The Schirn Kunsthalle commissioned to Doug Aitken, Jonas Ã…kerlund, Hubbard/Birchler, Isaac Julien, Sarah Morris, Philippe Parreno, RothStauf-fenberg, Anri Sala, Markus Schinwald, and Yang Fudong to produce one three-minute short film each on the themes "Condensed Information" and "Condensed Narration." Both through their subject matter and by technical means such as cuts, fragmentation, poetic compres-sion, and appeals to the viewer's emotions, the films by these ten artists demonstrate new perspectives on the compression of content and on patterns of perception.
TEN THREE-MINUTE FILMS FROM TEN INTERNATIONAL ARTISTS
The contemporary trailer, advertising and music clip industry confronts people with a density and speed that has never been seen before. Short films that have the same emotional quality as feature films but last only a few minutes are now enjoying a boom on the Internet as well. Visitors to museum exhibitions are confronted with a variety of video and film booths, which always produces the same pattern of behavior: the viewer enters the room, joining the film at minute 4 or 5, only to become anxious at the thought of all the works left to see, and thus leaving at minute 11 at the very latest in order to rush to the next film. The film may be eighteen minutes long and chronologically structured, but it remains unseen. Against the backdrop of this very development, the Schirn Kunsthalle commissioned to Doug Aitken, Jonas Ã…kerlund, Hubbard/Birchler, Isaac Julien, Sarah Morris, Philippe Parreno, RothStauf-fenberg, Anri Sala, Markus Schinwald, and Yang Fudong to produce one three-minute short film each on the themes "Condensed Information" and "Condensed Narration." Both through their subject matter and by technical means such as cuts, fragmentation, poetic compres-sion, and appeals to the viewer's emotions, the films by these ten artists demonstrate new perspectives on the compression of content and on patterns of perception The exhibition setting was designed in collaboration with the New York architectural team Asymptote (Hani Rashid and Lise Anne Couture).
The Schirn provided all the funds for the commissioned work. This was made possible by the generous support of T-Online International AG, which will also be presenting videos of the exhibition online under http://www.t-online.de/3minutes. Additional support for 3' came from CILING Deckenvertrieb GmbH, the British Council, and the Pro Helvetia Schweizer Kultur-stiftung.
The exhibition's curators - Martina Weinhart, Max Hollein, and Hans Ulrich Obrist - comment: "3' is an exhibition whose standard unit of measure is not a given floor area but a spe-cific interval of time: ten films of three minutes each produce a thirty-minute exhibition in condensed form. 3' is therefore above all an exhibition that seeks to give the audience an opportunity to relate the film and its duration to each other in a new way. And, not least, 3' makes it clear how the work of a series of artists develops against the backdrop of the al-tered mechanisms of perception of a society that has been conditioned to have a 'limited attention span.'"
In the case of exhibitions whose total running time of film and video can now exceed one hundred hours, and where the visitors disappear into the time holes of black boxes, all that remains in the end is a diffuse and scattered perception and the feeling that one has seen to much and yet not really seen anything at all - a diffuse channel surfing. In light of the fact that film, as a time-based medium, is increasingly moving into the center of the artistic context, 3' is conceived as a contribution to the increasingly volatile question of how to handle the "cinematic" in the context of an exhibition. 3' meets this challenge by synchronizing two of these levels and reuniting the supposedly brief attention span of the viewer with the time required for projection.
The short film lives from an economy of time and narrative. Irrespective of the form and style, the brevity of the available time generates meaning in itself. The idea of compression was implemented on many different planes by the invited artists in the films they made for 3'.
The films - a selection
For Jonas Ã…kerlund, who is known for hyperactive music videos with extremely rapid cuts, his focus in Turn the Page was on the excerptlike, narrative miniature. The rapidity of the cuts and the tempo of the narrative, driven by repeated inserts of the powerful music of Met-allica, take their inspiration from clip, the illusionistic tale of a woman's life as a prostitute and mother of a small daughter takes its from the feature film and its linear chronology.
For the short version of her film Los Angeles, Sarah Morris chose the trailer as one of the most common compressed forms of narrative. Here too the music sets the tempo and brack-ets the wealth of aspects to the associative chain in this metafilm about the American film industry, which deftly dovetails the formats of the feature and the short film, the artist's film and the popular film.
For his contribution, The Moment, Doug Aitken employs the open form of associative frag-ments. Time nearly stands still in his film, only to accelerate in a heartbeat. People are shown in intimate activities like sleep and waking up or in banal ones like pressing a light switch. By stringing these events together, the individual aspect is transformed into a model. The synonymous images are interwoven increasingly rapidly, and all of the isolated aspects come together and culminate in a single thread, which is then closed into a circle.
Markus Schinwald's film 1st part conditional works with a moment of psychological heighten-ing. His film creates a density of narrative precisely through its lack of speed. A large, nearly empty apartment with series of doors, hardwood floors, and a broken cupboard. The female lead moves in strange, jerking motions. A man sits motionless in a chair. Schinwald creates a surreal atmosphere, and the erratic structure of his film also alludes to the tradition of the experimental film.
The films of the exhibition reveal in diverse ways that the short film makes use of other struc-tures in its unique poetics than the narrative feature film does. The short treats ideas, plots, and people in abstract, associative, and fragmentary ways, in order to produce affects and identification as well as a sense of the infinity of a story.
Doug Aitken, Jonas Ã…kerlund, Hubbard/Birchler, Isaac Julien, Sarah Morris, Phil-ippe Parreno, RothStauffenberg, Anri Sala, Markus Schinwald, and Yang Fudong.
3'. Ed. Max Hollein, Hans Ulrich Obrist, and Martina Weinhart. With a preface by Max Hollein, Interviews with Lars Henrik Gass, Ingvild Goetz, Boris Groys, John G. Han-hardt, Alexander Kluge, and Peter Weibel and texts by Max Hollein, Gertrud Koch, Mark Nash, Hans Ulrich Obrist, Robert Pfaller, Ulrich Wegenast, and Martina Weinhart. Ger-man/English, ca. 256 pages, 160 color illustrations, DuMont Verlag, Cologne, 29.80 euro.
Image: Doug Aitken, The moment, 2004, videostill
Press preview: Wednesday, 29 September 2004, 11.00 a.m. in Frankfurt
September 30, 2004-January 2, 2005.
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Max Hollein, Hans Ulrich Obrist, Martina Weinhart.
T-Online International AG.
CILING Deckenvertrieb GmbH, British Council, Pro Helvetia Schweizer Kultur-stiftung.
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