Joachim Sauter

The Creators Project: Can you explain what ART+COM is all about?

Jaochim Sauter: We’re trying to transpose content through the new media--for example, by using installations, interactive spaces, or interactive architecture. We’re an interdisciplinary group of people like designers and architects, and we’re all somehow associated to Berlin’s Art School UDK or Chaos Computer Club.

Did you have anything special in mind as to where you want to go with this when you first started? We felt something was about to happen. In the late 80s it wasn’t totally unpredictable anymore that something like the internet would happen, and that the interaction would become more significant. We grew up together with the new media.

In your eyes, how did these new means of communication change the world?

They made everything smaller. We’re all closer now, but that also means there’s less depth in our communication. I’m completely against Facebook, but friends of mine have like 500 friends on Facebook. There’s been a lot of change and there will be more change soon–for the better. There will be a longing for depth.

What’s next in communication?

It’s the post-virtual communication. It’s clear we want to go back into real spaces--we want to experience things together with others.

How is ART+COM approaching these issues?

We try to hide technology, rather than making it visible, like in the past. We hide it in items of everyday use. In the natural history museum we have a telescope you can aim at one of the dinosaurs and then you see it come to life when you look through it. We’ve integrated media communication into this space.

So integration is the key to the future?

People don’t want to see technology anymore. Our world is so rich in objects that can carry information, you don’t need monitors to do it. That’s my vision of the future for the new media--getting away from projections and monitors. For example, we just created this installation in the BMW museum that shows the design process of a car utilizing balls that float in the room. You can communicate through objects rather than TV screens or monitors. We want the objects to tell the stories, not computers.

Did the development of the new media influence the world of design?

The computer was quickly recognized as not only a tool to improve publishing and designing, but as an independent medium of its own. When the visual internet came out in 1993, we knew were facing a new medium that was up there with print, TV, and broadcast.

What opportunities do new media offer?

It’s mostly about the interactive quality of communication. Movies run from start to end, you read a book from the first to the last page, and now all of a sudden there’s a dialogue. Another aspect is that everything’s connected now. The third is the multimedia aspect–all of a sudden we’re able to combine different traditional media in one. We can use film, text, stills, and graphics all in one medium. That’s it in a nutshell.

Where is this all taking us? Printing changed a lot in our society and so did radio and TV–the internet will change a lot, too, but after the hype it will eventually level out and find its place within the classic media. I think this medium has grown up since its birth in the mid-80s.

You’ve been working in this environment for more than 20 years now. Did you ever imagine this current landscape?

When I look back today, of course I could have never predicted what happened. Such a radical change of paradigms in communication and design is something I could have never imagined at school. The coolest machine was the copy machine back then. Print is 600 years old, radio is 150, TV is 80, and the new media is 20. I don’t think we’ll experience another radical change like this in media within the next 20 years.