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Generation 1 - Visual Anthropology in Urban and Virtual Cultures

Generation 1 /  Nov. 2009

The concept of the exhibition is a kind of time travel through the technical developments of Visual Anthropology and an exposure of diverse forms of doing ethnographic research in different (trans)cultural spaces - be this in person or with an Avatar in virtual worlds - according to the format mix from analog photography over Super 8 to digital photography, Screenshots and Screencasts in virtual cultures.

The exhibition shows some of the second and third semester projects from the following courses: Visual Anthropology in Virtual Cultures (Undine Frömming), Sigth defects inspire to artistic work (Desiree Palmen), Transcultural Montage (Florian Walter), Experimental Photography (Chris Wrigth)

Super-8, Video and Screencast Projects 

Living a queer parallel life in second life

Video by Pauline Marsden, Lecturer: Prof. Dr. Undine Frömming


C-print, Dibond 60 x 40 & MPEG-4-Video-10:48min ©Pauline Marsden 2009
Pauline Marsden, 2 c-prints, Dibond 60 x 40 und Video - NoLimit gallery

Poverty Project

by Margita Zalite, Lecturer: Dr. Chris Wrigth


© 2009 Margita Zalite, C-Prints 40 x 60 cm


Super8 film-project which has been produced in the context of the workshop “Transcultural Montage” of the Master in Visual and Media Anthropology
Lecturer: Florian Walter
Assistant Teacher: Mark Dölling

“The transcultural: transcending the limitations of culture. The transcultural: crossing the boundaries of cultures” (Mac Dougall 1998)

In this experimental project GAPS are the metaphors for a world of intensified absences, global interconnections and deterritorialization. By drawing on experimental uses of montage and its inbuilt possibilities of crossing and defying cultural borders the project tries to create more adequate representations of people engaging in increased absences, cultural mobility and dialogue.

In the tradition of a so-called Haptic Cinema (see Laura Marks) the ethnographic short films are filmed on 8mm film material and play with the possibilities and limits of anthropological knowledge production in the audiovisual field of anthropology. It takes montagescapes as vehicles of artistic reflection on the complexities of intercultural dialogue and of multisensorial and synaesthetic modes of perception. By applying these concepts and discourses on ethnographic filmproduction we have blurred the borders of ethnographic and experimental cinema by triggering not only audiovisual, but also haptic experiences.


  • "In the Barbershop" by Anna Lässer, Diamantino Feijó, Kay Möpert
  • “The Wanderer above the Sea of Fog” by Martin Tscholl
  • "Berlin Cool" by Günter Marks
  • “Absence” by Carolin Röckeleinand Karin Dürr


by Karin Dürr & Caroline Röckelein, Lecturer: Florian Walter

"The Absent and the Cut" an article by Wilma Kiener in which she examines the role of cuts in ethnographic film inspired us to think about what a cut can actually tell. The cut can "mock the audience" because it has the "power to join together images to build new contexts." (Kiener 2008; 394) but it can also tell the story of an absence, "it is up to the cut to define the character of the absence." (Kiener 2008; 396).

We chose the absence as the basis theme of a series of interviews with people who either live a certain absence, let it influence their body of work or reflect it in a way to handle it. Six persons were asked, some of them far away. To use the medium of Super 8 to film people whith whom we communicate in the very modern skype programm at the computer with a videocamera was a frame to bring together the charming relif in aspect of the beautiful developed filmmaterial and the absent of it in modern use of video and record systems at the computer. With Super 8 you can record 3 minutes in each role and therefore have to decide carefully what you are going to ban on the material. This methodology seemed quite right for our interview theme, that we only could choose some seconds of everyone for recording and leave the thoughts, paths in the past, visions into parallel lifes, definitions and personal feeling of absence in the lost absence of never repeated chances for the camera. We ended up rather with a series of still images than a film, fascinated by every single frame that came close to their own absence.

The exposed frames:


Johannes, living in Trier © 2009 Caroline Röckelein - Super-8 still - C-Print 60 x 80 cm
Katalina, living in New York © 2009 Karin Dürr, Super-8 still - C-Print 60 x 80 cm

The Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog

by Martin Tscholl, Lecturer: Florian Walter

In the experimental reflection about the theme of existentialistic loneliness, the film plays with the possibilities and limits of anthropological knowledge production in the audiovisual field of anthropology. In the tradition of a so-called Haptic Cinema it takes montagescapes as vehicles of artistic reflection on the complexities of identity and of multisensorial and synaesthetic modes of perception to point out the difference of the spoken word and the seen image. Thereby loneliness and closeness become the defining categories of the film.


Photography / Screenshot Projects

Listen to the Radio: AM Radio, Second Life, and Innovations in an Emerging Medium

by Samantha Fox, Lecturer: Prof. Dr. Undine Frömming

This external world, Habermas writes, “stand[s] in contrast to each person’s internal world of subjective experiences” (Habermas 1987, 115). Instead of revealing himself to an all-knowing God, able to see into each person’s soul, Modern man can keep his thoughts to himself. In Second Life, an avatar not only keeps his thoughts to himself, he keeps large parts of his identity a secret. Who is controlling him? Where in the world is he located? When I asked the Second Life artist AM Radio to reveal any information about his real life self, he replied “I am actually a quantum simulator.” The answer implied that I couldn’t seriously want to breach the boundary between Second Life and real life; it was a question too absurd to warrant a serious answer. By withholding information about real life, Second Life users prioritize the Second Life experience. They gain their information about a person from the appearance of their avatar, and from their shared experiences in the virtual world; they gain an understanding of a place by flying around a landscape of prims. In Second Life, as in Modern life, one must make sense of the (virtual)world only through sensory experience. (Samantha Fox 2009).

Sammy Mumblewood in AM Radio's The Quiet, Color digital photograph, 60 x 40 cm 
© 2009 Samantha Fox

In AM Radio's Beneath the Tree that Died, Color digital photograph, 60 x 40 cm
© 2009 Samantha Fox

Sammy Mumblewood approaches AM Radio's the house in the snow, and the house in The Quiet, 
Color digital photograph 1/10, 42 x 30 cm, © 2009 Samantha Fox

Photo boost Kottbusser Tor

by Anna Lässer, Lecturer: Dr. Chris Wright

The task was to take five pictures which show a space in Berlin without people. These five photographs are snap shots taken of a photo boost at the Kottbusser Tor in Berlin. I attempted to play with the sense of space. My aim was to first show a space in an unfamiliar way which prevents the viewer from directly understanding what he/she is seeing -a new choreography of space. Therefore I decided to take close-ups which fragmented the space in a way which is unusual for the eye to read and the brain to understand. I attempted to break and play with the viewer’s gaze and expectation.

Second, I wanted to make the viewer experience similar feelings I had whilst taking the pictures. Whilst I took the pictures a police car arrived, people were arrested right next to me, and I was asked to move away quickly. I wanted the viewer to also feel stressed and disorientated whilst looking at the pictures. On the one hand I hope to manage this through the confusing close-ups. On the other side I hope that the pinkish colour, the composition, and the lack of focus generate a peculiar/particular feeling.

It would be great if these pictures manage to provoke a new interaction between viewer and photography which forces the viewer to read the images differently, and create a new logic to access and understand images.  



Color photographs, edition 1/1, © 2009 Anna Lässer

Painted BOOK

Lecturer: Desiree Palmen

One of the subjects some visual artists and anthropologists are confronted with is taking pictures or filming in public and semi public places. If one isn't a tourist who shoots pictures of obvious tourist places like for instance the Berlin Brandenburger Tor. How does that make you feel? How strongly affects the public behavior one’s individual behavior? What are the rules? And who is creating them?   The Unpainted Book-suit is thought as a tool to be worn at these places and to be photographed in the divers situations. Unpainted Book is playing with changing meanings at different spots.

Painted Book, Color photograph edition 1/10