As Much as Necessary – as Little as Possible
- Master Media Design: Lens-Based
This exercise is trying to find the modest or appropriate amount of communication. It shall remove decoration and accessories or even add all these redundancies to find the essence. How is simplification or excess changing the visual appearance of content?
The key area of my research has been the concept of brevity applied to the moving image and how this can help the viewer regain attention for information that matters. Whether it is a short summary of a happening in the form of video, or moving image invading Facebook, Instagram or Reddit: the growing tendency in (social) media to equip information with short videos is undeniable. It is particularly interesting that these videos have specific durations of – for example – six (Vine, TikTok until 2019), 10 (Snapchat) 15 (Instagram Story), 60 (Instagram Profile) or 140 seconds (Twitter). I wanted to find out how much of the efficiency of mediation is affected by the amount of content: How much communication is necessary? And necessary for whom? For the sender, or the recipient? What defines, what is exceeding the needful, what is unnecessary or what is missing to the needful? My films are trying to find a modest or appropriate amount of communication. They shall remove decoration and accessories or even add all these redundancies to find the essence.
There are already telephone-sex hotlines that promise an orgasm in three minutes. There are quickies. Vibrators that guarantee satisfaction in the blink of an eye. And there is also fast-food.
This is where we lost brevity in the appropriate manner: fast-food for lunch and slow-food for dinner. In the subway we shall watch a quick flick and in the evening – to calm down – we are supposed to watch slow-paced entertainment.
Netflix is now offering a test version for Android users in which one can watch movies and shows in 1.5-speed. We don’t know yet if this feature will be open for all users, but just the thought of this being available should make us wonder. The hostility towards art does not seem to know any borders. Whoever is aware of – what the right edit / cut means to the film, how milliseconds are crucial for the rhythm in a movie – can only shake their head. Famous directors owe their editors a lot. One should only keep in mind Tarantino and his – sadly too early deceased – editor Sally Menke. We can’t imagine how important she was for the brilliance of his movies. Or if we think of comedies: how punchlines are timed. Pauses play a very important role in delivering these punchlines. One can’t just fast-forward to that.
Reed Hastings, the co-founder and chairman of Netflix, has once been asked
who the biggest competitor of Netflix is. Is it the gigantic Amazon Prime, or the innovative Hulu? No. According to him the biggest competitor for Netflix is sleep. Another streaming service would just be another drop in the ocean of time and money. Just as Benjamin Franklin said: ‘Remember that time is money.’, or as Karl Marx already described in his Outlines of Capital: A Critique of Political Economy: ‘eventually all economics dissolve in an economy of time’ .
It seems that it’s not acceptable anymore that a piece of work is just as it is. It is perceived as undemocratic if a work refuses these participatory elements. More and more, the viewer sees the work as a product that lives up to the consumer, but no one is asking whether the viewer lives up to the work. Watching movies faster – what is already happening outside of Netflix – for example on platforms like YouTube, unveils several shifted ideologies that exist nowadays.