Johannes Gfeller

Container TV

Born 1956 in Burgdorf, Canton of Bern. He lives in Laupen BE and works in Stuttgart. He co-founded Container TV and from 2001 established the media conservation program at Bern University of the Arts. Since 2011 professor and head of the Master’s degree program in conservation of new media and digital information at the Stuttgart State Academy of Art and Design.

00:00 Start. 00:21 Born with a screwdriver in my hand. 01:45 Interest in automatic machines. 02:50 Hippy times, a green teacher and first contact to video. 03:55 Art history, philosophy and general philology at the University of Bern / First encounters with Alex Sutter, founder member of Container TV. 05:10 Founding Container TV in 1978. 06:41 My fascination for video, to explore the medium technologically / I am the technician supporting our projects. 09:03 Meeting video art. 10:17 Hyper TV, 1982/83, a collage about TV culture / First art video funded by the Canton of Bern / Replays in Bern’s youth movement. 12:25 Movement videos / Housing shortage and other projects. 13:33 Women and men / Leaving Container TV. 15:15 Doing video art / René Pulfer and the Videowochen in the Wenkenpark Basel / History of Swiss Video Art. 17:16 Mandate by the Swiss government to preserve video art – project ‘AktiveArchive’ at Bern University of the Arts (HKB) in collaboration with the Swiss Institute for Art Research (SIK-ISEA). 18:45 Aufgaben der digitalen Archivierung, sichern und kontextualisieren. 21:15 Credits.


Container TV

1981, realization: Alex Sutter, Johannes Gfeller, and Peter Schlosser, 46 mins, ½ inch, black-and-white and color, 14 mins (excerpts), original online: video collection Stadt in Bewegung (Swiss Social Archive and Memoriav)

Experimental video on TV culture. Fragments of TV shows, news broadcasts, feature films, TV ads, and other programs are woven into a collage and visually altered. A parody on the zeitgeist as shown on TV.

Voice-over commentary
To abandon TV won’t do, but video … Politics of the phantoms. Facelessness sits opposite you, ready to be turned into paranoia at any time. To abandon TV means putting together the menu of electronic corporations: data processing, surveillance, personal records. And the politician puts on the grimace of the star. The screen is a politics of masks, it’s an eye-eater, a battlefield of soul engineers. The eye identifies on the screen the schemes that occupy its brain.