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ZKM exhibition uses the Internet as a production site for generating content for further media
Eran Schaerf, fm-scenario #1965, 2013 © FM-Scenario and a production e.V., Berlin.

KARLSRUHE.- The exhibition “Eran Schaerf. FM-Scenario: Reality Race” opened at the ZKM | Karlsruhe, on June 21, 2013. The inter-media project uses the Internet as a production site for generating content for further media – more specifically: radio stations, exhibitions and publications. The project’s starting point comprises Eran Schaerf’s news radio plays from the years 1997 to 2011, as well as new texts.

“Die Stimme des Hörers” [The Listener’s Voice] (2002), a fictitious radio station, moderated by a computer program is exemplary of Eran Schaerf’s news radio plays. Here, Schaerf uses the newscast format in order to indicate the relativity of its objectivity claim: newscasts not only describe apparent facts, but allow such coverage to be one narrative account among many.

On the Website, Eran Schaerf set up an expanding archive of audio modules. This online studio is not an information website, but a production site open to all: “Things must be recyclable to be relevant. Welcome to, the online studio of Listener’s Voice. This is where you can create your own personal ‚Listener’s Voice’ mix, which you can share with other users and possibly get on the air. You don’t need a password. You’ll be creating your mix from fragments of broadcasts by Listener’s Voice, a radio station where listeners‘ calls are taken by an automatic moderator. The calls are everyday stories that listeners have staged in the station’s reenactment studio, conferences organized by listeners on air, blog entries by characters that have forsaken their fictional environments, commentary by the automatic moderator and, last but not least, broadcasts from other stations; because if nobody phones in to Listener’s Voice, the automatic moderator switches to Station Search, where it borrows programs it finds in its reception area and re-broadcasts them. So make your selections, mix a minimum of two fragments, and your own personal compilation might get on the air!”

From this archive of audio modules ZKM curator, Margit Rosen, compiled the narrative “FM-Scenario: Reality Race”: a listener logs him or herself into the program “The Listener’s Voice”, yet hesitates with the required registration of gender. As in state regulations, the machine compels the listener to identify him or herself as an individual by way of gender – as a necessary basis for all further communication. Were the moderator not a computer program, it would, perhaps, understand that gender is not clearly defined, but is constructed in the enactment of roles.

This montage serves Eran Schaerf as a script for a performance, which takes place in the exhibition space in front of cameras, though not before an audience. The imagery thus produced, is one of several elements of the three scenic installations featured in the exhibition: In one installation, the audio-montage "FM-Scenario: Reality Race" created by Margit Rosen, will be heard – its scenography is a spatial reference to the television test card, which has long-since disappeared.

The two other installations in the exhibition focus – just like close-ups – on two topics from “FM-Scenario – Realitätswettlauf” [Reality Race]: The comprehension of gender by the machine or rather the automatic moderator and the ambivalence of media imagery. The second installation “Geschlecht (Geschichte)” [history (gender)] therefore shows the stock footage produced prior to the exhibition as one possibility of turning a narration into images. Depending on the entrance chosen, the installation "Robin Hood of the West Bank" can be seen as the start or conclusion to the exhibition. The law court presented here may recall the event, as well as its possible restaging for the media.

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