Wolfgang Hastert's videotaped portraits of youth, uniformly starkly posed and stripped from their natural environment seem reminiscent of passport profile photos. But here they register anonymity as much as identity. The young women and men emerge puzzled, searching, and longing for contact.
Were August Sander alive, he would have identified these people by what work they did, anchoring them in society. Wolfgang Hastert gives the viewer no social indicators whatsoever. His protagonists live in cyberspace, communicate in short bursts of internet chatter, and hide behind constantly changing profile updates.
Hastert takes the liberty of creating romantic couples out of these single portraits. By splitting the video screen into two halves he produces double portraits facing each other. The screen montages of his protagonists suggest momentary friendships in a constant up-loading frenzy. These still faces are alive as they move either in slow loops or jittery poses that suggest a contemporary version of online anxiety. The protagonists are caught up in status updates rather than meaningful conversation. Briefly interjected title cards show epigrammatic one-liners describing the current relationship of the subject or comment on recent profile changes of others in the friendship group.
The photographs in this show translate video back to non time-based photographic emulsion. Inspired by the visual appearance of "time lines" in computer editing interfaces, Hastert montages his imagery, again suggesting possible relationships and further discovering issues of identity. The large- scale photographs show various combinations of "friends" and romantic interests. In Tom is Your Friend Hastert identifies a young generation immersed in a lattice of hyperlinked "friends". Tom hereby acts as everyone's default first friend—a buddy and institution. The real Tom is alive and works for MySpace.
Trained as a photographer, Wolfgang Hastert works in both film and video. His interest in portraying the phenomenon of social networking sites resulted in the feature length Click Me:), his award winning documentary about people searching for love online. The short CYBERVIXEN, a video based on footage from webcam chat communities, was presented in the program POETICS OF BANDWIDTH in the international media arts festival LA FREEWAVES. Wolfgang Hastert is currently a lecturer at the University of California San Diego.