Exploded Film – Presentation text


In an increasingly screen based world, moving images are everywhere around us. Urban screens in the park and TV screens in the gym or at the bakery offer information in an attention-grabbing way.  The spectator is used to swallow this information and is not critical to the source of information. In 2006, Siegfried Zielinski wrote about ‘dramaturgy of differences’ as a technique to reveal the process between man and machine, and as such to force the user into reflection. He was inspired by the alienating techniques of Bertolt Brecht that did not only wanted to entertain the public, but also wanted to give people insight into society. ‘Exploded Film’ refers to these techniques on two levels: (1) technological and (2) substantively.


1. Technological level

Moving images (film, video, games…) are black boxed, this means that their functioning is known, but not their internal construction. In ‘Exploded film – The Kiss’, the medium of film is literally taken apart and represented as an ‘exploded view’, giving the spectator insight into the usually invisible construction.

Professor Nick Couldry says media and communication technologies are increasingly ‘black boxed’, as they are seen as ‘natural’ in our society. In order to understand how the technology works and in order to be able to translate it into a visual format, we have to open up the black box and follow its actors. Bruno Latour’s Actor Network Theory (ANT) studies networks in which actors (both human and non-human) influence each other. Latour claims that all actors within a network have an equally large influence on the functioning of this network. In stating this, Latour contests the contrast between subject (human) and object (machine). In ‘Exploded Film’ also the interaction between moving image and the spectator is revealed. Because of the double image –effect that the installation produces, the spectator becomes part of the film, yet as part of the background scene.

2. Substantive level

It is no coincidence that the track of this installation is shaped as a rollercoaster. The ups and downs of the track are a visualization of story structure. According to Freytag, drama is divided into five acts, namely exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and dénouement. His ‘dramatic arc’ was mainly applicable to theatre. Screenwriter Syd Field rethought this model to a three-act structure for film: setup, confrontation and resolution. These models serve as the basis of many films but also of other types of moving images such as commercials, games, interactive documentaries and even information graphics. In the installation ‘Exploded film – The Kiss’; this up-and-down-structure influences the pace of the resulting film, like storytelling influences the pace of moving images. It plays with the spectators’ expectations: starting slowly to introduce the characters and the setting, moving to the dramatic goal of the story and speeding to the resolution of the conflict. As such, the installation reveals not only the technical aspect of moving images, but also the substantive.










Couldry N. (2004). Actor Network Theory and Media. Do they Connect and on what Terms? In: A. Hepp et al. (eds) Cultures of Connectivity.

Freytag, Gustav (1863) Die Technik des Dramas.

Latour B. (2005). Reassembling the social: An introduction to Actor-Network Theory. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Zielinski S. (2006). Deep Time of the Media. Cambridge: The MIT Press.