„Jetzt helfe ich mir selbst“ (Now I Can Help Myself) - The 100 best Internet video tutorials

05. July 2014 - 31. August 2014 Dortmunder U, Level 3

Opening: Friday, 4 July 2014, 7 pm

Today, in the age of do-it-yourself (DIY), the Internet video tutorial has become what the German book series “Jetzt helfe ich mir selbst” (Now I Can Help Myself) once was for the car enthusiast. From profane problems with installing printer drivers and tying shoelaces to putting on makeup—or building weapons—the Internet has an instruction manual and help available for almost everything nowadays. How-to videos have become a major phenomenon in the DIY culture. The exhibition shows a selection of the 100 funniest and most absurd, exciting, uncanny, and amusing video tutorials online.

Presented on 100 monitors and projection screens, visitors to the exhibition “Jetzt helfe ich mir selbst” are met by the rising tide of the world’s how-to knowledge rolled up into a single show. On view are videos showing how to open a bottle of beer with a sheet of paper, a lock with a paper clip; how to construct a fully functional gas mask; how to mend a bicycle inner tube without a repair kit; how to wash your hair in the absence of gravity or your dog in the bathtub. How to count in Finnish or draw “nothing.” People are talking and gabbling on every channel, expounding useful and sometimes less than useful information. Didn’t you always want to know how to catch a kangaroo with your bare hands? A clever Australian can show you. How can I survive my first night playing the Minecraft computer game? And how can I survive out of doors, outside civilization, in nature? Would you like to know how to make it past every bouncer, guaranteed? There’s a specialist for this, too. Additional video tutorials instruct viewers on how to urinate in public without anyone noticing (“How to piss in public”); how to conceal their acne with make-up; and from somewhere in Africa, how to put on an eight-part veil and eat a hamburger in England while wearing the veil; how to play air guitar, walk in high heels, deburr a fender with a baseball bat.

Apart from all this, didn’t you always want to know how to become Pope, cut onions into cubes, survive an attack of zombies, sharpen pencils, or “improve” the sound of a car exhaust pipe? How to whittle a flute from a carrot or make a two-pound Snickers bar? It’s all explained in the video tutorials of the exhibition “Jetzt helfe ich mir selbst.” And an exhibition like this naturally has to have its mass-media DIY forerunners, too: none other than the American TV painter Bob Ross and Jean Pütz, our man from the German Hobbythek show.

Sometimes, though, video tutorials can go terribly wrong. You get to see what to avoid when using a curling iron, or what happens when you try to heat up a bottle’s contents in a microwave oven. Some how-to videos are scary or spooky, for instance the “Arm Tutorial,” ostensibly made to explain the usage of an arm, but filmed in surroundings that resemble a psychiatric institution, or the video tutorial that provides instructions on how to build a pump gun from parts that have passed through airport security. Another video shows a child explaining how to construct a working crossbow from things he finds in his bedroom. Video tutorials also show us things that we don’t want to see—and explain how they work.

The 100 “best” video tutorials are deliberately shown in close proximity and presented in a kind of cacophony: everyone talking at the same time, everywhere people yakking away and explaining things. The form of the how-to videos ranges from clips recorded on smart phones to semi-professionally produced films. The key question the exhibition poses, however, is why people make these video tutorials in the first place; why they feel compelled to explain to others how to do a particular thing without a (recognizable) reward and without even knowing their audience. In the Internet, the public is initially anonymous and abstract. Do the makers just want to pass on what they know in an altruistic gesture? Are they looking for fame and honor? Or is it about money, after all?

The exhibition is based on an idea by Dr. Inke Arns (Artistic Director of the HMKV) and came about in cooperation with a seminar conducted by the Department for Cultural Reflection at the University of Witten/Herdecke (directed by Jun.-Prof. Dr. Christian Grüny and Frederik Bury).

The video tutorials were compiled by Inke Arns, Sophia Bresch, Frederik Bury, Yoko Dupuis, Andrea Eichardt, Manischa Eichwalder, Anja Engst, Ulrike Euteneuer, Judith Funke, Mirjam Gaffran, Gamze Göksu, Christian Grüny, Paula Jäger, David Kempf, Christina Müer, Tilman Richter, Antonia Rohwetter, Chiara Schroer, and Joëlle Warmbrunn.

The exhibition is accompanied by a short guidebook containing texts on selected video tutorials.

Admission to the exhibition is free.

Program Tips:

As a preview to the exhibition “Jetzt helfe ich mir selbst,” we invite all visitors to the ExtraSchicht on Saturday, June 28, 2014 at 6 p.m. to take part in the HMKV event “Einfach erklärt...!—Videoclips in 30 Sekunden” (Eng.: Explained simply!—Video clips in 30 seconds) and create their own video tutorials. Notepaper, pencil, camera—and you’re all set! Explain to the world the best way to filter coffee, what golden rules to watch out for when you’re growing vegetables, or how to wriggle out of an annoying family get-together—guaranteed.

On Saturday, July 5, 2014 at 4:00 p.m. we invite visitors to a group tour with Dr. Inke Arns, Artistic Director of the HMKV, and the seminar’s participants. Each seminar participant will have an opportunity to comment briefly on the video tutorial of his or her choice and to answer guests’ questions. Admission is free.

Funders and Partners

Main Funders HMKV:
Kulturbüro Stadt Dortmund
Dortmunder U
Ministerium für Familie, Kinder, Jugend, Kultur und Sport des Landes Nordrhein-Westfalen

In cooperation with:
Universität Witten/Herdecke

Media partners:
ARTE Creative - creative.arte.tv

You will find press material on this program item in our press area.