Der Magische Spiegel
/// 1970 /// Interactive Video Installation

/// telewissen / Herbert Schuhmacher




Early one evening, on the 10 December, 1970 a red VW Bus pulled up somewhere in Darmstadt city center. The hatchback was open and a switched on television could be seen. Curious passers-by paused and looked at the screen. And they beheld something which, for them, seemed unimaginable: they saw themselves on television. With the twinkling of an eye they were transformed from an audience into actors. The situation had been carefully prepared: the camera had a high-speed objective, a floodlight illuminated the scene and a Sony Portapak video recorder recorded the event.
These three video reels, each of which was twenty minutes in duration represented the first German closed-circuit installation, the first German work of art whereby video technology and playback was presented simultaneously. The public, clad in their thick coats and odd looking hats defined the content of the program.
The original reels have been restored by the ZKM | Laboratory for Antique Video Systems and the scenario from 1970 reconstructed. Once again a VW-Bus is at the ready and once again live black and white pictures are produced. But do people look into the camera with the same kind of fascination as they did 40 years ago?
(Text: Christoph Blase)

Die Gruppe telewissen, founded by Herbert Schumacher in Darmstadt, in 1970, counts among the pioneers in video. Among others, the group was represented at the documenta 5 and 6 in Kassel, in 1972 and 1977 respectively, at the Biennale de Paris in 1973, and at the exhibition Projekt 74 in 1974. Documentary films produced for the ARD (German State Television Company). telewissen still exists today as video production in Darmstadt. 


Photo: Herbert Schuhmacher in front of the camera, 1970

telewissen/Herbert Schuhmacher, Der Magische Spiegel, 1970, Interactive Video Installation, Video, 64:35 min , ZKM_Collection, Lender of the VW-Bus T2a: Götz Dressel, Jessen