Stückgut zu Containern
“Brussels, 10:48 pm. The offices are empty. A teletype machine switches on. A message from Chicago. People are still at work there. A telex from Nagasaki. People are already back at work there.” Juxtaposed with images of the neon signs and street lights of a big city at night are close-ups of a telex machine as it receives the five-digit codes of an electronic message, retranslates them into letters and prints the text onto paper. “No clerks, no forms, no messengers,” comments the male voice in the Siemens’ film Mit fünf Schritten [In Five Steps] from the year 1967. Long before the internet, teletype technology made it possible to directly transmit messages, orders or reservations over great distances in just seconds. Around the clock, all over the world. In the context of ever increasing digitalization and the associated rationalization of human labour, the film programme General Cargo to Containers reflects the development of logistics and telecommunication in the field of maritime trade. In addition to Mit fünf Schritten, the programme features the DEFA productions 18 Knoten bis Hongkong [Eighteen Knots to Hong Kong] and Die Schwelle [Threshold], framed by two artistic documentaries that explore the transformation of the Port of Hamburg. From the hard physical labour carried out in the 1960s on docks and in hatchways as depicted in Der Tag eines unständigen Hafenarbeiters [A Day in the Life of an Itinerant Longshoreman] by Leonore Mau and Hubert Fichte to the computer-operated container handling facility in Olaf Sobczak’s video a. g.v. – t. e.u.
curated by Florian Wüst