Andreas Treske is an author, filmmaker, and media artist. In 1986, he graduated from the University of Siegen in German Literature and Political Science and in 1992, from the Munich Film Academy. From 1992–1998, he was part of the creative art staff at HFF Munich, accomplishing extensive research on applied aesthetics for cinema and TV. From 1998–2010, he taught at the Department of Communication and Design at Bilkent University and acted as chair of the department from 2005–2010. Between 2011–2014, he taught in the Film Option of the Media and Communication department of İzmir University of Economics and was a founding member of the Department of Cinema and Digital Media in 2012. Treske has had many international exhibitions of interactive media works and has screened various short films in international film festivals. His codirected feature-length documentary, “Takım Böyle Tutulur,” played in Autumn 2005 in more than 50 Turkish cinemas. In 2008, he was the picture editor of the feature-length cinema documentary “Mustafa.” He is the organizer of Video Vortex Ankara and head of the steering committee of “Towards a deeper understanding of rural Europe,” a promotion of Civil Society Dialogue between the EU and Turkey. Currently he is the senior lecturer and chair of the Department of Communication and Design at Bilkent. His research interests include interactive media works, filmmaking, video production and new media theory. He teaches COMD 281-2 (Media and Design Studio I-II), GRA 517 (Image, Time and Motion).
Please provide an overview of your research in interactive media works. What initially sparked your interest in this area, and how has your work evolved?
When I started living and working in Ankara, I was no longer directly involved with the film industry. So, I had to evaluate my own tools and possibilities, and that was of course the computer and evolving digital media. During my work in Munich at the University of Television and Film, I was already interested in interactivity. At a conference in the early 1990s, I listened to various scholars of the MIT Media Lab on future media development. Gloriana Davenport and her idea of the evolving documentary was very influential for me. How could I tell stories from multiple perspectives? A kind of simultaneous ‘Rashomon’ concept.
In the realm of filmmaking, what specific aspects or themes do you focus on in your research? Are there any particular filmmakers or genres that have significantly influenced your work?
I did not start with film. I started with video. One of my very early experiences with the medium was a Sony Portapak. It was a newer model than the one Nam Jun Paik was using. I was 16 or 17, and we tried to produce a video on Christmas shopping. Later, I had the chance to be a student research assistant in the first Television Research Project supported by DFG, the biggest German research fund. But making film and video interested me much more, so I applied at the Munich University of Television and Film. Surprisingly, I passed the preselection and the final selection to become one of 12 out of more than 600 candidates.
Directors, yes — there is Kurosawa and Truffaut, of course, and others like Wolfgang Petersen or Istvan Szabo, Walter Ruttmann or Edgar Reitz. Influential for me were artists like Jean Tinguely or Calder, Dada poetry and German expressionism.
Video production is a rapidly evolving field. How do you stay up-to-date with the latest trends and technologies in video production, and how do you incorporate them into your research?
I am curious and enjoy a vast network, which feeds me well. It was important for me to get in touch with the Institute of Network Cultures in Amsterdam (INC) and then Prof. Geert Lovink in 2008. Since then, we have been working together on the Video Vortex project, which up until present has had 13 international conferences from Amsterdam to Yogyakarta, with one we did in Ankara in 2008. INC and Vortex are building an incredible network of artists, scholars and curious people who continue to reflect on digital media, online video, the net, AI, smartphones, mobility and so on. This network spans worldwide. We already published three readers in open access and initiated a wide range of other open access publications. Many of my graduate students in Bilkent made their first publishing experiences with the INC and open access.
Technically, I keep an eye on the industry, follow the big fairs and the newsletters from several companies. You have to be up to date. This also benefits my teaching. The field is very dynamic. That is exciting.
In my writings, I try to combine these experiences and point out where less interdisciplinary work might miss things or focus on ideas that are sidelined in the mainstream academia.
New media theory is an interdisciplinary field. Could you explain how your research in new media theory intersects with your work in interactive media, filmmaking and video production?
The term ‘New Media’ has been old since 2001. It surprises me that it still survives..
We need theory especially now that we are in a phase one might call ‘post-digital.’ We need theory to reflect and put on hold in this dynamic stream of media developments. Who would have thought about TikTok 10 years ago? And what is coming after that?
In my own production I am becoming simpler. Whether this is cause of years of practice, or cause of the age or cause of whatever…I believe that to be innovative today, you need to question the fundamentals of the field, the strategies used in the everyday. That’s what I am trying to do. Slowly. It needs time.
Are there any specific projects or studies related to interactive media or video production that you’re currently working on or have recently completed? Could you share some details about them?
A couple of years ago, maybe after Black Mirror Bandersnatch, I thought, oh God, this is old stuff, and they got us. In 2001, I went to a very exciting training on interactive media and game design. The projects we developed there with specialists from the US were already beyond the level Netflix tried to experiment with and sell to us as ‘brand new.’ For me, there is nothing new in interactivity. But what is new, is Unreal’s possibilities, immersive sound and Apple Vision as a platform. Now, this is becoming interesting and exciting. We are not just consuming another entertainment system; we are starting to operate in new narrative spaces. So, what kind of stories can we tell? What kind of emotions can we transfer? These technologies are developing over years and are now available for all of us. That is just cool.
How has the digital age and the rise of the internet influenced your research in interactive media and new media theory? Have you explored topics like online streaming platforms, social media, or user-generated content?
Well, as I mentioned before, this is what I have been working with for the last 25 years. Right now, with my colleague Aras Ozgun, we are continuing our research on streaming media and will hopefully publish our book on this subject with the INC in 2024. We choose the INC so as many people as possible can access the publication, but also because we really appreciate their work. So, this is continuing.
Interactive media often involves user participation. Could you discuss the role of audience engagement and interaction in your research and any notable findings or insights you’ve gained in this area?
Well, in short, to be successful we need to script the audience, otherwise they will destroy our works. What does that mean? I need to know not only what I want from my audience but also what they will be doing in their interactive experience. It needs to be a controlled environment. It needs to be an environment with limitations, which of course will be hidden.
Filmmaking can be seen as a form of storytelling. How do you approach the narrative aspects of filmmaking in your research? Are there any narrative techniques or theories you find particularly interesting or relevant to your work?
I studied two years of comparative literature in Germany before I switched to film, and I am still reading a lot.
What are some challenges or ethical considerations you’ve encountered in your research related to interactive media and new media theory? How do you address these challenges in your work?
I am trying to be conscious of ethical issues. It is very good that I have one of my biggest critics living at home with me. She is reading and reviewing my works. Gülden Treske has a master’s degree in ethics and has worked with the Women’s film festival in Ankara for many years.
Are there any emerging trends or future directions in interactive media, filmmaking, video production, or new media theory that you’re excited about exploring in your research?
An emerging trend is immersion. We will experience this in many different forms related to home entertainment, in-car entertainment and smartphone applications. I would say that locative sounds and operative images are the direction to go now.
Can you share any insights or advice for students or aspiring researchers interested in pursuing a career in the fields you specialize in?
Be curious. Don’t stop. I always hear Steve Jobs in my ears saying, “Be hungry.”
How do you envision the role of academia in shaping the future of interactive media and new media theory, and what contributions do you hope to make to these fields through your research?
Academia needs to become open and interdisciplinary to have a role in future media research.
What will be or might be the future of media?
Can you talk about The Media Archeology Lab in the COMD Department?
In 2016 I started to combine the obsolete analog audio and video technology of our department and, in 2017, built The Media Archaeology Lab. At the moment, there is an exhibition of Apple Macintosh computers in front of the lab. The oldest is from 1985. The lab was officially opened with a conference in 2017 with international scholars presenting Media Archaeology as a field. In the 25 years our department has existed, technology has changed a lot. Media technology is rapidly developing. With digital technology, it has become more abstract and less tactile. The Media Archeology Lab gives our students the possibility of a tactile and electro-mechanical, analog media experience. It also helps us discover the memories and events of our near past. It allows us to transfer the media of our parents and the generations in between to the media of today. It helps us review these experiences. The Media Archaeology Lab in Bilkent is unique and original in the region. Many institutions and universities have museums, but this lab is a living, student-run research facility.