European Mobile Lab for Interactive Artists

Group name: Vienna Underground

Artists: Anna Dumitriu (Performance, Bio-art), Cliona Harmey (Sound Art), Margarete Jahrmann (Costume & Performance), Martin Rieser (Project Concept & Coordination, Mobile Sensing, Film script, direction & production), Barry Roshto (Sound Artist), Nita Tandon (Language installation and production), Pia Tikka (Narrative engine and Film script, direction & production), Nina Yankowitz (Screen Teaser)

Type of project: Interactive film gallery installation and mobile film-game and performance in public space

Dimensions: variable (ideal gallery space: 20 metres x 4 metres)

Materials: Printed vinyl strip

The Third Woman is an interactive mobile film–game, which gradually reveals the layers of a contemporary film drama on mobile phones and screens. The project originated from Nita Tandon’s idea to create a cinematic project for the Viennese U-Bahn spaces. The artistic team soon developed the project, under the conceptual guidance of Martin Rieser, into a multi-faceted mobile film–game inspired by the Vienna-based film The Third Man (dir. Reed 1949). The project was publically launched in the Vienna Kunsthalle Project Space and at the Karlsplatz U-Bahn site in February 2009.

The ubiquity of code embedded in the cultural environment is woven into both the narrative and the means of viewing it, accompanied by an updating of the post-war themes of The Third Man, particularly the global threat of bio-engineered terrorism. A combination of mobile game, multiscreen installation, and costumed performance guides the participants into interaction with environmentally embedded graphics, semacodes, and text messages. Vienna is transposed onto each city location in the exhibition tour, as a totemic space between East and West, reflecting the post cold war contradictions of the globalised world.

A mobile-based sensor system tracks the audience and adapts the film sequences according to their behaviour in the space. The film has three differently nuanced versions for each scene, which can be recombined in many ways, so that the experience of the narrative is always slightly different for each member of the audience. The Third Woman film–game can also be played at anytime within the installation space. In addition, guided film–game events are scheduled outdoors around the exhibition site.

The Third Woman film material was created and produced by Martin Rieser and Pia Tikka. The scenes were shot in Vienna with the main character Holly Matins (Maria Järvenhelmi), the film locations included the Viennese Sewage System and Underground Station, using black and white shots with harsh angles, echoing the “noir” spirit of The Third Man film. However, modern digital technology enabled the team to virtually matte the other actors (Catherine Adams, Ranj Nagra, Valmike Rampersad, Martin Rieser) to the scenes shot in Vienna. This was done in the green screen studio at De Montfort University, UK.

In the game, the user can reflect on the history of plague contagion in Vienna and the mythic contagion of “Miasma”, literally ‘bad air’, which was blamed for causing the disease. Famously the Viennese street musician “Lieber Augustin” fell in to a plague pit when drunk and survived the ordeal, his experience inspired a famous nursery rhyme, the Austrian equivalent of the British “Ring o’ Roses”. Anna Dumitriu, an artist working with biological media, cultured bacteria from the air in Vienna and did a biochemical work-up to ascertain the 7 digit Analytical Profile Index codes of the organisms, in order to identify them. Dumitriu sampled Arthrobacter sp, Kocuria rosea, and Micrococcus luteus. Barry Roshto’s algorithm then generated a musical theme by combining the “Lieber Austin” tune and the API codes of the bacteria. He also composed a number of thematic ring tones symphonics based on the genetic sequences of bacteria sampled in the city. Barry Roshto and Cliona Harmey have also created sound landscapes based on “Hertzian” signals picked up around Vienna using electronic “sniffers”. Their work with surround sound technologies has been staged in the TONSPUR_passage in the Vienna Museums Quarter. The attribute of Hertzian refers to the idea of engaging the invisible electromagnetic environment in which we live, and as has been discussed in Anthony Dunne’s Hertzian Tales (1999).

The costumes for The Third Woman were created by Margarete Jahrmann, featuring a Game Fashion series using the same interactive codes that trigger the film–game. The costumes are a self-referential element in the film. They introduce a "semacode-fashion-pattern" as an urban dress code accessible to mobile phones and surveillance cameras. All apparel was printed with overall-patterns of data-codes on silk and linen. In certain scenes and for the performance QickRead-lingerie was used. For these garment-series Margarete Jahrmann invited the Vienna dessous specialist Renate Christian from Boudoir to collaborate.

Nina Yankowitz’ Introductory Tease video animation appeared on the Vienna and Thessoloniki plasma screens, enticing visitors to engage with the interactive movie and installations. Her conceptual contribution jnitted integral images, sounds, and supportive content that contributing artists provided. It opens with viewing a hypodermic needle dripping drops of translucent liquid, the symbolic stolen penicillin theme woven throughout the original Third Man scenario from which the updated Third Woman version is derived. Each drip contains images from the film slowly spreading into a visual miasma of scenes floating on a moving liquid bed


Anna Dumitriu: annadumitriu@hotmail.com [http://www.normalflora.co.uk]
Cliona Harmey: harmeyc@ncad.ie, [http://www.clionaharmey.info]
Margarete Jahrmann: margarete.jahrmann@zhdk.ch, [http://www.climax.at/nybble-engine]
Martin Rieser: martin.rieser@gmail.com, [http://www.martinrieser.com]
Barry Roshto: RoshtoBL@aol.com, [http://www.roshto.eu]
Nita Tandon: nita.tandon@aon.at, [http://www.nitatandon.blogspot.com]
Pia Tikka: pia.tikka@iki.fi, [http://www.enactivecinema.net]
Nina Yankowitz: nyankowitz@aol.com, [http://www.nyartprojects.com]

CONTACT ARTIST: Martin Rieser (mrieser@dmu.ac.uk)


John Collomose , Jim Grimmett, Eamonn O'Neill of the Computing Department at Bath University: Mscape experimental software adaptation
Rasmus Vuori: Advisor on Installation configuration
Jürgen Scheible: Mobile Programming



Film production

Oblomovies Oy; Martin Rieser & Pia Tikka with Anna Dahlgren. Thanks to Veronika Schnell, Bettina Schülke, Nita Tandon, Heike Kaltenbrunner, and Merlin Wyschka.


Holly Matins: Maria Järvenhelmi; Lara Line: Catherine Adams; Roscov: Ranj Nagra; Peter Shalo: Valmike Rampersad; Kurt Sammelhauser: Martin Rieser


DMU Creative Technology Studios: Simon Richardson, Paul Harmer, Tom Dodds (UK) Film editing & Color grading: Samu Kuukka, Sound post-production: Pertti Venetjoki, Sound assistant: Meri Tikkala

Music infromation

1) Kalevi Kiviniemi: “VALSE LENTE” (Merikanto) Trousdale recording and editing, digital editing & mastering: Raimo Jokela / Sonorex Oy Digital recording: Robert Ridgeway / Magnetic lab Kalevi Kiviniemi plays The Wurlitzer Theater Pipe Organ at the Sanfilippo Victorian Palace, Barrington Hills, Illinois, USA. FUGA 9217
2) “Resonant Solitude” Music Provided By www.freeplaymusic.com.

SemaCode Costumes/ Fashion Design

“Q-Fashion”: Margarete Jahrmann and Renate Christian. Thanks also to wienerriesenrad. Fashion Photos: imonym.com Zurich and Ramin Vienna. Actress Alice Schneider. Collection assistance Susanna and Elena. Thanks to Klaus Mühlbauer


AVEK/The Promotion Center for Audiovisual Culture, Finland; the Finnish Cultural Foundation; BRU/Helsinki University of Technology, Finland; IOCT / FUSE MEDIA/ De Montfort University, UK; Bath University Computer Science, UK; Vienna University of Applied Arts, Austria


All copyright of “The Third Woman” film images and photos belongs to Martin Rieser & Pia Tikka. All other copyright belongs to Vienna Underground Group, unless stated differently


Project images
(click to enlarge)