HOME             ARCHIVES            PREFACE         OAQ           BACKSTORY           BIBLIOGRAPHY           COMMENT

Can you discuss one of your videos?

      My video essays vary greatly.  Some are long, some short.  Some are fast, some are excruciatingly slow.  Some pertain to single issues, others express utter cacophony.  Most are densely complicated, but rarely are portions purposefully obtuse.  The premise throughout this website is personal critical elicitation through acts of ‘talking back’ to media makers using their own words, languages and techniques.   VIDEO FOR DISCUSSION

      I care little about entertaining an audience (or even cultivating an audience).  I care even less about proselytizing more ideological pablum.  Instead, I insist upon interrupting and antagonizing normative, passive, media production and immersion, by allowing critical spaces for myself and for viewers to consider their own thinking processes while watching these video fillips collide.  Moreover, each video is an experiential writing form -- ethnographic surrealism -- hand-fashioned into my theoretical aesthetic (ekphrasis) for unveiling our mediating worlds. 

     From another angle, my works are but a designer’s refunctioning of Aristotle’s

  “Unlike Aristotelian tragedy, imitation is no longer the goal, since that affords the ‘space of seduction’ between spectator and spectacle.

notion of opsis (mise-en-scene or spectacle), through critical performances using only the quotidian tele-tactile amputations (McLuhan) streaming from my TV screen.  For here I link the act of writing about TV with the art of its production.  However, unlike Aristotelian tragedy, imitation is no longer the goal, since that affords the ‘space of seduction’ between spectator and spectacle.  You will find little seduction here, rather an illumination of seduction’s essence.

      I confound the double bind of mimesis by mixing methods of Artaud's theater of cruelty -- a “half-way point between thought and gesture.”  This for Cultural Farming vexes the gap between the closed worlds of media making and media consumption, by attempting to provoke critical (dialectic/dialogic/didactic) modes of understanding.  And I do this because TV is no longer ‘looked at’ with any concentrated attention, rather it is perceived, as Walter Benjamin noted, in a state of (mechanical) distraction.  If nothing else, Cultural Farming provides a critical practice for ‘waking up’.  As Douglas Kellner (2001) writes: 

        “...a television studies that is critical and multicultural provides

     comprehensive approaches to culture that can be applied to a wide

     variety of artifacts -- from a TV series to phenomena like Madonna, from

     MTV to TV news, or to specific events like the 2000 U.S. presidential

     election, or media representations of the 2001 terrorist attacks on the

     U.S. and the U.S. response.

        “Its comprehensive perspectives encompass political economy, textual

     analysis, and audience research and provide critical and political

     perspectives that enable individuals to dissect the meanings, messages,

     and effects of dominant cultural forms.  A critical television and cultural

     studies is thus part of a media pedagogy that enables individuals to

     resist media manipulation and to increase their freedom and

     individuality.  It can empower people to gain sovereignty over their

     culture and to be able to struggle for alternative cultures and political

     change.  Cultural studies is thus not just another academic fad, but can

     be part of a struggle for a better society and a better life.”

      Here, my project topics vary with numerous televisual currents (convolutes) running throughout: Potlatch, image making, cameras-screens-guns, media history & technology, communication & journalism, poetry & jazz.  Any video may also loop a host of sub-themes like: telephones, politics, gaming, consumption, fashion, fear & death, business, feminism, education, religion, children, medicine, human bodies, language, celebrity, food production, pornography, robots & drones, military & war, surveillance & privacy, race & gender, nature & animals, virtual & live events...  Nevertheless, every video illustrates particular amplified intentions (ethics) inherently resident inside the ‘production of production’ of media, which conflate a new collective media ‘common sense’.

      Many videos here share similar technics.  But there are differences.  LINKED HERE AGAIN, this particular video for discussion, is a bit unusual in that it is split equally into halves.  The first portion is content ripped entirely from just one hour-long History Channel program.  I discarded most of its pathetic futurist excrement, but aggregated the amplified visuals I wanted to re-function.  I then inserted non-diegetic contrapuntal audio accompaniment, which I happened to hear on TV just the night before.  This orchestral music is from a feature film entitled Another Earth and composed by Fall On Your Sword.  I appropriated this music primarily because it provided an excellent scaffold for me to edit around, and it was approximately the same length as the content gathered. 
      This first half of the video intends to invoke a fictional imagistic Tone-Poem, mirroring the grotesque rush of living and moving creatures our obedient society so passively accepts.  Every image here is wholly fictional, created by anonymous media designers, all well beyond any human experience and understanding.  But the exercise here is not to cleverly re-edit content to a musical beat or to simply mash-up compelling imagery. 

   “This is Surrealism and Fair Use put to good work.  It is Cynicism well spoken, and ‘magical aura’ reconsidered.

Rather, the challenge is to edit away unwanted parts of this lie, while positioning the remaining bits into my own alternative, intentional, ready-made dreamscape, in order to re-perform a more ‘dialectical’ critical orientation. 

      During exercises like these, I posit that one quickly begins to understand media’s very dangerous potential to reshape anything to suit any particular need.  However, mine is also a new story, equally as ‘true’ as the original.  Therein lies the magical lethality continuously being remade and relearned, yet which mostly escapes science and technology.  For this is Surrealism and Fair Use put to good work.  It is Cynicism well spoken, and “magical aura” reconsidered.  It is a triangulation towards truth.  It is wisdom gained through a praxis of comparative-contradiction: negative dialectics.

                “I want you so bad, it’s driving me mad, its driving me mad.”

      The second half of this same VIDEO is more difficult.  It centers around the recent Paris/ISIS terrorist massacre (13Nov15).  I made this video as it simultaneously spilled into my home as LIVE TV -- while network employees wittingly amplified real fear and confusion with non-sensical TV production methods believed to be most palatable for consumption.  This portion of my video is not meant to shock, rather it should elicit shame -- shame for how we so eagerly produce and devour ever increasing horror as spectacular entertainment under the guise of news & information.  It outlines the utter lack of ethical purpose now continuously produced throughout too much of televisual journalism.

      Unfortunately, I have previously recorded many similar events (1, 2, 3).  And with each daily death-event, standard TV production simply goes into round-the-clock stasis.  Shock and anecdote are championed over factuality.  Repetition cancels cognition.  We eagerly ingest another media spectacle with mouths agape, awaiting the next dosage of magic bullets from very real hypodermic algorithms openly administered by a very real and growing Surveillance State.  Nothing could be worse, right?  Wait...how about we all attach our cameras to miniature helicopters!  Neat...another new form of gun...or is this an opioid?  Good question.

      In the case of this particular video, to help innervate a critically distanced posture, I chose very familiar audio from The Beatles.  I am not exactly sure why this felt right to me. 

  “We eagerly ingest another media spectacle with mouths agape, awaiting the next dosage of magic bullets from very real hypodermic algorithms.

Cultural Farming montage can be employed as a Situationist form of surreal ‘automatic collage’ (and Abbey Road was written soon after the 1968 Paris student revolt, so maybe that’s why).  Regardless, the album to me is very dark...and now maybe an uncanny metaphor from similar times long forgotten. 

      Unnervingly, this video points to many worse televisual-events to come; probably in the next ten minutes.  If so, you can be sure each will be instantaneously ‘analyzed and produced’ -- quite likely cozened for profit by humans and machines right in your neighborhood -- for total emotional effect; maximizing any technological trick to further hypnotize, manipulate and entice a consumer responsiveness over you and every other willing viewer.  “Gotcha!”  “Thank you Mr. TV, may I have another?”

               “She’s so heavy.” ...but how do “she” and “heavy” mean?

      Critical insight from each of my editing choices truly begins to occur during the act of re-production, in the case here, by slowing down both music and image to an other-worldly speed.  We know this music very well, only now it is oddly different, conjuring fresh connectivities.  This is only one simple but effective technique for making strange (Verfremdungseffekt).  While there are hundreds of individual edits in this 30minute video, all are attempts to elicit a new transparency, a truer personal memory.  Because we now too often willfully exclaim, “It was surreal... just like a movie!”, and happily turn away to another media channel, further conflating actual with its mediated appearance.


Preface Intro

What is going on here?

How should viewers watch these video essays?

Introduction to the research.

What does understanding television mean?

How do I understand television?

What does using theory mean?

Can you discuss one of your videos?

What was discovered in this research?

What if viewers still don’t ‘understand’ television?


An American

resident of Canada, experimenting with new forms of critical media ethnography in Cultural Farming

HOME             ARCHIVES            PREFACE         OAQ           BACKSTORY           BIBLIOGRAPHY           COMMENT