Let us introduce you to the Austrian director Rainer Kohlberger, who is participating in this year’s Berlinale Shorts competition.

Born in Linz, Austria in 1982, he works as a freelance video artist and media designer in Berlin, developing algorithm-based images for installations, experimental films and live visualisations. His deliberately reductionist visual imagery moves between a playful discourse with concrete forms and noise aesthetics. His short film keep that dream burning screened in the 2017 Berlinale Shorts.

© Rainer Kohlberger

‘In the sixth great mass mortality of the earth, humankind became extinct. Their technology had recently progressed so far as to deconstruct the algorithms of evolution and allow artificial life to develop on Earth. New life awakens, learns to see and tries to understand. It discovers the film history of humankind and through reflection thereof, begins to gain an awareness of itself and to believe in their gods. The artificial character goes to the cinema so to speak, where we collectively see images produced with machine learning and other image analysis algorithms used against the grain. The belief that we and our world cannot be solely reduced to matter, that there is in fact another form, is deeply inscribed in our own program and defines our thinking. Does nature calculate on the basis of the stuff that makes up our universe, or is the universe the result of calculations? Is the existence of numbers independent of one’s own consciousness, or are they fictional? Are mathematical objects and their concepts created in the same way in which we tell stories? It has to be lived once and dreamed twice,’ comments Rainer Kohlberger.

© ‚It has to be lived once and dreamed twice‘ by Rainer Kohlberger

What is your ambition in the film?

I’ve been interested in the blurriness of the border where mind is confronted to its surroundings since a long time. While my generated work so far deals a lot with the perceptual aspects of this inquiry, here I started from the simple question what artificial life is and what do we mean when we talk about ›Intelligence‹. That resulted in a far-reaching endeavour where I realised quickly that very basic questions about millennia old philosophical topoi like the body/mind problem and the relationship between technology and religion emerge. My ambition was to tell this 40,000 years of human history from an alien perspective in a poetic way.

What do you like about the short form?

I’m one of the film makers who usually work entirely on their own to create their microcosms. For me that also means creating films is close to the compositional process of music, therefore the length of a short film can kind of be related to the one of what would be a song or a track maybe. ›It has to be lived once and dreamed twice‹ is my longest film so far, that is not purely abstract as the ones before, but where for the first time in addition to the images and sounds I also included language. For that I collaborated with Annika Henderson for the voice and with Peter Kutin for the sound track.

What are your future plans?

I am constantly pushing out new bits and pieces in all the fields I’m involved in — new music, new video installation and a new film coming up!

24 films from 17 countries will be competing for the Golden and Silver Bear, the Audi Short Film Award, endowed with 20,000 euros, and a nomination as “Berlin Short Film Candidate for the European Film Awards 2019”.

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