, its constructedness based on convention, and its desire to reinforce societys status quo, thus threatening to undermine all four of Enzensbergers conditions. Lets return for a moment to Brechts media project and analyze hypermediacy in the context of Epic Theater. Brechtian theater presentations included materials and

PAGE 47

38 techniques (acts, new media, acting, music, etc.) that were employed very differently from the Aristotelian theater. Instead of merging elements into the play seamlessly, in order to create the illusion of being part of a natural setting, Brecht opted for a presentation in which elements drew attention to themselves as artifacts. 31 Homogeneity on stage was replaced by heterogeneity. This heterogeneity made it possible for the audience and the actors to experience Verfremdung, a crucial step in achieving critical reception. The separation of parts was, for one, applied to the plays narrative structure to achieve a very specific purpose, as Brecht explains: As we cannot invite the audience to fling itself into the story as it were a river and let itself be carried vaguely hither and thither, the individual episodes have to be knotted together in such a way that the knots are easily noticed. The episodes must not succeed one another indistinguishable but must give us a chance to interpose our judgment. [. .] The parts of the story have to be carefully set off one against another by giving each its own structure as a play within the play (201). In revealing their construction (as individual elements comprising a whole), episodes allow for the spectator to interject her or himself into the action and interpret the structure itself as an important component for meaning to emerge. The epic play allows for the audience to agree as well as disagree with its presentation of events. Additionally, the hypermediated environment attracts a reading of events beyond the narration itself and invites instead to include in a reading the conditions for such narration to take place (such as institutional restraints, genre convention, and ideological goals). Separation of elements in Epic Theater also applies to the set and its materials. This Verfremdungs-effect emerges most clearly on the stage of the Lehrstck. Technology 31 Brechts chief criticism of Richard Wagners Gesamtkunstwerk is based on precisely this concept which uses the separation of elements in Epic Theatre and opposes its formal logic to the process of fusion in the Gesamtkunstwerk (37-38).

PAGE 48

39 played a crucial role in achieving the critical distancing of the Lehrstck performer to the material that s/he performed. New media, such as film strips and radio, aided in the alienation of the performer from the subject matter of the play, both during the performance and afterward. While performing, the actors were confronted by, what Brecht called a new, gigantic actor that helped to narrate events, and the stage took up an attitude itself towards the incidents shown. The new media film and radio, were treated as separate entities, not simply used to enhance the effect of speech and acting. The media, exhibited as anthropomorphized elements, produced moments of alienation for actors and audience. 32 Through this technique, the performers were motivated to critically reflect on the new means of representation. Thus, media, such as film and the radio, which were used primarily to advance commercial and state interests had been changed, umfunktioniert, into media able to convey socio-political insights. Film as a recording device could also be used as a medium for preserving the Lehrstck performance for later study. This re-experiencing of the material and performance from an external viewpoint would lead to further critical distance and reflection. In addition to presenting the parts of the plot and technological devices as separate elements, Brecht also used a technique of acting and a presentation of music that achieved Verfremdung. Again, in both cases, Epic Theater would not tolerate immediacy. The professional as well as amateur performers were trained to expose their distance to the material they presented rather than to smooth over the boundaries between actor and 32 Samuel Beckett employs this Brechtian anthropomorphizing technique of technology quite literally in his one-act, one-character play Krapps Last Tape. In this play Krapp listens to tapes which he has recorded as a younger man. The tape-recorder and the cassettes it plays take on the function of an independent character as the audience cannot reconcile the younger Krapp on the tapes and the man listening to them to be the same person. Krapp has changed so much, he himself does not recognize the person he once was. Actor, character, and audience all experienced the tape-recorder and tapes as that new gigantic actor.

PAGE 49

40 character. Thus, the audience was not encouraged to see the character on stage as a point for identification. On the contrary, the characters were there to be critically analyzed. Music and singing were treated similarly. In the case of singing, Brecht demanded a specific attitude from his performers: Nothing is more revolting than when the actor pretends not to notice that he has left the level of plain speech and started to sing. The three levelsplain speech, heightened speech and singingmust always remain distinct and in no case should heightened speech represent an intensification of plain speech, or singing of heightened speech. In no case therefore should singing take place where words are prevented by excess of feeling. The actor must not only sing but show a man singing. (44-45) Accompanying music also had to follow the principle of separation and set itself off from the action as a commentary on rather than an enhancement of the events portrayed. In sum, Brecht achieved critical distancing of the audience and actors toward the performance through viewer participation as well as alienation (Verfremdung). Verfremdung (through hypermediation) replaced empathy (an element of immediacy), an audience reaction which belongs to the Aristotelian theater. Both forms of distancing, alienation and viewer participation, are achieved in the contemporary technologies of video and digital media through hypermediation as well. In the case of the most popular branch of the Internet, the World Wide Web, hypertext is one of the technologies that offers both a distancing of the material through the intervention of the medium (in the form of separate links, windows, applications) and through the interaction with and manipulation of the material presented. Gregory Ulmer notes that in hypermedia, the scholar does not provide a specific line of argument, an enunciation, but constructs the whole paradigm of possibilities, the set of statements, leaving the act of utterance, specific selections and combinations, to the reader/user (Grammatology). This presentation of argument and invitation for interaction deviates

PAGE 50

41 considerably from authors and critics practices with printed texts. George Landow, in his important study of hypertext, has pointed out some of the potential political dimensions of hypertext use. He argues that dominant discourses do not necessarily dominate in hypertext due to a lack of textual centrality as well as stemming from a marginality in the organization of material. He remarks: Hypertext emphasizes that the marginal has as much to offer as does the central, (89) whereas "linearity of print provides the passage with an illusory center" (98); a center, of course, is always linked to a position of power, a center of power. Through its webbed structure, hyperlinks eradicate hierarchies of meaning. Landow also points out that hypertext promotes the organization of arguments set up as juxtapositions and using appropriations of other works to supplement ones own (170-71). In other words, hypertext does not rely on normative argumentation but favors a dynamic and multi-perspectivist presentation of views. 33 This type of argumentation fits well within the frame of Brechts theory. Like hypertext, Epic Theater is essentially dynamic; its task is to show the world as it changes (and also how it may be changed) (Brecht 79), and copyright was never a concern of Brechts. However, it must be pointed out that commodification of the Internet is well under way. 34 What once served almost exclusively as a forum for the public (and initially the military) has become a successful commercial space. Therefore, the potentially democratizing features of hypertextual 33 Hypermediacy is not necessarily a component of computer environments per se. On the contrary, Friedrich Kittler argues in There is No Software, that the computer industry is trying hard to disguise hardware and software to keep the user in the dark about their tools, to hide a whole machine from its user (334). Often, it is at the level of interface, the intersection that connects user to machine, where these deceptions take place. 34 Enzensberger would argue that critical intervention can only address this issue from within the medium, by using the medium to subvert its appropriation by capitalism.

PAGE 51

42 application can also be identified as useful vehicles for commercial ventures. 35 Apart from the actual language used on the WWW (e.g., hypertext mark-up language), the interactivity necessary to navigate this highly mediated space, as well as the foregrounding of the constructedness of the presentation, making visible its individual elements and its institutionally (commercial and otherwise) reinforced conventions, achieves the critical distance, the Verfremdung, that Brecht found necessary to all understanding (71). Hypermediation was, after all, a key feature of Epic Theater as well. Digital media, in general, can be linked closely to Brechts technique of separating elements to achieve hypermediacy in his Epic Theater. As Manovich points out, all digital objects rely on the logistics of modularity. Media elements, when assembled into a larger project, retain their separate identity apart from the project. These elements also have the advantage of being stored separately, therefore are able to be manipulated without affecting anything else in the meta-project. Even computer programming relies on modularity, because it is composed of independent, small modules which are assembled to function as a larger program (30-31). 36 This principle can be observed in any multimedia presentation. For example, in a CD-ROM application, created with Macromedia Director, which includes sounds, still images, and video-clips, these individual elements cannot only be accessed separately on the CD (by everyone) but also 35 There are also instances where commercial spaces have been reclaimed as spheres of non-commercial activity, as Andrew Feenberg points out in Questioning Technology. He calls this a subversive rationalization of commercial technologies. This act of democratic technological change can lead to genuine subversion. Feenberg cites the Minitel videotext system in France as an example. Viewers transformed this informational technology into an interactive network. Thanks to the Minitel thousands of people connect for purposes never intended by its creators, as a source for organizing political protests as well as for forming sexual connections (cited in Light). 36 However, Manovich also mentions an important difference between the modularity of new media objects and computer programming. Whereas in the former the independent elements can be removed without harming the larger structure, in the latter such a removal would crash the program (31).

PAGE 52

43 rearranged, deleted, or otherwise manipulated (provided one has the original file and the software to do so) without changing any other part of the presentation. The separation of elements is even more obvious in Web pages, where not only images, sounds, and videos are separately stored and accessible, but where each page is an individual element as well, in some cases not even created by the original author but produced by someone else and presented as an external link. The Internet and CD-ROMs are not the only media environments that foster hypermediated interactive experiences. Interactive installations and performances also make use of these principles. These hypermediated and interactive art forms can trace their history back at least as far as to Brechts own time. 37 However, it was not until the 1960s that they experienced a surge in artist and audience appeal. The invention of video and later computer technologies allowed performers to augment their acts and enhance their installations. These technologies infused performance and installation art with hypermediation and interactivity simultaneously. The once expected passive role of the art observer was no longer the dominant position for viewing and experimenting art. In the realm of literature, an aesthetic practice not usually associated with interactivity, Roland Barthes had already complicated the notion that the texts meaning resides with the author alone. Instead a 'writerly textuality emerges, by which is meant that the reader does not encounter a work with a set meaning, but rather writes and re-writes the text through interpretation, which replaces the construct of the artist as genius, as 37 Kurt Schwitterss Merzbau (1923-1943), also called "The Cathedral of Erotic Misery," constitutes an early example of an interactive installation. The Merzbau was made up of a combination of collage, sculpture, and architecture. It began in 1923 with a small construction in a corner of the artist's studio, a room within his apartment. The project eventually extended over many of the areas of his apartment. He, his family, and his friends interacted on a daily basis with this construction since it also represented their living space. Left unfinished when Schwitters fled Hannover in early 1937, the Merzbau was completely destroyed during an Allied bombing raid in 1943.

PAGE 53

44 creator of the work (Death). 38 This textuality is enhanced by a new active form of spectatorship, but at the same time dependent on the degree and type of interactivity built into the installation or performance. Nevertheless, these forms of artistic works subvert the artists claim of autonomy over her/his creation, once thought to be an integral part of the artwork. The spectators interactive experience repositions her/him into the role of co-creator. As in the Lehrstck, spectator and artist/playwright work collaboratively to complete the artwork/play. For Epic Theater, artistic autonomy was never an issue, any such claims would have rendered the performance, in the case of the Schauspiel as well as the Lehrstck, innocuous. Another new media hypermediated space can be found in multi player online game and chat environments, such as MUDs and MOOs, as well as multi-player computer games, such as Everquest and Sims Online. Sherry Turkle has performed extensive research involving these types of role-playing games, especially those involving MUDs. In her findings she reports that role-playing games, a popular use of MUDs, function as psychologically constructive vehicles, not just a release from the reality found in the physical world (as in immediacy) (Constructions 358). This is obviously an important observation, because it stands in stark contrast to common criticisms describing virtual spaces as harbors of escape from the problems encountered in the world. Turkles overall assessment highlights the computer as a medium that provokes negotiations of categories that usually are experienced as natural, such as gender, identity, free will, intelligence, life, etc. (362). It is her assessment finally, that in the hypermediated environments of MUDs old questions are raised in new contexts and there is an opportunity for fresh 38 Interestingly, in The Death of the Author, Barthes explicitly connects his arguments concerning the diminishing of the authors importance to the text as an act of Brechtian distanciation (145).

PAGE 54

45 resolutions (364). This recalls Brechts principle of alienation and his conviction that subverting conventions can ultimately lead to changing social conditions. But hypermediacy is also applicable to video and film, albeit in a limited manner. As already mentioned, video can be used in such a way as to highlight the recording medium, through motion and resolution. It can also appear embedded in a film and be set off as separate through its technological specificity. Film, on the other hand, traditionally works hard to erase its own production process and appear as a reflection of reality. Its immediacy, however, is dependent on convention, rather than technology. There are plenty of techniques that can be employed to highlight films artificial nature. One such technique is the physical manipulation of film stock to jolt the viewer into acknowledging the apparatus. Examples for this are Valie Exports The Practice of Love (1984) and Richard Linklaters Waking Life (2001). In the former, a character within the film text makes a slashing motion and the director translates this fictional move into a physical cutting of the film stock where this sequence is stored. In the case of Waking Life a proprietary software was used to manipulate the images of live-action footage to transform them into a cartoonish version of the actual recordings. In both cases the filmmakers do not work with the medium (technological and institutional make-up, convention, commodification, etc.) but against it. Although film and video are not classic examples for hypermediated texts, they are not inherently hostile to hypermediation, but rather have evolved to be used and regarded as remediating the real. The Expressionismus Debatte (in which Brecht took part) in the nineteen thirties and, in its wake, similar discussions concerning modern culture have as their central

PAGE 55

46 concern artistic expressions and their (im)possibility for intervention in the real. 39 The original debate, which tried to establish once and for all the function, form and significance of art within society, has become a hotly debated issue again in the context of new media forms and technologies. Apart from the continued obsession with the real, what connects the inauguration of the last century with that of the present is the radical transformation of cultural production and representations made possible by new technologies. Bill Nichols draws on these common characteristics in his essay The Work of Culture in the Age of Cybernetic Systems, where he not only connects the art of reproduction, whether mechanical or digital, to an altered concept of reality, but also to new identity formations: My intention, in fact, is to carry Benjamins inquiry forward and to ask how cybernetic systems, symbolized by the computer, represent a set of transformations in our conception of and relation to self and reality of a magnitude commensurate with the transformations in the conception of and relation to self and reality wrought by mechanical reproduction and symbolized by the camera. (121) However, according to Nichols, the difference between [mechanical and digital reproduction] is being able to remake the world and being able to efface it (131), where the latter has obvious political disadvantages to the former. Although I do not share Nicholss bleak impressions of digital corollaries in the remainder of the essay, I do believe that effacement of artificiality is a problem that must be reckoned with in any digital representation (simulation), hence my argument that hypermediation has more potential as a critical stimulant. 40 39 See footnote 1 for details on this debate. 40 Nichols updates Enzensbergers consciousness industry thesis from 30 years earlier (without mentioning him, however) to the age of cybernetics when he states that just as the mechanical reproduction of copies revealed the power of industrial capitalism to reorganize and reassemble the world around us, rendering it as commodity art, the automated intelligence of chips reveals the power of postindustrial capitalism to simulate and replace the world around us, rendering not only its exterior realm but also its interior ones of

PAGE 56

47 Brechtian Theory and Recent Developments in the Public Sphere While Brechtian techniques, implementing interactivity and hypermediacy into Epic Theory, are particularly important to any epic practice in the realm of contemporary technology, his attempts at transforming the public sphere with his aesthetic practice must also be regarded as a forerunner for contemporary practices. The notion of a public sphere as a formative space for communicative exchanges in society can be used to follow a particularly dynamic history within the German context. In Strukturwandel der ffentlichkeit, Jrgen Habermas traces the formation of a public sphere (ffentlichkeit), a utopian space independent of state, commercial interests, and the realm of the immediate family, to the eighteenth century European Enlightenment project. This sphere, in theory, would grant access to all citizens (at least those that are white and male) who would in turn honor and further the principles of open rational debate, work toward the welfare of the public, and ensure equality for all participants. In the eighteenth century, according to Habermas, the newspapers (along with salons, literary societies, and discussion groups) were the primary spaces for the realization of ffentlichkeit. However, today a combination of media, such as newspapers, magazines, radio, and television have taken the once uncontested place of the newspaper press to construct a 20 th -century public sphere. According to Habermas, this has had devastating effects on the public sphere project because rather than realizing the above named principles, the new media are corrupted by commercial and state interests and thus no longer function consciousness, intelligence, thought and intersubjectivity as commodity experience (131). Although he does not address the role of the critic of such a system as a potential violator of the systems logic, he still sees a chance to transgress its predefined interdiction and limits, using the dynamite of the apperceptive powers it has itself brought into being (143) (just as Enzensberger does in Industrialisation), but does not comment on who or what the agent in such an explosion might be. Another interesting aspect of Nicholss analysis is his hypothesis that the preservation and propagation of ideology has in the digital age primarily shifted to the judicial apparatus.

PAGE 57

48 independently from such influences. For Habermas, this corruption has led to a refeudalization (233) (a state prior to Enlightenment) of the public sphere, therefore reflecting public authority but not truly representing it. Habermas would like to return to the Enlightenment project ideal of ffentlichkeit, but rather than having individuals representing themselves he proposes that those individuals form organizations of democratically structured interest groups (such as political parties, or civil organizations). In an effort to update Habermass concept of the public sphere to better fit into an age of mass media and media convergences, Oskar Negt and Alexander Kluge published their Public Sphere and Experience (1972), ten years after Habermass Strukturwandel. Their thesis of the public sphere is based upon what they see as its primary material, the concept of experience. However, experience is not a product of individuals but something that can only emerge as a cooperative action (52) resulting from public discussions. Therefore, the public sphere simultaneously represents the space where experience is gathered and needs this experience in order to function. If this circle cannot be completed, the public sphere becomes an empty and useless space. Negt and Kluge further argue that Habermass bourgeois public sphere operated on a principle of exclusion and separation (it was only accessible to certain social groups and split categories that are culturally intermeshed) and set forth the notion of a more inclusive and fluent public sphere (or multiple spheres). Private experience is now part of the public domain. The public sphere should be analyzed according to the degree and type of social experience that is included in it. This experience can either be put to use as fuel for the dominant powers that shape the public sphere or become a liberating power within its reign.

PAGE 58

49 Negt and Kluges study was unquestionably informed by Brechts ideas on the shaping of a public sphere. As Mueller remarks: When Brecht embarked on the sociological experiment, the public trial over the filming of his Threepenny Opera, he was fixing a moment in the process of shifting public spheres, a moment in which we can see the public spheres of production in the making. At the same time, Brecht was keen on exposing the ideal categories of the classical bourgeois public sphere as ideology. (122-3) In exposing the ideological backbone of the bourgeois public sphere, Brechts theory set itself apart from the Habermasian project and aligns itself more closely with Negt and Kluges ideas. For Brecht, as for Negt and Kluge, it was imperative to wrest the means of communication from the apparatus and place it in the hands of the artists themselves (123). 41 In our current state of technology the public sphere has been changed dramatically yet again. In addition to film and television, there are other media vying to take their place among constituents of the public sphere, such as video, the Internet, and various new technologies of distribution. Collectively, they can no longer describe a coherent, homogenous public sphere. Instead, each one incorporates and often exposes freely the different ideological practices in its make-up and is used in a myriad of ways, both to strengthen and undermine dominant discourses. Video is the most obvious example of a seemingly democratizing medium, in a position to open up the public sphere to various groups and individuals (for example, in the form of guerilla television). In the early years of video proliferation, its potential, based on the mediums versatility and low cost, was seen as a way to turn everyone into an artist, in a true Brechtian and Benjaminian sense, and thus create an alternative public sphere which could counteract the dominant one. 41 Kluge does this in his television shows that categorically subvert all categories set up by dominant television practice and commercial interests. See chapter 3 for a more detailed account of these programs.

PAGE 59

50 Unfortunately, these utopian ideals never came to pass, although various promising attempts were made (see chapter 3). Presently, digital video is in the process of replacing analog video almost completely. Whether this new medium will be able to fulfill the promise of its predecessor is not yet clear. The various computer technologies, including digital video, incorporate some very interesting prospects for a changed public sphere. As Lunenfeld points out, the computer becomes an instrument unique in the history of audiovisual mediafor the first time the same machine serves as the site of production, distribution and reception (71). Implicit in this statement is the notion that computers make it possible to collapse several public and private domains into the same physical but also cultural sphere. Digital cultural artifacts are often created in a private setting, then distributed through a network that can neither be defined clearly as private nor public nor wholly commercial (the Internet). They finally arrive, again, in the same private setting in which they originated without having undergone much in the way of institutional manipulation. A good example for this kind of slippery cultural exchange is the peer-to-peer file-sharing service Kazaa. With the help of Kazaa millions of people trade files with a myriad of contents, including music, videos, images, recordings of lectures, e-books, and a wide variety of digital curiosities. Although Kazaa is a commercial enterprise itself, it subverts all conventional categories of pecuniary systems since it allows its users to share copyrighted materials rather than purchase and sell the items. It also allows groups and individuals to trade their personal recordings and therefore circumvent traditionally set up cultural and commercial spheres. These cultural and commercial systems, now part of the public sphere, often permit only a limited amount of material to enter into their ranks and admit only those which support,

PAGE 60

51 not undermine, its internal structure. Kazaa has more than 60 million users around the world, and its users share over 15 million files a month (Woody). Also, Kazaa is only one of several peer-to-peer file sharing services, increasing the total number of shared files by multiples of 10-100. However, commercial forces are working hard to undermine the success of such public services. 42 Napster, a similar file sharing utility which operated based on a different technical principle (it indexed songs on its own server rather than simply acting as a node connecting users in the Kazaa fashion), was shut down by courts in 2000 based on charges of copyright infringements. In the cornucopia of new media there exist plenty more examples for practices that complicate the conceptualization of the public sphere for our contemporary society. These include practices that I have already mentioned throughout this chapters, which incorporate interactivity and hypermediacy into their logic. Brecht was an important precursor for the expansion of the public sphere to include alternate practices that undermine dominant ideology. Conclusion: Brecht after BrechtContinuations and Transgressions Brechts media theory has survived a myriad of technical advancements and has been called upon as fuel for disparate media movements. A detailed account of this continuing Brechtian legacy is given elsewhere, a brief summary of the major points will therefore suffice. 43 In the 1960s and 1970s, Brechts theories were not only adapted to theater productions but also became infused into film criticism. Brecht was particularly 42 In Kazaas case it is particularly difficult to make a legal case stick, because the company is as decentralized as its service. Its servers are located in Denmark, the software in Estonia, the domain is registered in Australia, and the corporation itself is housed on an island in the South Pacific (Woody). 43 Mueller gives a thorough account of Brechtian influences on various national and historical scenes. She describes the case of France, Britain, and Germany up to the 1980s in detail.

PAGE 61

52 influential for the French New Wave movement, most notably for Jean-Luc Godard, and defined a line of film criticism that bore fruit in the British film journal Screen (predominantly through Colin MacCabe, Stephen Heath, and Ben Brewster). 44 This latter development led to a contentious debate whether it was in sync with a Brechtian approach to infuse Freudian/Lacanian psychoanalysis into the mix. Mueller notes that it was predominantly the confusion of terminology, in particular the confusing use of the term separation with its opposing meanings in Brechtian and Lacanian theories, which fueled the debate (112, 114). Other British critics, such as Martin Walsh, used Brechtian ideas to develop a theory of counter-cinema. In the context of German artistic development, Brecht had the most impact on the New German Cinema movement. As Mueller remarks: Formally, Brecht is ubiquitous in New German Cinema (123). The most obvious examples for Brechtian cinema are the films of Alexander Kluge and Rainer Werner Fassbinder. Although the legacy of Brechts work weaves itself through several different national contexts, what all of the critics and filmmakers who have built this legacy share is their enthusiasm for an artistic and theoretical practice that has burst through its own historical and national specificity. Turkle, author of several works dealing with new media, points out that certain theories, for example, psychoanalysis, have a degree of appropriability, which allows people to adapt them as an object to think with and about issues that concern culture at large (Psychoanalytic xxvi). I agree with this claim and contend that this can also be applied to Brechts Epic Theater. So far 44 MacCabe more or less initiated this debate with his article Realism and the Cinema: Notes on Some Brechtian Theses, published by the film journal Screen in 1974. In this article he drew on the ideas of the Bertolt Brecht to develop a critique of the relationship between narrative systems, discursive hierarchies, and the reproduction of dominant ideology (52). He focused on the structure of what he called the classic realist text which uses a metalanguage, void of contradictions, and supportive of dominant ideology, and denies its own status as mediating reality. These devices of epistemic privileging subdued any attempt of active, critical spectatorship.

PAGE 62

53 Brecht has only been adapted to act in the service of film and radio theory, but I believe other areas of cultural and aesthetic productions can also benefit from his theories. As I have demonstrated, there exist a number of mediated spaces in the cornucopia of digital and analog worlds where Brechtian tactics of alienation, interaction, and construction can lead to productive interactive experiences and their assessments. Although most of Brechts theoretical writings are concerned with the artistic practices of the stage, he also applied his epic strategies to other media such as radio and film. I am following this approach in my attempt to formulate a general media theory that takes Brecht as its point of departure. However, I do not propose utilizing Brechts specific techniques of his Epic Theater and adapting them without mutation to the new media discussed in this study. The new technologies have made certain techniques obsolete. The theater represents a very distinct medium with technological and institutional particularities and therefore resists certain analogies with the cinema and other media institutions. Adapting epic strategies also necessarily involves recontextualizing Brechts specific methods into the changed socio-political and economic background of the late 20 th and beginning 21 st century. Although there is a perceptible correlation between Brechts and the current time period, especially in terms of technological developments, other corresponding categories do not fit as neatly. Therefore it is not only important to adapt Brechts theater methods to fit other media but it is also important to update his theory to correlate with the contemporary historical context. The examples in the following chapters, mainly Wenders, Tykwer, and Export, all illustrate some of the Brechtian ideas explained aboveon the level of the works themselves as well as in the applied criticism. The new and old media objects on which I

PAGE 63

54 focus my attention sustain a tradition of formal considerations that are clearly linked to Brechts experiment launched in the last century. New media, and old media which incorporate the new, therefore are not as new as one might expect, they continue an aesthetic, social, and political trajectory instituted by predecessors. Nonetheless, the specific outcomes of certain media experimentations are far from identical to those initiated in the Brechtian laboratory. Brecht himself foresaw this when he commented: So is this new style of production the new style; is it a complete and comprehensible technique, the final result of every experiment? Answer: no. It is a way, the one we have followed. The effort must be continued. The problem holds for all art, and it is a vast one. The solution here aimed at is only one of the conceivable solutions to the problem [. .]. (135) Neither does a specific Brechtian political attitude survive the transliteration. All media types and media combinations must be evaluated separately and ideological tendencies situated into the appropriate historical and institutional context, for creative media employment and alliances often lead to unexpected results. In many ways the examples deviations with respect to Brechts theory and practice can also lead to important insights into the historical, social, and political specificity of art objects and their function in society. The lack of overt political messages in Run Lola Run, the dogmatic use of images as political message in Wim Wenders films, and the specific type of politics espoused in Exports CD-ROM are the most obvious example of this. Each of these texts speaks to a different audience and adopts a particular type of new technology, in accordance with the technologys suitability to accomplish specific tasks, to support its message. Wenders uses video in order to continue his directorial tradition of independent, high brow filmmaking. Tykwer chooses the videogame to open up filmic conventions, because his project is firmly grounded in popular culture and addresses a popular audience. Export opts for the CD-ROM, because this medium is most suited to

PAGE 64

55 her feminist, avant-garde affinity. As becomes apparent, in each of these cases, it is not only the medium that encompasses a specific historical continuity, but also the filmmaker and artist who carries on his or her own tradition. This somewhat counteracts the assumption that using new technological devices to affect old media has the ability to shake things up dramatically. Nonetheless, Tykwer, Wenders, and Export, among others embark on intriguing experimentations which can yield insights into structures, potential, interaction, and limitations of new media. These insights do not necessarily emerge from the filmmakers productive implementation of new media into their projects, but can result conversely from perceived shortcomings in the practical applications and/or theoretical underpinnings.

PAGE 65

CHAPTER 3 VIDEO AND FILM For the old forms of communication are not unaffected by the development of new ones, nor do they survive alongside of them. The filmgoer develops a different way of reading stories. But the man who writes the stories is a filmgoer too. Bertolt Brecht, Brecht on Theatre The Emergence and Development of Video as an Artistic Medium Video and Television Video, like other 20 th century imaging technologies, emerged as a war-related medium soon after 1945 and was used initially to radio-control planes and aircraft carriers (Virilio Interview 324). It entered mainstream culture via broadcast television in the fifties and sixties, and became a popular storage and recording device (to be played on a VCR) during the seventies and early eighties. From its inception, video offered an effective expressive tool to political activists, and it slowly infiltrated the art scene and museums in the form or as part of experimental, avant-garde, installation, and performance art. In the early eighties video technology single-handedly changed the entire pornography industry by making x-rated films accessiblein terms of both production and distributionto a much larger number of people than ever before; porn-films moved from seedy, relatively high-profile, and crime-infested inner city sites into the suburban living room. There are even some who argue that JVCs VHS video tapes eventually won the format war against Sonys Betamax because the latters tight 56

PAGE 66

57 licensing control shifted the pornography business to VHS-tapes (Kohn cited by Krochmal). 1 In the course of its multi-faceted history, video has been implemented as an artistic medium in the war against dominant cultural establishments (such as institutionalized art movements, museums, and sources of funding). It has served as a counter-broadcast-television medium on the one hand, and as a testing ground for (semiand non-) commercial television program content and direction on the other. Video has also supplied additional advertising venues for cultural products (e.g., as music videos, infomercials on tape, how-to product accompaniments, travel and tourism videos, etc.). Video technology has been implemented in the areas of law enforcement, private property protection and monitoring of persons, evolving, over time, into the quintessential surveillance apparatus. However, it is when employed as the raw materials for broadcast, cable and satellite television programming, that video demonstrates its full potential. Television, a mass medium and powerful cultural institution since the 1950s, exerts its influence on almost all areas of modern life, on art, entertainment, politics, education, information, fashion, economics, and culture in general. The impact of television programming on everyday lives cannot be underestimated. Indeed its preeminence is attested by the fact that most families and individuals in industrialized countries own and operate at least one (often more) television set in their homes (in fact, there are more TV-sets in operation then there are telephones [Peters 1]). In 1935, the first television service (utilizing 25 frames per second and 180-lines per frame resolution) was inaugurated by the city of Berlin. Images were produced on 1 For a more detailed account of the history of the videotape see Eugene Marlow and Eugene Secundas Shifting Time and Space: The Story of Videotape.

PAGE 67

58 film then scanned in using a rotary disk. Shortly thereafter a new electronic camera was developed, the iconoscope invented by Vladimir Zworykin and built by Telefunken, which was able to capture outdoor imagery (Peters 11). Hitlers resourceful, media-savvy propaganda machine put the new medium television to effective use for transmission of the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games. The city even built special viewing locales, called Fernsehstuben, to enable the public to take part in this event (13). 2 However, it was not until many years later that programs could be transmitted into the domestic sphere of the living room and received by a large number of viewers. Television began to incorporate video into its formal and institutional organization in the mid-1950s. Before video became a technological viability, film constituted the only medium with which television broadcasts could be recorded. Magnetic tape, already in use for sound, started to interest American television developers who were faced with a geographic dilemma since they were trying to broadcast live shows to an audience across a spectrum of several time zones. In 1956, Ampex developed the first black and white video recording system, soon to be followed by a color system made by RCA. These new systems quickly evolved to expand their function of delaying broadcasts to incorporate editing and other production purposes. The first all-electronic editing apparatus, introduced in the late 1960s, made physical splicing of tape obsolete. Helical-scan recorders (1959) enabled the use of slow motion and variable speed playback as well as other film-like editing techniques (26-27). 3 Video technology had a profound effect on 2 The verb fernsehen was first used by the German physicist Eduard Liesegang in 1890 (Peters 6). 3 Television special effects use electronic rather than chemical or optical techniques as is the case in film. A rapid electronic switch controlled by color variations (also called chroma-key technique) operates while two images are being scanned (Peters 27). The advent of digital television production has naturally changed the editing tools and techniques employed in television and transferred the process to the computer.

PAGE 68

59 almost every aspect of televisions output capabilities, acutely affecting program content and broadcasting times. Presumably, television could never have aspired to reach its by now axiomatic cultural significance without video recording technologies. Considering videos impressive vita, it is not surprising that it (especially in the form of television) has provided the focus of much critical discourse in the last fifty years. 4 It goes beyond the scope and purpose of this chapter to comprehensively trace and explain the different attitudes of critics toward this medium over the years or chronicle videos diverse production palette. Instead, I will limit myself to citing and relying on critical observations and examples of specific relevance to selective artistic roots of video leading to or hindering the complex relationship this medium maintains with its cousin film (to which it is related in terms of cultural significance but not necessarily through its technological make-up). 4 Most of the critical television discourse (in both senses of analytics and negativity) feeds on anxieties of potential political misrepresentation in programming and/or interference with and manipulation of cultural practices. Some of the most influential early critical voices concerning television practices, both positive and negative, have been McLuhan, Williams, Hall, Fiske, and Ellis. In 1964 Marshall McLuhan devotes a chapter in his Understanding Media to television calling it the timid giant. In his analysis he determines it to be a cool medium, meaning it favored viewer involvement and participation (unlike many later theories which tended to see it as a medium which causes viewer passivity). McLuhans theory was somewhat ahead of its time, because it focused on the medium itself, discrete from its content, but this also infused a certain amount of technological determinism into his ideas. Apart from McLuhan, television as a distinctive medium, did not begin to receive serious scholarly attention until the 1970s. Stuart Halls Encoding and Decoding (1973) and Raymond Williams Television: Technology and Cultural Form (1974) rank among the most influential early theories on the subject. Basing their positions on Marxist cultural theory, Williams and Hall are both concerned with televisions ideological message and role in mass society. Williams focuses on televisions public aspect as a key component of a potentially democratic medium of communication. He also develops the concept of flow (as opposed to cinemas sequence of discrete units) which figures prominently in several later television studies. Hall reflects on the audiences decoding of the television message which either coincides fully, partially, or not at all with the programs intended message, and viewers can therefore legitimize hegemony or potentially subvert it. In the 1980s, two important works theorizing television were John Fiskes Television Culture (1987) and John Elliss Broadcast TV Narration in Visible Fictions: Cinema, Television, Video (1982). The former highlights TVs semiotic system of meaning, its status within popular and mass culture, and its function as a commodity in capitalist society, whereas the latter focuses on televisions modes of narration which are primarily dependent on its particular institutional and material nature. For a systematic and general overview of the most important ideas in television studies see John Corners Critical Ideas in Television Studies (1999).

PAGE 69

60 Although video art (mostly disassociated from commercial venues) has existed for at least four decades since Nam June Paiks recording of the Popes visit in the US in 1963 (the mythical inauguration event), until recently, it has been perceived by many artists and art critics alike as located somewhere on the fringes of the art world and always in need of defining itself against and in spite of the overwhelming presence of television (Sturken 102). Art on video has been suffering since its inception from associations with commercial television. Kathy Rae Huffman points out that although there were several experiments attempting to adapt broadcast television as an artistic medium, its unsavory connection to mass entertainment and ties to commercial interests diminished its appeal to artists (81). 5 Nam June Paik, often credited for introducing video to the art scene, was an exception. He not only created some of the most acclaimed artistic videos but also used television images to enhance his performance pieces as one of the first and only artists to experiment with broadcast TV. 6 Rather than television failing as an aesthetic medium due to its technological abilities, it was mostly the lack of financial and institutional funding which inhibited fruitful combinations of video art and TV. In the early seventies, Paiks broadcast entitled Video CommuneThe Beatles from Beginning to End served as convincing evidence to document the aesthetic possibilities as well as freedom and openness to experimentation that television can support given generous funding (Huffman 84). This is not to say that Paik championed television in an 5 Some examples of experiments in the US were led by Bostons public television station WGBH and producer Fred Barzyk (The Medium is the Medium) as well as the San Franciscos KQED Center for Experiments in Television (in the mid-sixties), WNET in New York (in the early seventies), KTCA in Minneapolis (in the early eighties). In Germany, RTL, a commercial station provided a venue for video art on mainstream TV with the show Kunstkanal. However, the show did not run for long due to financial concerns. 6 Curiously, the first video art displayed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, however, was not by Nam June Paik, but Projects: Bill Viola by Bill Viola in 1979.

PAGE 70

61 exclusively positive light. In the 1960s and 70s he produced several pieces which directly (even physically) assaulted television as an apparatus. Paik altered the circuitry of a TV-set to display a single horizontal line, warped TV images by placing a magnet on the set, and gutted a TV casing, replacing the picture tube with a candle. 7 Yet, it was not only video art that engaged in a struggle against the hegemonic qualities of commercial television. Videos employed in the service of political activism also benefited from and achieved some of their critical momentum from a similar strife. 8 Because video technology was relatively affordable, easy to operate, and portable enough to move around comfortably, it inspired the undertaking of many independent projects. Marita Sturken observes that videos early years are often remembered as a time when freedom of the spirit abounded, when artists and activists discovered a new medium and took to the streets with it, assured that their guerilla tactics would ultimately change television (106). But activist video recordings could reach a much greater audience when employing television as a delivery apparatus and thus guerilla television was born. 9 Video art and activism collaborated with and critically confronted televisionthe television/video relationship was both too close for comfort and concurrently a creative well for artists and activists. 7 Paiks first solo exhibition in 1963, Exposition of MusicElectronic Television, at the Galerie Parnass in Wuppertal, Germany featured his early experimentation with television. 8 This is not to say that this trend is obsolete today. Paper Tiger Television, for example, although not strictly conceptualized as a medium for political activism, but certainly containing political content, uses a highly self-reflexive style in its own struggle to offer an alternative to mainstream TV. Broadcasting television shows since the early eighties, it defines itself as a public access TV show which looks at the communications industry via the media in all of their forms and leads an investigation into the corporate structures of the media and critical analysis of their content [as] one way to demystify the information industry (About Paper Tiger). Paper Tiger Television appears weekly on a Manhattan public access channel and covers a wide variety of topics. 9 Sturken defines guerilla television as a political protest medium, an instrument which allows activists to point out the foolishness of society and/or a tool to establish an alternative in form and content to commercial television (107-8).

PAGE 71

62 Gregory Ulmer correctly notes in Teletheory that television and video are intimately coupled because the former can be thought of as the name for the institution that has arisen to manage and distribute the medium of video (x). However, video art in particular has come to be institutionalized by museums. According to art historian Martha Rosler, the museumization of video art has over time successfully split the medium from any association with broadcast television (33). 10 Again, video art is not somehow inherently adversarial to television technology, rather concerns related to artistic autonomy encouraged the split. Deregulation and privatization in the US but also in many European countries, beginning in the 1980s and culminating in the 1990s, transformed television into a commercial venue of unequaled proportion. This development has further entrenched attitudes that view television as guilty by association and always suspect whenever program content is in question. 11 Furthermore, as Huffman explains, the shift from early experimentation on public TV stations to the museumization of video occurred in the 1980s when media art centers, supported by outside funding, became a more attractive workplace to video artists because of high-tech equipment availability and the lack of commercial pressures (88). The videotapes produced in such centers eventually ended up in museums and artist-created exhibition spaces rather than on the 10 In spite of this museumization process, video was originally conceived by many artists as an appropriate artistic medium to be used to attack established institutions such as museums and galleries, because, as Frank Gillette has noted: Video was the solution because it had no tradition. It was the precise opposite of painting (quoted in Sturken 107). 11 This critique is not without its merits. A TV-commercial certainly contains and cultivates a specific type of relationship with the program it is interrupting, as do station trailers and other intersegments. Television program content organizes itself around the interruptions, incorporating them into narrative structure, plot, even setting, and flow. Conversely, advertisements are designed to appeal to the target audience of the program into which they are spliced. Often, commercials utilize similar content, rhythm, style, and actors as the main show.

PAGE 72

63 air where artists had to contend with greater restrictions on form and content of their material. 12 While reluctantly infiltrating mainstream high-brow art, video concurrently turned to film for inspiration. 13 Most obvious was the application of film experience, technique and genres to this new medium. 14 In Europe, Jean-Luc Godard was one of the first filmmakers to adopt video as an artistic medium. According to Thomas Elsaesser, it was mainly videos economical and compact recording technology that led Godard to regard it as a proper medium for avant-garde and independent productions (Cinema Futures 10). Godards acceptance of this emerging medium as an image-making technology allowed him to subvert the image-producing dominance of mainstream cinema, avoid commercialized avenues of filmmaking and consequently remain an autonomous and experimental director. Other European artists soon followed Godards example and video slowly penetrated domains in which cinema once ruled supremely: the production of fictional entertainment. 15 In Germany, several artists created the first fiction videofilms in the early eighties, such as Neonschatten (1980) by Marco Serafini, Zeichen und Wunder (1981) by Niklaus Schilling and Der tiefe Spiegel (1982) by Michael Feick (1982). In 1983, Bundschuh and Bauer shot Dj vu oder die gebndigte Geliebte entirely on video. Apart from using this new material to keep the costs at a 12 In Germany, two of the most successful workshops were Die Medienoperative Berlin (mob) (founded in 1977) and Medienwerkstatt Freiburg (founded in 1978). Both produced political activist videos (Roth 213). 13 The reverse is also true. Timothy Corrigan has pointed out, for example, that certain cinematic developments, such as the promotion of blockbuster films, had an instrumental influence upon VCRs as well as satellite and cable television (26). 14 Video as a medium also served as the main theme for several high-budget and independently produced Hollywood films, e.g., Videodrome (1983), Tapeheads (1988) Sex, Lies and Videotape (1989), The Blair Witch Project (1999), Camera (2000), 15 Minutes (2001), The Ring (2002), etc. 15 Non-fiction videos by filmmakers such as Harun Farocki emerged in the early 1970s.

PAGE 73

64 minimum, these two artists also employed video on the level of plot (the videofilm tells the story of a man who constructs himself a new reality with the help of his home video system) and integrated its technology into their aesthetical approach. In Germany, a particularly productive relationship developed between state-subsidized television (ffentlich-rechtliche Anstalten) and the emerging creative explosion of the New German Cinema movement; this association had significant influence on the latters success. Virtually all films produced by New German Cinema directors in the seventies and eighties were at least in part financed by television stations such as the WDR (Westdeutscher Rundfunk), the ZDF (Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen), ARD (Allgemeiner Rundfunk Deutschlands), NDR (Norddeutscher Rundfunk), SWF (Sdwestfunk), etc. These films were seen by more people on television (either via broadcast, cable, satellite or on videotapes) than on theater screens. Wim Wenders is an excellent case in point because not only were all of his films financially supported by TV stations, he was also one of the first New German Cinema directors to take advantage of videotapes as a commercial distribution apparatus for his films (Alter 125). Wenders also continued his highly prolific relationship with television after the dissipation of New German Cinema as a distinct artistic movement; he accepted television funding and experimented in his films with traditional and digital video technologies such as HDTV, which were, as the name implies, originally conceptualized to serve television, not the film industry. In what follows, I explore how Wenderss relationship with technological innovations have influenced his filmmaking practices in general and films in specific. Although there have been other critical studies of Wenderss aesthetic treatment of and

PAGE 74

65 artistic relationship with video, most notably Martin Baiers Film, Video und HDTV (1996) and Global Politics, Cinematographic Space: Wenderss Tokyo-Ga and Notebooks on Cities and Clothes, in Nora Alters Projecting History (2002), my account departs from or augments them in several ways. Baier examines Wenders experimentation with new recording techniques in Nicks Film, Notebooks of Cities and Clothes, and Until the End of the World within the context of his entire filmic output of the last three decades in order to show that these films fit into the filmmakers uvre overall. This chapter, in contrast, has no such ambitions. On the contrary, I argue that Wenders allows his preoccupation with remaining at the forefront of what is technologically possible in filmmaking to impede upon the quality of work which he is otherwise capable of producing. Also, Baier does not pay attention to the formal specifications of the media which Wenders employs, but concentrates on the overall aesthetic product instead. Indeed, he conflates analog video with digital video technology in his investigation, stating that the latter is merely an improvement upon the former technology, whereas my study makes a clear distinction between the two and treats them as separate technologies altogether. Finally, I also add a treatment of The End of Violence (1997) and mention several other films and practices that are dated after the publication date of Baiers Film, Video, and HDTV, for Wenders an important period of time, because it launches him into a completely new relationship with video technology. My approach to Wenderss experimentations with recording technologies departs from Alters Projecting History in that I concentrate predominantly on Wenderss feature films and his use of HDTV, whereas Alter focuses on Wenderss non-fiction productions and

PAGE 75

66 situates the technology (principally analog) into the specific context of the essay film and German history. HDTV In 1990 Wenders began to experiment with a new recording technology that was originally developed in Japan. NHK, the Japanese public broadcast television station, started to pursue research on HDTV in 1964 and active development of the technology began in the mid-seventies. But only recently has it advanced as a technology that may soon make most consumer TVs, VCRs, and non-digital professional video equipment obsolete. What sets HDTV and high-definition video apart from their conventional standard definition counterparts is not only restricted to resolution as implied by the name. In addition to HDTVs increased number of luminance picture elements, about 2 Million pixels per frame in 1125 scanning lines, roughly 6 times the resolution of NTSC (the standard video format for the US) and four times the sharpness of PAL (the European standard), it also features a wide-screen aspect ratio of approximately 16:9 (compared to 4:3 for NTSC and PAL), a picture that is almost free of distortion and interference (common problems with analog technologies), and makes interactive programs possible. Additionally, HDTV lowers production, post-production, distribution, and storage costs. Although high definition video is closely aligned with film stock regarding image quality and aspect ratio, it is a much cheaper production and post-production material in comparison. There are no costs for film prints (ca. $2000 per print) if projection is done digitally, because there exists no negative. Also, HD tape is much cheaper to use than traditional film stock. A fifty-minute tape for the Sony HDW-F900 camera only costs about $65 versus thousands of dollars for film stock of the same capacity (including processing). Moreover, editing and special effects become more cost

PAGE 76

67 effective due to the efficient manipulation of binary code on the computer. There are also cost-cutting features associated with the prolonged shelf life of the digital format in archives. Although high-definition technology has only in the nineties become a widely known technology, its was unveiled by Japanese electronics companies to industries outside of the country in the early 1980s. In the mid-1980s a considerate effort was launched to develop international television standards mainly concerned with the rate of scanning lines. However, North American, Japanese, and European governments could not agree on a universal standard. Joseph Flaherty explains that the Europeans, for one, worried that Japanese products would flood the market and ruin the domestic industry if they agreed upon a world-wide standard. They even went so far as to launch and fund research on a strictly European standard, the Eureka project, which would enable the European electronics industry to catch up and eventually monopolize the internal market. European efforts to design their own technical conventions reached a climactic level in 1986 at the ITU (International Telecommunication Union) Plenary in Dubrovnik when standards proposed by American and Japanese developers were rejected. Eventually, however, the European industry abandoned the Eureka project and renewed efforts to devise an international common image format began to take shape. Finally, between 1999 and 2000, Study Group II of the ITU composed and adopted Recommendation ITU-R BT. 709-3, entitled "Parameter Values for the HDTV Standards for Production and Program Exchange." This treatise defines common parameter values for the HDTV image with a fluctuating picture rate that adjusts in order to accommodate different applications (Flaherty). Almost three decades after designs for high-definition television

PAGE 77

68 first circulated in Japan, a common standard, based on NHK technology, has finally made it possible to produce affordable equipment which can record, manipulate and distribute HDTV recordings on a worldwide scale. 16 Recently, high-definition equipment such as the Sony HDW-F900 (with Panasonic lenses) received international exposure and attention, because it was used as the main camera to record the blockbuster Star Wars Episode 2: Attack of the Clones (2002). The process of producing films for cinema projection with digital video such as HDTV is at first glance not as complicated and different from conventional film production as one may expect. Camera operators still record images in a fashion similar to conventional techniques, albeit with different equipment. While the new technology does not require much in the way of innovation in mise-en-scene composition, certain digital video peculiarities such as lighting and color schemes have to be taken into consideration. Important differences come into play while and after the recording process. Digital equipment is often relatively compact and easy to handle enabling the film crew to produce a series of images through more natural movements. As is the case with conventional video, directors can view the recorded action in real-time or immediately after taping and decide on the spot whether re-takes and corrections are needed. Film stock, in contrast, has to be processed overnight before it can be reviewed. The digitally-taped segments are transferred directly from tape to the computer hard drive and can be manipulated in various ways through editing and digital special effects. Digital recordings are deliverable instantaneously, via high-speed data lines, to post16 High definition television received a high-profile, global platform at the United Nations Millennium Summit in 2000 where speeches by world leaders were broadcast in high definition and projected onto 300-inch screens in the General Assembly Hall of the United Nations. Another highly visible employment of HDTV has been in the space program. The shuttle has broadcast space images in high definition on several occasions thus far.

PAGE 78

69 production facilities where work can commence without any delay. (With conventional film stock, images must first be scanned in and converted to digital code before computers can add effects to the filmed scenes.) Color corrections are possible in the smallest detail, pixel by pixel. If the finished product is destined to be shown on conventional analog projectors, a negative print has to be created using lasers and a special film printer. From this negative, positive prints can be produced in the traditional manner and sent to theaters. In contrast, theaters that are able to project images digitally can receive the finished digital film with no added steps or costly intermittent chemical processes. The digital print is delivered on a portable storage medium such as a DVD-ROM or a digital tape, or, even more efficiently, sent via satellite data stream. Every copy looks exactly the same; loss in quality due to duplication never occurs with digital code (unless the code is compromised). Although digital film production is merely in its infancy, it obviously operates more efficiently and effectively than the traditional production system. The Sony HDW-F900 represents merely the beginning in what promises to be a productive future for digital video equipment used in film production. Wim Wenders: Rebel without a Clear Cause? [Video] represents a kind of democratic dilettantism: anyone can do it, anyone may do it, who gives a shit. Wim Wenders, On Film (1990) Id like to pass on a word of advice: image-makers and producers working in High Definition should try to learn from a better source and a better tradition than television. They should try to learn from the far more expressive and civilized language of the cinema. Wim Wenders, On Film (1990) My own view of the future of cinema is less bleak than it was in 1981, when I made The State of Things. New perspectives have opened up that were less evident then, or perhaps some of my old bogeymen have disappeared. There is no longer the

PAGE 79

70 arch-enemy television and the devil video, because behind and beyond them there is a possible new ally and a new cinematic language in the form of the high resolution digitally sorted image which is currently being developed. Wim Wenders, On Film (1991) Before Star Wars propelled the Sony camera to international stardom, Wim Wenders had already experimented with it in his recording of the U2 music video to accompany the song The Ground beneath Her Feet (part of the soundtrack for his film Million Dollar Hotel [2000]). But these images were not Wenderss first to be recorded on digital or high-definition equipment. 17 He also shot the low-budget (but relatively successful) documentary Buena Vista Social Club (1999) entirely on Digital Betacam. And almost a decade prior to Buena Vista Social Club, in 1990, he spend several weeks in Tokyo as one of the first Europeans (along with Peter Greenaway) who were allowed to work with HDTV at NHK and Sony. Wenders used some of the images from the Japanese HDTV-lab in his 1991 feature film Until the End of the World. Although throughout Wenderss more than 30 years of filmmaking, his uvre creates the impression of being exceedingly receptive toward new media, his experiments also exhibit a certain ambivalence, a concomitant distrust and enthusiasm, concerning emerging visual technologies. From his earliest attempts to use a video camera in Nicks Film: Lightning over Water (1980) to further examinations of this technology in the essay film Notebook on Cities and Clothes (1989), to high definition experiments in Until the End of the World and digital video use in Buena Vista Social Club, his artistic use of new imaging technology often exhibits a cryptic constitution. Besides using video to record 17 The terms digital and high-definition are not synonymous. Digital video has lower resolution capability, uses different camera equipment and storage devices than HDTV. It is however possible, to convert digital to high-definition video, but the end result will not exactly match the quality of recordings filmed originally with high definition video.

PAGE 80

71 images, Wenders also incorporates this technology into his films as themes and topics. The End of Violence (1997), for example, features a video surveillance system and the presence of television in one form or another is an ubiquitous element found throughout Wenderss films, from Kings of the Road (1976) to Million Dollar Hotel (2000). 18 Wenders has been involved in a love/hate relationship with the medium video, using it whenever possible and concurrently expressing disdain and enthusiasm for it (especially television) in interviews, films and his critical writings. In the 1980 film Nicks Film: Lightening over Water, Wenders records the last days of the dying American director (and Wenders idol) Nicholas Ray, who has directed such Hollywood classics as In a Lonely Place (1950) and Rebel without a Cause (1955). Wenders and Tom Farrell, a student of Rays, film the sick man who is suffering from cancer not only with conventional equipment but also on video, the former intending to draw an analogy from the video technology to the invasive cancer within the latters body. This analogy represents an extremely venomous attack when applied generally to video as an artistic medium. Even the most rudimentary knowledge of biology confirms that cancer cannot spread without using healthy cells as hosts, which is to say that video must destroy film (the healthy" medium in Wenderss analogy) if it is to creatively grow. Whether Wenders intended to extend his analogys meaning from his specific use in Lightening to a general application and consequently arrive at such an unrelenting statement is not entirely clear. In 1980 he nevertheless exhibits none of the enthusiasm that many of his contemporaries, filmmakers and artists, displayed for this new medium. 18 Alter points out in Projecting History that, TV has forcefully intruded into Wenderss films, insinuating its supposedly malevolent, totalitarian, fascist presence into every nook and cranny of filmed everyday life (125).

PAGE 81

72 The Superiority of the Filmic Image over Other Recordings But what exactly defines Wenderss attitude toward emerging technologies which threaten to remediate film and the cinema? Before this question can be answered, and if at all, a short summary of Wenderss development as a film practitioner and theorist spanning the years between Lightening over Water to some of his recent films can provide a preliminary insight into the directors possible motivations and beliefs. Soon after Wenderss film about Nicholas Ray debuted, the films Reverse Angle, Hammett, and The State of Things followed in 1982. While none of these films utilize video as a recording device, Reverse Angle and The State of Things both thematized image-making technologies and institutions. In the same year Wenders also recorded a short documentary film at the Cannes film festival entitled Chambre 666 which more overtly revisits his concerns of 1980. For this film, Wenders set up a camera and filmed the reaction of several directors (Spielberg, Antonioni, Herzog, Fassbinder, Godard, etc.) to the following question: Increasingly, films are looking as though they had been made for television, as regards their lighting, framing and rhythm. It looks as though a television aesthetic has supplanted film aesthetic. Many new films no longer refer to any reality outside the cinemaonly to experiences contained in other filmsas though life itself no longer furnished material for stories. Fewer films get made. The trend is towards increasingly expensive super-productions at the expense of the little film. And a lot of films are immediately available on video cassettes. That market is expanding rapidly. Many people prefer to watch films at home. So my question is: Is cinema becoming a dead language, an art which is already in the process of decline? 19 (Wenders On Film 182-83) 19 The statement that films use too many points of self-reference is an odd comment, especially coming from Wenders. Wenders has always been an avid practitioner of recycling inter-filmic realities himself. Throughout his career, he has reused characters (e.g., the detective Winter, his angels from Wings of Desire [in his 1995 Lumire & Company segment]), copied shots from other directors (e.g., Ozus Tokyo street shot), employed directors that have had influence on his own career as actors (e.g., Sam Fuller and Nicholas Ray), used fashion creations from documentary subjects in his fiction films (Yamamoto), made videos & films of artists that appear on the soundtracks of other films (U2 and BAP), and recycled locations from his films (e.g., the Tokyo Pachinko parlors).

PAGE 82

73 The formulation of the question makes abundantly clear that Wenderss apprehensive stance toward video is chiefly based on his fears that it will replace (not only corrupt as he claims in Lightening over Water) his artistic medium, namely films made for cinema and that his anxiety is chiefly directed at video as television, in other words at the institution not the medium itself. He expresses his concerns more explicitly in an interview in 1990 when he notes: Now if you accept for all our attachment to the cinema that infinitely more people watch videos these days than go out and see films, if you take that as a given, and if you accept the projection of how things will be in ten years time, say, then it seems to me youve got to put an end to the deadly enmity between the two, and accept video as a language. (On Film 72) Videos prominent place in years to come evidently provides a more convincing impetus to adopt it as an artistic tool than its medium-specific qualities; Wenderss motivations appear less driven by artistic concerns than by his fears that he may be left behind by technology. In Chambre 666 the filmmakers reaction to Wenderss question varied, from Fassbinders self-assured argument that films deliver what filmmakers infuse into them, while televisions money can help realize the filmmakers individual vision, to Spielbergs criticism of economic pressures produced by Hollywoods insistence on propagating blockbusters (in retrospect a rather ironic reaction from a director who has arguably supplied the blockbuster phenomenon with more steam than any other). Of the responses, one stands out in particular. Michelangelo Antonioni, in his reply, declares that what we should really do is adapt ourselves to the future world and its modes of representation. [. .] We must turn our minds not to the immediate but to the distant future and somewhat prophetically predicts that high-quality video cassettes will soon bring films into peoples homes (quoted in Wenders On Film 189-90). He defends video

PAGE 83

74 as a medium worthy of experimentation, especially if it harbors the ability to conquer film, as Wenders predicts in the original question. As Baier rightly points out in Film, Video und HDTV: Die Audiovisionen des Wim Wenders, Wenderss turning point for his negative attitude toward video (at least in his comments) ostensibly comes after Chambre 666, when he adopts Antonionis more positive outlook and willingness to experiment with video. 20 Wenderss theories in the early 1980s concerning the adverse influence of video on films and the cinema as an institution were, by no means, an isolated critique. Other New German Cinema directors as well as theater owners agreed with Wenders and appended his aesthetic apprehensions with the view that TV would develop into cinemas most precarious competitor for audiences. In general, Hollywood and national film industries outside of the US, including Germanys, viewed television, when it first emerged as a mass medium, as the likely hangman of the cinema. Obviously, in retrospect, this anxiety has proven to be unfounded. However, in the early eighties, with the advent of cable and pay TV, critics, especially in Germany, still (or again) felt uneasy about how this new medium would affect domestic motion pictures. As previously mentioned, this apprehension, in contrast to Wenderss concerns of aesthetic confluence, predominantly focused on TV as diverting cinema audiences. The Arbeitsgemeinschaft Kino e.V., a group of small movie theater owners who provided a venue for films by New German Cinema directors, declared the following in the early eighties: Cable televisions establishment, the emergence of private television organizations and ever-increasing 20 Baier adds that after and during the filming of Notebooks Wenders acts as if his insights into video are his own rather than a modification of Antonionis response in Chambre 666. This is not an entirely accurate assessment. In a conversation with Wolfram Schtte in 1982, Wenders clearly acknowledged his high regard for Antonionis response and singled it out as an attitude which made a considerable impression on him (On Film 206).

PAGE 84

75 broadcasting of fiction films in state and publicly controlled stations are causing conditions under which the majority of German cinemas will eventually cease to be able to exist(55) (a theme which Wenders treats in his Kings of the Road). 21 This bleak conclusion also did not prove to be an accurate prediction. As Hall points out, it was not German cinemas, where most owners main concerns coincide with high profits from admission prices (which can be achieved more securely with Hollywood blockbusters), that kept New German Cinema alive. Rather it was German television stations, through financial backing and acting as an exhibition venue, that had the greatest effect and a high stake in preserving an alternative national cinema (172). As noted before, after Lightening and Chambre 666, Wenders not only discarded his former hostility toward video, showcased as a cancer in the former and defacer of film in the latter, but, practically speaking, wholeheartedly embraced this medium. In a recent real-time chat on the Internet he even went so far as to claim that his animosity toward video dates back to the seventies (although Lightening over Water was completed in 1980) and that a medium that he had once seen as a devil and enemy now had turned into a welcomed ally. However, it was not until Notebooks of Cities and Clothes, that, almost ten years later and to his own surprise (at least according to the voiceover in the film), Wenders admits to accepting that the specifics of video technology can yield artistic merit. He comments: I made myself take [video] seriously, and, to my astonishment, found myself enjoying it. And thats why I now believe you can use it in a serious wayin spite of the way Ive inveighed against it in the past (On Film 351). 21 In the original: Die Etablierung des Kabelfernsehens, die Zulassung privater Fernsehgesellschaften und die inflationre Ausstrahlung von Spielfilmen durch die ffentlich-rechtlichen Fernsehanstalten fhren zu Bedingungen, unter denen die Mehrzahl der deutschen Filmtheater nicht mehr weiter bestehen knnen.

PAGE 85

76 Indeed, in Notebooks Wenders showcases some of videos advantages over film. For example, when he displays video clips of the fashion show simultaneously with the filmed/live show, he alludes to videos instant replay and real-time properties. In another segment his voice-over comments on the unobtrusiveness of the video equipment on the action in a scene as compared to bulky film cameras. His subjects, Yamamoto and his crew, are more inclined to act natural in front of a video camera with a single recording agent than when faced with a film crew and much larger and conspicuous equipment. Wenders often films the video camera itself, so obviously compact and easy to handle, and emphasizes its view-screen, the replay mechanism, in his recordings. Apart from these comments and implementations, however, Wenders cannot completely hide that he still strives with his ambiguous feelings toward video. The voice-over (Wenders) comments on the recordings made of Tokyo: In its own language, the video camera was capturing this city in an appropriate way. I was shocked: a language of images was not the privilege of cinema. But, in an interview discussing the film, he adds that his use of video is rescued when he transfers it ultimately to film because he would never ever use video that had to remain video (On Film 353, my emphasis). This, of course, does not in any way echo Wenderss comment that after the seventies he had accepted video as an ally. It makes clear, that even in 1989 he was still struggling with any such concessions. One aspect that can set traditional video images apart from film is the tendency to favor medium close-up shots over distance and panorama shots mainly due to videos reduced image resolution and the size of the television set as the display medium. In Wenderss films, however, exists an abundance of long shots, a pre-occupation with

PAGE 86

77 scenery (especially in his road movies) and frequent usage of film formats that exceed the size of traditional 35mm film stock. Even at the early stages of his career (especially internationally) the popular press identifies Wenders with a style affected by wide, panoramic images. In a Time International spread in 1979, under the title The Visions of Wenders, Time depicts the German director with his (now ex-) wife as a bride against the widescreen panorama backdrop of an Idaho landscape (The Visions). In the last few years, in order to increase the dramatic effect of his widescreen images, Wenders has employed Cinemascope format in several of his films, such as End of Violence and The Million Dollar Hotel, and 70mm in Until the End of the World, a format which he claims has not been used for any other European film in twenty years (On Film 286) and which many cinemas are not equipped to project anymore (for distribution purposes the film was released on 35mm). 22 In the chat forum for Wenderss website ( www.wim-wenders.com ) rumors circulate that the filmmaker is planning on making yet another movie about Berlin, but this time filmed in IMAX, the largest image format in existence today. Most American films, shot after 1955, use a standard widescreen format with an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and European films usually employ an aspect ratio of 1.66:1. Cinemascope is much wider than these standard formats with an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and movies recorded in this format do so with the help of an anamorphic lens. IMAX, as the most extreme of all formats, must be projected in a special facility, because it features an image size ten times that of the standard widescreen format. In comparison, a typical 22 Interestingly, according to John Belton, digital technology has had a particularly damaging effect on the 70mm exhibition format. He contends that six-track digital sound combined with 35mm is more attractive to studios, because it is cheaper to produce than six-track stereo magnetic sound used for 70mm prints (103).

PAGE 87

78 television set has an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, which means that films that use an especially wide format have a more difficult time being shown on television or VHS-format video, because so much of the filmed material has to be omitted (or is shrunk to a narrow band). To lesson the impact of this image reduction somewhat, the industry has developed a technique called pan and scan where the image is first shown in its entirety in a pan and then remains fixed on one, presumably visually important, section. Of course, this procedure manipulates the filmmakers original version of the film to some degree, and many cineastes prefer to watch the film in its original size on their television, in widescreen, although this reduces the image size overall and adds black bars of variable heights (depending on the original format of the film) to the top and bottom of the picture. By using formats such as Cinemascope and 70mm, it seems that Wim Wenders consistently strives to offer, within his films, images that are, at least to some degree, hostile to television technology. 23 Cinemascope, in particular, was invented in the early fifties (and first featured in The Robe [1953]), specifically to lure audiences away from television. 24 Wenders evidently uses the format with similar intentions more than forty years later. 25 23 Wenderss disdain for projecting his extra-wide formats on a limited display screen is obvious, as attested by his inclusion of a film still from The End of Violence with the films DVD packaging. This still has inscribed, superimposed over the image of the female lead, the areas of the film still that would not be visible to viewers on a limited size screen. 24 TVs technological development, however, has always trailed that of film, for example, concerning resolution (only in the nineties can it approach 35mm with HDTV), size (will always be limited because of domestic setting), color (decades after film), audio quality (surround sound technology can only attempt to imitate stereo system in theaters). TV should have felt anxiety about cinema, not the other way around. 25 In theory, both Imax and 70mm yield more visual information and finer image detail than the 35mm format due to the wider gauge of the film stock.

PAGE 88

79 Wenders as Digital Guru In recent years, Wenders has received much positive critical attention internationally and in Germany with his experiments in digital filmmaking. 26 He acknowledged the significance of an impending digital revolution on cinematic ground as early as 1990 when he states: The leap from photographic image to digital information really is a revolution: the risk is that film just stands there gawping [sic] with its mouth open, and misses the connection. (On Film 352) It has become apparent that Wenders will not be among those left behind paralyzed in wonder, but will be actively engaged in shaping the future. 27 In 1999 Wenders received the Production Solution Award at the International Broadcasting Convention "Le Nombre d'Or" for his use of digital video as an alternative to 16mm film (a format frequently used for documentaries). At the 2000 Berlinale the all-digital version of Wim Wenderss The Million Dollar Hotel was projected at the official screening (although the film was shot on conventional stock and later transferred). Wenders also conducted a digital workshop with Das Werk, Sony, and Panavision representatives at the 2000 Berlinale. Moreover, Wenders interest and history in experimentation with image technologies surely contributed to Sarah Moons decision to include him as one of the forty directors to retro-film a fifty-two-second segment with a vintage Lumire camera in Lumire & Company (1995). In 2000, Wenders proved his au courant technical standing when he and his production company RMF (in cooperation with the WDR and the Filmstiftung Nordrhein-Westfalen) publicized their plans to 26 On the other hand, Wenders new-found enthusiasm for the latest innovations in video has also drawn some criticism. Norbert Grob, for example, argues that, it seems that because of his involvement in these technical aspects Wenders has lost touch with his own cinematic precepts (203). 27 Although Wenders is mentioned frequently in the popular and critical press as one of the visionaries who have allowed digital images to enter mainstream filmmaking, it was actually Francis Ford Coppola and George Lucas, two Hollywood directors, who initially heralded all-digital film productions. Wenders first experiments in the early nineties came much later.

PAGE 89

80 produce Radikal Digital, a forum for European newcomer filmmakers, which will include six films recorded digitally and inspired by the Dogma-style of filmmaking. Shortly after Radikal Digital, Wenders announced on his webpage a competition entitled E-Motion Bytes geared toward aspiring filmmakers in Europe. The website declared that the award aims to celebrate the latest developments in young digital filmmaking, to support new talents and to demonstrate the usage of digital media technology in the realization of images and stories. Wenders also added the somewhat arrogant statement the E-MOTION BYTES, Road Movies Digital Shorts Award, stands for Road Movies and Das Werks commitment in new and aspiring filmmaking, confirming their position as world pioneers (Forum, my emphasis). The E-Motion Bytes Road Movies Digital Shorts Awards were scheduled to take place at the 2001 Hof International Filmdays in Bavaria. Wenders, in collaboration with RMF partner Ulrich Felsberg, was planning to award the prizes (including a DM 10,000 prize), but it was decided to move the ceremony to the following year because they determined that only a limited number of the submitted entries shed light on the current state of digital filmmaking, i.e., demonstrated the various possibilities in digital filmmaking (E-Motion Bytes). 28 Apparently too many young, aspiring filmmakers were treating this new medium little different than conventional film technologies (a charge which I will extend to Wenders himself, a little later). Although certain aspects of video, especially its association with television, estranged Wenders from this medium through the 1980s, the subsequent decade brought about a complete reversal in Wenderss attitudenot toward conventional video 28 In the original, Wir mussten feststellen, dass nur eine unzureichende Anzahl der eingereichten Beitrge die derzeitige Lage des digitalen Filmschaffens beleuchtet, bzw. die verschiedensten Mglichkeiten des digitalen Films demonstriert (E-Motion Bytes).

PAGE 90

81 technology, but to emerging digital video technology. As already mentioned, after his experimentation with early HDTV in Until the End of the World, Wenders recorded his music-documentary Buena Vista Social Club entirely on digital tape with the Sony Digi-Beta camera. Since then, he has become an avid user of digital video equipment, especially for his non-fiction work and his music videos. For U2s The Ground beneath Her Feet he opted for high-definition again and used Sonys HDW-F900 camcorder which is able to shoot in 24fps (like a film camera) progressive high definition. His move to digital technology was aided by the 1999 RMF (Road Movies Filmproduktion, Wenderss production company) merger with Das Werk, a digital post-production company. This alliance ensured Wenders ready access to digital production and post-production facilities and equipment. Until the End of the World or How to Split HD from TV Wenderss use and self-professed, albeit reserved, admiration for video in the film Notebooks of Cities and Clothes, the 1989 essay film about Tokyo fashion designer Yohji Yamamoto, was to be his final experimentation with conventional video technology. However, it was not the last time he directed a film which thematizes emerging visual technologies and their relation to the established medium of film. In Until the End of the World he revisits his interest and preoccupation for any technology which has the potential to displace or negatively affect the cinematic image. 29 However, in Until the End of the World, in contrast to Lightening over Water, Wenders does not simply depict video as a technology pitted against film. 30 Instead, the film uses a digital video 29 Since the extended UtEotW version is not commercially available (yet), I will confine my comments and interpretations to the shorter, official and autonomous version of the film. 30 I will henceforth use the acronym UtEotW to refer to Until the End of the World.

PAGE 91

82 technology, namely HDTV, which is much different from the standard video Wenders used in the past, and he integrates it in a much more problematic and, at the same time, interesting manner into the films fiction and form. The staging of technology in general in UtEotW, presented in the form of gadgets such as video phones, auditory and tracking surveillance equipment, on-board computers, video faxes, etc., serves an important self-referential function, in that it reminds the viewer that Wenders has already made the first step into a prospective techno-laden future by using a new technology in the film himself. 31 In UtEotW, Wenders explores videos future place in a society (represented in the film by HDTV) that appears saturated with an overload of images. In the fictional adaptation and in the technical realization, videos prospective status as a cultural determinant is dramatized in anything but a positive way. In the film, the main characters experience mental breakdown and one character even dies after having viewed the recorded high definition images. In 1990, after Wim Wenders spend several weeks in Tokyo experimenting with HDTV, he appears highly enthusiastic about high definition videos possibilities (in public talks on the subject), especially when applied to the realm of filmmaking. At he same time, however, he reveals an ambivalence about HDTVs intimacy with broadcast television. In fact, in his speeches, interviews, and theoretical writings, he prefers to use the Japanese title for HDTV which is High Vision with the designation television conspicuously absent. At best, Wenders, a staunch critic of televisions influence on film practices and viewer expectations, sees HDTV as a medium which can aid in distancing viewers from this perceived negative influence. In his opinion, high definition technology 31 Ironically, the end of the world is represented by a catastrophe that only targets technology and does not destroy life. All electro-magnetic circuits get wiped from the nuclear blast but people are unaffected otherwise.

PAGE 92

83 is aligned closer with film than with traditional television and therefore able to project more truth (a fantastic claim). Wenders is not alone in asserting HDTVs positive influence on television as a medium. There are several other critics and practitioners who agree with the basic premise of his analogy. 32 Siegfried Zielinski, for example, makes similar claims in his essay Fin de Sicle of Television as even the title implies. He also prefers the term Hi-Vision (specifically to disassociate it from TV) and defines HDTV as a hybrid medium capable of delivering a more natural aspect ratio (which we know from the cinema), larger image projection (closer to cinema screen size), better image quality (approaching 35mm film), film-like need for quality set design and compositions, and adapting many film aesthetics (e.g., the individual shot may become calmer and steadier [as in classic cinema]). Overall, Zielinskis (as well as Wenderss) projected improvements inherent in HDTV over traditional technology all remain concerned with achieving a more film-like experience, notwithstanding a smaller screen in a domestic setting. 33 However, Zielinski is right to point out that the heightening of realism revealed in a high-def program in reality translates into heightened illusionism (79-80), whereas Wenders puts forth the rather nave view that more true images will emerge. 34 During a 32 Critics like Baier assert that HDTV is not a new technology but rather a technological improvement of conventional video (72). I would disagree with this assessment and posit the claim that HDTV is to video what the typewriter is to the computer word processor. Baier underestimates HDTVs otherness. 33 Zielinski also includes a brief summary of Alexander Kluges ventures with commercial TV and concludes that Kluges TV could be combined excellently with the hybrid medium HiVision: carefully constructed audio-visions for the intimacy of a bourgeois salon (83). However, he never states why HDTV would enhance a Kluge interview show, or what conventional TV lacks in comparison. In my opinion, shows like Kluges Kulturmagazine represent programs that are constructed to make the most of conventional technologies (for which they were conceived). His shows, as they appear presently, do not require better graphical resolution, a change in image format, or digital mutability. Perhaps lower production costs may be of value. Kluges shows have done relatively well (in terms of critical success) for almost twenty years without HDTV and that may be the best argument yet to stick with the original formula. 34 Elsewhere, Wenders acknowledges and warns of electronic and digital images excessive beauty and accessibility, and comments that it is not necessarily more trustworthy (Act of Seeing 95), but he links

PAGE 93

84 talk given at the IECF in Tokyo Wenders made specific comments on his use of HDTV in Until the End of the World and his vision for this mediums future. He stated: High Vision could balance the loss of reality by the gain in image resolution. [. .] High Vision, and this is my dream, could help to sharpen our sense of reality; my nightmare is if High Definition in the long run only continues to undermine any remaining faith we may have in the truth of images. 35 (On Film 358-59) In Until the End he appears to have turned his own nightmare into a cinematic reality. The films high definition images neither reflect reality (they depict dreams and subjective memories) nor do they evoke faith in any type of true images because they are so highly manipulated. In the rare sequences where the high definition images depict life-like subject matter their content is challenged in other ways. In one of the initial sequences of the film we see Claire, the main protagonist, passing by a large rectangular wall monitor as she is leaving a party. On this monitor plays a music video, some of the very first images of the film shot in high definition video. High definition video is the source material for HDTV, and it is very fitting that the music video depicts a group conspicuously evoking the TV as a medium with its name, the Talking Heads. The term talking heads, a reference to TV usually derogatory in nature, derives from TVs habitual use of the close-up. Although television literally means seeing from a distance, it uses the close-up more frequently than film. UtEotW, however, true to the genre of the road movie, does exactly the opposite, it presents us with many sweeping long-shots of landscape and scenery, it even exhibits shots of the entire globe as viewed from space (as well as stage the globe in fragments consisting of this development primarily to the loss of an original, no more proof of Truth [. .] [causing] the distance between reality and second-hand reality [to be] wider than ever (95). He does not associate the increase of definition with a loss in truth value as Zielinski does. 35 Of course, what Wenders calls a heightening of reality should also be interpreted as an increase in verisimilitude (as Zielinski remarks), since HDTV makes it necessary for make-up specialists, set designers, cinematographers, etc. to pay more attention to detail to retain the illusion of reality.

PAGE 94

85 cities located in five different continents). Wenders has commented in the past that, television has eliminated the long-shot, which so beautifully conforms to the human eye, and replaced it with the tedium of close-ups (On Film 356). It is only within the segments filmed in video that close-ups abound in the film. In other words, the film visually celebrates its otherness, that which sets it apart, from television and (to a lesser degree) from the medium video. As early as 1960, the media theoretician Marshall McLuhan noted that one of the main reasons for TVs abundance of close-ups is tied to its screen size and resolution (314). HDTV, however, with its improved resolution and larger aspect ratio is no longer tied to close-ups. It is bound to change the aesthetics of TV as well as video forever. Wenders, however, appears skeptical in his film. In the filmic techniques employed in UtEotW, Wenders does not treat video as an ally either, but rather showcases it as a rival to what he calls his sacred celluloid images in Notebook on Cities and Clothes. Although high definition videos principal advantage over conventional video is its clarity in images and realistic depiction of that which is filmed, UtEotW primarily uses it for the dream sequences, memory play-backs of recordings showing Edith and Henrys acquaintances and family, and the highly stylized music video-clip. The images that are presented to the viewer in these sequences have undergone drastic manipulation. They are fuzzy, distorted, and not at all representative of their source material. Instead of capturing HDTVs primary improvements over conventional video, Wenders obscures them through another divergence, digital mutability. Also, Wenders foregrounds the digital nature of the recorded dreams and memories, and therefore highlights their constructedness, through various techniques. For example, several of the high-definition images projected onto the

PAGE 95

86 laboratorys large screen appear highly pixilated or are prefaced by a representation of binary digits. Throughout the films staging of HDTV as a technology, a highly negative impression is channeled to the audience. The new technology cannot compete with the traditional recordings which make up the main portion of the film. Images captured on video do not appear real, they remain obvious abstractions of reality. Although Wenders has turned from staunch opponent to avid supporter of video technology in his talks, at least concerning the digital variety, videos output in the form of television has remained a thorn in Wenders artistic side. 36 In an interview with Reinhold Rauh, in response to Rauhs question whether German television is heading in the same deplorable direction for which American TV has paved the way, Wenders goes so far as to declare: On the whole, I think television is becoming unbearablenaked fascism (Excerpts 82). He even connects televisions future course to UtEotWs narrative by calling the mediums development apocalyptic (82). HDTVs association with television and therefore with popular, mass culture, was not only a concern of Wenderss. In order to inspire enthusiasm for their new technology, Japanese television officials invited two European filmmakers, Greenaway and Wenders, both known for their high-brow art films. This decision was surely motivated by the desire to dress up a technology which should not remain associated only with popular culture and the mass medium television. In other words, both directors were summoned to uproot this connection and prove that HDTV has the potential to be a great asset to serious and even non-commercial filmmakers. In the case of Wenders, the complete 36 To be fair, Wenders manages to set apart digital from conventional video and redeem the former somewhat through an ironic twist in the narrative. In the film digital tapes are not affected by the satellite disaster, conventional video would have failed, of course, due to its electro-magnetic nature.

PAGE 96

87 opposite emerged in the final product; his film highlights rather than obscures HDTVs relationship to television (in the same way that his earlier video recordings retained their TV references). Greenaways implementation of HDTV in Prosperos Books, on the other hand, appears much different from Wenderss treatment. The British director seamlessly integrates the technology into his film. It does not remain, as in Wenderss Until the End of the World, set apart as a distinctive medium. The British director most likely bases his synthesizing technique on his general attitude toward cinema. As Rees explains in History of Experimental Film and Video: For Greenaway, Cinema is the sum total of all technologies which work towards articulating the moving image. Cinema is a continuum. It embraces equally the big movie and the computer screen, the digital image and the hand-made film [. .] (4-5). In other words, HDTV represents only one tool of many for Greenaway to realize his cinema and does or even should not be seen as a medium in and of itself when it appears in his film. Although Wenders does not paint HDTV in the best possible light in his film, there are moments when the mediums superiority over film emerges from obscurity into the foreground. The sequences that take place in China, for example, appear as video recordings, within the narrative and in technical terms. Wenders learns one of the advantages of video over film equipment first hand during these shoots. The director was refused permission to set up his film crew in China, which led Solveig Dommartin to film the segments there by herself on the compact, mobile, and user-friendly video camera (anyone can do it after all). These sequences are woven into the narrative as videofaxes from Claire to Gene. However, the recordings contain inconsequential, anecdotal information disassociated from the narrative. They appear to only serve one of two

PAGE 97

88 functions, either to highlight how unrefined and careless the video shots are compared to the rest of the film, or to accentuate the compactness and portability of video as a recording medium (or perhaps a bit of both). Since the images exhibit little or no narrative function in the film, they stand out as a directorial comment on the technology itself. But again, Wenderss point of view appears highly ambivalent. Apart from Wenderss concerns regarding televisions aesthetic influence on film practices, his comments in the past also point toward televisions commercialization as a well for potential corruption. He claims: The close ties between television and advertising have also done much to shapeand deformthe language of television. In short: video culture has undermined and largely destroyed its predecessors language. Films nowadays look almost indistinguishable from television productions [. .], the audience is so accustomed to TV pictures that it now expects them even in films. [. .] television has replaced cinema by [sic] something inferior. (On Film 357) For Wenders, the commercialization of television has by extension also affected the cinema, because, in the directors opinion, television has been exerting such noticeable influence on films. Elsewhere, he laments the disappearance of film images that serve a narrative function and claims, not without good reason, that today, images have to sell, not tell (Excerpts 86). His position is however contradictory, since he cannot exclude himself and his own practices from the commercialization of cinema. On the contrary, compared to other German directors, he has emerged as the master in the art of cross-media promotion, plugging his filmic work via soundtracks, books and photographs, and he has even sold his own image (marketed as director) to American Express. 37 37 In this advertisement, Wenders is depicted sitting in a car with his arm leisurely draped over the steering wheel, making reference to his predeliction for using the road movie film genre.

PAGE 98

89 Furthermore, as Baier points out, in the 1980s Wenders distinguished himself from other directors by making product placement (using Camel cigarettes in Paris, Texas) an acceptable practice in an otherwise non-commercial film (114). In recent years, however, Wenders goes one step further and, not unlike his reversal of opinion concerning video, finds a whole new way to relate to advertising. In a 2001 Der Spiegel interview, Wenders remarks that prior to the 1980s Ingmar Bergman and Frederico Fellini still had to make advertisements in secret, and even Woody Allen was still embarrassed about his first spots. Today, commercials are in many ways the avantgarde of visual art(Himmel). 38 Of course, Wim Wenders has been filming commercials himself since 1994 and therefore would appear as a hypocrite (not to mention inhibiting his potential for reaping profit) if he continued his anti-advertising diatribe. Perhaps RMPs 1999 merger with the digital production company Das Werk helped him overcome his antipathy since Das Werk has such close ties to the advertising world (it emerged from an advertising background to develop its current film repertoire and also owns a majority stake in a German TV production company). One of its founding members, Wolfgang Borgfeld, contends, moreover, that digital video developments, especially digital effects, were and still are primarily driven by the advertising industry in Germany and the rest of Europe (West). With these new business partners and himself emerged in commercial practices, Wenderss relationship to television has slowly turned from black & white to shades of gray. It is not surprising then that the director turns from condemning television to foregrounding another misuse of video in his subsequent film, The End of Violence, namely video as a surveillance apparatus. 38 In the original: [Vor den 80er Jahren] mussten Ingmar Bergman und Federico Fellini noch heimlich Werbung machen, auch Woody Allen hat sich fr seine ersten Spots noch geschmt. Heute sind die Werbefilme in vieler Hinsicht eine Avantgarde der visuellen Kunst.

PAGE 99

90 Video Recording as an Act of Violence: Wenders on Surveillance The perfect disciplinary apparatus would make it possible for a single gaze to see everything constantly. Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish Surveillance as a topic provides a rich source for a critique of new media, and Wenderss depiction of such techniques and equipment in The End of Violence warrants mention. For, with this film the director enters into an already existing lively debate concerning the merits and dangers of surveillance as a technology and social apparatus. As surveillance technology matured and came to be rather sophisticated in the 20 th century, especially after World War II, it also entered critical discourse as a hotly debated topic. 39 Since then it has remained an intriguing issue with discussions ranging from the panopticon to dataveillance, and more recently, after September 11, in the U.S., covering various types of increased security measures and in Germany including the practice of Rasterfahndung. 40 Surveillance has emerged as a theme in several genre of artistic works and various types of media as well, such as George Orwells 1984 (fiction novel), Raimond Depardons Reporters (non-fiction film), Vito Acconcis Following Pieces (performance), Rem Koolhas Project for the Renovation of a Panoptic Prison 39 William Bogard points out that even Marx displayed an interest in surveillance with its capacity to assist supervisors in managing labor practices (a facet of Taylorism comically treated in Modern Times in a scene where even the bathroom is monitored by the factory supervisor). Furthermore, according to Bogard, Max Webers theories concerning surveillance as a tool of bureaucratic control over individuals have played a particularly influential role on twentieth-century academic surveillance studies (17-18). Important literature on surveillance includes David Burnhams The Rise of the Computer State (1983), Christopher Dandekers Surveillance, Power, and Modernity (1990), Michel Foucaults Discipline and Punish (1979) and The Birth of the Clinic (1975), R. Howards Brave New Workplace (1985), David Lyons The Electronic Eye: The Rise of Surveillance Society (1994), Steven Nocks The Cost of Privacy: Surveillance and Reputation in America (1993) and James Rules Private Lives. Public Surveillance (1973). 40 Rasterfahndung is a practice that dates back to Germanys problems with terrorism in the 1970 and has been rediscovered after September 11 as a tool against potential Islamic terrorists living in Germany. This system aims at discovering so-called terrorist sleepers, agents that are waiting for their deployment. Rasterfahndung employs specific information from university databases and other public sources to seek out individuals that, because they fit into a certain profile, may be terrorists in waiting.

PAGE 100

91 (architecture), Josh Harriss we-live-in-public.com (net installation), Peter Weibels The Panoptic Society or Immortially in Love with Death (interactive DVD-ROM), or the Big Brother TV-series, etc. Recently, the topic also featured prominently in the exhibition CTRL [SPACE] (October 2001) curated by Thomas Y. Levin at the Zentrum fr Kunst und Medientechnologie in Karlsruhe. Wenders enters into this lively discourse and postulates his own theory concerning the practice of surveillance and the technology involved in the methods employed. As depicted in Wenderss film, surveillance equipment was once predominantly invisible and used as a tool of public law enforcement. Unmasking or revealing such equipment represented an effective subversive act against the powers-that-be. However, these actions have lost much of their bite in what could be called a new era of surveillance, in terms of technology as well as public attitude. Much of the current surveillance apparatus in existence has become visible and integrated into daily life. Commercial and private equipment far outnumbers governmental equipment. A survey of Manhattan in 1998 revealed that of ca. 2400 security cameras only 10% were not part of a commercial installation, and of that 10% belonged to private entities (Murphy). Also, because hidden surveillance cannot be as effective unless it includes a large supervisory body, principles of the panopticon are preferred. They operate more efficiently since they utilize a preventative approach through the constant possibility of observation rather than the cost-intensive practice of total coverage. Computer profiling, stereotyping on the basis of prior actions and/or personal traits, also functions preemptively as a kind of surveillance in advance of surveillance, a technology of

PAGE 101

92 observation before the fact (Bogard 27). 41 The act of surveillance has lost some of its conspiratory edge over the years (and therefore also surrendered narrative allure) with the general public readily giving up all kinds of personal information over the Internet or eagerly sacrificing anonymity to feel safe at airports, on planes, or in other public spaces. Additionally, most surveillance systems are employed as a form of property protection by companies or private individuals, rather than constituting part of any governmentally supervised project, and therefore are supported as an acceptable practice by the public as a whole. Ybor City in Tampa, Florida, serves as an exemplary case in point. The city recently implemented a surveillance system which utilizes a new type of face-recognition software. Tampas once crime-ridden nightlife district is now under constant watch using Visionicss FaceIt technology which scans the faces of all visitors and analyzes the facial features captured on the images against a database of 30,000 pictures listing runaways and people with a criminal record. Although there exists some dissent among the locals and the tourists, most have accepted and even support the practice. The same technology is now being installed in airports, at major sporting events, casinos, and at voting booths. As William G. Staples, a sociology professor at the University of Kansas, notes, public attitude about surveillance practices have changed over the years and outrage about the infringement of civil liberties tends to originate with an older generation. Younger people he has interviewed tend to be less sensitive about issues of privacy; they have been desensitized by recordings such as the Rodney King beating and reality television shows like Big Brother which turn surveillance into 41 Bogard makes a special case of the simulation of surveillance as becoming the new generation of surveillance techniques and technology. He argues that actual (traditional) surveillance acts are increasingly replaced by virtual, simulated (digitally-driven) practices, where the latter are not about creating an illusion of surveillance, but about rendering indiscernible [. .] the fact of its illusion (31-32).

PAGE 102

93 voyeuristic pleasures. Add to this, says Staples, the terrorist acts of September 11, and you get a sense that it is unpatriotic and close to an act of treason to oppose technologies of surveillance (Murphy). Although reality television shows and terrorist acts belong to a post-The End of Violence time, such sensibilities were already well on their way in 1997 to become firmly established in society. Another technology that has made headlines in the last couple of years is the FBI's Carnivore surveillance tool. Carnivore is a combination hardware and software-based system used to examine all packets send from and to a particular Internet Protocol (or ISP) and record segments that meet specific parameters; it is used as an electronic wire-tapping device. Specific parameters allow the FBI to identify a persons messages to the exclusion of all others. In the optimal case scenario, agents are able to intercept and collect communications which are the subject of a court order while ignoring those communications which they are not authorized to intercept. Carnivore can search e-mail, newsgroups, and chat programs, monitor online shopping, file transfers, and downloading behavior, etc.. In short, it can pervade all areas of Internet communication. Apart from Carnivore, there are several similar systems operating or in development which have civil liberties organizations crying in outrage. Echelon is another, similar interception system to Carnivore, which acts through a global network of computers that automatically search through millions of electronic communication for pre-programmed keywords in messages, or identify fax, telex and e-mail addresses. 42 As these examples show, the face of surveillance has changed much over recent years and, with the rapid 42 The vast influx of surveillance technology has prompted vigorous dissent from the European Parliament. In addition to considering general privacy issues, the Parliament warns of the risk for abuse of economic information, such as aiding industrial espionage. The complete report from 1999 is available at: http://www.fas.org/irp/program/process/docs/98-14-01-4en.pdf (Elliot) and an assessment of interception capabilities from 2000 at http://www.fas.org/irp/eprint/ic2000/ic2000.htm (Campbell).

PAGE 103

94 advancement of digital technology, promises to do so even more dramatically in the future. In Wenderss UtEotW surveillance appears as a paradoxical element, in some instances saving the world from environmental polluters and in other scenes posing as an unwelcome intruder upon personal privacy. The End of Violence picks up on the tropes initiated in UtEotW and the director further develops his practical treatment of image technology (still frequently undermining his own theoretical conceptions). As in Wenderss earlier films Lightening, Chambre 666, Notebooks, and UtEotW, Wenders turns to the topic of videos possible (near-future) function in society, this time situated in the US, more specifically in Hollywood whose raison dtre, of course, is image production. Once again, paralleling the mood of UtEotW, Wenderss outlook is anything but rosy as the narrative discloses. One of the main protagonists winds up murdered for his involvement in video surveillance, the other, because he is informed of the project, narrowly escapes an assassination attempt. The video images themselves, collected by an ubiquitous surveillance system throughout Los Angeles, are supposed to be able to reveal everything that goes on in the city and even bring about the end of violence. 43 However, in the critical moments of the film where the images would have been able to prevent a crime, the monitors fail due to human intervention. Wenderss vision of the state of civil liberties in the near future proves to be a decidedly modernist one. As early as 1974, Enzensberger argues that 43 The surveillance system in the film looks clich and simplistic. Especially when Rays supervisor appears on all screens to interrupt his clandestine investigation of an apparent crime scene. A system which keeps taps on virtually all of Los Angeles, even in the early developmental stages, would certainly have to possess more sophisticated equipment and a much larger workforce.

PAGE 104

95 the possibility of total control of a system [like George Orwells monolithic consciousness industry] at a central point belongs not to the future but to the past [. .]it can be demonstrated that a linked series of communications [. .], to the degree that it exceeds a certain critical size, can no longer be centrally controlled but only dealt with statistically [. .], blanket supervision would demand a monitor bigger than the system itself. (Constituents 64) For Enzensberger, the lack of total possible control represents a point of potential leakage which can aid in an attempt of breaking down such a system (from within the system). Wenderss The End of Violence, however, depicts the surveillance network as inherently infallible and near-hermetically sealed. 44 Both agents, the scientist and director, who dare to defy it fail and are punished in their attempts to intervene. In the film Wenders posits that a revolt against the prevailing system can only be successful through an alternative route. The End of Violence stages this alternative as a war waged (and possibly won) with words. The coup detat begins with a rappers sudden enlightenment and turns him from gangster rapper to political activist (without any believable motivation to be sure). The suggested solution, turning the fight of violence from video to poetry, appears to be a similar anti-technological stance as the one depicted in UtEotW. In the latter, it was literature and the oral culture of the Aborigines that cured a similar evil gone awry in modern technological society: the ubiquity of images. With these narrative choices Wenders wants to highlight the importance that agency plays in the act of surveillance, but unconvincingly implicates video technology in the mis-deeds which he presents. Presumably, Wenders sees poetry and literature as technologies which are less dependent on institutional constraints and therefore less affected by agency, in 44 In this film, as was the case for UtEotW, satellite technology plays an important as well as ambivalent role. The satellite can be a positive technological advancement when it helps in tracking environmental pollution (in UtEotW) or a negative one, as a potential time bomb threatening to destroy the world as we know it (also in UtEotW) and as a tool of power enforcing the systems control over the individual (in The End of Violence).

PAGE 105

96 contrast to cinema and television. These uncorrupted entities can apparently still redeem a society polluted by too many and the wrong kind of images. Aside from the questionable logic underlying such statements, it is important to remember that Wenders conveys his assessment of modern society via the same image-making technologies which he critiques in his films, using both film and video. He never acknowledges this predicament or thematizes the difficulties of escaping or even objectively critiquing what is produced within the medium itself; in other words, how productive can it be to try to battle the potential violence contained in and produced by image technologies (as in The End of Violence) or (in UtEotW) societys image saturation with more images. Although Wenderss film The End of Violence picks up on an important theme which has become a defining element of modern society, he fails to tap into current surveillance sensibilities; his approach seems dated and out-of-touch with actual, feasible practices. Most importantly, video, for the most part, has been replaced by digital technologies in surveillance systems because the latter can more effectively gather and interpret information about a large body of people or practices, mostly through statistical analysis and database searches. Wenders addresses this new type of surveillance only once in the narrative, when an e-mail and accompanying attachment serve to uncover the potentially subversive liaison between the scientist Ray Bering and the director Max Meyers (perhaps intercepted by Carnivore?). The remainder of the film focuses on the video system and the powers that use and abuse it. The End of Violence, however, could have potentially contained another, much more interesting, take on the films main theme (and title), which Wenders himself has

PAGE 106

97 mentioned before in interviews: the connection between films, filming and violence. 45 He comments: Film is an act of violence, or threatens to become one at every stage of making a film. Lets begin at the end: when the film is finished, it becomes an act of violence in the moment it is shown, an act of violence insofar as the danger exists that it takes away the spectators freedom to see something, dictating rather to them what they have to see. (Excerpts 70) However, in The End of Violence the director appears to simply echo familiar (and unproven) concerns that link the act of watching films and television, as well as playing computer games or listening to violent rap lyrics, with violent social behavior. Unlike in his comments above, he fails to extend the connection into a much more elusive and diffuse realm, that of the act of filmmaking itself and to include himself in the equation. The End of Violence points toward the violence depicted in the action movies of Mike Max and in the gangster RAP of Six O One as the sole antagonistic source for the films theme. Although the narrative also implicates the video surveillance system in acts of violence (which is supposed to eradicate crime), namely the kidnapping of Max and subsequent murder of the would-be kidnappers, it is the medium video, not film, that records the scene (and later fails to preserve it). There is neither mention of human intervention (filmmaker as agent) nor any allusion to The End of Violence itself as perpetuating certain behavior. Again, Wenderss theoretical convictions collapse under the weight of their practical employment. In light of Wenderss superficial treatment of the multifaceted topic of violence, his anachronistic depiction of surveillance, and his 45 There have been a number of films to examine this topic from various points of view. Harun Farocki, for example, recently released a non-fiction film I Thought I Was Seeing Convicts (2000) which candidly links shooting with a camera to shooting a gun. The film, like The End of Violence, also deals with a video surveillance system. However, Farocki does not openly discuss the difference or similarity that exist between videotaping and filming and how violence could potentially be depicted and carried out differently (or not) by each medium.

PAGE 107

98 audacious indictment of video as a technology of evil, it is not surprising that the film failed to attain critical as well as commercial success (despite featuring a well-known Hollywood cast). Video, TV, the Artist/Author and the Auteur: Film as Craft/Handwerk Presumably, one of the reasons Wenderss fiction films have been less successful in recent years, both with audiences and critics alike, can be traced to the directors attempt at shaping his fiction films to appeal to a wider-ranging and more international audience. Nonetheless, while turning increasingly popular and mainstream he has concurrently and unsuccessfully attempted to retain a high-brow as well as an auteurist style. According to Andrew Sarris (1962), for any director to be classified an auteur, her or his films must satisfy three conditions: 1) the director must possess a certain technical competence (technique), 2) the films should exhibit the directors unique personality (personal style), and 3) the film should include a specific level of interior meaning which Sarris defines as extrapolated from the tension between a directors personality and his material (586), a quality which can only be expressed with cinematic and not literary tools. Wollen adds to Sarriss definition by stating that individual films by auteur directors exhibiting these distinctive qualities (expressed differently by every auteur) will have less in common with similarly themed films by other directors, than with films from the oeuvre of the same director, no matter what genre or which actors, locations, or film crews are used. 46 While Wenderss fiction films of the nineties and those of the last two years are obviously aimed at a broader audience base than most of his films of the seventies and 46 Peter Wollen makes a particularly convincing case of this conception in his Signs and Meaning in the Cinema (1970) where he reads the films of Howard Hawks across many genres and over several decades as auteur films (Auteur).

PAGE 108

99 eighties were, this does not automatically diminish their potential for being classified auteur films. On the contrary, auteur theory in general is less concerned with the commercial appeal of a picture than it is with identifying theme and style as a particular directors signature. To be sure, from its conception, auteur theorys major contribution to the study of film consisted of legitimizing and popularizing the act of treating commercial pictures, often by mainstream Hollywood directors, as works of art worthy of serious critique. In other words, the films of Howard Hawks deserved as much attention as those of the filmmakers working outside of the commercial studio system. What make Wenderss latest cinematic adventures so uninteresting to critics and audiences, are not simply his attempts at appealing to more viewers, but concern the pedestrian thematic and stylistic devices which straddle the boundaries between low and high-brow culture and which cause his films to occupy neither realm comfortably. They are not symptomatic for Wenderss uvre as a whole, but mark a cessation in his approach to filmmaking. For example, in The End of Violence, Page, the wife of a high-power Hollywood producer is in the process of leaving him and gazes longingly through her bedroom window at a bird in a tree. The implication is clear, wife feels trapped and desires freedom, and this metaphorical device may be expected in a popular Hollywood film, directed by someone other than Wenders, but it is far too blunt to impress in a film that tries to appeal to a more demanding audience. Conversely, the high-brow stand-up poetry readings and Edward Hopper references in the same film are clearly targeting a specific audience who would recognize and understand the references and their meanings in the film (and they harmonize with Wenderss usual style). In UtEotW, similar metaphors also miss their mark: as Claire gets jammed up in traffic, she impulsively

PAGE 109

100 leaves the highway system which is mapped out in her automobiles GPS (global positioning system) (as well as her boring, straight-laced life) and concurrently inaugurates both her off-road car trip and her unexpected narrative journeys; in the Japanese mountains, where Claire and Sam retreat from their worldly adventures (a clich in itself), they encounter Mr. More (the actor from Ozus films) who comments, after treating Sams eyes, that the eye does not see the same thing as the heart; and in the final minutes of the film Sam partakes in a magic healing session from the aborigines, when they sleep next to him and take his dreams (nightmares). In the recent The Million Dollar Hotel the clichs abound as well, from the worn-out crazy people are not as crazy as one might think theme to media crews depicted as sharks in a feeding frenzy. But The Million Dollar Hotel also incorporates scenes that address viewers with high-brow cultural knowledge (as does UtEotW) such as the exposition of one of the U.S. art scenes guiding principles (the art dealer can make or brake the product) where the irony may be lost on a general public. As these examples illustrate, in his fiction films Wenders appropriates his past reputation as a German director making non-commercial films to launch a seemingly new career which tries to retain his old status but makes it more palpable to a larger and more international audience. That he fails to reconcile these two objectives is not surprising. Nonetheless Wenderss newly nurtured ambitions to become more popular apply mostly to his fiction films. In his recent non-fiction film Buena Vista Social Club, although international in its subject matter and wide-ranging in its audience appeal, the motifs and metaphors are much more subtle and developed, as would be expected from the auteur Wenders. There, the recurring images of Che Guevara, an icon for revolution,

PAGE 110

101 freedom and idealism, constantly remind the viewer of Cubas great historic as well as continual struggle against American hegemony, capitalism, and other Western influences. The idealism inherent in this iconic reference, however, has also been compromised by the Western world because Che Guevaras image has been commodified to be used in causes that smack of capitalism. As early as 1972, Enzensberger comments that when an office-equipment firm can attempt to recruit sales staff with the picture of Che Guevara and the slogan, We would have hired him, the temptation to withdraw is great, but he also adds that when it comes to manipulation by the media, fear of handling shit is a luxury a sewerman cannot necessarily afford (Constituents 66-67). Wenders attempts to deal with the Che Guevara paradox through interlacing it into his story about long-forgotten, but still immensely talented Cuban musicians resurrected by the American musician Ry Cooder. Rather than overemphasizing (visually and aurally [through the voice-over]), and therefore trivializing, the Che image, Wenders weaves it seamlessly into the visual landscape of Cuba, displayed on T-shirts of passer-bys, evoked by graffiti, and featured in the introductory moments of the film, but only by way of illustrating a Cuban photographers career. Concurrently, the landscape of Havana, littered with relics of a past American occupation in the form of automobiles from the 50s, suggests Cubas struggle to grow economically, on its own and cut off from most of the global economy, as well as its nostalgic relationship to a pre-revolution Cuba. Wenderss suggestive images appropriately complicate these conflicting aspects of Cubas past and present. This example suggests that Wenderss attempts to increase the popular appeal of his fiction films do so at the expense of his talent and unique style as a filmmaker. In his non-fiction feature Buena Vista Social Club he may not have felt the urge to reach a large

PAGE 111

102 audience, given that non-fiction film is generally conceived as a genre limited in audience appeal. Ironically, Buena Vista performed well with both, audiences and critics, making it a more successful film overall than his recent, relatively high-budget, features. Apart from using more popular actors, subject matter, and themes, Wenderss use of digital video in his films and music clips has also had a noticeable impact on his image and work as a director with auteur status. Naturally, the lower production and post-production costs of digital video and HDTV lesson filmmakers dependency on commercial and private funding and therefore can yield a product which closely resembles the directors vision. However, funding concerns have not impaired the auteurs of Hollywood, in the past as well as present, and their distinguished technique, style, and what Sarris calls interior meaning prevailed. This perseverance can very well be attributed to what Wollen calls the structure of a film. He argues: The structure is associated with a single director, an individual, not because he has played the role of artist, expressing himself or his own vision in the cinema, but because it is through the force of his preoccupations with an unconscious, unintended meaning can be decoded in the film, usually to the surprise of the individual involved. The film is not a communication, but an artefact which is unconsciously structured in a certain way. (Auteur 602) With Wenderss latest films, however, it is too often his vision that takes precedent and overshadows his talents as a director. Specifically, it is his latest visualization of the future of cinema, ridden with technological anxiety, that has inspired him to abandon proven techniques and has jeopardized his status as an auteur. Rather than focusing on the whole of what defines an auteur, Wenders has been preoccupied with only one aspect, that of individual and unique creator of a work of art. The directors anxiety about video as an artistic medium may well be rooted in a more general trend of devaluation of the author which is often seen as a symptom of

PAGE 112

103 postmodern society. David Harvey, in The Condition of Postmodernity, explains that when cultural producers become less esteemed in society it opens up the possibility for popular participation in art and re-determination of cultural values by the masses. This democratization of artistic production may lead to what Harvey calls incoherence or vulnerability to mass-market manipulation (51). Jameson argues furthermore that mechanical depersonalization (or decentering of the subject) goes even further in the new medium [video], where the auteurs themselves are dissolved along with the spectator [. .] (Postmodernism 74) and adds that an auteur theory connected to video would be a highly unlikely prospect (78). When Wenders mentions that anyone can do it, meaning anyone can use a video camera, he evidently reacts to these views and sees video employed as an artistic medium to be a threat to the authors status in society. Indeed, in the early years, traditional video technology favored a partially anti-auteur style. During the initial period of development, high quality video equipment necessitated collaboration by several artists due to the prohibitive costs involved, elevating the vision of the group over any individual artist. It was not until much later that the technology was available to single artists because costs steadily declined. In fact, most political activist videos in Germany during the seventies produced their work as part of a collective and without special emphasis on single authors or producersas a group effort rather than an individual achievement (Roth 220). It represented a political art forum which had the potential of supplanting the Autorenfilm. At the same time, however, videos technological make-up also supported the work of auteurs. Bundschuh argues (in the 1980s) that video, because of its low cost and practical employment, can lead to more innovative and creative shots, the camera can continue to be curious when

PAGE 113

104 conventional filming would have stopped (203-204). Therefore auteurs of cinema could more easily realize their individual visions on video. He adds that video offers filmmakers the freedom to make films that do not follow mainstream conventions (Video bietet heute noch die Chance, Filme anders zu machen) (210). In other words, it is precisely video technology which can make it possible to combat a TV aesthetic if one so desires (and Wenders professes that he does). As with traditional video, the cost-cutting features of HDTV in production and post-production in comparison to traditional 35mm film make it much easier for independent filmmakers to make high quality and autonomous pictures. Although this technology cannot create an auteur, it can help bring to the surface the auteurs signature. Digital video technology, therefore, supports aspects of boththe return as well as the disappearance of the author. On the one hand, as Elsaesser argues, digital cinema marks the return of the artist as source and origin of the image, because primary expression which is bearing the imprint and signature of the creator can replace reproduction (mimesis) (Digital Cinema 206). On the other hand, Lev Manovich has noted that the very distinction between creation and modification, so clear in film-based media (shooting versus darkroom processes in photography, production versus postproduction in cinema), no longer applies to digital cinema, since each image, regardless of its origin, goes through a number of programs before making it to the final film (302). The tendency of the digital image to redefine concepts of original, real, authenticity, and authorship has important ramifications for a director who still maintains the position of being an auteur (On Film 288) and seeks images that contain

PAGE 114

105 truths (327). However, it is important to note that auteur theory, as stated above, includes much more than the director as the principle creator of an original work of art. Nonetheless, it is this aspect that troubles Wenderss filmmaking effort the most. Even in connection with conventional technology, Wenders makes it clear that auteur-cinema and video cannot be reconciled easily, because he sees the latter as democratic dilettantism, (352) an act which can be performed by any novice (see opening quote)unlike film equipment which is only available to professionals. 47 What Wenders calls democratic dilettantism, was in the early years of video considered to be one of the mediums greatest assets. Enzensberger goes so far as to say that potentially, electronic media (such as video) are egalitarian in nature and conceivably do away [. .] with the cultural monopoly of the bourgeois intelligentsia (Constituents 69). Such utopian sentiments have long since become cultural relics. Even Enzensberger who initially viewed video as an effective and democratic political tool qualified if not retracted his statements later when he calls one manifestation of video, television as it exists in Germany in the 1980s, a Nullmedium, (zero medium) with absolute no program content whatsoever (Nullmedium). Instead of nurturing his own individual approach to film, Wenders tries to work through his anxieties concerning the perceived impending threat of auteurs extinction by constructing narratives and using technologies that stage and support the auteurs comeback. As previously mentioned, in Notebooks Wenders experiences a moment of conversion regarding video technology. He comments [video] allowed me to make 47 This attitude parallels Jean Baudrillards critique of Enzensbergers and Brechts evaluation of radio as a reciprocal medium. For Baudrillard, the two-way communication ability of a medium does not guarantee its revolutionary potential (reversibility does not equal reciprocity). Instead, he argues, the quality of communication has to be evaluated in each individual case to separate genuine messages from feedback and an influx of dilettantism (referenced in Uecker 43).

PAGE 115

106 everything more or less by myself which, as Alter correctly infers, enable[s] him to keep on playing the authors role, practicing authorship in the form of affirmed identity and control (131). In the narrative of capturing the designer Yamamoto create his newest fashion line, the voice-over emphasizes the gap between designing and manufacturing clothes for the international market and those destined for domestic consumers. In his Japanese collection, Yamamoto is called a craftsman and his assistants the guardian angels of an author (On Film 373). Wenders is obviously alluding to the similarity of Yamamotos status as creator of clothes to Wenders as an author of films, an auteur. This simile can then be expanded and extended to the films subplot which has as its theme the tension that exists between video and film images. Just as fashion, a consumer product, can be redeemed by artistic intention, video, a mass commodity in its own right, can also be raised in value through artistic intervention. Wenders has shifted the emphasis effectively from the medium to the artist; it is not so much what video can do but what can be done with it. When Wenders uses the term craft (in German Handwerk) he betrays his convictions to be informed by German cultural institutions and by a concomitant value system. Handwerk is a concept which has featured prominently in recent German history, as an essential element in German economical developments and social history. Wenders blurs the boundary between artist and artisan which are both valued in society in their own unique way. However, in his fiction films, the lines are drawn clearly and heavily in favor of the artist. In UtEotW, Wim Wenders attempts to foreground his unique style as an auteur by using new technologies and including one-of-a-kind artifacts. Using the science fiction genre allows Wenders to strive for originality in soundtrack, technology, fashion, and

PAGE 116

107 imagery. He commissioned sixteen original songs from as many musicians, such as U2, Sinead OConnor, etc., and even uncovered a never released song from the deceased artist Roy Orbison. For Claire and Sams wardrobe he commissioned original designs from Yoshi Yamamoto (the fashion designer from Notebooks). Of course, as a newly developing technology, the HDTV images serve as a highlight in the films original features. Through these devices Wenders ostensibly tries to distance himself from the common cinema of Hollywood. In 1995 Wenders displaces his artistic anxiety from the cinema to the much more accommodating world of painting. Wenderss introduction into the art scene originally occurred via traditional painting. After UtEotW, he revisits these roots but this time with digital paintings. At the 45 th Venice Biennale Wenders displays UtEotW film stills as any traditional artist would exhibit traditional paintings; new technology is cloaked in old aesthetics and therefore elevated into the realm of high-culture. After all, it is there that autonomous artists with a defining style, can still be celebrated seemingly unfettered by new technologies. Wenderss concerns regarding television, film and the fate of the auteur, are not singular in the context of German Autorenfilm. Another German auteur, Alexander Kluge (unlike Wenders) has been using cable television as a creative medium to further his public sphere project since 1988 with Kulturmagazine shows such as 10 vor 11 and Primetime/Sptausgabe on RTL, with News & Stories on SAT.1, and with Mitternachtsmagazin on VOX. His experiments, sometimes called kluges Fernsehen (smart TV), commenced in 1985, when he founded the Arbeitsgemeinschaft Kabel und Satellit (AKS) which later, in cooperation with the Japanese advertising firm Dentsu and

PAGE 117

108 the Spiegel-Verlag, turned into the TV production company DCTP (Development Company for Television Programs). Since 1988, he has almost exclusively turned to television as a creative outlet and his film and literary works have become scarce. In television, Kluge has found a medium to further pursue his notion of a productive public sphere (based on Habermass theories). This sphere calls for democratic societies to provide spaces in which information can circulate, an unfettered exchange of opinion and ideas is guaranteed, and public debates are actively encouraged. This space should exist independently of the state and remain isolated from private and corporate interests. Despite the fact that this type of public sphere appears antagonistic to the norms of commercial television, Kluge has managed to carve himself a niche which has enabled him to realize his ideological goals. Although viewer ratings for his programs are dismal, he is allowed to continue his experiments through special provisions which German law attaches to television channels. In addition to pursuing his public sphere project, Kluge also insists that no matter which medium he employs in his productions, he will always and foremost be an auteur. With much enthusiasm and ideological fervor he poses the question Why shouldnt there be a TV for the auteur? (Kluge). For Kluge, cooperation/collaboration between TV and film seems more productive than simple enmity, and he set out to establish a relationship where television and the cinema could be used as venues for each others wares, especially in cases when a format does not fit into the parameters or conventions of the specific medium (Uecker 34), e.g., a film of unconventional length. Although, like Wenders, Alexander Kluge is not ready to give up his status as elite cultural producer, he represents a point at the opposite end of the creative spectrum from Wenders. He proves that television can provide a platform from

PAGE 118

109 which to launch any political and artistic project, no matter how politically progressive or anti-capitalistic its message. 48 Ironically, had Wenders accepted television as a medium worthy of his relatively high-budget film Until the End of the World, he may have profited from some of its medium-specific advantages over film. One such advantage lies in its capability to tell stories in serial format. This allows for immense character and plot development, whereas films rarely risk going over the 2 hour maximum time frame for features. Wenders, whose director-cut film is almost 5 hours long and therefore hasnt been shown to a wider public, would have benefited from this feature. Other German directors, and Wenders contemporaries in New German Cinema, have taken advantage of this television peculiarity in the past and fared extremely well, such as Edgar Reitzs acclaimed Heimat series or Fassbinders Berlin Alexanderplatz miniseries. Conclusion: Technology and the Difficulty of Representing History/Memory Abandoning German-ness I was deeply moved by seeing and feeling that Germany, because it isnt me any more, Im a cosmopolite now. Wim Wenders, On Film Wenders fashions the near-future science fiction world of Until the End of the World so as to play down and possibly even eliminate national borders. Claire, Sam, Gene, the detective Winter, and the Australian bounty hunter effortlessly move from one country to the next. Although Sams passport is mentioned once as a tracking device, no 48 For a detailed and well-informed analysis of Alexander Kluges television projects see Ueckers Alexander Kluge: Anti-Fernsehen? Alexander Kluges Fernsehproduktion and Christian Schulte and Winfried Sieberss (ed.), Kluges Fernsehen. Alexander Kluges Kulturmagazine.

PAGE 119

110 one in the film ever openly acknowledges his or her nationality. 49 Economies have merged as well it seems with the chief and shared unit of exchange being credit. In UtEotW, Wenders makes a candid attempt at producing a film that could be called an international portrait. He employs French, German, Australian, American, and Japanese actors, films his scenes on several continents, appropriates several languages, and taps into regional sensibilities (such as the Aborigine culture or Japanese hotel practices) of his film locales. 50 Producing a film that attempts to unite the world through stories and images is not without its creative perils, however. As Baier correctly points out, Wenders uses his film to make questionable statements about certain nations and nationals, such as using an Indian satellite in the catastrophe to end the world, or the Japanese encounter in the hotel in Tokyo. In the former case Wenders feeds stereotypical assumptions that developing countries are less sophisticated with technology than their first-world counterparts and therefore dangerous (and should not be trusted with such devices). In the latter example, he depicts Japanese men as sex-crazed maniacs masturbating in front of TVs and attempting to grope Solveig Dommartins character as she runs by (99-100). The only constant in Claire and Sams travels are not the places they visit but the use of 49 However, Wenders fails in his attempt to collapse the world into one place to some degree due to his rootedness in present day concerns. If his hero still uses a passport, clear national boundaries obviously remain (unlike in present-day Europe where passports from individual countries no longer have to be checked in that region). And if the Vietnamese have developed superior computer chips, there also still exists nationally defined competition in the global marketplace, not one economy as suggested by the single currency. One could also argue that the specific usage of flagship cities of each country, Venice, Paris, Berlin, Lisbon, Moscow, Peking, Tokyo, and San Francisco, visited in UtEotW, highlights the fact that there are still many individual and familiar countries, necessitating the crossing of national borders, and highlighting the existence of linguistic barriers reified by different languages. 50 Space, on the other hand, appears as a highly subjective matter. In Australia for example, a country of vast proportions, space seems to collapse when the films characters interact there. They all meet up in highly unlikely coincidences.

PAGE 120

111 identically high-tech gadgets throughout the world. 51 Of course technology, in general, may bridge borders but it cannot always erase national specificity (on the contrary, it sometimes enforces it, as in the case of region-specific video standards and DVD region encoding). It appears ironic that a tale so intend on collapsing national borders and economies features a medium that has struggled for twenty years, and still is to some degree today, with political and financial disputes among countries. These struggles are the main reason that HDTV has not yet become as common in domestic and professional circles as TVs, VCRs or camcorders. Although HDTV, coded in binary language, has the potential for a universal format, national concerns have so far hindered its success. In Until the End of the World HDTV is not given a fair chance either. With Wenders, however, it is not a political or economic issue but artistic anxiety that fetters the technology. In almost all of Wenderss films, the director has put forth considerable effort to infuse his career with international allure and to separate himself from his German artistic background. Several of his films feature locations outside of Germany, French and American actors, use genres of other national cinemas, such as Hollywood, and employ soundtracks that appeal to an international audience. In the last decade, however, his films have become conspicuously pre-occupied with flaunting themselves as international productions. Apart from UtEotW, in 1994, Wenders directed Lisbon Story, in 1995, he co-directed (with Antonioni) Beyond the Clouds, which was followed by The End of Violence in 1997, Buena Vista Social Club in 1999, and The Million Dollar Hotel in 2000. These films all share international localities, non-German languages, an 51 Wenders uses gadgets that are new commercial products in his other films as well, e.g., Polaroid photography, videogames, walkie-talkies, walkmans, etc.

PAGE 121

112 international cast, and storylines that provide no clues as to the directors nationality. In his website biography, Wenders makes a point of highlighting his separation from New German Cinema and the Filmverlag der Autoren, two entities closely tied to his national German identity. The website reads with the release of Paris, Texas in Germany, Wenders began to diverge from the Filmverlag der Autoren, deciding to end his partnership (Wim Wenders Bio) and he adds in a letter to the Sddeutsche Zeitung the Filmverlag der Autoren is [. .] [a] team I dont want to play for any more (On Film 227). The split from New German Cinema and the Filmverlag occurred principally over the distribution rights to Paris, Texas and the manner in which the Filmverlag managed financial matters in general. This separation proved to be more than a simple business dispute, however, it launched him into a career that diverged more and more from his country of artistic origin. His use of new imaging technologies, especially the format of digital video, has aided this development tremendously. Recording the Past and Future on Video and Film Films exist in that crevice between past and present. Wim Wenders, On Film Video as a technology, especially in its institutionalized form of television, has left many artists and critics with the impression that it is inextricable linked to immediacy, ubiquity, and not always bound to veracity. Marita Sturken explains this phenomenon convincingly with the following assertion: The television image is the copy with no originalit is many images everywhere at the same time. It is coded not only as live (there are many conventions in television that make it appear live when it is actually prerecorded) but also as continuous and immediate (120). She goes on to add, many early videomakers were responding to precisely this aspect of immediacy, with the

PAGE 122

113 attitude that tape was ephemeral and instant, the now. [. .] Thus, the very nature of television technology, in its materiality, acts as a negation of history, and this negation forces us to redefine and reconceptualize the notion of what constitutes the past (121). These anti-historical tendencies of video as a medium become amplified when combined with digital technology. Digital video completely eliminates any notion of an original, or an authoritative, singular source. But digital video, especially HDTV, has also bridged the gap between standard definition television/video and cinema (which is more readily seen as a source of truth and meaningful contemplation) Most importantly for the future of technological convergence, HDTV will link TV, video and computers due to a shared binary language. In this move toward convergence, can video become the definitive representational medium to disseminate images of all types, those relating to the present and past? As Sturken further notes, televisions live image can be transmitted to several places at once regardless of distance. It is capable of instant replay and real-time recording. Therefore, she argues, its ubiquity and immediacy prevents it from being perceived or used as a system suited for archival storage (103). Frederic Jameson also states more specifically that memory seems to play no role in television, commercial or otherwise (Jameson Postmodernism 70). If TV cannot function as a system capable of preserving information such as personal histories (memories) or public historical discourse adequately, it would stand to reason that HDTV, by extension, cannot do so either. Wenders picks up on this notion in UtEotW to include it into a narrative which deals predominantly with the recording of memories. Again, it appears as if HDTVs close relations with TV are what inhibit Wenders to embrace it wholeheartedly. In

PAGE 123

114 UtEotW Wenderss protagonists attempt to use a high-tech camera, in actuality a device which stands in as the producer for most of the HDTV images in the film, as a medium potentially capable of transmitting the recording of images stemming from recalled memories (the recording of physical reality in conjunction with the brain activity involved in recording and recalling the images). In the narrative, Sam Farber uses the futuristic camera to follow a trail his own parents made when they were escaping the Nazis. Edith tells Claire about how she met Henry while they were fleeing from Germany and that the entire journey which Sam undertakes, with Claire in tow, is a repeat of his parents adventure. Only in the films present Sam is running from the American government whereas his parents had as their enemies the Nazis. By extension, the viewers partake in this secondary re-living of the past via the narrative and the cameras recordings. The theme of experiencing and re-experiencing becomes a leitmotif in the film, one which also applies to the function of the camera. In the process of making the recorded images visible to the blind viewer, the recording subject must go through, as Wenders describes it, an act of re-seeing, of recognition, of memory (On Film 301). The audience as well as the figures in the narrative are caught in a web of seeing and re-seeing images, an odd interplay of experience and memory. Could Wenders be pointing at another topos with his narrative, one which also figures heavily in Germanys history: the coming to terms with the past? In the film, and in Wenderss execution of it, a medium that the director himself once denounced as purely fascist proves inadequate when confronted with its own kind. As the narrative confirms, Germany and the protagonists history and memory cannot be represented competently by images alone, especially if those images stem from

PAGE 124

115 television technology. In the films metaphorical confrontation the mother dies because her own memories do not conform to the recorded images, Sam and Claire become afflicted with an image-addiction, and the father loses himself in his obsessive research. 52 To be exact, the latter neglects specific ceremonies for mourning and immerses himself in work. The fathers inability to mourn ties in with that aforementioned topos of Germanys post-war history, the lack of Vergangenheitsbewltigung (the inability to come to terms with the past), which eventually causes Farbers total mental collapse. The story of the Farber parents flight from persecution, a minor subplot at best in UtEotW, presents possibilities for a powerful and insightful thesis, eclipsing in comparison the main premise of showing (with images) a world that is saturated and damaged by an abundance of images. This suppressed subplot, literally in the film and symbolically through association with first and second generation German relationships (personified by Henry, the father and Sam, his son in the film) points toward another implication most certainly not intended by Wenders: UtEotW, although painfully constructed as a supernational film, accommodates its most interesting hypothesis in the national specifics contained in a minor storyline. In UtEotW Wenders had the opportunity to use the new technology HDTV to add to a discourse that still plays an important role in Germanys imagination, artistic and otherwise. Had he showcased the technology in a more favorable light, certain attributes of television may have emerged as possible answers to questions he failed to pose as well. Perhaps cinema does not constitute the most appropriate, or at least not the only 52 Ediths death cannot easily be traced to a narrative impetus. She declares that seeing the world again upset her, but we are not told to which images she was specifically objecting. Ostensibly, Wenders wants to communicate that the world was once a better place (one with less images?), but he fails to make his case stick with his own images.

PAGE 125

116 medium for historical discourse. Enzensberger, for example, although he agrees that the new media favor the present over tradition, distribution over possession, and subversion of ownership through non-originality, also points out that these qualities are not synonymous with a loss of history or historical consciousness (Constituents 69). These attributes can also ensure that multiple histories are recorded and able to be distributed at will and through multiple sources. In short, television/video may represent the medium most suited to telling German history precisely because its productive output does not purport to relay permanence, singular truths, and authoritative sources. UtEotW touches on these points but fails to develop them adequately. After UtEotW, in his music videos and the documentary Buena Vista Social Club, it is difficult to discern how Wenders treats digital and HD video differently from film, formally and aesthetically. 53 He does not necessarily try to invent a new language for a new medium like he promises in Notebooks. Moreover, Wenders sees videos possibility to develop its own language as conditioned largely by its limitations (On Film 356). In other words, videos capacity to express itself is limited, from the beginning, to a set of attributes which cannot live up to cinemas greater arsenal of expressive tools. As he declares, High Definition should try to learn from a better source and a better tradition than television [. .] [from] the far more expressive and civilized language of the cinema (358). He accommodates this attitude with his practical applications and simply adapts his filmic techniques to the new technology. Some of the 53 It could be argued that Buena Vista Social Club displays some of the classic tell-tale signs of video usage, such as jerkiness and extreme mobility of the camera. However, these techniques have also become part of the language of the latest trend in the films of Hollywood and are just as easily expressed with traditional 35mm technologies (see chapter 4). Non-digital film equipment has undergone vast improvements over the last decade not only increasing the mobility of the camera due to the reduction in equipment size, but also broadening the scope of effects that can be achieved without any post-production efforts.

PAGE 126

117 comments from his crew attest to this attitude. As one member remarks, [for the U2 video], we used a prototype of the Sony 24P high def camera [. .] It was the first time I shot video. I lit and treated it like film (West). But Wenders is certainly not alone in reacting in this artistic manner. Indeed, it has become a common sentiment of those working in the film industry to assume that HDTVs greatest asset is its close approximation of conventional film stock. The technology itself is changing as well to become more like 35 and 16mm film. The latest digital video camcorders not only feature high resolution but are also capable of recording images at the native film rate of 24 progressive-scanned frames per second. 54 With the latest HD camcorders, filmmakers can realistically emulate different kinds of film stock. The particular stock characteristics are simply uploaded into the camera and subsequently duplicated. Names for digital video technologies such as CineAlta, a Sony product used by Wim Wenders and George Lucas among others, also point symbolically toward the divergence of video and film technologies. Over the years Wenders has displaced his anxieties about video in general (the medium) onto the TV image (the institution) specifically. But he has never fully redeemed traditional video either, not in his comments or his films. Only when video converges with digital technologies can he accept and use it in a respectful manner. Digital video, for Wenders, is closer in its aesthetic and technical make-up to film than TV and therefore recoverable from the oblivion of dilettantism. For Wenders, High Definition, in place of low definition, has the historic opportunity of correcting bad 54 Progressive scanning (in contrast to interlaced scanning), a technology utilized in computer monitors, allows for an entire frame to be displayed before the next arrives making image manipulation easier and reducing noise. Interlaced scanning, an alternating horizontal line display technique employed by television sets, on the other hand, has the disadvantage of being vulnerable to twitter, a type of image interference.

PAGE 127

118 habits of seeing, and to come up with a less terrorist, and a kindlier [sic], more human way of seeing (On Film 357). In other words, that which aligns HDTV closer with the cinema and which distances it from television, can save the new technology from a potentially malign future. Digital advancement in video technology, increasing the latters resolution in projections dramatically, interrupted any promising creative developments which may have followed Wenderss experiments in Notebooks. Video simply becomes a medium with which he tries to imitate film, aesthetically (by not adopting any new techniques), technically (by treating it like film and transferring it back to film), and socially (by showing his video films in the cinema). Wenderss video falls prey to what Jameson calls the very maturity and sophistication of film conceptualities which will necessarily obscure the originality of its cousin [video], whose specific features demand to be reconstructed afresh and empty-handed, without imported and extrapolated categories (Postmodernism 69-70). Once a medium which held hope for many artists to subvert dominant artistic practices and institutions, traditional video is headed for obscurity, soon to be replaced permanently by digital technologies. Although digital video has already affected the film industry immensely in almost every aspect, including pre-production, production, post-production, and distribution and storage, advancement in the technology could very well replace traditional film equipment and practices altogether. It remains to be seen whether this development will prove to widen the pool of creative output or not. It will however, and without a doubt, change the way we see films in the future.

PAGE 128

CHAPTER 4 COMPUTER GAMES AND FILM It is not the plays effect on the audience but its effect on the theatre that is decisive at this moment. Bertolt Brecht, Brecht on Theater The Influence of Digital Technology on Cinema Perhaps the most appropriate way to put it is to remember that when we speak of the cinema today, we speak of cinema after television and after the video game, after the CD-ROM and the theme park. Thomas Elsaesser, Digital Cinema In the years 1936 to1938 began a long-lasting and efficacious relationship between two emergent media: film and computers. At this time German engineer Konrad Zuse developed the first programmable binary computer prototype, Z1, which used 35mm film stock to read its program. 1 Since then, the computer-film connection has blossomed into a close-knit and interrelated nexus; there are very few aspects of film practice which have not been affected in some way, directly or indirectly, by digital media. Computers have changed the way films are recorded, stored, distributed, and watched by viewers at home and on the movie theater screen. Image and sound quality, as well as content of films and filming techniques have been altered by digital technology as well. 1 A reproduction of this computer, which was destroyed by WWII bombs, is exhibited at the Museum fr Verkehr und Technik in Berlin. For a comprehensive overview of Zuses accomplishments and contributions to the development of computers see the Konrad Zuse Archive online at http://www.zib.de/zuse/index.html and the Konrad Zuse Freundeskreis Homepage http://konrad-zuse-freundeskreis.de/ (both in German), as well as the Virginia Tech History of Computing site at http://ei.cs.vt.edu/~history/Zuse.html (in English). 119

PAGE 129

120 Although most film viewers readily acknowledge the influence of computer technology on cinematic practices, the relationship/flow is two-way and the influence of film on the computer industry, in particular the area of desktop development, has been pointed out by several critics. Lev Manovich describes this connection convincingly in his book The Language of New Media. He argues: Cinema, the major cultural form of the twentieth century, has found a new life as the toolbox of a computer user. Cinematic means of perception, of connecting space and time, of representing human memory, thinking, and emotions become a way of work and a way of life for millions in the computer age. Cinema's aesthetic strategies have become basic organizational principles of computer software. The window in a fictional world of a cinematic narrative has become a window in a datascape. In short, what was cinema has become human-computer interface. (86) The influence of films on computer/videogames 2 a specific type of digital technologyis perhaps even more conspicuous. 3 Films have obviously had a great impact on the look and feel of most videogames. This visually apparent similarity is augmented by the two medias related formal attributes and technological make-up. For one, videogames, unlike many of their non-digital cousins, usually do not require the experience of participating in a group as an integral part of letting a player have fun (except for those that use the Internet as an extension and an interface with other 2 The terms videogame and computer game are used interchangeably in this essay. Conventionally, the former refers to arcade game systems or console systems displayed on a TV monitor, and the latter indicates that the game can be played on a computer and is displayed on a monitor. 3 There also exists a close relationship between desktop computers and videogames. Not only can both media trace their inceptions to the early 1970s, they are intimately linked in their technological development as well. Arcade games such as Computer Space (1971) and the mail-order Altair personal computers (1974) are generally acknowledged to be the first games and desktops, respectively, to be available to a general public. Desktop computers and videogames experienced a similar chronological development in their abilities to accommodate graphical sophistication, a very important factor in the genealogy of computer/videogame development. Indeed, some critics contend that videogames, which rely extensively on computer-based technology, and computer games have been one of the motivating factors for the improvement of desktop computer technology (Brante 322).

PAGE 130

121 players). 4 This is also the case with films which turn the consumption of visual narratives into a predominantly private experience via the dark and quiet atmosphere of the theater. As Bolter and Grusin point out, games based on interactive narrative (such as Tomb Raider) favor a single user with the time and the solitude to solve puzzles and make choices. These more thoughtful games remediate film rather than video (94). This remark also exposes videogames as closer aligned with film than trying to imitate video, and by extension television. Timothy Corrigan remarks: When any movie is watched as a television show, that is, the domestic setting of the experience may create a kind of immediacy and complicity between the television image and the viewer, but that imaginistic immediacy is very significantly redefined across the fragmentation that is either built into the television text (such as commercial interruptions and the cuttings or reductions of the image) or simply intrude upon and invade it as part of the distractions of a domestic environment (conversations or the ringing of a phone). The television spectator, according to John Ellis, glances rather than gazes at the screen; attention is sporadic rather than sustained. (24) In the case of most computer and videogames, players must pay uninterrupted attention to the game to triumph in battles, solve puzzles, remain in control of avatars and other virtual stand-ins, and keep up with challenges incorporated into the games structure and goals. Of course, continuous focus and quick reactions are especially important in real-time games such as flying or racing simulators. Also, whether computer and videogames are displayed on a monitor, a TV, or a coin-op display, they use, as does film, a screen to interface with the participant/viewer. In films and computer/videogames there is often a simulation of an other on screen while the viewer/participant identifies with the camera point of view, either as external 4 A very early convergence of computer and conventional gaming represents the chess game, where the computer simulates the actions of an opponent. Again, it was Konrad Zuse who first adapted this game to a binary computing machine. In 1945, he developed a computer driven chess game utilizing a forerunner of todays programming languages called Plankalkl which he had developed earlier.

PAGE 131

122 witness or in place of one of the characters in the interactive narrative. The purpose of this identification, in the case of both media, is most often to offer an immersive experience which facilitates the escape from everyday reality. The difference between films and videogames for achieving this goal lies in the degree of participation or intervention in the story line and story environment which is imparted on the viewer/participant. 5 There also exists much common ground between the two media concerning stylistic devices, as can be seen in the FMVscenes (full-motion-video or cut-scenes), the mimicking of camera angles, point-of-view shots, visual and sound effects, and strategic adoption of non-diegetic music and diegetic sound effects. 6 While videogames have undeniably and obviously been influenced aesthetically by the medium of film, the opposite, film style being influenced by videogames, is more difficult to discern. An excellent example of the potential for these games to affect film aesthetics is Run Lola Run (1998). The film serves as an exemplary model of intra-filmic remediation of an extra-filmic new media, the computer/videogame, through artistic intervention and the employment of a formal rupture. 7 5 It is tempting to compare the interactivity available in a videogame with the intervention possibilities offered by VCR and TV remote control technologies. However, neither television programs nor videos are made to be viewed in any other way than continuously and at prescribed times, respectively. Viewer interactivity does not have any significant influence upon original meaning, at least not compared to the influence interactivity has on videogame narratives. Television, which constantly battles the channel-flipping impulse of viewers, is a case in point. Programs and commercials are specifically designed to hold attention and keep the audience from moving on. 6 FMV-scenes are common features found in newer games due to the greater storage capacity of game media. They are commonly used to advance the story of the game, similar to the function of recitative in opera. They are also presented as a reward and respite to players finishing a particular task or level in a game and serve as establishing scenes to introduce the player to the games plot and general objective. In Run Lola Run, the initial sequence, when Manni narrates the preceding events leading to his predicament, acts and feels very much like a game cut-scene. 7 I am employing the term remediation in the sense set forth by Bolter and Grusin in Remediation. The authors define it as the formal logic by which new media refashions prior media forms (273).

PAGE 132

123 Run Lara Run Style Eclipses Content: Reinventing Popular Appeal If the bad news is that old stereotypes are still in full swing, the good news is that hip style (handheld camera, fast editing, nonlinear narratives) and hip humor (parody, satire, self-awareness) make them go down easier. Ruby Rich, The Nation When Tim Tykwers film Run Lola Run premiered in Germany, where many domestic films cannot compete with the heavy line-up of Hollywood Blockbusters, 8 it became one of the twenty most successful films of 1998, the second most watched of all the German films that year (Joseph Vilsmaiers Comedian Harmonist ranked first) (Schroeder). It also faired well in the United States, winning the Sundance Audience Award and collecting praise from critics as diverse as Janet Maslin of The New York Times and Peter Travers of Rolling Stone. It grossed millions of dollars in 1999 on the American market alone and continued drawing in large audiences throughout the following year. However, Run Lola Runs popularity is, of course, relative in the no-subtitles America (Rich 34), where it only reached number 150 of the most successful films for 1999 (Richter). Nevertheless, in comparison to other foreign-language entries, with the exception of La vita bella, it performed extraordinarily well. What is particularly remarkable about Run Lola Run is that, although wide-ranging in its appeal, its filmic structure does not conform to conventional strategies in popular film traditions. In his 1972 essay Godard and Counter Cinema: Vent dEst, Peter Wollen discusses Godards formation of a counter-cinemaan apparatus pitted against orthodox Hollywood pictures. Wollen outlines the formulaic practices and conformative trends 8 In 1998, the percentage of market share for German films in the domestic market was only 8 percent (of DM 692 Million). American imports, in contrast, made up for 85 percent of the total market (Wolken).

PAGE 133

124 found in most popular films and outlines the following characteristics, or seven deadly sins, which illustrate the constituents of dominant cinema: a straight-forward narrative flow, audience identification with characters, transparency (immediacy) that hides filmic construction, a homogeneous diegetic world, conflict resolution and closure, pleasure through escape from reality, and a fictional story (Wollen 499-506). According to Wollen, popular cinema employs these conventions in order to appeal to a wide range of spectators and to satisfy audience expectations as much as possible. 9 While Run Lola Run is not a pure counter-cinema film, in keeping with Wollens rigid guidelines, since it incorporates pleasure and fiction into its text, it certainly subverts the remaining categories systematically. Although produced nearly thirty years after Wollens essay on Godards Vent dEst, Run Lola Run still manages to undermine conventional cinematic practices in a manner reminiscent of the Swiss/French director. 10 For though Godard had a more overtly ideological mission, what the two filmmakers share is their willingness to experiment with style. In the broader context of contemporary cinema it is becoming increasingly apparent that the dominant practices employed in the early seventies no longer apply as comprehensively to popular films as they once did. Innovations that were considered avant-garde in the past are now used as surprise techniques (devoid of political intention) to keep the media-savvy mainstream audience from getting bored. 9 American media critic Dwight MacDonald argues that the industry tries to fulfill audience expectations because viewers find it easier to consume a story that includes predictability (cited in Hollows Mass Culture4-25). 10 Interestingly, Stuart Klawans, in his review of Run Lola Run, briefly compares Tykwers film to Godards feature film Breathless (1961). Klawans points out that Run Lola Run follows to some degree in the footsteps of the latter which is the fore-runner of on-the-run films that trafficked in the coolness of movies, the dangers of True Love and the neer-do-well winsomeness of a homely-handsome criminal. Of course Klawans is also quick to point out that Tykwers film cannot in substance come close to Godards, only in coolness. Besides coolness, Tykwers film resurrects Brechtian principles of epic style, which were also important for Jean-Luc Godards filmmaking (see chapter 2).

PAGE 134

125 There are plenty of examples within recent popular films that have violated one or more points in Wollens formula, e.g. Pulp Fiction (1994), Twelve Monkeys (1995), Out of Sight (1998), The Blair Witch Project (1999), American Beauty (1999), Magnolia (1999), and Memento (2001), to name but a few. In comparison to Tykwers film, however, their experimentation with film convention is limited. Surprisingly, there are many more films that still adhere to Wollens formula even so many years after the texts inception. Run Lola Runs attempt at reworking conventions while still retaining popular appeal has succeeded in opening up dominant cinema to even further experiments. The films narrative incorporates digressions, repetitions, and disjunctures while also limiting the opportunity for viewers to identify with the films main characters. In fact, their personality traits are not admirable, and, like the characters of Godards Breathless, they are social misfits with a leaning toward unlawfulness. Reinforcing the spectators distance from the protagonists, the film never tries to hide its artificial construction. On the contrary, it revels in its self-reflexive hypermediacy. 11 Run Lola Run confronts its audience with multiple visual media: video, 35mm film stock, cel-animation, and still photography and bombards it with fast cuts and unnatural camera angles. Of course, the three segments that tell the same tale with slight changes and different endings are far removed from normative diegetic exposition and frustrate the viewers desire for closure. 12 Yet, Tykwers film was very successful, even with audiences accustomed to dominant cinematic fare, precisely because it was not 11 The term hypermediacy here refers to Bolter and Grusins use of the term. They define it as style of visual representation whose goal is to remind the viewer of the medium (272). 12 Although the final episode is the one with the happy ending, it includes no diegetic clues that lend it superiority over the other segments.

PAGE 135

126 referencing classical film conventions. Rather, I contend, it appealed to viewers through another, less obvious, though also immensely popular medium: the videogame, a form Tykwer uses as a stylistic template to structure Run Lola Run. Computer/videogames have surpassed all other game media in both popularity and economic success. Not surprisingly, then, Run Lola Run makes abundant allusions to this digital medium as well as to conventional games. However, I intend to show that Run Lola Runs primary goal is not to capitalize on the popular appeal of videogames through imitation. Rather, the film reflects critically upon its own medium and attempts to relax the narrative and visual conventions of dominant cinema practices by adopting conventions used in videogames. Run Lola Run acknowledges, even highlights, the limits of its cinematic apparatus, but also demonstrates that its restrictive and static nature can be subverted and its conventions suppressed. Tykwer uses an ostensibly simple concept to accomplish this task: The film is fashioned around the theme of games; however, the viewer is a spectator in the unfolding of the play, rather than an active participant. Apart from Run Lola Runs latent manifestation of videogame aesthetics, the film includes plenty of overt references to games in general. Games and films have many overlapping characteristics and are therefore media which are easily reconciled in Tykwers film. As McLuhan reminds us, games are popular art forms with strict conventions, need rules, conventions, and spectators, and we consent to being a part of a dynamic mechanism in an artificially contrived situation (237-240). The opening quote After the game is before the game, attributed to Sepp Herberger, one of Germanys most famous soccer coaches, is immediately followed by another announcement: The ball is round. The game lasts 90 minutes. Everything else is theory,

PAGE 136

127 spoken by one of the films secondary characters, the bank security guard. Since Run Lola Runs approximate running length is also close to ninety minutes (81 minutes, to be exact), this declaration can be extended to apply to the film as a game, as well as to a soccer match. These scenes are presented within the first few minutes of the film and establish a leitmotif for everything that ensues. To expand the game allusion beyond the sports references and to arrive at a more general definition, Run Lola Runs diegesis also includes the game of dominoes and an animated Roulette croupier announcing, Rien ne vas plus, signaling that the game (film) has begun for the main character. In response, Lola runs to save the day and wins her game. She eventually succeeds, of course, when this trope comes full circle and she triumphs against incredible odds in a game of Roulette at a casino. Finally, embedded in the overall narrative structure of the film lie the rules according to which all players/characters must adhere. When Lola breaks the law, Manni dies; when Manni breaks the law, Lola dies. When both pursue the DM 100,000 more or less legitimately, they live happily ever after. Law and order functions as a metaphor for rules, and since rules are essential elements of games, they cannot be broken to win. Because of technical limitations, Run Lola Run must do without traditional game features such as competition (player vs. player and/or game), interactivity (input leading to response), and winning/losing in the traditional sense. Yet, it still retains a playful overall ambience. Therefore, it seems fitting that the film uses the references to soccer, a spectator game par excellence, and especially popular in Europe, to frame the action and prepare the audience for an unconventional visual experience. Viewers are passive as the traditional film medium demands, but at the same time engaged in the experiencing of the

PAGE 137

128 kinetic extravaganza styled like an interactive videogame. Tom Tykwer explains the films effect fittingly when he remarks, Run Lola Run is supposed to exert thrill, it should have the effect of a roller coaster on the viewers who will be made to quake and quiver (Tykwer). 13 When comparing the medium film to a roller coaster, he also alludes to the fact that physical passivity does not necessarily equal boredom. This comment seeks to remind audiences that, although new medias potential for interactivity is often touted as something that sets it apart, provides an improvement, over older representational media, a certain kind of passivity (an engaging passivity?) can have its appeal as well. 14 In early 1997, one year prior to Run Lola Runs domestic release, the Eidos Interactive videogame, Tomb Raider, hit the worlds gaming market, becoming an instant market success. 15 So much so that it spawned several, equally, or even more popular, sequels each one improving upon its predecessor. The Tomb Raider sequels lure players with enhanced graphics, expanded interactive attributes, new engaging scenarios, and additional creative opponents for the games star, Lara Croft, to encounter. Lara is now as famous as any film star, with innumerable fan clubs and Internet sites as well as a monthly German magazine devoted to all aspects of her non-being. She can be seen worldwide in computer-generated TV and magazine ads peddling products such as Nike 13 In the original: Lola rennt soll mitreien, eine Achterbahn fr die Zuschauer sein, die durchgeschttelt werden. 14 Smith argues that seeing film and TV as passive media devalues their appeal in the realm of popular entertainment compared to interactive digital media, because action and choice are regarded as valuable cultural forms and passive and controlled enjoyment therefore elicits pleasure only in accompaniment of guilt (10-12). 15 Some estimates claim that the Tomb Raider games, which can be played on console as well as computer systems, have taken in revenues of more than 500 million Dollars in the U.S. alone.

PAGE 138

129 and Pepsi, and the Lucozade energy drink, which has been renamed in her honor to Larazade. 16 Finally, in the summer of 2001, her flesh-and-blood counterpart, Angelina Jolie, portrayed her on cinema screens all over the U.S. in the film Lara Croft: Tomb Raider. In Germany, Lara enjoys tremendous success not only as a game character, but also as a poster child for commercial products. She has appeared on magazine covers and newspapers such as Die Welt, Stern, Focus, and in television commercials for the magazine Brigitte. The popular German rock band Die rzte profited from her audience appeal when they cast her in the music video for their song Mnner sind Schweine (men are pigs). 17 That Lara exists only as a computer-generated image makes her enormous success all the more problematic. 18 Films and Games: A Winning Combination? The hybrid of the meeting of two media is a moment of truth and revelation from which new form is born. For the parallel between two media holds us on the frontiers between forms that snap us out of the Narcissus-narcosis. The moment of the meeting of media is a moment of freedom and release from the ordinary trance and numbness imposed by them on our senses. Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media 16 Recently, Lolas character experienced more commercial acknowledgement, not only in Germany, but also in the US. Visa ran an advertisement of a woman running through a city, very much in Lolas style, to catch her sons school bus and bring him lunch. Although the Run Lola Run allusion is not explicit, the reference to Lola is clear to anyone who has seen the film. 17 The video became enormously popular receiving plenty of airtime on the European MTV and other music channels and propelling the songs record sales to reach number one on the German charts (Lara Croft 78). 18 For a more detailed description of how cinemas star system has been adapted by the digital world and a discussion of Laras position in this system see Mary Fanagans essay Mobile Identities, Digital Stars, and Post-Cinematic Selves. However, in this essay Flanagan describes all female digital celebrities as obnoxiously sexualized female stars (14), which is surely an exaggeration. There are plenty of virtual women which defy this stereotype. Ms. PACMAN represents one of the more obvious exceptions to Flanagans depiction. She is right to point out, on the other hand, that many hyper-sexualized female characters exist in the digital arena and discusses two convincing cases: Ultravixen and Kiss Dolls. These two types make Laras sex appeal pale in comparison; they are virtually pornographic sex toys.

PAGE 139

130 It is no secret that video and computer games are becoming a force in entertainment with which few other media are able to compete. Even films, once considered the premier choice of entertainment and bringing billions of dollars each year to the United States economy, recently gave way to the lucrative gaming industry: In 2000, videogame software and hardware sales reached $8.9 billion versus $7.3 billion for movie box-office receipts (Wall Street Journal cited in Poole 7). However, for the most part, films and computer games do not appear to take part in any competitive scrambles resulting from or spawning such comparisons. In fact, both media often exist symbiotically, promoting and remediating each other and each others stars and themes through cross-media and trans-media campaigns, financing each others endeavors (e.g. Sega and Cronenbergs eXistenZ), and adapting each others stories and characters to film and game screen. As Bolter and Grusin argue, The goal [of remediation] is not to replace the earlier forms, to which the company may own rights, but rather to spread the content over as many markets as possible (68). As already mentioned, computer games openly emulate the older medium of film. According to Bolter and Grusin these games do the only thing, any new technology can do: define itself in relationship to earlier technologies of representation (28). This imitative style is immediately apparent in the FMV-scenes, but also includes use of camera angles, point-of-view shots, visual effects, use of sound, and inclusion of actors. On the first level of Tomb Raider, for example, when Lara enters the caves, she looks up at an opening to the left, ostensibly indicating the direction in which the player is to go. The player her/himself never initiated this look. 19 It is programmed to occur as 19 In the game, Laras point-of-view can be deliberately controlled with a keyboard or game pad function and the player can have a look around the 3-D environment.

PAGE 140

131 Lara reaches a certain point in the cave corridor. While this directed and manipulated point-of-view is clearly a nod to film (as well as TV and video), it is also an ironic device, because strategically the player would do better to ignore this left passage and continue straight ahead to a dead-end room with tasks to accomplish first. However, not only do films affect games, but the opposite is also true: films remediate computer technology relying on CGI (computer-generated imaging) and action sequences that extend the boundaries set by conventional techniques which employ staging, lighting, and non-digital special effects. 20 Most of the time when critics discuss how computer games have influenced film techniques and aesthetics, the discussion remains confined to the impact that computer-generated special effects have made, and arguments center predominantly on post-production concerns. This is not surprising since it is rare to encounter a film that consciously fashions itself according to computer game aesthetics: that is, using narrative practices, spatial and temporal devices, atmosphere and rhythm, unique or at least ostensibly tailored to a computer game world. Upon closer inspection, however, some slight changes that can be traced to computer technology as well as games are slowly transforming the structure of popular films. This is precisely where Tom Tykwer takes his cue and, with Run Lola Run, offers a film which tries to accomplish a double task: openly emulate computer game aesthetics while still retaining an overall filmic structure, both strategies translating into what has become a highly entertaining and popular film. 21 20 There are also plenty of films using gaming as a topic for their narrative, for example Tron (1982), WarGames (1983), The Last Starfighter (1984) the aforementioned Cronenberg film eXistenZ (1999), etc. or adapting a game to the screen, for example Mortal Kombat (1995), Wing Commander (1999), Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within (2001), and not to forget Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001). 21 The term popular, conventionally refers to that which belongs to or is addressed at the common people, and is seen in opposition to that which belongs to the elite. It can also, however, classify

PAGE 141

132 However, instead of playing to the passive audience that is generally associated with popular entertainment forms, both texts engage the viewer, in medium-specific ways, in the production of meaning. In Tomb Raider the player physically interacts with the narrative environment, and in Run Lola Run the viewer is challenged through the stylistic choices, e.g. the rapid editing, presented in the film. Lets walk through Run Lola Run, in the double sense of a game walk-through and a slowing down of the films motifs, to demonstrate the techniques that lend the film such unique but, simultaneously, popular entertainment value. 22 Conquering Space through Speed The true problem with virtual reality is that orientation is no longer possible. We have lost our points of reference to orient ourselves. The de-realized man is a disoriented man. Paul Virilio, Interview Run Lola Runs similarities to the Eidos Interactive computer/videogame Tomb Raider are not just confined to superficial characteristics of the protagonists in both, Lola something which many people find agreeable with their tastes, something that does well commercially. The two definitions are not always synonymous. For example, some popular style (low brow or anti-elite) Hollywood films are un-popular at the box-office. They do not draw the large audiences which they were trying to attract (Hollows and Jancovich 1-2). Run Lola Run and Tomb Raider have managed to claim both of these definitions for themselves. For an unconventional definition of popular, one strongly linked to process rather than a state of being, and therefore closely related to my reading of Run Lola Run, one must look back further into media history to Bertolt Brechts explication of the term. He defines it as a state that the masses adopt as a reaction to material that is understandable and meaningful to them, but that can also represents the point-of-view of progressive members of society (108). Popular is a state that is not static but also part of the development of taste itself. Besides being popular there is such a thing as becoming popular (112). Additionally, although the designations of popular and elite remain as categories, that which is classified as one or the other is historically and culturally determined (Hollows and Jancovich 3). Run Lola Run may use avant-garde, Godard-like or even Brechtian techniques in its make-up, but it does so several decades later when video clips and advertising techniques have already changed the cultural and historical backdrop for these techniques. 22 A computer game walk-through refers to a detailed description of a games topography and interactive setting and the trajectory of the player through both. Someone writes out, in detail, everything that a player should do and the specific sequence in which all tasks should be done. A player can follow these instructions in order to quickly finish a game and avoid all the obstacles that the programmer has added to make the game more challenging.

PAGE 142

133 and Lara, respectively. Apart from the obvious, but maybe coincidental, name resemblance, the action attire, and the quest for fortune that both women share, they are also similar in other, less noticeable ways. Lolas fantastic control over her environment, things and people, while traversing a space full of obstaclesas well as her seemingly superhuman powers to change the fate of others and her ownare key elements of Run Lola Runs narrative flow. These characteristics directly correspondent to Laras capabilities in Tomb Raider. Most importantly, it is both womens incessant drive to reach their destination that brings them together. The viewers identification with both characters is less embedded in an emotional response, and instead closer to a kinetic one. After watching Run Lola Run one can almost physically feel the exhaustion that the main character emanates. Tykwer uses Lolas movements, intensified by the rhythmic non-diegetic soundtrack, and shifts the cinematic experience out if its visual/auditory mode to produce a haptic response in the viewer. In Tomb Raider, running is Laras default propelling action, as is Lolas in the film. In order to make Lara walk instead of run, the player must press a special keyboard or game pad combination. It is this use of speed and space to which I now turn in order to examine how both media, game and film, utilize this combination in a very specific but also similar way. The navigation and mastery of virtual environments, for example the artificial, dense, and heavily accessorized space created for Tomb Raider and in Run Lola Run, the use of images from Berlin, German urban space par excellence, can be loosely linked to the experience of entering and interacting with real urban spaces. Exploring the simulated places staged in a computer game is initially likely to take the shape of an aimless stroll, apprehensive of what one might find and disoriented by the unfamiliar

PAGE 143

134 space (one that does not always adhere to realistic conventions) or navigational controls (not an intuitive physical walking, after all). Such wandering is therefore not unlike the Dadaist excursions through the urban landscape of Paris in the 1920s. Indeed, new media critics such as Florian Rtzer, Lev Manovich, and others, have linked navigating virtual spaces to flnerie. 23 However, rather than trying to come to terms with the alienating speed of modern life, the postmodern landscapes of computer games are mastered/achieved by utilizing this fast pace in order to explore the game world, perform the various required tasks, and advance to the next experience. Speed is no longer something with which we have to come to terms, but rather something that has become an instrumental part of everyday life. Constituents of communication, manufacturing, travel, and technology are moving at an incredible speed. Virilios disoriented man (see epigraph) is adjusting quickly to this new situation; her or his points of reference have simply changed. 24 Rather than the passive, goalless Dadaist flnerie discoveries, the experience of the computer game is an excursion that invites interaction rather than observation. It is closer aligned with the Situationists drive, a playful interaction with space that calls for contact and intervention, albeit the ultimately teleological drive has been voided of any of the Situationists political dimension. The drive, what the Situationists call a technique of transient passage through varied ambiances (Andreotti 69), makes it possible to apprehend the experience of [. .] space not as spectator but as actor (Hollevoet 45). 23 Manovich expands on the link of navigable virtual space and its flnerie counterpart to some extent in his The Language of New Media (268-74). Florian Rtzer also uses the Baudelaire/Benjamin reference in Digitale Weltentwrfe. 24 Speed is also a particularly important element in modern filmic entertainment and is historically linked to the cinematic apparatus. As Edgar Reitz put it: Speed is the mother of cinema (64).

PAGE 144

135 Similarly, a computer game makes it possible to grasp that which we commonly call virtual space, physically (through the joy stick or other input device) and cognitively through manipulating its constructed environment. That, as Guy Debord observed, written descriptions can be no more than passwords to this great game (26) is as much true of the videogame as it is for the drive; it must be experienced and navigated first-hand not second-hand. In Tomb Raider, as well as many other games in its genre, there exists no topographical representation of the game space which one is supposed to traverse. On the contrary, a representational aid such as this would greatly reduce the pleasure of exploring and diminish the degree of difficulty associated with certain areas. 25 Similarly to a drive where one or more persons [. .] let themselves be drawn by the attractions of the terrain and the encounters they find there (Debord 22), the sites that exist in adventure/exploration type games such as Tomb Raider are not necessarily thought of as a mapable area for the player; they are conceptualized as, for example, the room with the vicious bear, or the cave with the movable wall. In other words, they are tied closely to the interactive experience that awaits the player there, to the extent that often the game retains sinister signs, such as carcasses, of a players earlier interaction with a particular site. 26 Although the commonly encountered architectural terminology (which I am employing here as well) tempts us to connect the virtual with the physical, it is really 25 There are other computer games, particularly those that are part of the role-playing genre, which provide maps as an integral part of the games logic and structure. 26 Although it must be mentioned that most games use official designations for different worlds or levels of the game. But this is usually tied to marketing purposes, atmosphere enhancement, or the designation of a location that the player has reached in a particular game and can save for future games.

PAGE 145

136 only movement that defines the computer game space. 27 If the player chooses not to encounter a certain room, it simply does not exist for her/his game (except for maybe in its absence, legible as a reduced score or a failed objective). This is a characteristic that these types of computer games have in common with popular films. In the latter, as well, only space that is filmed exists on screen for the observer, space outside the frame, especially the physical realm of the viewer is seldom acknowledged since it would compromise the illusion of the films autonomous reality as well as interrupt, to some extent, the act of losing oneself in the films staged world. Run Lola Run does not use common diegetic tools, such as character development devices, to guide and engage its audience, rather the story develops and is driven by the navigation of space, a common diegetic tool for computer games as well. 28 In Run Lola Run, the urban setting of Berlin, a place commonly loaded with ideological meaning for other German films, 29 has become a virtual setting in Tykwers film; a city that never had a Reichstag, a Wall, or a Cold War evil twin. 30 Although an aerial view of the supposed film location is presented to the viewer early on in the film, most of the space revealed in the film frame reflects only those paths and locations that 27 Some examples would be rooms, levels, build, etc. 28 Manovich goes even further and declares that the idea of navigable space lies at the very origins of computer era. He is referring to the term Cybernetics, coined by Norbert Wiener, which is derived from the Greek kybernetikos and is commonly translated as good at steering (251). 29 Some notable examples are Berlin, Symphony of a Great City (1927), The Marriage of Maria Braun (1979), Wings of Desire (1987), November Days (1992), Life Is All You Get (1997) (Tykwer wrote this screenplay), and Heroes Like Us (1999), Berlin Is in Germany (2001). 30 Although Lola mentions that there is a Grunewaldstrasse in the East, she only recounts this potentially geo-political detail as an explanation for her late arrival.

PAGE 146

137 Lola uses to get the DM 100 000 and meet up with Manni, her boyfriend. 31 There are some flashbacks that violate this principle, but they are presented in stark contrast to the general flow of the film as black & white film stock. Similarly, the episodic flash-forwards that preview the fate of the secondary characters after interacting with Lola are also set-off distinctly from the fast-flowing diegesis as photographic still images. Finally, all scenes that do not involve either Lola or Manni are filmed in video rather than 35 mm in order to achieve a kind of synthetic, artificial world (Tykwer). Tykwer is not interested in complicating his tale through weighing down a specific urban landscape with meaning, instead, his approach allows meaning only where Lola interacts. Tykwers aesthetic use of landscape corresponds to the techniques that computer games utilize to deal with their virtual environments. Steven Poole observes in Trigger Happy that the space/character relationship is precisely what informs the basis for computer game architecture (212). The environment of Tomb Raider is built to accommodate Lara: the height of ledges is designed according to Laras ability to climb and jump; the length of underwater passages is adjusted to her ability to hold her breath; and so on. The topography of a videogame adheres to set rules in a way that a film set does as well; virtual and filmic space are both prescribed and distinctively meaningful. All items and locations in a computer game have a function even if this function is limited to being a device to deceive or create atmosphere. Everything important looks staged, so as to attract attention and to prompt the player to interact. 31 This is also similar to the practices employed in the drive where the cartographic or aerial depiction served as the initial representation of the environment which was to be studied, but later was rendered inadequate because the indexical representation lacked the complexity and richness that only physical interaction can convey.

PAGE 147

138 Correspondingly, in Run Lola Run, the mise-en-scne gives the impression that it is arranged in this videogame-like fashion in order to provide Lola and Manni with an interactive environment. The film even goes so far as to disregard the laws of physics when the situation demands it, as in the scene in which Lola and Manni converse through a store window as if it were not really there. Additionally, the secondary characters featured in the film interact with Lola and Manni in two ways, they either hinder or advance them in their quest, as in the case of the nun. However, like the store window, when something or someone would detract or be utterly useless, such as traffic, it simply vanishes. This is especially evident in the final scene in which Lola looks for Manni, who is getting out of a car in the background. She stands superimposed on a motionless background with neither moving cars nor bustling pedestrians that would render this city space real. The space through which Lola navigates seems to be responding to her every move; it creates the illusion of existing solely for her passage. If she interacts with this space in slightly different ways, the story takes a different course. In a Votivkino interview, Tykwer himself alludes to this when he mentions that Lolas interaction with Berlin is based on the Pippi Longstocking motto I shape the world to be the way I want it to be 32 Lara and Lola traverse through their constructed diegetic spaces at a frantic paceboth running to convey a certain rhythm, a significant mood and stylistic device employed in both game and film. 33 This incessant attempt to keep player and viewer in a 32 In the original, Tykwer does not mention Pippi by name but quotes the song that accompanies the television series, Ich mach mir die Welt, wie sie mir gefllt. Lolas red mane and superhuman abilities also resemble this Astrid Lindgren literary figure. 33 This is not to say that Tomb Raider never contains slow-paced sections. Indeed, other action games, such as Quake, for example, are much faster in comparison. One must even deliberately reduce Laras speed to complete a task in some instances. Also, the player controls the overall speed, and therefore the games

PAGE 148

139 dynamic relationship with their respective representational medium can be seen as part of a larger trend in recent entertainment and commercial venues. Advertising with its rapid-fire image assaults is a case in point, as are music videos and the manifest tendencies of post-classical Hollywood cinema dating back to the seventies and maturing in the eighties and nineties (Bordwell). 34 Underlying this stylistic employment of speed, through fast cutting, camera-movement, and choice in subject matter, is the need to make visual material, once thought of as fulfilling an audiences desire for passive pleasure, more interactive. In advertising, for example, static images cannot hold the consumers interest for long, so that the adoption of floating words began as a method of motivating viewers to become more involved in deciphering the ad message [. .] (Goldman 29-30). 35 Popular cinema has had to adopt a modified style as well to satisfy this expanding media sensibility of viewers. David Bordwell characterizes this adjustment as a gradual development over the last thirty years, influenced partially by visual techniques used in television and later in music videos, and evident in an increase of shots per film or reduction of shot length and hyperactive camera employment (the camera continually pace can be decelerated or halted completely at any time. This is not unlike the pace set for Run Lola Run where Tykwer also slows down or stops the action at times. However, when moving from one location to another, which is, after all, the main narrative theme, Lara as well as Lola run to get there and therefore set a certain base rhythm for game and film. 34 Timothy Corrigan also communicates a link between successful popular movies and the advertisement industry in terms of filmic content: Contemporary movies [. .] begin to align themselves with advertising not only to abate their costs by advertising other peoples products on the screen but because blockbuster movies can themselves only succeed as an advertisement of a product that, in appealing to everyone, cannot possibly be realized for an audience of individuals (21). 35 In Die Eroberung des Krpers. Vom bermenschen zum berreitzten Menschen, Paul Virilio argues similarly that the passive and immobile lifestyle of the postmodern subject demands increased stimuli from the media as compensation.

PAGE 149

140 moves as it records). 36 In a study using many of the well-received films of recent years, Bordwell has determined that most contemporary popular films are comprised of 2000 to 3000 shots, with an average shot length of no more than 2-3 seconds, which constitutes a significant increase compared to films of the classical Hollywood era. This statistic not only applies to action films where a brisk tempo would satisfy genre expectations, but also includes non-action dramas such as Jerry Maguire (1996). Run Lola Run exaggerates these techniques so that most cuts separate shots lasting barely a second (often less), an editing mode that contributes significantly to the films dynamic style. 37 When shots do last longer, they are tracking shots where the camera is moving at the same speed as the mise-en-scne. These traveling shots appear most notably when the camera follows Lola as she runs to complete her task in only twenty minutes. The sequences shot in video also tend to include longer takes, but keep the viewer actively involved in decoding the images because of the unstable hand-held recording technique. When Lola and Manni slow down their lives and engage in their inter-segment pillow talk, recorded in relatively long takes, the audience feels encouraged to take a break as well. Overall, however, these breaks intensify the films fast pace because they provide a standard for gauging the speed employed in the rest of the film. Although these kinetic techniques can be linked to general developments in advertising and film, Run Lola Run also uses the fast pace to lend it the feel of a game, a race against time. 36 In addition to faster cutting and increasingly mobile camera shots, Bordwell also cites a change in the use of camera lenses and a closer framing of characters engaged in dialogue as developments that are integral attributes found in post-classical Hollywood cinema. 37 Moulin Rouge! (2001) also successfully adapts this editing technique a few years later in many of its scenes to achieve an overall vigorous pace.

PAGE 150

141 The Quest for Narrative Caring nothing for the division between good and bad literature, narrative is international, transhistorical, transcultural: it is simply there, like life itself. Roland Barthes, Image-Music-Text Tykwer abstains from conveying interrelationships of events and continuity, by negating notions of sequence, logic, and causality, elements which make up the basic principles of common diegetic progression. Although each segment in Run Lola Run incorporates the basic laws of cause and effect, the film interrupts its own diegetic flow with alternating divergent media, going from 35mm to video to animation to still photography, as well as using various filmic techniques, such as split-screens, black-and white versus color images, and slow motion shots. 38 These techniques highlight the constructedness of the story and therefore interfere with the viewers immersion into the films reality. Also, the flash-forward fragments that are associated with some of the secondary characters are extra-diegetic elements that interfere with the continuity of the main plot. But most of all, the restarting of the narrative and replaying of many of the scenes with only minor changes sets Tykwers story apart from conventional storytelling. As Manovich points out, narrative cinema has avoided repetitions; like Western fictional forms in general, it put forward a notion of human existence as a linear progression through numerous unique events 39 (315-16). In Run Lola Run, repetition is used as part of the films logic; since the protagonists are not ordinary humans acting in conventional 38 According to Tykwer, juxtaposing these heterogeneous elements represents an experiment with and a comment on the limits of the film medium per se. 39 In the mainstream Hollywood film Groundhog Day (1993), the disdain for repetition even becomes the topic of the films story. The protagonists main objective is to escape from the redundancy of reliving the same day over and over. Repetition is cast as a punishment for the hero who will only avoid it through improving his disposition.

PAGE 151

142 settings, the films structure cannot be ordinary or conventional either. 40 Repetition and non-linear narratives are, of course, also at the heart of digital entertainment. 41 Websites, hypertext stories, interactive CD-ROMs, and videogames are all excellent examples for this. The technical limitations and benefits of the digital medium itself demand a different narrative approach than the older media did. 42 In Hypertext 2.0 George Landow shows how this alternative approach manifests itself in hyperlinked texts. Instead of following a linear expository trajectory, hypertext has the ability to let the writer go off on tangents; it enables writers to consider facts that "resist linearization" (59). This unorthodox structure generates a lack of centrality as well as marginality in the organization of material (89). Also, hypertext promotes a rhetorical structure which appropriates others work into and juxtaposes it with ones own argumentation (170-71). 43 It does not rely on normative styles but favors a dynamic presentation of views (following links transversely). This 40 Although one does not usually think of repetition as part of a conventional Hollywood narrative, there is repetitive use of generic narrative devices in most Hollywood blockbusters. For example, the description psychotic, masked killer goes around slashing the throats of innocent but foolish teenagers, kills them all but one, who, in turn, kills him in a heroic final confrontation could be the plot summary of several horror films. Perhaps Tykwer is using repetition as an element of parody to highlight the generic, formulaic use of repetition in popular films. Of course, in Run Lola Run the repeating segments have the exact opposite effect of those in generic convention; instead of reusing elements from other, similar films, it reuses intrinsic elements. Tykwer may also be referencing certain Avant-Garde films and techniques of the sixties, such as Last Year at Marienbad (1961), or the grid-like paintings by Mondrian, Albers, and Agnes Martin (c.f. Rosalind Krausss discussion of repetition used by the Avant-Garde in The Originality of the Avant-Garde). 41 The element of repetition also comes into play on the level of the film audience. Many viewers saw Run Lola Run several times, most likely because the films structure itself values returning to the story more than once. 42 Narrative is, however, not necessarily an essential part of films. Certain avant-garde traditions of filmmaking, e.g. Maya Deren and Hans Richter, have proven that. However, fiction and non-fiction films aimed at mainstream audiences almost always use a narrative to ensure viewing pleasure. As Thomas Elsaesser has pointed out, even the Lumire brothers infused in their short films a narrative, albeit minimal, with fictional elements (Lumire 52). 43 In Tykwers film such appropriations are common. One of the most obvious examples is Lolas glass-breaking scream, a recycling of Oskar Mazeraths ability in The Tin Drum.

PAGE 152

143 dynamic exposition of perspective is facilitated by the technological make-up of digital media and constitutes Run Lola Run and Tomb Raiders primary vehicle for narration. Apart from juxtapositions, appropriations, and dynamic interplay, both film and videogame construct their narrative through a trajectory that connects actor/player with their interactive space. Although Lola ostensibly relives the basic story three times, each segment is very different from the preceding one. Otherwise, it would be impossible to keep the viewers interest. Instead of altering the plot significantly, however, Tykwer changes the setting; each episode of the film explores a new space, but the narrative still tells the same basic story of Lola getting DM 100,000 for her boyfriend Manni. In the first segment the action takes place in the bank, the second uses a retail store, and the third episode plays in the casino. This change of location prevents the film from inducing boredom in the viewer. It is predominantly the change of scenery rather than the development of narrative or characters that keeps the audience anxious to see more; it is a purely visual seduction. In videogames, where elaborate narratives are difficult to sustain, the variation of environmental conditions is also the primary device for keeping the player interested in the avatars fate. Every level in Tomb Raider, for example, features new surroundings, environmental conditions, and appropriate adversaries (e.g. bears and bats are encountered in caves). Movement for players in computer games is almost always synonymous with interactivity. Interactivity, in turn, is not necessarily synonymous with freedom in narrative production as various critics have pointed out. 44 Elsaesser argues that interactive 44 Both Elsaessers Digital Cinema and Pooles Trigger Happy discuss the limited interactivity phenomenon to some extent. However, neither critic establishes the difference between interactivity based on branching techniques versus games using algorithms to achieve a rich interactive gaming experience. Talin describes the difference between using branching and algorithms in Real Interactivity in Interactive

PAGE 153

144 environments are static in the sense that they have a terminal, unchanging overall construction. A player may create unique trajectories, but s/he may not create completely new paths, rather than beginning to explore a game environment, [s/he] explore[s] its narrative architecture: its paths and its detours, its branching and its multiple choices (Digital Cinema 217). Additionally, interactivity in computer games is a hyper-structured endeavor because if the player does not end up with a certain number of discovered secrets and items, her/his game enjoyment may suffer or even come to a halt. Many games have an environment that must be navigated to some extent in the way that the creators imagined it. Most of the time, only paths that are given can be explored, only items that are programmed to be there can be found, and all entities that one interacts with have previously been added to specific places and situations. The fun lies not in creating a narrative in a literary sense, but in uncovering a story through actions. The interactive element sets games apart from films, because in the cinema viewers consume the narrative in more passive manner, yet not as far as one might think, because of the restrictive nature of a programmed, pre-created narrative that both media share. 45 Nevertheless, interaction of the players with the game can change the flow of narrative immensely. Essentially, no game ever unfolds in the same way twice. The Entertainment. S/he explains that games such as SimCity or Civilization have an almost unlimited number of possible paths and outcomes because the games behavior is defined by algorithms rather than through pathways programmed by a game designer. These games have a weakness, however, in that they do not, as of yet, produce challenging and realistic human-like opponents, but are better suited for creating inanimate environments. Another critic, Greg M. Smith, also explains interactivity as a concept defined by boundaries and parameters. He does not agree with the generally assumed dichotic structure of non-linear story lines (interactive) versus linear story lines (non-interactive) but uses a more fluent system of degrees to set the two media apart (8). Furthermore, he argues, interactivity is limited through the virtual stand-in replacing our physical body. What is perceived as kicking, running, leaping, etc. is, in actuality, only clicking in the physical world (12-13). 45 Elsaesser mentions The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975) and The Blues Brothers (1980) as examples of films in which narrative action has taken on a secondary role and interactive behavior of viewers has become most important in the viewing experience (Digital Cinema 216).

PAGE 154

145 player gains more experience each time s/he interacts with the game. Experience enables the player to react differently, adjust to dangers and obstacles, and move in more advantageous directions. Run Lola Run alludes to this integral element of game play within the three segments that have slight changes according to how Lola and Manni interact with their environment. Although on the surface level, Tykwer appears to fashion these alternating segments as a fictional treatment of chaos theory, on the level of style these episodes represent an exposition of how player experience (Lola) can alter the outcome of the game (film). A single moment in Tykwers film makes this intention obvious. In the first episode Lola draws a gun on a security guard at the retail store which Manni is robbing. Because Lola does not know how to unsecure the guns safety mechanism, she is instructed by Manni to move a lever near the weapons trigger. However, in the second episode, Lola does not waver when she is in an almost identical situation. Now, she knows how to operate the gun; she has learned from her past experience. Superweib or Superwoman? 46 Ive heard that the female Quake II character is a lot more realistic as far as anatomys concerned, and she still kicks ass. Now thats one girl Im looking forward to playing. Lara, get those melons out of your vest and Ill like you a whole lot better. Cal Jones, interviewed in From Barbie to Mortal Kombat Watching Lara defeat the most formidable adversaries, master amazing obstacles or hearing Lola release one of her superhuman screams can only lead to one conclusion: We are not dealing with ordinary mortals here. Both women are seemingly controlled through 46 The term Superweib is usually used in a derogatory manner to refer to a womans sex appeal. However, translated literally, it can also refer to a woman with superior abilities.

PAGE 155

146 external forces, in Laras case quite literally through the player, and with Lola indirectly because of the viewers desire to see her win; in their respective constructed spaces they appear as avatars, a term appropriated from Sanskrit referring to deities descended to earth in incarnate form. Whether gods or simply superhuman, the role they both play is not one traditionally assigned to women in either films or videogames. Far from applying feminist concepts to the design of Tomb Raiders hero, however, the Core Design team acted upon considerations based on possible copyright infringement instead, when they decided to cast the main character as a female. Although a team member, Toby Gard, claims: Lara was designed to be a tough, self-reliant, intelligent woman. She confounds all the sexist clichs apart from the fact that shes got an unbelievable figure (quoted in Cassell 30-31), he neglects to mention that she was also specifically designed as a female to avert any complaints concerning her characters astonishing similarity to the Indiana Jones character. Jeremy Smith, managing director at Core Design, intervened when, originally, a male was designated to be the lead character by saying: Christ, you cant do thatwell be sued from here to Timbuktu! (quoted in Poole 153). Additionally, aside from Laras inception being founded on legal considerations rather than based on ideological premises, her potential as feminist role model is highly problematized by the players over-the-shoulder viewpoint, a view that is more accommodating to a voyeuristic gaze than an aid for identification, as well as her physical deformities. 47 Tomb Raiders creators developed this particular point-of-view technique specifically for this game. Other environments up until then either used the completely disembodied point-of47 Interestingly, Japanese players wanted to see Lara assume a more cartoon-like, megacephalic, appearance such as the characters that appear in manga (Poole 141). Lara, however, continued her adventures sporting her Western features.

PAGE 156

147 view, seeing the entire character at all times, or the first-person point-of-view, simulating the player and avatar to be the same person (especially popular in the shoot-em-up and flying/driving simulation genre). Being so close to Lara, yet still retaining a distance far enough to allow for a separate identity experience serves a two-fold purpose: it deflects any potentially alienating cross-gender identification issues for male players not willing to be a woman, and allows the player to watch the avatar intimately and simultaneously manipulate the figure omnipotently. The possibility of obtaining absolute control and power of the figure on the screen is certainly an enticing prospect, especially when that figure has superhuman abilities like Lara. After all, the difference between controlling and being a superhero is slight. However, in most cases, self-projection is as close as the ordinary person gets. In the context of comics, Scott Bukatman has termed the female superhero a personification of hypermasculine fantasy and a spectacle of the female body satisfying male fetishism of breasts, thighs, and hair (112) which is certainly a description applicable to the game character Lara Croft. Indeed, the lure of Laras physique has inspired (male) hackers to program several types of patches, which let her appear completely nude in the game. 48 Laras physical appearance aligns her closer to such feminist nightmares as Barbie (with added muscles) than to Indiana Jones, with whom she shares most of her character traits. 49 The developing team at Core Design constructed her according to the 48 This practice, in turn, has been undermined by other hackers, for example Robert Nideffer, a digital artist, who offers patched patches so one can play with a transsexual Lara, a butch version of Lara, and Lara in drag, to name but a few. He calls this a Duchampian reference to the reappropriative Mona Lisa hack in an attempt to introduce strategies of gender play and subversion into a game that is so obviously catering to male players. 49 Recently, Mattel Interactive and Vivendi Universal introduced a videogame, Barbie Explorer (2001), in which Barbie cashes in on her Lara-likeness and appears as an adventurer and explorer of exotic locations and finder of treasures.

PAGE 157

148 Western stereotype of a perfect female with large breasts, a tiny waist, voluptuous lips, and dressed in very scant and tight outfits; she is, after all, a British invention. 50 However, apart from these physical attributes, Laras character fits into a general trend in current representations of females in action environments in which women no longer have to suffer such wimpy powers as invisibility or telekinesis [. .]. They no longer need protection; they are no longer victims or hostages or prizes (112). 51 To see this developing trend as a positive step towards female empowerment, however, is problematic, as Kaveri Sbrahmanyam and Patricia M. Greenfield point out, when they argue that female characters simply mimic their male counterparts in aggressiveness in addition to posing as sex-goddesses; they are far removed from feminist icons. 52 In Laras case, the players voyeuristic gaze further complicates any feminist prospects. Nonetheless, until a few years ago, it was all but expected to turn female game characters into incarnate misogynistic stereotypes in appearance as well as in their function within the game. The latter often translated into females shown as damsels requiring rescue, or rewards for successful completion of the mission (Cassell 7). Tomb Raider is only one of several games on the market today that feature strong, independent, adventurous female protagonists interacting within an action-adventure environment. However, unlike Core Design, many recent game manufacturers have seized the opportunity inspired by 50 Laras look is reminiscent of the Tankgirl character in the British cartoon of the same name. Japanese female game characters, although often adapted to Western taste, can carry with them their own stereotypical attributes. They are often depicted as giggling schoolgirls wearing sailor uniforms (Cassell 8). 51 The Power Puff Girls are a recent example of such female characters targeting a very young audience. These three girls fame and popularity rivaled that of the male Pokemon action figures. 52 However, sex-appeal has not always kept the female superhero from being used as a feminist icon. Gloria Steinem, for example, used her childhood hero Wonder Woman as a figure to promote her efforts in the feminist movement: Wonder Women appeared as the first cover on Ms. Magazine in 1972 (Searleman).

PAGE 158

149 Lara Crofts success to make their product more appealing to female gamers. The games Oni (Konoko), Carrier (Jessifer Manning), and Resident Evil (Claire Redfield), to name only a few, all feature strong female characters with whom women gamers can identify more easily and who are not solely created for mens gaming pleasure. Although Lara and Lola share certain character traits and function similarly within their constructed spaces, Lola procures her popular appeal from much subtler sources than Lara. In Run Lola Run, Tykwer proves that a powerful female character can attract attention beyond superficial appearances and without featuring exaggerated body parts. His film and Lolas character exert a unique erotic appeal that develops out of the overall filmic atmosphere rather than any specific look, character trait, or camera angle. Ingeborg Majer O'Sickey has successfully shown that the film Run Lola Run includes an abundance of sexual innuendos generated through its rhythmic soundtrack, the bedroom scenes featuring the two main protagonists, and an overall wait for me theme. Lola, however, in her role as the heroine does not resemble Barbie on steroids; she is a real looking person, adorned not with outrageous breasts but with an outrageous hair color. 53 Her appeal depends much more on her actions, her supernatural abilities, and on her influence over people and things that surround her. 54 The females in Tomb Raider and Run Lola Run are both superheroines on the screen, but unlike Laras inability to move in the absence of the players consent, Lola runs and acts without much concern for anyone but herself and her predicament. She acts as player and game avatar at once. 53 Interestingly, in the segments in bed, Lolas hair is blond as if to signify that she has stepped out of the game for a minute to take stock of the situation. 54 She joins the ranks of other important female protagonists featured in many of the most successful films of recent German cinema. Doris Drries Fanny Fink from Nobody Loves Me (1995), many of the women characters in Maybe, Maybe Not (1996), the band members featured in Bandits (1997), etc., are all examples for how audiences respond favorably to females in lead roles.

PAGE 159

150 In addition to Lolas ambivalence concerning her activity/passivity in Run Lola Run, she also lacks gender specificity. She is neither particularly feminine nor does she appear in a setting that stresses a stereotypically female environment, e.g. a domestic surroundings. Even when her bra straps become visible, this is not an erotically charged image but clearly a result of her hyper-kinetic movements. Instead of flaunting her sexuality or highlighting her femininity, Lolas role is more or less interchangeable with Mannis. In fact, it is Manni who shows his vulnerability and helplessness, generally traits attributed to the female characters, when he is forced to wait for Lola to help him out of his troubles. Even in the bedroom scenes, a place where masculinity is often flaunted, Manny appears weak and lacks self-confidence. Although Lola poses the clich question Do you love me? in the first pillow talk segment, Manni concludes the interchange by asking her apprehensively whether she wants to leave him. In the second interlude he worries about what she might do in the case of his death. She replies that she would not let him die, an answer which Manni ignores. Of course, the audience soon finds out that Lola keeps her word and wont let him die; she will simply find another way. Had the roles been reversed and had Lola found herself needing DM 100,000 while Manni tried to save her life, the storys integrity would not have suffered in the least. This type of disregard for gender stereotypes, while retaining the main characters popular appeal, is certainly a positive element in Tykwers film, one that could also translate well into a gaming environment, and has in some cases. Lola is the kind of action heroine that could handle herself well in any interactive environment, including the realm of a tomb raider.

PAGE 160

151 Conclusion: Popular Cinema and Reflections on Originality [O]riginalty is a working assumption that itself emerges from a ground of repetition and recurrence. Rosalind Kraus, The Originality of the Avant-Garde In the same way that Run Lola Runs female protagonist possesses universal attributes so does the film as a whole. It reaches out to a transnational, heterogeneous audience by employing internationally recognizable style and content. 55 Tykwer nevertheless successfully avoids the potential pitfalls of blockbusters which see their audiences in flyovers, [as] a mass of undifferentiated desires that lives below planes moving between Los Angeles and New York City (Corrigan 23). Run Lola Runs universal appeal relies on the films game-like structure, its non-descript locations, and its overly simplified narrative and character development with a minimum of dialogue. Whereas the directors of the New German Cinema of the seventies and eighties acknowledged their cultural and political baggage and embedded these themes into their films and characters, 56 Run Lola Run avoids any references that would limit its appeal to a particular target audience. 57 The non-diegetic techno soundtrack further enhances the films cool and therefore appealing atmosphere. 58 Tykwers approach is surely 55 However, eliminating national particularities from a film is not necessarily a mandate for subtitled European films to succeed internationally, as films such as Il postino (1994), Buena Vista Social Club (1999), and La vita bella (1999) have shown. Popularity cannot simply be conflated with universal appeal. 56 Again, the Oskar scream serves an exemplifying function. Whereas Grass and Schlndorfs Oskar screams to defy authority figures in Nazi Germany, Lola screams to defy the universal force of fate. 57 Nevertheless, the films theme, character, soundtrack and atmosphere tend to privilege a younger audience. Within the narrative, this manifests itself in the characterization of the older generation (especially Lolas parents) as immobile (the mother in particular), conservative, and predictable, whereas Lola and Manni appear mobile, trendy, and impulsive. 58 Caryl Flinn points out that Run Lola Runs soundtrack is globally recognizable because variants of this style can be found in many countries. She adds that perhaps another reason why techno crosses national

PAGE 161

152 motivated, in part, by economic interests, using a lowest common denominator market strategy. However, beyond these economic considerations, it is also an experiment in style. As I have argued, the film wallows in the remediation of other media, frequently quotes secondary cultural materials, and refuses to lay claim to an ultimate truth in its narrative. Tykwer abandons conventional vehicles for cinematic popularity such as linearity and closure in narrative, erasure of mediating agent, development of characters, and female stereotypes but never privileges originality as a mandate for his style either; the film is unconventional, yet strikingly familiar. This unoriginal and open attitude of Tykwers film again connects it to the computer game scene, where borrowing of stories, themes, techniques, and to some extent even code, is an accepted and standard practice. Tykwers experiment is successful, in part, due to the fact that he borrows the videogame style without openly quoting or acknowledging this new medium. However, he does not efface the relationship between the media either as for example some films do where special effects try to imitate physical reality, as if the scenes which were created on the computer had been filmed as they occurred naturally. Run Lola Run strikes a comfortable balance between appropriating and creating. In the film Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, conspicuous references to the videogame abound and turn the film into a secondboundaries so easily are its sampling, modulating, remixing, and looping [. .], techniques which, deflect any claim to authorial, romantic expressivity, authenticity, or originality, not to mention copyright. Furthermore, music and games both transcend linguistic national barriers because of their focus on nonverbal language.

PAGE 162

153 rate game-ersatz. 59 Laras running appears artificial and affected. Although Tykwers film is highly stylized, it uses its style in a productive and provocative manner. Through remediation of practices and aesthetics of another medium, Tykwers attempt at subverting convention and undermining natural cinematic constraints, while still retaining popular appeal, has been a successful one. Cinematic content, style, techniques, and the film industry as an institution have been affected by virtually every new visual technology of the latter half of the twentieth century. In the sixties television left a lasting impression, in the seventies and eighties video technology changed the medium substantially. Run Lola Run confirms that in the nineties digital technologies not only affect video, television, and photography, but can alter film aesthetics as well. 59 Lara Croft: Tomb Raiders attempt at cashing in on the Eidos Interactive games popularity is not its only problem. The film does not distinguish itself in any way from other Hollywood action spectacles loaded with special effects; it is predictable and trite.

PAGE 163

CHAPTER 5 STORAGE AND DISTRIBUTION THROUGH NEW MEDIA For the model is not set up in order to fix the style of performance; quite the contrary. The emphasis is on development: changes are to be provoked and to be made perceptible; sporadic and anarchic acts of creation are to be replaced by creative processes whose changes progress by steps or leaps. Bertolt Brecht, Brecht on Theatre Of the various and diverse influences of new media technology on film (the medium) and the cinema (the institution that disseminates it), storage media and distribution channels arguably rank highest in end-user impact and visibility. Storage and delivery influences the way that viewers are able to access, experience, and consume films. From the beginning, film expanded its ties to public exhibition spaces and, with the advent of television and video moved into the domestic realm, onto the computer screen and into cyberspace. It also diversified institutionally, moving with ease in and out of institutionally controlled (cinema and TV) and consumer manipulated (VCR & computer) venues. Indeed, these changes have not only affected viewers but, in some cases, the form, aesthetic make-up, and content of the films themselves. Film Storage and Distribution: From the Early Years to the Internet Although film is an invention of the late 19 th century, it did not function as an apparatus available to the masses until the early 20 th century. Film became institutionalized as a medium for public exhibition (the cinema) rather than privately consumed entertainment. This communal quality is not only a result of the technological and physical make-up of film projection equipment (its cost, size, and output) as well as 154

PAGE 164

155 the material nature of the medium itself (its dependence on projection for viewing) but also a result of the institutional forces that, from the beginning, co-opted film into social and political service, because it constituted a medium that was able to reach out to a large segment of the population. This is especially true for Germany, whose film industry blossomed into a successful enterprise during WWI when it was used to disseminate nationalistic propaganda. 1 Celluloid, the common storage medium for filmic images, was invented by Alexander Parkes in 1856, but its inventor did not immediately realize the photographic potential of the new material. Several years later, in 1870, the term celluloid was officially registered by John Wesley Hyatt of the Celluloid Manufacturing Company which used the material for billiard balls (as a substitute for ivory). It was not until 1895, just a few weeks before the Lumire screening in Paris, that Max Skladanowsky (along with his brothers Eugen and Emil), used celluloid (or cellulose nitrate) in his Bioskop camera/projector system to project the first motion pictures at the Berlin Wintergarten to a paying public. 2 This event not only inaugurated film viewing as a public spectacle and a commercial entertainment product, but also publicly introduced the use of celluloid as the 1 General Ludendorff described the film industry as an effective weapon of war (Kreimeier 24). The founding of Ufa (Universum-Film AG), the largest and most important German film company until 1945, was born out of this militarization of film after 1916 (21). The film industry was Germanized specifically through the government-controlled new company (36). Also, the number of movie houses almost doubled during the war years delivering films to a larger segment of the population. Movie theaters which refused to show patriotic films were threatened by the government to be shut down or cut off from electricity and coal. Although Germany produced 353 films in 1913, there was a lack of long feature films. During the last year of war, the film industry received an exorbitant amount of funding from the government, even though other cultural institutions support was cut drastically (17-38). And after the war, film productions soared to new heights to respond to the defeated Germans yearning for splendor and escape (Lotte Eisner, quoted in Kreimeier 34). 2 Wim Wenderss 1996 A Trick of the Light (Die Gebrder Skladanowsky) chronicles this historical event as well as the lives of the inventors Max Skladanowsky and his brother. He made this film in collaboration with students of the Munich Film Academy where he spent some time as Visiting Professor.

PAGE 165

156 primary source for image projection onto a cinema screen. 3 Although the exact make-up of the material would change over time, the term celluloid endured. From the 1980s through the 1940s film stock was primarily made of cellulose nitrate. Nitrate base achieved both favorable and negative effects. On the one hand it produced sharp and detailed images, but on the other it was highly flammable, even explosive, in nature. Moreover, nitrate base degenerates in a relatively short period of time (after only twenty years) in storage; it was moisture sensitive and contracted in size over time. Due to these drawbacks, in the 1950s, film stock made of cellulose tri-acetate, also called safety base, superceded cellulose nitrate. Even though cellulose tri-acetate could not achieve the rich tones and acute images of cellulose nitrate, its resistance to combustion as well as its improved storage life rendered it an overall better material. The earliest films were shot in black-and-white and without sound (although color was often physically imparted onto the film stock and orchestral, non-diegetic sound added during projection). In the 1930s, however, it became more and more widespread to record and project filmic images augmented by diegetic sound and in color. 4 In 1896 Germanys first permanent cinemas began operating in Berlin. But only a decade later the numbers had increased dramatically and included cities all over Germany. By 1911, there were more than 2000 cinema locations registered in the country. In the same year the first film palace opened in Berlin, the Cins at the 3 The Skladanowsky brothers showcased this screening as a type of circus variety show, as pure entertainment, replete with glitz and excitement (Kreimeier 9). The conception of films as spectacle continued to define cinema for decades to come. 4 In 1922 the German engineers and inventors Josef Engl, Hans Vogt, and Josef Massolle patent the Tri-Ergon process, a technology which enabled film stock to physically incorporate sound. On September 17, 1922 Der Brandstifter, the first film with integrated sound, is shown to the public at the Berlin Alhambra cinema. The Fox Film Corporation acquired the rights to the Tri-Ergon technology in 1927.

PAGE 166

157 Nollendorfplatz, which featured more than 1000 seats. Between 1920 and 1929 the number of theaters in Germany increased from 3,700 to 5,000. While the overall number of cinemas multiplied, the number of small theaters decreased steadily (replaced by more and more film palaces with more than 1,000 seats). In 1929 Ufa built the largest movie theater in Europe in Hamburg with 2,750 seats. Although these large arenas of film exhibition, for the most part, did not continue after WWII, a similar concept has been resurrected in the 1990s in the multiplex theater. The first German multiplex, comprised of 14 screens and 2,899 seats, opened in a shopping mall near Cologne in 1990. It was immediately followed by several other multi-screen, high volume cinemas such as the Cinemaxx in Hannover offering 10 screens and 3, 281 seats and the Cinedome, also in Cologne, with 13 screens and 3,183 seats. These numbers attest to the enduring popularity of film as a public attraction and the cinema as a site for social rituals, as well as to its commercial viability as a product consumed in a communal setting. However, although multiplexes demonstrate the continuing success of film exhibited in designated commercial spaces, since the 1960s there also exist alternate venues which are capable of delivering films to large audiences: television, pre-recorded videos and various other mobile storage devices (including optical and digital discs), and the Internet. Computer technologies, in particular, have had an enormous impact on film distribution and the institutional character of the cinema. Disseminating films, both nationally and internationally, will soon become a much less expensive task due to the digital delivery of films as bits. A studio can save on film prints (which cost $2000-$3000 a piece and can make up as much as 10% of production costs), reduce shipping expenses

PAGE 167

158 for the prints with satellite feeds, and theaters can eliminate costly transport systems which move films from one projection room to another (Entertainment). 5 Another digital distribution venue, the Internet, will effect the way films reach their audience in an even more transparent manner. Although the public has not yet embraced this technology as might have been expected, web-based pay-per-view is nevertheless likely to attract large audiences in the near future as download speeds increase and picture quality improves (which is only near DVD-quality as of yet). One of the first relatively well-known films to become accessible online on a pay-per-view basis was Pi (1999), Guinevere (1999), Eye of the Beholder (1999), and Hamlet (2000), others soon followed. 6 (Some films are specifically designed to be viewed only on the Web and are available to anyone, free of charge, for example at the ifilm, atomfilm, and inetfilm websites. 7 ) For audiences, such convenient and economical venues represent attractive alternatives to the conventional movie theater experience. The effect that digital technologies have already had on motion pictures and theaters and will have in the near future has the potential to 5 By 2005 digital data files will likely replace most film prints as storage and distribution medium (Entertainment). 6 The web-based pay-per-view option did not prove to be very popular for Pi, however; the webpage only registered 100 visitors who accessed the film in this way (Ziegenhagen 49). The Web advertising campaign for The Blair Witch Project (1999), on the other hand, which did not provide download-access to the film, became amazingly successful (over 10 Million visitors) (50). It added important enhancements to the film which lent the story more credibility and enigmatic appeal. In general, there has not been a great amount of support from Hollywood for using the Internet as an equal distribution venue to theaters. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) decided in 2000, for example, to prohibit any film from being nominated for an Oscar that screened on the Internet prior to its theatrical release. After Pi, Miramax, in partnership with the technology corporation SightSound.com started distributing several of its films via the web. www.sightsound.com showcases hundreds of films available for download, from classics like His Girl Friday (1940) to features exclusively available on the SightSound website, such as Quantum Project (2000). 7 The web-addresses for these sites are, respectively, http://www.ifilm.com/, http://atomfilms.shockwave.com/af/home/, and http://www.inetfilm.com.

PAGE 168

159 parallel the impact satellite dishes and cable had on television, molding its institutional make-up and profoundly affecting its status as a popular medium. Before the advent of digital delivery of film, another visual medium was prompted into the service of film distribution (even though it initially threatened to become one of films most formidable rivals). Although television, released from its dependence on live sets by video storage technology, was able to broadcast films (originally destined for the cinema) as early as the mid-1950s, it was not until the 1970s and the proliferation of color television sets and increased availability of the video cassette recorder and tapes that an era of enhanced relationship between video and cinematic productions was inaugurated. Interestingly, in terms of resolution, color television initially caused a retrograde technological development in television sets and therefore separated the quality of the television image even more from cinema displays. In terms of image resolution, a monochrome picture was much sharper and brighter than a color picture due to additional lines and less difficult alignment registration. However, this decrease in image quality could not outweigh the positive impact that color had on using television as an exhibition venue. Films, once exclusively dependent on theaters for reaching large audiences, gained an additional outlet in the form of broadcast (and later cable, satellite and pay-per-view) television and could be sold as recordings on consumer videotapes. Although the fact that television is able to include a large portion of non-fiction commercial, cultural, and political information into its programming sets it somewhat apart from cinema, mainly a producer of fictional entertainment, and aligns it closer with such media as the Internet, the printed press and radio, it also encompasses the capacity to disseminate fiction and documentary films. Even though most films are intended for

PAGE 169

160 exhibition in a public space and made for large, high-resolution screens with sophisticated sound support, television and video, which both operate within the intimacy of the domestic sphere and offer limited display quality nonetheless quickly adapted to nourish their new ally. Films on CD-ROM: Valie Exports Medial Anagrams Building on the successful relationship between film and the media television and video, the movie industry began searching for a film storage format that could form a similarly productive liaison between film and the proliferating computer industry. Efforts were also underway to develop a more durable and compact format of film storage compared to celluloid and magnetic tape, one which could be used for a wide range of applications apart from film, and therefore satisfy the demands of a multifaceted industry (no longer singularly involved in film matters). This undertaking would eventually lead to the development of the DVD-Video. However, before the DVD format became available to consumers as a storage device and acted as distributing agent for pre-recorded films, the CD-ROM infiltrated the computer market in the mid-1980s as the storage medium of choice for software and videogames, as well as for the music industry. As Ann Friedberg points out, CD-ROMs had advantages over other technology (such as Laserdisc) in that they did not require a dedicated player, but could be accessed on a computer with the appropriate hardware and that they were backward compatible with music CDs because they were identical in size and format (34). The film industry, however, did not view the CD-ROM as a viable choice to replace VHS cassettes due to its limited capacity for storing the large quantities of data necessary to replay feature films. Although CD-ROMs did not constitute a practical solution to the quest of

PAGE 170

161 mainstream film business, it is not inherently a medium hostile to film technology, as Valie Exports CD-ROM Bilder der Berhrungen illustrates. Syntagma and its Function in Bilder der Berhrungen What interests me is that even minimal shifts in context will bring out differences in signification for the same unit of representation. It is a kind of language system for image production in the technological media. Valie Export, interviewed in Mueller, Fragments The Austrian feminist and avant-garde artist Valie Export has been producing essays, films, actions, videos, installations, photographs, performances, and multimedia projects since the mid-nineteen sixties. Although relatively well-known in Europe as an artist, Export has received little attention abroad, except as a filmmaker. In Europe, Export was and still remains one of the leading feminist artists working with experimental media. 8 Throughout her prolific career, spanning several decades and still very much in progress, she has been confronting the intersections of art and technology and interrogating how these relate to women and feminist concerns. In the CD-ROM Bilder der Berhrungen, 9 published in 1998 (in Englishimages produced by touching or images of touch [she never offers a translation for the title]), she re-frames and re-purposes her diverse aesthetic inquiries of more than thirty years and disseminates the results on CD-ROM. In other words, and as the basic premise, Bilder is a type of artistic portfolio which acquaints the user with Exports most important work of her career. On 8 In 2000, however, Moore College of Art and Design in Philadelphia (one of the only all-female art colleges that remain in the US) set out to broaden her exposure and organized her first solo North American exhibition. Since then the show has moved to other select cities and museums in the U.S.. 9 Henceforth, I will use alternately the abbreviation Bilder and the complete title to refer to Bilder der Berhrungen.

PAGE 171

162 another level, however, it presents itself as something more as an autonomous addition to her artistic uvre. In Bilder der Berhrungen, Export uses one of her experimental films, Syntagma (1983), as the centerpiece of the CD-ROM presentation. This is a fitting choice, because Syntagma has much in common with the formal aspects and artistic intentions of Bilder. Syntagma is a relatively short film of 18 minutes with little if narrative exposition and composed of short, seemingly separate units. It incorporates Exports previous artworks produced for different media, and it is situated about half-way into Exports career and therefore appropriate as a platform around which to stage work that chronologically precedes and follows it. In part, because of its length, Syntagma is well suited to the formal logic of the CD-ROM as a medium. Due to its limited capacity, offering no more than 800mb, the CD-ROM is a less than perfect medium to accommodate the storage and dissemination of films. In order for any feature-length film to be adapted to fit on a CD-ROM, it must be highly compromised, sacrificing both size and clarity of image in replay, or be split up onto several discs. Although the CD-ROM, widely available since the mid-1980s, was the first mobile storage medium to allow for films to be displayed on personal computers, it was quickly eclipsed by the now dominant format, the high capacity DVD-Video which can accommodate up to 4 hours of full-screen, full-motion video and several voice tracks on a single side. 10 A CD-ROM, on the other hand, only stores about a half hour of the same quality video. Nonetheless, serving as a link between films and computers granted 10 So far, a DVD-Video can appear in the format of DVD-5 (single-sided, 133 minutes of video), DVD-9 (dual layer, 240 minutes of video on one side), DVD-10 (double sided, 133 minutes of video on each side), and DVD-18 (dual layer, double sided, 240 minutes of video on each side).

PAGE 172

163 the CD-ROM special status as the storage medium of choice for many multimedia artists, at least until the DVD-ROM became available in 1997 (only one year before Bilder was published). And it is precisely because it represents a pivotal, transitional medium that I am focusing on the CD-ROM, for it reveals certain problems and highlights issues that arose with the shift from 35mm to the digital. As for Exports Bilder, CD-ROMs storage limitations have little effect on the presentation of the film. With the exception of the relatively small display size of Syntagma and the various additional images, the CD-format appears suited to Exports project. This is, in part, due to Syntagmas short duration, as well as to the lack of image clarity in the original (filmed in 16mm). Thus, the film can be shown in its entirety and still allow for ancillary material to be present on the same disc. As an experimental film, Syntagma consists of several separate units of meaning, structured in montage-like sequences. These sequences exhibit a very loose narrative structure overall, if any, and therefore is less resistant to interruptions which occur by clicking the mouse on other presented options while Syntagma is playing. Furthermore, Exports experimental film is assembled as a montage and intersplicing extra-filmic materials appears less distracting than it would in a film with fluid editing. On the CD-ROM, the representations of art, films and videos which are paired with Syntagma scenes often comment on the films thematic content, or elaborate on a visual point the film is making. 11 11 For example, at the beginning of Syntagma two strips of celluloid are physically separated by two hands. At the same time a postage-sized clip from The Practice of Love appears in the right-hand corner. When the user clicks on this clip, it enlarges to cover the Syntagma scene. The clip shows part a womans face looking through a rectangular space (as if in a cage) moving in an elevator-like (also film-strip-like) fashion. Only a few seconds of The Practice of Love are superimposed, then Syntagma is visible again showing the hands opening the celluloid strips. Juxtaposing these scenes has a two-fold effect: the montage of the scenes alerts viewers that both films treat the topic of women and their relation to film and show

PAGE 173

164 Syntagma, like Bilder, re-frames fragments and elements of Exports previous work, including her experimentation with film, video, photography, as well as aesthetic practices used in performances and installations. The film and CD-ROM both recycle Exports prior work as well as replicate certain techniques, and let them reappear removed from their original sites of display, such as community spaces, city streets, estranged from governmental and private patronage systems, such as private collections and museums. They are now situated into a new context, stored in an alien format, and displayed by a different medium. In the case of the CD, the reappropriation goes even further than in Syntagma. Here installations, videos and photographs of performances, experimental films, and extracts of feature-length films, as well as some of Exports critical writings on art have all been homogenized into a digital interactive executable file and preserved on disc in a mere 600 megabytes of storage space, creating an autobiography of sorts (centered around her work). Recycling existing ideas and products is a common tactic of the commercial world, where developers use and repurpose materials with name recognition in order to maximize their profits while minimizing economic risks. Export adopts this practice to some degree, not due to financial considerations, but presumably to make her transition and initiation to this new medium less challenging. With this practice, she has tapped into two of the most appealing characteristics of digital media: the accepted recycling of narratives, themes, techniques, and code, and the ability to display materials with a variety of material origins within one medium. that women can either force their way into this patriarchic apparatus (Syntagma) or be imprisoned by it (The Practice of Love).

PAGE 174

165 The name syntagma is derived from the Greek and refers to a collection of texts (or words) which, when assembled in a specific configuration, express a comprehensive idea. 12 In the montage sequences of the film Syntagma, the series of images are related by a similarity or contiguity that is established, specifically, by their placement in that particular series. In other words, although the individual film segments have meaning in and of themselves, the intended effect of these segments is only established within the films whole. This montage technique is also at the core of Bilders CD-ROM design and presented as a digital syntagma. Because all of the works featured have already exerted an artistic effect when they were originally composed and exhibited, only a placement into a new semantic and formal context, within a different medium and in a constellation made-up of different artistic works, can stimulate new interest and new meaning. And Export wants the user to pay attention to this new context, so that Bilder der Berhrungen can transgress the boundaries of the artists portfolio and become a work in its own right. Indeed, Export has never hesitated to recycle elements of her work, a product which she calls medial anagrams, and to place them within the context of a new or even similar piece. It is a practice that constitutes her artistic style. By extension, then, Bilder, adopts this approach to achieve a twofold goal: It serves as a retrospective of her career, and it represents Exports first experimentation with the CD-ROM as an aesthetic device. Valie Export began her career in the late nineteen sixties as part of the neo-avant-garde European art scene. Initially she was the only female to be associated with 12 Rather than interpreting the term syntagma as a compilation of individual segments, Christian Metz calls a syntagma an autonomous segment in itself which is only part of a greater whole. Metzs syntagma bears close resemblance (with exception of one out of eight described types) to what traditional film jargon would term a sequence. Exports film can support both meanings, but because the title is used in the singular, favors my interpretation.

PAGE 175

166 Viennese Actionism, a predominantly male group of performers, such as Gnter Brus, Peter Weibel, and Hermann Nitsch. 13 It is, of course, part of avant-garde practices to include experimentation with new technologies in an attempt to exceed the limitations of traditional media and subvert arts status as commodity. Export, however, always regarded her political agenda as necessarily influenced and determined by her feminist concerns. Her work tried to open up limited patterns of perception and representation, limited views of the natural and artificial image and space, and a limited concept of truth and reality (Mueller 219). Exports aesthetic practice straddles traditional boundaries set by media, art movements, gender, conventions, and the public sphere. In these areas she refuses to neatly submit to any pre-set limits, especially when those arise from gender-related issues. Intersections of Feminism and Technology Exports artistic production from the last three decades vary considerably with respect to the media employed, the exhibition venue, genre, and subject matter. Nonetheless, Exports feminist ideology, specifically the importance she places on the female body used as both subject and means for conveying her ideas, resonate throughout her uvre. 14 Since the 1980s Exports career has been influenced by her interest in exploring digital media and technologies. She argues that 13 Michael Rush points out that all of the male Actionist artists started out as painters, whereas Exports work used technological media from the start 14 Nora Alter argues in Imaging (Post)Gender that although Export has been focusing on the female body for most of her career, in her 1986/87 twelve-minute contribution to the omnibus film Seven Women Seven Sins, she specifically conflates gender identity and complicates binary or paired sexuality (273) to show that commodification affects women as well as men.

PAGE 176

167 [. .] there is nothing masculine about computer technology. [. .] The points of departure of expression, content, and representations may be gender specific but not the medium itself. If there is male dominance it also means that women have not tried hard enough to get a hold of the media and to use it for their goals. This is hard work because women have never been granted access without a struggle. (quoted in Mueller 215) In an effort to apply a Brechtian Umfunktionierung to the computer, albeit using a feminist rather than Marxist approach to the procedure, Export uses the CD-ROM Bilder in a similar way to her previously implemented technological gadgets to inquire into systems of perception as well as expand the parameters of those systems. She employs technology, as Monika Faber observes, contrary to those conventions that want to tie [it] into the existing systemin the sense of a neutral scientific innovation (213). For Export, in order to be artist and subject rather than model and object, it is necessary to be in command of the means of re-production, to be an image-maker not an image. The digital divide, a term which is generally used as a reference to economic barriers, is too often an issue not confined to class but one that also involves gender. Valie Export refuses to submit to such a divide. In her desire to be in control of how womens images are represented in new media art, she shares Donna Haraways belief that cyborg writing is about the power to survive, not on the basis of original innocence, but on the basis of seizing the tools to mark the world that marked [women] as other (Simians 175). Haraways cyborg is founded on the notion that [l]ate twentieth-century machines have made thoroughly ambiguous the difference between natural and artificial, mind and body, self-developing and externally designed, and many other distinctions that used to apply to organisms and machines. Our machines are disturbingly lively, and we ourselves frighteningly inert (152). The cyborg, a fusion of animal and machine, erases age-old oppositions such as

PAGE 177

168 nature and culture and therefore also affects the way we may think of natural, hence unchangeable, states. Since the technology is here to stay, argues Haraway further, we cannot go back ideologically or materially. Its not just that god is dead; so is goddess (162). In other words, the technological developments of the late twentieth century have had a profound impact upon women as well as men, but most importantly on ideological positions such as feminism. Feminism after the cyborg, which has come to be known as cyberfeminism, is based on the notion that, by using contemporary technology in specific ways, it is possible for women to construct identities, sexualities, gender, and other cultural codes in less restrictive ways. New technologies make it possible for women to co-define traditions and histories as they are in the process of being made. Cyberfeminism does not depart from traditional feminism completely, but rather takes feminism as its starting point, and turns its focus upon contemporary technologies, exploring the intersections between gender identity, the body, culture and technology (Brayton). Rather than viewing technology with suspicion because it was spawned by a patriarchal system, cyberfeminists such as Sadie Plant call for an alliance between women and technology (Brayton). In the same way that Haraway claims the cyborg to be the illegitimate offspring of militarism and patriarchal capitalism and concludes that cyborgs as illegitimate offspring are often exceedingly unfaithful to their origins (Simians 151), because their fathers are of no significance, cyberfeminists disregard the technological origin of most new media as inconsequential. Nonetheless, cyberfeminism does not disregard technological history altogether, neither does it erase the decades of struggle for womens equality, especially in the field

PAGE 178

169 of information technology. Instead, cyberfeminism incorporates the historical development of feminism into its own constitution and actively tries to redirect technologys male-biased trajectory; it builds on and reshapes, rather than breaks with tradition. Export supports this ideological position, in that she supplies a new apparatus, the CD-ROM, with work from preceding decades. The CD-ROM not only chronicles Exports untiring experimentation with emerging media, from video in the seventies to digital photography in the eighties and CD-ROM in the nineties, it also represents a record of her own continuously developing feminism. In Exports exposition via Bilder, both, technology and feminism, appear fluid and dynamic rather than restrictive and static. Although Mueller does not mention Exports work to be informed by cyberfeminism per se, she argues in Fragments of the Imagination that for Export technology is a potentially liberating agent which can release the biologically overdetermined body of the woman in patriarchy. In order to gain the status of subject in society (rather than remain forever the object), women must necessarily abandon what is often viewed as biology (Mueller 59). In order to achieve this, woman must become cyborg. However, abandoning biology, for Export, does not mean disregarding the body as an important socio-political factor thoroughly implicated in gender issues. On the contrary, her work stresses the fact that the female body has always played an important role in defining womens status quo in society. 15 In Bilder the viewer becomes acquainted 15 In Valie Export: Body, Space, Splitting, Projection, Chrissie Iles argues that Exports work engages in a struggle to define where the surface of the body ends and technology begins (40). I dont agree with this statement but contend that, for Export, these two seemingly opposing concepts merge into one, the body of the cyborg.

PAGE 179

170 with a variety of different artworks by Export, most of which either include and thematize the female body or its absence, as well as its representation in other media. Her emphatic casting of the body as a site where social pressures manifest themselves and questions of identity based on gender are raised, contests prevailing scientific and cultural discourses which aim at rendering the body superfluous and view consciousness as a unit separated from our incarnate selves. 16 As Katherine Hayles explains in How We Became Posthuman, this retro-discourse, based on age-old Cartesian beliefs that split the mind from the body, has been fueled by investigations into the nature of information (as early as the Macy Conferences on cybernetics from 1945 to 1960) and recent developments in digital technology. Increasingly, information is seen as abstract and is classified as either pattern or randomness. Hayles is keen on reintroducing the body into this conceptualization in order to demonstrate that there is a dynamic relationship between seemingly disembodied information and the materiality of the systems which originate, receive, and convey it. In her study, she unequivocally opposes the idea that to be posthuman should be equated with destroying that which physically constitutes the human being: his or her body. Rather, in Hayles view it is important to retain and include the human body as a container of a cognitive system which interacts and provides the interface for communicating with intelligent machines. A post-human, or cyborg in Haraways vocabulary, is located somewhere between this body and the machines which make it function in contemporary society. To be sure, deserting the body in a society that still affirms corporeal importance through fashion, prejudice, class and gender markers, 16 Export also casts the importance of body onto the origin of artistic production. She claims: I have always felt like a political artist and the female artist is the means to feminist art and feminist politics (Interview 268).

PAGE 180

171 pornography, violence, and eating disorders, has important implications for feminist concerns as well. Export, in her CD-ROM Bilder der Berhrungen, makes a conspicuous effort to implicate the body in the featured artwork, in the information retrieval, as well as in the original coding of the presentation. Everywhere in Bilder, the user is confronted with bodies and body parts of women who are being mutilated and tortured, appear as disembodied limbs, cast themselves as part of the landscape, merge with structures, and pose side by side with their projected double. The body is presented as artist and subject as well as employed as medium. The centerpiece of the CD-ROM, the film Syntagma, highlights the corporal as a thematic source even more strikingly. This short experimental film presents the image and body of woman as a heterogeneous and problematic entity, endowing it with resolute movement and potential for action in some scenes, while in others fragmenting and immobilizing the same. In the introductory sequence a disembodied voice proclaims: The body clearly takes a position between me and the world. On the one hand this body is the center of my world and on the other it is the object in the world of the others. The adaptation of this quote into images but also an interrogation of the implications of such statements becomes the films foremost intention. In the scenes that follow, the body is presented as interface on one hand and as an objectified fragment on the other. Likewise, the very first sequence of the film makes this point very clear. Syntagma begins with a pair of female hands forcing open two strips of celluloid. As Kaja Silverman remarks: The feminine real seems to be asserting itself over and against the fictions of the silver screen. But as the opening becomes larger, this hypothesis is discredited. The shapely hands signify

PAGE 181

172 culture, not nature; they are well-manicured, and their fingernails have been painted with red nail polish (214). The womans hands signify power in their action, but at the same time project impotence in their disembodied and beautified state. However, in an act of creative resistance against their disembodiment they manage to speak (literally) to the viewer, they announce the films title in sign language. 17 In the ensuing film Export continually juxtaposes the female bodys powerlessness and passivity with its potential for empowerment and action. Another sequence in Syntagma which appears twice presents a female actor in constant motion and shows her crossing a room from different angles, at varying speeds, and at times both of these styles spliced together. Mueller interprets these images as a feminist adaptation of Rilkes Panther, where the woman, entrapped in the domestic sphere, represents the captive panther pacing back and forth behind bars (187), a motion that betrays potential strength; pent-up explosive energy that reaches a pitch of accelerated frenzy (187-8). Similarly, in another sequence, Export contrasts the cut-up pieces of a black-and-white nude photograph with the body of a colorful female who appears to be a real person. The b/w cut-outs remind the viewer of the documentation of a murder victim; the female depicted lies completely immobilized and pallid against a backdrop of white, sanitized hospital-like sheets. Superimposed on this ghastly installation appears the real body with its prominently vibrant complexion as a vigorous agent interacting with the lifeless object and asserting its dominance over it by partially covering it. On yet another level, however, both of these female bodies, the photograph as well as the live model, are only representations of the real and part of a series of photographs in the style of 17 As Alexander Alberro points out, language plays a particularly important role in many of Exports artworks, especially incorporating the philosophical positions of Wittgenstein on language.

PAGE 182

173 Exports earlier work Ontological Leap, which are now, as part of the film, re-projected onto a screen. In the words of Silverman, for Export, there is no bodily reality which is not informed by representation, and no corporeal representation which does not have its real effects (215). Exports film does not want to present the body as a simple dichotomy of either dead or alive, powerful or weak, whole or fragmented, a physical representation of the self and an object to others but rather presents it as an entity in motion, able to represent both ends of the spectrum at the same time and intermittently. The womans image in Syntagma appears as part rather than the product of a process. Adequately representing this process is in the hands of filmmakers like Export. Apart from Syntagma, the focal point of the CD-ROM, Bilder also brings Valie Exports staging of the body as an important feminist project to the foreground in its interface design. She uses an image of a hand to stand in for the body, which represents both the artist as a producer of the CD-ROM and its images, as well as the user who retrieves, through movement of the mouse, the images and texts on the CD. The hand is a fitting icon which relates the bodys potential for action more obviously than any other body part. I will return again to this interface a little later to elaborate on its multifaceted purpose and complex meaning within the CD-ROM Bilder der Berhrungen. Interactivity Interactivity has become a buzzword in recent years for digital new media. In the realm of art, however, possibility for interactivity enjoys a longstanding tradition with certain artistic genre, such as installations and performances. Even Bertolt Brecht made use of this tool to involve spectators in his plays conceived as Lehrstcke. Interactivity necessarily involves the retreat of the artist as sole producer of meaning in the artwork. To a certain extent interactivity may be viewed as a natural outgrowth from post

PAGE 183

174 structuralism, where meaning can no longer be located entirely with the text but rather is produced by the subjective response of the recipient. Exports feminist perspective allows her thus to dislodge and decenter the patriarchal notion of the author as the center of creativity. In the 1990s, Exports art almost naturally converges with digital technologies such as the CD-ROM. Not only has she always striven to incorporate innovative techniques and technological novelties into her experimentations, she has also cultivated a long-standing tradition that utilizes interactive opportunities for the audience. For example, as early as 1968 she gave cinema an added dimension and sensory extension in her Tap and Touch Cinema. She has also included bystanders in her performance in Homometer II. And in her video installation Autohypnosis she invited museum visitors to step on words displayed on the floor, which, when activated in a specific sequence, would prompt a pre-recorded video segment on a monitor to play. 18 In many new media artistic creations the role of the viewer is an active one (in contrast to the traditional passive relationship between viewer and artwork, as with paintings). Of course an active form of observation is dependent on the degree of interactivity built into the artwork. (I will return to and explore further this notion in regard to Exports Bilder) In the case of interactive CD-ROMs, there is often a high degree of possibility for interaction, as the name implies. In Bilder many of the interactive elements of the CD-ROM focus on the act of navigation to access the more 18 Other interactive artworks include Ping Pong (1968), Ohne Titel (1968), Auf+Ab+An+Zu (1968), and Das magische Auge (1969). When Export called Auf+Ab+An+Zu a Lehrfilm, she made explicit her connection and aesthetic lineage to Brecht.

PAGE 184

175 than 50 examples of Exports work. Moreover, a significant portion of the interactive opportunities arise through an interplay with the film Syntagma. Although video and film have been used by other artists to preserve immaterial art more or less permanently, for example as recordings of installations and performances on film, video and in photographs, Bilder allows Export to go one step further. CD-ROM can function as an expert medium to perform the art of bricolage; it can display works originally meant to be shown as moving images as well as recordings of artworks that are not. But it can also assemble and collectively display all these various types of representations in one discrete physical medium as well as add an additional performative dimension to the artwork through the interactivity built into the CD-ROM. The question becomes: How to interact with an interactive artwork? Although performative art that leaves little or no trace after it is completed transmutes to become a permanent record, one original aspect of these pieces survives in the CD-ROM medium unlike in a recording. An interactive artwork can only be described and critiqued in one way but experienced in many. Any description is of a personal and singular experience not a general portrait as is the case in filmed or photographed installations and performances. Through its interactive design, the CD-ROM as a medium is far removed from film and video and closer aligned with performances and installations; whereas film and video produce permanent and singular records, the CD-ROM presents ephemeral and dynamic compositions. The Interface as Mise-en-Abyme The main interface, the portal to all interactive applications, plays an important and interesting role in the navigation of CD-ROM applications and is especially influential in Bilder. The CD-ROM interface in general does not simply perform the function of

PAGE 185

176 establishing a genre, mood, or relationship with the spectator (as is the case with the establishing shot in cinema, for example). It is a recurring component, continually confronting the participant with its regulating functions but also with its aesthetic comments on the materials presented; it is an intermediary agent between artist and user. In Valie Exports CD-ROM Bilder der Berhrungen, the interface performs the title of the work, both aesthetically and formally. It acts as a mise-en-abyme within the entire presentation, because, as Gregory Ulmer explains, it shows what it is telling, does what it says, displays its own making, reflects its own action (Grammatology). When the participant tours the interface with the mouse, his or her movements activate two intersecting lines. When the intersecting points of these lines pass over a hot spot, a user access point, they lead, in conjunction with a mouse-click, to the various parts of the CD. The sections that become activated provide access to representations of Exports work. The artists images have literally become Bilder der Berhrungen, images produced by touching and/or contact. As already mentioned, the hand shown on the interface represents the users own active body part involved in the production of meaning as well as alludes to the artists involvement in producing the artwork in the first place. The user of the CD-ROM as well as the artist are both playing their part in producing this artistic experience. The CD title and interface complement each other nicely here, because they bring out the hypermediated space of the interactive work itself. By hypermediated, I am referring to Bolter and Grusins definition of the term, where hypermediation signifies a style of visual representation whose goal is to remind the viewer of the medium (272) (the opposite of this effect would be immediacy or transparency where the viewer is

PAGE 186

177 supposed to forget that what is presented is going through a mediating filter, virtual reality representing an extreme example). Through the interface and title the participant is reminded that although the images are representations of Exports own art, the constellation and retrieval of these images are to some degree controlled by the user. Additionally, the title, Bilder der Berhrungen, captures the ambiguousness of the word touch in a digital world, as in images that are produced by the touch of the mouse in physical space and through the virtual touch of simulated intersecting lines on the screen. Through the interface alone, and by highlighting its constructed nature, Exports CD-ROM has achieved a critical distance in the user. Since the interface serves the function of entrance, exit, and intermediary throughout the interactive experience, there is no risk of the user ever repressing the mediating element or agency nor his or her own function as an active producer of meaning. The prominent position of Syntagma in the interface as well as the CD itself offers another instance of hypermediation. The film uses many allusions to multiple distances, such as in the recording of an image which is itself a projection, through mirror reflections, photographic representations and recorded images themselves. Syntagma, as well as the CD-ROM, thematize the act of adaptation and transpose their raw material from one medium into another. The user and viewer becomes keenly aware of the fact that images are purposefully created and assembled. 19 The act of mediation and the agent/creator are foregrounded at the expense of natural images. 19 By retaining the montage sequences in Syntagma and adding montage to the CD-ROM presentation, Export has retained and intensified the hypermediated style of montage. As Margaret Eifler explains in an essay on Exports film Invisible Adversaries, the montage techniques make the act of perceiving the film a part of the experience of it (254).

PAGE 187

178 The interface mise-en-abyme also achieves another very critical function: Many digital media exhibit difficulty in sustaining long and drawn-out arguments or narratives, elements that are part and parcel of the Western literary tradition, the classic case in point being hypertext. 20 The option of clicking and therefore leaving or diverging from the presented argument or presentation is always there and often even encouraged. Every page must be able to stand on its own, because the creator cannot rely on any specific prior knowledge on behalf of the visitor, since point of entry and trajectory may be different for each user. In order for digital media to keep from what Peter Lunenfeld calls atomizing discourse, meaning, to collapse discourse to such an extent that it loses all meaning and significance, they must include opportunities for nano-thought (53). Nano-thought consists of ideas, metaphors, and images processed down to their smallest units, and then repeated [. .] throughout digital databases (173). 21 The mise-en-abyme as interface, when employed skillfully as it is in Exports CD, can be a superb vehicle for nano-thought, one which is both profound and sustaining. When navigating Bilder, one is constantly reminded through the interface mise-en-abyme that these artworks as well as the film Syntagma, originally distributed via and created by older representational systems, can attain new life and new meaning in a digital environment, because the technical, historical, as well as the social context in which these works originally 20 Ulmer proposes in Grammatology Hypermedia that the mise-en-abyme can function as a discourse of immanent critique, a type of critique that operates from within the medium in question. He further suggests that a combination of mise-en-abyme, montage, and mise-en-scne can lead to a deconstructive criticism, an inventio, that fits the electronic media better than a conventional book-type criticism. 21 Lunenfeld considers nano-thought to be a potentially negative product of electronic media. I contend, however, that condensing meaning into the smallest unit possible serves the formal makeup of media such as hypertext or the CD-ROM best.

PAGE 188

179 appeared has been transformed completely. And most importantly, the user has played an active role in creating this mutated context. Another characteristic of the formal nature of a CD-ROM links Bilder again to Syntagma. The film, in part, articulates the split of feminine corporality into a private and a public body, the former a reification of the self and the latter an object in the world of the others. The CD as a distributing agent of art replacing the museum, cinema, or street, also invokes this split and opposition of public and private spheres. To be sure, the move from a public exhibition space to the solitary experience of interacting with the computer screen certainly must affect the reception of the presented art and film. For one, there is a certain surrender of power to which the artist must agree. Not only are users allowed to access the material in a more or less random fashion, there is also no guarantee that the display medium will perform as expected. All monitors present visual materials with a varying degree of quality, an extreme example being the LCD-display of a laptop versus the conventional desktop monitor. There is other hardware to consider as well such as processor speed and memory, and not least of all the unpredictability of software performance (Lunenfeld 14-17). In short, an artist can only hope that her or his product will reach the audience in the way she or he intended. In public displays, the amount of artistic control is heightened through physical participation and/or legal protection. Lunenfeld argues that video artists routinely embrace this controlled display space. He calls it the black room fetish, the desire to transform portions of galleries, museums or found spaces into videothques, darkened pseudocinemas for the contemplation of the video artwork (137).

PAGE 189

180 On the other hand, however, a CD-ROM can also democratize access to certain hard-to-obtain artistic creations or difficult-to-visit exhibitions. Demographics become secondary with the CD-ROM medium. This is especially true in regard to avant-garde works such as Export has been producing, specifically her films. Not only is a visit to a New York museum, gallery, or arthouse cinema out of reach for many, the purchase of a $300 and up, 18-minute film (such as Syntagma) is often not a feasible option either (with DVDs this economic consideration becomes a bit more complicated. However, when Bilder was created, DVDs were only beginning to infiltrate the consumer market). A $25 CD-ROM, on the other hand, readily available via the Internet, can grant access to Exports art and her film to a much broader audience. Less control over product versus greater distribution potential is a trade-off an artist is often willing to make. This is especially applicable to the market of avant-garde/experimental films. Limits and Control As I mentioned already, CD-ROM presentations abandon to some degree the claim of artistic autonomy, once thought to be an integral part of any artwork, for their production of meaning. They function in a similar way to hypertextual applications on the Internet but without the limitations posed by bandwidth as well as lacking the possibility for interplay with outside materials and people (except in those cases where CD-ROMs integrate links to the Internet). Because they are contained in their form, they are based on ROM (read-only-memory) and limited to that which is permanently encoded on the CD, these interactive applications are more controlled and controllable (by the author/programmer). This feature can be approached from a positive standpoint: meaning and learning is directed and mediated, or from a negative one: meaning and learning is directed and mediated. Thus, it is important to interrogate the CD not only according to

PAGE 190

181 what and how material is presented but also to deal with the limits that authors have applied to these digital worlds, so that we do not mistake the structure of somebody elses mind for our own (Manovich 61). It is precisely in the limitations set in the technical realization of Bilder where the CD fails to live up to its artistic potential. The gap between theory and actualization represents a trap for many new media filmmakers and artists (see also Wenders in chapter 3). The user has too little control over the content and presentation to be genuinely involved in the production of new meaning. The CD-ROM Bilder der Berhrungen has too much in common with other non-interactive representational apparatuses such as museum installations, video, photography, and the cinema. Although much of the work Export presents on Bilder was originally conceived for these audience-passive media and spaces, a new presentation of these pieces could have embraced more of the formal capacities and opportunities which the CD-ROM offers. Instead, in several of its main parts, the CD-ROM mimics the non-interactive video installation in a museum which persistently runs while audiences come and go, or the cinema, where viewers sit and watch an uninterrupted presentation. If Syntagma or Playback is clicked, for example, the application starts running continuously without any user input whatsoever (although it does not repeat automatically). Even the Exit sequence under Credits cannot be suspended, skipped, or otherwise influenced. Every time the user leaves the program, he or she must sit through the same lengthy sequence of events, digest corporate logos and read through financial support information, all of which takes almost a minute. Although Export disrupts the semantic context of the Syntagma sequences by providing an option to intersperse images and video clips from her other work, this

PAGE 191

182 practice does not produce much in the way of the unexpected. This is primarily due to the limited time that each image or scene is available for clicking as well as the prearranged selection of work which is available to be paired with each particular Syntagma scene. In other words, Export has pre-determined, to some degree, every new combination of images instead of letting the user combine and contrast her work independently. Of course, the user can opt not to click, but without any disruptions, neither the film nor the artworks context changes, and therefore neither does the original meaning. The limited interactive opportunities are especially apparent in the presentation of Syntagma. There is no random scene access available, nor can the film be fast forwarded, rewound, or otherwise played in a non-cinematic manner (except be interrupted). 22 The images that comprise the film can neither be manipulated, such as distorted in size or focus, nor can scenes be cut or rearranged, and no slow-motion or freeze frames are available. The only possible interaction with the film relies exclusively on the peripheral images and video clips which have been pre-arranged by Export and appear at strategic moments during the film for specific periods of time. In many ways Syntagma stays true to its original cinematic form, although it is no longer formally obligated to do so. What remains does not exceed or subvert the conventional art portfolio in a radical way, and it cannot aspire to fully realize Exports ambitious claim found on the CD-insert to the fullest degree possible. There she proclaims: The CD-ROM should not be regarded as a documentation of my works, it is an individually artistic work that stands for itself. Although there are plenty of promising concepts introduced in Bilder der 22 Even a VHS tape would offer more interactive possibilities since videos can be rewound, fast-forwarded, and paused.

PAGE 192

183 Berhrungen, ultimately, the artists excessive control over the material presented fetters the mediums potential for creative interaction and unpredictability. The Next Generation of Film Storage: The DVD-Video Because CD-ROMs limited storage capacity renders it a somewhat innocuous competitor to earlier and later technologies of film storage and delivery, such as VHS, Laserdiscs, digital video streaming, and DVDs, it had to make way for a format better adapted to satisfy the requirements of digital film storage and distribution. Laserdisc Makes Way for DVD-Video In 1972 Philips and MCA first introduced consumer laser video (better known as Laserdisc or simply LD), an optical disc technology that stored analog video and audio information (digital data followed in the eighties). LDs picture and sound quality, durability, random access, and still-frame capability constituted a vast improvement over what could be achieved in the VHS format. Nonetheless, Laserdiscs never pervaded the consumer market as VHS tapes did and eventually perished as a technology altogether (in 1999) after the DVD-video format became widely available. Reasons why Laserdiscs could not prevail in the marketplace vary among sources, some conjectures include Laserdiscs inability to act as a recording medium, their relatively large size and high price compared to VHS, as well as limited film title availability, etc. Although there subsists disagreement about why the disc did not succeed as a playback device for films with consumers, there exists relative consensus about why manufacturers eventually completely abandoned the hardware and software production: the immediate success of another storage technology, the DVD-Video. Since emerging on the consumer market in 1996 in Japan (1997 in the US, 1998 in Europe), DVDs (digital versatile disc) have become the fastest growing consumer

PAGE 193

184 electronics technology ever. 23 Within a few years it will be difficult to find films on either Laserdisc or VHS. For now, VHS still has the advantage of being able to record external material easily and inexpensively. However recordable DVDs are already beginning to appear on the market, and the hardware will eventually drop in price to appeal to a larger number of consumers. The availability and technical development of mass-market, writable DVD-Rs, DVD-RWs and the accompanying hardware was and still is somewhat stifled by piracy concerns. Even though these concerns have spawned counteractive measures by the film industry, some of which include region-restrictive encoding, DVD-Videos encoding represents a global standard for pre-recorded video. 24 The specifications were originally written and are being maintained by the DVD Forum, an international association of hardware manufacturers, software firms and other users of DVDs, founded in 1995 under the name DVD Consortium. 25 DVD-Video can store a 133-240 minute (4.7 8.5 GB) 23 Similarly to the CD-ROM, one of the reasons DVD hardware is so popular is its backward compatibility with other CD media, i.e., DVD-players can also read music CDs and CD-ROMs. 24 Although DVDs are coded in a language that is universal and a source for potentially flawless copies, manufacturers of the hardware and film studios have devised techniques which will assure higher market profits and resistance to piracy. DVD-Video includes a region-specific encoding to restrict playing content to remain within geographic regions. The regions are numbered 1 through 6 and do not follow strict geographic alignments. For example DVDs for South Africa are Region 2 encoded, the same as Europe, the Middle East, and Japan, whereas the rest of the African continent shares Region 5 with the Russian Federation, India, and Pakistan. The practice of region coding was initiated by motion picture studios in the US in order to achieve higher control over the release of films in other countries. Films are released on DVD at different times around the world, typically the US and Canada first, then Australia and Japan, followed by Europe and the rest of the world. In rare cases, DVD movies are available for purchase in the US and Canada before they are released in European cinemas. Increasingly, DVD hardware manufacturers are deliberately undermining the system and offer players that will ignore the region coding or publish cheat codes to override the region block and play DVDs from any country. As the release windows worldwide are getting closer and more users find ways to circumvent the restrictive coding, it is becoming more and more likely that the practice will be altogether abandoned in the future. Nonetheless, varying price schemes for DVDs in different countries as well as censorship issues may continue the practice of region coding and spawn new technologies to enforce resistance to disruption. 25 The DVD consortium was originally comprised of ten technology-related companies, Hitachi, Matsushita, Mitsubishi, Philips, Pioneer, Sony, Thomson, Time Warner, Toshiba, and JVC.

PAGE 194

185 MPEG-2 encoded film on one side of a single disc. A dual-sided disc can hold between four and eight hours of full-screen, full-motion video. DVD-Video supports CD quality, multi-channel surround sound, subtitles, various display formats (e.g., pan-and-scan, letterbox, widescreen, full-screen), and user options for non-linear interaction with the video. Its resolution is considerably better than Laserdisc. It can store up to eight spoken languages and subtitles for forty languages on one disc. It also includes parental lockout controls, copy protection, and region-specific coding. Many DVDs include cast and crew biographies, directors or actors commentaries, making-of documentaries, links to websites or even incorporate a full game based on the movie. In addition to using DVDs as a storage medium for films (DVD-Video), the digital versatile disc can also contain games, software (as DVD-ROM), and audio tracks (as DVD-Audio). DVD-R, DVD-RAM, and DVD-RW are all standards that allow consumers to record content of their own choosing. DVD-Videos propensity to fall victim to copyright infringements has inhibited some filmmakers and studios from releasing their titles in that format. The high quality of the DVD image as well as its internal digital code make it much more appealing as a source for copies than, for example, a VHS tape. First generation copies of films on DVD often contain very little image degradation and the digital encoding of the film onto disc translates well into other computer-related environments such as the Internet. 26 26 Increasingly, copies of high-profile films are traded via the Internet (sometimes before they even premiere in theaters). This practice has become progressively troublesome to the film industry and one counteraction to such piracy is the incorporation of copy protection into DVD-players and on the discs themselves. Copy protection is achieved in a twofold process either through analogue or digital methods and often by employing both. Digital copy protection (Content Scrambling System) involves scrambling and encrypting raw data whereas analog copy protection relies on an older technology developed by Macrovision, a protection which is also in use by VHS-tapes. Macrovision distorts the composite video output, a process only visible on illegally copied tapes and not on the original.

PAGE 195

186 Even though institutional restraints, such as region-coding and copyright protection have been put in place for DVDs, just as other medium-specific controls have affected earlier technologies of film storage, DVDs (as well as VCRs and Laserdiscs) have helped to somewhat liberate films of their institutionally dependent nature shaped by theater policies and projection technologies, advertising campaigns, and cinema demographics. DVD-Videos, in particular, have had a profound influence upon these practices. Due to the relatively low costs of digital versatile disc production (even lower than VHS-tape manufacturing), many films aimed at audiences whose taste resists mainstream fare have a chance to be seen on DVD by viewers who live outside of metropolitan areas or are isolated from certain cultural centers. This availability issue is becoming more pronounced with the emergence of online DVD rental companies such as Netflix (even though Netflixs DVD selection, as of yet, is restricted to mostly popular films). Non-Hollywood features are also available through other Internet channels, for example through distributors who use non-commercial films as their niche to compete against chain rental companies, such as Hollywood Video or Blockbuster Video. One of the most useful and distinctive features of DVD-Videos, in comparison to VHS videos (and to a lesser degree Laserdiscs), is the possibility of extended interactivity with the content material. Not only do menus offer random, non-linear, access to certain parts of the film, they can also lead to a wealth of related material, such as biographies, the making of documentaries, commentaries by directors, actors, or even film scholars, trailers, still pictures, and multiple angles, to name but a few. 27 The range and magnitude 27 The multiple angle option is often found on adult entertainment DVDs and has even become a euphemism (multiple-angle DVD) for discs containing pornographic material. To give viewers access to scenes shot from different angles in large-scale productions would not only be an expensive and labor

PAGE 196

187 of interactivity for DVD-video is not unlimited, however; it is restricted by the storage capacity and programming structure of the disc. Some DVDs bypass this limitation by including links to websites which offer additional content. Naturally, these links can only be accessed if the disc is played on an Internet-ready computer or Web-TV. Links to the Internet sites that provide supplemental information relevant to the original content of the disc offers film distributors, producers, directors, actors, and other parties involved in the film an additional outlet for their products. Similar films, movie gear, computer games based on the film, and many other items can be targeted at an audience that is already predisposed to be interested in such merchandise. Making Films Special: DVD Packaging and Marketing Manufacturers of Laserdiscs, in collaboration with the film industry, pioneered the practice of releasing films in different versions, as special editions, to satisfy the interest of film buffs who wanted to see not only the official product mirroring the theatrical release but also desired to get a glimpse of the directors vision without commercial restraints, or get insights into the art of movie-making via a making of documentary. DVDs have developed the special edition niche into a vastly popular practice. The Laserdisc format was not only a forerunner in releasing alternate versions of major feature films in special editions, it also inaugurated the practice of supplying extra materials complementing the main feature. Again, DVDs have picked up on this practice and expanded it considerably. Additional features on DVDs vary widely and are, to some degree, dependant on the original release date of the films themselves. Most importantly, the quality and intensive venture, it would also, in some cases, undermine the directors specific use of an angle to achieve a certain effect. Many directors are not willing to surrender their vision to satisfy viewers curiosity.

PAGE 197

188 quantity of the added materials depend on the overall quality of the DVD release. Certain distributors, such as Kino International, will produce a slightly more expensive version of a film on DVD, but also put more effort in achieving excellent image and sound output, as well as include interesting and well researched ancillary material. For example, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, part of The Masterworks of German Horror Classics collection, includes a rare clip from another Robert Wiene film Genuine. And Nosferatu, part of the same collection, offers a glance at some of the original drawings made for the film by Albert Grau. Similarly, On Berlin, Symphony of a Great City, Image Entertainment makes another Ruttmann film, the ten-minute Opus I (1922), available to viewers. Opus I shows the range of Ruttmanns filmic uvre, which was not confined to realistic film footage output, but also included experimentation with highly abstract geographic shapes and colors. A more recent film The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum (1975), made available on DVD by Home Vision Entertainment (2003), includes two separate video interviews, one of the directors and another of the director of photography, as well as a documentary of the author Heinrich Bll, who adapted his own novel to serve as the screenplay of the film. Because The Lost Honor chronicles events which take place during a very specific historical time period in Germany and focuses on the controversial crack-down of police in the wake of terrorism attacks by the Baader-Meinhof Group, the additional features on the DVD provide background information for viewers too young to remember these incidents or not familiar with the particularities of German history. The bonus materials on these examples not only add an additional entertainment value to the DVD but also provide a context for the main feature that augments the viewers experience as well as enriches the films meaning.

PAGE 198

189 Apart from adding materials supplementary to the main feature, many DVDs of more recent films also include commentaries by the director and/or other people involved in the films production which is presented as part of the film itself. The voice-over comments usually span the entire length of the feature and drown out the original soundtrack. These commentaries are especially popular with auteur directors such as Wenders, Herzog, and Tykwer. The chance to explain their vision to viewers and therefore control not only the production of the film but also its reception seems to appeal to these directors. This is especially relevant in the case of Wenders, who has been producing critical commentaries, interviews, and essays influencing the reception of his own films and the state of the cinema in general, published in written form, for years. Directors who have not been as prolific as Wenders in the field of film criticism are apparently also welcoming the chance to send off their films with a how to understand and see my images and story correctly auditory manual. In many cases, the directorial commentaries are self-indulging rather than thought-provoking and offer little in the way of critical refection. Occasionally, they offer a glimpse into the technical difficulties of shooting particular scenes or the challenge of adapting non-filmic materials to the screen. Or, the comments may provide the viewer with information pertaining to the personal motivations, shortcomings, fears, and thrills experienced by directors and, in some cases, actors or others involved in the final product. Voice-over commentaries are different from interviews concerning a particular film, even though both share the directors (or actors) opinion with the audience. Voice-overs are part of the original product itself and refer to very specific moments as they unfold on the screen. Such commentary is a much more effective tool in shaping the reception of a film (which is why the voice-over is

PAGE 199

190 often implemented with documentaries and non-fiction films which tend to have a didactic purpose). Excessive directorial intervention in viewer reception is arguably one negative effect emerging from the added materials supplied by the DVD format. The influence on documentary film practices represents another. Nick Redman, documentary producer of The Wild Bunch: An Album in Montage (1996), comments on the negative impact DVD extras have had on his specific branch of filmmaking: DVD has changed things for the worse, because now studios think that every bad movie should be a special edition, so there is nothing special about it any more. The climate would not allow for An Album in Montage today because DVD budgets are at an all-time low and the junky behind-the-scenes documentaries are just amateurish electronic press kits, being made by trailer-cutters. A proper documentary needs a budget and more importantly, time, to realise it [. .] Studios will not hire real documentarians to do DVD documentaries, they don't believe in the projects enough to care about quality. They just want it cheap ... and yesterday. In other words, the making of featurettes that accompany many DVDs are more likely a commercial gimmick than an attempt at introducing the viewers to the complexities and the collaborative labor efforts that constitute feature film productions. Nonetheless, seeing the make belief world of films for what it is, a constructed and highly manipulated environment, can transform the transparent film medium (which strives to appear as real life) into a hypermediated product (a constructed, mimetic reality). Moreover, documentaries filmed specifically for a DVD release only appear packaged with films made after 1997 when the medium became available to the general public. Documentaries that accompany films from before 1997, re-released on DVD, are traditionally produced and crafted films. There are plenty of films originally released before DVDs appearance on the consumer market that, as a re-release, take advantage of the higher quality and more

PAGE 200

191 durable storage capacity of these discs. Vintage films, often digitally remastered and restored, have enjoyed somewhat of a comeback through the DVD market. This is especially true of non-US cinema classics, such as films produced in the Weimar Republic. 28 Unlike with contemporary films, these classics exist in different qualities and versions due to their age, censorship issues, and varying restoration processes. Metropolis is a case in point here, because there exist numerous versions of the same film. The original, which premiered at the Ufa Palace in Berlin was 13,701 feet long and lasted 153 minutes (at 24 fps). However, soon thereafter Paramount Pictures and Ufa decided to cut the film to what was then considered to be normal length in order to maximize Metropoliss commercial potential; after all, this film had broken records in production costs. From 1927 until the 1980s, a variety of versions at various lengths, all derived from the Paramount/UFA cut circulated the globe. The East German Film Archive (Staatliches Filmarchiv der DDR) assembled an improved version between 1968 and 1972, but this print still only amounted to half of the originals length. In 1984 the composer Georgio Moroder acquired the rights to the film and updated the material by 28 Recent years have seen DVD releases of classics such as Berlin, Symphony of a Great City, The Golem, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, Nosferatu, Dr. Mabuse: The Gambler, Metropolis, The Last Laugh, Spies, M, Diary of a Lost Girl, Faust, The Blue Angel, Die Nibelungen, Triumph of the Will, and many others. Fritz Lang and G.W. Pabst are represented by a remarkable number of films on DVD. (The DVDs mentioned in this section all refer to editions produced for the US or UK market. Although the films discussed are German films, the DVD availability for Weimar or New German Cinema films in Germany has either not caught up with the US and UK market or is responding to a lack in consumer interest.) Some of these films are even available in multiple formats and on different DVD editions. They can be found on themed collection DVDs such as The Masterworks of the German Horror Cinema which includes The Golem, Nosferatu, and The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, or the low-priced, but equally low-quality Navarre Corporation release of Horror Classics Triple Feature, Vol. 1, which features Metropolis and Nosferatu (as well as the French The Phantom of the Opera) or on special edition releases such as the Image Entertainment version of Nosferatu which includes several extras that are missing from the Kino International release. Although additional material may differ from version to version, one would expect the feature presentation to be the same. This, however, is not always a given. On the contrary, different editions can vary greatly as to the content of the main attraction. The otherwise high-quality themed set and aforementioned The Masterworks of the German Horror Cinema (Elite Entertainment), for example, includes a version of The Golem that is almost 30 minutes shorter than the one available on VHS.

PAGE 201

192 re-cutting scenes, adding stills, subtitles, and color tinting. The newly composed score used contemporary pop music songs and ran 87 minutes. The Munich version from 1987 tried to improve upon all other existing versions by making use of newly acquired original footage and the orignial score by Huppertz. In 1998 the film archivist Martin Koerber began yet another restoration process of Metropolis and successfully completed the project in 2001. This restoration was the first to utilize digital imaging tools which eliminated or reduced physical damage, scratches, and dust, all due to the advanced age of the film. In celebration of its 75 th anniversary Kino International released this version as what they call the definitive restoration of Fritz Langs Metropolis into select theaters. It was instantly greeted with critical praise and recently won the Film Heritage Prize from the National Society of Film Critics. Thanks to the market viability of the DVD-format and Kinos success in the DVD-market niche of vintage films, the Kino theater release was made available in that format in February of 2003 to a broader audience and affordable to film scholars, collectors and casual enthusiasts alike. 29 All DVDs are not created equal, especially when dealing with cinema classics which often have several sources defining their content and with various DVD 29 In addition to the latest Kino restoration release, several competing variants of Metropolis are available on the DVD market. Although at 115 minutes, the Hollywood Classics edition of Metropolis (produced by Madacy Entertainment), presents a relatively long version of the film, the transfer to DVD is so poor that many of the intertitles and even the main title appear partially cut off. This version also lacks in image and sound quality in comparison to other Metropolis editions. Generally, transfer of films onto DVD results in a better quality copy than transfers to other storage formats, such as VHS and laserdisc. Even though, just like with other formats, the relocation from 35mm to DVD begins with a telecine, a machine that acts like an electronic film projector, the process for DVD transfer has a higher quality standard. The telecine projects light through the individual film frames and strikes an arrangement of semiconductors which convert the light to electrical signals. This information is transferred to High Definition video, color is corrected, and then compressed into the Mpeg-2 video compression standard which reduces the High Definition video file to a faction of its original size. A similar case is Fritz Langs M which is available in several editions as well. In the Europa Theatre Series (Whirlwind Media Inc.) M appears packaged with another Lang classic, the 1928 Spies. On this DVD M only runs 71 minutes while the original, available on a Criterion DVD release, lasts 110 minutes.

PAGE 202

193 manufacturers competing for price and quality. Although similar issues arise for VHS productions, the availability and hence marketing is greatly reduced in comparison to mass-market DVDs; therefore the problem appears magnified in the latter medium. Also, viewers are accustomed to the high potential image resolution of DVD features and consequently notice shoddy quality more than in the VHS format. DVDs have resurrected many of the traditional problems in the distribution of Weimar Cinema classics but in an amplified form. What is particularly significant with these film classics appearing on DVD-Video, especially those who have undergone recent restoration processes, is their increased availability to average consumers. Whereas the newly restored version of Metropolis appeared only in limited distribution, on theater screens in select cities, its DVD release covers most geographic regions, especially through Internet distributors such as Amazon.com. This expansion of economic prospects for revivals of classics will surely prompt more companies to finance restoration projects and help secure the continuing legacy of early cinema greats. It may well have a defining impact upon the politics of film preservation in general, particularly concerning foreign films. 30 According to Robert Gitt, a film preservation officer at the UCLA Film and Television Archive, as much as fifty percent of films produced in the US before 1950 have deteriorated to the point that they will never be able to be seen in public again (Phan). And many early European films have fallen victim to the same fate. Perhaps increasing popularity through readily 30 Robert Gitt at the UCLA Film and Television Archive notes that many of the archives grants originate with private foundations and companies who stipulate which film restoration projects should receive their money, thereby shifting the focus of preservation efforts by applying either commercial or specific individual considerations. Gitt argues that a lot of obscure, but interesting films are left to rot away (Phan). Although DVD releases still depend upon financial viability, the extra revenue gained from selling more DVDs in general (in comparison with VHS re-releases of films), may open up expanded possibilities for archives nonetheless.

PAGE 203

194 available and high quality products will translate into more financial viability for restoration projects. Concurrently, although broader availability will bring these films to the attention of more viewers and perhaps wet their appetite to delve more deeply into filmic history than they ordinarily would have, unfortunately, greater market exposure can have a negative impact on the reception of these films as well. With several different versions of the same film available on DVD, viewers may not realize or understand the difference in quality and content with which they are confronted. The relative freedom that distributors have, especially with material that is no longer under stringent copyright protection, can effect films and viewers in both positive and negative ways. The Cabinet of Caligari, Robert Wienes 1920 silent classic, also recently fully restored and digitally enhanced, is available from Kino International (individually packaged and bundled with other German silent films), Gotham Distribution, Elite Entertainment, and Image Entertainment. 31 In addition to recreating the original expressionistic style of the intertitles, Image Entertainment also reproduced the color tinting which appeared in the films original release. Although the overwhelming 31 The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is another excellent case for the DVD-mediums capacity to enhance vintage film reception. Caligari can be seen in a number of different versions, produced by several distributors. As is the case with Metropolis, Caligari recently became the focus of an elaborate restoration project and became immediately widely available, first on laserdisc and soon thereafter in the more popular DVD-format. Although efforts to return Caligari to its original luster cannot quite compete with the colorful and multifaceted restoration history of Metropolis, the results are impressive nonetheless. In 1996, the American film restaurateur David Shepard, with his company Film Preservation Associates, began working on The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. (For a more detailed analysis of Shepards version in comparison to the restored European versions see Olaf Brills Caligari auf DVD.) Unlike the European restoration variants of the same film from 1984 (European Film Archive) and 1996 (Project Lumire), the Shepard version hit the mass-market immediately, in 1996 on Laserdisc, and in 1997 on DVD. One of the most appealing additions to this classic films repertoire are the newly developed English intertitles which feature, like their restored German counterparts and based on the original version, an expressionist-style typescript. The intertitles in Shepards version, realized with the help of computer imaging, adhere closely to the style of the original titles, created by Hermann Warm, Walter Reimann, and Walter Rhrig in 1920. However, the computer enhancement as well as the high image quality of the DVD storage medium add to the intertitles impact and affect the film as a whole. Appearing throughout the film in their unrivaled clarity, they add to the overall impressionistic style of the film.

PAGE 204

195 majority of silent films from the early 20 th century originally included the addition of color, they were preserved in black and white because the practice of tinting and toning left the film stock vulnerable to decay over time. 32 Therefore film stock manufacturers of the time recommended to preserve a black and white original of a film before altering the print with color. The inevitable deterioration of tinted and toned originals has led to the demise of many of the colored versions of films (Usai 27). 33 This pre-Technicolor method of physically altering the film stock to achieve color effects imparted on these silent films a distinctness and added dimension which further sets them apart from later films. Losing the color tinting strips meaning from these films which is surely a negative aspect embedded in the legacy of the celluloid medium. The Image Entertainment release of Caligari has tried to return to this lost film art by artificially adding what was originally part of the film. However, on DVD, color cannot prematurely age the film; it will be preserved for the duration of the softwares life and beyond (due to the flawless transfer of code from one digital medium to another). 32 As Paolo Cherchi Usai explains in the Color of Nitrate: Some Factual Observations on Tinting and Toning Manuals for Silent Films, four basic techniques of film coloring preceded the eventual ubiquity of Technicolor: hand coloring, coloring by stencil, tinting, and toning. Hand coloring represents a technique that requires a painter to apply aniline dye directly and free-style onto single frames. Stencil coloring is a more time and cost-effective process whereby a machine automatically applies color to film frames in the shape of the stencil. Tinting involves coloring the entire frame in a single color, and it can be combined with either hand coloring or stencil coloring techniques. Toning a film print required a complete immersion in a chemical solution which affects only the darker areas of an image and leaves the lighter sections unaffected (23-27). The increasing sophistication of physical film stock manipulation inspired companies to offer a variety of types of film, each suited to a particular post-production manipulation. As Usai points out, as early as 1926, the manufacturer Path produced nine different film stocks to filmmakers (26). Coloring of films was taken very seriously by the industry and losing this effect inevitably undermines the art inherent in early films. 33 A similar predicament arose out of the separation of sound from image track in early films. This practice contributed to many original soundtracks getting lost or damaged and a new soundtrack had to be added to many old films.

PAGE 205

196 Appropriation of cinema star appeal, as pertaining to actors and directors, also translates well onto the DVD medium, as recent releases featuring Marlene Dietrich or Louise Brooks, as well as collections based on a specific directors uvre, reveal. The Kino release of The Blue Angel, for instance, includes several bonus features which rely solely on Dietrichs star power. The DVD offers viewers a look at Dietrichs talent and career in addition to and apart from her role in The Blue Angel by including a screen test of the actress, concert footage from two of Dietrichs public performances, and a filmed interview of the star. Likewise, the same companys release of Diary of a Lost Girl includes the complete Windy Riley Goes to Hollywood from 1931 (by Fatty Arbuckle) which has nothing in common with Langs film except they both star Louise Brooks. More recent examples of this marketing approach is a six-DVD compilation named the Herzog/Kinski Collection which cashes in on the prolific film cooperation between the director Werner Herzog and the actor Klaus Kinski. Included in the collection are the feature films Aquirre, The Wrath of God, Woyzeck, Cobra Verde, Nosferatu, Fitzcarraldo, and the documentary My Best Fiend. The Herzog/Kinski Collection obviously capitalizes on and spotlights Klaus Kinskis flamboyant persona; it serves as a retrospective of his career, in light of his recent death, and as a professional record of a man who has earned himself the reputation of being extremely eccentric, an egomaniac, and almost impossible to work with. The included documentary My Best Fiend weaves Kinskis professional as well as personal escapades into a narrative that makes even previously non-interested viewers curious as to how Kinskis temperament translates onto the screen. Similarly, another colorful German actor and director, R. W. Fassbinder, is receiving special attention in a themed release of his films. Wellspring

PAGE 206

197 Media has launched The Rainer Werner Fassbinder Collection, which includes the release of a number on his restored films on DVD. 34 Several DVDs include extras such as documentaries about Fassbinder (Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1977 The Many Women of Fassbinder and Life, Love and Celluloid), rarely seen shorts (The City Tramp and The Little Chaos) and commentaries from his contemporaries in the business (Wim Wenders). In the future, many more of such actoror director-focused DVDs and collections will probably appear on the market since each new packaging and marketing idea provides the impetus for presenting a new edition and give buyers a reason to purchase and add it to their collection. The special focus editions have a two-fold effect: they generate renewed interest in a star or director, and they provide the viewer with a deeper and better informed appreciation of the films and their artists. This elaborate packaging scheme depends on the DVD-format for its effect. Not only can films be stored on the same physical space as the additional material, making it convenient for viewers to delve more deeply (and peripherally) into the subject contained in the DVD, the interface also displays these features relatively prominently, therefore virtually forcing the viewer to acknowledge the existence of the extras and to recognize that films do not exist in a vacuum, but are subject to the socio-historical context of art and society in which they were created. Setting the Mood: The DVD-Video Interface Unlike the recurring interface on CD-ROM applications, discussed above, the DVD-Video menu only provides initial access to the lengthy feature presentation and 34 The Fassbinder films that are now available on DVD have undergone considerable restoration efforts and digital remastering. The Rainer Werner Fassbinder Foundation has been very influential will focus its attention on restoring and acquiring outstanding rights to Berlin Alexanderplatz. Half a million Euros are needed for the work of restoring the fifteen-and-a-half-hour masterpiece. The foundation hopes to raise part of the money at a benefit event in New York scheduled for the spring of 2004 (Newsletter).

PAGE 207

198 does not require the viewer to repeatedly return to its interface in order to navigate through the main DVD content (since the principal feature, the film, unfolds in a linear fashion and can be manipulated through the remote control [e.g., through fast-forwarding, rewinding, or scene skipping]). Conversely, the CD-ROM menu frequently stays in view throughout the run of the application (or at least an access point to it), whereas the DVD menu only appears at the beginning and, at the viewers request, as a disruption of the main feature; it does not represent an integral part of the presentation, but rather acts as a peripheral feature. The feature films formal make-up, originally conceived to be viewed in a non-interactive setting on a cinema or TV screen, resists interruptions. Therefore, the DVD-Video interface serves as an initial remark on the film presentation but cannot sustain its influence as a persistent and reoccurring element such as is the case with CD-ROM interfaces. The latter are task-oriented constructions, whereas DVD-Video menus are entertainment-based and presentational in nature. Nonetheless, some interface designers have been doing their best to make the most of their creations limited impact on the user or the main feature. 35 DVD versions of previously released material must arouse motivation in viewers to buy films they have already seen or even own on VHS. Along with added features and the increased picture and sound quality, the interface provides the film with a fresh look; it inspires buyers to purchase old material because it appears new. Newly released films on DVD will appear enhanced if the interface is modeled as an interesting access panel to the main feature. The interface gives access not only to the main film and 35 EMA Multimedia is one of the most famous and innovative interface design companies. They not only developed the first motion graphics in a DVD interface, but also offered the first DVD video game and sound-enhanced menu.

PAGE 208

199 the bonus material included on the disc, but it can also supply a mood or look, take an interpretive stance, introduce a narrative frame, or provide a specific rhythm for the main feature. A well-designed interface augments, contradicts, or questions the films original message. On the other hand, an insipid, unimaginative DVD entry point can make the film seem dated or one-dimensional, as if it is not worthy of a grand introduction. The DVD versions of Wim Wenderss Buena Vista Social Club and Werner Herzogs Aguirre, Wrath of God are both excellent examples of how a well-designed interface can comment intelligently upon and enhance the feature attraction. Viewers experience both of these films with an added amount of insight due to their DVD presentation. In both cases, DVD designers have paid attention to the intended content of the DVD for which they have been commissioned to provide a functional access point as well as an aesthetically pleasing and critically rich display. Buena Vista Social Club (1999) a musicumentary, as the director himself calls it, chronicles the triumphant comeback of several elderly Cuban musicians who emerged out of several decades of obscurity to enjoy incredible success, replete with major engagements at New York Citys Carnegie Hall and a concert hall in Amsterdam. Under production notes the DVD proclaims Buena Vista Social Club resonates with a love and admiration for authentic Cuban music. The main interface and all submenus of Wenderss film use an animated background (which loops continuously) that translates Wenderss affection and admiration for his subject into images. Predictably, the design of all of the menus consists of animated musical instruments, a man playing what may be a trumpet, another playing a guitar, a photo of the complete musical ensemble, and several other iconic references to the music which is the subject of the film. The overall look of

PAGE 209

200 the DVD is one that immerses the viewer in the musicians world, their instruments, and their music. However, at the same time, the interface also manages to undermine aurally the very topic it seems to promote visually. While the interface appears on the screen, instead of audio clips from the Cuban musicians songs, the viewer hears the sounds of street noise, presumably the streets of Havana, reproducing the distant hum of traffic with the occasional car horn, as well as the faint cries of children playing and people talking and shouting and birds chirping. Additionally, the cover of the DVD (as well as the VHS sleeve) features, not the band of musicians, but a typical street scene in Havana. This tension created by images and seemingly contradictory sound serves Wenderss project well. It makes the viewer conscious of the fact that Buena Vista Social Club is not only a musicumentary, but also a film about present day Cuba, its inhabitants, its socio-historical situation, and the culture emerging from this context. Even without consulting the production notes (which are not prominently featured), where it is explained that Buena Vista Social Club documents a musical love affair with Cubas culture, history, and songs. Here music describes a homelanda place of contrasts, where songs often highlight political and social realities, the viewer is aware of this contrast through the interface alone. Interface designers have not only created an attractive look for Buena Vistas DVD release but have also understood the films content and reflected this sensitivity in their design scheme. Aguirre, Wrath of God is another DVD which uses the interface to its fullest potential. In the film, Herzog documents the trek of the sixteenth-century conquistador Aquirre and his soldiers through the Amazon jungle in Brazil in their greedy quest for

PAGE 210

201 gold. For much of the film, the camera focuses on the Spanish conquistadors and their detached interaction with their environment, attempting to subjugate the land and its people but at the same time trying to remain untainted by the wildness that surrounds them. The jungle stays mysterious and dangerous, and its essence prevails as unconquerable by camera and characters. This problematic interaction between landscape and characters in the film is mirrored perfectly in the interface. The main menu shows Aquirre in his armor superimposed over an animated background featuring the Amazonian river and jungle which both play important parts in the films narrative. While the nature background is alive with sounds and motion, in an actual video clip loop, the foregrounded Aguirre appears as a static image, ostensibly a photograph, unwilling to interact with the jungle Other. However, the two layers are not completely separated, although Aguirres image is fixed, his blond hair, failing to stay contained by his steel helmet, moves ever so slightly in the wind which obviously belongs to the background scene, thus foreshadowing Aguirres eventual demise through the jungles assertion of its natural power over man (Western or not). The interfaces of both of these films are, as was the case with Exports Bilder, examples of mise-en-abyme constructions, a mini narrative that encapsulates or somehow reflects the larger structures within which it is held: it is a mirroring of the text by the subtext (Lunenfeld 54). What the film portrays in images and narrative, the interface re-enacts in miniature form. Conclusion: What are Film and Cinema? Towards an Expanded Definition Films have appeared in various storage formats and have been transmitted to the public via diverse distribution systems over the last century and a half. Until recently, however, films, by definition, have been conceived as images recorded by film cameras

PAGE 211

202 onto film stock which, after going through a developing process, are projected onto a large screen to be viewed by a paying public in a dark auditorium (in relative silence). Even though videos, television, and laserdiscs changed the conditions for viewing, they were usually seen as inferior copies of the original, i.e., to experience the films full effect, with its original image and sound quality intact, one must view it in a cinema. The CD-ROM, the DVD-Video, digital film production and the Internet have changed this perception to some degree (although there still exists the aura of experiencing celluloid in the theater for many cineastes) and reshaped the very definition of what constitutes a film. These digital media have altered the films original form, its cinematic reception and its institutional make-up. In The Language of New Media Lev Manovich agrees with the statement that new medias influence on film redefines the identity of film as such. Film (except for the experimental type) was once a medium dependent solely on images captured by lens-based technology. Cinema, he states [he makes no clear distinction between the terms film and cinema] is the art of the index; it is an attempt to make art out of a footprint. In the age of new media, however, films indexical identity can now be simulated or discarded completely through employing computer technology. Manual construction of images in digital cinema, Manovich continues represents a return to the precinematic practices of the nineteenth century, when images were hand-painted and hand-animated. The twentieth century delegate[d] these manual techniques to animation, so that cinema could define itself as a recording medium (295). For Manovich, digital technology retro-defines cinema as a medium akin to another (older) artistic genre altogether, the art of painting. In this line of argument film is not changed into something new and singular

PAGE 212

203 by the digital but can be approached and compared to historical trajectories of other media genre. While I share Manovichs conviction that new media cannot be equated with media unique to the present, but that all visual media is dependent on prior and later historical trajectories and developments in representational technologies, in this section I have attempted to illustrate that in addition to looking at new medias impact on film content from within the medium itself (as Manovich does), it is also productive to investigate films changing storage and distribution channels in order to trace its effect on film content to arrive at a new definition. I propose to append Manovichs definition, not replace it:2 Storage and distribution mechanisms have had an important impact on films identity as a medium, because they have (at least in the case of the digital media) added an element that was originally thought to be alien to the mediums nature. I suggest defining film and cinema in combination with digital storage technologies as a medium with new objectives and an institution with changed priorities, respectively. In other words, storage media, such as CD-ROM and DVD-ROM not only affect the delivery and containment of films but actually expand what belongs to the category of film. Films on DVDs, for example, begin to exert their meaning through the interface, the marketing, and the supplemental materials, before the first scene of the main feature appears on the screen. A film, such as Syntagma, presented on CD-ROM, is a different film from the one that was originally shown in theaters or distributed on video. Film and cinema are still, to some degree, definable under familiar rubrics, because they continue to exist in traditional storage and distribution forms, but their definition must be expanded when

PAGE 213

204 they are subjected to alternate types of presentation, appear in a different context, and are received by viewers via CD-ROM, the DVD-Video, or the Internet.

PAGE 214

LIST OF REFERENCES About Paper Tiger. Paper Tiger Television. 11 November 2002. . Adorno, Theodor. Aesthetic Theory. Trans. Robert Hullot-Kentor. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1997. Alberro, Alexander. Valie Export. Artforum April 2000. 15 January 2002 . Allen, Michael. The Impact of Digital Technologies on Film Aesthetics. The New Media Book. Ed. Dan Harries. London: British Film Institute, 2002. Alter, Nora. Imaging (Post)Gender under Transnational Capital: Valie Exports Perfect Pair. After Postmodernism. Austrian Literature and Film in Transition. Ed. Willy Riemer. Riverside, CA: Ariadne Press, 1999. ---. Projecting History: German Nonfiction Cinema, 1967-2000. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 2002. Andreotti, Libero and Xavier Costa, ed. Theory of the Drive and Other Situationist Writings. Barcelona: Muse DArt Contemporani, 1996. Arbeitsgemeinschaft Kino. Fr eine kulturelle Frderung des Kinos! Neue Medien contra Filmkultur? Ed. Arbeitsgemeinschaft der Filmjournalisten Hamburger Filmbro. Berlin: Wissenschaftsverlag Volker Spiess GmbH, Berlin, 1987. 63-73. Baier, Martin. Film, Video und HDTV: Die Audiovisionen des Wim Wenders. Berlin: Kohler Verlag, 1996. Barthes, Roland. Image Music Text. Trans. Stephen Heath. New York: Hill and Wang, 1977. ---. Introduction to the Structural Analysis of Narratives. A Barthes Reader. Ed. Susan Sontag. New York: Hill and Wang, 1982. 251-95. Beckett, Samuel. Krapps Last Tape. The Bedford Introduction to Literature. Michael Meyer. 5 th ed. Boston: Bedford St. Martins, 1999. 1649-55. Belton, John. Digital Cinema: A False Revolution. October 100 (Spring 2002): 98-114. 205

PAGE 215

206 Benjamin, Walter. The Author as Producer. The Essential Frankfurt School Reader. Ed. Andrew Arato and Eike Gebhart. New York: Continuum, 1994. 254-26. ---. The Work of Art in the Age of Technical Reproduction. Illuminations. Walter Benjamin. Essays and Reflections. Ed. Hannah Arendt. New York: Schocken Books, 1968. 217-52. Bogard, William. The Simulation of Surveillance. Hypercontrol in Telematic Societies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996. Bolter, Jay David and Richard Grusin. Remediation. Understanding New Media. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2000. Bordwell, David. Intensified Continuity: Aspects of Visual Style in Contemporary Hollywood Film. Midwestern Conference on Film, Language, and Literature. Northern Illinois University, DeKalb. 23 March 2001. Brante, Alexander. Virtuelle Welten. Kursbuch Neue Medien 2000. Ed. Heide Baumann and Clemens Schwender. Stuttgart and Mnchen: Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, 2000. 44-55 Brayton, Jennifer. Cyberfeminism as New Theory. 20 January 2003 . Brecht, Bertholt. Brecht on Theatre. Trans. John Willett. New York: Hill and Wang, 1966. ---. Gesammelte Werke 16 Schriften zum Theater 2. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1967. Brill, Olaf. Caligari auf DVD. epd Film 18. 2 (Feb 2001): 10. Bukatman, Scott. X-Bodies. Uncontrollable Bodies: Testimonies of Identity and Culture. Ed. Rodney Sappington and Tyler Stallings. Seattle: Bay Press, 1994. 92-129. Brger, Peter. Theory of the Avant-Garde. Trans. Michael Shaw. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1984. Bundschuh, Hans Jrg. Die Produktion von Spielfilmen mit Video. Neue Medien contra Filmkultur? Ed. Arbeitsgemeinschaft der Filmjournalisten Hamburger Filmbro. Berlin: Wissenschaftsverlag Volker Spiess GmbH, Berlin, 1987.203-211. Burnham, David. The Rise of the Computer State. New York: Vintage, 1983. Campbell, Duncan. Interception Capabilities 2000. Edinburgh. April 1999. 5 March 2003 .

PAGE 216

207 Cassell, Justine and Henry Jenkins, ed. From Barbie to Mortal Kombat. Gender and Computer Games. Cambridge, MA and London: The MIT Press, 1998. Corner, John. Critical Ideas in Television Studies. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999. Corrigan, Timothy. A Cinema without Walls. Movies and Culture after Vietnam. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1991. Dandecker, Christopher. Surveillance, Power, and Modernity: Bureaucracy and Discipline from 1700 to the Present Day. New York: St. Martins Press, 1990. Debord, Guy. Theory of the Derive. Theory of the Drive and Other Situationist Writings. Ed. Andreotti, Libero and Xavier Costa. Barcelona: Muse DArt Contemporani, 1996. 22-27. Eifler, Margaret. Valie Exports Invisible Adversaries. Film as Text. Gender and German Cinema. Vol. 1. Oxford: Berg Publishers, 1993. 241-54. Elliot, Chris. The Legality of the Interception of Electronic Communications: A Concise Survey of the Principal Legal Issues and Instruments under International, European and National Law. October 1999. February 2003 . Ellis, John. Broadcast TV Narration. Visible Fictions. London and New York: Routledge, 1982. Elsaesser, Thomas. Cinema Futures: Convergence, Divergence, Difference. Cinema Futures: Cain, Abel or Cable? The Screen Arts in the Digital Age. Ed. Thomas Elsaesser and Kay Hoffmann. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 1998. 9-26. ---. Digital Cinema: Delivery, Event, Time. Cinema Futures: Cain, Abel or Cable? The Screen Arts in the Digital Age. Ed. Thomas Elsaesser and Kay Hoffmann. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 1998. 201-222. ---. Louis Lumirethe Cinemas First Virtualist? Cinema Futures: Cain, Abel or Cable? The Screen Arts in the Digital Age. Ed. Thomas Elsaesser and Kay Hoffmann. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 1998. 45-61. E-Motion Bytes. Internationale Hofer Filmtage. October 2001. 5 February 2002 . Entertainment Industry to Spend $3 Billion by 2005 to Convert 21,000 Theaters to Digital. 30 May 2000. 24 August 2002 .

PAGE 217

208 Enzensberger, Hans Magnus. The Aporias of the Avant-Garde. The Consciousness Industry. On Literature, Politics and the Media. New York: Continuum, 1974. 17-41. ---. Constituents of a Theory of the Media. Electronic Culture. Technology and Visual Representation. Ed. Timothy Druckrey. New York: Aperture Foundation, 1996. 62-86. ---. The Industrialisation of the Mind. The Consciousness Industry. On Literature, Politics and the Media. New York: Continuum, 1974. 5-15. ---. Das Nullmedium oder Warum alle Klagen ber das Fernsehen gegenstandslos sind. Baukasten zu einer Theorie der Medium. Kritische Diskurse zur Pressefreiheit. Ed. Peter Glotz. Mnchen: Verlag Reinhard Fischer, 1997. 145-57. Excerpts from Interviews with Wenders. The Cinema of Wim Wenders. Image, Narrative, and the Postmodern Condition. Ed. Roger F. Cook and Gerd Gemnden. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1997. 60-86. Export, Valie. Bilder der Berhrungen. CD-ROM. Kln: Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther Knig, 1998. ---. Interview with Valie Export. Eifler, Margaret and Sandra Frieden. Gender and German Cinema. Vol. 1. Oxford: Berg Publishers, 1993. 267-78. Faber, Monika. Leap of Space. Time-Poem. Movement-Trace. Split:Reality Valie Export. Ed. Museum moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien. Wien and New York: Springer, 1997. 208-213. Fanagan, Mary. Mobile Identities, Digital Stars, and Post-Cinematic Selves. Wide Angle: Issue on Digitality and the Memory of Cinema 21.3 (1999): 3-20. Fiske, John. Television Culture. London and New York: Routledge,1989. Flaherty, Joseph A. Formats & DTV standards part I: the HDTV common image format. World Broadcast Engineering. 23.2 (Feb. 2000): 18-203. Flinn, Caryl. That Music that Lola Ran To. Sound Matters. Essays on the Acoustics of German Culture. Ed. Nora Alter and Lutz Koepnick, forthcoming. Forum. Wim Wenders The Official Website. 30 January 2001 . Foucault, Michel. The Birth of the Clinic. An Archaeology of Medical Perception. New York: Vintage, 1994. ---. Discipline and Punish. The Birth of the Prison. New York: Vintage, 1995.

PAGE 218

209 Friedberg, Anne. CD and DVD. The New Media Book. Ed. Dan Harries. London: BFI Publishing, 2002. 30-39. Friedlander, Larry. Spaces of Experience on Designing Multimedia Applications. Contextual Media Multimedia and Interpretation. Ed. Edward Barrett and Marie Redmond. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 1995. 163-74. Goertz, Heinrich. Piscator. Reinbeck bei Hamburg: Rowohlt Taschenbuch Verlag GmbH, 1974. Goldman, Robert and Stephen Papson. Sign Wars: The Cluttered Landscape of Advertising. New York and London: The Guilford Press, 1996. Grob, Norbert. Aufzeichnungen zu Kleidern und Stdten. Wenders. Ed. Norbert Grob and Antje Goldau. Berlin: Wissenschaftsverlag Volker Spiess GmbH, 1991. Habermas, Jrgen. The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere. Trans. Thomas Brger and Frederick Lawrence. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 1991. Hall, Peter Christian. Erlebnisangebot vs. Restzeitverwertung. Neue Medien contra Filmkultur? Ed. Arbeitsgemeinschaft der Filmjournalisten Hamburger Filmbro. Berlin: Wissenschaftsverlag Volker Spiess GmbH, Berlin, 1987.167-178. Hall, Stuart. Encoding and Decoding in the Television Discourse. 1973. The Cultural Studies Reader. Ed. Simon During. London and New York: Routledge, 1993. 90-103. Haraway, Donna. Simians, Cyborgs, and Women. The Reinvention of Nature. New York: Routledge, 1991. Harvey, David. The Condition of Postmodernity. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell Publishers, 1990. Hayles, N. Katherine. How We Became Posthuman. Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature, and Informatics. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1999. ---. Virtual Bodies and Flickering Signifiers. Electronic Culture. Technology and Visual Representation. Ed. Timothy Druckrey. New York: Aperture Foundation, 1996. 259-77. Himmel, Erde und Reibekuchen. Der Spiegel 26/2001. 25 June 2002 . History of Computing. Department of Computer Science, Virginia Tech. 15 June 2002 < http://ei.cs.vt.edu/~history/Zuse.html>.

PAGE 219

210 Hollevoet, Christel. Wandering in the City Flnerie to Drive and After: The Cognitive Mapping of Urban Space. The Power of the City: The City of Power. New York: Whitney Museum of Art, 1992. 25-55. Hollows, Joanne. Mass Culture Theory and Political Economy. Approaches to Popular Film. Ed. Joanne Hollows and Mark Jancovich. Manchester and New York: Manchester University Press, 1995. 15-36. Hollows, Joanne and Mark Jancovich. Introduction: Popular Film and Cultural Distinctions. Approaches to Popular Film. Ed. Joanne Hollows and Mark Jancovich. Manchester and New York: Manchester University Press, 1995. 1-14. Horkheimer, Max and Theodor Adorno. The Culture Industry. Enlightenment as Mass Deception. Dialectic of Enlightenment. Trans. John Cumming. New York: Continuum, 1996. 120-67. Howard, Robert. Brave New Workplace. New York: Viking, 1985. Huffman, Kathy Rae. Video Art: Whats TV Got to Do with It? Illuminating History. An Essential Guide to Video Art. New York: Aperture Foundation, 1990. 81-90. Iles, Chrissie. Valie Export: Body, Space, Splitting, Projection. Ob/De + Con(Struction). Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Moore College of Art and Design, 2000, 35-40. Jameson, Frederic. The Cultural Turn. Selected Writings on the Postmodern, 1983-1998. London and New York: Verso, 1998. ---. Postmodernism or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism. Durham: Duke University Press, 1997. Kittler, Friedrich. There is No Software. Electronic Culture. Technology and Visual Representation. Ed. Timothy Druckrey. New York: Aperture Foundation, 1996. 331-37. Klawans, Stuart. Born Cool. The Nation 12 July 1999: 34-6. Kluge, Alexander. Die Fernsehmagazine. May 2002 . The Konrad Zuse Freundeskreis Homepage. 15 June 2003 . Konrad Zuse Internet Archive. 15 June 2002 . Kraus, Rosalind E. The Originality of the Avant-Garde. The Originality of the Avant-Garde and Other Modernist Myths. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press. 151-70.

PAGE 220

211 Kreimeier, Klaus. The Ufa Story. A History of Germanys Greatest Film Company, 1918-1945. Trans. Robert and Rita Kimber. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999. Krochmal, Mo. Digital Download Spec Is on Time. TechWeb 18 June 1999. 31 July 2002 . Landow, George P. Hypertext 2.0. The Convergence of Contemporary Critical Theory and Technology. Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997. Lara Croft: The Art of Virtual Seduction. Roseville, CA: Prima Publishing, 2000. Light Andrew. Wim Wenders and the Everyday Aesthetics of Technology and Space. The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 55:2, (Spring 1997): 215-29. Lukcs, Georg. Es geht um den Realismus. Marxismus und Literatur. Eine Dokumentation. Vol. II. Ed. F.J. Raddatz. Reinbeck bei Hamburg, 1969. Lunenfeld, Peter. Snap to Grid. A Users Guide to Digital Arts, Media, and Cultures. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2000. Lyon, David. The Electronic Eye: The Rise of Surveillance Society. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1994. MacCabe, Colin. Realism and the Cinema: Notes on Some Brechtian Theses. Tracking the Signifier. Theoretical Essays: Film, Linguistics, Literature, 1985. 33-57. Manovich, Lev. The Language of New Media. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2002. Marlow, Eugene, and Eugene Secunda. Shifting Time and Space: The Story of Videotape. New York: Praeger, 1991. McLuhan, Marshall. Understanding Media. The Extensions of Man. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 1994. Metz, Christian. Film Language. Transl. Michael Taylor. New York: Oxford University Press, 1974. Mueller, Roswitha. Bertolt Brecht and the Theory of Media. Lincoln, Nebraska and London: University of Nebraska Press, 1989. ---. Valie Export: Fragments of the Imagination. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1994. Murphy, Dean E. As Security Cameras Sprout, Someones Always Watching. New York Times 29 September 2002. 30 September 2002 .

PAGE 221

212 Negt, Oskar and Alexander Kluge. Public Sphere and Experience. Toward an Analysis of the Bourgeois and Proletarian Public Sphere. Trans. Peter Labanyi, Jamie Owen Daniel, and Assenka Oksiloff. Minneapolis and London: University of Minnesota Press, 1993. Newsletter. The Rainer Werner Fassbinder Foundation. November 2002. 15 January 2003 . Nichols, Bill. The Work of Culture in the Age of Cybernetic Systems. Electronic Culture. Technology and Visual Representation. Ed. Timothy Druckrey. New York: Aperture Foundation, 1996. 121-44. Nideffer, Robert. Tomb Raider I and II Patches. 20 February 2001 http://www.kiasma.fi/outoaly/mutation.fem/ (patch also available at ). Nock, Steven. The Costs of Privacy: Surveillance and Reputation in America. New York: A. De Gruyter, 1993. O'Sicky, Ingeborg Majer. Whatever Lola Wants, Lola Gets (Or Does She?): Time and Desire in Tom Tykwer's Run Lola Run. Quarterly Review of Film and Video 19.2 (2002): 123-31. Peters, Jean-Jacques. A History of Television. European Broadcasting Union. 6 February 2000. 10 April 2002 . Phan, Aimee. A Piece of History. 2 June 1997. 18 September 2002 . Poole, Steven. Trigger Happy: Videogames and the Entertainment Revolution. New York: Arcade Publishing. Redman, Nick. Dogs, Documentaries and DVDs. An Interview with Nick Redman. 6 February 2003 . Rees, A. L. A History of Experimental Film and Video. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. 1999. Reitz, Edgar. Speed Is the Mother of Cinema. Cinema Futures: Cain, Abel or Cable? The Screen Arts in the Digital Age. Ed. Thomas Elsaesser and Kay Hoffmann. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 1998. 63-71. Rich, Ruby. Mexico at the Multiplex. The Nation 14 May 2001: 34-36. Richter, Robert. Little Or No Chance. Swiss Film Center Newsletter. Spring 2000. Page 10. 14 May 2001 < http://www.swissfilms.ch/download/sfz_2000.pdf >

PAGE 222

213 Rtzer, Florian. Between Nodes and Data Packets. Electronic Culture: Technology and Visual Representation. Ed. Timothy Druckrey. New York: Aperture Foundation, 1996. 246-257 ---. Digitale Weltentwrfe. Streifzge durch die Netzkultur. Mnchen and Wien: Carl Hanser Verlag, 1998. Rosler, Martha. Video: Shedding the Utopian Moment. Illuminating History. An Essential Guide to Video Art. New York: Aperture Foundation, 1990. 31-50. Roth, Wilhelm. Video alternative. Neue Medien contra Filmkultur? Ed. Arbeitsgemeinschaft der Filmjournalisten Hamburger Filmbro. Berlin: Wissenschaftsverlag Volker Spiess GmbH, Berlin, 1987. 212-221. Rule, James. Private Lives. Public Surveillance. London: Allen-Lane, 1973. Rush, Michael. Body Image. Art in America April 2000. 15 January 2002 . Sarris, Andrew. Notes on the Auteur Theory in 1962. Film Theory and Criticism. Ed. Gerald Mast, Marshall Cohen and Leo Braudy. 4 th Edition. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992. 585-88. Schmitt, Hans Jrgen. Die Expressionismusdebatte. Materialien zu einer marxistischen Realismuskonzeption. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp. 1976. Schroeder, Joerg. Die erfolgreichsten Filme 1998 Deutschland. Christoph Prevezanos Online. 10 January 2001 . Schulte, Christian and Winfried Siebers, ed. Kluges Fernsehen. Alexander Kluges Kulturmagazine. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp Verlag, 2002. Silverman, Kaja. Speak, body. Split:Reality Valie Export. Ed. Museum moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien. Wien and New York: Springer, 1997. 214-223. Sbrahmanyam, Kaveri and Patricia M. Greenfield. Computer Games for Girls: What Makes them Play? From Barbie to Mortal Kombat: Gender and Computer Games. Ed. Justine Cassell and Henry Jenkins. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 1998. 46-71. Searleman, Eric. Wondering about Wonder Woman?. The Detroit News 6 January 2001. 1 June 2001 . Smith, Greg M. Introduction. A Few Words about Interactivity. On a Silver Platter. CD-ROMs and the Promise of a New Technology. New York and London: New York University Press, 1999. 1-34.

PAGE 223

214 Sturken, Marita. Paradox in the Evolution of an Art Form: Great Expectations and the Making of a History. Illuminating History. An Essential Guide to Video Art. New York: Aperture Foundation, 1990. 101-121. Talin. Real Interactivity in Interactive Entertainment. ACM SIGGRAPH Computer Graphics 28:2 (May 1994): 97-99. Tomb Raider. CD-ROM. Platinum Edition. San Francisco: Eidos Interactive, 2000. Turkle, Sherry. Construction and Reconstructions of the Self in Virtual Reality. Electronic Culture: Technology and Visual Representation. Ed. Timothy Druckrey. New York: Aperture Foundation, 1996. 354-365. ---. Life on the Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995. ---. Psychoanalytic Politics: Jacques Lacan and Freuds French Revolution. New York: The Guildford Press, 1992. Tykwer, Tom. Anything Runs. Interview with Tom Tykwer. Votivkino. 5 January 2001 . Uecker, Matthias. Alexander Kluge: Anti-Fernsehen? Alexander Kluges Fernsehproduktion. Marburg: Schren Verlag, 2000. Ulmer, Gregory. Grammatology Hypermedia. Postmodern Culture 1.2 (1991). January 2002 . ---. Teletheory: Grammatology in the Age of Video. New York: Routledge, 1989. Usai, Paolo Cherchi. The Color of Nitrate: Some Factual Observations on Tinting and Toning Manuals for Silent Films. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1996. 21-30. Virilio, Paul. Die Eroberung des Krpers. Vom bermenschen zum beerreizten Menschen. Frankfurt am Main: Fischer-Tb.-Vlg., 1996. ---. Interview with Louise K. Wilson. Cyberwar, God and Television: Interview with Paul Virilio. Electronic Culture: Technology and Visual Representation. Ed. Timothy Druckrey. New York: Aperture Foundation, 1996. 320-329. The Visions of Wenders. Time International 11 May 1992: 58-59. West, Janet Ann. Creative Talent Creates World-Wide Business. April 2001. 15 November 2002 . Wenders, Wim. The Act of Seeing Essays and Conversations. Trans. Michael Hofmann. London and Boston: Faber and Faber, 1992.

PAGE 224

215 ---. On Film Essays and Conversations. London and Boston: Faber and Faber, 2001. Williams, Raymond. Television: Technology and Cultural Form. 1974. Hanover, NH: Wesleyan University Press, 1993. Wim Wenders Bio. Wim Wenders The Official Website. 21 February 2002 . Wolken am deutschen Kinohimmel. Informationsdienst des Instituts der deutschen Wirtschaft Kln. Ausgabe 49, 9 December 1999. 15 May 2001 . Wollen, Peter. The Auteur Theory. Film Theory and Criticism. Ed. Gerald Mast, Marshall Cohen and Leo Braudy. 4 th Edition. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992. 589-605. ---. Godard and Counter Cinema: Vent dEst. Film Theory and Criticism. Ed. Leo Braudy and Marshall Cohen. 5 th ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999. 499-507. Woody, Todd. The Race to Kill Kazaa. Wired Magazine 11.02 (February 2003). February 2003 . Ziegenhagen, Stefan P. Filmvertrieb vernetzt. Kursbuch Neue Medien 2000. Ed. Heide Baumann and Clemens Schwender. Stuttgart and Mnchen: Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, 2000. 44-55. Zielinski, Siegfried. Fin de Sicle of Television Cinema Futures: Cain, Abel or Cable? The Screen Arts in the Digital Age. Ed. Thomas Elsaesser and Kay Hoffmann. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 1998. 73-83.

PAGE 225

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Margit Grieb is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Germanic and Slavic Studies at the University of Florida. She completed her B.A. in German at Stetson University (magna cum laude) and her M.A. in German studies at the University of Florida. She also earned a Graduate Certificate in womens and gender studies at the University of Florida. While at UF, Margit Grieb received the Gibson Dissertation Fellowship, the Grinter Fellowship, the Center for the Humanities Fellowship, the Ruth O. McQuown Scholarship, and the Calvin A. VanderWerf Teaching Award. She recently published an article on the intersections of film and videogames, Run Lara Run, in Screenplay: Cinema/Videogames/Interfaces (Wallflower Press, 2002) and has presented papers at various conferences on Wim Wenderss feature films, Valie Exports multimedia projects, popular German film, Brechts Epic Theater, and the Internet as a medium for foreign language teaching. 208