Key topic 2017: On Desire

Following the focus in 2013 on “EXPANDED NARRATION. Das neue Erzählen” and “EXPANDED SENSES. Wahrnehmung erweitern und Grenzen verschieben” in 2015, respectively in 2017 the key topic of B3 will be “ON DESIRE. Über das Begehren.”

Reflection on Begehren/desire leads to a complex dramaturgy of internal and external worlds and to translation quandaries: in the history of philosophy the German Begierde(lat. Cupiditas) is translated as desire, but also as the Freudian concept of the wish. However, translating désir/desire from the French/English usually produces the German Begehren. We find an elementary reference to desire in the relationship society has towards technology, and the relationship between individuals and their use of technology. Desire creates relationships, which occur beyond natural and functional control systems and patterns of explanation between people, people and things and people and technology. Simultaneously, it is difficult to find a precise definition of the term, which fluctuates between a sexual, philosophical, and social connotation. There is an intrinsic, productive ambivalence about the term desire, which extends to distinguishing it from other greats such as Begierde (desire/greed),Lust (pleasure, inclination) Sehnsucht (longing) and Wille (will).

It is easy to assign media technologies and in particular the moving image both in their past and present the task of wish fulfilment, a task “reality” cannot perform or simply rejects. The desire for alternative or replacement realities is evident at an early stage in the film industry’s division into various genre such as comedy or science-fiction, and in the increasing variations in postproduction. Simultaneously, in connection with computer games and social media we find the psychosocial argument of displacement activity, and also artificial perfection (avatars), simulation and immersion in general, a desire for surrogates. At any rate, it is possible to talk of media technologies as a means of dreaming, which in turn raises two key questions regarding these techniques, namely: what is the intention of these images, what wishes do they fulfil?

However, we can also talk of a productive desire, which cannot be reduced to a lack of pure lust. This can perhaps best be illustrated, particularly in relation to the moving image using the object of desire rather than the interplay of motion, image and desire. While the object of desire/longing is defined by a function through which it is perceived, and which also assumes any object can be arbitrarily replaced for the purposes of satisfaction, the object of desire represents something other than itself. It has a symbolic dimension. While desire is characterized by a craving for the object, yearning wants the object because it is this very object – and precisely because it is unavailable!

Yearning is infinite, finds no conclusion, nor a solution; it does not end with satisfaction. Movement can only be movement, and can only be stopped from the outside; in the same way yearning continues, is not able to stop, it is endless. Ultimately, this means to quote Slavoj Zizek: “desire´s raison d´être is not to realize its goal, to find full satisfaction, but to reproduce itself as desire.” In both the case of yearning and that of movement, objects and images are produced, which correspond to them. To use the language of Deleuze/Guattari: wish machines.

Precisely in the current media landscape phenomena can be observed, which testify to this deliberate open-endedness, this flux of desire and constant moving of images. For example, through the introduction of 24-hour reception TV already provides us with an endless audiovisual merging of the real and the fictional, while new series with their numerous episodes are another example of the desire for endless stories and their narrative excesses.

As a gigantic contemporary wish machine the Internet is a non-lockable, hyper-media current, that everyone can connect up to from almost anywhere. Through the Web and new media we experience a construction of desire, which introduces new relationships to ownership/possession, the social body, sexuality and the gender issue, but also to the production, perception and appropriation of moving images music and art. Accordingly, the central question that needs to be posed to new media in all its guises should not focus on visual or aesthetic deficits – take the extreme miniaturization of the display so as to produce the smallest possible moving image, but rather on the structure of desire, which evokes such fascination, emotions and interests.

In adopting as its key topic “ON DESIRE. Über das Begehren” the B3 biennial of the moving image 2017 addresses this dual aspect of desire as “dream images” and wish fulfilment and the “productive desire” of the wish machine.

Desire as longing, wish, lust or hope and its translation into moving images will be explored in the three regular B3 modules Parcours, Festival and Campus/Market from an artistic, societal, political and historical perspective, and critically examined regarding its function as a motivating force for shaping the future and developing utopias. B3 will look equally at the desire of the individual, as well as the appeal to and mobilization of collective longings and hopes. The focus will not only be on realizing this desire in moving images on all familiar storage media and via all channels (in ways varying from the artistic to the purely formal), but also on exploring borders and looking to the future.