Command Control Communications

Interactive installation with video by Cem Akkan and sound by Hanns Holger Rutz. Premiered: March 2007 at the Linux Audio Conference / Technical University Berlin. A concertant performance has been given at Lost Shadows 2 festival.


Four video projections are running simultaneously, either horizontally or vertically displayed depending on the exhibition space. Sound is projected by four speakers, alternatively using wireless headphones. The space should be closed, separated from outside noise, so as to create an immersive situation. For the speakers version, the sound volume must be strong. One recipient at a time can choose the “categories” of movies to be shown, preferably from a touch screen display.

All video material is ready-made, more specifially commercial hollywood movie advertisement (“movie trailers”). We use brief loops of them in a junk-art or arte povera fashion: Making an aesthetic object out of trash. We are playing with the stereotype point of view exhibited in practically all of the trailers, which is exaggerated by using a very low image quality with typically eight frames per second, by sorting them in partly odd categories and mainly by confronting the viewer with four simultaneous images.

While produced solely on the laws of entertainment of the mass taste and capitalist profit maximization, the themes and stereotypes clearly reflect the sickness of a society which is the most violent in the western world. The excessive use of violence and reference to christian symbolics (also reflected in the categories of “evil” and “mystery”) seem to feed an already existing paranoia. When it comes to the “messages”, a surprising congruence with the political debate as transported by the media democracy is revealed. While it is generally acknowledged that countries at war tend to have a cinema that serves as a psychological aid or distraction for the people, we rather gain the impression of a permanent war.

Composition of the Sound

How do we deal with these images sonically? The irony in the images themselves is already very strong. We are trying to counterbalance them and create a state of ambiguity. First of all, they are decontextualized by stripping off all of the original sound track. Different materials have been chosen to introduce some, though not always obvious, relationships to the categories the movies have been placed in. The sound is controlled in realtime by coupling it to the switching of the movies. Using a custom software, timed arrangements have been made that often synchronize to the rhythms of the images. The four independant and simultaneous sound layers are controlled by an indeterminate mobile process which will place some sounds more in the foreground, while others are shadowed by the foreground sounds, so as to create a state of transparency whose density can be controlled. It is a kind of struggle to disarm the images and pull them into an overall immersive rhythm. Now that the layers are slowly shifting, you can just stand and see how your mind connects the elements and synchronises sound and image.

CCC excerpt from the LAC 2007