Dr. Annika Schoemann
Dr. Mathias ListlSchoemann
"An Attempt at an Approach in Five Steps"
"Caught in rooms for interpretation"
"JAK of all trades—on the relationship of screenplay, props, and setting in the film Soul Blindness by atelierJAK"
Dr. Ulrike Pompe-Alama
"Soul Blindness—perception stripped off its meaning"
"active competition, or: simply JAK"
Dr. med. Julia Ehmer
"psychiatric report about JAK"
JAK – DESPERATELY SOUGHT!
Dr. Annika Schoemann
Film and art scholar, freelance curator for interdisciplinary cultural projects. Co-founder of ,
board member PIN. Friends of the Pinakothek der Moderne.
It is night, and I just start walking. The lights of the passing cars blind me. Dadadaaddaaa - bängbängbäng - lalalalala - each car leaves its own carpet of sound, and the snatches of music only slowly fade away. It smells of rain. I can make out the city skyline in a blur in the haze of the night air. I am cold and pull my hood a little tighter around my head. I wander through the streets. My head is very heavy. As if filled with frayed cotton balls soaked in liquid.
The eye is a very mean traitor - or is it just my eye? Fritz Lang would have had real fun with my eyes: the buildings to the left and right of the path beside me tower up like oversized papier-mâché film sets. They look down on me contemptuously. Are they buildings at all? I see and yet I can't recognise anything...
Where are you JAK??? I can't find you, you always look different. Over there, is that you? I run after you through the increasingly narrow streets, alleys and corridors. I can hear my own gasping breaths - where are you, JAK? -
I flee into a side alley, and the gates, walls, houses, façades dissolve - Einstürzende Neubauten¹? No, they just become completely different. The architecture is completely warped and distorted, the perspectives shift -
suddenly aluminium paper backdrops behind glass.
Am I in Metropolis?,² it echoes in my head, and I see Joh Fredersen's proud gaze resting on his gigantic upper and lower city, and at the same time, I think of TRON³ when he races with Flynn through the virtual grid city of the future and says to him: "Everything visible must go into the realm of the invisible. You may pass, my friend" - what is real and what is only in my head? Am I really seeing pictures on a wall now? And yet they are façades, backdrops. The buildings appear as if outlined with laser beams - are they made of paper or metal? Grid-like structures form a street and show elegant house fronts with deep window niches and baroque archways and Gothic bracing next to them. And what is this? "Blue Star" I can decipher a lettering above a portal - almost like the entrance to a cool bar, just around the corner from me. What time am I in? And where am I?
2-dimensional and yet 3-dimensional, the large-format objects or pictures rise up along the walls in front of me. I happen to be in a kind of in-between space with an almost clear structure of indeterminacy. Very slowly my gaze glides along the lines, edges, corners. Up close, I don't recognise the context, but I can see the details, the subtleties, the perfect surfaces, cuts and glues of the thin metal that seems to be paper at the same time. It must have taken an incredibly long time, is my only thought. I look further and discover another picture of metallic paper on a black ground in a black frame behind glass. It reminds me of a chandelier that could be at home in a French rococo chateau and yet is irritating in its formal language. Like a huge diamond twisted in on itself with its multi-faceted cut. Or 2 houses with diamond retinas meeting head to head... Where is up and down here, actually?
I lose myself, and yet I'm seeking you, JAK? I am lost - in a matrix-like labyrinth of a gigantic film studio with Potemkin façades.
I'm tired and sit down on the floor, at least I'm sure it's the floor. What am I carrying around with me all the time? My jacket pocket is already bulging. Oh, I'd forgotten all about that book. What was it about again? - Resonance, ha, I laugh softly.
"It is therefore by no means accidental that the eyes are also regarded as the 'windows of the soul' of a human being, through which, on the one hand, the world falls into the soul, while, on the other hand, they also reflect or express the movements and impulses of the soul. The most direct physical form of consciously entering into relationship with a person, an animal or even a thing, for example a landscape, involves making eye contact or taking it into one's gaze. Since antiquity and right up to the Renaissance, it was repeatedly assumed that secret, invisible rays and connections form between the eyes of the seeing person and the things of the world, especially of course the eyes of fellow human beings, which can produce both touching or moving resonance effects, for example by kindling the fire of love, and can also be responsible for a numbness or petrification in the world relationship of a counterpart."⁴
I have seen the invisible rays clearly, but is what I see also what is there? Seeing without recognising - they say I suffer from soul blindness. But I have eyes and a soul.
Isn't there something flickering back there? And I hear music too, or rather a voice speaking? Let's have a look.
Suddenly I'm standing on a square with a screen - with several screens, the screens are everywhere, pictures are moving, a voice is ringing in my ear. JAK there you are, but I can't reach you - you are so far away, you are on the screen, you are in the film. I see you running through the night. The passing cars are blinding. Dadadaaddaaa - bängbängbäng - lalalalala - each car leaves its own carpet of sound and the snatches of music only slowly fade away. It smells of rain. You can make out the city skyline in a blur in the haze of the night air. You are cold and pull your hood a bit tighter around your head and wander through the streets...
Past faceless facades, wire mesh fences, billboards and illuminated temples of a past or new religion. Then you stand above things and look down on the chaos and silence below you. Are you the author of your own script - do you know how the story continues? Before I can ask any more questions, the film is over - 3 minutes and cut.
All right, I say to myself and continue my restless search for you. I'm already completely headless anyway and just let myself drift.
A thousand moments and yet no world. I creep around between the small translucent and yet life-filled cuboids. You almost need a magnifying glass to see anything! I move in close and discover small figures, houses, landscapes - like painted film scenes from the perfectly staged idyllic world ideology à la Truman Show⁵ or the confusing technical inventions of a structured everyday life in Jacques Tatis' Mon oncle?⁶ The bizarre life in miniature - captured on a transparent background and in an absurdly small format. 3D photos or souvenirs of a bygone world? There - I can see some lettering - PRADA - I know it,
then we are in the here and now. Do the individual portraits actually want to tell me something - if I put them in the right order, will I get a message? From a distance, everything is so beautifully colourful, not all are completely transparent, there are also coloured stones. Mosaic-like, grid-like, matrix-like: The images of the natural inventory, dissolved into its natural elements, are handed over to the consciousness for free disposal. Their original arrangement is gone, they no longer adhere to a spatial context that connected them to an original from which the memory image has been separated. But if the natural remains do not aim at the memory image, their arrangement in the image is necessarily a provisional one –
who was it who said that? I don't remember, but I still remember the title: The Ornament of the Mass.⁷
Maybe it's not stones after all - what kind of material is it, feels like a solidified, gelatinous mass from outer space or plastic? Maybe I should put these snapshots under a microscope. Will they then show me the way - so that I can finally get out of here?
I am so thirsty! Back there, I see bottles or cups or rather vases? Strangely, there are various vessels lined up on a small ledge, but they look strange somehow. Not real vessels at all, where is the interior? These vases or pseudo-vases are like me and don't know where there is an inside and an outside. Are they vases at all or do these things have no function at all? Oops, when I look inside, something comes out at the same time. They look funny - almost like a roll of toilet paper, but made of porcelain... Our secret pandemic treasure: toilet paper. Am I slowly going crazy now? I have to get out of here - it's all so dark...
No, it's rather green - there's a green light and it's getting stronger. My head is pounding, but I remain curious. JAK, is this all a game? Where are you? I drag myself on and - wait, what is that now? A green archway, the entrance to the Shire perhaps? I almost have to shake with laughter, for it is a very low entrance, probably more for dwarves - and I think of the dwarf Gimli in his fatalism: death as a certainty. Little chance of success. What are we waiting for?⁸
What nonsense, as if this is a matter of life or death?! But seriously, JAK, I'm getting fed up - what's with this stupid game of hide and seek? And what are these buildings now, am I a character in a movie within a movie? Just like art is only l'art pour l'art?
… Desperately seeking JAK …⁹
The inner space of the soul is the same and mysterious as the outer space; and just as the cosmonauts of the outer space cannot remain there, those of the inner space must return to earth, to everyday consciousness.10
1. Einstürzende Neubauten, German band founded in 1980 with abstract, punk and experimental influence around Blixa Bargeld.
2. Metropolis, 1927, Germany, directed by Fritz Lang. The silent film in black and white is set in a futuristic city and thematises a two-class society. It is an expressionist film and is considered the first feature-length science fiction film. Particularly impressive are the gigantic architectural constructions with skyscrapers, motorways superimposed upon each other and a convoluted upper and lower city.
3. TRON, 1982, USA, directed by Steven Lisberger. With its almost 20 min. of computer-generated sequences, the feature film is considered one of the first films to make CGI (computer-generated imaginary) history. The programmer Flynn is himself caught up in a computer programme, and the levels between reality and virtuality become intermingled.
4. Resonanz, Hartmut Rosa, Berlin 2016, p. 115
5. Truman Show, 1998, USA, directed by Peter Weir. The main character, Truman Burbank, was adopted by a film company when he was still a baby. Since then. his life has been a TV show - he grows up under a gigantic studio dome of a fake city. One day a spotlight falls from the sky and he becomes suspicious.
6. Mon Oncle, 1958, France, directed by Jacques Tati. Tati plays the outsider Monsieur Hulot, who clumsily stumbles through the persiflage of a sterile and automated world. The film won the special prize at Cannes in 1958 and the Oscar in 1959.
7. Das Ornament der Masse, Siegfried Kracauer, Frankfurt 1963, p. 38
8. The Lord of the Rings, 2001, USA & New Zealand, directed by Peter Jackson. The epic film adaptation of the fantasy trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien. It is the story of a ring, with its destruction, the evil power of the ruler Sauron also perishes. 4 little hobbits have to experience truly inhuman adventures to save Tolkien's fantasy world. The film won a total of 17 Oscars.
9. Desperately seeking JAK aka Susan, 1985, USA, directed by Susan Seidelman. Desperately seeking Susan - this personal ad changes the life of bored housewife Roberta. She chases after Susan (Madonna), and with the purchase of her jacket, a fast-paced comedy of mistaken identity begins. The film was nominated for the Golden Globe and the César.
10. Albert Hofmann, Swiss chemist and discoverer of LSD.