Mess Magazine goes behind the scenes with Phillipp Humm and his latest project, ‘The Last Faust.” Inspired by an epic play, Humm chats about his motivation behind the film and why filmmaking was next on his radar.
What was your initial motivation for this film?
Goethe’s Faust is one of the most important theatre plays in the world. It captures the depth of human ambition and desires and is very relevant for the 21st-century tech-world we live in. Feeling inspired by art-illustrations from Dali and Rego, and being a German myself, I had the desire to interpret and illustrate a modern Faust. The film is one pillar of my total-works-of-art (Gesamtkunstwerk). The others are collections of photos, paintings, sculptures, and drawings – a total of 150 artworks! Each medium
delivers a different interpretation of The Last Faust – a fascinating experience!
What do you want viewers to truly capture from this film?
This is the first filmed interpretation of Goethe’s Faust ever done. I want people to engage and to know more about Faust. In a way, I want to democratize Faust and make it accessible through the arts. Also, to raise awareness for the risks associated with unleashed technologies like AI.
How do you think the obsession with technology is impacting our society?
Technologies are great as they help us live a better life. But each technology has downsides, which we tend to negate. In the past, few technologies would put humanity at risk. Now there are many, AI is the most prominent one. I feel that we need to actively manage the downsides and that the governments have to play a role in that! Tech companies won’t do it on their own. But I am skeptical, as it is difficult to restrain human curiosity.
Do you think this obsession will only grow?
Quantum computing will unleash technologies in a way we can’t imagine. We are at the beginning of an exponential curve! Progress will accelerate, risks too.
How was it working with Steven Berkoff?
Steven Berkoff is a fascinating actor. I am privileged to have worked with him. I always found him very engaged and professional. And I enjoyed our many conversations on Kafka, Harvey, and Faust.
Why was art your number one focus after leaving your position as CEO?
I was very good at math and in the arts at school. I always painted on the side. It was the obvious thing to do to follow my passion after my business career. It was daunting to leave everything behind!
Why would you say the story of Faust has more significance in today’s society?
Faust is about a scientist selling his soul to the Devil to get access to God’s knowledge and realize a superhuman (sounds like AI). The Devil tricks Faust into starting a relationship with a very young girl Gretchen (sounds like the Weinstein/Epstein story). And there are more of these stories in Faust, all written for the 21st century!
Although far-fetched, do you think artificial intelligence will take over if not already?
The risk is very high that AI will take over with Quantum Computing. Was is called AI today is not AI, but high-speed computing! By the way, Google has successfully tested Quantum Computing!!! The future has started.
Any upcoming projects we can look out for?
The film is the precursor of the artworks. Expect more exhibitions in 2020 and 2021 in the UK and Germany.
What is your biggest advice for the upcoming generation when dealing with technology?
Embrace technological change, but spend equal time working on the downsides as on the upsides. And don’t hesitate to get governments involved.
You stated this in an interview: “Before the Devil steals your soul, he’ll first steal your password.’’ Could you explain this?
In an AI world, our brain will be connected to a neural network. It will be hard to say what is from us and what from the network. So the access to our brain and soul comes with the knowledge of our password.
What was your biggest take-away while making this film?
It was one of the most fascinating projects I have ever done. And we had an amazing team that made it all possible. Daniele, my better half, co-produced and managed the photos, Dominik was an amazing director and the actors were true professionals. Too good to be true! I could imagine doing another big project one day!