Vera Tollmann


Video Vortex #9



Centre for Digital Cultures, Leuphana University Lüneburg

Networked video has entered a new phase and become part of major configurations. The days of pioneers and amateurs seem to be over, as do the old worlds of professional broadcasting networks: Digital technologies have professionalized production, and do-it-yourself skills have established new styles and formats. Tubes, channels and domains for mobile video are part of our everyday digital life. These tectonic shifts – from amateur and professional to an assemblage of media creators, from spectators to participants, and from a single viewpoint to parallax perspectives – have given rise to effects of a geographical and generational scope yet to be determined. The ninth edition of Video Vortex proposes that now is a time to re-engage with a structural and contextual analysis of online video culture.

Two keynotes will extend the discursive field of Video Vortex #9: Beth Coleman will re-engage local affairs with visions of networked activism, and Nishant Shah will unpack video at the digital turn as object, as process, and as a symptom of the transnational flow of ideology, ideas and infrastructure, especially in emerging information societies in the uneven landscape of globalization.

VV9 also features a number of performative lectures and thematic workshops dealing with video realities. We will follow up on the long tails of rebellion with Mosireen Collective in Cairo and Margarita Tsomou in Athens. Boris Traue and Achim Kredelbach, aka Jo Cognito, will discuss YouTube’s recent forays into televisual terrain and its delegation of organizing power to commercial “networks” and media agencies. Boaz Levin will look at the way media gravitates towards im-mediating events, and Miya Yoshida will critically question familiar terminologies from “amateur” and “user” to “prosumer” and “citizen reporter.”

In the run-up to the actual Video Vortex event, international video correspondents have been investigating phenomenologies of video online. After 10 joyful years of global ubiquity, the conference will also engage with reinventions of the local under conditions of digital culture. A collaboration with the local video activist collective, whose activities are linked with antinuclear protests in Wendland (near Lüneburg), will explore mobile video in (alternative) news journalism. Artist Stephanie Hough will join with local participants to oppose tracking and other incursions into our screen lives by turning a public square into a stage for a mass lip-sync.

The future of film as it fuses with video in the digital realm, and the reconfiguration of its aesthetics, interfaces, production and distribution, will be discussed with Thomas Østbye and Edwin, the directors behind the participatory film project 17,000 Islands, and explored by Seth Keen in the domain of interactive documentary on the web. Alejo Duque and Robert Ochshorn will analyze the technological appearances and travesties of video, the soft power of codecs and compression in the information complex, and how to “interface.”

A multifaceted video-publication with an interface by Robert M Ochshorn will go online in September 2013.

See the full program here














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Unreal Culture











Interview with Judith Williamson
Published in Starship #7, 2004

You have spoken at a number of conferences recently such as “The New Sexism” at the University of Brighton. Following your article “Retrosexism”, first published in the London based “Eye Magazine” in the summer of 2003, it seems that sexism is being debated again today. What impact do you think this discussion can have?

I hope it does become discussed a bit more! I’ve been encouraged by having a big response to my work on this issue. The article in Eye magazine focuses mainly on images - although that doesn’t mean I think sexism is only about images. But I have had a lot of women telling me that they had found particular images disturbing and wanted to criticise them but felt not able to. The article tried to address this phenomenon. The term and the very concept of sexism have fallen away in recent years, certainly in Britain. Then there is a strong fear - partly based on the caricature of the women’s movement in the popular press - of seeming to be humourless or being outdated. In presenting my material at conferences and so on I have talked to a lot of women, and they have said that on these issues they often operate self-censorship. Women are not feeling confident enough just to say: “We don’t like this!”

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Observations on the world of commodities

Lu Hao, landscape series, 2007

published in: The Mix, Issue No. 15, May 2008

As I left the S-Bahn on a late Saturday evening at the beginning of March with my broken small bicycle, I wanted to take a cab but was lacking the required loose cash. In front of the cash machine a long queue was already waiting – as it was Saturday night – and likewise behind me there were already three guys who had bow ties attached to themselves for going out and actually looked like the noisy mob in the trailer of Antonioni’s Blow up, Andrew 3000 of Outkast and Kanye West at the same time. They were in their mid-twenties and standing behind me and wanted to know if I really was wearing Bapesta-sneakers of A Bathing Ape and where did I get them. It was neither in the hard to find shop in Tokyo, London or New York but in a market hall in Beijing that

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Landscape with bride and groom in front of a wind turbine

A discussion with the climate expert Yu Jie on China’s attitude toward climate change. erschienen in: Spector cut+paste, No. 4, March 2008

In January 2008 I flew to China for five weeks. I wanted to find out whether the climate discourse had attained the same level of importance in China as in the West. At the end of January, central and western China experienced the most violent snowstorms in fifty years. The main theme in the English language state newspaper China Daily was not economic growth or preparations for the Olympic Games, but the daily struggle against the snow. As this occurred just before the Chinese New Year and Spring Festival celebrations, the effects of the extreme weather were dramatised to a national catastrophe. During this period (like Christmas in Germany), hundreds of millions of Chinese people travel home to see their families. Many migrant workers were stranded for days on end – on their only holidays – in the main railway stations because overhead cables and roads were frozen solid. The Chinese President Hu Jintao, a politician who normally avoids the media, made a special trip to the crowded railway stations to show his support. In Beijing, as is normal at this time of year, it had not rained or snowed for several weeks.

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