The kids are amazing

Recently I had a number of encounters with a group of people that I find absolutely fascinating. In fact they are so amazing, so bright, so intelligent, so knowledgeable and at the same time so humble, that to me they feel like a new breed of humankind. I met them in Germany where I live, in Mexico, in the States (places where I recently traveled), I find them on the internet. Those people are well educated open minded young adults, up to 25 years of age. Those are humans that grew up in the time of digital. Kids that, while their brains were assembled did not exercise in watching TV (as I did) but exercised in playing computer-games and using the internet.

Gonzalo Álvarez at Vertice Transmedia Conference in Mexico-City, Oct, 2018 

I was never a gamer, but I realized early on, that if you practice playing computer games, it must be a different kind of practice for the brain and therefor lead to a different wiring of the brain, that leads to a different kind of thinking. And I said 15 years ago, that when these kids are grownups, they will be able to think thoughts, that we might not even be able to understand, but those thoughts will be amazing. Those kids grew up now. You meet them at conferences, they deliver papers, they become visible by expressing themselves making music, uploading stuff to YouTube (for sure they become visible at more places, these are just the places I find them).

What makes them so fantastic is the effortlessness how they seem to be able to connect different bits of information from various fields of expertise. They seem not to be bound by the borders of particular areas of thinking. They are open-minded to an extend that I was not, when I was their age (and I always considered myself to be an open-minded person). Those kids are beautiful and it is sheer pleasure to watch them think.

Those kids know, what they don’t know and they are not afraid say that. I remember being that age and I was so full of myself. I knew, what I knew and that was a lot and in certain fields often times more than the elders. But I was not able to see what I don’t know and it took me many, many years to learn.

And because those kids that know so much, also know, what they don’t know, they are not afraid to ask others for help. This way they are able to collaborate in a way that I never was and maybe never will be.

I am not sure if all the kids are like that. Probably not. Maybe there are those kids that TV loves to portrait so often: The casualties of the digital, the kids that live in their parents’ basement, play computer games, smoke weed and suffer depression.

I personally never met one, but of course that does not mean they don’t exist. Those kids don’t show up at conferences or ask me for an interview. Certainly, I am just talking about the top of the iceberg. But the young top of the iceberg is so much more impressive than the top of the iceberg when I was young!

An other recent text about the same topic.

Gallery Weekend in Berlin – Würmer im Keller

Wenn man nicht die Werke als solche, sondern die Galerie als ganzes, als Kunstwerk begreift, erlebt man ein vielschichtiges Bild der Gesellschaft unserer Zeit.

Es ist Gallery Weekend in Berlin. Eine hippe Galerie in Mitte. Eine Ecke von Berlin, die immer schon häßlich war, vor 20 Jahren verlassen und ruhig, jetzt Teil des pulsierenden Lebens der Stadt, mit Baustellen, Verkehr und zahllosen Touristen.

Die Galerie ist ein Betonklotz. Besucher schieben sich in eine Eingangshalle an den Betonwänden drei Bilder, die aussehen, als hätte jemand Legoklötze gemalt.

Am Ende der Eingangshalle eine schmale, steile Treppe, selbst halb Kunstwerk und dadurch nur unsicher hinaufzusteigen. Im ersten Stock coole, offene Räume. Laut lachende und gut angezogene Galeristen sitzen hinter riesigen Apple Monitoren und scheinen – Masters of the Universe – glänzende Geschäfte zu machen.

Von der Eingangshalle führt auch eine steile Treppe in den Keller. Drei Videoprojektionen, ansonsten ist es stockfinster und es dauert eine Weile, bis sich die Augen an die Dunkelheit gewöhnen. Nach und nach wird man gewahr, dass man den Raum mit zahlreichen anderen Menschen teilt. Besuchern einer Kirche gleich, die ehrfürchtig Heiligtümer bestaunen, die Erklärung der Wirren der Welt versprechen. Doch die Exponate sind kryptisch. Ein Film zeigt einen langsamen Gang durch eine Luxusvilla, ein Film zeigt einen Mann der zu einer Gruppe spricht, wie ein Arbeiterführer zu Arbeitern, ein Film zeigt Menschen beim Sex. Die Menschen, die stumm die Filme betrachten haben sich adrett angezogen, so wie man sich herausputzt, am Sonntag, wenn man in die Kirche geht.

Im Hinterhof der Galerie parkt ein riesiger schwarzer BMW, daneben in dunklem Anzug der Fahrer. BWM ist Sponsor des Gallery Weekend, so steht es auf der Limousine, die offenbar Menschen, die wichtiger sind als man selbst, von einer Galerie zur anderen trägt. Wichtige Menschen, mit denen die wichtigen Menschen in Anzügen im ersten Stock Geschäfte machen.

Sie lassen sich dabei beobachten. Der Betrachter der Kunstwerke wird Betrachter der Vorgänge. Die Vorgänge brauchen die Kunstwerke, um existieren zu können, so wie der Baum die Erde braucht. Sich mit den Kunstwerken im Keller zu beschäftigen, ist wie der Regenwurm, der die Erde umgräbt. Den Baum gäbe es wohl auch ohne den Wurm. Doch mit Wurm geht es ihm besser.

Hyper-linear storytelling was an accident

Interview with Florian Thalhofer by Dr. Özlem Arda at Istanbul University in May 2017. Talking about linear and nonlinear film. About how humans develop reality using storytelling. Planet Galata, Korsakow and journalism.

The monkey drowns – 8 questions about nonlinear storytelling and Korsakow

Questions by Gülden Tümer

Gülden Tümer has been working as a journalist for more than 10 years. Currently she is doing her master degree at Radio, TV and Cinema Department at Faculty of Communication, İstanbul University.   

 

GÜLDEN TÜMER: According to Ersan Ocak, “In cinema, explorations and experiments on the forms of representation have been made mostly by documentary and experimental filmmakers” (2012: 959). Here, I want to ask why have documentary filmmakers always sought new forms of representation?

 

FLORIAN THALHOFER: Not so sure if documentary film makers in general have always been so inventive. I guess most documentary film makers work within the boundaries of the craft of making films and are perfectly happy with the medium of linear film. But some filmmakers felt the concrete walls of linear narration and tried to explore alternatives. In my case I have not been a filmmaker, I started with exploring the possibilities of computer to improve communication between humans using images, audio and film.

So why do documentary filmmakers
So why do filmmakers
So why do humans always sought new forms of representation?

Well, I guess the answer is simply because the forms of representation, that are available, are not satisfying (never have been and most likely never will be). All forms of representation, all forms of communicating, sharing thoughts, views, ideas are less than ideal. So some humans search for better ways to communicate, to find better ways to represent bits and pieces of the world.

Most people just follow the rules, communicate the way they were told by the elders, and if they hit the concrete wall, they ignore it.

GÜLDEN TÜMER: “New media documentary transforms the cultural form of watching a film. The audience engages with new media documentary by navigating. Why do people prefer to be “user” within a documentary film rather than solely sustaining the joyful state of just sitting and watching a film?” (Ocak, 2014: 256). What would be your response to this question for a Korsakow-film?

 

FLORIAN THALHOFER: Watching a Korsakow-film and watching a linear film are two very different things. Like reading a book and listening to a podcast. It is not that nonlinear films will replace linear films. Nonlinear film just seems to be something that is relatively new. There were experiments with nonlinear films conducted in pre-computer times, but of course computer facilitate the creation of non-linear films much better, and to create rule-based nonlinear films (such as Korsakow films) without a computer is almost impossible.

So what is the motivation for someone to view a Korsakow film?
People who prefer to use their own brain to make sense of a particular topic will prefer a Korsakow film. That way a viewer can explore and get a sense of the many angles to a topic.
(own brain / many angles / complex reality)

What is the motivation for someone to view a linear film?
Someone (usually the film-maker) thought a long time about a topic and presents the viewer with one or a very limited number of angles to understand it. This is very convenient for most people. So viewers do not have to spend so much energy or brain power – the thoughts are thought already and prepared for them.
(author’s  brain / limited angles / simplified reality)

Also, almost all living humans were conditioned from early age to enjoy linear films. Kids grow up with linear films and learn to read, understand and enjoy it.

But nevertheless some people have a hard time accepting other people’s thoughts. Some people really enjoy to think for themselves. But at the moment we have not so many tools that facilitate that. Korsakow is such a tool.

For people who are interested in reality, linear film is in fact not such a great tool. I like to say: there is no such thing as a documentary film. Every linear film is fiction. Linearity does not exist in reality.

GÜLDEN TÜRER: On the other hand why do people still prefer just watching a fiction film? Or do you think it will change too?

 

FLORIAN THALHOFER: I guess people will always be interested in watching linear fiction films. It seems somehow relaxing to be presented with a fixed and never changing angle on the world.

GÜLDEN TÜRER: You said that people doesn’t think in a linearity so storytelling must be in change. What are the advantages and disadvantages of non-linear storytelling?

 

FLORIAN THALHOFER: Stories have the advantage that they make things easily understandable. But at the same time they have the disadvantage that they are almost always wrong (or at least that they are far from being accurate).

Nonlinear narration is not true, neither, but it is closer to reality. And that we are closer to reality, when we are thinking trough and discussing the problems we currently face (like nuklear extinction, climate change), is probably the key factor when it comes to finding solutions that allow our survival.

GÜLDEN TÜRER: “In a new media documentary, the user can establish his/her own sequence flow and, in a sense, makes a non-linear editing of the project” (Ocak, 2012: 963). But we know that in this era, we all surf on the internet. And it causes distraction. In spite of this distraction problem, can the audience complete all parts of documentary or not?

 

FLORIAN THALHOFER: Distraction has a very negative connotation. But maybe distraction is not a bad thing. Especially in times of information overload.

Imagine a thirsty monkey, who gets to a lake. The monkey drinks. When the monkey had enough the monkey stops drinking. Does the monkey get distracted from drinking? Sure. Something else crosses the monkey’s mind and the monkey stops drinking and does something else. If the monkey would stay focussed on drinking, the monkey would drown.

An aware mind that changes the focus of attention is still attentive. And that is a good thing.

Human monkeys, that focus – for example – on propaganda stories and don’t get distracted, are in a worse situation than those, that feel like they had enough and focus elsewhere.

It might be easy to stay focused when watching a seductive, exciting linear film, but the whole film, the whole experience is a distraction.

 

GÜLDEN TÜRER: We can say that in new media documentaries, which are established on databases, “each and every shot has equal significance, each and every story has equal significance” (Ocak, 2012: 963). Here I want to ask that if a user without completing one part, start to watch another one because of surfing habit, can she/he understand whole story?

 

FLORIAN THALHOFER: I think there are different approaches in new media documentaries and different authors have different approaches. The way I use Korsakow (and again there are other approaches) – I can see that you think that every SNU has equal significance. I never looked at it that way. Interesting observation!

In a linear film – because of its fixed sequence – one scene builds on the previous scene,  the scenes build up. In that sense, some scenes are elevated. Only in a system like Korsakow you can achieve to have scenes on an equal level. And usually I try to have it like this.

If the author wants to deliver a message, the viewer has to get the whole (or if not the whole then most of the) story. But I don’t want to deliver a message. There are things to learn, actually there are many potential messages, but the message is born in the viewer’s brain, not in mine.

Once, when I presented my first Korsakow film [Das Korsakow Syndrom], I was asked: And what is the message of the film? – I did not have an answer then, but I have it now, after thinking about it for many years: The film is the message. If I had a message, I would have writen it down in a sentence. Writing down a sentence is far less effort than making a film.

GÜLDEN TÜRER: “Today we can easily see that, play is everywhere in the new media environment” (Ocak, 2014: 258). Audience is not just a user within documentary film, she/he also becomes a player as a homo-ludens. Do you think it can prevent distraction?

 

FLORIAN THALHOFER: From the reactions I often observe when people watch Korsakow films, they seem to experience it more as work, than play.
😉

Anyway, even from early age on, I never understood what the difference between play and work is. Now I would say both is an exercise – an exercise to shape the form of the connections in our brains. You create paths of thinking in your brain when watching a blockbuster Hollywood film or when watching a Korsakow film. You train your thinking.

To my understanding: watching a blockbuster Hollywood is harmful for your thinking, whereas Korsakow is a good exercise!

GÜLDEN TÜRER: I watched your Planet Galata, and I like it too much. Why you make some changes on it?

 

FLORIAN THALHOFER: Thank you – happy you like it! Planet Galata was originally made with Korsakow Version 5. I recently updated it to Korsakow 6. Korsakow 6 has a number of new possibilities. I was playing around with it.

A Korsakow film is never fixed!

 

 


 

Ocak, E. (2012). New Forms of Documentary-Filmmaking within New Media. AVANCA|CINEMA 2012, International Conference (2012). (959-965)

Ocak, E. (2014). New Media Documentary: Playing with Documentary Film within the Database Logic and Culture. In D. Moser and S. Dun (Ed.), Digital Janus: Looking Forward, Looking .Back (255-262). Oxford, United Kingdom: Inter-Disciplinary Press.

Es bedarf eines Wahnsinnigen, die USA in eine Diktatur zu verwandeln

Im vergangenen Jahr habe ich sehr viel über die Wahl in den USA und Donald Trump geschrieben. Im wesentlichen ging es dabei um die Unmöglichkeit, dass Trump President werden könne. Die These war, dass es ausreichend Sicherungssysteme gäbe, die alle Arten von Verrückten als Präsident verhindern würde.

Ich beklagte, dass es überhaupt so weit hatte kommen können, dass diese Notbremsen gezogen werden mussten und war beeindruckt, als es geschah. Als zum Beispiel die Republikanische Partei alles aufbot, um ihren eigenen Kandidaten zu verhindern, sogar auf die Gefahr hin, sich selbst zu zerstören.

Zuletzt habe ich Hoffnung in die Worte von Obama gelegt, dass er Vertrauen in das Urteil der Amerikaner habe. Im Nachhinein denke ich, seine Worte hätten alarmieren müssen. Trump wurde Präsident.

Trump ist Präsident. Und noch immer gibt es Sicherungssysteme und es ist faszinierend zu beobachten, wie diese Systeme aktiviert werden. Und es lässt einem den Atem stocken, zu sehen, dass nichts den Trump-Zug aufzuhalten scheint.

Wohin fährt der Trump-Zug?
Ich glaube nicht, dass Trump selbst ein Ziel hat, er scheint stets aus dem Moment heraus zu agieren und strategischen Überlegungen wenig aufgeschlossen zu sein. Das würde zumindest erklären, dass er oftmals derart waghalsig und unüberlegt vorgeht. Die Erfahrung, die Trump dabei jedoch immer wieder macht, ist, wie weit er mit alldem, kommt. Die Welt verändert sich entsprechend seiner Vorstellungen.

Wer gesehen hat, wie sich sein Kabinett bei der ersten Sitzung, als alle Minister versammelt waren, verhalten hat, mag verstehen, was ich meine. Die Minister haben sich kollektiv dem Wahnsinn des Präsidenten unterworfen. Der Weg wird Trump von denen gebaut, die sich aus – welchen Gründen auch immer – seinem Bild ergeben.

 

Wohin also führt der Weg?
Alles was wir derzeit sehen, macht plötzlich Sinn, wenn man es aus einem sehr unangenehmen Blickwinkel betrachten: Wir erleben den Überlebenskampf einer Demokratie. Die USA gehen in rasanter Geschwindigkeit in Richtung Diktatur.

Es bedarf vieler Wahnsinniger, die USA in eine Diktatur verwandeln zu wollen.