A Little Too Far Ahead of its Time

"The Old, the New", Medienwerkstatt, Vienna, 2006


a project for: The Old, the New, Medienwerkstatt Vienna, 2006 (curated by Gerda Lampalzer)

contribution for: okto tv, 2007


Partner: Wolfgang Obermair

The pressure of our society to constantly produce new things, even if they are not needed, but are necessary out of the driving force of capitalistic economics, is certainly a dictate of the market in the art context as well. Because of the formation of diverse art trends in the last years, parallel worlds with simultaneously existing meanings have developed. Thus the question of the avant-garde, and whether this is not an outdated concept anyway, arises again. As we were invited by Gerda Lampalzer to develop a project for the media workshop with the title The Old – the New, we asked ourselves, how we could approach such a complex (and thus almost banally sounding) topic in an adequate way. At the same time the challenge for us as artists/urbanists/architects was to look at a project on which we worked at that time - Plan b - in the context of media discourse.
In this project, which deals with the structural change of an industrial region in Styria (Köflach/Voitsberg) due to the closed mining industry, which serves as an example for many regions of Europe undergoing similar changes, we wanted to work for the first time concretely with the aspect of the „retrofiction“. The Indicatormobile, our urbanistic research vehicle, should establish the contact between different persons concerned (former mine workers, trade unions, population, etc.) and develop new potentials apart from common solutions like building theme parks. The cult figure Max Headroom is meant to be used as “racing reporter” and medial connection.
For a little too far ahead of its time we draw on the forgotten potential of Max Headroom (who was at the time, when the TV-series was actually released, in 1985, only followed by a small  fan crowd). Max Headroom anticipated future developments of society and its conditions of production and reception of media in a detailed accuracy, which inspired us to question these (today existing) urban dystopian  situations in reference to new visions.


As introduction to the Videolounge, where a different video program is shown during five evenings, the pilot film of the series will be the introduction: Max Headroom: The original story (first broadcasted in 1985). It is the utopia of digital immortality of an identic Me, which can move unhindered through data highways. The figure of Max Headroom, originally planned as music video announcer for Channel 4, got his life in this film more coincidentally, before 14 episodes of the series were shot. In 1985, the film already leads us through digital aesthetics and abysses, long before they became common reality: corrupt executive media committees, who are slaves of audience ratings. Blipverts, who destroy fat bodies watching television, the infrapresence of disastrous realities such as homelessness, environmental degradation and crime.
Today many of the scenarios shown in this film have become reality:  the Blipverts, just like in some Pokemon episodes, Children tilted into epileptic states, or the dystopian scenarios, that have been outrun by the realities of the peripheries of today's megacities time ago.
This film is the aesthetic starting point of the  Retrofictional Videostudio,  where we offer the opportunity to work between retrofiction and avant-garde, and to ask again: was Max  Headroom a little too far ahead  of its time?
Retrofictional Videostudio

From Oct.13-16, 2006, the temporary retrofictional video studio will be installed. It is composed of analogue devices of the first video generations (portapack, u-matic, lowband, etc.) and set up with a special aesthetics. Artists are invited to use the editing devices and also sample already existing video material.
The - from today's viewpoint - special quality of the video material and also the aesthetic of the “faults” (chromatic distortions etc.), could be used to develop new, contemporary productions. Also, the entire setting of the studios should be factored in the productions. In doing so, the question arises, if analog video – such as Super8-film and lomography in the 90ies – is able to develop a modified picture language.
As opposed to Super8 movies, which have drawn their predominantly private context from the rattling projectors in private living room idylls, we want to start from the posturbanistic dystopia, as it was produced in Max Headroom.