Browse Archive

Net, The (Netz, Das)

Net, The

Production Report featured in
German Films Quarterly 01/2002

At any given second, millions of people are making their way through cyberspace, navigating the paths of the Internet without a second thought, walking the virtual corridors of knowledge and information with consummate ease.

From its origins in the 1960s, its birthright the ethos of hippies, anti-Vietnam War protest and Free Love then permeating the laboratories of Stanford and MIT, and Cold War contracts from the Department of Defense, how did it all now come together?

"The film is an investigation and reflection on the history of the Net," says Lutz Dammbeck, the man behind the project. "It looks at current developments in this digital and scientific revolution, computer development, data processing and the communications media, where images of a new world are being drawn."

Dammbeck also looks at the biographies, experiences and aims of the Net's important agents, the cyber elite. His particular interest is "the role of the spirit of the '60s, in the run-up to the realization of the first technical networks like the Arpanet."

Also under examination is the significance of modern art of the 1960s and its concepts of interactivity and networking. The Net investigates the role and significance of philosophy, and, says Dammbeck, "the walk between art, science and defense."

His choice is personal, his inspiration that of cultural criticism, not journalism.

"I'm particularly interested in the latest developments in the field of computer-business and ideas concerning new economic forms, the free flow of ideas in the Net," he says, "and the previous notions of intellectual property, copyright, value, ownership which are being thrown into question by the Internet."

How can the invisible aspects of these processes be made visible? What is the Net? Is it possible to touch it, see it, switch it on and off at will? Who operates it? Who does it belong to? Where is it, or its individual components, situated?

In order to find out, award-winning documentary maker Dammbeck escapes the advertising world of virtuality and employs concepts and images from the pre-net period. Located between those who commercialize the Net and the intellectuals' euphoria or cultural pessimism stands the silent power of the engineers. Their voice is also heard.
Genre Science, Society
Category Documentary, Feature
Year of Production 2004
Director Lutz Dammbeck
Screenplay Lutz Dammbeck
Cinematography Thomas Plenert, Eberhard Geick
Margot Neubert-Maric
J.U. Lensing
Cast Nam June Paik, Stewart Brand, Marvin Minsky, Heinz von Foerster, John Perry Barlow, Hans Haacke, Bob Taylor, John Brockmann
Producer Lutz Dammbeck
Production Company Lutz Dammbeck Filmproduktion/Hamburg, in co-production with ARTE, SWR
Format Super 16, DigiBeta PAL, color
Original Version
 German, English
With backing from Filmförderung Hamburg Schleswig-Holstein, MFG Baden-Württemberg, Filmfoerderung Sachsen, Filmfoerderung Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Filmbuero NW