The cinema of the future

The influence of business on cultural production

At the same time as a massive introduction of digital media, the globalisation of economics is pushing through, leading to a drying up of the state coffers and encompassing the official support of the arts. Does that have a noticable effect on culture?

  EDGAR REITZ: Only those areas of culture which can make room for themselves in society can be realised, in real terms that means they can find sponsors. The search for sponsors now means more than simply finding additional funding. Inherent competence goes to the sponsors.

This has, until now, not been recognised, and it's been argued that if the State can no longer provide enough money for the luxury product of culture, then cultural organisers will have to meet the difference through sponsorship from business, thereby enhancing its image. This practice has brought with it a profound divide between culture and the State. The question of what can still be done in culture today depends on sponsors' decisions. If I find a sponsor, then that itself becomes a reason for the state to provide support. This means, if [the State] still pays, it only does it under these conditions.

And there's something going on here, in terms of the decision on the value, or lack of value, of cultural expression, the question of what has intellectual acceptance, with the competence of people who work in the advertising departments in business. Who are these people? What did they study? What motives do they have? The word "acceptance", which comes from advertising, has suddenly become taken for granted in the intellectual domain.

Then what is supported more? Is there a particular pressure on cultural production?

  EDGAR REITZ: First of all we notice a clear tendency towards the established civic arts. In the theatre, of course, opera will outlast everything else, in concerts, classical music with its record stars and of course everthing else that is commercial. In support of the arts, content is no longer such a concern. They just start to collect like mad. Every banker and insurance man gets himself, if he can, a few paintings for the safe. The creative arts are more or less disappearing into the vaults of banks. It's become a race with the State's museums. And limitless amounts of money is spent on this.

It looks as though society wants to do away with the hardware. However, precisely because of these efforts, there seems to be a secret longing for material possessions. We will still only believe that they can survive any crisis. The old longing for stability in value is apparently fulfilled by the creative arts, just like the utterly modern Nippes, who is in design. Sponsorship is pushing us all towards commerce, towards civic and proprietorial thinking.

All artistic expression which poses questions leading us out of the tradtions of avant garde or even poses itself questions in terms of political visions, and artists who experiment and search for something new, do not tend to be supported. A great exception to this, however, are the experimental arts, taking place on the edge of new technologies and lending them poetic value. This is why all experiments with computers, videos, lasers etc can get sponsorship, anything connected with electronics and digitalisation. Here, industry has brought an incredible variety of games devoid of content. Now it is desperately on the lookout for people to provide content to their products. This is how culture is changing. What I am noticing is, the humanistic tradition which has provided us with a stated value for hundreds of years is being lost. We are quite clearly living in the final days of humanism.

Special Effects and Film Drama in Hollywood Cinema

What do you trace that back to? Perhaps it is also related to digitalisation, to new techniques, to new production methods? Or is the decline of humanism due to other reasons? Films using new techniques are the most successful nowadays. They either demonstrate new effects or show possible ways of using the techniques in future. At the moment, this is the main content, the heart of Hollywood productions. This gearing [films] towards technology and new, technically explicit lifeforms presumably doesn't agree with classical humanism.

  EDGAR REITZ: The American Film follows a commercialised set of morals. The Protestantism that was once the ideological backbone of America has reduced itself to a limited commercialised framework. The media still deal with terms like good and evil, with the absolute maxim that good will always win. Even that old dualism is still preached, the eternal duel between the principles of darkness and light. Dramatic conflict in Hollywood cinema rests on this.

This is also true of films that appear to do nothing but show off special effects. When, for example, Mr Schwarzenegger stars in a Terminator film which boasts special effects from beginning to end, then the plot absolutely has to revolve around moral questions. Good always has to win.

Commercial tension drama is still, as I said, informed by this set of Protestant morals; however, this set of morals has been generalised. It no longer contains any real personal tragedy. The acting individual can no longer be involved in contradictions.

This new dramatic principle, that can renounce people if not morality, has already become familiar in terms of script computers. There are appropriate computer programs circulating around the world, with whose help you can arm any material with the appropriate conflict model. The computer works out the plot for you and promises success if you follow it. This market, structured by American conflict drama and its thought patterns, has existed for decades. A world-wide audience has been gradually conditioned to it. It only feels familiar with its own solutions.

I believe that man has a natural necessity to come to terms with the foreignness of the world. Yet the world is always new and foreign, again and again. One still searches for familiarity in it though, and only feels comfortable when one can establish oneself in a familiar way. Here the moralistic principles of the entertainment market are of use, even though we all know how much they deceive us, how much they conceal the true conflicts.

What makes the world foreign to us today is that we can no longer pass judgement over good and evil. Finding one's bearings has become unbelievably hard. We actually require a much more highly differentiated set of morals than before the world wars, a set of morals that can also live and work with contradiction. The tradition that we might have developed this set of morals from has been ruined by the media. Since the 19th Century we have had to deal with this discussion on contradiction or the absurdity of life in philosophy or literature again and again. The whole of psychoanalysis rests upon it, for example. However, all this achievement is being thrown overboard at the moment.

It's also to do with the fact that history comes from fashion. Whatever we take in our hands has to be new and we are no longer allowed to ask where it came from. As soon as you start asking historically, you makes yourself unpopular, you're spoiling the fun. All intelligent people know that the reason for most of the things we do or use isn't kosher. We all know that things are hardly as friendly as they appear on the commercial surface. The intellectual dilemma also breeds vexation, a fatigue, which is seen above all in the view of leaving the past alone. The period which has produced us, with all its challenges, unsolved riddles and moral contradictions, seems to be demanding too much of us at the end of the century. It is enormously calming, beneficial and relaxing to let go of the whole of historical thinking and give oneself to the blessings of the moment.

Cinema and the human face of the stars

Cinema has always been a technical medium that has consistently presented the spectacular. People have always expected to see something that they couldn't otherwise see - at least not in the secure position of the viewer. In films these scenes are packed fairly tightly together. These ‘attraction montages' usually appear at their best in technically rich films, in science fiction scenes. Of course, they are, as you said, embedded in the same old plotlines, but the attraction montages seem to be becoming more and more intensive in order to satisfy people's expectations.

  EDGAR REITZ: I'm not sure if it's quite like that. We can at least establish that stars came along at the very beginning of cinema history. Their faces became fascinating symbols for the whole world. Their faces gave expression to all of those feelings that we like to identify in ourselves. It seems that looking at these faces meant we could escape from the world around us. You could identify with a certain emotion, or a super-identity, relieved of any demands. At the same time, it possessed a certain intimacy. We find the star right at the beginning, the cinema needs him everywhere and all the time. Stars engender feelings of security and permanence in a world that is constantly presenting us with new challenges.

I think that without stars, cinema would never have become the world medium that it is today. The greatest effect on screen is always achieved using the human face. No technology, no utterly amazing series of tricks or images we've never seen before can ever match the attractions of the human face. When we follow the projection in the cinema of how an actor shows emotion in his face, whether it's hate or envy, love or greed, it moves the hearts of everybody there and draws them into the situation. We hardly need any technology then. It's interesting that just the plain image of the human face can have such an enormous effect.

In Terminator, however, Schwarzenegger plays a man who has neither a great story nor the reflection of anything in his face. Without expression, without being touched by anything, he strides through the world. Is this the non-human anti-type?

  EDGAR REITZ: That's true. There are those cases. I only said that cinema history wouldn't have happened without stars. Schwarzenegger is a star as well, of course, but his face stands for something new. He is the supercool guy. That's the guy who never changes his expression no matter what situation he's in. But he's always the winner. He has powers that have huge significance in our world. It's the cult of bodybuilding and having enormous technological equipment at your disposal that will get him anywhere and thus stay cool.

I don't believe that Schwarzenegger's great success is only due to these technological tricks. Their effect is also due to the fact of his being a star. His face expresses a certain longing of our time. I admit I don't really like him, because what I expect from a star, the same as from everybody else, is that that they express their emotions. Schwarzenegger does have a facial expression, but just the one - the same throughout! But even behind all these computer gimmicks, his Terminator face hints towards pity, friendship or other hidden feelings, feelings that lead back into his past.

  EDGAR REITZ: That had already been the case with Frankenstein's monster - a kid suddenly feels that the monster that destroys everything, that is heartless and without emotion could be his friend, and wouldn't do him any harm. That's the pathos that is behind Schwarzenegger, too. I don't think that there's anything new in the world of human feeling. They differ only in the form of expression.

Where there really are great differences is in superstructures, where the organisational form replaces the individual - company strategy, finance markets, concentrations of money, the internet. These are modern structures that used to be represented by the state. Nowadays the state hardly takes any role at all and then only reactive, one of the weakest parts of such structures. It is the oldest construct of men, and yet, at the same time, the one with the least expression.

These new constructs are different, they characterise our time. As individuals, with our emotions, with the relationships where they emerge from - families, friendships, work places, etc. -humanism would never get lost. It just doesn't fit into the organisations, the huge channels of distribution or the global entertainment industry. And what doesn't dominate the media will have no role in the state or the education system either.

New narrative structures?

You have said that the most important thing in cinematic portrayal was history on one hand and man on the other, the expression of man, the retrieval of certain types. The significance of techniques and effects comes second compared to that. But the digitalisation of film doesn't just enable even more spectacular effects to be made but gives us the opportunity to relate stories in a completely differently from before. We're still used to having stories related in linear form, that unfold before us. Cinema makes us watch this story with its pre-ordained destiny without being able to intervene. We relish the role of impartial observer, but at the same time something is missing, the feeling of being a part of what's going on, which is perhaps why productions have to become more dramatic. With video we have the opportunity of interrupting the flow of things, of skipping scenes, going back or repeating scenes, but the so-called interactive intervention in a plot that isn't linear, but a space of opportunity or even changing the set is actually what digital technology's great opportunities or temptations are all about. Do you believe that a new dimension of film narrative can come out of this? Or is it just a technological temptation, leading us into an artistic dead-end, even if it's very useful in other ways?

  EDGAR REITZ: I've been thinking a lot about this very attractive opportunity. My question is whether we can get away from the linear narrative with the help of digital technology.

That doesn't just concern the breaking up of linearity, of course, but also the end of mass cinema where many people have to see the same thing at the same time.

  EDGAR REITZ: But that's where the problem starts - why should every cinema goer see something different? In one way that's what they've been doing all along. When 500 people are in a cinema watching a film, then we can assume that each one experiences a different film. Anyway, you can only really understand a film when you bring your own life experiences to it. In that way, this interactivity is nothing new.

If we apply different rules from the start, however, where people can change the film themselves, then you've naturally got to ask, why are we doing this and what new thing are we trying to say in this way? At first it seems intellectually attractive, too, to conduct such experiments, because our experience of real life is non-linear as well. We wouldn't even be able to walk around town if we could only follow a linear path. The most diverse of motives, lines and stories cross at every moment in life. The image of a busy town or department store is almost a symbol for these many stories that come into contact with each other for just a moment. If I could, for example, cut out twenty square metres of the main railway station and give the audience the opportunity of intervening, then they would go into that banal image and experience how every moment contains a completely different story. That would be an exceptionally interesting suggestion and it would match our basic human desire to discover where we are.
The need to know what kind of world we're living is a fundamental one. There's a lack of that today. We do know a lot of other factors. For example, we can get across the Stachus [major road junction in central Munich] unharmed, but we don't really know what we're crossing with our cars and how it comes to be that the people in their cars, the cyclists and the pedestrians pass each other by. How do we survive? There is a mass of structures and agreements, but also a huge number of individual stories. Every single one of them could bring everything to a standstill. If the narrative arts were in the position to be able to decipher the world as a simultaneous event, then they would broaden our horizons in a fantastic way, just like we need them to these days, in fact.

But there's a catch -simultaneous or non-linear narration overwhelms the one storyteller. He comes up against such a powerful mass of material that no one could wield on their own. The question of which thread he should separate out and follow immediately becomes a supra-individual problem.

If we assumed that the entire television schedule was created out of interest in this complexity of the world and really wanted to portray it, then it could, as the powerful media that it is today, find a production form for this. The dreadful thing about TV is that it's entrenched in the old structural way of thinking. Every editor thinks he's a secret artist and thinks that he has to pull a particular thread out of the ball of wool that is the world. The division of subject matter in official state-sponsored TV channels is particularly mechanical. There's a church department, a housewife department, a music department and whatever else. Every area of life has its own bureaucratic little space which is treated like a documentary or a story and regarded as if such spaces existed in the world too.

We know how arbitrary such divisions in the world are. This way of thinking comes from the structures of Prussian arts administration and journalism. Newspapers divide up life nice and neat as well. There's politics, sport, the economy, the arts, etc. Because of these structures, simultaneous thinking hasn't been developed at all. At best, it can be found in mixed news items or in the tabloids where things are all over the place. But this kind of simultaneity is bought at a high price, namely the loss of truth.

Non-linear narrative can only work when everybody pulls together. An artist cannot make it happen on his own. That's the problem.

If someone comes along today with a deep of understanding of the new technologies or its philosophies, he is still not in a position to create really simultaneous narration. Single narrators wear themselves out at the smallest of joins. You could, to take the example further, spend your whole life working on one second of ten square metres in the main railway station. While you were doing that, however, things would be changing, so that at the end, nothing that you were relating would be true any more.

The achievement of being able to portray the world in narrative non-linear form through the use of digital technology requires new forms of co-operation. But who is supposed to co-operate with whom? Not everybody is capable of narration, because you need talent for that. Narrative talents aren't all that common and they are in competition in the way that they operate today. In the story market, everybody is everybody else's competitor, or enemy, even. They have to differentiate themselves clearly from each other too, due to the singularity of this market. Everybody who writes has to find his own style and put himself forward as an individual. That's how he gets his deals. But it's exactly these qualities that prevent him from co-operating with non-linear narrative forms.

If I wanted to organise twenty authors to work together today, it would not be possible because they would continuously be wanting to give their names. They would constantly have to be presented with the opportunity of crediting their own individual contribution. It's a matter of their distinctiveness which is the basis for their existence. The whole copyright issue is based on that. It might be possible to insert a digital fingerprint into every expression so that the author could always tell what part was his. But even if that were possible, there would still be the matter of the competition, because the whole business of dividing the royalties would have to be worked out. So it's quite a precarious dilemma as soon as we get away from the plain banality of it all.

The computer games model

On the one hand, digital media can assist with the problems associated with multiplication of narrative perspectives previously mentioned, whereas the question is also whether people will actually want to receive something like that at all. On the other hand, there is the possibility of direct ‘viewer' interaction. Perhaps the best contemporary model would be interactive computer games. Even here, there is a break with mass cinema and a move towards the individual who gets drawn into the events. It's probably not that interesting for other viewers, if they're not playing as well. The ‘director' has to think of a setting that is interesting enough to want to explore as well as having enough empty space. In Hollywood at the moment, computer games are brought out at the same time as a film, with the same story. So there would appear to be a certain amount of pressure which reflects changes in expectations.

  EDGAR REITZ: Computer games are new, without a doubt, because here moving images are generated in real time and can be controlled in all sorts of ways. Soon, we will be able to make them with a high degree of realism so that things can be experienced in a kind of quasi-real state. Then we have a kind of supplementary life, one where the everyday rules over us no longer apply and where, with others, we can practice a renewed attempt at living. It's as if we could correct our lives or live as often as we want to. But therein lies the final deception, of course. The ability to distinguish between game and reality is present in every individual. If we are not mad, then even every child has this distinguishing ability.

I believe that, the fundamentals are not distinguishing criteria and not maintenance or switching off, but the way in which we receive things. Are you merely a viewer or listener, buying yourself a ticket, sitting down in the cinema and watching the film or are you participating directly in events and thus become part of them? This inclusion of what was previously only the viewer is probably what makes these games interesting for a lot of people. In contrast to a film, you don't need much or of any great quality. Just immersing yourself in virtual reality seems to fascinate some people.

  EDGAR REITZ: I think that with multiple players, you aren't just confronted by the limits of the game but with the opponent or second player. That is completely normal. We've always played. Here, however, the game has a new, modern content. A game is an abstract circling of certain positions for two people while a computer can quite possibly draw in many more people and create effects that reach into our unconscious. I can well imagine that such games can lead to highly sophisticated interactions, so that they portray a real form of communication.

But does this have anything to do with film? Is it a prolonging, a continuation or extension of film?

  EDGAR REITZ: No, it is something fundamentally different, and it isn’t narrative in itself. Within computer games, there is certainly narrative opportunity, but not in a story-telling sense. You just move around in a pre-designed room. Story-telling, on the other hand, is determined by the basic situation of one person telling the story and the other listening. Behind every narrative there is the premise that one person is telling another a story.

It’s that the narrator is following a path with the story. All good stories lead us from the known into the unknown and enter a world which has until then been unfamiliar to the narrator and his audience. Story-telling is as old as humanity. A certain interactivity has always taken place. Creating myths, for example, has never been the business of single authors. All ancient myths are related to each other and their heroes have been carried over into hundreds of written texts.

Are the interactive media perhaps presenting what one might describe as a rite, a communal experience where one is doing something together, while the myths are rather stories that one belongs to? Film would then be myths and computer games rites.

  EDGAR REITZ: I like that differentiation. The rites could also be regarded as rules of the game that have to be followed in a certain way. In this respect, computer games can be compared to rites. Using them also takes on something ritual, as soon as many global players are added. With myths it's different. I've seen again and again how audiences demand that stories be told well. Stories only become myths when they possess a deep symbolic power and their characters are immortal.

As a storyteller you can make all sorts of suggestions, but when the story isn't told well, then it spreads a feeling of disappointment. That's the reason why interactive intervention in plots and stories cannot be successful. As soon as people start involving themselves in it, a lack of talent affects the story and ruins it.

That's like with a musical instrument. If someone can't play, then it's neither a pleasure for him nor for anyone else.

  EDGAR REITZ: Yes, we enjoy it when they can play. It's exactly the same with storytelling. Every audience really enjoys listening to a highly talented storyteller. Non-linear or interactive narration could have great results in a completely different way, if great talents decided to work together on a big story. For that to happen, we need new incentives, a new market and a new spirit of adventure and co-operation. Computer games aren't providing the answer as they are only making the image into a rite.

It's not even the craze for technology. It's rapidly becoming exhausted. Pressing buttons and moving the cursor is no longer that interesting. It's also been shown how soon surfing the internet can become exhausted. You soon realise that it's like a huge library where nothing more intelligent than what I ask of it comes out. That's why I'm only ever confronted by myself.

As fascinating as the thought of reflecting a tangle of simultaneous happening in narration is, I do realise that our ancient concept of the author prevents that. That won't just change by itself. In music it's a bit different. Since the 60s groups have been forming. Even in the earliest pop groups, that kind of co-operation and to a certain extent the de-individualisation of music have worked to the extent that our original concepts of lyricists and composers have disappeared. Here, popular music is further ahead than all the other arts. Possibly in a few years, analogous to music groups, audio-visual storytelling groups will form out of certain subcultures.

The cinema of the future

But there is a great difference between the many voices in music and possible multi-voiced narration, which cannot be listened to at the same time, but one after another.

  EDGAR REITZ: It's technically possible to do it all in one area. We can give the audience the opportunity to exit linearity at various points and change over to a sideline or to surf around in parallel trails. In doing this though, you would always have to be able to come across highly talented narrators and constantly get more than you gave. The author wants to be known and loved through his work. He wants to be valued as an individual and be successful. These authors, if they were to work together as a group, would have to find that in a different way from before. It's incredible how much love and admiration musicians have gained in groups or even individually. It ends in tears and suicide when they leave the group.

That particular closeness to groups in live performances is something that cinema also has. It is still, and in contrast to TV, a communal experience. One enters into a story along with many other people. With the interactive media, with which every viewer finds his way into a ‘film', this communal experience is inevitably lost. Soon perhaps, films will also be broadcast in cinema quality on the wide frequency network, into homes where the TV screens are getting bigger and bigger. Even that will destroy the communal experience, even if it only consists of people sitting silently next to one another in the cinema's dark projecting room. >From these developments one could again predict the possible demise of cinema. You say, however, that it's precisely this isolation in front of the TV screen that is spreading a new desire for cinema, although it will have to change in order to meet the new demands of it. What, for you, does new cinema in the virtual age look like?

  EDGAR REITZ: Most of the audio-visual media, and primarily the flagship medium of TV, isolate the viewers. They speak to the people in their own private sphere. That's why they're also termed the home media. The video and the computer with its monitor are part of it too. It is the peak of individualisation. There are market strategies whose aim is to completely individualise the consumer. As such individuals they are the objects of advertising.

The bigger the presentation, the stronger the need for community, to go out, to leave the house, the coming together in attractive places becomes. Going shopping is also part of it, as well as sports events or going for a walk in the Englischer Garten [park in central Munich]. One goes where others go, too. We have both tendencies within us: we are cave-dwellers cutting ourselves off from the dangers of the world, but we're also sheep-like in our herding instincts. The earliest peoples painted pictures in their caves and as such apparently satisfied a need for entertainment at home. TV lives off this old desire. But the need for community is just as strong. We have to give full expression to our herding instincts, otherwise we become ill. The more that the electronic media tying us to our personal caves spreads, the clearer this desire to go out into public becomes.

In the last few decades this has been a motivation above all for the young, but now all age groups are feeling this need. Cinema is answering it. The attraction of going to the cinema will no longer just the film because it isn't going to be long before films can be downloaded from the internet. So there has to be something more than just quality. Film is like an agreement, wherever one goes. It gives the desire to go out a name and an address, but it is not the only reason.

Coming together with other people represents a whole variety of hopes, a hope of encounters, communal experience, of the adventure of getting to know new people, and so on. Cinema hardly addresses that.

I have been asking myself for some time what will come after the multiplex. The multiplex is nothing more than a further development of the shoebox cinemas of the 70s. Suddenly one realised that because of their small size they just presented us with the same old living room dimensions that one was trying to get away from in the first place. That is why the boxes were made bigger and bigger. The curiosity to find out what lies outside the box is only dealt with tentatively by the multiplexes.

The cinema bar or the Coca-Cola kiosk doesn't deal with it either.

  EDGAR REITZ: The bar that is usually just a fast food restaurant anyway, the bars aren't enough. The suggestion of community behind the exits from the different individual cinemas themselves is far too vague. One cannot, like one can in a department store, put the films of a whole season out on display and then expect the people coming out of the demonstration rooms to have anything to say for themselves. They have no common denominator and, because their interests are splintered like with TV, there is no communal experience, which is what one is unconsciously looking for at the cinema.

In Karlsruhe I worked with a whole team on the question of why people go to the cinema at all. The question was what are we actually expecting besides the film? To begin with, it is the matter of the architectural space which today is as good as non-existent. Multiplexes have the atmospheres of airports, of railway stations, developed from boxes. After the multiplexes, however, one type of cinema will be successful, one without too many screens or doesn't present a meagre communication opportunity but, conversely has just one screen but with a rich variety of communication opportunities.

At the moment everything - from airport, station, department store or pedestrian precinct to swimming pool or museum - has to become a location for events to be, as they say, staged, in order to remain attractive. Shopping by itself, taking off and landing, wandering around by itself, watching or swimming by itself or lying in the sun is no longer enough. So merely watching a film is no longer enough either. Is there, behind all this staging of and expectation from events, a tendency towards amalgamating the individual events and efforts that were separate in our towns, never mind the parks and the American-style shopping malls, into one big event? Just as with TV or on the internet you zap through things and want to have everything to hand, now everything is being brought together in certain places. Experience, then, through variety, change and instant wish fulfilment. Cinema is not the centre around which everything happens but one element among many. Would the concept of cinema in your terms really have something to challenge this trend?

  EDGAR REITZ: One often comes across the view that entertainment is the same as diversion. That is not true for the present. Diversion is available on TV in most houses. Unconsciously, however, a collection, a very intensive centring of interests is what is sought. In our society and history of civilisation we have lost this kind of centre. We don't have any religious, political, historical or intellectual centres any more. This lack is being felt more and more keenly. A really contemporary, narrative medium, like cinema could be, is particularly suitable as a place for such a gathering. So not the airport or the theme park, but the cinema, in a unique kind of building with a changing range on offer, but always concentrating on film and seasonally relevant, that has its own emotional wealth. That would be a great invention.

The new cinema is also dependent on a new kind of filming. Up till now, films have unknowingly been made for this kind of qualified encounter in new cinemas. Classical dramatisation is coming to an end because we know that after the performance we're out with the dishwater. People want to have dealt with a film before they go home. The liberating feeling of having gone through heaven and hell and then finding the world's okay again, this foundation of old cinema, is no longer right for the cinema that I'm talking about. A certain openness is required, if not hopelessness in terms of problems. Perhaps here, new forms of simultaneity could later be realized.

Why should cinemas remain as imitations of lecture halls, facing one screen? Of course, every projection surface is a window on the world but there doesn't have to be just one window. One can imagine spaces where there are several projection surfaces, appearing perhaps at certain points in the plot. Even the arrangement of chairs would have to be revised to comfortably allow a view of things in different directions. The cinema of the future would be inextricably involved with highly sophisticated sound systems which one would have to be led through, because sound has a different effect in the room from the one that the image has. But filmmakers will only learn how to use new forms of expression when the cinema becomes a new form of encounter with the audience.

First of all the cinema, the room and projection was invented and then came the artists and did what was possible with them, the art of film. It will be like that in the future, too. When we invent new spaces, then one day we will show different, perhaps simultaneous non-linear films in them. But now, projection is bound to the projection room and a cumbersome projector. Electronic projectors, on the other hand, can be positioned all over a room. The distortions that come from sloping projection angles are done away with. You could even put a projector onto a rail so that it could project like a spotlight from any angle of the room. You can get 35mm quality with these new beamers. Soon we'll be able to have even higher resolution than in today's standard film. The viewer will then no longer be able to tell if an image comes from a film or a computer.

The room itself could be completely moveable. The viewing platforms could be hydraulically angled and lowered. I once drew up a plan for a cinema in the image of a human eye. Where we have our receivers on the retina, was where the viewers were. The view went through the pupil into the world. An eye like that can turn itself on anything.

So, one can imagine all sorts of different cinema versions that are very attractive. One has to imagine that one doesn't just go in, watch the film and then go back out onto the street, but that the film continues in various forms within the building. The Scala in Milan, for example, has up to four intervals per opera. Without these intervals the opera would have closed down long ago. Opera goers need these encounters with each other. With intervals, cinema could capture people and then lead them, changed, back into the experience of the film.

Filmmaking in future will not only mean translating a dramatic concept onto a celluloid strip. The artist's final product will be a different one. For example, to frame the whole house and the entire evening. That is the cinema I believe will come after the multiplex. It will make use of the new technologies and invent new spaces. We have been interactive in our social behaviour for ten thousand years. Cinema takes place in our real public, in the midst of our social reality. Isolated people need virtual communication, sitting at home, disassociated from social experience, in front of their TV screens.

Translated by Shona Spence, Nov 1999 (original text Copyright 1996-8 All rights reserved Verlag Heinz Heise, Hannover)

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last modified: 18.11.98