Heide Hagebölling

  • Unterwasser Himmel, choreography for 3 dancers. Image courtesy of Heide Hagebölling.

Artist Talk

  1. Apr 1, 2010, 6 – 8 pm
Level 0, Lecture Hall

This lecture is co-sponsored by the Film Study Center at Harvard University.

Media scenography — the visual and acoustic creation of events, performances and environments — can be considered an interdisciplinary approach that transcends the boundaries of theater, opera, music, dance, and public space. It has become a genre in itself, one with considerable impact not only on the aesthetics and creative expression of contemporary art but also on media culture on a global scale. Media scenography is closely connected to technological research and development, are are photography, film, video and digital art; however, creative inventions and interventions that lead to new visions and novel fields of artistic practice are of particular importance to the field.

The history of the moving image has many facets. The classic division between documentary and  feature film is still praxis at most film schools. Art schools offer experimental and animation in addition to these two fields of study. In all of these genres, the work tends to be closed in of itself — it has beginning and an end — and the viewing of this media generally depends on a screen or monitor. As early as the 1920s and '30s Erwin Piscator and Bert Brecht developed other strategies: film footage became part of the mise en scène onstage, an element of theatric narration, and an integral part of performance. At the same time artists of the Bauhaus, in particular László Moholy-Nagy, paved the way for a new artform consisting of light and movement in time and space. Moholy-Nagy's moving projection-sculptures, or "light-space-modulators," can be seen as a precursor of kinetic art. This aspect of reorientation and dynamization of space became one of the predominant elements in art of the 1950s through the 1970s. Otto Piene, a founding member of the group ZERO, performed his "light ballet," and Nicoals Schöffer developed his system of spatio-, lumino-, and chronodynamic installations. These creative visions found their reverberation in experimental filmmaking. In the 1960s and 1970s "expanded cinema" referred to filmmaking as an inquiry leading into many different directions. Filmmaking was no longer only about a particular style, but about "expanded consciousness,“ a term coined by Gene Youngblood. The medium was free to encounter new dimensions of interdisciplinary experience.

Contemporary media scenography benefits from these artistic developments, but it also invents new multidisciplinary strategies. The blurring boundaries between the digital image, sound, light, architecture and space, and performance and interaction initialize new areas of experimentation and creative practice: a challenge for young artists as well as for art education. Based on various projects implemented at the Academy of Media Arts Cologne, this lecture presents media scenography as a field of creative exploration and interdisciplinary learning.

Heide Hagebölling

Heide Hagebölling is professor at the Academy of Media Arts Cologne, Germany, which she co-founded with Manfred Eisenbeis in 1988. She teaches video, interactive media and scenography, and established the field of interactive dramaturgies. After studying design, art, film, and communication at the Hochschule für Gestaltung Offenbach, the Annenberg School of Communications/University of Pennsylvania and the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University, Hagebölling worked and lectured at the Johann-Wolfgang Goethe-University in Frankfurt, the University of Heidelberg, and the Hochschule für Gestaltung Offenbach. Since the 1980s her academic and artistic work focuses on the interrelationship of art, design, new media, and culture. Hagebölling considers her approach and teaching as an open process of artistic research, creative development and a synthesis of various fields such as theater, music, architecture and media. She has organized international colloquia on her areas of research for UNESCO, Paris, and participated in group exhibitions at the Centre Pompidou, Paris; Bauhaus Museum, Berlin; Ars Electronica, Linz; L’Immagine Elettronica, Bologna; Cité des sciences/La Villette, Paris; Imagina, Monte Carlo; and MILIA, Cannes. She has directed several multimedia projects for public and cultural institutions (e.g. Goethe Institut/Internationes, 1994), developed media concepts for international architects (e.g. Zeidler, Toronto/London, 1992), museums (Post and Communication Museum, Frankfurt, 1988), exhibitions (German Ministry for Post and Telecommunication, 1987), public art projects (Multi-Media-Station Cologne, 1992-95) and events (Information Spheres, EXPO 2000, Hannover; International Beethoven Festival, Bonn, 2006 and 2009). As an author and editor she published Interactive Dramaturgies: New Approaches in Multimedia Content and Design, Pablo Picasso in Documentary Film, and Synthesis: Visual Arts in Electronic Culture, co-edited with Manfred Eisenbeis. Hagebölling is member of the International Council of Museums, on the Advisory Board of the International Cultural Heritage Informatics Meetings, Paris; and a member of the European Academy of Sciences, Arts and the Humanities, Paris. She is a recipient of the Miró Medal from UNESCO.