Hello and welcome ...
introduction to a screening of videos chosen by Anthony
A brief introduction to the cinema in the medium
of video. Below is the script of a short video introducing a compilation
of videos highlighting the modalities of watching engendered by
video: voyeurism, surveillance, television. The videos were to
be shown in a cinema, hence the introduction contrasts
the customs of the cinema with the practice of video.
[In the style of a teenage bedroom web cam.]
Hi I’m Marleen. Welcome to my live web cam. I’m here
in my bedroom by myself, so I can do whatever I want. Sometimes my
girlfriends come over and we have fun ... Say Hi, Julia. It’s
exciting to think you are watching this now in a cinema instead of
at home by yourself, as usual. It’s funny to think you are
watching this in a cinema, sitting next to a stranger — or
maybe it’s someone you know — in the dark. You could
turn around and watch everyone watching me :)
[In the style of TV news.]
Hello and welcome. Here are the latest news headlines from BBLTV
with Marlene Haring. Anti-terror police are questioning suspects
over an alleged plot [sound fades] to kidnap a member of the armed
forces. Eight were arrested following a series of early morning raids,
and a ninth was arrested on a nearby motorway in the afternoon. Police
said the investigation was likely to take "days, if not weeks".
Officers sealed off roads across the city and are continuing to search
homes and commercial premises. All nine were arrested under the Terrorism
Act [sound returns] which means police have a maximum of 28 days
to hold them.
[In the style of a video blog.]
Hello everybody. Marlene here. thanks for subscribing to my video
blog, and thanks for all your comments. We really have a lot in common
and it’s really cool we can communicate like this. Today I
did some cleaning and some shopping, then I washed my hair. The plug
hole in the bathtub is still a bit blocked, don’t know why.
Doesn’t it annoy you when the water runs out so slowly it leaves
a layer of yeuchy stuff all over the place. Anyway, isn’t it
GREAT you can see me? It would be so hard to write down all my thoughts
and feelings and who would bother to read them?
This is what happened: Eduardo asked Anthony if he would put together
some videos from his — Anthony’s — project ‘Video
as Urban Condition’ for a screening in Belo Horizonte — orijhont
like you would say. Beautiful Horizons. Anthony agreed, and that’s
what you’ll see next. Anthony’s shy — more the
voyeur type than the exhibitionist like me. He asked me to introduce
the videos so he can watch.
He told me what to say, so I’m innocent, except for my mistakes.
But that’s not my fault, maybe it’s charming, after all,
I’m not a news reader. I’m sorry, I’ll read that
Anthony says Video as Urban Condition is about blah blah blah — in
short, anything except cinema. Going to the cinema is more like going
to church than it is like watching video. In fact, it seems like
most of the cinemas in Brazil are churches now, because you can watch
movies at home and videos and DVDs are cheap. Besides, at home you
can stop the movie while you go and have a piss instead of sitting
there uncomfortably for an hour. When was the last time you walked
out of the cinema — or out of church — because you were
bored or the story was obvious or you wanted to go to the toilet
or get a snack or tissues or something? Excuse me a sec.
[Go to the toilet, leaving the camera running.]
Anyway, you can fast-forward that bit.
Eduardo thinks that when you get a video camera you are an AUTEUR.
Anthony says, with a video camera you are a VOYEUR. But what does
he know, he doesn’t even have a TV at home. Although he’s
got other gadgets like a mobile phone, portable computer, digital
camera, professional camcorder, stuff like that. Maybe he has a point.
Why would you want to be a ‘director’ or make ‘shows’?
How can you expect anyone to pay attention to what you put on the
screen unless you get them into a darkened room and tell them to
keep quiet and turn their phones off and show them all the same thing
on a big screen. Oh, sorry, that’s where you are isn’t
The videos Anthony’s chosen to show you aren’t the kind
of thing you would normally see in a cinema or on TV. Generally,
they don’t seem to have a plot to carry you along and help
you forget your surroundings or your boredom. They don’t seem
to have a rhythm or a structure which marks the time — like
the eight o’clock telenovela — or divides it into convenient
segments. The duration seems quite arbitrary, so it’s probably
best that most of them are quite short, seeing as you have no choice
in the matter at all. Art is no excuse. Don’t trust anyone
that tries to persuade you that art justifies suffering, or anyone
who uses art to try to persuade you that suffering is justified.
Is that the same thing?
[Starts getting more like a normal introduction talk.]
Anthony would claim that the videos all have to do with ‘urban
experience’, but not that this implies a special or authentic
experience. He would also point out that urban experience in particular
is nearly always already mediated by video, given how often we encounter
video screens when we go out and how much we rely on them to interpret
our surroundings. Of course there are all kinds of signs all over
the place, but because the video screens are always the same, we
have to decode the message based on the image we see every time we
catch sight of one. More and more often we also come across signs
which tell us we are being watched and recorded on video.
To a large extent we experience the city as a moving image. Urban
experience is almost synonymous with moving through the city — in
buses, trains, cars, bikes or whatever. Put on headphones and you’ll
have whatever soundtrack you want for your personal urban road movie.
Furthermore, our perception — and fantasy — of the city
is influenced by the representations of it we get from moving images.
It’s hard to say which is the real and which the unreal city
when the image of the city we carry in our head is probably some
kind of movie and our experience of a video game, for example, is
not essentially different from the rest of our experience. If the
early industrial city was the territory of the FLANEUR, by now it
is the domain of the VOYEUR, and the VOYEUSE (that would be the female
voyeur) or rather, multitudes of voyeurs and their necessary fetishes:
video screens and cameras.
I’m not going to read out all the movie-credits. You can read
them on the screen and forget them and then look them up again later
if you are interested.
[Hold up a piece of paper with ‘www.video-as.org’ written
Anthony writes: I think the videos are really self-explanatory if
you are not going be distracted by frustrated cinema-expectations,
or start blaming yourself for not getting the meaning of these fragments
strung together without a plot. Maybe it’s more a case of tuning-in,
to use a TV metaphor. But beware, the channel keeps switching because
each video comes from a different subjectivity and a different set
of relations. It could be useful to know that the minibus is in Yerevan,
Armenia — minibus is the main form of public transport in Yerevan — and
the video was made by two young women, one of whom you see in the
movie looking for attention. The other, with the camera, you don’t
see, but everyone in the minibus did. ‘Brilliant City’ was
actually the name of the high-rise housing which gave two European
men a vantage point on a neighbourhood in Shanghai, China. A third
European man recorded the sound on location and mixed it. The woman
with obscured identity observed soliciting something from tourists
and passers-by in the historic centre of Vienna, Austria, was observed
by another woman, a foreigner in Vienna. She decided to mask the
face of the other woman, but not the other people in the crowd. The
street scene in Rio de Janeiro was shot by a resident, from his window.
This video maker does not leave his house. The TV-voyeur was a visitor
to Brazil without a TV at home.
So relax, enjoy your surroundings and see what you think of the videos.
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