Less is more

From a report on “Messages with Mea­ning for our Tomor­row” at 40th Inter­na­tio­nal Fea­tures Con­fe­rence in Leip­zig, may 2014. 

Lis­teners to Prix Euro­pe pre­sen­ta­ti­ons, Ber­lin 2011, crea­ting their own images – Pho­to­graphs by Jan Kopetzky

(…) I refer­red to a num­ber of con­tri­bu­ti­ons with the fol­lowing essence: “One of the stron­gest reme­di­es for the sur­vi­val of radio docu­men­ta­ry will be the VISUALISATION OF RADIO“.

My point of view: This would mean giving up the main vir­tu­es of the non-visu­al medi­um. That is: crea­ting images in the heads of lis­teners and – by the way – making each of them to co-aut­hors of our pro­grams. In the end, to add pic­tures and other side-effects would mean to „cut the branch on which we are sit­ting”, as Ger­mans use to say. 

I gave dif­fe­rent examp­les for what I mean. For instance: 

In the last year’s spec­ta­cu­lar exhi­bi­ti­on of drawings and wood­cuts of Albrecht Dürer (1471–1528) I saw a seri­es of prints, plain­ly black and white. But artists of that time – so the Dürer fami­ly too – sur­vi­ved by sel­ling tho­se she­ets on mar­ket pla­ces, and in order to make them more attrac­ti­ve they colo­ri­zed them, using base colours – Red, Yel­low, Blue. They may have been suc­cess­ful. But the com­pa­ri­son of both seri­es in the Frank­furt exhi­bi­ti­on reve­a­led: All the refi­ne­ment of the ori­gi­nals had been eli­mi­na­ted by adding “attrac­tion”. The result were flat Mickey-mou­se-like comics, so to say. Artis­tic suicide.

Now draw your own conclusions …

To make a five-minu­te-lec­tu­re short: What I plead for, is the aut­hor and his voice (in the widest sen­se of cour­se); his tone, his humour, his fol­ly, his weird­ness, his ent­i­re per­so­na­li­ty; a human mes­sa­ge to human ears, which does­n’t need “visua­li­sa­ti­on”. 

This plea is no form of nost­al­gia – not at all. I claim to have been one of the first inde­pen­dent pro­du­cers working digi­tal­ly in the Mid-Nine­ties and I’m using all bene­fits of the mar­ve­lous tool cal­led World Wide Web every day. But the basics of our audio-pho­nic tra­de must be pre­ser­ved – on which future plat­form ever.