Video: Mi Gesto Final (2015)
Mi Gesto Final (2015) HD video, 09:00 min.
Axel Stockburger’s contribution to the twelfth Havana Biennial is a video piece entitled Mi Gesto Final. The video was shot in the countryside outside Havana and relates to the Cuban computer game; La Gesta Final. In this first-person shooter, players can experience the Cuban revolution from an individual perspective. The video piece consists of tracking shots through dense jungle, grasslands, and mountain forest, while the audio consists of accounts, from different players, of their (virtual) experiences of the revolution. Mi Gesto Final engages with the meaning of the history of the Cuban revolution for contemporary young Cubans and asks how historical events are mediated by digital games. It is precisely the historical character of an event such as a revolution that stands in stark contrast with the perpetual repetition of actions in a computer game. In this sense the piece opens up a space for the negotiation of the possibilities of radical political action within technological and cultural frameworks characterized by digital simulation.
The video is presented by four people with tablet-PCs and headphones, who offer these devices to the audience and thus enable a very private and individual viewing experience. This form of presentation is conceptually informed by the current system of digital media dissemination in Cuba, called “Pakete”, where individuals share data via hard drives and flash media.
Based on the computer game La Gesta Final © 2012 Joven Club de Computación/Evima
Concept/Direction/Editing: Axel Stockburger
Production Assistance/Translation: Edisabel Marrero Tejeda
Actors: Marlon Nieves Rios, Raidel Llovet Vasconcelos
Javier Pérez Cedeño, Alessandro González
Steadicam Operator: Ronin Novoa
Sound Postproduction: Kai Maier-Rothe
Colour Grading: Andi Winter
Subtitles: Emilia López
Camera Rental: Puntilla Films / Claudio Pairot
Transportation: Renier Polido
Thanks to: Ursula Maria Probst, Karin Zimmer, Gerlinde Paschinger, Johann Lurf, Nikolaus Gansterer, Jorge Fernandez Torres, Margarita Gonzalez Lorente, Nelson Herrera Ysla, Jose Manuel Noceda Fernandez, Margarita Sanchez Prieto, Ibis Hernandez Abascal, Dannys Montes de Oca Moreda, Jose Fernandez Portal, Jorge Luis Rosell Llanes, Brishty Alam
Funded by: Embajada de Austria en Cuba, Bundeskanzleramt / Kunst
Video: IL GRANDE SILENZIO (2014)
Il Grande Silenzio is a film that depicts the events unfolding during an exhibition opening at the Viennese off-space gallery Vesch. The narrative reacts to the situation of artists who work in environments that are characterized by contemporary neo-liberal politics, namely a situation of contest where everybody is on their own. It is however, not often possible to “literally” address the feelings that might emerge from such situations, since on the surface of things everybody is best friends with each other. For the making of Il Grande Silenzio, 22 contemporary Viennese artists were invited to develop their own take on the subject, produce works specifically for the project and dream up their possible form of intervention within the larger framework. The outcome is a film that, on the one hand relates to the Viennese tradition of experimental art from the 1960s, on the other enables individual artists to raise the banner of black humour against the contemporary (art)worlds patterns of “everybody against everybody”.
Concept/Direction/Editing/Grading: Axel Stockburger, Christoph Meier
Cinematographer: Robert Oberrainer
First Assistant Camera: Max Hoellmueller
Lighting: Lukas Kern
Sound: Kai Maier-Rothe
Catering: Sarah Pichlkostner
funded by bm:ukk Austria
with the presence and works by the following artists artists:
Karin Fauchard, Bernhard Garnicnig, Katharina Heistinger, Lukas Heistinger, Gerald Nestler, Ute Müller, Axel Stockburger, Christoph Meier, Lazar Lyutakov, Lina Moravetz, Josh Müller, Marusa Sagadin, Nicolas Jasmin, Ludwig Kittinger, Kris Lemsalu, Stephan Lugbauer, Kai Maier-Rothe, Sarah Pichlkostner, Franz Schubert, Wolfgang Obermair, Richard Reisenberger, Martin Vesely, Dino Zrnec.
Video: Fat Finger Confession (2013)
Fat Finger Confession, 2013, single channel HD video. length: 21 min., color, sound, Edition of 5/+1, courtesy of the artist.
The term “fat finger incident” is used in the context of the world of finance in order to designate human errors, such as wrong keystrokes, which have an effect on the development of stocks. A very prominent example is the so called flash crash which took place on may 6, 2010 and temporarily wiped out millions of dollars worth of stock. While most media assumed a fat finger incident as the cause of the crash, it is highly probable that so called “rogue algorithms”, computer programs employed for automated high speed and high frequency trading, are to blame. The video “Fat Finger Confession” stages an interview with a trader who confesses to be the culprit behind this historical crash.
Contemporary trading is automated to such an extent that it seems almost soothing to assume direct human responsibility for errors, thus marking the human being as the glitch in a digital cybernetic system which has an enormous impact on contemporary societies. Since many of these automated trading systems operate on a speed that lies beyond that of human perception, the assumption that a single human could be responsible for catastrophic events, has the function of an ideological operation pointing to a time in history when responsibility was still in the hands of human agents. “Fat Finger Confessions” engages with the paradox that we seem to feel safer if a catastrophic event is caused by human agency rather than the automatic systems, which were, after all, invented by by us.
Concept/Text/Post Production: Axel Stockburger
Camera/Light: Lukas Heistinger
Actor: Joe Remick
Video: Sylvanas Transformer (2011)
Sylvanas Transformer, 2011, single channel HD video. length: 17 min., color, sound, Edition of 5/+1, courtesy of the artist.
Video: White Transformer (2011)
White Transformer, 2011, single channel HD video. length: 7:15 min., color, sound, Edition of 5/+1, courtesy of the artist.
White Transformer deals with the cosplay phenomenon in China and focuses on the act of transformation from “ordinary” human into fictional character. It was shot with the help of the famous Century Noah cosplay group in Chongqing, China who build and perform characters from a variety of narrative universes such as Gundam, Starcraft and World of Warcraft. I am fascinated with cosplay because this culture touches upon many of the issues that are important for my artistic work, namely the question how culture changes under the influence of contemporary global media cultures. A very important aspect here is the issue of intellectual property, which comes into play because all of these characters are registered trademarks owned by large international entertainment companies. What does it mean for the fans and audiences to adapt and transform these symbols. Furthermore, cosplay opens up many questions in conjunction with identification, since cosplayers deliberately choose to identify with and perform as fictional beings from a realm beyond real life limitations such as race, class or gender.
Concept, Camera, Editing: Axel Stockburger
Century Noah Cosplay Group, Chongqing
Translation: Li Xiaoxi
Funded by bm:ukk and WWTF.
Red Transformer (2011)
Red Transformer, 2011, single channel HD video. length: 8 min., color, sound, Edition of 5/+1, courtesy of the artist.
Red Transformer deals with the cosplay phenomenon in China and focuses on the act of transformation from “ordinary” human into fictional character. It was shot with the help of the famous Century Noah cosplay group in Chongqing, China who build and perform characters from a variety of narrative universes such as Gundam, Starcraft and World of Warcraft. I am fascinated with cosplay because this culture touches upon many of the issues that are important for my artistic work, namely the question how culture changes under the influence of contemporary global media cultures. A very important aspect here is the issue of intellectual property, which comes into play because all of these characters are registered trademarks owned by large international entertainment companies. What does it mean for the fans and audiences to adapt and transform these symbols. Furthermore, cosplay opens up many questions in conjunction with identification, since cosplayers deliberately choose to identify with and perform as fictional beings from a realm beyond real life limitations such as race, class or gender.
Red Transformer was funded by bm:ukk Austria
More information about this project can be found here
Video: Ork Warrior (2011)
Ork Warrior, 2011, single channel HD video. length: 3:44 min., color, sound, Edition of 5/+1, courtesy of the artist.
The video Ork Warrior depicts a fan of the online computer game World of Warcraft who produced a detailed mask of the avatar he is playing inside the game. The video plays with the borders between fictional reality and the real world environment of this Chinese Fan.
Das Video Ork Warrior zeigt einen Spieler des online Rollenspiels World of Warcraft der sich eine detailierte Maske des Charakters den er im Spiel verkörpert produziert hat. Hier verschwimmen die Grenzen zwischen fiktionaler Welt und chinesischer Alltagsrealität.
Concept, Camera, Editing: Axel Stockburger
Century Noah Cosplay Group, Chongqing
Translation: Li Xiaoxi
Funded by bm:ukk and WWTF.
Videoinstallation: Jingshenfenxi (2010)
JINGSHENFENXI (2010) 3 channel HD Video installation, 16:9, Audio,Edition of 5+1
“The unconscious is structured like the Chinese language.”
Jingshenfenxi is a three-channel video installation that was realised as a collaboration between Lisa Meixner and Axel Stockburger during a bm:ukk sponsored artist residency in Chengdu, China. The piece poses a number of questions concerning the relationship between the concept of Psychoanalysis and Chinese Culture. Since Sigmund Freud’s writing was translated into Chinese in the 1920s, Chinese history in the last century led to a disruption of discourse with such concepts. At present a new interest in the concepts of Psychoanalysis seems to emerge with analysts and scholars such as the Lacan specialist Professor Huo Datong who works and teaches in Chengdu. At the core of the installation is a video of a performance in Chengdu city where Axel Stockburger posed as a highly depressive Panda. The iconic power of this animal that is often connected to ease and happiness, as well as its use by numerous brands, agencies and artists made it an ideal vehicle for the projection of an emotional state that public audiences in the city could connect to. This video is accompanied by a text animation which focuses on the Chinese translation of the word “Psychoanalysis” and the different layers of meaning associated with the characters. A third video consists of an interview with Professor Datong, posing questions about the function and meaning of Psychoanalysis in present day China.
Concept: Axel Stockburger, Lisa Meixner
Camera: Lisa Meixner
Editing, Graphics, Performance: Axel Stockburger
Interview Translation: Yuan Mei-Nian
French Language Consultancy: Bruno Moreau
Special Thanks to Southwest Jiaotong University, Prof. Chen Haiming, Prof. Huo Datong, Robin, Damien Funded by bmu:kk
1000 Plateaux Gallery, Chengdu, 2011 Organhaus Art Space, Chongqing, 2011
Video: Cos I am (2010)
Cos I am , 2010, single channel HD video. length: 6:45 min., color, sound, Edition of 5/+1, courtesy of the artist.
Shot on location in Chongqing China during an artist residency funded by bm:ukk in 2010.
Thanks to the Century Noah Cosplay Group
Video: Reaper (2010)
REAPER (2010) Video, Single Channel, 16:9, Audio, 3 min., Edition of 5+1
The video REAPER represents the attempt to reflect the historical dichotomy between technology and nature that characterises Western thought in the form of a clarified and reduced visual translation. The inception of this piece is connected to Agnes Varda’s documentary film “glaneur et glaneuses”, which traces the figure of “gleaning” into a variety of contemporary situations. Here, the act of cutting grass serves as a metaphor for the increasingly complex intertwined relationship between imaginations of the natural and the impact of human technological intervention. The video also refers to the classical medieval epresentations of Death as the grim reaper of souls.
Das Video REAPER stellt den Versuch dar die historische Dichotomie zwischen Technologie und Natur die für die westliche Denktradition charakteristisch geworden ist in eine klare und reduzierte Bildsprache zu über- setzen. Die ursprüngliche Idee für diese Umsetzung geht auf den Dokumentarfilm “Glaneur et Glaneuses” von Agnes Varda zurück, der den Akt des Sammelns (etwa von Nahrungsmitteln auf dem Feld) und dessen Trans- formation unter den Bedingungen gegenwärtiger Technologien nachzeichnet. Hier wird die scheinbar einfache Handlung des Schneidens von Gras zu einer Metapher für die zunehmend komplexer werdende Beziehung zwischen Imaginationen des Natürlichen und dem Einbruch des Prinzips technologischer Erfindungsgabe. Zudem referiert die Figur des schattenhaften Schnitters auf die aus dem Mittelalter bekannten Darstellungen des Todes als Sensenmann.
Production Credits: Camera/Post Production: Axel Stockburger
Exhibitions: 2010 Jingshenfenxi, 1000 Plateaux Gallery, Chengdu 2010 DaDaDa Academy, Corridor Gallery, Plovdiv, Bulgaria
Videoinstallation: Spellbound (2009)
Spellbound (2009) Videoinstallation, 2 HD Projections, 16:9 Video, Audio, 20 min., Edition of 5+1, courtesy of the artist
Spellbound I (Japanese)
Spellbound II (Chinese)
The video installation Spellbound appropriates codes from contemporary global culture, in the form of the entirety of magic spells from the Harry Potter universe. A Chinese magician is confronted with a Japanese magician, both deploying the translated versions of the spells. The protagonists are projected onto two opposite walls in such a manner that they appear to hover above the ground. Here the meaning of the magic spell as an ancient form of performativity based on language, which is directed towards a unique connection between self and world, is arranged as a poetic failure. The question is raised whether magic spells can be translated at all and which role encoding and decoding of meaning plays for the existence of magic itself.
Die Videoinstallation SPELLBOUND entwendet Elemente aus einer international erfolgreichen narrativen Struktur, dem Harry Potter Universum, um auf die Bruchlinien solcher globalisierter mythologischer Welten, die speziell in der Übersetzung in Erscheinung treten, zu verweisen. Hier tritt eine japanische gegen eine chinesische Zauberin an und beiden stehen sämtliche Zaubersprüche des Harry Potter-Franchises in der jeweiligen landessprachlichen Übersetzung zur Verfügung. Die Protagonistinnen sind dabei derart auf die sich gegenüberliegende Wände projiziert dass sie, scheinbar in der Luft schwebend, in Konfrontation zueinander stehen. Während die Verwendung von Zaubersprüchen auf den wesentlichen Zusammenhang zwischen Sprache und Performativität verweist, muss der Zauber an den Grenzen der Übersetzung scheitern.
Actors: Dan Dragschitz, Natsuko Okamoto
Camera: Lukas Heistinger
Sound Recording: Dominik Traun
Sound Postproduction: Sebastian Schlachter
Video: Goldfarmer (2008)
Goldfarmer (2008) Video, DVD PAL, 16:9, 15 min., Edition of 5+1, courtesy of the artist and Jim & Mary Barr Collection
The video Goldfarmer addresses contemporary economical and cultural transformations by interviewing a so called goldfarmer, the player of a popular online game who generates an income by playing. The player has been rendered anonymous by digitally adding the avatar he embodies in the game environment over his face. The phenomenon of goldfarming, that has become a viable form of work, specifically in Asian countries, is used as a model to engage with the transformation of the border between work and play that seems to be characterised by the current dominance of economical paradigms over all other areas of life.
Das Video Goldfarmer beschäftigt sich mit gegenwärtigen ökonomischen Transformationen indem ein sogenannter Goldfarmer, der Spieler eines populären Internet Computerspiels, der mit dem Spielen selbst ein Einkommen generiert, interviewt wird. Der Spieler wird dabei anonymisiert indem ihm der Avatar den er im Spiel verwendet dogital über sein Gesicht gesetzt wird. Das Phänomen des Goldfarming, das speziell in Asien, zu einer ernstzunehmenden Form der Arbeit geworden ist, wird hier als Modell verwendet um eine Auseinandersetzung mit der gegenwärtigen Verschiebung der Grenze zwischen Arbeit und Freizeit und der Dominanz ökonomischer Paradigma über alle Lebensbereiche, zu ermöglichen.
Concept, Camera, Editing: Axel Stockburger
Digital Animation and Motion Capturing: Franz Schubert Sound Edit: Sebastian Schlachter
The interviewee wishes to remain anonymous
Goldfarmer is part of the Jim & Mary Barr Collection, New Zealand and the Artothek Collection.
Video: ILSA Factory Database (2006)
ILSA Factory Database, 2006, DVD Video, 6 minutes, Edition of 5/+1, courtesy of the artist.
The ILSA initials stand for Industria Linii, Societate Anonima textile factory founded in Timisoara in the early 1920′s. The video was filmed in May 2006 in the abandoned ILSA ( Industria Linii, Societate Anonima) textile factory in Timisoara, Romania. Over the years, the workers have generated a kind of image database consisting of an immense amount of clippings from newspapers, product covers, photographys, posters, labels, postcards and stickers on the walls of numerous rooms throughout the factory complex. The camera traces this odd collection of imagery, which evokes products, people, places and dreams and follows the paths of image arrangement. For example there exists an entire wall made up of cars, another wall groups political figures such as the dictator Ceasescu with He-Man and a Boss advert, thereby ridiculing power relations and machismo. Other imagery shows families from South America juxtaposed with postcards from the Swiss mountains. The camera movement and animation tries to uncover the connections between different images in this veritable database in order to tell a narrative fueled by the rich imagination of the factory workers at ILSA.
Video: Boys in the Hood (2005)
The Video Boys in the Hood consists of interviews with players of the controversial computer game Grand Theft Auto.The players deliver their perspective of the narrative space of the game by giving detailed descriptions of locations, movements and actions in the game. These subjective accounts of a shared space lead to a diffusion of the borders between ‘real’ and ‘virtual’.
Boys in The Hood, 2005, DVD Video, 60 minutes, Edition of 5, courtesy of the artist.
Installation: GO (2005)
The Videoinstallation GO is recreation of one round of the ancient asian game GO that has been filmed in a public park in Shanghai. GO highlights the specific spatial structure that emerges from the territorial rules of the game.
Exhibition views, Axel Stockburger: Spielraum, Praxis Gallery, Vienna, Feb. 2005.
GO, Video Installation, MDF Box 150 cm x 100 cm x 70 cm, Plasma TV, DVD 30 min. courtesy of the artist.
Video: Aleph Series – Love / Hate (2004)
Love , 2003, DVD Video, 2.27 min., Edition of 5, courtesy of the artist
Hate , 2003, DVD Video, 3 min., Edition of 5, courtesy of the artist
The videos Love and Hate are part of a series of works under the collective title Aleph, that has been started in the year 2000. The title refers to a short story by J.L.Borges, which describes the discovery of the curious phenomenon of the Aleph. It is a spaceless space that can only be seen from the stairs leading to the cellar of a friend of the writer, but it simultaenously opens up an access to the whole universe of visual information. The Aleph is described as a source of an immense richess of information which makes it impossible to represent it or capture it in words. It fascinates and captivates the writer in such a way that it makes it impossible for him to keep up his work. The Aleph videos Love and Hate consist entirely of images downloaded from the internet that have been given the respective titles of Love or Hate. A whole world of the most diverse images is grouped by these language concepts. From people to books, animals, objects, landscapes, works of art to pornography it seems that the whole universe of human pattern recognition and meaning is present. 25 images are shown per second which goes beyond the borders of human visual perception, thereby creating a stream of images that cannot be fully decoded or understood.
Marcel Broodthaer’s famous Museum of Eagles, in which he grouped images and objects from the most diverse fields of life that based on their reference to the word eagle can be seen as a very early attempt to question structuring of information. Since this early encounter, machines and programs have been developed to make sense within a universe of signification. Google could be seen as one of the most recent attempts to channel this universe of meaning. The Aleph series is questioning the relation between abstract concepts and language on the one hand and the sheer explosion of visual information on the other hand. It is at once an attempt in vain to fix and grasp something that cannot be pinned down, like the attempt to start drinking the seas dry.
Video: Brilliant City (2004)
The film Brilliant City was produced during a stay in Shanghai with D-Fuse as part of the British Council Artist Link Program. The title refers to the name of the location, a residential complex comprised of 25 high-rises in the northern part of Shanghai. It is entirely shot from the 34th floor of one of the buildings and stages a peeping tom view of the surrounding city, capturing everyday activities that can be observed from this vantage point – training soldiers, building activity, traffic, gardening. The camera hovers above the entire panorama and focuses on details in the surrounding urban fabric.The film reacts to a particular visual paradigm, which is well known from strategy and simulation computer games (Sim City, The Sims) as the so called God View.It is the distanced perspective usually taken on by city planners, game players or politicians. In these situations people turn from individuals into patterns of movement and symbolic activity, and the viewer is turned into an accomplice of the visual apparatus and the power relations it signifies.
Brilliant City, 2005, DVD Video, 12 minutes, courtesy of D-Fuse
Concept & Camera: Axel Stockburger, Sound: Mathias Kispert, Still Imagery: Mike Faulkner.
Video: We Accept (2003)
The video We Accept is part of a series of short films entitled the Aleph series, consisting entirely of images downloaded from the Internet. All of these short videopieces target the selection and processing of visual information on a systemic level, regarding the logical structure of search programs and webbrowsers, as well as human perceptive capabilities. About 10000 images have been selected according to their filename (“credit card”) and turned into a single frame animation. Images are selected and combined according to their referential context: the title that has been chosen when the image was saved. The sequential animation of all these images in a film represents the vast context of images subsumed to a language based category. Images advertising and symbolising different credit cards and virtual payment systems have become a visual undercurrent of the contemporary state of the world wide web. In “We Accept” they have been taken from the sites and form the content of the video.
We Accept, 2003, DVD Video, 3 minutes, Edition of 5,
Sound: Kid 606: Ass Sratch Fever,
courtesy of the artist.
The video also appears on the D-Fuse D-Tonate DVD.
Video: Tokyo Arcade Warriors – Shinjuku (2003)
Tokyo Arcade Warriors – Shinjuku, is part of an ongoing series of videoportraits of players of video and computer games. It was shot in September 2003 in three different Public Gaming Arcades near Shinjuku/Tokyo. The faces of the players are the only visible evidence of the game being played. Their facial reactions are synced with the sounds emerging from the game consoles.
TokyoArcade Warriors – Shinjuku, 2003, DVD Video, 10 min., Edition of 5, courtesy of the artist.
Video: PSX Warriors: Gran Turismo (2001)
The piece PSX-Warriors: Gran Turismo is a portrait of a young woman playing a popular racing game. The whole gameplay is visible on the ”Inter-face” of the player. Her reactions, facial expressions and movements translate the qualities of the virtual gamespace. Every action in the digital environment of the game is followed by a little movement of her body. These traces of movement are stronger with people who are new to the immersive spaces of computer- games. Players that are used to games do not move much, they have learnt to constrain their movement to their fingertips on the gamepad. The human side of the interface is used as a screen for the abstract space produced by the game.
PSX Warriors Gran: Turismo, 2001, DVD Video, 3 minutes, Edition of 5, courtesy of the artist and Jim & Mary Barr Collection
Video Installation: PSX Warriors Tekken (1998)
The piece PSX Warriors Tekken consists of 2 videos simultaneously showing the faces of 2 players playing the well known fighting game Tekken against each other. The piece is the first in a series of works examining different aspects of this specific situation. The videos are either projected on opposite sides of a room or in the form of two monitors facing each other. The original sound from the game syncs the reactions of the players.
The whole gameplay is visible on the ”Inter-face” of the players. Their reactions, mimics and movements are representing the virtual gamespace. Every action in the digital environment of the game is followed by a little movement of her body. These traces of movement are stronger with people who are new to the immersive spaces of computer- games. Players that are used to games do not move much, they have learnt to constrain their movement to their fingertips on the gamepad. The human side of the interface is used as a screen for the abstract space produced by the game.
PSX Warriors Tekken, 1998, Video Installation – 2 PAL Videos, 2 minutes, edition of 5, courtesy of the artist.