Tuesday, 10 November 2009


Experienced these years ago at the Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal. Blew my mind to say the least. These were two of 6 videos by media artist Thomas Köner. Versions of these appear on the 'Nuuk' CD/DVD release (highly recommended!) but until now haven't been able to find the full length installation versions. Fortunately after all these years Thomas Köner has uploaded them all to his site.

Take some time with these ones. Don't even bother watching/listening if you're doing something else, they seriously need your full time and attention. Dim the lights, turn up the speakers, indulge in libations of choice if need be and sink in. It's worth it. Text below will give you a bit of a primer.


Holger Birkholz: Suburbs of the Void

Catalogue Biennial on Media and Architecture, Austria 2005

The sight of a crossroad surrounded by houses, which Köner shows in his video Suburbs of the Void, is absolutely faceless. There is no hint where this place could be. There are no street signs, not even billboards.

Also, there are hardly any traces of human life. Some illuminated windows and blurry light spots on the street give a hint to existence of people. The picture is mute, it tells no stories. It is just the picture of a town. A street, a parking lot can be seen. The weather changes now and then. Wafts of mist move over the scene, very slowly.

There is nobody.

The sequence of pictures results from single images, indicating a temporal course but won’t stick to it in the final analysis. Köner used 2.000 photographs for Suburbs of the Void. The visual material belongs to a traffic security camera. It transfers the pictures via the Internet, where Köner collected them and arranged them into a video.

The town is situated in Northern Finland near the polar circle. Permafrost and, in the current season, darkness dominate the sight most time of the day.

For Thomas Köner, the permanent cold is connected with a general slowing down leading to a sharpened attention. Also, the detection of sounds is clearer. In this way boredom comes up, like a door, rooms are entered through.

The sound track of Suburbs of the Void supports this aspect.
Sometimes one can hear slight noises of playing children in the background. In front of the complete emptiness, these sounds must appear like memories, hardly discernible telescoping from the distance into the picture.

For Lars Svendsen boredom results from the mourning over a lost childhood. “We refuse the acceptance that we have to leave little by little the magical world of childhood, which contains so much new and exciting. We stay somewhere between childhood and adulthood, in an eternal puberty, which is marked by boredom.”

Köner tells us, that he himself grew up in one of these suburbs, where the night is fostered by the wish for a better


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