Video and Sound workshop
24th October - 5th November 2005
Dagmar Demming & Nina Lundstrøm


18 Zambian artists, members of the Academy Without Walls were offered a workshop that introduced Video and Sound as artistic tools for contemporary art.

Our aim was to establish a solid base of knowledge and skills about video and sound art, to enable the participants to use the equipment and the computer lab independently to produce artistic works. For the workshop we brought some new equipment and software for video and sound recording and editing.

Some of the participants had never used a computer before and also live in remote areas without electricity, which unfortunately will make it difficult for them to continue with sound or video works. For this reason, it was also very important to make them understand not only the technology, but also the principles behind it.


The young artist where very open in their perception of video and sound art, and together we had intensive discussions on the topics of originality, the imaginative quality of sounds and the political and social implications the use of sound and video could have in Zambia. For example they explained to us that Zambia is an oral society, where radio is main media and that it would be very interesting for artists to extend their field of expression by using commercial media like radio and TV to communicate ideas. They could see video and sound as valid extensions with possibilities for their artistic work.

Work rhythm

We worked daily from 9 am to 6 or 7 pm at the visual arts council. In the theoretical lectures questions were raised about the aesthetic of the moving image , we also included some basic film analysis as the aesthetic origin for video images. The movies citizen Kane by Orson Wells was used as an excellent artwork for analysis. Through watching and discussing it we sharpened the sensibility and knowledge of narrative structures film composition methods, the understanding of possible meanings of camera angels, light and sound. This very complex film was used since it contains a broad variety of cinematic solutions for all sorts of filming problems. This in depth investigation was supported by text excepts from the book Filmart by David Bordwell and Kristin Thompson.

One of the participants was a cineaste and knew Orson Wells and his films very well. We discovered that there was a common base of filmic knowledge, even though the practical use of video and sound was new to the workshop participants.


Participating Artists

1. Nezias Nyitrenda
2. Gift Syakwasia
3. Emmanuel kapotwe
4. Andrew Mwananshiku
5. Gordon Shamulenge
6. Levy Chinyimba
7. Victor Mwakalombe
8. Trudy Kapapula
9. Alumedi Maonde
10. Savior Mukopa
11. Simon Mukandawire
12. Nsofwa Bowa
13. Yost Kalasa
14. Geoffrey Phiri


Workshops (Phaze 1)
Workshops (Phaze 2)

Evening activities

For each evening we brought a movie to watch, this was a voluntary evening activity. We chose films from different genres.

This chance to sit down and enjoy a film was happily accepted by the artists and every morning we briefly discussed the film of the night before. To our surprise side to side with the artists films the most interesting films for the participants were 2001 blow up and 12 monkeys. By starting the screening with the highly complex citizen kane a level for discussion was set and easier films as some like it hot were also found less interesting by the participants, even though they did enjoy watching them. As a result of the broad interest the visual arts council is planning to organize a film club, with the DVDs we brought as the basic material.

Video and sound artists

Besides the discussion of Citizen Kane the main focus of the theoretical lecturers were video and sound artists. We introduced Nam June Paik, as a representative of Video sculpture, Bill Viola as the epic story teller, Gary Hill as an example of structural investigations into the medium video, as seen in his artwork Around and About, Christian Marclays Telephones as an example of video collage with found material, William Kentridge’s work which intertwines traditional drawing with contemporary animation techniques. We showed works by William Wegman, Pippilott Rist, Joan Jonas and Erwin Wurm but also of young, less well known artist like Matthias Haerenstam, Nicole Degenhart, Leonie Weber, Nina Lundstrom and student works from the University of Erfurt and the Bauhaus University of Weimar.

We discussed the development of sound art, on the other hand as significantly different to the visual arts, but also the use of sound as an important part in visual productions such as video and installations. There is the use of music in films, language as a rhythmic tool, its different communicational implications or non verbal language such as body-language. Other forms for sound discussed was sound as narrative, sound sculptures, sound as intervention in the society. The participants listened to urdonate by Kurt Schwritters, Robert Filour’s Insomia Echart Koltermanns Maschinenmusik Sorrel Hays No, Nein Net and works by Rolf Julias, Christina Kubisch, Henry Chopin, Alvin Curran, Franz Mon, Stephen Von Huene a.o.

Technical knowledge

Another part of the theoretical discussions was dedicated to the technical development of equipment used for recording and editing sound, film and video. We focused on the influence the technical development have on artistic production and the aesthetic decisions. We raised the question of the role of the author and originality, highly relevant for a medium were you can make endless copies. Another question discussed was how the camera as a tool lets us observe but at the same time distance us.

Society implications

Through the accessibility of equipment to broader groups of people, the variety of expressed opinions and view points can increase. A variety of viewpoints can challenge the audience and also the official media truth.

On different occasion we initiated discussions among the artist about their role in society, their political responsibility, their visions for a future Zambia.

The general position seemed to be quite defensive idea of the artist as somebody not very respected and important in society, as the decorators, or in some discussions as the keeper of the traditional Zambian Culture. The role of the religion in Zambian society was discussed. One participant pointed out the importance to bring to attention double standards in society, for example to inform about sexuality, since one third of the inhabitants in Zambia (Official statistic) is infected by HIV/Aids. On November 2nd Visual Arts Council organized a lecturer and discusion about HIV/Aids held by experts from the Ministry of Health.

Art education

Participants complained that there was no academic art education in Zambia, only one college is offering art education for art teachers. We recommended that the artists, especially the ones who have studied at European art academies (for example Norway), Netherlands, and Switzerland) or had experiences from Art departments in the United States should get together and contact the University for discussions about how to build up an art department. It would be good to offer international accepted degrees like Bachelor or Master of Fine Arts. We recommended seeking support and conceptional help at some of the excellent South African art departments and colleges, Professor Michael O’ Donnel knows.

Public relations

At the end of our stay we had an interview with the Zambian TV station, mainly about the Academy Without Walls, but we also had a brief chance to talk about the workshop and delivered the artists videos to be used in the programme. That would be the first time Zambia video art is shown on National Television.

Practical implementation

The practical part of the workshop took up approximately two third of the teaching time. We started with a general introduction into the use of the video camera and the minidisk recorder. When doing this we stressed the similarity of all recording equipment. This will allow the participants to understand the basic technical concepts and enable them to use other brands and recording materials. We worked with 4 video cameras, occasionally with 6 since we included our private cameras to speed up the production process. Divided into small groups, the participants immediately after this introduction had the task to film a two minutes video on the theme of body movement. From the beginning we stressed the importance of thinking about concept first, before starting to film. Important was also the fact of showing that it is possible to edit directly in the camera, in this way conferring the lack of computer equipment in some parts of the country, after circa two hours, we all met up again and viewed the results. The specific beginner mistakes where pointed out and discussed by the whole group, for ex. Too fast pans and zooms, titled horizon lines etc.

In a second step we introduced the basic different shots used in film and video (bird and frog perspective, total/half –total/close up images, pans/tilts/zoom. Each group then had to produce a 2 minute video by concentrating on only two camera angels and the technique of the story board was introduced as an effective working method.

All results where watched and discussed in group sessions and it was significant in what a short time span the results improved. Our goal for the workshop was that each participant should shoot and edit a 2 minute video and make a sound piece using the editing functions in the mindisc recorder.

Overall theme

By having the over all theme in the eyes of an stranger we raised the discussed of the camera as a distancing tool, as a tool of voyeurism and observation. Every participant had to develop a personal concept which was discussed and modified in private tutorials before they started shooting.

The use of the camera was organized through a timesheet, which took care of the specific needs of each artist. There had to be room for different needs, for example two participants traveled to their home villages for filming, thus needing the camera over nigh. Another two wanted to film in their homes in Lusaka. One participant who is not from Lusaka wanted to film a busy street corner. Not knowing the neighbourhood he felt scared in the big city and needed company and help through his colleagues.

We soon found out that sending people out in pairs was a good strategy. In this way they could help one another on a technical level, but also function as back up and support if tricky situations arouse. Another good thing was that they then could play a part in each others videos or help to shoot.


Meanwhile the computer lab was set up with two computers,, loudspeakers and headphones, and final cut pro for cutting video. In a second step tutorial we discussed the footage made by the students and possible ways of editing the material, also taking into account questions of whether it would make sense to shoot some more material or if the achieved result was satisfying.

The introduction into final cut pro for practical reasons was done in groups of 5 students. Due to the very different, some needing longer to be able to work independently. More than once was asked: what should I do with the mouse when it is at the end of the table? The computer time was organized like the camera and sound recording tools, with a timetable on the door where everyone signed up for a time slot.. because the participants lived on the premises they could work day and night, only under these conditions was it possible for everybody to finish their work.

We supported the artist with advice in order to find the most effective work method for themselves. An important part of our teaching was to challenge them to be self-reflective and critical – what do I want to talk about, is this the best translation of my ideasm what can I do better. Some managed with their first footage to edit a very good video, some changed their concept along the way and shot a gain, reacting on their own material. Some participants even managed to realize two films and one sound work, but very important; everybody managed to finish one video. In the last hectic hours before opening, even 3 private computers and cameras where used to finish the work, burn the compilations on min-dv, dvd and vhs and have everything ready for the opening.

We were very impressed with the enthusiasm, seriousness and talent of the most participants. Because they all have aesthetic experience in other artistic medium, the majority of the work was much better than the usual beginners work. We want to emphasize that there was great solidarity and mature social competence within the group. They helped and supported each other in all situations, with editing, shooting and conceptual problems.


On Friday night, the 4th of November, the Visual Arts Council invited to an exhibition opening, which was the grand finale of the workshop. A big crowd walked into a dark room with three monitors and one large scale projection. In addition, in two lit corners with seating possibilities, the audience could listen to sound works.

Mr Mumba welcomed the audience and congratulated the participants. It was communicated that this was the first video exhibition in Zambia, the first exhibition where the audience entered a darkroom and the art consisted only of flickering light.

We had composed the works so that the large scale projection showed all 19 videos on the three monitors the videos where grouped thematicly in narratives, structures and lifestyles. The atmosphere was very good, people stayed for hours watching the works over and over again. One visitor from a TV studio was very impressed about the work. As he is organizing a short film festival in Lusaka, he will include the dvd of the works in this festival.

Video club

The visual arts council will form a video club so that the artists from the workshop will have continuous access to the computer lab and the recording tools. This important so that they do not loose their newly acquired level of knowledge. One participant from the North just mailed us saying that he also wants to find a club and asked fro some of the films we had screened. Generally, we recommend that the different groups in Zambia who do not have access to equipment and have interest in media, should work better together and support each other more efficiently.


Last but not the least we want to mention that the project Academy Without Walls organized by Professor Micheal O’ Donnel and financed by NORAD is an excellent project. It manages to combine the teaching of knowledge and skills with access to workspace and equipment, which is unusual and deserves great respect.

This form of organization will let the Zambian artists take over responsibility for using and maintaining the work labs, it helps developing skills that can be taught to others and it initiates a discourse between Zambian artists. Also Norwegian, German, English, Polish and Swedish artists bring in their respective points of view when they arrive and teach in the existing structure.

One thing we learned in Zambia is that ACCESS is crucial. Access to knowledge, equipment, skills, world-culture, discourse. Only by getting this, Zambian artists can find their voice. This program, so patiently developed over 10 years, will make it possible. We thank the organizer for letting us be part of this fabulous project...