Kay A. Itting is an intermedia artist, designer, photographer and creative director
Born in Munich, Germany
Founder (with Elsa for Toys and HO Richter) of the Berlin artist collective mediamorph and the video art group Stressjets
Studied photography at FAS Berlin in the class of Sibylle Bergemann
Lives and works in Paris
Photo: Greta Itting
Selected Exhibitions, Performances and Collaborations: Die Macht der Nacht, München / Düsseldorf / Athen / Berlin (1989-1992) // Loveparade, Berlin (1990-2000) // Space Agency, Berlin (1991-1992) // Trans Paris Rêves, Paris (1991) // Documenta IX in collaboration with Van Gogh TV (1992) // In Circular Motion – A Video Mantra / with Cosmic Baby (1992) // Chromapark 1-3, Berlin (1994-1996) // Sonar, Barcelona (1994, 1995) // art futura, Madrid (1994) // La Fura Dels Baus, Berlin (1994) // Steirischer Herbst, Graz (1996) // Hamburger Bahnhof (Grand Opening), Berlin (1996) // pop mix / vol. II, shift, Berlin (1996) // 10 Years Fall of the Berlin Wall, New York (1999) // Berlin Achtung! / Cultural Capital of Europe, Helsinki (2000) // Represent! Berlin, Barcelona (2003) // Herbert Grönemeyer “Mensch” Tour (2003) // Kunstverein München (2004) // BOUM at P.O.P., Berlin (2013) // over 350 live performances (1990-2001) //
Awards: Bayerischer Staatsfilmpreis (1994) // HAL-Award (2001) // Platinium for the DVD „Die Ärzte – Killer“ (2001) //
Publications: LOCALIZER 1.0 – The Techno House Book, Die Gestalten-Verlag (1995) // Mehr Licht, Merve Verlag (1999) // Nachtleben Berlin: 1974 bis heute, Metrolit Verlag (2013) PDF // Mediamorph : “”le champ libre pour les expérimentations les plus folles””, Liberation (1995) // “Das Ende und der Anfang”, Jungle World (2018) //
Photography & Commissions: SZ-Magazin // QVEST // Jetzt // Blumenbar Verlag // Die Gestalten Verlag // Metrolit Verlag // Nivea // 3000 // Playboy // Herbert Grönemeyer // Wella // Lucky Strike //
Berlin’s Legendary Pioneers of Digital Art
Kay Itting, the founding member of mediamorph, a club visuals collective who pioneered digital art in Berlin in the 1990s, is set to release a series of artworks, based on the material they created at their live shows, in the crucible of the city’s techno scene.
Kay Itting and his artist group mediamorph pioneered digital art in the nineties, working at the apex of the techno, art and music scenes, including the Love Parade, Low Spirit Records and Westbam, UFO, Tresor, Sonar and Art Futura festivals, La Fura dels Baus theatre group and even Herbert Groenemeyer. Within one single decade of cultural and technological transformation, Itting and his collaborators produced over 350 live video shows in clubs and at raves attended up to 35,000 people all over the world.
Then in 2002, alienated by the commercialisation of the techno scene, Itting abruptly brought the mediamorph project to a close. When, twenty years later, he finally tracked down the location of the archive of his multi-media digital art works he didn’t know what he would find. The material had lain in storage for almost two decades, placed there by another member of his team who had stashed them in a warehouse in Berlin, without telling anyone where, before going ‘off grid’. When Itting unlocked the door to the storage unit, he discovered piles of his precious VHS and BetaSP tapes, covered in mould, their cardboard sleeves sodden with water. Inspired by the current NFT craze for digital art, Itting has salvaged what he can from this historic material is creating short-form videos and one-off stills as works of art.
Kay Itting began working in video in 1988 using a Sony Video 8 Pro CCD-V200E camera he bought. In 1989 he met video artists Peter Rubin and Hans Otto Richter at one of the Macht der Nacht (Power of the Night) techno parties in Munich, run by Germany’s leading DJ of the era, Westbam. A week later, Itting was tasked with creating a show for these raves which integrated the lighting, performers, videos and 16mm film loops, which were projected over the dance floor. It was all very analog in those days, but the birth of digital art came at this moment.
Under the mentorship of Peter Rubin, who is today acknowledged as the godfather of VJing, inspired by William Gibson, Wired editor and futurologist Kevin Kelly and the Hacker Bible of the Chaos Computer Club, Itting began working with found material and 8mm film, which he recorded onto video, and, above all, with computer animations, created on a Commodore Amiga 500 with the DPAINT IV animation software. In Dusseldorf Itting met Elsa 4Toys and together with Hans Otto Richter they formed mediamorph and based themselves in Berlin. In 1990 they were creating multi-media environments for the city’s famous UFO techno nights and for the Saturday ‘salon’ Space Agency. During the nineties, Itting created under the name “STRESSJETS” over 350 live video shows in clubs and at raves for audiences which could range from an intimate crowd of 200 to a stadium-scaled 35,000 people. They ‘played’ in clubs in Russia, Luxembourg, France, Spain, Latvia, Austria, and beyond. They worked almost every year at Berlin’s Love Parades in Berlin.
Acknowledged as tech-art innovators, mediamorph were invited to produce shows at the electronic festivals of Art Futura, Steirischer Herbst and Sonar. On the art scene, they were commissioned to work on the opening of Hamburger Bahnhof Museum for Modern Art, in Helsinki as part of the events around the Cultural Capital of Europe, while the Berlin Senate flew mediamorph to New York to mark the 10th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. They worked with artists like Las Fura Dels Baus, Herbert Grönemeyer and No Angels. In 1994 Itting was co-founder of the Chromapark Techno Art exhibition at E-werk in Berlin.
mediamorph worked in a dazzling variety of ways with their material. They used found footage recorded from TV, or old 16mm or 8mm films they bought from junk shops. Sometimes they treated these old film loops with chemicals and then re-filmed them on video cameras. The computers were primitive by today’s standards, but state-of-the-art for the time – Amiga, Macintosh and Silicon Graphics computer workstations for animations, effects and editing, and for the live shows up to four S-VHS players connected to a Panasonic WJ-MX50 video mixer.
Itting’s videos juxtapose abstract patterns with contemporary footage. The animal camouflage of a lizard’s skin flashframes against hypnotic fractals and a football match, the lurid colours transformed by the effects buttons of the video mixer. A short clip of a man diving off a board is cut up, and edited scores of different ways to create a short film about the floating freedom of the liberated body. Rectangular patterns, echoing Joseph Alber’s square paintings are interspersed with flash-frames of electronic consumer products, evoking if not prophesying a world where our every interaction is mediated by technology. The simple throbbing circle of the drum inside a speaker, playing techno, becomes the motif for an abstract film, while the graffiti art icons of Elsa for Toys are used to communicate the mediamorph brand. Seen twenty years after their production, with the original rough textures of video edits and the historic image degradation present, there is no mistaking that these are iconic images which capture a moment in digital history, an era of innocence and hope, when technology was ruled by optimism.
This is how it all began…
Ben Lewis, Author of The Last Leonardo, 2021