Process and Development

Thinking of an idea for the spectacle artefact proved to be the most challenging. At first I was unsure on whether I should create a spectacle myself or base my artefact on a past spectacle, but after consideration the former choice sounded more interesting to do – I would prefer creating something myself. The obstruction however, was to look at one of the propositions from Guy Debord’s ‘Society of the Spectacle’ or Jean Baudrillard’s ideas, these narrowed things down a bit and allowed me to focus on something more specific.  The quote that fascinated me the most was number 9 from Debord:

“In a world that really has been turned on its head, truth is a moment of falsehood.”

This can be interpreted in many ways. Certain horrific actions or events that could occur in the world never get out to the media. Everything bad that one can think of has actually happened – some might think that hell doesn’t exist, yet we already live in it. Snuff films are a good example, they are supposed to be urban legend but they do exist, and in more volumes than you can imagine. The media is constantly talking about how murderers are convicted and how crime statistics are going down, but in reality people are still committing atrocities.

Baudrillard explored reality TV shows in the late 1970s and argued that it demonstrated ‘the mutation of the real into the hyperreal’ and later on returned to the theme that ‘when everything is on display (like Big Brother type reality shows) we realise there is nothing else to see’. Baudrillard insists that there is a direct, logical connection between ‘reality’ TV and snuff movies, ‘at the same time as they try to make it (death) disappear technologically, death will reappear on the screen as an extreme experience’.

So thinking further about these theories I thought about creating a snuff film (the ultimate reality show) which showcases a spectacular serial killer and the spectacular interest that people might get in their quest to find and see what he does. A snippet from a snuff film which shows the ‘spectacular’ serial killer taunting and then killing his victim. The start of the artefact will feature ‘police evidence tape’ to imply that is real.

Why is society so interested in gruesome things? We are so hateful of death and killing yet we can’t take our eyes over some crazy footage that occasionally leaks onto the internet.  Murderers can be seen to make a spectacle of their murders and can even become celebrities in a way, either by their code or method.

For this artefact and with no obstructions in mind I decided to let myself be as creative as possible by brainstorming ideas; memory loss/change or bad memories could be a basis for a potential short film which will likely to be a drama.

A man is within the last few seconds of his life before his gruesome mob-related execution. He witnesses a flashback that symbolises his whole life. The idea explores the belief that, before death, you see the best moment (or all moments in a symbolic scene) of your life flash by instantaneously.

A man is just about to execute a stranger (who’s on his knees, bag over head, and tied up). The man is having second thoughts about doing it, twitches and slowly draws down his gun. The film shows flashback of him as a kid being a victim of abuse. He starts overcoming his second thoughts after the flashbacks get more disturbing. Finally, he shoots the stranger and sighs heavily with relief. The short film will explore how powerful memories can be to influence someone to do horrible things.

I came across (thanks to a friend studying psychology) a very interesting and fascinating memory condition called prosopagnosia (face blindness). It seemed very straight forward to understand so below are some more ideas based on the subject.

A woman finishes work and as she sets off home sees a mysterious man outside her workplace looking suspiciously at her. She hurries along but starts thinking she is getting stalked as the man is constantly following her. The man finally confronts her and explains that he is her husband just trying to give her a lift home. It turns out that the woman suffers from prosopagnosia – the inability to remember faces.

Film starts with a friendly conversation with two friends in a pub/cafe – guy #1 tells his friend that he caught his girlfriend cheating and beat up the guy she was sleeping with – all whilst guy #2’s left side of the face is not shown. The audience is then shown a flashback of the scene where guy #1 catches guy #2 cheating with his girlfriend and beating him up – guy #2 is semi-naked so is not recognised by guy #1. Guy #2 consoles his friend and the camera switches angles to show the right side of his face with a black eye, guy #1 then asks what happened to guy #2’s face. The credits then explain the condition of prosopagnosia – face blindness, the inability to remember faces.

Not fully content with these ideas, I decided that more research would enable me to come up with a better, less flawed and more accurate scenario.

Establishing an idea for a power artefact has been rather challenging due to the immense broadness of the term. However, the artefact must feature split screen or compositing which allows one to think more specifically. For me, split screen means showing two things to the audience at once efficiently. So I could look at opposites, different meanings or viewpoints to a specific thing or action or a fancy artistic way of presenting footage.

I have come up with three potential artefact ideas that revolve around different concepts of ‘power’:

The power a drug dealer has over his addicts and the power drug addicts give to him. For example, the dealer relies on the addict for a constant supply of money and the drug addict relies on the dealer for his constant source of addiction. One party needs the other, and vice versa to be able to function. Left – the drug dealer counting his money, his contacts, his expensive lifestyle; right – the addict scavenging for cash, in his trash surroundings. The exchange itself when both parties meet merges together in the power artefact and then splits again when the addict walks off and administers the drug and the dealer counts the cash.

The power of being anonymous over the Internet, presented through the viewpoint of an online troll. It could show the power the troll has whilst using social network sites like Facebook/Twitter/YouTube and the immense confidence that he has whilst online. The fact that he does not need to show his face or reveal his identity gives him strength and power to do anything he wants on any website. On the other hand it could show him having almost no confidence in the real world and acting like a coward in various situations. Left – the troll posting offensive comments, right – being bullied himself in real life.

The universal symbol(s) of power and what they relate to. For example, the literal ‘power symbol’ (and its variations) used on almost all electronic devices and equipment. Maybe the use of the ‘high voltage’ symbol around electrical equipment and power stations, warning people of the danger of electricity or the universal nuclear power symbol. Left – the power symbol, right – what one button can achieve.

After much consideration I have decided to focus on the second idea. Internet trolls are being more and more common with the rise of social networking sites and internet forums, but what is their nature in doing so. I want to explore the concept of anonymity in a negative way – what one can achieve if his identity is hidden.  The first idea is a sound one, but it just seems cliché and unoriginal by the amount of publicity drugs get. Whilst the third idea is a good one, it is too simplistic in nature and does not really capture the essence of true ‘power’ for me.