Snapshots of Technology

By Axel Stockburger, 10 May 2002
Image: still taken from the film RND#91 51st State

Richard Fenwick’s RND# project examines our relationship to technology through digital films. Axel Stockburger watches with interest

Q: Who owns the internet?A: Who owns it? everybody owns it... it´s just a whole bunch of people...

These two lines are taken from Richard Fenwick’s short film RND#91: The 51st State. It consists of a phone conversation with an American ISP helpline accompanied by strikingly beautiful graphical representations of the text sequences. The caller treats the internet as a traditional commodity and asks questions accordingly. This results in an amusing and revealing conversation that leads directly to the phantasmal heart of the net.

Richard Fenwick is a designer and promo film director who has worked with the company Static for clients such as Channel 4 and Carlton TV. In 1998 he co-founded OS2, an independent film company that served as a platform to create music videos for artists such as All Saints, Death in Vegas, Teenage Fanclub and very recently Timo Maas. His films have also been showcased by numerous film festivals, among them ResFest and onedotzero. Alongside developing a successful career in the commercial fields of design and music video production he has also produced a body of very individual experimental works. The so-called RND# project (Random Number) was started in 2000 and is an ongoing series of short digital films that investigate human reliance on technology.

Whilst Richard Fenwick´s mastery of the current strategies and technologies of advertising provides the aesthetic backdrop for the RND# films, they always break with their visual promise, offering insights that go far beyond the clean shaven world of high definition TV and marketing.

One of his recent films, RND#23, for example, starts off like a glossy ad for a TV company. Wireframe models of satellite receivers, sending and receiving packets hover over crisp world maps and images of numerous communication devices. A complex moving map explains the journey of digital signals from a sender to a satellite and back to a home TV, only to reveal the goal of this impressive set up: snippets of footage from the dullest of soap operas.

The strength of this approach lies precisely in the gap between the eloquence of shiny, expensively produced, instantly readable ad-world images and the underlying revelation of the true product content. All the RND# films extract single elements from the world of technological promise and imagination, in order to deconstruct their mythological baggage.

Further information as well as quicktime footage can be found at []

Axel Stockburger is an artist currently working on a PhD /Research Project investigating the representation of space in video and computer games