[spectre] An Archaeology of Imaginary Media - De Balie, Amsterdam, February 5 - 8, 2004

Eric Kluitenberg epk at xs4all.nl
Mon Jan 12 22:55:09 CET 2004

A   N   N   O   U   N   C   E   M   E   N  T

An Archaeology of Imaginary Media

Excavating mankind's dreams of the ultimate communication medium

February 5 - 8, 2004,
De Balie - Centre for Culture and Politics, Amsterdam

An Archaeology of Imaginary Media is a mini-festival in De Balie in 
Amsterdam around the eternal return of mankind's desire for the 
ultimate communications medium. Will technological progress finally 
resolve the human communication problem? The mobile phone mania 
demonstrates a compulsively attempt to arrive at an affirmative 
answer to this question. Digging in the history of human 
communication and its media provides ample grounds for serious doubts.

De Balie will bring together a distinguished selection of artists, 
filmmakers, authors, theoreticians, and especially media 
archaeologists, to undertake a thorough investigation of the utopian 
visions of the ultimate communications medium. In a variegated and 
highly diversified panorama, the visionary perspectives of 
technological dreamers throughout the centuries will be excavated and 
held up to the audience.

Already for some years, cyberpunk author Bruce Sterling has been 
collecting dead media. Media that have withered and are mostly 
forgotten (much like Dutch tv comedians van Kooten & De Bie predicted 
the demise of phillips' cd-i many years ago). Erkki Huhtamo has been 
digging up the pre-history of interactivity from the caverns of 
forgetfulness. Edwin Carels discovers in the pre-history of cinema 
the bizarre concept that moving image and sound might be a medium to 
establish contact with 'those in the hereafter'. Siegfried Zielinksi 
also finds death in media in the (delusional) conceptions of the 
media-engineers. Edison created a machine to communicate with the 
"sprits", and Zoe Beloff made a film about it. She will cast a light 
on the matter. And wasn't cyberspace the ultimate means to abolish 
the borders of race and gender? Away with the body!!! Who still 
beliefs that today? What is it that inspires men time and again to 
believe in their own machines? Maybe literary scholar and 
media-sociologist Klaus Theweleit can shed some light in the dark?

Peter Blegvad became famous as a musician because of his involvement 
with cult-bands such as Faust, Slap Happy and Henry Cow in the early 
seventies, after which he went through a remarkable solo career. As 
an avant-gardist he appeared in New York in the environs of people 
like John Zorn (Locus Solus). Simultaneously he established himself 
as an extraordinary cartoonist with his series Leviathan, widely 
regarded as an important innovation of the cartoon genre.
Blegvad created a theatrical performance "On Imaginary Media" 
specifically for this program. A philosophical drama, a multi-layered 
collage of meditations on the sublimity and tragedy of imaginary 
media, of the dream for the ultimate communications medium. Musicians 
John Greaves and Chris Cutler, with whom he has previously realised 
many avant-gardistic music projects, and Dutch actor Kees Hulst 
accompany Blegvad during the performance.

Richly illustrated lectures, films, discussion, a narrative space 
with works by cartoonists and artists, the philosophical theatre of 
Blegvad and an extensive film program, together paint the contours of 
an eternal dream that manages to hold people time and again under its 
sway, from Heinrich Suso's late-medieval Horologium Sapientae to the 
unfolding debacle of 3G**.

(**3G: third generation mobile phones)



Zoe Beloff is a film maker and media artist, originally from 
Edinburgh, she lives and works in New York.

Peter Blegvad is cartoonist, musician, writer, and the creator of the 
cartoon series Leviathan. He also produces radio plays for BBC radio, 
and lives in London.

Edwin Carels is a freelance curator and writer, who is especially 
interested in the relationship between visual arts and film, video, 
and photography. He writes a.o. for "Andere Sinema".

Timothy Druckrey is a curator, writer, and editor concerned with 
issues of media history, representation, and technology. He lives in 
New York.

Erkki Huhtamo is a Finnish Media Researcher, Curator, Writer and 
Professor at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA).

Bruce Sterling is a writer, mostly renown for his cyberpunk fiction 
oeuvre. His publications include Schismatrix, The Hacker Crackdown en 
The Difference Engine (met William Gibson).

Klaus Theweleit is a writer, literary scholar, and cultural theorist. 
He is the author of a.o. the monumental series "Buch der Könige" 
(Book of Kings) and "Der Pochahontas Complex".

Siegfried Zielinski is a media researcher, the founding and former 
principal of the Academy of Media Arts Cologne. He teaches and 
researches on the history, theory, and praxis of audiovision; his 
special field of interest is media archaeology, and he has published 
numerous books and articles on the topic.


Narrative Space

The idea for a narrative space was developed together with Peter 
Blegvad: A visual space where the visions and conceptions of 
imaginary communication machines are presented. A number of 
cartoonists and artists have been invited to contribute their visual 
imaginations about imaginary media in the form of drawings or short 
cartoons. During the entire weekend these visions can be viewed 
continuously in a simultaneous three-channel projection in the public 
vide in De Balie.

Participating artists:
- Thomas Zummer
- Jonathan Rosen
- Peggy Yungue
- Sasa, aka Aleksandar Zograf
- Gary Panter
- Dick Tuinder
- Neal Fox
- Les Coleman
- Ben Katchor
- François Ducat
- Peter Blegvad


Further background information, essays, information about the 
presenters and web links can be found in the dossier "Media 
Archaeology" on the website of De Balie:


Film Program An Archaeology of Imaginary Media:

- Main program 22:00 Thursday, February 5:

My Browser
A web browser imagined as a person's alter ego

Modern translation of the Greek myth about Orpheus and his wandering 
in the underworld, where a radio becomes an indispensable device to 
communicate with the after-world.

- Main program 22:00 Friday, February 6:

Shadow land or light from the other side
Stereoscopic film about the connection between technology and 
imagination, presenting a mental projector to communicate with the 

In Absentia
Many visual illusions in a hybrid animation film in which the 
thoughts of a woman writing a letter are visualised. Soundtrack by 
Karl Heinz Stockhausen.

Out of the ether
Handmade 16mm film, composed on an optical printer, tells about dark 
techno forces that attempt not only to invade or bodies, but also our 

Gothic Aztecs
A demonic reliquary of Medusa-Quetzalcoatl gives godly and demonic 
visions to a young woman. Gothic Aztects is a film in which the 
viewer is projected into the brain of the female priest, and in doing 
so experience her artificial mediatized delirium.

- Late program 23:30 Friday, February 6:

Anatomy of time
The waving to the camera of filmmaker and time-traveller Arthur 
Dauphin, obscure contemporary of the Lumière brothers, who already 
knew a century ago that behind the seemingly lifeless machine of the 
camera a new secret future world was hidden.

Out of the present
Russian cosmonauts leave the Soviet Union for space station Mir. 
Meanwhile the Soviet empire collapses, leaving the cosmonauts in 
limbo. Out of the present contains the first breathtaking 35mm 
footage ever made of planet Earth. Due to technical problems the 
majority of that footage and a 35mm camera were set overboard before 
the last crew returned to earth, leaving the pictures of the earth 
encircling it forever.

- Main program 22:00 Saturday, February 7:

Conceiving Ada
Programmer Emma wants to get contact with the long since passed away 
Ada Byron King, pioneer on artificial intelligence and daughter of 
the poet Lord Byron. Emma manages to establish contact by emerging 
her body into an experimental DNA memory-coding device. The narrative 
of the film is structured along the spiral of the double helix of DNA.

- Late program 23:30 Saturday, February 7:

Clay-animation in which a lonely engineer invents an apparatus that 
makes live in the industrial age bearable again: 'Happy product', 
though without happy ending thanks to the management of the world.

Quatermass and the pit
London subway construction is immediately halted when bones and 
sculls are found. The well-known professor Quatermass discovers that 
the bones and sculls are enclosed within the rotten structure of an 
ancient spacecraft.

- Main program 20:00 Sunday, February 8:

Esoteric illusions of the Quay brothers within an 'illustrated' 
reading about physical and mental perception.

Eye like a strange balloon
A drawing of the French Symbolist painter Odile Redon is taken as the 
surreal inspiration for a story about the triangle relationship 
between a father, his son and an orphan girl during a strange train 

Like Plateau's disk, the 'retrospectroscope' can be seen as a 
procession of flickering phantasies and fragmented lyricism; its 
existence today lies hidden within the processes from which it has 
created itself.

Contemplation about the apparent void of time and space as 
communication vehicles for thought and matter.

- Continuous screening of documentaries,
   6, 7, 8 February 14:00 - 20:00 hrs, among others:

The man who wanted to classify the world
Documentary about Belgian visionary Paul Otlet, who, long before Ted 
Nelson claimed and invented the term hypertext, imagined the so 
called 'Mundaneum' as a kind of proto Internet, aimed at a worldwide 
information system to support and establish world peace, but 
obstructed by WWII.

"Alle kennis van de wereld, het papieren internet"
See description of  'the man who wanted to classify the world'.

Archaeology of the moving Image
Three issues of a Finnish documentary series about the archaeology of 
the moving image.
(English subtitles)


Tickets and reservations

Ticket prices:
Lectures and film screenings: ¤E 8,-
With reduction: E 7,-

Opening hours ticket office:
During working days from 13:00 till 18:00 hrs. or till the start of 
the program.
During the weekend from 1,5 hour before start of the program.
Reserving by phone: +31.20 5535100, during opening hours, till 45 
minutes before the program starts.

De Balie
Kleine Gartmanplantsoen 10
1017 RR Amsterdam
Tel +31(0)20 5535151
Fax +31(0)20 5535155

Reserve: +31(0)20 5535100
Balie at balie.nl


- Tram 1, 2, 5, 6, 7, en 10
- De Balie is accessible for wheelchair users, and is equipped with 
audio systems for hearing impaired visitors.



Eric Kluitenberg, concept and final editing
Lucas Evers, coordination production, editing, film program

T(C), H&M, Felix Janssens.

Book & DVD:
Alongside the program a book and DVD will be published by Uitgeverij 
De Balie, including contributions by all presenters in this program. 
During the weekend of 5 - 8 February it will be possible to pre-order 
this publication.

Special thanks:
Edwin Carels, Carel Alphenaar, Elly Ludenhof, Peter van Hoof, Peter Sep

Supported by:
VSB Fonds, the Mondriaan Foundation, and the Amsterdam Fund for the Arts.

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