Twenty Four Hour Delirium Rhythm
by Beauchamp Art
Benjamin S. Beauchamp (2015) Twenty-Four Hour Delirium Rhythm
“The confrontation was not created by the police; the confrontation was created by the people who charged the police. Gentlemen, let’s get the thing straight, once and for all. The policeman isn’t there to create disorder; the policeman is there to preserve disorder.”
Richard J. Daley [Rostow, 2004: 18]
“A riot is the language of the unheard”
Martin Luther King Jr. [King, 2013]
“‘YOU are news, you are the social, the event is you, you are involved, you can use your voice.’”
Jean Baudrillard [Baudrillard, 1983: 53]
This work could be seen to respond to an environment of dystopian existentialism and a sense of placenessness in a chaotic contemporary culture, presented through increasingly mediated forms. I used the loaded material of the protest footage to stimulate further debate and potentially additional works.
To begin with I selected a number of video clips containing riot footage from Youtube, using a few related searches, and pick out particular clips that featured large movements of crowds; to continue looking at the embodiment of the “bewildered herd” [Chomsky, 1997: 18] which I have been dealing with in previous work notably, the Pause film and performance.
Protest imagery was selected not just for its propaganda potential or the politically/socially sensitive nature of its content, but because, as Martin Luther King observed, “a riot is the language of the unheard” [King, 2013]. The figures in the footage may be anonymised through pixelation, their voices lost in distortion and the wall of other sounds, but their movement and action could itself be seen as a form of communication, it says ‘we are discontent, and we are not being listened to’.
Rather than just downloading the films from the web (through third-party software), I chose to film the clips from the screen, with an audio jack cable running directly from the audio out into the camera. This meant that the clips have a unified sub-pixelated aesthetic, and it subtly directs the viewer to the act of looking act the screen, and the visual consumption of downloading and watching the online imagery, and the overt consumerist aspect of using an moderately expensive DSLR camera to film free (not including the line rental and broadband bill; something that a fair section of even UK society does not have access to due to costs) footage from a fairly expensive computer screen.
A demonstration on conspicuous consumption primarily visible to those who could not necessarily afford such luxury goods, yet those of whom may be the most direct affected by the political turmoil that causes people to have to go out onto the street and protest (and the demonisation of protesters frequently resorts refer to individuals who resort to looting as ‘greedy’, ‘yobs’, ‘feral’, somewhat insidious sub-humans that envy for the wealth of the well-to-do. The sorts of people who would consider a youth stealing a bag of rice (see: The Daily Mail) as typifying the wrongs of a nation, whilst they reside in a stable home, in a position of privilege, behind the safety of a television screen, ignoring the underlying issue of social inequality as a product of deliberately malicious authoritarian governance that seeks to keep the disempowered down, and the ruling class secure; in which even “the barbarians can’t get near the gates without setting off a security light” [Mitchell, 2015].
Such ignorance of circumstance is carried through into the film, all the violence blends together, there are just masses of discontent individuals.
Moreover, the refilling process distorted the already compressed images further, this somewhat dehumanised the footage, which may be considered negative as it distances the view for the human concern and issues at the heart of any great public action, but also as t anonymises the individuals depicted within the footage further, it offers them some level of safety. It removes blame from the blameless, and evidence from the accuser, whether any violent or unlawful act is committed by the police or by those against them (nevertheless, it may e considered reasonable, if not a duty, to protest unjust laws, laws set by a state not for the benefit of the people the govern but as a means of oppress or otherwise establishing further control without reason is invalid, and must be overturned; hence protesting).
To refer back to Manovich’s 144 Hours, he points out that “there are histories of governments using photographs of protests of honest people” taken by bystanders, to take his example, as in the case of the Soviet Union raid of Prague in 1968. To remove oneself from the crowd by positioning oneself behind a camera removes a sense of blame from that individual, but the people depict are still at risk of having their image used against them, “when you start to individualize stories, when you start following particular people, then it gets really dangerous” [Packer/Manovich, 2015]
The video was composed from the footage from YouTube, a social media source, which featured clips mostly from the BBC or Russia Today news sources, with amateur and professional footage alongside one another. Though with the images of more recent protest, there has been an increase in the availability of low—cost recording equipment (such as hand-held cameras, or in the pseudo-ubiquity of smart phones with built in cameras; often omen forward facing, the other facing the individual looking at the screen, to allow for portable self-portraiture to be more straightforward, and for any number of other reasons; possibly as means to monitor the user.
Nevertheless, there is still a sustained use of professional, frequently studio-edited, cinematography, that re-mediates principles of film and television entertainment composition: the use of dramatic angles, usually higher visual quality, showing a single subject from multiple perspective brought together in one edit; ascertaining its verisimilitude through the authoritative quality of the video output, were as amateur footage may be considered more authentic because i does not appear to pass through an visible editing process (although it evidently is edited, the most desirable/exciting clips are selected that convey the message of the broadcaster).
As I have edited these together, it could be argued that I am continuing the modernist collage tradition of the 1920s, pulling news items from visiting media. In this, I could be seen to be following on from the process used by Hannah Höch (whose work I managed to see at the White Cube Glalery recently), but more prominently in the works of Lev Manovich, MIT professor and artist who paints with data, in his 144 Hours in Kiev, [Packer/Manovich, 2015]. However, whereas in his work he formed a montage of images taken from Instagram, and found multiple was of presented the images of the political upheaval in Ukraine, organised into chronological order, juxtaposing banal ‘selfies’ with images of exceptional events; I have approached selecting the imagery less stringently, though still adopting a similarly topological approach, by choosing only the footage featuring green, specifically, the neon, high-visibility jackets frequently worn by (British) Metropolitan Police, especially in large crowds.
However, my time-frame was considerably broader than Manovich’s 144 hours, I particularly focused on getting images that showed police violence, using footage from the 2012 riots, the student loan protest, the pole-tax riots, and mostly other leftist/populist political protests. There is also a small amount of footage from a football riot, involving large numbers of primarily working class individuals clashing, as a result of the nationalised tribalism that the middle-class has transformed the Football institution into, making it the play-thing of wealthy oligarchs, disconnected from the communities the teams represent). As Owen Jones points out, football “was at the centre of working-class identity for so long has been transformed into a middle-class consumer good controlled by billionaire carpetbaggers” [Jones, 2011: 136].
The footage I have used has come from one secondary source, YouTube, but within that there are a range of sources and mediums, remediating the qualities and stylistic features of one another, thus if the medium contains a message then imitating or replicating the medium must subsequently carry with it a copy of the message of the original medium. Moreover, this uses of multiple resources centralised through the post-production and editing process is comparable, as Manovich remarks, to Dziga Vertov use of multiple cameramen collecting footage from one city on his instruction, to then be compiled together into one documentary or composite film: comparable to making a film from various downloaded visuals, from which one could make multiple films [Packer/Manovich]. This could be seen to mirror the changing state of popular mediums from one-to-many (broadcast; radio, television, etc) to many-to-many transmission (Web 2.0, interactive media, etc). Which is also evident in the process of making this film, as there is no single outcome, but many, multiple variations of the film (with the final version nominally the most definitive/resolved), along with numerous minor experiments, photos, GIFs, soundscapes, and so forth; like a collage through a kaleidoscope.
This may typify how the multiplicity of online media in contrast to traditional broadcast television formats, in that “Internet users can see and hear people live form all over the world, the simultaneity of individual communication are surpassing anything that television could have ever imagined” [Creeber, 2013: 121]. This contrast is alluded to in the appropriated footage, which is taken from YouTube, and online source, but remediates the TV medium in its aesthetic presentation, but also could be seen as a one media ‘quoting’ from another. As the clips are originally from TV news channels (mostly BBC & RT) which have then been recorded and uploaded to YouTube’s interactive internet format, no longer fixed to the temporal restraints of live-broadcasting, but can be paused, replayed, embedded and more diversely distributed (as is discussed in version 7).
Refilming the footage from a computer screen (twofold, in later variations when a refilled version of the full sequence is layered on top, from variation 5 onwards) could be seen to suggested this layered mediation and draw attention to the format (which may also be evident in the layered sheets as screens for the degree show installation set up), though this is only explicitly relevant in the pixelation of the images. However, there is then references back from web to TV formats by the use of the the distorted television effect that occurs betweens the clips (from the version 3 onwards).
There is no single outcome, no one definite article, it reflects the contemporary notion of the Post-Media condition, that acknowledges not only itself (Modernism) and responds to that self-reflection (Post-Modernism), but highlights the pragmatic concern that not subject can be detached from the environments in which it is formed and (re)contextualised, but acknowledge that it would be inaccurate to attempt any level of analysis without considering the relationship between the object and multiple circumstances (much as one not ono considers the sailors, the ship and the sea when setting sail, but also the port it has come from and where it is going to). Manovich effectively summaries this surrounding the purpose of producing 144 Hours, but also may apply more broadly to the role of art within society.
“We can produce different visualizations out of the same data. Everyone views a different idea. […] there are only the subjective views. So the goal is perhaps not to give people a new interpretation, but rather to challenge what they may be thinking is the correct one.” [Packer, Manovich, 2015]
Nevertheless, that does not necessarily mean that there is not a hierarchy within the nexus of works, there is an the irrevocable dominance of the more polished later variations. Even in Giles and Deluze’s rhizomorphous structures of non-linear hierarchy, it must be acknowledged that there is inevitable an ordering a privileging to the data (et al.). Such as in the case of the interconnected network/internet of things, density of connectivity asserts itself as the dominating factor. For example, Google’s search engine orders results not based on key words, but rather establishes its topology through ordering results based on levels of connectivity to other media, popularity and so forth. In other words, it is the mass, the gravity of a subject that attracts it to other subjects, and other subjects to it that gives it authority, power.
The title of this work, Twenty-Four Hour Delirium Rhythm (abbreviated to TFHDR) was strung together over time, drawing on a number of ideas.
Twenty-four: the 24 hour clock, that never ending cycle no constantly updated by 24 hour news, as the 24 hour party people dance into the dying of the light, and the 24 hour perpetual labour of the post-Fordist worker
Hour: Hour after hour, it breaks the phrase into 4 parts, which works better lyrically.
Delirium: “Characterized by restlessness, illusions, and incoherence, occurring in intoxication, fever, and other disorders.” or “Wild excitement or ecstasy”, it seemed the ideal description for the modern individual made manic by the mass media overload.
Rhythm: the routine, the dance club, the riot, the revolution.
This was the first film made just using protest/riot footage, cut together to correlate with the distorted version of the BBC Slippy theme, with basic text, reading Delirium at the start, and Rhythm at the end. This work sets out the initial themes within the work, that of the spectacle of the rioting masses, and the absurd hyperbole of the “bewildered herd” [Chomsky, 1997: 15] under the bludgeons of the high visibility jacket wearing police. This vibrant green invokes both the vibrant officers and body-painted raver alike (hence the combination of the BBC news them and Born Slippy)
The enhancement of the green tones draws emphasis to those figures, to the police, thereby redirecting attention away from the other figures, the protesters and rioters. This is the initial bias that underpins much of the video’s commentary; mediation redirecting attention, deliberate manipulation of meaning and context, emphasising how the same sort of imagery can be used for converse purposes (whether this be through the use of a caption, editing, or otherwise).
The rapidly shifting, image stabilised footage could be seen to reflect how when channel surfing the television tube or mindlessly browsing the internet, every channel and every page looks the same. The consumer has the freedom to decide,“any customer can have a car painted any colour that he wants so long as it is black” and any imagery as long as its the never ending bleak and ecstatic domestic violence; the circuses of mankind’s greets struggles played before the viewer as a pantomime.
This is made partly in response to the themes of the mutual fear of the population and of the authorities, with this fear being used as a tool of control against the domestic populous, using state and privately run media to distribute pessimistic Propaganda to promote apathy, pitting neighbour against neighbour so they masses can never stand together and face their true oppressors. This situation is comparable to the scenario in in George Orwell’s Nineteen-Eighty Four, where The Party bombs its own runway, to instil fear in the populous, so they long for authority, and long for the florescent security blanket of state control, echoed in the the mocking cries in the 1976 film, The Network, “please, at least leave us alone in our living rooms. Let me have my toaster and my TV and my steel-belted radials and I won’t say anything. Just leave us alone” [The Network, 1976]. Orwell envisioned a party blowing itself up, now it pours fuels on media fires, that may explode without a spark. Terror is the triumph of the simulacrum, of fear, of manufactured consent. Our hands throttle our own throat to spite ourselves, apathy is suicide.
Anarchy in the UK
Authority must be questioned, in accordance with Anarchist principals, this includes any academic who questions existing dogma, necessary for scientific progress. Without it, there would be no theory of gravity, or evolution, or anything beyond rudimentary sun-worshipping mythologies. To invoke 1960s call for Timothy Leary, “think for yourself and question authority” (a phrase which may derive from Benjamin Frankin’s maxim “it is the first responsibility of every citizen to question authority”). Without regularly testing the validity of the arguments and established ideologies, society cannot progress. Ideas can only stagnate if no one questions why the current state of being is the way it is, as Gerald Weinberg observed, “things are the way they are because they got that way” [Black, 2004: 12].
Authority only seeks to reinforce the deliberately negative stereotype of the anarchist as a wild beast, a barbarian already within the gates, wanting only for destruction, rather than deconstruction, a principal more in line with anti-authoritarianism. If an power structure can stand serious scrutiny and having its foundations shaken, through debate, protest and popular action, then it may be shown as valid if they means of defence are fair, willing to be questioned, representational and democratically supported. If protesters march against a political ruling they find unjust, then riot police are deployed to stir up aggression, then the establishment undermines its own authority, as it cannot prove the validity of the ruling through open discourse, so resorts to violence against a civilian population, which is also undemocratic.
But as media reporting frequently shows, “the best defence against democracy is to distract people” [Chomsky, 1998: 53], show the spectacle of the protest, but do so briefly, then highlight the non-representational violence, the dissonance of the message they present, the thuggishness of their mentality, but at no point can their argument be considered seriously, it must be suppressed, but “because we’re a civilised people, we put them in prison, rather than sending death squads out to murder them” [Chomsky, 1998: 37], and once they are imprisoned and their Human Rights are more easily denied, the votes in elections are threatened to be removed, so their are made even more disempowered. This may mean that the underlying issues that cause public outcry may not be addressed, so “poor people will sometimes choose to vote for oppressors, rather than suffer the violence of the rich” [Chomsky, 1998: 74] and their participation in a un-representational ‘democratic’ voting system may seems pointless, sewing the seeds of apathy, reinforcing the hierarchy. This may be further sustained by the bludgeon/propaganda dichotomy discussed earlier, both of which are used adamantly in media reporting of protests, such as those used in TFHDR.
Hence there is the need for questioning authority within progressive academia, as there is in any liberal democracy; which like any Totalitarian state, must be seen to encourage questioning but sustain the belief that they are unquestionable. The only difference between the libertarian and totalitarian is that to be unquestionable for the former means to have answered all the questions and been proven to be valid, true, or democratically sustainable. Whereas for the latter, to be unquestionable means to not allow questions to be asked. In such a system, in order o keep people passive and obedient, the spectrum of acceptable opinion must be strictly limited but lively debate can be allowed within that spectrum, even encouraging more critical and dissident views, presenting an illusion of free thinking, reinforcing a system that limits the range of debate [Chomsky, 1998: 43]. These systems indicate how:
“Power must not be exposed to the sunlight. Edward Snowden has become the most wanted criminal in the world for failing to comprehend this essential maxim. […] There must be complete transparency for the population, but none for the powers that must defend themselves from this fearsome internal enemy.” [Chomsky, 2014]
If the bully remains unchallenged, then they will continue to bully; as the snitch, the Stasi or the civilian mass Panopticon or paranoia.
The viewer aims their remote control at the television to change the channels, and the television in turn may remotely control the viewer (especially when the media is highly privatised, with News Corp alone owning around 230 assets internationally, including several major news outlets, with Rupert Murdoch having supported the campaigns of the British Prime Ministers since 1976). This is amplified online when the feedback (loop) between viewer and content is hyperbolised when the meta-data from their previous internet is catalogued and used to plot future media consumption, to target advertising and recommend content, on sites like Facebook, Google, and Amazon (3 of the websites with the some of the highest annual data traffic in the world).
This results in “a situation of extreme nichification in which Web surfers are encouraged to explore their personal range of interests and are rewarded with highly specific information on those interests – as well as electronic interactions with people who share those interest”, which enables the development of “precise target marketing technologies help marketers take advantage of rapid changes by targeting the appropriate ‘fragments’ and turning them into successful ‘niches’,” according to the Claritas Lifestyle Clusters Survey, headed by Jonathan Robbin in 1976 [Shenk, 1997: 128, 119] (Evidently, 1976 is an important year in the history of media control). Users highly interests lead them into more specialised, personalised subject matter, which makes comprehending that which is beyond users’ “zone of proximal development” [Vygotsky, 1978: 86] increasingly difficult as they develop in the world, especially for digital natives.
Moreover, with these post-Television media consumers, it is worth considering how the development in the means of consuming TV media has effected the approach to contemporary online and multi-media content. After the development of a few initial analogue channels came the rise of a plethora of further TV platforms, particularly cable networks in the US, and satellite providers, such ask Sky (a subsidiary of Sky PLC, founded by Murdoch, owned by News Corp), enabling more varied and specialised commercial media to be produce for the format.
“‘Niche’ channels had to somehow stand out in an increasingly competitive market. The ubiquitous presence of the remote control by the 1980s also meant that viewers could now effortlessly change channels with just the merest touch of a button – the term ‘channel-surfing’ was introduced to describe the way many often failed to stay very long on one particular programme, continuously ‘skimming’ across the ‘surface’ of the ever increasing amount of choice” [Creeber, 2013: 53].
This notion of flitting between media is echo in the multi-window interface of most modern computers; in which, as Manovich observes, “no single window completely dominants the viewer’s attention,” which is increasingly significant “as the window of a Web browser replaced the cinema and the television screen, the art gallery wall, library and book, all at once, the new situation manifested itself: all culture, past and present came to be filtered through a computer, with its particular human-computer interface” [Manovich, 2001, 97, 64], in an environment in which the Ofcom Adults’ Media Use and Attitudes Report 2014 revealed that; more UK adults, especially older adults, are now going online, with 83% going online in any location using a range of devices [Ofcom, 2014: 4]. Much of the TV format may have been remediated into web consumption, but new devices are taking the place of the communally viewed television, like tablet computers offering a more portable, individual, personalised, and tactile viewing experience, their use trebling from 5% to 17% from 2012 to 2013 [Ofcom, 2014: 4].
What may be observed here may be that the individual is presented with a range of choices, so many choices they struggle to decide about major issues, because they are focused on the minor ones. So here, in the video, the choice has been made for the viewer, they see what has been curated for them, the spectacle of fluorescent violence, from the comfort of the viewing space behind the pseudo-presence of the screen image.
To quote the prog-rock band Rush, “if you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice” [Rush, 1980]. Choose not to commit to a decision merely seeks to defer blame.
In this variation I began to work in the rhythmical elements of the composition. Initially, this involved using the black frames from the EchoReFlex video, making the screen flashing slightly darker synchronised to BBC Slippy.
I also started to introduce more layers to the sound scape. Along with the lyrics to Land of Confusion by Genesis, an an article on Dystopia in currently poplar film and fiction, both converted to audio through basic text-to-speech software, and subsequently distorted and warped to coalesce with the video format. Creating a form of synesthesia or sensory confusion between the audio-visual elements, in that everything is distorted, and that becomes part of the video’s decisive aesthetic.
This was designed to provide uncomfortable viewing that was also difficult to listen to, to reflect how the imagery itself was politically and morally uncomfortable, with civic disturbances evidencing an unhappy populous being met by police brutality, and brutality against the police.
This variation saw an increase in the use of typography (with the typeface similar to NUA promotional materials, subtly implying an institutional authoritative critique). This also saw the extension of the title to the full Twenty-Four Hour Delirium Rhythm, a phase I had developed earlier to be used for a major piece, which this saw it way to becoming. Following this, the flashing frames became more subtle woven in alongside the text.
The various clips transit through a distorted deliberately glitch designed to specifically emulate the warping aesthetic of a broken, old television. This seemed to work effectively, and came about after editing the Lazer Blades (Henry & Neil’s collaboration at the Norwich Arts Centre) footage, and very briefly experimenting with some of Henry’s analogue video editing equipment. Thereby producing a digital video format that remediated the features of analogue distortion, which is itself a remediation of a previously undesirable video effect caused by the chance disruption of channel surfing with an old CRTV.
The sound track also received an up date, rearranging the interplay between the layers, the naive audio and the music.
Video of Affinity
The TFHDR video could be seen as an attempt to persuade the viewer to comprehend a situation in which the state should be question for how it treats the citizenry. Reporting a pervasion of Richard J. Daley statement “The policeman isn’t there to create disorder; the policeman is there to preserve disorder” [Rostow, 2004: 18], which he said regarding protests, riots, and political upheaval during the 1970s, which he demanded a greater, more lethal response from the police for those opposing the government of the time.
This video could be considered in line with certain forms of propaganda, but should not come across as anti-protest or anti-police, but a querying of the political situations that result in the need for displays of civil disobedience. In the case of the footage used, the incidents revolve around a number of issues, from the increase in tuition fees to Pole tax, to further response to previous police violence.
Nevertheless, the footage taken following football games (that which shows a cavalry charge across the screen with individuals in the foreground wearing black-and-white stripped team colours) could be seen to reflect a situation in which, “football fans had become demonized as hooligans and thugs because of the actions of a small, violent minority” [Jones, 2011: 67] according to Jones, therefore inferring the greater ramifications of class discord, and the tribalism imposed on the working classes through the football institutions, funded by the private sector, endorsed by the public sector, though completely out of the frame of reference for many policy makers. However, football violence may also provide a more socially acceptable situation in which to cause disorder, as opposed to the unacceptable political protest). This is not an indoctrination of either pro or anti-establishment dogma, not a criticism of the work of the police, but it may raise questions about how their role is used and viewed within society.
This may be categorised, to a lesser extent as a form of “video of affinity” that Patricia Lange describes as a means of attempting “to maintain feelings of connection with potential others who identify or interpellate themselves as intended viewers of the video,” focusing the audience’s attention onto a particular view point, which is significant because “attention, as the basic interactional level, is a managed achievement that requires work” [Lange, 2009: 71]. So the interaction offered by the viewing experience lends itself to a form of political association, a willingness to be exposed to persuasion, to alternative opinion, or at the least, as a means of initiate a dialogue in which political process can be made, though is not in itself a politically aligned subject; since it is severed from the artist/editor/mediators once it is displayed.
This does not mean that the exhibition is not necessarily neutralising, but activates the work differently when viewed in the context of an exhibition within an educational insinuation (for the degree show) than its display online through social media (returning the footage to where it was found, from where it was appropriated, but not its origins, which are presumable television, but the remediation and representation of the imagery across formats makes its original source lacking clarity).
This was not intended as a stand alone version of the film, but rather as a layer of the overall composition, using the live-action footage as the raw material to be manipulated by hand [Manovich, 2001: 302]. This was created by taking the first frame from each clip in the is order, compiling them into one very short sequence, before elongating it considerably, playing with the ‘elastic reality’ avail to digital filmmakers [Manovich, 2001: 301], utilising the Optical Flow frame blending mode to generate bizarrely morphing sequence. A side product of this was the very peculiar sounds created along with the footage when it was slowed down, but the pitch preserved, becoming one continuous, shifting yell, sounding like a machine attempting to inhale.
Digital: Delirium GIFs
Along with the footage, a number of GIFs were created using the frames at the basis of the Twenty-Four Hour Delirium Rhythm Optical Flow film, finding different ways of combining the imagery to communicate the theme of the 24 Hour news and similar such sensory assaults.
Delirium Fast 1:1 GIF
Delirium Slow 2:1 GIF
Delirium 4 Speed Circular GIF
Delirium 4 Speed Progression GIF
Delirium 4 Speed GIF
For this variation, the text still needed centralising, but it composition was becoming increasingly complex (with the background now appearing transparent on alternating words by the application a re-filmed version of the footage and various other video layers), alongside the readjusted audio.
I began mixing in Genesis’ Land of Confusion into the distorted musical mix alongside the speech version, and I made an attempt at mixing in Choose NewsCorp (a combination of the ‘Choose Life’ speech from Trainspotting, and a List of Assets Owned by NewsCorp, read as text-to-speech). However, I applied the same distortion effects to this as to the Dystopia article speech, but made it far in gradually over the length of the video, in tandem with the increasingly opaque flashing frames taken from the start of each video clip in the sequence. This meant that is was not particularly audible in itself, but added to the general chaotic cacophony of voices and noises, furthering a greater sense of delirium to the piece, and as the Choose NewsCorp layer was also cut to a 120bpm tempo, it fit with all the other musical layers, increasing the pulsating soundscape, interwoven with the arrhythmic lyrics as speech (as if performing spoken word poetry over an especially hectic jazz band).
The chaos is echo in “haunted by a million screams” in the lyrics, spoken plainly in a robotic voice, incorporating further inhumanity into the growing nightmare, the wall of noise grows until it threatens the audience, before cutting off suddenly, as the soundscape resolves, the music ends, and silence takes over.
“Sound, although present in user-generated content, is rarely as foregrounded as it is in contemporary cinema and TV. Not only are PC speakers generally inferior in quality to TV and cinema […] the multitasking online environment is not always conducive to the appreciation of an overwhelming aural soundscape. Many users, for example, will already be listening to music online and may quickly cancel a site or video that interfere with this” [Creeber, 2013: 123].
Recreating the experience of listening to music and multiple audio sources simultaneously that may occur when using a multi-screen computer interface, whilst also accessing media on a mart phone or mobile device, radio, TV or other platform. With most visual spectacles there comes a sonic association, often synaesthetic, creating a parallel between an action and a audio response to give a sense of feedback to the user.
Much as films and cartoons employ sound effects and foley artists to create soundscapes to correspond with the raw video product, computer interfaces beep when clicked to create a more haptic-feeling interface – such as a digital camera playing a shutter noise when a picture is taken if there is not actual shutter noise, they offer reassurance to the reality of the interaction to the user. As well as serving as ‘sonic branding’ for the ‘bite-sized’ media culture, these interface noise act as “aural equivalent of the graphic logo” [Creeber, 2013: 123].
Hence this video uses an overload of noise to relate to the growing digital noises emanating from machines that would otherwise be silent, besides the hum of electricity and the whirring of cooling fans; only when this is disrupted by an alien element, a glitch, does this become noticeable. Within the idea, when the textual elements appear on screen there is sonic feedback fro the listener, as a robotic voice reads out the text; in addition to the various scripts, articles, and lyrics also being read out simultaneously; all clamouring for attention, a crowd of stimulants murmuring in monotone, indecipherable but loaded with meaning. Much as the merry powering-up motifs activated when a phone or PC is switched on [Creeber, 2013: 123] indicates to the user that it has not only been turned on, but that they should be happy, content, eager to consumer new media fancies.
As John Cage notes, “wherever we are, what we hear is mostly noise” [Cage, 1937: 3-6], so by presenting an audience with a wall of noise the pressure is shifted onto them to find the writing, the individual sounds and forms that have melded in with all the other sonic scrapes and scratches, to find the familiar from the ‘bricolage’, the “mosaic of different but interconnecting elements that the viewer will be able to manipulate at will” [Creeber, 2013: 110], manipulated by shifting focus between the sounds, as the user may shift their attention between the layers (of meaning) within a multi-window interface.
Nevertheless, the sound structure could be understood as an inversion of the principal of online “videos rarely becoming popular if they immerse its surfer in a sound wave that threatens to obliterate all other content” [Creeber, 2013: 123], in that TFHDR is anti-populist in it aggressive, somewhat overwhelming audio that may come across as deliberately hard or unpleasant to listen to. But this reflects the visual content, not only is it somewhat undesirable watching, due to the rapidly cutting clips, but also the violent imagery and jeering crowds reflects a public violence and a sense of civil discord.
At the same time the piece also plays on the notion of spectacle which depends on moments of clarity, familiarity, in order to ring a sense of truth with the audience, to create a sense of social resonance, so the voices of the crowd always dominate. By stepping into the sound space, into a room filled with the vibrations of vocal chords in chorus, displaced out of time, out of order, the ‘noise’ is not simply backgrounded, but place at the forefront of the audience’s experience.
“If we go to five hundred images/second, to a million images/second (and there are already machines that allow this), we see nothing. Too much speed is comparable to too much light. It’s blinding” [Virilio, 1983, 86].
The audience is thereby encouraged to look directly at the noise, not through it [Kahn, 1999: 28]. Not to simply criticise the chaos, but lambaste it, in an attempt to scrutinise it thoroughly enough to understand its content and its origins; as the video should not just present enraged crows was a spectacle, but attempt to discover why the people are angry, what system is flaw that has resulted in this outcome, this social glitch? Rather than imposing order (as musical structure or police barriers) the civilian discord is presented as a critique of a flawed structure that does not require further oppression, but greater understanding.
As this was intended to be the final version of the film (it was the final single panel version, but I then produce 2 variations using a divided frame), there were a number of minor adjustments alongside the more major modifications, not all of which will be listed here, though it did include adding a large ’24’ panel a measured intervals throughout the composition, and adding small speech samples wreaking out each line of the title when they appear on screen, creating greater synesthesia. Given that the previous version seemed somewhat cluttered, I wanted to see some of the layering to be gradually introduced over the length of the video, adding to the sense of climax.
Some off the additional time shifted layers involved; using first frames from each clip, on a loop. Along with using the first frames stretched out, with the audio – optical flow; and applying the refilmed version of the main footage, slowed down to 25%, quartered, and multilayered, each section with a 25% Soft Light opacity, then grouped together, and set to a 50% Soft Light opacity setting, building from 0% opacity at the start of the footage to the maximum amount by the final frame. I also worked in more of the Choose Life text-to-speech monologue from Trainspotting, used in EchoReFlex and as a stand alone collection of audio pieces.
Following the various 4 panel GIFs produced as part of this project, this composition was an inevitability. Following various other idea works, the multilayered visuals play simultaneously at similar speed, with the slowed down versions dominating the foreground in an attempt to undermine the verisimilitude of the medium, but in doing so destabilise the ability of the video to effectively communicate meaningfully.
As with the final version of EchoReFlex, the viewer is given the illusion of choice between 4 screens, echoed in the words of Renton in Transpotting; “Choose life, choose a job, choose a career, choose a family, choose a fucking big television,” these choice are feigned and bring not joy only different forms of misery. And in support of this, I also including Barber’s Adagio for Strings and more slowed down percussion into audio mix, generally upsetting and sense of melody or defined emotion besides throbbing anguish. However, this proved to be less effective, less climactic and less critically attuned than the previous, superior version.
After re-evaluating the previous version of the video and taking into consideration the manner in which it was to be displayed, I then produced this version, with the video split into two panels, text appearing on either side, adjusted to 25 FPS (and thus essential remade from scratch) in order to synchronise the audio most effectively. The two faces of the video may posit cinematic hypocrisy, one half of the screen undermining the other.
Due to the number of layers and the automation of the opacity and effects levels, working on the video has proved somewhat overly demanding for the computer, so I have resorted to exporting and overwriting the video in order to preview it effectively, as even when the sequence was fully rendered, it still lagged, dropped frames, distorted the audio, and made the editing procedure more difficult. Nevertheless, as I have been applying a more systematic approach to the video composition (to to the extent that I have stuck to original grids and plans I set out mapping out sections of the video frame-by-frame), then examining whole sections has not been entirely necessary, though has made mastering the audio in Final Cut more difficult.
Alternatively, I could have mapped out the video, then exported a preliminary version into Logic, and worked on the sound in there, however, as the audio evolved alongside the video, it was necessary at times to have access to both parts simultaneously. As FCPX has the majority of the audio effects from Logic, then doing minor adjustments was not overly problematic, only when they are composed en masse does it become an issue; a desert is made of billion grains of sand, and positioning each one exactly, whilst still allowing for the necessary instinctual happen-stance of serendipitous alignments of sections was a delicate balance. If it could be plotted perfect before hand, then there would be little need to produce it; it requires a human response to a score to give a series of notes rhythm, harmony, feeling.
Since there were a greater amount of waiting for things to load, I took it upon myself to write annotations whilst working on the video, which made providing myself with instant contextually informed feedback all the more effective; particularly after reading an interview with Lev Manovich discussing his 144 Hours in Kiev piece, which effectively parallels some of themes and approaches I have taken within my work, but producing a piece around a specific event using images from Instagram around the recent Ukrainian upheaval. The title is also an similarity, as both my and Manovich’s pieces feature an time frame in hours followed by a qualifying two word clause.
This work has required considerably more thorough levels of professionalism within the editing process, as I have begun to consider seriously the possibility of using this work for the degree show. However, this may have hampered the rate of progress, as I initially created the first few variations within a week or so, pulling together a range of existing materials that I had previously been working on (much as I did my dissertation) into a resolved format; but since then I have had to consider fine details at considerable length, and I am not content for the piece to be rough around the edges, so have rather painstakingly been making amendments since the initial compositional surge.
Moreover, shifting from 25 to 24 FPS for the final variation required a total dissembling and reassembling of the various composite parts, requiring pedantic levels of minor shifting and displacement, and the acceptance of certain irreconcilable facts. Such as the issue of time, or rather the lack of – not just in the manufacturing of the video, but the very limited time an audience will have to view the work.
Given the original footage came to around 12 mins, and I planned to cut that with another few mins of footage (an idea later dissolved), and the first few variations edited to loosely fit the time scale of the BBC Slippy theme (subverted into a distorted background noise) and the total length of the footage only featuring fluorescent green coming to around 3 and a half mins, I have been critically aware for the need to reduce the length of the video to be as short as possible, but with enough content to sustain an audience for more than a few seconds (which is especially necessary as my work in the degree show is to be displayed in is own room, so there is nothing else to occupy the audience’s attention beside my work).
Hence I resorted to bifurcating the footage into two equal length segments and displayed them side-by-side in the split single frame of the video, and thereby reduced the film to around 2 mins. Just long enough to hold people’s gaze, and meant that they could stay for the full length or return to it and be able to see most of the film in full, without having to wait around a while for it to loop; which it does do, though there is a definitely linear narrative climax, with an opening and closing title/credit sequence.
Nevertheless, this reductive process of editing could be seen as problematic, as it reduces the capacity to fully articulate an idea, when an individual is face with only a moment’s attention to communicate what may be a complicated subject matter. So, as Chomsky notes, “the beauty of concision […] is that you can only repeat conventional thoughts. […] But you can’t give evidence if you’re stuck with concision” [Chomsky, 1992], within art this may be seen as especially problematic for the fear of producing cliché, safe art, familiar art; which is usually an issue in itself, but within this piece it becomes an interesting problem, as the repetition of the imagery and the concision of the composition reflects the rapidity of modern media consumption and the rate at which imagery may become banal, and how the “banality of evil” [Arendt, 1963] and the depictions of violent acts can make the viewer complacent in their resulting apathy; yet it is “the blandest imagery may be the most deceptive.” [Ritchin, 2013: 17]
The condensed (A/V) quote may have its meaning reduced or altered (even the above Chomsky quote has subsequently been reduce due to the apparent necessity for brevity), but in this circumstance the absence of meaning and context to the imagery, and the existentially meaningless imagery that faces the audience could be seen to inform the criticism of the appropriated material, and the eagerness with which news outlets will choose to display spectacular displays of violence and human barbarism that turns the world into one great Gladiatorial arena; as Howard Beale (played by Peter Finch) in the 1976 film The Network proclaimed: “Television is not the truth! Television is a God-damned amusement park! Television is a circus. […] We’re in the boredom-killing business!” [The Network, 1976].
With the imagery shown in popular media competing to be more and more spectacular, more violent, more extreme, more pornographic, to fight the onslaught of banality, and the desensitisation of the masses, making the people comfortable to ignore the war on the street, the trampled beggar, the fearful neighbour. In the face of “three out of four people [being] desensitized to images showing hunger, drought, and disease” [BBC, 2012], then it is unsurprising that the role of the an overabundance of imagery alters the public perception of events. As Alexander Galloway illuminates:
“The power of the images relies exclusively on its circulation as hidden or visible; images exist either as triggers for emotional responses within populations or as cynical evidence of that same population’s numbness to them. Either seen or unseen, either affecting or impotent – such is the trap of representation today.” [Galloway, 2012: 90]
For an audience, this leaves them to ponder, “Why bother to be informed, many must think if one’s own potential impact on society can seem so negligible?” [Galloway, 2012: 29] In the gallery setting the short looping sequence: featuring images from a range of riots, densely overloaded with the same imagery playing repeatedly at varying opacities and threatening sounds assaulting the eardrums at varying intensities; may appropriately isolated and compartmentalised from the rest of the exhibition. Much as the horrors of the daily news is remembered, but put out of sight and out of mind, rolled up in a news paper, the television switched off, the computer set to stun, in a closet of its very own, as if stepping inside the televisual space, away from which the audience may saunter, unbruised and unaffected, unlike those who experience it first hand, through their own two blood-shot eyes. People may leave the viewing space much as:
“People can turn off not just because a steady diet of images of violence has made them indifferent but because they are afraid […] Because of the quantity of the images dumped on them. It is passivity that dulls feeling. The states described as apathy, moral or emotional anaesthesia, are full of feelings; the feelings are rage and frustration” [Sontag, 2003: 89-91].
25 to 24 FPS
The move from 25 to 24 frames per second was driven by the necessity to have each second more sub-divisible, this enable the exact frame-by-frame, multilayered construction of this video is only really possible due to the exactitude of the digital media, and the transition to 24fps. This also makes working to the music considerably more straightforward.
Some of the original cuts matched up after this modification, as both halves were cut by set intervals (4, 6, 8, 12 seconds) to fit within the musical framework, although most of the finer work near the climax required totally reworking. Nevertheless, it also enabled more elaborate cuts between the two panels in portrait orientation, as if filmed from a camera phone, designed to fit into the corner of the room. Adding in layers from previous variations was not overly complicated, although, the different A/V assets fading in at different points had to be re-drawn, to correlate with the short time frame, and the reduced frame rate.
Nevertheless, the split narrative, with one half being where the other ends, fed into the notion of the loop, which was supported by the new frame rate, as for each frame per second the is an hour in the day, following from the post-Fordish compartmentalising of every aspect of the day, even outside of the work place.
Within the two-panel video, images on one side pass in to the other; the stereoscopic video enables the viewer to bifurcate the temporal structure from the original in linear footage into a simultaneously experienced A/V event. Such as the cavalry charge towards the end has the horses appear on one half of the screen and move across to the other, giving a mock multiple camera affect, which is severed from the original times and context of the video (with some bits of footage coming from the Pole Tax riots, and others the more recent London riots and student loan protests), which could give the video a greater sense of the role of ongoing social discord, a lingering discontent felt by the population, and the sustained use of police violence as a means of control, but also something to be recorded and broadcast and redistributed, to weaponise the media itself.
This could be seen to form a bridge between McLuhan’s statement that “the medium is the message” [McLuhan, 1964: 129] and Chomsky’s observation that “Propaganda is to a democracy what the bludgeon is to a totalitarian state” [Chomsky, 1997: 21]. So therefore any appropriation of material that may be used for anti-humanitarian purposes (the dehumanisation of protestors and police alike) must be done so with caution, so as to offer a platform for critique of the social (dis)order as eel as the problem of televised mediation that may transform genuine human suffering into banality, or worse; transform violence against the population into entertainment.
The particular footage and sounds of the disquiet crowds must therefore be used tentatively, so as not to reinforce the exciting portrayal of those in protest as going against the social good – suggesting they are simply rioting, looting, barbarians – but posit a critique of a social structures and the weaponising of the media that may stimulate anger against the state.
However, as some of the clips within the sequence shows, sometimes the bludgeon may be used as part of the propaganda, to literally beat down the masses, and a figurative means of establishing control over the “bewildered herd”, as “the manufacture of consent” [Chomsky, 1997: 18] may be sought through the mass consumption of images of the powerful flexing their muscles; “a boot stamping on the face of humanity – forever” [Orwell, 1949]. The baton beating down on the bodies of the masses illustrated through mass media could be considered equivalent to rolling up the newspaper to discipline an disobedient dog, as images of destruction reign down in agonising blows, the message of the medium is clear; obey, or face the wrath of an angry state.
However, I do not indent for the video to be totally pessimistic, as it proceeds to show the sustained struggle of the people against a highly-visible state, signified by the police with the enhanced green jackets, who are also show as individuals facing aggression, but through the media coverage the rioting and protesting becomes the focus, the spectacle of violence may usurp a genuine political message, as the civilian populous are depicted as nothing more than violent yobs. Nevertheless, this could be seen to indicate a state that fears or its own stability, as levels of propaganda tend to increase when the Establishment pushes in support of unpopular issues (undemocratically) asserting itself, rather than tackling the genuine concerns of the people.
However, as the imagery used here may be adopted by news media to invalidate the concerns of the people depicted, it is worth acknowledging that “Demonizing the less well-off also makes it easier to justify an unprecedented and growing level of social inequality. […] To admit that some people are poorer than others because of the social injustice inherent in our society would require government action” [Jones, 2011: 37], it is simply easier and cheaper to not care, empathy is seen as inefficient, rather than an integral part of humanity’s success. So the seeds of doubt are sewn with delirium, the confusing medley of conflicting media massages bombard the masses, ‘gas-lighting’ them, so that they doubt the reality they see before them, and grow increasingly dependent on a controlled, establishment approved perspective.
The split screen embodies the multi-windowed view of computing, remediating the fractured dichotomy of a Television screen caught between two channels, each divulging the same banal material, in on continuous but disjointed flow. Reflecting Raymond William’s notion of ‘flow’, televisual content using music “to smooth out sequences of discontinuous scene changes or edits” [Huron, 1989: 55] for material “with no real beginning, middle or end”, where “even news programming was soon influenced by such a [MTV] style, with the genre’s incorporation of flashing graphics, more music, split-screens, rapidly-fire images and complex montage sequences” [Creeber, 2013: 54, 60]. All of which could be seen to have been adopted and reflected upon self-critically in the frantic stereo audio-video composition of TFHDR (following on from the final variations of the EchoReFlex film and the Riot Rave composition experiments).
This aesthetic has been saturated into other channels, programs and the news casts of the BBC to CNN to Sky, which could be seen as awash with spectacular graphics, glamorous pictures of war, famine, pestilence and death, looping round in a perpetually renewing Ouroboros of apathy. Given the source of the footage in the film, it is noteworthy that the musical element in TV new is so explicitly imposed over visual content, not only is “the music is used to mediate between discontinuous images” [Huron, 1989: 561], but it is used cinematically to make the images more dramatic, more real than real. Horror is more terrifying, joy more ecstatic, life more lived when experienced through a screen. Cinematic realism could be seen as the new realism of the News.
As part of this variation, I began dropping in extra frames, with ’24’ filling the screen, each number dominating the two halves of the video. These were placed at regular intervals that increased with frequency alongside the main title text flashing up. However, where as the primary typography appeared according to a 4/4 rhythm to coincide with the distorted musical elements, the ’24’ text, appears syncopated, between every third clip, essentially overlaying a 4/3 tempo over the 4/4 beat. Nevertheless, as these clips were only 1 frame long, they were not intended to be overtly noticeable, rather forming a part of the structure of the piece to give a greater sense of disorder and provoke greater delirium from the audience; initially not particularly noticeable, but by the faster paced latter half of the video it is unmistakable.
This plays on the historical precedent of subliminal advertising; in which marketers put in messages that appear brief or in the background of an otherwise benign piece of footage, to incentivise them to purchase something. This has since been prove to not be effective, however, the rapidly flickering aesthetic that takes the post-Godard, MTV/CNN aesthetic to an extreme still replicates some of these motifs – and the single frame slipped into video sequence is still used in some cinematic ventures, such as David Fincher’s 1999 adaptation of Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club, in which the hallucinated alter ego of the protagonist appears a number of times on screen for a singe frame before being introduced, and the single frame substitution (suggesting an unstable reality) is also used in a later sequence in which the secondary character is placing pornographic stills into children’s films in a small cinema for their own entertainment.
Each video ‘blip’ of ’24’ appears off-beat with the rest of the video, forming a discord between 24 as a signifier of repeating, regular time, and the seemingly out-of-time, exponential tick (the ‘exceptions’ proving the rhythmic ‘rule’, to be syncopated imply there must be a beat, and order, to deviate from. It could be considered the compositional equivalent of exemplifying the ‘other’ to prove the norm, i.e., showing police brutality from a select series of circumstance creating a negative aesthetic to contrast to the otherwise positive public perception of the role of the State in citizen control.) The use of polyrhythmic video composition is intended to form a self-reflective feedback loop between the imagery and the subject matter, in keeping with a Deconstructivist visual approach.
This use of multiple tempos simultaneously is a fairly common practice in Minimalist musical composition, like those used by Steve Reich or as demonstrated in the polytempos in Philip Glass’ Metamorphosis piano series, and in various examples of freeform jazz, African drumming, and (most influentially for for me) used by experimental electronic musicians, such as Aphex Twin, Squarepusher, and Venetian Snares. Or even in some Western Baroque Classical music; though that area of music is more relevant here for its influence on Minimalism, and a systematic approach to composing that makes use of techniques like ritornello, retrograde inversions, homophony – as opposed to otter Renaissance contrapposto (to borrow a sculptural term) polyphonic melodies.
Such a technique is particularly successfully by the progressive rock band, King Crimson in Three of a Perfect Pair uses a range of overlapping time signatures to embody lyrics surrounding split personalities, “one too make schizophrenic tendencies keeps it complicated” [King Crimson, 1984], alongside verses in 6/8, choruses 7/8, climaxing with bass playing in 6/8 whilst the guitars rare in 2/4 and 9/8 [Wikipedia]. This could be seen to be the musical embodiment of McLuhan statement that “The medium is the message.” [McLuham, 1964: 129], or is at least part of it, as the musical medium communicates part of the meaning, the message of the song (lyrics).
This musical piece has since been recorded, edited, distributed, ripped from a disc, and played through speakers; each stage remediating elements of every medium it has passed though, picking up and amplifying unintentional artefacts and deliberate manipulations of the media. Which is worth noting since “remediation is a defining characteristic of the new digital media” [Bolter, 2000: 45], made all the more significant when accessing this new media in order to create new outcomes from this reconstituted material, especially as even basic media players offer “some basic editing functions. […] You cannot simply ‘access’ media with automatically being offered some way to ‘modify’ it” [Manovich, 2013: 153]. Given my goal is to edit (using fairly sophisticated software that is some ware above regular ‘media players’, so thus has greater modifying potential), to reframe, to mediate and therefore distort the material I am accessing in order to draw attention to the act of viewing the material by the public, then it is especially important to consider how every element has passed through various processes of communication.
Whether these remediations be regarding technical concerns (compression, and the resulting distortion, emulated in ‘overdrive; and similar effects within the editing program) or compositional (such as the use of polyrhythms from music into video) or contextual (such as in this resulting discussion around the video and related subject matter, or even more directly in the used of text and language within the video itself).
However, translating polyrhythmic musical compositional into video composition may be considered more in line with the structuralist and (Post-) Pop Art videos of Paul Sharits, in T.O.U.C.H.I.N.G, though there the video is not synchronised to a regular (musical) rhythm, rather it is accompanied by a voice repeating the word ‘Destroy’, giving the piece a rhythm, but not necessarily a fixed tempo, and a correlation between these two elements is more in line with synesthesia, and the viewer finding a common ‘beat’ between audio and video is, in essence mostly coincidental, playing on the pattern finding nature of the brain that desires to find connections between things, and will distort its own perception to make reality appear to fit a more stringent pattern.
Moreover, the tempo of the three main pieces of music brought together for this film, the 10 o’clock BBC News Theme, Born Slippy, and Land of Confusion, feature three different tempos that were modified to fit together. Born Slippy was slowed down to 120bpm to match the BBC theme, which was just over 120bpm, however as it was being cut into smaller sections, this difference was unnoticeable. Nevertheless, even after delicate adjustment, Land of Confusion fell out of time towards the latter half of the arrangement, but as it was so considerably distorted for the video it was used with, this was not significant, and if anything added to the chaos of the video. The addition of the musical version of the song alongside the lyrics read as text to speak enriched the texture of the piece (and the introductory snare fill, along with the ‘beep’, forms an effective precursor to the opening sequence), creating more disharmony between the pies of music, as the three songs are in slightly different keys.
Notwithstanding, as the pieces of music used are fairly popular, they do not feature any particularly complex chord changes, and seem to meander around a similar selection of notes. The warped sub-chorus of a barely audible version of Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings (also at 120bpm), which I arranged, using a MIDI from a public domain source occasionally can be heard, though as the audio fog increases in density, distinguishing any one song or sound from another becomes impossible, like the voices of the crowd forming one wall of noise (which climaxes with chants of ‘shame on you, shame on you’, just after cutting from a clip announcing the recent increase in student tuition fees; with the closing title sequence accompanied by happier sounding cheers and whistling). Most of the music is roughly in A#, which is the pitch of the repeating beep – reflecting both the BBC Theme and a heart monitor staying steady in the face of disorder. The ‘beep’ also sustains the video between loops, mean if/when this is displayed, an extended version can be made with a constant rhythm, to ensure as subtle a transition between play-throughs as possible.
However, due to the shorter length from the video to previous versions, any tempo displacement was less of a problem. although, this mean that the video did not have the same level of climax as with alternative variations, so the music was cut near the end to jump to the conclusion of the song, which was also amplified and distorted further, with the overall audio gradually increasing, more rapidly following the increasing rate of the typography on screen.
Towards the final increases in rate of text (from alternating ever 12 frames to every 6, then to every three, minus a gap, with the ’24’ frame in large syncopating then overlapping the rhythm), a double speed version of the bass drum kick (from BBC Slippy) fades in quickly in the left ear, then at four times speed ascends quickly in the right ear, rapidly cutting away as the final text emerges. Underpinning this is are two slowed down versions of the drum beat, distorted further, to further make the video undulate, as if marching feet were striding passed.
Due to the complexities of the audio, I am aware that not all the different sections will be heard, not be any individuals’ ears. However, is this was displayed as part of a video installation (which I plan to do for the degree show), then the sound can be played at a substantial enough volume for the different parts to be felt be the full body, to be heard from head to toe, like the tremendous raw of a tidal crowd descending on the audience. If this heard within an enclosed space, then the surround-sound effect (even with two stereo speakers) should be fairly substantial.
A tremolo effect was applied to the crowd, which fragments the communal voices as video climaxes. This required loading the audio into Logic to synchronise it to the 120bmp 24fpm video. I also added a high pitch, tinnitus like ringing at the end of the video, imitating the portrayal of shell shock in the opening sequence of Saving Private Ryan, but also the sound of an analogue TV being switched off.
The Land of Confusions lyrics are read as text to speech audio in a split-panned composition, so that the first half of the lyrics come through the left speaker, and the second half through the right, to correlate with the split video as well as create the effect of listening from left to right, simultaneously. Although this hinders the clarity of what is being said, I believe it works well with the footage displayed within a split screen, and also meant that the audio could fit the shorter video.
Th video opens with the lines “I must have dreamed a thousand dreams, been haunted by a million screams” and “This is the world we live in, and these are the hands we’re given” [Genesis, 1986] playing in each ear, setting up the dystopian aesthetic of the video. Most of the sound merges together, the only distinct parts that are heard an undulating percussive rhythm, the crowds from the videos, and the layers of text-to-speech. The soundscape has become a mostly abstract wall of noise, graffitied with the words of the bewildered herd.
Because of the varied use of stereo panoramic audio composition, the sound works with both speakers and is rather effective when listened to through head phones, so should work on both personal media devices and in the larger scale video installation display, with the sound coming out of the speaks facing different directions, but filling the space, so the dynamic shifts as the viewer moves within the space, or is fixed to a static viewing and listening position. “Since amplified sound touches all, equally, partners need not embrace while dancing; sound becomes the real partner” [Gruen, 1966: 123-124].
(On a side note, as multiple versions the video and soundtrack were produced, this could be compared to a more traditional means of composing music, where a score is written, but each production differs from the last. Parameters are established to produce variations on a theme.)
One of the driving forces behind originally wanting to offset the sounds of violence to dance rhythm is that when contemporary dance music is played loud, it does not facilitate an audience to dance with one another, not to move to the music, but to dance with the music, personifying the body of sound, so that it becomes the communal partner of movement that binds a crowd together. Music at enough volume gives a crowd an ephemeral community, must just in the sense of union of being one mass of writhing bodies, but the physical sensation of vibrating air being breathed in and vibrating every body together, they move in harmony, ticking by until the the sound stops, and nothing remains.
Only with this video looped does it effectively resemble the undying rotations of the hours as the clock spins by; which will eventually stop turning (unless someone winds it up – as with Death in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels). But time itself does not cease, it is a dimension, bound only by the limits of the universe, and the frailty of human comprehension (in other words, the death of an individual does not cause the death of everyone, even the most narcissistic mind can comprehend one’s finite consequence).
The rioting crowd dances in a stereoscopic circle, overlapping spheres forming infinity.
Final version of the TFHDR video with updated audio for the exhibition, reducing some of the distortion and reverb effects for the space which functions as an effective echo chamber in itself.
Since I have effectively tested the display of the video with an effective substitute for the final set up, and begun work on adjusting the sounds for the space, I have decided to include another smaller piece to support the main work. This most likely involve a portrait television on the floor by the stairwell into the space with a basic video or animation involving the high-vis jacket, possibly some of the same material, but defiantly something green, something deliberately (un)spectacular, to initiate a dialogue between the main imagery and the secondary video.
I also decided to suspend my high-vis vest somewhere in the room, given the space resembles a cloak room hidden off the top corridor, this would be fitting. I also intended to have a green light by the entrance, to attract people in, but also suggest a sense of apprehension, as if the audience were entering a radioactive bunker, glowing plutonium green. However, the TV displaying the HVGS video served as an effective substitute.
Following the PS5 projection tests I have had the opportunity to see how the work fits into the space for the degree show and been able to work out the practical considerations (fishing wire wrapped around a nail is the simplest and most efficient was of positioning the work, in accordance with the principal of Occam’s Razor), but I could also hear how the work would sound, and it is clear that I need to alter the audio for the piece, as the small room acts a reverberation chamber, so even with the sound at a very low level, it becomes muffled.
This should be the final version of the TFHDR video with updated audio for the exhibition, reducing some of the distortion and reverb effects for the space. I also produced a looping version of the video, which plays on a continuous uninterrupted loop a number of times, before the Media Player stutters momentarily on the loop.
Individuals living within a mass-mediated society, “an ‘allnights newsery’ reel that substitutes a ‘reel’ world for reality,” [McLuhan, 1964: 193] may aspire to machine transcendence, to become unfeeling, unresting, unresisting, to move with a twenty-four hour delirium rhythm. In a move towards technological apartheid, humanity stomps in time over the bodies of the weak, weary and unprivileged, never missing a beat. The Last Man [Žižek, 2015] paves the way to a hollow immortality, where man never dies because he does not live, but simply exists as one endlessly renewed body of post-human genetic material, a hereditary möbius. The kinaesthetic wheels of Revolution turn in illusionary movement, denying the possibility of change whilst insisting on an aesthetic of constant progress, without reflection or potential substantial shift. A riot may be the language of the unheard [King, 2013], whose voices clamour together in one indecipherable, chaotic cacophony, indicating that only the surface of meaning is disturbed, its ripples erupting in a highly visible, but banal spectacle.
The video offers an advert-break length spectacle that treats political struggle and images of public outcry as the novelty they may be seen to be. Its installation, being projected through three hanging material screens implies the process of mediation of the imagery, and the dichotomy of the relational imagery and its immateriality creating an emotional distancing for an audience, resulting in a state of apathetic, frustrated indifference. As it will be accompanied by covered benches, offering audience goers seat, they will be able to watch the video in full or repeatedly without straining their attention or body too greatly. It will be offset by the Hi-Vis Green-Screen video, reaffirming the materiality of the screen by presenting the fluorescent material featured in the TFHDR video as a slowly transitioning screen-saver, reasserting the optical fascination of the moire effect caused by overlaying the crossed-meshed material, and the glitch-like aesthetic of the computer-generated frames morphing into one another, deriving from an exploitation of the Optical Flow frame blending mode. Hi-vis jackets will hang above the entrance to the room, with the audio trickling out, as both an invitation and a warning to potent viewers.
Whilst the censor-like black strip of the curtain hangs in the doorway to the space, David Cameron attacks Human Rights and the right to protest, using a veil of tolerance in order to introduce an intolerant laws, but “we do not promote [our values] by legislating for police censorship and control orders on people we disagree with. Our values are upheld when we are able to hear, and to challenge, views that run contrary to our own” [Lucas, 2015]. When bias media call those who oppose the establishment and protest mindless thugs, and the government circulates counter-terrorism notices calling for citizens to report Anarchists to the police immediately [Booth, 2011], contradicting the fundamental notion that “rights are the result of popular engagement and struggle” [Chomsky, 1998: 153] then it is not only worth considering that “a riot is the language of the unheard” [King, 2013], but what is the validity of state that must pass laws and promote policies to protect itself from being undermined, establishing foundations protected by unjust laws that prevent a questioning of authority “when he state seeks to criminalise ideas it deems to be dangerous to its own survival” [Booth, 2011] rather then by proving itself as worthy of its governmental status, these attitudes evidence a State’s fundamental illegitimacy.
Unjust leaders put up walls in the name of protectionism, but lock the gates in the name of tyranny, and to secure their protection against the people they are meant to represent they strengthen the keep. But where the Kings of old would erect stone artifices and barricade the castle doors, the modern propagandist government puts up adverts telling the people to be paranoid, fearful, and patriotic in awe of the power of the State. They distract the bewildered herd of the masses by getting them to hate and fear one another, so they fail to notice that society is unfair and try to change it [Chomsky, 1998: 35]. Through the panopticon gaze of tyrants, we are all barbarians, a “bewildered herd” kept fighting amongst ourselves by a presenting to the public a picture of the world that “has only the remotest relation to reality. The truth of the matter is buried under edifice after edifice of lies upon lies” [Chomsky, 1997: 18, 37].
It could be observed that what is shown to the public is not done so for their benefit, the endless stream of images of violence seek to make the masses passive, apathetic, unable to contemplate a struggle that does not result in failure, misery, and more violence. The image of the world may transform everyone into an isolated individual, ‘there is no society’, not for the Last Man, “television incarnate,” (as hyperbolised in the 1976 film, ‘The Network’ about the production of news in the new network age) “Indifferent to suffering; insensitive to joy. All of life is reduced to the common rubble of banality. War, murder, death are all the same […] as bottles of beer. And the daily business of life is a corrupt comedy. […] [shattering] the sensations of time and space into split seconds and instant replays” [The Network, 1976].
This piece is not intended to be a call to arms for the proletariate to throw off their shackles, destroy their televisions, and to mach on Westminster and yell “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this any more” [The Network, 1976], because the people have already marched, and cried out, it became a footnote in the press, only looking at the destruction as the anathema of liberty, not a happenstance byproduct of revolutionary momentum. When people throw of their shackles, they tend to make new ones for they neighbours, and simple re-establish new hierarchies rather that attempting to question the validity of authoritarianism itself. Rather than move with the twenty-four hour delirium-rhythm of modern media, one must not only look “directly at the noise, not past it” [Kahn, 1999: 28], but feed this noise back on itself as media critique.
The image of the protest is frequently used against the protestor to undermine their cause or suppressed by a state that cannot be seen to be unrepresentative and unwilling to listen.
So therefore, this video may seem all the more fitting following the protests taking place after the election of the Conservative Government, which was grossly underrepresented and underplayed by much of the British media, but received a greater coverage on social media, and through international sources, such as The Huffington Post, which addressed the motivations for the protesting. As opposed to most of the Murdoch-owned press, the BBC (who were possibly being threatened by the Tory Government, according to the Labour Strategist Tom Baldwin [Wintour, 2015]), along with The Guardian and even The Independent. All of whom only mentioned the ‘Fuck Tory Scum’ graffiti on a War Memorial around the time of the VE remembrance services, seeking to demonise the protestors. As well as neglecting to mention the lack of evidence as to who spray painted the slogan, and whether this could have easily bee falsified and filtered through popular and social media.
Its iconic iconoclasm in bloody red dipping into the public conscious more than the threats to repeal the Human Rights Act by Michael Gove who formally stated to support capital punishment and “called for the return of hanging in 1998” [Dathan, 2015], or the nomination of a number of Ministers to the Cabinet to positions that would seem somewhat ironic. Such as a new Justice Minister that has called Feminists “obnoxious Bigots” [Stockham, 2015], the new Women and Equalities minister who voted against equal marriage [York, 2015], the new Health Minister who has stated that he is “personally and principally opposed to abortion” [Bpas, 2015], and new Minister for Disabled People who voted against protecting disable child benefits and supported the Bedroom tax [York, 2015].
Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes?
It may be worth considering protests, riots, and acts of terror as mediums of communication. The protest is dependent on the media explosion, a lack of coverage reduces the power of protest and undermines the message as does labelling protesters as thug or terrorists. But like Terrorism, the protest is not complete until there is a response.
A media that covers a protest gives fuel to its message, even by showing it negatively, depicting counter-culture movements as violent thugs or political extremists still provides it with the necessary light. For the new “the weaponry of communication […] The explosion only exists because it is simultaneously coupled to a multimedia explosion. […] It’s not the power of the explosion itself but the media explosion that matters.” [Virilio, 1983, 174, 175]
Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes? Who watches the watchmen, who surveils the surveyors, who is accountable to oversee the gaze of the CCTV camera, “who controls the past controls the future; who controls the present controls the past.” [Orwell, 1949] Those in control the media; the privatised State-sponsored account of history, is free to mould it to their purpose, their propaganda, in order to forge the most politically desirable present. Those in power reinforce their foundations and disenfranchise the disempowered. Those in the central, all-see tower of the Panopticon rule, its perpetual gaze is at the heart of modern society. Therefore it must be scrutinised to question the seeming insurmountable authority of those behind the one-way screens.
Nevertheless, much of this discussion may overlook the effects on people with little or no media access, even old media more dominated by distinct monopolies, Murdoch BSkyB, BBC. Facebook, Twitter, and so forth speak more from a privileged perspective. This so-called underclass is forgotten and left behind by meritocratic technological apartheid.
When “the national extremism database currently includes the names of people who have undertaken such ‘extreme’ activities as organising meetings on environmental issues” [Lucas, 2015]. Would taking any political stand point to its logical conclusion thereby be considered ‘extremism’, even if that ‘extremism’ were peaceful? If “One of the definitions of “harmful” contained within the Conservatives’ plans is anything that may create a ‘threat to the functioning of democracy’” [Lucas, 2015], then is anything against the status quo to be disallowed, only allowing micro changes in the direction that is most politically useful for sating in power but refrain from tackling issues that fall outside of this narrow band of liberal discourse. The process may result in gradual change, but it will have been deliberately slow to prevent substantial change that might undermine the exciting hierarchy. Hence “The right to protest is vital to a functioning democracy. Theresa May’s claim that she will be promoting the British value of democracy by preventing people from planning and staging protests – just in case they cause alarm – would be laughable if it weren’t so dangerous” [Lucas, 2015].
Unified by the spectacle of violence, the multi-media mods of consumption offer civil war On Demand, on the iPlayer, or on YouTube. The user can click the Red Button to see more of a boot steaming on your neighbours’ face, forever. Like and Share it on Facebook, #bootstampingonthefaceofhumanityforever. Take a selfie with the battered and the bruised, Instagram the fire and blood and anguish, fill the personalised Newsfeed with riot porn and DIY destruction. Comment, contribute, appear active, show outrage, don not move, do not avert your gaze from the comfort of the cold glow of the infinite screen. Do not go outside, do not protest. Do not see the sun but read The Sun.
Feign support for an honest cause. Suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune through social networks, proxy servers and live a half-life vicarious. Do not participate, just shuffle along to the twenty-four hour delirium rhythm. Be mad, but not angry. Aware, but not active. Awake, but not conscious. Asleep, but not dreaming. Alive, but not living. Alone, but never isolated.
Hands warm on the images of glowing embers on what once felt like civilisation, still flickering with kings, queens, paupers and slaves. Embrace the warm florescent glow of atomic decay, instantly distributing degradation indiscriminately. Drone booming images of horror in every household and handheld device. Messages vaporised and rematerialised; meaning beaming screaming becoming insubstantial.
Truth is the most widely observed knowledge, so its popular distributions makes it a prime suspect: to be suspected, questioned, to be validated. And where war is waged on terror by nations practicing terror by their own definition, (as Chomsky points out, “the official definition of terrorism […] is unusable as the actions of many of the large military states active internationally are undergoing such processes of terrorism against other nations and on themselves as a means of exerting control over one’s own people” [Chomsky, 1997: 21]), this perpetual state of war may mean that it is not simply, ‘truth is always the first victim of war’, but that there is nor truth, no honest history to begin with. Stories and histories interpose and inform one another. Fact is that which it is most convent at the time. Two plus two equals whatever it needs to be.
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