DEPARTMENT OF HUMOR

By installing the Department of Humor I would like to relativize the term „humor“ as such. Since I think that humor differs globally, due to its different societal and cultural backgrounds, I have selected the joke as a metaphor and common denominator. Then I selected people at random to tell jokes in their respective mother tongue – due to time restrictions I could only come up with 22 languages – and documented theses jokes on video. As my mother tongue is German, I have also selected jokes in various German dialects to show how the same language can be split up in several completely different dialects, sound completely different, yet originate from the same language. For me, humor as such has a lot to do with communication, one of the most difficult notions there is.

Sometimes it is an adventure to look at the result of – despite speaking the same language – person A telling something to person B, of find out what person B really understood. Things are even more difficult with short stories such as jokes. The capability of understanding a joke depends on a variety of different factors. Say, if it is a vulgar, sexist, fascist, sarcastic or religious joke or if the person shares the same views that cause the joke to be funny in the first place. It is also relevant, if the person possesses the same information background the jokes teller does. If this is not the case, the joke could be incomprehensible, misconstrued or worse, not funny. I first realized this when I once told a joke with very black humor in Japan and instead of laughter got tears as reaction.

I intentionally used pictograms of a man and a woman on the projection screens, so as to express that the difference of sexes is another important factor in communication. My installation can be walked through. It was built in cooperation with the Austrian expert in pneumatic constructions Michael Schultes. It consists of a pneumatic hull made from a milky yet transparent foil so visitors on the outside can almost see the ones on the inside. I wanted to emphasize this difference between inside and outside by using the projection screens, as projections on them can be seen both inside and outside of the installation.

However, all projections shown are never perceived the same way, as they dissolve optically according to the spatial viewpoint of the beholder or reintegrate to show the full undissolved base picture. This optical difference in perception is a metaphor for the difference in perceiving communication. Thus, it works the same way with humor and its tool, the joke. But although mostly those people will understand a joke who can speak the respective language, other people in the vicinity might be infected by laughter. I know because I would. I love to laugh. Therefore I have applied the statement „THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT“ to the backside of the installation in my dot technique. The act of laughing and the feeling it causes both are universal all over the world. They connect people irrespective of culture, social status or religion.

The TIMEPILL is also meant to create a connection between the inside and the outside of the biennial. Video clips made by different people will be projected by video beamer onto the projection screen of the TIMEPILL to relativize the temporal notion of „NOW“ – which is also written on the projection screens. As my TIMEPILL project is shown at many places all over the world, the biennial in Valencia is another stop for the project intended to show how relative the notion of time really is.

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