ALEXANDER HAHN

electronic media artist

 

 

 

The Outer Plant - die Aussenstation

(1982, 25:16', SD, stereo)

 

Low-budget sci-fi video set in a computer parts factory orbiting the earth. After a series of ambiguous messages from ground control communication is turned off. The only service technician aboard is stranded in outer space, a Robinson Crusoe on a man-made island. Earth on the brink of chaos or a corporate scheme?

 

Filmed with actor friends, this is a work of science fiction with a fairly classical narrative. What is particularly interesting is the way in which Alexander Hahn manipulates the images; he makes use of filming artifice (macro, fuzz, slow-motion) and, above all, puts his rushes through a processor which enables him to color them, user overlay and give them a very personal, aesthetic touch. We should remember that in the early Eighties, this kind of image manipulation had not yet become as universally commonplace as today. At that time, all this type of work was a product of creative genius and DIY - and was theoretically broadly upheld by reviews which incessantly underlined the specifics of the video image (as opposed to the cinema, in particular).

 

The Outer Plant is the story of a technician cast off into space by a large company which has given him the Bioputer I, the world's first semi-biological computer, as his only companion in the satellite. When contact with the earth is broken off, strange things happen in the satellite; the man rebels against the order to unite himself with the machine to form a cybernetic being, and is reduced to inventing rituals and sorts of personal performances to protect himself from his absolute solitude. Hahn describes his character as a modern Jonas in the stomach of a cybernetic whale; he calls him a psychonaut lost in the digital subconscious of artificial intelligence. The narrative invention in this film was to find increasingly more complex development in the artist's next productions, but it is never fundamentally different. Even in his installations, Alexander Hahn always uses allegory, and his favorite themes have a strong psychoanalytic and science fiction influence. The metaphorical threads woven by the film, along with the fears that technological development inspire in man, particularly as regards sociability, are still a current topic.

 

(Lysianne Léchaut-Hirt, in New Media Encyclopedia)