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Photo by Nora Hollstein
pw-magazine-vienna-jung-an-tagen-dyad pw-magazine-vienna-jung-an-tagen-dyad
Photo by Nora Hollstein
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Jung An Tagen, from: DYAD, 2019, Courtesy Jung An Tagen & sixpackfilm, Vienna
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Jung An Tagen, from: DYAD, 2019, Courtesy Jung An Tagen & sixpackfilm, Vienna
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Jung An Tagen, from: DYAD, 2019, Courtesy Jung An Tagen & sixpackfilm, Vienna

Finding Peace Through Brutality: Interview with Jung An Tagen

November 20, 2019
Text by Wera Hippesroither
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Photo by Nora Hollstein

Jung An Tagen talks about his new experimental movie DYAD, but also about human perspectives, precise chaos and how freedom arises from calculation.

Jung An Tagen is just one of the many pseudonyms of experimental musician and video artist Stefan Juster, whereas his two main interests film and music remain unchanged. While he used to work on the areas separately in the past, he’s recently become more involved into the audiovisual format. Following his first AV performance Agent im Objekt, which premiered 2018 at Hyperreality Festival Vienna, Juster now presents his new experimental movie »DYAD« (Jung An Tagen, sixpackfilm, 2019), whose exhibition version will be on display as an exclusive installation piece within the club festival Open.

Where can we see your new work »DYAD«?

The film will be shown as a specific exhibition version within the framework of club festival and exhibition Open at OK Center Linz. It is my first video installation and I’m curious to see how it will work out. I also play a music set accompanied by Rainer Kohlbergers visuals at the opening. The exhibition focuses on the concept of club culture, regarding participating artists and topics. It’s about the intersections between art and club culture. I work with techno elements in my musical production, but I’m not sure whether that makes me a protagonist of club culture.

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Photo by Nora Hollstein

What’s your preferred performance situation for the audiovisual format?

It really depends on the piece of work. Having a background in classical experimental film, I would say that cinema is the ideal space since it is conceived for the medium of film. However, most cinemas don’t have the technical capabilities to screen 3D correctly, which led me to adapt the installation. OK Center’s technical equipment is at a very high level. There are many strategies for dealing with video installations, and each space has its advantages and disadvantages. Cinematic audiences are concentrated and disciplined: You have to sit and observe a dramaturgy with a clearly marked beginning and an end. In an exhibition, on the other hand, the audience is able to examine the work more closely and choose their own time frame.

Keyword dramaturgy – although very abstract, I noticed there are single scenes in »DYAD«. Is there a story you tell with the movie?

»DYAD« refers to structural film and generative art production. Can there even be a story in such a movie? It’s complicated. I try to introduce the viewers to a world, to show things, to do things and to lead them out of this world again. I regard this as an experiment set-up in which the viewers are active participants. That makes it a classical three-act dramaturgy: Aristotelian with outset, middle section and ending.

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Jung An Tagen, from: DYAD, 2019, Courtesy Jung An Tagen & sixpackfilm, Vienna

Speaking of the Greeks. Your title »DYAD« means »duality« in ancient Greek. In sociology the term is used to describe an intensive relation of two elements, it analyses a network of these elements and the correlations in between.

Without anticipating an interpretation, it’s about completely trivial dualities: left eye – right eye, left ear – right ear, audio – video etc. This is my starting point, the technical link. The object and its geometry are important to me. The dyad is almost like a long lost geometrical form. In my case it describes the composition of sound and image.

Another pair of terms is space and time. I think you can experience and even hear it while watching the movie. For me, »DYAD« is a tramsmission of spatiotemporal movement with physical effects. I was a little tired when I watched it for the first time and got dizzy. Do you take such reactions into account?

That actually just means that the mechanisms I’ve developed work. Of course, I don’t like it when somebody gets sick, but that’s exactly what’s so interesting about structural film. It’s about pure stimulus. Something is happening to you and that’s so much more than what happens while watching ordinary moving images. I work consciously work with psychedelic effects. The most important references are Brion Gysin’s »Dreammachine« (1959) and Peter Kubelka’s film »Arnulf Rainer« (1960), the first projects to work with flicker. It’s a primitive, but highly fascinating effect that has always captivated the human eye: looking into a bonfire, performing under a stroboscope… In »DYAD«, when the background begins to strobe behind a 3D object, the space dissolves, the gaze on the two-dimensional screen is lost, and the spatial impression is intensified. The spectators are captivated.

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Jung An Tagen, from: DYAD, 2019, Courtesy Jung An Tagen & sixpackfilm, Vienna

You work with a specific computer program that converts sound into 3D objects. That adds another duality: the computers’ 0 – 1. Is it the creation of precise structures that allows to exceed limits?

Within my work, even chaos is calculated. You need to understand the medium in order to deal with it. I use cut-up systems a lot and constantly add small chaotic sequences, both acoustic and visual. Precise calculation enables freedom. Unconsciously small things get altered, perception manipulated and the spatial impression increased. I want to create something beyond my prospects.

So what’s exciting is the in-between of duality rather than the two sides of it? Is this where chaos is?

That’s actually the opposite of chaos. The 3D impression works best when all elements are calculated precisely. Then chaos arises in your head. It’s a good tactic to interrupt your intellect and to achieve unexpected reactions. Excessive overload allows you to indulge in things.

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Jung An Tagen, from: DYAD, 2019, Courtesy Jung An Tagen & sixpackfilm, Vienna

What space does »DYAD« open?

The psychedelic approach is very important to me. In the tradition of experimental film, I want to challenge the medium film and its reception, it’s about deconstructing. Here lies the psychedelic moment – for me as a producer as well as for the audience. I take acoustic and visual things so far as until they trigger unfamiliar reactions. Of course, this is an individual question of access and also of the pain threshold. For some, it just starts to get interesting where it hurts. This has a liberating effect: we can find peace through wild mechanisms and brutality.

This means that you are not only working the on deconstructing of the cinematic medium, but also on the human spatial perception?

Yes, I’ve noticed that conventional Hollywood cinema, despite its potential, doesn’t really use spatial depth as an artistic element. You know, in technical terms, commerce is always ahead of avantgarde art. I’m constantly fascinated with my 3D TV, its acquisition triggered many technical questions such as how it works technically, how can it be alienated? For example, try putting on your 3D glasses the wrong way in the cinema and you’ll see something totally else. I wanted to abstract spatial perception as much as possible for »DYAD«. What’s left is something like the skeleton of 3D animation, stripped of any meaning. What usually defines a space are light and shadow, which I omitted from the movie. I want to investigate how our spatial perception works. What’s the difference between looking at a starry sky and looking at white dots against a dark background? Is there spatial perception beyond metaphors?

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PW-Magazine is a bilingual online magazine for contemporary culture.