What does it mean to disconnect from time and space, from our bodies, when communicating and making?

“Timeless” is a meditation on that question, refracted through the ideas of a number of thinkers from various backgrounds, and interspersed with a mysterious, glowing object in the form of a regular polyhedron. (This alien device seems to act as both mirror and unspeaking narrator.) The work of filmmaker Gabriel Shalom and designer Patrizia Kommerell, “Timeless” is an immersion into the contradictions of digital expression. With thinkers from cyberpunk futurist Bruce Sterling to game theorist Mary Flanagan, it holds a critical, visionary mirror to our electronic world.

What keeps that from being dull or overly abstract is that the film gets intimate with its speakers, all of us citizens of this new electronic nowhere. Answers are lofty at times, but they also speak to highly personal moments of vulnerability and uncertainty, that instant when it isn’t clear what will happen next in our cyborg existence. And that makes this film, to me, required watching for anyone who expresses themselves with our current generation of technology.

I’m also featured in this film, which, believe me, was more an impediment to writing about it than not. Actually, after watching it, I was at last struck with a revelation: I was more comfortable with my words than the appearance of myself on the video, and most satisfied still by far with my musical presence in the piece. (Two tracks in the background, in their entirety, are my own.) That musical avatar was the one I found least unsettling. Perhaps that explains why I do what I do.

I want to thank Gabriel and Patrizia for their support and stimulating imagination as video/design essayists. We shot this at the STRP Festival in Eindhoven, whose assemblage of digital works spanning the Netherlands’ history and beyond was a perfect background. I’m also indebted to Platoon, the Berlin/Korea-based creative network that helps make or reinforce these sorts of connections regularly. The show at commissioning gallery space MU, too, collected works that connected with the notion of materiality in inventive and surprising ways. (I’ll revisit those works, as they’re an answer to some of the problems of disembodiment raised in the video.)

And, of course, Bruce Sterling gets in the best lines.

I’m curious to hear your reactions; this almost needs an espresso discussion group.

From the creators:

The digital settles in as background. We remember less and query more. Our identity play would be considered schizophrenic in the last century. We have more friends than ever before yet know new frontiers of isolation. The quantification of our experience haunts us in the form of a persistent history. And we are distracted more than we ever knew possible. These circumstances are paradoxically a description of the near future and a diagnosis of the current state of affairs. The truly timeless is redefined – it has transcended that which is classic; it has become that which is never finished.

a video essay / design fiction by KS12

Directed and Edited by Gabriel Shalom
Designed by Patrizia Kommerell
Produced by KS12
Producer: Karen Cifarelli
Commissioned by MU, Eindhoven mu.nl
Curated by Angelique Spaninks
Production Assistant: Rob Versteeg ropski.nl

(in order of appearance)

Bernhard Herrmann
Rafaël Rozendaal
Bruce Sterling
Peter Kirn
Jorien Kemerink
Markus Kayser
Elske van der Putten
Vivian van Gaal
Toby Barnes
Mary Flanagan

Ghost Box [the mysterious object you see -Ed.]

Concept and Design: KS12
Electronics: Philip Steffan
Manufacture: Günter Herrmann
3D Prototype Modeling: Mendel Heit
Fabrication Consultant: Fons Schiedon

STRP Artworks

Edwin van der Heide DSLE -2- (2011)
Marnix de Nijs Exploded Views 2.0 (2011)
Telcosystems 12_series (2010)
Digitale Werkplaats Bristlebots (2011)
Bart Hess Liquified (2011)
Fourcelabs Dance Engine (2011)


Excerpt from “sketch_111229” by stra.
© 2011 Shingo Inao soundcloud.com/stra-1

“Anaxagoras” and “MeeBlip Landscape” by Peter Kirn
© 2011 Peter Kirn soundcloud.com/peterkirn

“Melted Rubber Soul” by Campfires
© 2011 Jeff Walls campfires.bandcamp.com

Special Thanks
Bernhard Herrmann
Helmut Seefeld

Shot on location in Eindhoven, NL during the STRP Festival 2011 and in Hofgeismar, Germany at the Günter Herrmann Lehrmittelfabrik