Internationale Kurzfilmtage Oberhausen


Kabuki Stage © Anthea Hamilton

Flatness: Cinema After The Internet


"It is the flattest and dullest parts that have in the end the most life.

Robert Bresson, Notes on Cinematography, 1975 


Cinema is affected by successive waves of technological advancement, with each development announcing the auditorium's imminent obsolescence. Flatness will survey aesthetic developments in experimental film and video post Web 2.0 looking at moving image works that relate to the screen as a metaphorical boundary in representation – as a surface, as well as an interface. 


While film and video both conformed to a medium, the different interfaces through which we have come to understand the Internet act to redefine our relationship with material reality, to history and with each other. Is it possible to gauge how our consciousness has been affected by the mediation of the screen as a mirror and as a window on to our lives? Does our online routine of sharing information endlessly, passively engaging by "liking" things, bring about a flatness of expression, in frustration at the failed promise of a World Wide Web utopia? And is it possible to suggest a correlation whereby, as the space behind the screen flattens, the space in front – between the viewer and the image – transforms for the viewer to project their response back in real time, effectively blurring the boundary of the screen? 


From the quickly distributed compressed image to the enhanced reality of HD how do artists working with moving image approach these new aesthetic qualities? The idea of an immersive visual language – where we respond to images with images – might point to the future of production facilitated by the Internet's vast audio-visual library. Does cinema therefore become a space for a parallel, or second screen for "old" media and strange collective experiences at odds to the self-directed, individualized space in front of our laptops? Featuring works by Harun Farocki, Stanya Kahn, Rachel Reupke, Richard Serra, Ed Atkins, Oliver Laric, Hito Steyerl and others, Flatness proposes that the auditorium acts as a temporary vehicle, allowing moving image works and performance to pause in their circulation through the different contexts of contemporary visual culture. 


For a more detailed description please download Shama Khanna's essay from the 2013 Festival catalogue here.


The curator: Shama Khanna is a curator, writer and visiting University lecturer based in London. Over the course of her career she has worked with Showroom, Tate, BFI London Film Festival and LUX / ICA Biennial of Moving Image in London; Iaspis in Umeå, Kunstverein Muenchen and with e-flux, Performa and MoMA PS1 in New York City. 


Contact: Kristina Henschel