This website presents various seminars & workshops conceived by Timothée Ingen-Housz, professor for “Media Conception & Dramaturgy” at the University of the Arts Berlin (UDK) in the context of the curriculum “Communication in Social and Economic contexts” (GWK).

The notion of Media Dramaturgy is understood here as the art, craft and science to “conceive and mediate messages” according to the context(s) in which they´re expected to perform, be it an art galery, a movie theater or a smartphone screen. In a predominatly digital public sphere, this implies a constant study of the shifting interactions between medium and message, platforms and formats, representation and participation.

Our approach is rooted in the perennial mcLuhanian aphorism (“the medium is the message”), and twists it further into the labyrinthic intricacies of digital participatory media. The practice of media dramaturgy is then concerned with the creation of “content” for specific platforms and channels, as much as the construction of “contenting environments” allowing the contextual creation, distribution and transformation of messages by users themselves.

We´re thus interested in context exploration as much as content development, and reflect one into the other with simple narrative games. We´re looking at media from the perspective of the message,  and explore messaging from the perspective of media.

This double approach opens new rooms for conceptional processes, calling into practice a whole range of formerly isolated disciplins. Media dramaturgy connects problems and questions originally limited to the domains of social research, information design, screenwriting, communication strategy, film-making, game design, illustration, UX and media theory, and thus experiments with an expanded notion of narrative design.

The seminars and workshops presented here provide us with the opportunity to approach these questions “on the field” .

SEMINARS & LECTURES

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“From here&now to here&now: the story of storytelling”
-(The biggest picture of them all)

This introductory lecture series attempts to picture the conditions in which audiovisual cultures have developed accross the ages before being absorbed in the great digital maelstroem.

From the first grave to byzantine icons and the invention of linear perspective, film, television and the “digital superhighway”, we´re navigating the turbulent and exhilarating history of narrative media on board of our clunky timeship.

The relationships between the form and function of narrative imagery is recurrent teme in our journey. Our curated excursions attempt to “estrange” the present and make some of the contemporary media processes more graspable through the analysis of distant artefacts.

This “biggest picture of them all” is not media history as such, but a exploration of the contemporary digital condition through various speculative lenses pointed at a distant past we can only attempt to imagine.

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“FILMGRAMMATURGY”

Audiovisual storytelling is arguably the most immersive narrative medium of all, – should one consume movies in IMAX theaters or on smartphone screen. It is based on a vocabulary and  “grammar” slowly developed by film makers in the first decades on the medium´s history, and further evolving with every new invention.

Film Dramatugy relies on the orchestration of narrative codes and design features remaining unperceptible to the audience, unless they are accidentally (or self-reflectively) revealed. The art of film making is then to make things visible invisibly.

We´re exploring in the seminar the intricacies of film language with various riddles, associative & dissociative games, sequence analysis, re-write, re-sound, re-shoot and re-cut exercises. The whole is capped with the hands-on realisation of individual or group projects. All Along we´re asking the double question: What can we learn about about language when we make movies?

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“STOPMOCAP”

From the moment it was invented, the motion picture camera was hacked by filmakers and illusionists to stage “magic”. A large amount of images we see on screen do not result from live-action photography but expert trickery: special effects, animation, compositing, etc…

The techniques involved have become so impressive that they have come to make us doubt of the documentary nature of photography. Computer generated imagery is now part of the fabric of reality, could we like it or not.

From news media to didactic animations, service interfaces, games and of course audiovisual entertainment, “magic images” of all sort (explosions, spaceships, dragons and flying toasters) fulfill a strategic role in our mediated lifes.

We´re exploring this phenomena with the creation of short animations, – introducing a variety of tools and production techniques on the way.

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“LIVE”

The stage presentation has become the standard format for a variety of PR stunts. From product launches to Ted talks, academic lectures or political campaigning, it has become a genre of its own, often landing millions of hits online once “remediated” in video or podcast formats.

The simple flipchart and snoozy powerpoint presentation has morphed into a palette of stage pyrotechnics allowing presenters to teach, entertain and sell ideas with a smoke, stroboscopes and even circus acrobats.

Drawing inspiration from various stage traditions ( theater, veaudeille, performance) , we´re playing with music, video projections, choirs, puppets, props and stunts of all sorts to explore the full spectrum of “live” stage communication.

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“ARMES KINO”

Every contemporary smartphone comes out of the factory with a built-in HD camera.
This makes about three billion potential film makers on the planet. Formerly dogged by production costs, the film medium has emancipated from financial and creative pressures of its analog craddle, but has it found new voices, new genres, new horizons?

Will we poor filmakers enrich or bankrupt the cinematic language with our mini-movies?

We´re scouting for clues on online video platforms, and experiment with the most minimal production conditions ever in hope to strike gold. Genres vary here from mini documentaries to essays, fictions, or “experimental” digital formats (including stunts, fails and cat stuff).

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“DRAW ME A SHEEP”

We´d like to think that words are worth thousand pictures,…but do they? If pictures can speak their own tongue, they may also be going further than the text they´re illustrating. The word “illustration” is etymologically related to the notion of light. It implies that images produced to illustrate a text can actually illuminate it, – show us yet undiscovered dimensions of meaning unreachable by words. Could it use watercolor, sculpture, collage or photography, illustrative imagery is

Could it use watercolor, sculpture, collage or photography, illustrative imagery is fullfilling various roles in strategic communication.

Magazine covers, electronic games, advertising poster and animated spots, political caricatures and children books are here to remind us of their ubiquity,

We´re exploring here the relationship between text and image with a simple set of exercises: visual-verbal analogies and parabels, stories, fables and storyboards train our dialectical sense of verbalisation/visualisation and introduce our major endeavour: create a company on the basis of its mascotte. ” Draw me a sheep”, and tell me why it should draw my attention, to what and why…

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“METAMEDIA”

What kind of message is “the medium is the message”?
The question was addressed by Quentin Fiore and Marshal McLuhan in their legendary 1967 paperback edition. Rarely would there be any bolder attempt to formalise a media theory so consciously with the help of graphic design. The format, the typography, the pictures and the general approach made it possible, not only to learn about McLuhan ´s ideas, but to experience their meta-reflexivity while reading about them.

Starting from this perspective, this seminar asks the following question: what does a media theory need to “do” to inspire insights? What does it need to do to articulate itself in the reader´s mind and trigger new realisations? Starting from basic, first-hand experiences with our everyday media life, we´re abstracting anecdotes, comments, and intuitions to generate prototypal “mini-theories”, while looking for the right format and the right medium to convey them to a larger public. From a choir song to a user Journey, a startup blueprint, a cartoon, a Skype conference, a app interface- almost any “content format” is usable as tool to articulate a media theoretical insight.

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“BUSINESSPORN”

What is a deal? What makes a good, a bad, an ugly deal? How does it look? How does it smell, how does it feel? What about the actors? The language? The stage?

Business as Porn.

We’ re observing business “transactions” and the way they´re staged , – what they reveal and what they conceal: the pocket change, the handshakes, the pin codes, the “sign here”, the license agreements…Accept. Reject. Refund. Who f**s Who?

We’re looking at deals and what they imply, the creation, the destruction and the transformations – the way we think of business, of money, of the market, of buying and selling, – the whole idea of trade, the idea of having and being, – of owning, of renting, of leasing…

The notion of Value, the concept of price, the concept of sale, stocks & markets, the quality and the quantity…The way we perceive business as a general framework for relationships, valuation and  experience. For life (and death) . We´re exploring various ways to “picture” those deals with images, with sounds, with words, with animations, with performances, with documents, with allegories; – in short: with anything that fits the bill…

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“ARISTOTLE IN GOOGLYWOOD”

This seminar invites participants to explore the dramaturgical potential of the so called “electronic age” and investigate new kinds of narratives determined by the digital condition. The journey starts with a question: If Digitality changes the human experience to the point of freeing us from spatial and social constraints, does it also modify the age-old coordinates of storytelling?

As more and more human activities find assistance and context in digital environments, new forms of interaction develop and discard old ones, changing fundamental notions of identity, politics and ethics. In the new digital world, some stories can no longer be told, because they do not reflect a world where “you are never alone, never get lost, never don´t know” ( Eric Schmidt)

This seminar asks: does the “digitizing of society” change the very nature of drama, or do we still exist in a stroytelling world based on good old Aristotelian principles?

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DESIGN : AGENCY
( open conversational salon, with the curriculum “visual communication”)

What does it mean to be creative in the creative industry today? 

What kind of “aesthetic agency” can a designer expect to enjoy when working within strategic constraints? As creative industries evolve under the pressure of digital transformations, designers must adapt their methods and working habits to match the realities of a changing landscape.
Our purpose is to investigate the agency ecosystem and study how professional creative work is conceived, iterated and delivered in constant negotiations between strategist, creative directors, clients, texters, coders, and data analysts.

We will experiment with ethnographic miniatures, interview various actors of Berlin ́s creative industries, and explore the current practices of strategic design as to better speculate on possible alternatives and prototype our own utopic model. Can we design a new “agency”

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“DING DONG”
(with Pr.Dr.Thomas Düllo)


This transdisciplinary seminar reflects the complex relational networks in which objects, actors and processes interact with their environment, constantly re-organising roles, hierarchies,  positions and agencies.

Canonical texts of the actor-network-theoretical tradition (Serres, Latour) collide with Martin Heidegger’s krucke, Robert Bresson’s choreographies (“Pickpocket”), Jacques Tati’s chain reactions (“Traffic”), and basket ball coach Phil Jackson’s strategies (the “triangle offense”) to open a vast field of verbal-visual collisions.

Further experiments map analog networks onto digital “things” and their connected agencies. Textual and audiovisual miniatures provide multiple occasions to explore and model actor-network dynamics in individual and group projects.

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“MUSIC AS SOCIAL DYNAMITE”
(with Dr.Eckhard Fürlus)

Music is pitch & rythm.Music is vibration and subversion. “Hoergewohnheit”, body politics, societal norms. The dance, the trance, the cult, the tribe & the individual. The street& the concert hall. The headphoned skulls. Alone & together.

We want to explore various aesthetic, formal and medial revolutions throughout musical history, from gothic choirs to mozart, bebop and techno.We want to research the societal dynamics & implication of musical breakthroughs: the dances, the clubs, the drugs, the deals & the cash.

The avantgarde, the rebels, the sample-pioneers, the messiahs and the pirates, the thieves, the censors, the biggots, the transgressors, the audionauts. The christopher columbus of musical history past present and future. Their vehicles and their heroes, their places and their rituals, the concert halls, the radio shows, their manifests & their statues.

Meditation, Hedonia, Psychedelia, boom cars, deep bass, sex, drugs & partitur.How do you verbalise something as unspeakable as musical extasy?

Students will deliver experimental “referats” in the form of theroretical sound collages. These could eventually take the shape of  a lecture performance, a radio show or a manifesto.

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“STRATEGY ²”
( with Pr.Dr.Christian Blümelhuber)

How does a general sell an uphill battle to his troops? The prisoner an escape plan to the jailman? The robber a holdup to the accomplice? How does one “storytell” a strategy, how does one sell a business plan?  This seminar postulates the need for strategies to present themselves strategically, – in full awareness of the terrain and actors and stakes involved.

From contextual mapping to interface design and creative negotiating methods, we ‘ re exploring the post-powerpoint era with experimental strategy pitching methods. A variety of narrative and performative formats support our endeavour, from stage plays to live cartooning, participative workshops, interface design , etc…strategizing is explored here as a real world, situational dramaturgy workshop.

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“VR THE WORLD”
(with Pr.Klaus Gasteier)

Borrowing Roger Ebert’ s notion of “film as empathy machine ” , Mike Mills introduces his VR startup with the promise of  total identification: 360° immersion beams you in another human being´s experience, –  to his plights and to his joys. The “empathy business card” is on the table…but do we really think empathy is stereoscopic question? What about dramaturgy?

Are we the children of a new (media) fairy tale? Where is the ogre? The princess? The wizard?  VR was presented as a major shift destined to  predate and destroy existing industries and business models. Which disruption shall we expect for Defense? Science? Education? Therapy? Retail? Porn? Death assistance? Cinema? Social Networking? Friending? Trolling?

We are speculating what the so-called “Empathy machine” will do to the world it is pretending the virtualize.

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“POST-POSTIONING”
(in dialogue with Pr.Dr. Jürgen Schulz)


For decade, the “positioning cross” was the true star of every corporate powerpoint presentation. So central to focus groups & boardrooms that it’ s almost turned into a religion.

What should we make of strategic positioning in the digital age? Aren’t we all supposed to approach contextual change with new, fluid tools?

From Clausewitz, Sun-Tzu and Jack Trout to Marcel Duchamp, Bruce Lee and Andy Warhol, we ‘ re exploring various aspects of the positioning concept and search for a new form of semantic mapping to map and navigate complexity.