This short film was made as part of my bachelor thesis on “Attention Engineering in Social Media”. It metaphorically describes the internet as a large experimental laboratory in which users are manipulated like “guinea pigs” with the help of psychological “weapons”.
Suzanne is lured into a virtual dream world by flashing buttons and the voice assistant on her computer, which promise her a solution to her sleeping problem. In fact, however, she is only part of a large scientific experiment in which the aim is to specifically manipulate her behaviour.
Similar to the “real” conversations in social networks, the main character “Suzanne” is represented by statements written in “real time” and fades into the background as a physical person. The camera thereby takes her point of view. This constellation results in three scenic levels in the film: 1.) the “virtual space”, which is at the same time the stage; 2.) the screen surface, on which Suzanne’s text messages appear; 3.) the invisible space in front of the screen, in which we sit together with Suzanne and follow the story.
In the first two parts, Suzanne is confronted with an anthropomorphic voice computer as an antagonist that can only be heard. The reversal of states, namely the dematerialisation of the human “Suzanne” and the humanisation of the robot “David” – only he has a voice – creates a discrepancy in the viewer’s expectations that is very suspenseful.
The action is accompanied by a fly. Through its presence, it repeatedly draws attention to itself and thus demonstrates “attention engineering” in a penetrating way. The fly as the physical “protagonist” in the film illustrates the absurdity of the situation, because it belongs to both the real and the virtual world, and it is both perpetrator (draws attention to itself) and victim (dies) at the same time.
Countless small will-o’-the-wisps buzz in this artificial underwater world. They symbolise all the people who drowned between 2014 and 2022 on their flight to Europe. At the bottom of this sea, we listen to the stories of five young refugees from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Ethiopia and Gambia. They talk about their families, their flight from violence, their hopes and dreams.
The audio material was made available with the kind permission of the Junges Theater Augsburg.
“Mother” is a symbol for “care”. But what is the meaning of “care” and “good mother”? Are there universal criteria that are free of socio-cultural conditioning? In fact, the image of the mother is shaped by social conventions that – viewed over time – have not always been the same.
Inspired by an old family album and a fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm, a story develops here that makes me think and turns my tidy image of motherhood upside down.
We are the narrative of our own memory and the memory of others about us. Perhaps this is why I loved listening to my father tell me about his childhood – a childhood that, despite hunger and war, he always described in wonderful images, embedded in places that are familiar to me.
In 2014, I decided to record his stories – on the one hand, because I wanted to capture this shared moment; and on the other hand, because his stories are not only documents of time, but also tell something about myself.
My father’s authentic, passionate explanations merge with my own film footage from present-day Romania, which was our first home.
The work “Garden of Eden” is about home as utopia, about childhood as a lost paradise, and about identity fed by narratives.
The interviews were recorded between 2014 and 2016.
“25 years after the end of the Cold War, the political distance between Western Europe (e.g. Austria) and Eastern Europe (e.g. Romania) seems to be increasing again in many respects. But this distorts the fact that there is a lot of shared history, which already becomes evident when looking at the parallels between the cities of Vienna and Timisoara. For their piece Utopia lives next door, the authors move through both cities, inspired by the situationist concept of psychogeographical examination of urban environments by means of “dérive” the deliberately drifting walk through a city. The starting point of the excursions are the quarters Innere Stadt and Josefstadt â€“ due to the shared history, both Vienna and Timisoara have districts with these names. From the field recordings thus collected, the authors compose the soundscape of a utopian city in which the difference between West and East has been erased. Woven into the composition are voice recordings from interviewees recalling instances of lived solidarity under difficult social and political circumstances in Vienna and Timisoara during different phases of the 20th century. Based on shared thematic motifs, the quotes are arranged into a quasi-dialogic relation to each other that offers a glimpse of the possibilities that were at hand, but were missed in the actual history of Austria and Romania. The speakers are Friederike Brenner (born in 1923 in Mödling near Vienna) and Johann Kassnel (born 1932 in Jahrmarkt near Timisoara).” (Gerald Fiebig)