Nur der Fortschritt (Only Progress)

Frédéric Jaeger, Nino Klingler

Nur der Fortschritt, © Frédéric Jaeger

Who cares about the Anthropocene when the sun is shining, the football is rolling, and two men are flirting? The political prisoner Olo has to speak before camels if he wants to be set free. But they simply won’t listen. The guards are happily playing a football match without paying much attention, with the exception of the goalie Yegussa, who pricks up his ears. What is Olo talking about? Why is he speaking of nature with such disgust? A storm has thrashed Molussia, leaving it in chaos. The rulers are bewildered while the oppressed sense an opportunity to revolt. Maybe guards can fall in love with prisoners. Night comes and Olo is free. Yegussa is quickly located via a dating app. Nothing more stands in the way of cruising. Except for the Anthropocene. Olo and Yegussa can’t help themselves. Instead of obscene messages, they text Socratically and begin to ruminate: Geo-localization makes love, is that progress? Can humankind keep up with its own inventions? Where weeds overrun signal masts, smartphones are silenced. Yet as soon as their bodies touch, a new discussion threatens to arise. Who in the underbrush can think about sex when nature has to be protected?

Nur der Fortschritt sets two people in relation to the facts of this manmade era. This three-episode philosophical web series draws upon the works of Jewish intellectual Günther Anders, who formulated central ideas of concern to the current discourse on the Anthropocene as early as the 1930s. Each episode consists of two simultaneously playing web videos that lead to the juxtaposition of pictures and thoughts: in the left frame, short clips dramatize fables from Anders’ novel The Molussian Catacomb, while at the same time these fantastic parables are challenged and questioned by associative pictures and textual collages. In the search for the right frame of reference, each level offers a distraction from the other: love distracts from the Anthropocene, the sound from the picture, the right from the left. Maybe because thoughts and emotions are constantly interfering with one another, we can discover the human dimension of the Anthropocene. Users are invited to play along and set their own preferences to either follow Anders’s words of warning, the sensual gazes, or nature’s charms.

Frédéric Jaeger works as a film critic and media educator and is also active as a documentary film author, editor, and producer. In 2013 he founded the film production company Empirik and became a member of the managing board of the Verband der deutschen Filmkritik.

Nino Klinger is a freelance film critic, cameraman, and editor currently living in Berlin. In 2014 he was awarded a grant as part of the MFG-Baden-Württemberg’s Siegfried Kracauer Prize.