On Otto (2007)

On Otto (2007) is a film project by the German Contemporary artist Tobias Rehberger, and was paired with an architectural installation for his exhibition. Rehberger takes a unique stance of the art of filmmaking,  and he produces On Otto in reverse, starting with a movie poster. The film poster was created and then passed on to the sound designer, editor, cinematographer, and so on, with the story coming last. What makes the title sequence of On Otto so impactful is how the artistic interpretations of the artists involved work harmoniously together despite lacking the usual foundation to build upon.


The opening immediately exudes an almost eerie or otherworldly feeling through the powerful yet mystical music and strange visuals. Various objects resembling human bones take on various forms that resemble human faces, eyes, legs, in addition to other abstract structures as depicted in the screenshots below. The high contrasted lighting reflected by these peculiar “bodies” and “faces” in addition to the dramatic music personifies the structures as curious, unearthly beings.


face sculpture

Example of Rehberger’s sculptures resembling human faces


Furthermore, the cast of the film is written on these objects, yet the name of the person is always scribbled out. The font used seems as if it was handwritten with a sharpie. The names even appear to be scribbled out in a manner similar to one quickly scratching out a mistake when writing with marker. It is chaotic, messy, and imperfect, with the name sometimes remaining vaguely visible underneath the scribbles. The crossed out names adds to the mysterious nature of the film, and works to unease the viewer.


Example of an artist’s name being crossed out


The uncomfortable ambiance created by the textual elements is accompanied by the placement of the bone-like structures in the film. The pieces are almost placed like jenga game blocks or jig saw puzzle pieces, yet they never completely fill in the gaps to complete each other. The objects are often stacked crookedly and are unbalanced. In other stills, the pieces are pilled together, neither scattered on top of each other, nor completely fitting in with the surrounding structures either. The contrasting appearance of organization and disorganization reinforces the chaotic yet ethereal theme produced by the film.


Contrasting Appearances

Example of the organized disorganization of the structures

Off Centered Stack

Example of the unbalanced and chaotic stacking of the pieces


The title sequences ends with a visual of the objects being used as Tic-Tac-Toe pieces and are placed to spell out the name of the film, On Otto. With only utilizing these strange bone structures to produce the opening for his film, Rehberger is able to set the mood with only a string of stills. Even though the filmmaking steps were reversed, the music, editing, lighting, and overall production team was able to blend their interpretation of the film poster together to create an unearthly and peculiar scene.


Tictactoe Title

Tic-Tac-Toe depiction of the Title