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Hello and welcome ...
introduction to a screening of videos chosen by Anthony Auerbach

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 again ...

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 it.

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 ‘’ written on it.]

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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