Gallery: Rainer Kohlberger ›In the Blaze of a Rays Race‹
Thursday June 2nd | 21:45 h | NoBudget-Hotel, Festival Center
Samstag June 4th | 17:30 h | Zeise 2
No photo or silhouette, no depiction of anything and no film material as vehicle. You can certainly question whether the works by the video artist Rainer Kohlberger can even be described as films as such. Some of them work best in the black box called cinema, nearly perfectly projected onto a large surface area, with optimal sound and isolated from other light sources, monumentally and monolithically representing only itself. Imploding points of light, brightly radiating surfaces, with modulating forms and soundscapes generated by computer algorithms.
Other works by Kohlberger, such as ›never comes tomorrow‹, which the Austrian will project onto the remaining one hundred meters of wall of a demolished factory hall, are supposed to be perceived as installations. The viewers sit or stand in front of them the way they would with a sculpture, they move on an observation deck and discover perspective shifts and changes depending on their own locations, thus becoming active parts of the transforming works. While Kohlberger takes the cinema with its formal customs and semantic interpretations on a trip into a stroboscopic universe, his installations pre-eminently reintegrate the surrounding spatial constants. You can watch depth establishing itself and disappearing again. That’s another reason ›never comes tomorrow‹ is such a good match for us and the Kolbenhof, which had been our cinematic-cultural playground for six magnificent years.
Installation at festival ground Kolbenhof
›never comes tomorrow‹
Austria 2016 - Loop (German Premiere)
Every evening beginning at nightfall. (free admission)
›In the blaze of a rays race‹
curated by Rainer Kohlberger
Donnerstag 2. Juni | 21:45 Uhr | NoBudget-Hotel, Festivalzentrum
Samstag 4. Juni | 17:30 Uhr | Zeise 2
Rainer Kohlberger compiled a programme for us with historical and contemporary examples from cinematic avant-garde and computer art which had a profound influence on himself and his work.
Siegfried A. Fruhauf | Austria 2005 | 7:10 min | b&w | No dialogue
Granular Synthesis| Austria 1996 | 15:00 min | Colour | No dialogue
Thorsten Fleisch| Germany 2007 | 5:20 min | b&w | No dialogue
semiconductor (Ruth Jarman, Joe Gerhardt) | Great Britain 2011 | 5:00 min | b&w | No dialogue
Annja Krautgasser | Austria 2002 | 5:00 min | Colour | No dialogue
Mary Ellen Bute | USA 1952 | 7:00 min | Colour| No dialogue
Lillian F. Schwartz | USA 1972 | 5:30 min | Colour | No dialogue
even odd even
Barbara Doser | Austria 2004 | 7:00 min | b&w | No dialogue
Paul Sharits | USA 1968 | 12:00 min | Colour | No dialogue
Walter Ruttmann | Germany 1925 | 4:18 min | Tinted | No dialogue
Max Hattler | Great Britain 2010 | 9:00 min | Colour | No dialogue
About the artist
Rainer Kohlberger was born in Linz, and he lives as a freelance video artist and film maker in Berlin. His algorithmically composed works notch themselves from the reductionist aesthetics of flatness, drones and interferences. In this way the noise is inherent in the pictorial worlds and the soundscapes - it exerts a fascination, a sense of the infinite, which is both the ultimate abstraction and inveterately fuzzy. His works oscillate internationally in various formats – his films, installations and live performances can be experienced in a contemplative form of intensity. He has won several international awards.
2015 First prize, European Short Film Competition, New Horizons International Film Festival, Wroc?aw
2015 Winner, Animation Avantgarde Competition, Vienna Independent Shorts
2015 2nd jury award, Kurzfilmfestival Köln, Cologne
2013 Local Artist award, Crossing Europe Filmfestival, Linz
2012 Winner, Visual Music Award
2011 Prize for Artistic Innovation, ZKM AppArtAward
Interview - Rainer Kohlberger
You consider the depicting, photographed and supposedly visual re-enactment of reality in films to be rather questionable. Why?
Rainer Kohlberger: There is no reason for exclusion as such; I am also interested in fantastically photographed films, whether they are historical or contemporarily staged in the 16mm-aesthetics of postcolonial filmmakers. Personally, I have always been drawn to nonrepresentational forms in music, arts and film. To specific aesthetics that claim their own reality and are self-sufficient. I also find the experimental practice extremely exciting, because it allows you to question and extend the circumstances. In film, with its complex technical apparatus, it has been like this since the very beginning. It is not so much about the question ›What is film‹, but ›What is cinema‹. That has been around much longer than the handling of cameras and the development of film. It is exactly this expanded concept that interests me about the temporal-spatial moment of projected lights and sounds.
How do you work? What comes first? An image, a soundscape or a thought?
It’s a condensation of considerations which are hard to put into clear words, but which you could vaguely define as affection towards a surface, a concept of infinity, static noise and oscillations. This leads to a concept of aesthetic deliberations, which you can find in all of my recent works. Against this background images arise which are first apprehensively sketched and afterwards notched out. To stay with the filmic imagery: A lot of individual scenes occur during the work process. These are already charged with movement and I then arrange them relatively to each other and connect them. You could probably call it composing; I guess my approach is musical in nature. The sound is added last, and I have a similar approach to that process.
What is your approach in practice? What materials are you using? Can you explain it in laymen’s terms for computer-illiterates?
Generally speaking, the materials are computer algorithms, which means that I program the works. However, I’m not using classical code to instruct the machine, but a visual programming language, in which I connect cables with single functions similar to those of a modular synthesizer – abstracted as software. That’s why I return to the musical analogy. I virtually construct and play my own instrument for every work. The programme runs in real time so that I can instantaneously see every change of parameter, which is extremely important for my method, and in the course of that, I create a score which is synonymous with the code and the ›patch‹. For example I match the speed of movements with the frame frequency, giving the subtle rhythms uniformity without cutting them down. In this context I also think that it’s interesting that the same customary computers that feed the projectors are also at work in the screening rooms.
How did your aesthetic concept change over the years?
I initially worked in a constructivist direction. This comes seemingly natural when you’re working with computers – you can create an endless number of variations, based on previously determined aesthetic rules. That mostly moved into the background by now, and random principles merely occur on a microscopic level in my installations, which work in real time as a software, and not as a video. I discovered that I am interested in the creation of dramaturgy and narratives and in the structuring of time. Maybe that is why I ended up in cinema. It used to be my aspiration to be able to stop a work and then precisely the style visible at that exact moment should have been eligible to be displayed as a painting. This would be unconceivable for my recent works, since you can only grasp them if you understand them within their temporality. You can’t extrapolate what’s going on based on a single style. The recurrent theme is mostly the interest in the surface area. My works can take different spatial dimensions; their temporal dimensions are elastic, even infinitely repeatable.
Your latest film ›not even nothing can be free of ghosts‹, which runs in our International Competition, appears to open up something completely new in its suggestions of time and space. What was the conceptual approach like?
I finally understood that I am substantially interested in the media-specific qualities of contemporary cinema. We are dealing with high resolution, high definition light which can be structured in a temporally precise manner. 3D projectors run at 144 Hertz, which is quite a difference to the original 24 Hertz. I wanted to work with the greatest possible opposites available: white and non-white (you can’t project black). We know this maximum contrast from the flicker films of the 60s. I think that you can’t understand my films like that, even though they are often portrayed and misunderstood that way. The change of images in flicker films is based on the principle of flickering, as you can already see from the name. Like a candle, their movement is wild and stochastic. In contrast to that, it is important to me to work with constant, circular sequences and to stratify those with each other. In this particular work the oscillation between light and dark permeates from beginning to end with hardly any change of pace. The line shaped itself. Originally it wasn’t planned that way, but in the end it predetermined the composition.
What is the audience supposed to see in your work, what are they supposed to experience in watching?
To be honest, I aspire to create something that nobody has previously seen or experienced. Even though hardly anybody would dare to verbalise it, and even though it is probably a pretty damn hard thing to do these days. Our zeitgeist reports of a common feeling of what is already known, which only needs to be rehashed or remixed. The previous decades were dominated by a strong culture of sampling in music and in the arts. Naturally this leads to some completely new and interesting aesthetics as well, but I still think it’s time to once again start looking into the other direction, which means ahead, the way several avant-garde movements did at the beginning of the last century. Instead of appropriating different sources, the way it occurs at a highly accelerated pace in post-internet art, I decided at some point to generate only synthetic images and sound, hoping to match my own ambitions in this fashion. Particularly because developing images and sounds out of nothing allows me to gain a differentiated understanding of their mediality. It’s not so much about the question what we are seeing, but which habits we had trained and how to overcome those habits.
How can you direct the audience’s perception, how much remains to the random couplings of neurons?
The border is rather blurry. In fact I can watch my own films over and over and depending on the seating and the size as the screen, as well as the degree of my fatigue, certain known and unknown aspects become more or less visible. This way, it stays interesting for me every time. I consciously intended the relocation of the margins; however the perception is highly individual. I recently received the beautiful feedback that I play the cinema like an instrument. Especially in ›not even nothing can be free of ghosts‹, images and sound move at different speeds. This constantly leads to subtle correlations as our brains attempt to create associations. This way a sound detail may suddenly gain significance because a certain aspect opens up in the imagery, while the sound had been present for a while. Conversely, something becomes visible because of a sound pressing forward. So the inclusion of the body as a producing element is important to me. It’s an aleatory play of sense, if you want. The sound and image layers, which are rather loosely standing next to each other, physically find an intense form of synchronicity.
Are the effects allowed to move into transcendentalism and metaphysics, or do your ›ghosts‹ remain in a rational enclosure and can be disenchanted as illusions in the end?
Art that works purely rationally is boring. Maybe it isn’t even art anymore. On the other hand, I want to be able to intellectually reflect. My work requires a certain fine balance. On the one hand, you have to open up and pay attention, especially if you are not listening to Noise or spectral classics on a daily base. On the other hand you need to let go and not concentrate too much in order to give in to the constant shift between focus and blurring. Drones, long held buzzing sounds, pure intervals, the dissolution of time is a centuries old cultural technique which often went hand in hand with spiritual practices and ceremonies. I think it’s interesting that you can often find a drive towards mysticism in abstract and minimal arts, whether it’s in supremacism or minimal music. I am mostly fascinated by the temporal short circuit when you’re immersed in infinity while simultaneously being fully conscious of your momentary presence. I try to pass on this fascination through my work.
A few words about the film programme ›In the Blaze of a Rays Race‹ that you curated for us, containing films by Lilian Schwartz, Max Hattler, Walter Ruttmann and semiconductor, among others. Are all of them among the inspirations for your own work?
Yes, and some of the films opened my eyes or simply delighted me. Some works are selected as examples for certain epochs and approaches, which lead to my own understanding of contemporary abstract experimental film art. This way you can explore where you are standing with your own work, and discover positions in history towards which you feel a special kind of affinity. The fascination for Lilian Schwartz is based on how she already used a computer to animate her films early on. I have been following semiconductor since I was really young, and especially their Noise-works impress me. There are some Austrian works, as well. In my home country, experimental films have a certain tradition, and once upon a time this tradition showed me: This is cinema, too.
Interview Birgit Glombitza
Dustin Grella’s Animation Hotline
Somebody somewhere is dreaming a bizarre loop. In it, a miniature version of himself trickles out of a cheeseburger alongside a cheesy tear, crashes against an elastic street light which bounces him back into the burger, trickles out of a cheeseburger … and so on and so forth, ad infinitum. Somebody somewhere saw exactly this in a dream and called the animation artist Dustin Grella in New York, left a message on his legendary ›Animation Hotline‹ and shortly afterwards, this piece of head cinema became a beautiful little film in which the re-enactment was done with chalk and real life photography. You can watch it at animationhotline.dustystudio.com along with dozens of other yarns and stories which weren’t meant to end up in the cerebral outbox of eternal oblivion.
Who doesn’t know them? The small weird encounters, confusing miniscule events, disturbing night trips – and you never know what to do with it. Yet they are too beautiful, enchanting or odd to be simply forgotten. Too small for the news programme, yet too big to be filed under every day occurrences. Now we have a solution for the people in Hamburg, too! Four years after he won the audience award of the NoBudget competition with ›Animation Hotline, 2011‹, we invited Grella over. Finally, one person is going to fully appreciate even the most mundane of our experiences. And not just that: he will take these humble events and turn them into what they should have been all along: films! To make sure that our guests can see them, these films will be screened in our cinemas and at our festival area. This is where Grella, who to our delight will also provide this year’s festival trailer, will pitch his atelier for one week. Everybody who wants to leave a message with personal experiences can call +4940 7976 91 47, leave a message and look forward to his or her own personal film. The answer machine will provide the sound track while Grella’s unfailing ingenuity will provide the illustrations. The story, however, will spring forth from our own lives.
About the artist
Dustin Grella is an animator and documentary film maker. He holds a BA in Interdisciplinary Studies from Myers School of Art, Akron, OH, and an MFA in Computer Art from the School of Visual Arts New York. His work attempts to glean glimpses of colourful insight into the seemingly mundane. His film ›Prayers for Peace‹ screened at almost 200 festivals worldwide and won over 40 awards. He has written and mailed himself a letter every day for the past 13 years and has over 4840 sealed letters neatly filed and categorized.
Hummingbird’s Wings (2015), Love Ain’t Enough; Spinners (2014), Animation Hotline, 2013 (2013), Condoms as Evidence (2012), Animation Hotline, 2011 (2011), Letterbox_line+circle (2010), Prayers for Peace (2009), Consumption (2008), Glimpse (2007), Tests: zero-ten (2006)
2014 ›Animation Hotline‹, Sundance House, Park City, UT
2012 ›Notes to Self‹, AC Institute, New York, NY (solo)
2012 Japan Media Arts Festival, National Arts Center, Tokyo
2012 ›Animation Hotline‹, Stadtbibliothek, Stuttgart (solo)
2011 ›Animation at Art Basel‹, Casa Wynwood, Miami, FL
2010 ›Shaw Video Box‹, Akron Art Museum, Akron, OH (solo)
Festivals (Auswahl selection):
Real Ideas Studio/Cannes Film Festival, Anima Mundi Rio de Janeiro, Annecy Animation Festival, DOK Leipzig, Hamburg International ShortFilmFestival
Preise (Auswahl) Awards (selection):
2012 LMCC Manhattan Cultural Art Fund Grant
2012 NoBudget Audience Award, Hamburg International ShortFilmFestival
2011 Franklin Furnace Fund Grant
2011 Next Great Filmmaker Award, Berkshire International Film Festival
2010 Walt Disney Award, Ottawa International Animation Festival