Hello, my name is Matthias Fritsch.
I am an independent filmmaker and artist from Berlin. In addition to sharing my own creative work, I love free cultural exchange, and for many years I’ve organized local film screenings and events that everybody can attend without paying money.
But I doubt you know me for that.
Most people know me for one of my videos, which became a world famous Internet meme, Technoviking, known by millions of users, remixed in thousands of YouTube videos, made into T-shirts, cakes, and even action figures. The Internet born immortal hero became one of the most complex memes that you can find in the Web.
The Technoviking Documentary
For 2 years I filmed and edited a feature length documentary about this case, in part because the meme spawned thousands of user creations, giving birth to a bizarre and fascinating world of Technoviking that includes a Technoviking family, Haarlem Shake Technoviking, a 10 hour Technoviking video, funny Technoviking imitations, 3D animations, and just about every incarnation you can imagine. I have spend more than 6 years by collecting the most outstanding reactions for the Technoviking-Archive and you would need a week to see all the fan videos out there. That is why it is a monumentary film.
Since the Meme also became the subject of a long lasting trial here in Germany, I also made this film as a means to pave the way for artists and internet users around the world to be able to protect themselves against old laws that have yet to catch up to contemporary meme culture. A film that reflects on these issues, gives advice to active users, and reconstructs the chain of events that created the meme as we know it today.
My "Kneecam No.1" became famous in the early years of YouTube, back in 2007. Shot in the year 2000 in public space at a parade in Berlin and published as an experimental film questioning reality, it was unknown for many years ... until somebody linked to it on a Latino porn site, it was reposted by somebody else in a forum, and it suddenly exploded.
In 2009, almost a decade after it was first posted, the video’s protagonist emerged and tried to remove Technoviking from the web. Of course, with so many copies and versions out there, this was an impossible request. Not only did he demand the original video be removed, he demanded that all of the user content, comics, and even the fingerpointing pose of Technoviking be removed from the internet.
In the end of 2012, I was sued for uncleared personality rights and compensation. Two fundamental rights got in conflict with each other: On one side the dancer's personality right for of his own image. On the other side the freedom of art & expression.
For years, I have been trying to negotiate with my video's protagonist that I could not speak nor meet in person. On one hand this has been very expensive for me, but on the other it has made an already interesting story even more complex. This case is symptomatic for legal circumstances that a lot of Internet users are facing today, already by sharing viral images and videos on Facebook.
The judges decided in favour of the plaintiffs personality rights and as a consequence I can not show my original video in public anymore. And if I do, I'll risk a very high fine or up to 6 month in prison.
The trial is not just about me and the person whose inspired the creation of the Technoviking meme. It is about one person’s rights in affection of the rights of the many that create the contemporary meme culture. It pointed out the borders of sharing culture and user reactions and one can also conclude that we need new categories in the law how to deal with memes on a legal basis. This film about the Technoviking meme – which is made within the legal restrictions that have been made clear by the judges – tries to continue this important discussion on how to shape a new legal framework to protect artists, internet users but also citizens around the world. You find a selection of press reactions on a supporter facebook-page.
How to move on?
Back in 2000 I thought, I had captured and framed a great piece of art and thought that there was nothing bad in what I did. Now in 2015 this got me into big financial debt.
I don't want the Technoviking film to be a commercial commodity. The questions asked within the film are important for the future of our culture and the ways how we will deal with media. That is why I published this documentary for free. A crowdfunding helped me to a great part in making the film on a low budget. Nevertheless I still have to pay bills in the real world. That is why in my actual situation with the huge burden of costs for lawyers, court and the compensation I depend on the support and donations of people like you who value all the work and risk that I took on for continuing this project.
I really appreciate your support.