The Electric Kiss
What once may have seemed novel, even quaint, about the algorithmically-generated video work of Rainer Kohlberger, today—in an age of augmented reality, automated image production, and user-friendly artificial intelligence—seems startling prescient. It makes a certain sense, then, that with The Electric Kiss, Kohlberger would attempt to grapple with our current era by going back to the future.
In Kohlberger’s second film that could be considered narrative driven, the artist fashions a dystopian fiction from the remnants of cinema’s past. Drawing on excerpts from obscure sci-fi films, The Electric Kiss imagines a world not unlike our own, in which people plug their brains into a kind of neuro-network that connects the whole of human consciousness. As cyberpunk imagery draped in VHS textures alternates with passages of prismatic visual noise (achieved, in trademark style, by feeding footage through self trained machine learning algorithms), a quasi-plot emerges: a man in a VR headset, literally and figuratively lost in space, subjects himself to a mysterious procedure to alleviate the ill effects of this new technology on the mind.
As lesser filmmakers continue to grapple awkwardly with social media and themes of interconnectedness, Kohlberger has taken to not only interrogating the way images interface with and influence notions of truth by engaging the very technologies responsible for these developments, but is also using them to facilitate storytelling possibilities which in turn can provide a clearer picture of the present day. In other words, to steal a line from the film: “OK, it’s fiction, but it brings you closer to reality.” (Jordan Cronk)
The Electric Kiss
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