<p>2017/2020<br />
Rosenheim Kunduz<br />
Artistic research</p>

The event of the poltergeist haunting in 1967 in the town Rosenheim has been called one of the first “media spectacles“ and has not been declared a closed case as of this writing. During the original investigation, reality and fiction blurred when police and local authorities became involved. In one news report at the time, the then famous paranormal investigator Hans Bender illustrates how a painting on the wall physically turned around itself in the legal office where the Poltergeist events had allegedly happened. Mind you, this is just a staging of events. The TV team is not shooting at the site where the events have unfolded, and the painting is not the original painting. That this is so is not clarified in the report, but can be deducted from the other recordings that were shot on the original site. Tthe real painting that supposedly had paranormally spun around itself can be supposedly seen in an extremely blurry recording. And again, something is strange. The actual footage of this event of the picture that turns around itself has never been released, only a recording of the recording playing in a TV. In the news report, the distinction between reality and fiction is unclear.

I am linking this supposed haunting of Rosenheim with an event that has become known as the Kunduz affair. Around one hundred civilians have died in 2009 due to the false interpretation by German military personnel of military drone footage. An US-American fighter jet had communicated video images to the German commanding officer of the German military, who made the decision, based on the video images as well as both correct and false peripheral information, to attack the convoy seen in the footage. Both the military A.I. used to identify threat and human intelligence combined where not powerful enough to determine whether the moving objects should be classified as threats or non-threats.

The civilian deaths occurred on the basis of pre-installed belief systems and false knowledge of the commanding officer and his surroundings. His ultimate decision was based on the circumstance he found himself in, in a position of power, and the only images to rely on to correctly identify potential threat was remote blurry video.

The relationship between truth and reality are at the heart of my research trying to connect a trivial happening in a Bavarian small town to a violation of human rights. Their connection is in the way that both events were consumed by most people as a media event, remotely, through video, leading to judgment of the events, remotely, based on the audiences’ beliefs.

For a first step I did an experiment: I made a printout of the copy of the flower painting from the TV report about the Rosenheim haunting. I also made a printout of the video still just before the moment of the air strike in Kunduz, that killed civilians. I framed both printouts, hung them on the wall and filmed them with a 2009 infrared video camera in then common poor resolution. Using thin see through thread, I had both images both moving incredulously seemingly by themselves. If you look closely, you can probably see the thread. The result is slightly creepy.

This practical and theoretical research is just the beginning of an examination of the intersection of fiction, non-fiction and reality. It’s an as of yet unnamed field of research somewhere between uncanny valley, scripted reality TV and a good but mediocre True Crime Netflix documentary. A good example for this concept would be conspiracy theories like the fake moon landing (a reality moment supposedly designed by fiction-filmmaker Stanley Kubrick, who in turn was lended NASA developed special lenses to capture low light exposures on film), or the supposedly “fake” coverage of the Iraq Gulf War in 1991 by the CNN journalist Charles Jaco (the news crew was filming the correspondent in front of what looked like blue screen and a film set, which turned out was just the extravagant exterior of that hotel in Saudi Arabia the crew was covering the war from).