ON AIR

ON AIR is a Berlin based group moving between film, performance and installation — always crossing borders and always keeping a sense of humor. It was founded in 2002 on the initiative of director Frauke Havemann, in close collaboration with video artist Eric Schefter and performer Neal Wach.

Since 2010 an open team of performers, writers, theater and filmmakers has collaborated with ON AIR’s founding members on various productions. ehrliche arbeit- freies Kulturbüro is an artistic production management company who have accompanied ON AIR’s productions since 2012.

Simon Brückner (filmmaker) on the work of ON AIR

(…) Focused, precise yet playful, they design minimalist parallel universes which are fully autonomous in their own laws and logic – in which people talk in and with machines, stage settings meld with screen projections, linguistic signs with visuals. Performers appear inside and out of electronic equipment, they meet their own images, turn each other on and off, are looped, deleted. They meet as looks between screens, as heads without bodies, as bodies and voices mute in the darkness; as thoughts, presences, in often alienated, displaced and, at the same time, immediate ways. Highly technical, almost formal, yet profoundly human, and therefore unsettling, even comically, absurd. And so do the characters encounter time, the weather, and, again and again, themselves (…)

The most recent ON AIR productions are based on original scripts by Mark Johnson and texts by Matthias Wittekindt. Found materials are also added to the mix, with sources ranging from science fiction, horror and documentary film, to radio and television transcripts.
The weather has come to play an increasing role in ON AIR’s work, providing situations that can suddenly go out of balance and for which the usual strategies are no longer effective. What happens when the desire for security, control and comprehension is suddenly disrupted, or evolves in unexpected ways?
In these projects big themes and epic tales are conveyed with playful minimalism. Mistakes and accidents, whether technical or human, are integrated into the performance.

How did ON AIR start?
Frauke Havemann joined forces with video artist Eric Schefter and performer Neal Wach to explore the juncture between live performance and video. Starting from a collection of “found” texts, they began rehearsing and shooting. As in a game, rules and tasks were developed which could be followed or ignored. The cinematic principle of “the cut” could be used for interruption, irritation or an expandable interval. The goal was to be precise in timing and reaction, while allowing decision-making and flexibility within the performance situation, a challenge with Neal playing against himself on video.
They worked out a system in which prerecorded video, audio, and live camera feeds were switched by Eric during the show. In the beginning he had DVD and CD players for the prerecorded material, and passive switchers for the video; now he is using software (Isadora) which allows for an even more responsive interaction. Since the media stream is non-linear and random access, the timing (and sometimes content) can change from performance to performance.
Within this “apparatus” the various “figures” communicate, swap roles, screw up, and repeat themselves, enjoying all the mistakes, misunderstandings and, sometimes, even harmony….

ON AIR ist eine Berliner Performance-Gruppe und entwickelt Arbeiten, die sich zwischen Hörspiel und Installation, Performance und Film bewegen. Gegründet wurde ON AIR im Jahr 2002 auf Initiative von Frauke Havemann und in enger Zusammenarbeit mit dem Videokünstler Eric Schefter und dem Performer Neal Wach.

Um die ON AIR – Gründungsmitglieder hat sich seit 2010 ein offenes Team aus Schauspielern, Autoren, Theater- und Filmemachern gebildet, das je nach Projekt in unterschiedlichen Konstellationen zusammen arbeitet. ehrliche arbeit- freies Kulturbüro begleitet die Arbeit von ON AIR seit 2012 als künstlerisches Produktionsbüro.

Simon Brückner (Filmemacher) über die Arbeit von ON AIR
Konzentriert, präzise und trotzdem verspielt entwerfen sie minimalistische Paralleluniversen mit einer Fülle von Eigengesetzlichkeiten. In ihnen sprechen Menschen in und mit Maschinen, durchdringen sich Bühnenbild und Bildprojektionen, sprachliche und visuelle Zeichen. Performer treten in elektronische Apparaturen ein und aus ihnen heraus, begegnen ihren eigenen Abbildern, zeichnen einander auf und schalten sich ab, werden geloopt, gelöscht. Sie begegnen sich als Blicke auf der Leinwand, als Köpfe ohne Korpus, als stumme Körper und Stimmen in der Dunkelheit, als Gedanken, Präsenzen, in oft entfremdeter, verschobener zugleich ganz unmittelbarer Weise. Sehr technisch, fast formal und zugleich tief menschlich und deshalb unheimlich, auch komisch, absurd. So begegnen die Figuren der Zeit, dem Wetter und immer wieder sich selbst.

Die jüngsten ON AIR Produktionen basieren auf Originalskripts von Mark Johnson und Texten von Matthias Wittekindt. Aber auch Textmaterialien- und Textsequenzen aus Science Fiction- und Horrorfilmen sowie TV- und Radiotranskripte können zu Vorlagen werden.

Thematisch spielt das Wetter eine zunehmend wichtige Rolle in den Arbeiten von ON AIR. Als unberechenbares Naturphänomen steht es exemplarisch für Situationen, in denen die Dinge plötzlich aus dem Gleichgewicht geraten und gewohnte Strategien nicht mehr wirksam sind: Was passiert, wenn das Bedürfnis nach Sicherheit, Kontrolle und Überblick gestört wird und zu unerwarteten Reaktionen führt?

Große Themen finden dabei in spielerischem Minimalismus ihren Ausdruck: auf das Nötigste reduzierte Settings, Sprachrhythmus, kleine Gesten, reduzierte Videobilder oder atmosphärische Soundcollagen. Fehler und Aussetzer, ob technisch oder menschlich, gehören mit zum Spiel.

Der Start von ON AIR
In 2002 begann unter dem Label ON AIR die erste Zusammenarbeit zwischen Choreografin und Regisseurin Frauke Havemann und Videokünstler Eric Schefter, sowie Performer Neal Wach. Sie experimentierten mit den Möglichkeiten, einen Dialog zwischen Live-Performance und vorweg aufgenommenem Videomaterial herzustellen. Am Anfang des Arbeitsprozesses standen Textmaterialien, mit denen geprobt und gedreht wurde. Wie in einem Spiel wurden Regeln entwickelt, die eingehalten und/oder missachtet wurden. Das filmische Prinzip des Schnitts konnte als Stör- und Unterbrechungsmanöver eingesetzt werden – als Möglichkeit für unmittelbaren Zusammenprall und als ausdehnbarer Zwischenraum. Ziel war es, in Timing und Reaktion sehr präzise zu sein und gleichzeitig Entscheidungsfreiheiten und Flexibilität in der Performance-Situation zu erhalten – eine Herausforderung, da Neal Wach live gegen Neal Wach auf Video spielte und sich manchmal selbst synchronisierte.

Gearbeitet wurde mit einem System, in dem Schefter vorweg aufgenommene Video-, Audio- und Live-Kamera-Feeds während der Show verknüpfen oder zwischen ihnen hin und her schalten konnte. Am Anfang arbeitete er mit DVD- und CD-Player für das vorproduzierte Material und mit passiven Umschaltern für das Video. In den jüngsten Produktionen wird durch die verwendete Computer-Software (Isadora) mehr Reaktionsfähigkeit und Interaktion im Zusammenspiel von Live-Performern und Live_Cuttern ermöglicht, und da der Medienstrom nicht linear verläuft, können sich „Timing” und manchmal auch Inhalt von Performance zu Performance ändern.
Innerhalb dieses „Apparats“ kommunizieren die verschiedenen „Figuren“ untereinander und mit der Technik. Sie tauschen Rollen, haben Hänger , geraten in Missverständnisse und genießen ihre eigenen Fehler sowie die der anderen….

BIOS

Eric Schefter received a B.A. in Film and Video from NYU in 1987. He then began working professionally as an editor in film and television. In the early ’90s he cofounded four intermedia performance groups in New York including 77 Hz and The Luminists. These groups combined video imagery, electronic music and theatrical elements to create precise live A/V compositions. Works were presented in numerous New York venues including The Knitting Factory, The Kitchen, Roulette, and The Experimental Intermedia Foundation. In 1997 he moved to Berlin and continued working as an editor with directors such as Monika Treut („Gendernauts“), Andrew Horn (“The Nomi Song” and „We are Twisted Fucking Sister”). He co-directed, with Frauke Havemann, the feature film „Weather House“ which had it’s world premiere at the Slamdance Film Festival in January 2017.

Born in New York, Neal Wach first began acting on stage at age 9 with Elsa Freed. After studying at the Unversite de Nice, Windham College in Vermont, and The School of Visual Arts in New York, he continued to move back and forth between Europe and America, ending up finally in Berlin, where he lives to this day. „Truckers and Trackers“ marks his fifth work with Frauke Havemann.
Describing his work with Frauke Havemann, with whom he first performed in 1995, in Detektor’s „Hiroshima Melodrama“, he writes:
What fascinates me most in Frauke’s work is her formal interest in situation and task. Following her initial editing of text, my job is then delineated by simple assignments arranged and developed in rehearsal, determined by Frauke in process. It’s a highly personal collaboration, and jet my job is not self-focused. There is no story, no personalized emotion I’m forced to create. Therefore it is not acting. The rehearsal process is a direct continuous dialogue between us. The resulting tasks, together with her continued editing, and the live play in timing between myself and Eric Schefter (video and sound technician) serve in the end to create a larger, more vitally abstract, emotional situation. It feels more theater than theater.

Mark Johnson is a writer-director and producer for film, theater and television. He began his film work in the late 1970s, studying at Media Studies Buffalo and New York University. In 1985, he moved to Berlin, where he co-founded the theater and media-production group Detektor. In 1998, Johnson moved to Brussels, where he worked as an actor and journalist. In 2005, he relocated to Los Angeles, where he founded $96 Entertainment Corp. The company currently develops projects for film, distribution, publishing and e-commerce including Ninetysixbooks.com.

Born in Hamburg in 1961; lives in Berlin since 1981. Sabine Hertling’s artistic career began in 1983 at the “1. Berlin School of Mime and Pantomime “, followed by further drama studies in Berlin, Indian dance in Paris and India, and rhythm work with Reinhard Flatischler, before landing in Berlin’s independent performance scene. Here she worked for years, most notably with Matthias Wittekind’s Brussels Project and Hans Werner Krösinger. This collaboration led to her development as a film and television actress, and since 2012, she has worked as a speaker for Deutsche Welle.

Poul Storm is a Danish actor and director. Originally coming out of the traditions of the Odin Theater, he began to live and work in Berlin in the late 1980s. He has been a guest at the Deutsches Theater, Berlin, and subsequently founded the theater Opus X in Denmark, where he has directed numerous plays, both by new Scandinavian writers and such authors as Heiner Müller. in addition to his work in theater and film, he is also a voice actor.

Born in 1966, Thomas Martius first graduated with a degree in Business Administration before turning to Applied Theatre Studies at the University of Giessen. Since his graduation (1994) he has worked as a freelance artist, producing more than one hundred original performances, theater projects and videos. His multi-medial work is location- and situation-specific, which he further describes as “editorial fictions”, “scenic architecture with film stills”, and “minimalist acting with amusement and narration”.
As an actor he’s appeared in various contexts, including major theaters, such as the Berliner Ensemble, and the free theater scene of Berlin. His original script for Pottinger’s House (www.pottingershaus.de) was supported by the Berlin Senate in 2005. Martius is a permanent faculty member of the Theater Studies Institute at the Freie Universität, Berlin, and taught at the Art Academy of Tallinn in 2013.
He was guest artist at Robert Wilson’s Watermill Center in New York (www.lasvenice.de) In 2008, a 2010 Brown Foundation (The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston) Fellow at the Dora Maar House in Ménerbes, France, and artist-in-residence at the Emily Harvey Foundation in Venice in 2011. He has also been artistic collaborator for the international Research Center’s program, Interweaving Performance Cultures. He is now completing a short film titled DO YOU HEAR ME?.
Martius lives with his partner and child in Berlin.