Laura Frahm

The Aesthetics of Transformation.
On Filmic Boundlessness of Space


Film transforms the visible, audible world into a specific kind of spatiality. It creates genuine spaces of transformation that develop beyond spatial co-ordinates or, more precisely, into one in which the dimensions of concrete, gaugeable space no longer apply. Film opens up a spatial realm in which the transformative, the animated and the dynamic form the starting point of all spatial thinking. Space is questioned once more through film; it becomes an unstable, alterable factor, therefore underlying the process of its own and visible boundlessness and transformation. Using the avant-garde film Jonas (Ottomar Domnick, Germany 1957) as an example, the lecture will challenge this illimitable and transformative dynamic space, generated by and inherent in film.

Film sequences in the lecture drawn from:

Ottomar Domnick
Jonas, Germany 1957
81 min

"Photographically speaking, the film has the coldness of a newsreel. (...) It is remarkable what the direction and camera have accomplished in terms of alienating the surroundings. Every take has Stuttgart in the background; and yet it is a Stuttgart as Kafka would have depicted it, technically abstract (...), a city built from the elements of this century: concrete, corridors flooded with cold neon light, horizontal bracing wires, peeling facades from shabby rental houses, tracks, bridges, staircases, provincial corners in which the past molds and ferments, a desert of debris, construction sites, cranes, steel frameworks, (...). Like the fleeing Jonas, the film escapes all attempts at interpretation that might come from a so-called traditional resolution."
(Karl Korn in the FAZ on 24.06.1957)

"in this city/in its ruins/its huge shopping carts/between signals and machines/no gods live in this city/and no heroes./the city slumbers./many sleep its chambers/they sleep in their cells/in the skeleton of steel/they sleep behind the ciphers/and the facades/only stirring in the cellars/sleepless/the machines./the city is empty/it has no trees/and no laughter/it is extinct/with morning breaks./when morning breaks/and you’re searching for someone/anyone/a man by the name of jonas/between the signs and the fronts/you have to look behind the facades/behind the cold/sleeping bricks/his world is nailed with characters, signs/the machines are running day and night/but jonas/jonas is standing at the window/whichever one/some window/and greets the morning."
(Hans Magnus Enzensberger in the prologue to Jonas)