Ever dreamt of opening up uncultivated land in the Wild West? Even today, when most usable land is developed, this dream still exists in the minds of some, including eteam, a duo of New York-based German video artists and designers consisting of Franziska Lamprecht and Hajoe Moderegger.
Mixing computer graphic animation, digital camera footage and vintage pop music, the film 1.1 Acre Flat Screen can be seen as a large video art project, or as a long-term experiment to build up a business on a plot of barren land in Utah.
On one hand, the film mocks Internet shopping by exposing the false promises of the sellers of the plot of land, which is, counter to their claims, a next-to-useless tract of desert. On the other hand, it also mocks the filmmakers by documenting their year-long adventure to fulfill their go-West dream.
In September, 2002, the eteam members bought a 1.1 acre plot of land on eBay. The duo are accustomed to working at "building" and "creating" on flat computer screens in their jobs and their plot of land in Utah seems to offer a similar, wide-open platform for creative work.
The film starts by introducing ways to find a plot of land in the desert using satellite images, topographical maps and a compass. Then it begins the interesting, slightly naive and ridiculous adventure of the team's attempt to develop the lot.
In the vast, empty desert, the team uses a spool of string to fence off their land, using a sun-bleached horse's skull at one corner to fix the string against the strong wind.
The next step is to open access to their land. "Watching a train go by, it occurred to us, that, what we really needed was a train to stop in front of our property, that way a train operator, a conductor or maybe even some passengers, could see the land and consider its value. After all, historically, train stops were the main reasons for many settlements in the old West," says Moderegger in the voice-over.
"Since we had grown up reading glorious German hardcover interpretations of how the West was won, we were confident in the theoretical part of our vision. What we lacked was experience," he says.
So the team returns to the lot to stop a train, opening the Train Stop Inn by the tracks to sell cold drinks and snacks to train operators. The team members wear goofy cowboy outfits and hold up a signboard to advertise their goods for sale whenever a train passes by. Of course, the trains don't stop, but this provides a few funny scenes with Moderegger holding a Coca-Cola in his hands, desperately chasing down trains.
Finally, the train, which makes several daily trips by their land, stops after a week of their efforts to hail it. The train operator then exchanges drinks for snacks with the team members in the empty desert before taking off again.
1.1 Acre Flat Screen
Directed by Franziska Lamprecht and Hajoe Moderegger
Running time: 45 minutes
Screening times and location: Today, 4:50pm, Showtime Cinema, Wednesday, 10:30am, Showtime Cinema
2004 紐約錄像影展 / 2004 柏林國際媒體藝術展