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Dariusz Kowalski - Optical Vacuum

Year: 2008, 101 mins
Code: IN-Dar

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Webcams have made it possible for the Internet "to have eyes," reflecting society from a subjectless and anonymous perspective. Over the past years, Dariusz Kowalski has downloaded surveillance sequences from various public and semi-public locations which in fact were not intended to be used. Work places, conference rooms or even laundromats are the starting point for Optical Vacuum. These are images that were not intended for private experience. The soundtrack consists of personal, almost intimate diary-like commentary which also seems to be not intended for the public. A film about voyeurism, surveillance and voluntary self-exposure - three aspects of the internet that are dependent on each other.

Optical Vacuum (2008), 55 Min;
Elements (2005), 8 Min;
Luukkaankangas - updated revisited (2005), 8 Min;
Bonustracks: Ortem (2004), 20 Min;
Interstate (2006), 10 Min;

Dariusz Kowalski, born 1971 in Krakow, Poland. Lives and works in Vienna. Study of New Media Art at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna, 2004 diploma; videos, installations, internet-projects.


-Elements (2005)
-Horizon/1 (2005)
-Interrogation Room (2009)
-Interstate (2006)
-Luukkkaankangas – updated, revisited (2005)
-MOTU (2001)
-Notes on Film 02 (2005-2006)
-Optical Vacuum (2008)
-ORTEM (2004)
-Quadro (2002)
-Unterwerk (2000)
-Void.seqz 3 (2005)

Honorable mention - ars electronica, linz 2000
MAK Schindler AIR Programm Los Angeles 2005
Special Award - Short Competition, Split Film Festival 2005
Golden Impakt Award 2006 - Impakt Film Festival 2006
Oesterreichischer Foerderungspreis für Filmkunst 2008
Special Mention / First Film Prize - Festival International du Documentaire Marseille 2008

Nowhere else is talk of the “panoptic era”– an eye that sees everything yet remains elusive – clearer than in the medium that has taken omnipresence and fleetingness to a global scale: the Internet. On the Internet, the paradigm known thus far for our imaging apparatus has become invalid: there is no longer a single, central perspective, but instead, a myriad of viewing angles that broadcast over webcams, pumping incessant images into the digital data stream. The “vacuum” in the title of Dariusz Kowalski’s 55-minute cinematic essay is therefore not a void, but a powerful generator, an unremitting doubling of the world: in image. This brings forth a type of surveillancecyberspace. Optical Vacuum opens with views of an endless series of computers, the Internet’s picture storehouses. Like the garden landscapes of the courtly era, these server parks follow a strict geometry, and they, too, mediate the experience of the world through seeing. Later, Kowalski shows us winter landscapes, wash salons, workplaces, game tables. A diary written over the course of a year spoken by artist Stephen Mathewson adds in a protocol of a loneliness suffered by people in a world that they know only as fleeting schemes against a never-changing backdrop." that also has the traces of the word’s original meaning: to watch over, sur (over) veillance (watch), a hallucination-generating feat suffered by the eye that neither blinks nor sleeps.

(Dietmar Kammerer)

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