Residency artists and researchers

Media and video art

Leonhard Müllner

Artist & media researcher

At the Saari Residence, I am working with two projects.

The first one is called SUPERWONDER (Vom Körper zur Sonne zum Licht) which is a collaboration piece by Total Refusal: Robin Klengel, Leonhard Müllner, Michael Stumpf.

Superwonder (From Body to Sun to Light) is about the representation and perception of the world, mediated by the experience in contemporary video games. The starting point is the observation that the digital worlds in current open-world engines unfold their cosmos on pre-Copernican discs. Around a flat “map” circles a painted universe as a box (“Skybox”), sphere (“Skydome”) or dynamic, multi-layered animation (“Skysphere”).

In Superwonder an avatar sets out to penetrate the alleged infinity of the universe surrounding him. Accompanied by the texts of medieval church fathers such as Isidor of Seville or Virgil of Salzburg, the constructed nature of the digital firmament becomes visible and points of contact between late-capitalist and early medieval experience of the world open up.

The second project is called Money is a Form of Speech which is also a piece by Total Refusal: Robin Klengel, Leonhard Müllner, Michael Stumpf.

Money is a Form of Speech is a lecture ballet through the digitally recreated Washington D.C. in an online shooter game. Using the limited body language provided by the game, the avatars dance and perform while discussing the questionable liaison of democracy and capitalism. Accompanied by a live musician and narrated on stage, the audience witnesses a peaceful Situationist intervention through the digital capital of the Western World.

Viewers follow a group of travel companions, crossing the digital battlefield of The Division 2 (Ubisoft Entertainment 2019) – a dystopian multiplayer online shooter game. Although armed to the teeth, these avatars come with peaceful intentions. Using the limited body language provided by the game, the in-game performers dance and perform through the battleground, create compositions and interact with the landscape while avoiding acts of violence.

They stop at trouble spots and observe the digital image of this city, which stands like no other as the ventricle and symbol of the liaison of democracy and capitalism and the role of international organisations in it. Institutions aiming for civil liberty and equality, and those targeting commodification can be found side by side in D.C. In fact, as being erected with the help of slavery for the sake of cost-efficiency, the history of D.C. and US American democracy both involve tendencies of liberation as well its restriction to an economic elite from the very beginning.

From its inauguration in the 1800s until today, Washington D.C. is not a city like any other but also a very strong and contested symbol. It is characterized by its thousand statues and representative buildings and was always understood as a monument itself. What can be learned about democracy in its current state by analyzing D.C.s digital representation?

In cooperation with: Catalina Insignares (performance) / Adina Camhy (composer) / Christopher Hüttmannsberger (narration, voice)

At Saari, I want to enrich my work with a different perspective from international and multidisciplinary angles. Furthermore, I am looking for friends and possible working partners for my open collective. I seek to elaborate on new works in a concentrated mode. Maybe to finish my PhD.

I operate from my computer, everything that I do is inside my digital black box. But I almost always work collaboratively. But we film in video games, edit in Zoom, work on common texts and concepts in Google Docs. I will do Zoom or Discord almost all days, sometimes the whole day.