Interview of Henrik Mauler, from Zeitguised
Location: Playgrounds festival, Tilburg.
by: Leevi Lehtinen
Independent animation art is challenged to find new audiences, as television and cinema distribution is nowadays non existent. Where should animation go? To which platforms? How are the perception differences of platforms affecting the viewing of animation?
In the following interview Henrik Mauler, a founder of Zeitguised, a German audiovisual art/animation group, tells his ideas about the future of animation art, and perception differences between platforms.
Is cinema still a big part of the future of animation?
I think it is I guess. I didn’t think so for a while, but there are two things I’ve realized during the recent days. I’ve realized that watching films together [in a cinema] is whole different experience. There’s an emotional reaction to the whole ritual of sitting down in a dark, in front of a big screen. This can’t really be replaced, it’s a special thing. It’s not something that makes it better, but it definitely is something that has a right to exist.
That’s one thing, and the other is, that I was really skeptical of the 3D stereoscopic technique. I was really against it, when we were forced to do a commercial using 3D stereoscopic technique this summer. But when I saw it in a movie theater, I thought that this is the technology that makes that moment special again. It adds a layer to the movie experience that is something emotional, very fleeting, and in the moment. It makes being in the theater suddenly something special again.
Why does the stereoscopic technique come into the picture now, although it’s been around since the early 19th century?
We’ve been doing these things for a long time, or it hasn’t really been gone. Now we have the technology to do it on the large scale. Cinema is in decline against DVD’s, YouTube, and downloading. Now [with 3D stereoscopic technique] it becomes something special again to go to the cinema. It’s an experience that you can’t have outside.
What do you thing is the difference between perception in cinema compared to perception in museum watching an animation installation?
The boundaries a blurred, but there’s still a huge difference. The audience goes to cinema to be entertained. The expectations are different.Cinema is about entertainment and relaxation. The museum is one step further from the entertainment. Cinema is a bit more passive than museum.
How much is the audience and different platforms part of the creation process in your art? Do you just create art, and it either fits to the platform or it doesn’t?
We are still looking for a platform for digital art. Right now it’s only festivals, and sometimes small galleries. The internet is probably best at the moment of the new platforms, but it also devaluing the art, because we can see everything. There’s a porn, a car commercials and a home videos next to a fine art. But it’s also interesting because the filter has to come from the audience.
What are the most interesting new and emerging platforms for digital and animation art, apart from internet?
Art fares don’t have digital arts, but I’m sure it will change. There’s side fares at art fares that have avantgarde digital art, but it’s a bit weird place, because digital art doesn’t belong to anything there. I really can’t tell where it’s going but I’m sure it will crystallize in some sort of structure.
Where would you like to take your own art? To which platforms?
I really enjoy putting things on our blog. There’s no economical revenue, but you feel like you are a part of a bigger movement of exploding visual art. It’s not a recognition, but you feel like there’s a place for your art. There’s a home, which is very fleeting and familiar.
There’s one digital art gallery in Berlin, called DAM (digital art museum), that is showing the history of digital arts from the 60’s, so it’s not contemporary or exiting thing. I find the style a bit questionable, because I want something contemporary that is alive, and not this [historical digital art]. Of course historical art should be shown as well, but it shouldn’t be their sole purpose. I think they see themselves as pioneers, preparing the old school art world for digital art.
It’s not like digital art is a new thing anymore.
It’s not. It feels like we are in a parallel world. The agencies are always years behind, but art world is like ten years or twenty years behind. It’ll catch up in my lifetime hopefully. The reason why it hasn’t happened in a gallery level is that there is huge competition with platforms like YouTube, Vimeo, and small art and design sites. That’s where everybody goes when they want to see something. But it would be nice to have a space dedicated to show these things.
Transmediale in Berlin is a festival that has been around for ten years. They show interesting stuff. It’s a contemporary and interactive fix point. They try to focus on digital art, because it’s an exploding scene, with parametric and abstract art, computer made sculptures, digital photography, film, motion graphics, sound and interactive games.
Next question will be about the difference between cinematic animation and animation in installation. What are the special qualities in installation animation that makes it own art form compared to cinematic animation?
I think the most profound difference is the relation of the viewer and the space. The movement, timing, and the sound suddenly becomes a different thing. It gives you more possibilities, and of course a more intense experience. That’s why I’d like to see galleries doing that, because it is different than watching it from YouTube, and it’s another step further from the cinema.
Would you consider yourself active or passive in transforming the future of digital art?
I want to make it. One has to be a bit of a gambler, which I think I am, but also a futurologist, which is much harder. It’s stepping back from “we know what future will be like”. We cant’ know. I think we just have to make it and see if it works. And if it works then that will be the future.
We are the ones who shrunk the big production companies. We don’t need multimillion dollar equipment to make these things. I wish what we had today’s knowledge and technology in the 80’s. We would have made so much money. (Laughter) But that’s not the reality. What is necessary is a good and sober assessment of the reality, plus having the balls to define what the future will be like.
There is more pressure nowadays, because the agencies go to the young guys who work for zero or less, with really interesting style and content. At the same time we, old farts, have more experience and can see a bigger piece of the landscape. I hope that some of us can shape the landscape, so we can all survive. It’s a double-edged sword. I think there’s a place for everyone. It gets more crowded, but at the same time the market expands. So, it’s not just one side that multiplies and has to share the same smaller cake. The picture is not so dim.