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[text] Heiner Mühlenbrock [e]

»The ice-cold eye«, 1982

by Heiner Mühlenbrock

Concept: Heiner Mühlenbrock, Oliver Held
Cast: Berlin International Congress Center [ICC] staffers and visitors
Camera: Video surveillance system
Equipment: ICC Berlin
Music: Jan T. Schade, Mauricio Kagel, Alexander Mossolov, Alfred Schnittke, Franco Donatoni
Editing: Heiner Mühlenbrock, Oliver Held
Production: Heiner Mühlenbrock
Material: Video, 16 mm, b&w/color
Length: 14 minutes

The Berlin International Congress Center [ICC] is one of many large urban planning projects; »mega-machines« embedded in the cityscape.
It is a point where many interests converge. A video surveillance system monitors events. It comprises some 40 cameras in various rooms inside the Center, and in the adjoining outside complex.

The ICC is turned into an enormous film studio, which produces a constant stream of pictures.

There is no cameraman,
no director,
no script,
no actors,
and no story?

The surveillance system monitors what happens in the ICC. The ice-cold eye is a film assembled from the material thus collected. We take part in it.

We observe the occupants of the Congress Center: The hostesses, waitresses, workmen and cleaning staff who ensure the Centerís smooth operation, as well as the security personnel who, in conjunction with the surveillance system, guarantee the Centerís safety. Not to mention the congress attendees Ė for whose activities the Center was built.

The mechanical indifference with which the pictures are produced by the surveillance system prompts reflection at various levels.
On reality and imagination, TV and surveillance, not to mention the cultural history in which this permanent duplication of the real is located, the constant recording of life by electronic media.

Day-in day-out the surveillance system reproduces the banality of everyday life. Everyday produces a longing for a »story-line« and »action«. This need is taken up and catered to by culture and the entertainment industry.
Accordingly, the silent pictures of the surveillance system are juxtaposed to other elements such as dialog, music and noises quoted from appropriate genre films. The result is a collage that blends the trivial and the story, the everyday and the entertainment industry, highlighting the schematic clichés underlying them.

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