For several years, audiovisual artist Robert Heel has been appropriating vintage instructional films for his own work. He started out using American sources from the 1950s, films that propagated proper manners, which he dismantled and then reassembled in ironic mash-ups. For his series of short films called Instructional Films and finished in 2009, he now uses mostly self-generated footage. Both angles are combined by an ironic approach.
The Instructional Films are aimed at a fictional “class”, which is tutored by Heel himself as a teacher. Equipped with a substantial amount of half-knowledge, the viewer/pupil gets to know things from the teacher which he always or never ever wanted to know. Starting from tips on how to make music, this quickly starts to read like a vademecum on how to lead your life.
Heel himself views the Instructional Films as a parody on a dreadful genre that went unquestioned during the 1950s and 60s, but also as a “guideline for 4/4 rhythmical techno-music, visualist life and artistic survival.” He places his Instructional Films between “absolute film, cinéma pur, music video, diary, instructional film, real-life satire, self-reflection and fiction.”
Pt. 2 of the screening programme shown last year in Berlin, General Public.