Soviet Unterzoegersdorf in “A Guidebook of Alternative Nows”

Just received our copy of A Guidebook of Alternative Nows in the mail.
We contributed a piece about Soviet Unterzoegersdorf and Sierra Zulu.

A Guidebook of Alternative Nows is a collaboratively created book. A Guidebook of Alternative Nows is a collaboratively created book. 34 visionary creative thinkers and makers contributed to this book which illuminates ways of devising more socially, economically, and ecologically just versions of now.

The Journal of Aesthetics and Protest Press, 2012
Concept: Amber Hickey
Editor: Amber Hickey
Graphic Design: Angelina Köpplin
Cover Art: Mary Tremonte
Paperback book with two alternative covers, 266 pages, Color,
17 x 24 centimeters (6.7 x 9.45 inches)


Soviet Unterzoegersdorf — and 20 years of monochrom

We currently celebrate 20 years of monochroms with an exhibition at MUSA in Vienna. As part of the show we also present an anecdote about Soviet Unterzoegersdorf, dating back to 2001. We chose the format of two jumping jacks connected to an audio player. The piece tells the story of an Austrian police officer who tried to question Commissar Chrusov (played by Johannes Grenzfurthner) — and fails.


Sierra Zulu: What’s up, philosophy!?

Why is the digital revolution such an important theme in your film? (But please, no spoilers!)

Movies are exciting. People go to the cinema in order to experience new worlds. But cinema is about to lose its prime source of narrative, having been tethered thus far to physical action that can be easily filmed. Cinema needs tempo, it needs speed. The “movement-image” (oh Gilles Deleuze!) depends on tangible, concrete physical action onto which the cameras can point. Yet in contrast, the real world of non-cinema is losing physical action day by day. It is a time of the abstract, optically intangible processes of networks and data systems. This regress of visual displayability is rather daft. Cinema has thrived on the visable for more than a hundred years. It’s easy to create a feature film about a bank robbery, but that’s anachronistic. Some of the most important crimes are invisible, such as electronic money movements between international stock exchanges. Hollywood cinema on the other hand still hasn’t evolved beyond anything better than banal sequences straight out of an Errol Flynn movie. How can we portray the stories and fairy tales of our (new) world? All those dramas and comedies? All those stories and atrocities? Well, we want to try it. We want to distill our view into a 90 minute narration of a dark, humorous story about the problems of the 21st century.

So it’s a funny film about serious topics?

Indeed. It’s something for everyone. Friends of a good old LOL as well as people who like to delve into the many layers of cultural criticism and nerdish references. We aim to use stylistic elements of the black comedy and the farce to deal with the fundamental questions of the digital frontier while also tackling problems of national supremacy, international conflict solving strategies, national and international legislation, the power of the media, and the diplomatic impotency of international organizations. Sierra Zulu wants to explore the perspectives of people who live on the fringes of what we would call “history” or “the world”. This fringe area – surrounded by the European Union – is where we find the microstate Soviet Unterzoegersdorf, the almost forgotten ‘last autonomous republic of the Soviet Union’ which has fallen victim to its geo-political, historical, cultural, and economical irrelevance. This village of 1,500 people is the last paragon of ideals which have been eradicated from the face of the earth with Soviet-Communism. Sierra Zulu is about implanting false memories into the political and cultural record of our modern world, simulating the effects of this partial and local rewriting of history through the initiation of an entire network of events caused by this transposition. Or to put it differently: how would our current reality react to a Soviet Unterzoegersdorf? And what does a “Soviet Hicksville” have to contribute to the betterment of humankind? In a time of global discussions about topics like internet censorship, leaked cables and robot killer drones, the world needs to hear the answers offered by a couple of Soviets in the middle of nowhere. Really, we mean it.

Sierra Zulu presents: Andreas Rausch

Our friend Andreas Rausch lives in Bamberg/Germany and works as an independent illustrator and storyboard artist.
We are highly delighted that we could convince him to join our team as the official storyboard maestro.

What’s Andreas story?
After finishing school, Andreas began work in the field of ceramics as a potter, painter and sculptor. While working with ceramics in 1994, he started his career as an illustrator and comic artist for various magazines, postcard manufacturers and comic books publishers, which lead to his independence as an artist in 1997.
In 2000 he began to work as a storyboard artist and set illustrator and painter, which included productions for cinema and TV.
In 2005 his graphic documentary Zappaesk was published by Ehapa, and was given a 2-page feature in Rolling Stone magazine.

(Above: Andreas is drawing some early storyboard images; August 2011 in Vienna)

What’s a storyboard anyways?
A film storyboard is essentially a series of sketches produced beforehand to help a film team visualize the scenes and find potential problems before they occur. In creating a motion picture with any degree of fidelity to a script, a storyboard provides a visual layout of events as they are to be seen through the camera lens.

When can we see the first sketches for Sierra Zulu?
Patience is a virtue, comrade… but here is a first glimpse.

(Above: a first glimpse)

Sierra Zulu presents: Josh Ellingson

Illustrator and designer Josh Ellingson on his role in the production of Sierra Zulu.
(Interview/editing by Eddie Codel.)

Josh Ellingson lives and works as an illustrator in San Francisco, California. In 1999, Ellingson graduated art school and headed west. Since then, Josh has contributed artwork to popular publications and websites worldwide and worked with clients ranging from toy makers to tequila companies.
Partial client list: Wired Magazine, Popular Science, PC Magazine, Hasbro, Adobe Systems, Robogames.

Exhibitions (Solo shows):
2010 All The Best, Mission: Comics & Art, San Francisco, CA;
2009 Bots, Bugs, and Beasts, The Art of Joshua Ellingson, The Museum of Robots, Second Life;
2009 South Carolina State University, Fine Arts Building, SC;
2006 Super7 Gallery, San Francisco, CA; 2003 KidRobot, San Francisco, CA