30 SECONDS (1999-2011)

“Direct your 30 SECONDS of film.” Worldwide

Projects realized with:

30 SECONDS / Allianz

30 SECONDS / Castell

30 SECONDS / Grand Tour

30 SECONDS / Kunsthaus Zürich

30 SECONDS / Mannheimer

30 SECONDS / MoMA New York Members

30 SECONDS / MoMA New York Staff

30 SECONDS / Swiss Re


Installation view Hotel Castell, Zuoz / ABB Hallen, Zürich



Quote 1:

“Thilo Hoffmann delegates a creative aspect of his series “30 SECONDS” to people all around the world. If you want to make a short movie, you get to create a story – yours or any other.

 The artist steps into the background. He handles the camera, if you wish so, and provides the tools and the editing. Content, music and the directing are left to the people whose worlds Hoffmann and his camera – politely – intrude.

 The impressively inventive stories are introduced by a still shot of the “director”. Hoffmann then adds date and location to the opening shot.

 Since 1999, Hoffmann has collected about 400 such short movies, drawing from material from all over the globe. We leave the cab driver in India to visit a drummer in Sri Lanka, watch a surfer in the Caribbean, or ride a roller coaster in Brooklyn.

 30 SECONDS experiences a new dimension when created by a number of people from a shared environment. Given the same context these movies correlate with each other.

Hoffmann has thus found a unique way of portraying an organization. The members of a team each present an individual side while at the same time creating a collective piece of art.”

Roman Elsener, New York 2004

Writer and Journalist


Quote 2:

“„30 SECONDS“ is the title of a series of film project made by Thilo Hoffmann that explore the fascinating and often complex diversity of the human individual through the strict, reductive and arguably objective medium of the 30 SECONDS video-clip.

Thirty seconds is widely accepted as the maximum attention-span of the modern TV viewer. Hoffmann uses the 30-second video clip as a tool of communication attempting to employ this condensed and restrictive format as a means of highlighting the richness of human individuality and diversity as well as hinting at an universal humanity that underlines us all. The subject of his „30 SECONDS“ films (ordinary people taken from all walks of life) have thirty seconds of video-time with which to say, do or express anything of their choice. Each clip is then combined with others into a collective portrait of a given number of subjects.

Contrasting the individual with the collective, and the objectivity of the video-clip with the intense subjectivity of its „cast“, the „30 SECONDS“ films present a series of paradoxes that seem to strike at the heart of modern life. Braking issues of privacy, alienation and intimacy in the contemporary digital age, the strict unintrusive  approach often reveals the hidden creativity and imaginative lives of its subject. By bringing each person’s originality, creativity and individuality to the fore, the „30 SECONDS“ films ultimately form a collective portrait of a humanity that often goes unseen in the bland regularity of everyday modern living. The objectivity of Hoffmann’s approach and the severely restrictive format of „30 SECONDS“ ultimately seems to encourage such a unique response from its sitter, so that, seemingly without authorship or directorship, these films offer themselves as a series of objective windows into the inner lives of its subjects.”

Robert Brown, London 2002

Artist and Head of Research Christies London