Why the VICE generation are apocalyptic and frightened

Vice Magazine - Looking Beneath the Waves

Vice Magazine’s Alex Miller interviews one of Red Eye’s favourite filmmakers, Adam Curtis, in this new piece called Looking Beneath the Waves. In the article Curtis shares some of his latest theories on why the news (in its current guise) is unable to shed any light on the real reasons for the global financial meltdown, why economics is a failed pseudo-science, why a whole generation has grown up to be supremely cynical and paranoid, and the frightening reality of a world in which no-one really knows what’s happening, including both the journalists and politicians that pretend to have all the answers.

A must read.

The Problem With Science

New documentary film by Michael Coldwell on philosopher Jim Schofield’s latest theories. Science has made several crucial assumptions that are fundamentally flawed, and may have skewed our view of the world around us.
Music is supplied by our friends in the Urban Exploration collective ūüôā

A Remix Manifesto

Culture in Decline

Very good overview of modern economics and how it’s fucking things up. Thoroughly recommended.

Assange interviews the President of Ecuador

Religulously Funny

Pretty late to the game as always, I know, but I’ve only just seen this film. A no-holds-barred comedic assault on all organised religion, it is both poignant and hilarious (just what you’d expect from the director of Borat, Larry Charles). Bill Maher travels around talking to various religious types, ruthlessly takes the piss out of them and reveals the gaping holes in their beliefs in the process. It is refreshing to see this sort of thing, as religion is considered a no-go area for such treatment by many, and you can rest-assured, Religulous is as deeply offensive as it sounds! I like that kind of thing it must be said. If there’s one thing holding back social progress (aside from the relentless pursuit of profit, of course) it is irrational belief. If you are an Atheist or Agnostic, or you’re just having theological doubts, you definitely should watch this. Or is that just ‘preaching’ to the ‘converted’?

Wiki on the film

This rip is a bit weird as it has been flipped, but it’s still pretty watchable. Que up all 10 parts and enjoy ūüėČ

Generation OS13

For a new era, generation OS13, the repression will not be tolerated; do¬†the government really think they can win that war if the young people are like fuck this, you cant beat that you, can‚Äôt beat us, it‚Äôs Impossible¬†‚Äď Saul Williams

Slightly flawed but welcome documentary from someone ‘Anonymous’
Give it a watch, keep your eyes open <o>

On Thin Ice

David Attenborough's Frozen Planet

I recently read online that the final episode of David Attenborough’s latest epic, Frozen Planet, would not be shown in the US or China due to it’s apparently “controversial” angle on climate change.

On Thin Ice says nothing we haven’t already heard a million times about the polar icecaps melting – but it tells the story with amazing pictures of global warming’s effects on these regions, a calm and concerned narrative by Attenborough, and a lot of¬†incontrovertible evidence. This was too much for some it would seem.

The BBC defended it’s decision to sell the series to 30 countries as a six-parter, with the 7th episode missing – stating that this was due to a difference in style rather than content (bullshit).

The good news is that Discovery Channel has backtracked under public pressure, and has now decided to show On Thin Ice on the US network, after a Change.org petition gathered 84,000 signatures complaining about this apparent censorship. Discovery Channel denies that the petition had any influence on their decision (more bullshit).

The episode itself is awesome. I watched it last night on BBC iPlayer and it is the best in the series in my opinion. It should still be available there to watch for viewers in the UK. Check it out

The Trap

If you have not yet seen Adam Curtis’s 2007 documentary series The Trap now is your chance. All three episodes are included in full, below.

Here Curtis explores what we mean when we talk about Freedom, the ideas of negative and positive liberty, and the strange dichotomy between coercion and it’s apparent opposite.
It’s really interesting stuff whatever political side of the fence you prefer. The concept of freedom lies at the heart of many political ideologies, from the Neoconservatives and the Bush Administration to Anarcho-Communists to New Labour – what differs is how freedom is conceptualised and administered, who that freedom really benefits and what it is actually liberating us from…



Capitalism: A Hate Crime

Michael Moore

Despite being released in 2009, we’ve only just got around to watching Moore’s latest polemic (Capitalism, A Love Story), which is perhaps his most overtly political film yet. Moore is routinely criticised for over-simplifying issues, not backing up all his points with rigorous research,¬†narcissism and plain old-fashioned partisan politics. While many of these criticisms are often true of his work, that is not why he is routinely criticised. It is because he is a genuine threat to those in power. He speaks emotionally in plain English about important issues and encourages people to stand up for themselves. This is why he receives so much flack. His latest film is hard to criticise on these grounds as it is much more thoroughly researched than previous outings and goes straight for the jugular. Capitalism itself.

There is often¬†something rather jarring about Moore’s documentaries. Unlike much mass-media produced treatise on the structures we call society, Moore’s offerings are ribboned with emotion and dramatic protest that can sometimes seem circus-like, theatrical. ‘Capitalism, A love story’, is in some ways no exception, with Moore playing at performing a citizen’s arrest and draping police tape around major banks. But there is also a simple and hard-hitting breakdown of the facts around global financial crisis, accompanied by archive footage, and a rather predictable yet occasionally effective soundtrack. The call-to-arms here seems a lot more tangible. The disgust you are lead to feel in the plight of families evicted from their homes, at children jailed by a for-profit prison system, is counteracted by pure elation at the footage of strike action at Republic Windows and Doors, and at a community whose peaceful action supported an evicted family squatting their own home.

While I agree that Moore can be a little crass, the accusations of manipulation by the right are utterly laughable. What Moore does (and what the right fears) is to simplify and explain the means by which the super-rich are managing to routinely rob the 95% of the population with little economic power. A good analogy for the way in which the public are usually systematically obfuscated by the financial elite is the formula shown in the documentary for ‘derivatives’. The muddier the explanation for financial catastrophe, the easier it is for those in power to capitalise and exploit the rest of us for their own profit. Moore clears the waters for us, and what strikes me time and time again is how¬†blatant¬†the robbery of the working class has become. This so-called recession amounts to the biggest heist of public money in recorded history, and so far the¬†thieves¬†have gotten away with it.

One point the film makes very well is that we do not live in a democracy, and cannot while the world is still run from Wall Street. Moore talks with Democrat senators who feel that what took place was a “financial coup d’etat”, where power was irrevocably shifted from elected representatives to the CEOs of banks and other financial institutions, by the back door. This is backed up by good evidence. When our governments’ now talk about budget deficits they neglect to mention how much of OUR money they “gave” to the banks. They suggest that these current times of austerity are somehow OUR responsibility, and we must take these CUTS to our vital front line services on the chin, like good loyal citizens to the church of capitalism, and sit by and watch as our most precious institutions are dismantled in the name of efficiency, while private companies rake in the profits.

Yet again we sit in the aftermath of another depressing expose of the system that robs us of our wealth and¬†opportunity. We write in the wake of yet more cuts to services, including¬†proposed¬†cuts to legal aid, a 30% cut for NHS cancer scans, 25% youth unemployment… the list is endless. It is very difficult not to get despondent in the face of all this, difficult not to either block our disgust with distraction- or even give up completely and attempt to suck at the sour teat of the system as if there is no choice or escape. But not so. A point which drove these almost invariably united authors to heated debate was the idea that there is nothing left to do in the face of all this save violent revolution, a forced seizure of what rightly belongs to the people of this planet for the benefit of all. Yet look again… all of the successful protest portrayed within this documentary was peaceful, and a good reminder of the most powerful weapon we have- the right to¬†withhold¬†labour. Without our continued co-operation, this parasitic system can, and WILL fail. Let us not be complacent. We have a responsibility to each other, and the more of us care to remember that, the less powerful that top 1% can be.

Micolagist & Floatfly

The Century of the Self

We’re big fans of Adam Curtis here at Red Eye. He is quite possibly one of the most important documentary filmmakers of our time. He uses historical news footage, interviews and a powerful narrative to draw lateral connections and reveal hidden trajectories in our recent past – trajectories that have shaped our present world and the way we think about it. His new series All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace, recently aired on the BBC, and is well worth watching, giving as it does, a unique angle on how computers have changed the way we think about the world. More on this soon…

The Century of the Self is now a cult classic, and probably the best introduction to his work. It was originally a four part documentary, but is included here as one file… I hope this doesn’t put people off watching it in full, as it is a work that really needs watching in it’s entirety. It draws a huge arc across the 20th century starting with Freud and how psychoanalysis began to be used by advertisers and the propaganda machine to control the population, the illusion of democracy, the rise of consumerism and individualism and the death of socialism. It is our history in the raw perfectly told. Essential viewing for all.

MisinforMation Review

MisinforMation DVD
The first time I watched this DVD I was pretty stoned. One of my favourite pastimes is to put on a film, one with great pictures and no dialogue such as Koyaanisqatsi, or some old Buster Keaton movies, skin up a large one, and provide my own soundtrack to the visuals out of my sizable collection of electronic music. As the psychotropic compound hits the cannabinoid receptors in the back of my brain and takes hold, pictures and sounds become one, rhythm becomes serendipitous, and my senses and imagination work together to re-contextualise this information in any way they see fit.
Intracellular signal transduction pathways are activated! I drift off into my own reverie, the images become blurred, the sound becomes muffled, and I pass out on my bean-bag, fully satisfied by this waking dream. With MisinforMation it feels like the Baron Mordant has done much the same thing, except he has managed to stay conscious long enough to write some original music, bespoke for the occasion.

I decided to watch the DVD again, this time with a clear head. The box doesn’t give you much information to be misguided by, though I’ve now worked out that the DVD is a collaboration between the BFI and Mordant Music, edited and re-scored by the latter, using the former’s access to the archives of the Central Office of Information – the UK government’s marketing and communications agency, and producer of public information films.

MisinforMation Screenshot 1
Pressing play you are greeted with a stark looking menu with the cryptic option to view “Spools” or to “Spore All” – I chose the latter. You are flung head-first into a Hitchcockian nightmare-vision of invading magpies, which quickly reveals itself to be a crime prevention commercial, extolling the virtues of Neighbourhood Watch. The sound is synthetic and ominous, the mood disquieting. This sets the tone if not the main themes of MisinforMation from the outset, a work that is as interested in the mechanics and language of film, as it is with the content. Indeed, the frequent use of test cards, countdowns and grainy damaged reels, conveys a love for the textural quality of the medium, and how that can effect the mood and feel of the images, as much as the themes and narratives displayed therein.

The Baron Mordant’s score emphasises this devil in the ambiguous detail. It is his music which becomes the constant thread, tying disparate pieces together. As many of the visual sources are from the 1970s and 80s, the nods to Vangelis and Eno seem highly appropriate – but it isn’t another retro pastiche. The sounds are pulled apart and elongated to form textures and drones. While at times it is Hauntological in the manner of Ghost Box or Boards of Canada, often the synths and effects are more akin to Autechre or Merzbow, noise and ambience are intense and lift the images to another plane. All works well until the Baron attempts a song – a somewhat naive blip on an otherwise flawless electronic score.

All the short films collated here are highly watchable, and interesting historical objects in their own right Рbut in MisinforMation they are re-purposed, obfuscated and altered Рthe new interpretation provided by sound alone. They are shown in a new light and this has a big impact on their semantic purpose. This is the main concept behind the project Рthat with only slight deviations from the original context, the meaning can be completely transformed. Sometimes this works better than others.

MisinforMation Screenshot 4

MisinforMation Screenshot 5

MisinforMation Screenshot 2

MisinforMation Screenshot 3

MisinforMation Screenshot 6

MisinforMation Screenshot 7

A Dark Social Template¬†is particularly effective. ¬†The new soundtrack casts a bleak re-imagining of our past’s visions for the future, playing on our informed position of knowing exactly how certain ideas would end up failing. The concrete mazes and dungeons of 1960s new builds are underscored by itchy, nervous, analogue bleeps and tones, highlighting the inhumanity of such places – while the original film, blissfully unaware of their future failure, tries to persuade poor sods to up-sticks and move there. Animated sections in the film are rendered surreal, with human behaviour made to look alien and viral, cities emerge like infected wounds on the earth’s skin. A beat-less disco makes the revelers look like absurd maniacs and re-interprets an OAP’s conga-line as some bizarre satanic ritual. The only part of this piece that didn’t capture my imagination was watching the presenters talking without the original audio. It was as if I had turned the sound down on my own TV, and this made it feel a bit amateurish when compared with the perfect wedding of music to picture in the other scenes. This is executed better, later on, by replacing the original voice with another – a much more interesting use of such footage, and more befitting of the title.

Attenuated Shadows is another highlight. This short film about solvent abuse would have been profoundly disturbing without the new score, but the music here goes really well indeed – mournful chords and woozy soundscapes add melancholy to the shock value. The footage looks very real, and yet we’re told at the end of the documentary that the children depicted doing glue, did not inhale. This seems hard to believe – were the COI covering their arses for fear of being labeled exploitative? Was the original misinforming us, or has Mordant Music’s emotive scoring misinformed us into believing the illusion? Maybe we’ll never know. This is MISinformation after all.

Urban nightmares are then replaced by grainy pictures of Stone Henge and picture-book illustrations of early man. Ridyll was the weakest section for me. It didn’t feel as though it had been re-purposed as much as the others, and it did drag a little. However, it does benefit from being an interlude, and in contrast with the other more intense offerings, it paints a quaint picture of Britain’s ancient history. And the music is pretty good too, featuring a Moog wig-out in the style of Bo Hansson.

Elsewhere on the DVD we see the famous AIDS advert (from the 80s) in reverse, a suburban domestic version of Tron where nature fights back, a documentary on Ink Jet technology repurposed to reveal something dark in our nature, strange footage of nematode worms in a lab, and many other more abstract pieces, where music and visual mesh perfectly with no apparent agenda or message to be conveyed. The last film is pure audio-visual pleasure, as beautiful images of the sea and coastline are immaculately scored – the sound and picture relationship here is more precise than anywhere else in the work, with beautiful rhythmic editing and a sense of humour to boot.

In conclusion then, I simply can’t recommend this DVD enough – it is a work of art with very few aspects in need of criticism. It is both thought-provoking, emotive and intelligently complied. What I would say though, is that it is¬†best viewed instinctively, on psychotropics, so your own imagination becomes part of the work, and you get lost in the minutae and subtle inter-relationships that jump-start old memories and lateral ideas. You get lost in it happily. Watched in a sober, more linear fashion, you end up trying to second-guess the creator’s motivations, and I don’t think you get quite as much out of it that way.

Best served with 3.5 grams of “Blue Cheese”.

You can buy the DVD from Boomkat

More on Psychopathy…

It is easy — terribly easy — to shake a man’s faith in himself. To take advantage of that to break a man’s spirit is devil’s work. –¬†George Bernard¬†Shaw

Most of us comprehend instinctively that there are shades of good and bad rather than absolute categories. We know in our hearts that there must be no such thing as a person who is 100% good, and so we assume that there is no such thing as a person who is 100% bad… However psychologically speaking there definitely are people who possess an intervening sense of constraint based on emotional attachments and other people who have no such sense. And to fail to understand this is to place people of conscience in the world in danger. – Martha Stout, The Sociopath Next Door¬†

Further to my original post on this topic (here). I just stumbled across this on youtube. In this short webcast Frank Ochberg explains what a psychopath is and why they do not get upset or excited about seeing the pain of others.

If you’re interested in delving even deeper into the world of psychopathy I also recommend I, Psychopath. From the documentary’s promotional blurb:-

…In this intriguing documentary, Sam Vaknin, a self-proclaimed psychopath, goes in search of a diagnosis. In a scientific first, he allows himself to undergo testing to find out if he was born without a conscience. He knows he‚Äôs narcissistic and cannot empathize with others. By his own admission, he‚Äôs pompous, grandiose, repulsive and contradictory, ruthless and devoid of scruples, capricious and unfathomable‚Ķ but he believes, he‚Äôs not a bad person. What he is is indifferent‚Ķhe couldn‚Äôt care less. Unless, of course, the topic is himself. Vaknin and his long-suffering but ever-loyal wife, Lidija, embark on a diagnostic road trip. But, it‚Äôs uncharted territory‚Ķ deep into the mind and life of a psychopath. The 47-year-old convicted corporate criminal has agreed to take part in the pursuit of his own diagnosis‚Ķ meeting the world‚Äôs experts in psychopathy in the hope that science will provide some answers for why he is like he is. These experts put Vaknin (and his wife) through a battery of rigorous psychological tests and neuro-scientific experiments. Vaknin is shocked at the results. Sam, his wife, the scientists, the film-makers ‚Äď will they ever be quite the same again?

Into The Fire – Review

Into The Fire by Steven Davies, Bryan Law, and Dan Dicks is a documentary about the Toronto G20 summit in 2010, the massive crackdown that imposed martial law across the whole city and the unusual style of policing that allowed the Black Bloc to run riot while greeting peaceful protesters with a baton to the face. It is without a doubt the most terrifying thing I have seen this year leaving me quivering with a mixture of fear and rage that no fictional film can come close to instilling.

As far as made for internet ‘truth’ documentaries go this one stands out from the crowd like a sore thumb of pure quality. It shines as a documentation of the events surrounding the G20,¬†relying on the footage of various people on the ground to ¬†tell the story, as opposed to much of the found footage that goes into online documentaries. At 2 hours it’s a slog, but a well paced one that draws you further and further into the events of the week that¬†continually¬†unfold from pre G20 Toronto to the aftermath displaying all the curiosities in between.

The creators have put themselves on the line to try get the views of protesters, the public and the police leading to shady stories of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, meetings with¬†provocative¬†activist Charlie Veitch (who quickly gets dragged off and thrown in a cage for being too cocky) and encounter with one of¬†Toronto’s¬†friendliest police officer who’s upholding the law when all her co workers are abusing it.

It offers a window¬†into the police state that keeps on popping up when the big wigs are in town and the treatment that you can expect when you say things like “good luck on Saturday” to the¬†authorities.

If you take anything from this film don’t let it be a¬†foreboding¬†sense of fear but a useful chunk of knowledge of what happens when Mr Fancy Pants comes to your town.

-Paz

Do Psychopaths Dream of Power & Status?

The following documentaries are extremely interesting and worrying in their implications (to put it mildly). Both documentaries are centred around psychologist¬†Robert D Hare’s recently devised checklist¬†to accurately diagnose cases of psychopathy,¬†and raise, in my opinion, some serious issues which need to be addressed if we are to make a better, fairer and¬†safer world for future generations. But an ethical solution to some of the problems presented may not become available to us for some time to come, and even if/when the science /technology to resolve the problems without resorting to inhuman right-wing tactics becomes available to us, there may still be serious ethical considerations to weigh-up as to whether or not the technology should be employed.

This undoubtedly all sounds very melodramatic and exaggerated, but I think once you’ve delved even just a bit deeper into this topic beyond the commonly held view (or misconception), as I have, you’ll find that you agree with me, if not in whole, in part.

Experts say that as many as 1 in 100 people could be psychopaths. They are not only serial killers, that is only the extreme and a small minority of the whole, in reality they are all around us, functioning, for the most part, as law abiding citizens. But this does not mean they are harmless.

What defines a psychopath is the inability to relate ‚Äď a total lack of empathic reasoning. This causes them to be extremely selfish and ruthless; they will hold no qualms over deceiving and/or manipulating to get what they want. Sometimes to get what they want they must inflict violence or kill. Whilst other times (remember, they possess no empathy or conscience) they simply crave the rush and sense of power dominating/abusing/killing a person will provide them.

Not all psychopaths feel they need to break the law to get what they want though. They are often, by nature, very cunning people, and resorting to such crude methods as killing to fulfil their selfish desires often is not necessary. As you’ll find out if you watch the documentaries, a lot of psychopaths get on extremely well in the ruthless, cut-throat world of business and commerce for example. And this world satisfies their craving for power and domination over others.

Quote from the Equinox documentary, Psyschopath:-

The notion of industrial psychopaths rising throught the ranks to become captains of industry could mean that the character traits are a positive business asset.

Power attracts the corruptible ‚Äď Frank Herbert

So, we know what defines a psychopath, but what defines a human? Is empathy and a conscience vital qualities to being human? If so, can¬†psychopaths really be classified as truly “human”? Or are they humans in disguise? Cold, unfeeling androids without a “soul”? If this is the case, then maybe the ethical conundrums I mentioned earlier don’t apply, but I feel very wairy of going down this route… we all know what happens when people are classed as “subhuman”. ¬†The inspiration for¬†Philip K Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? was people PKD saw around him who he felt lacked these vital humanistic ingredients. Even the “Voight-Kampff” test used to identify the androids is reminiscent¬†of a psychopathy evaluation, gauging emotional reaction to stimuli.

From the wiki article about the novel:-

The novel is set in a post-apocalyptic near future, where the Earth and its populations have been damaged greatly by Nuclear War during World War Terminus. Most types of animals are endangered or extinct due to extreme radiation poisoning from the war. To own an animal is a sign of status, but what is emphasized more is the empathic emotions humans experience towards an animal.

Deckard is faced with “retiring” six escaped Nexus-6 model androids, the latest and most advanced model. Because of this task, the novel explores the issue of what it is to be human. Unlike humans, the androids possess no empathic sense. In essence, Deckard probes the existence of defining qualities that separate humans from androids.

What definately isn’t a human is a corporation (Tyrell, “More Human than Human”!). Yet as explored in the second documentary, a Canadian film called The¬†Corporation, these organisations must be considered, in the eyes of the law, as a person rather than an entity. Under this definition, reasons profiler Robert Hare, corporations can be categorized as psychopathic because they exhibit a personality disorder: that of single-mindedly pursuing their objectives without regard for the people in and around them.

In my opinion, these docos are explosive and should be seen by everyone. The Equinox documentary is an eye-opener for sure, and The Corporation is nothing short of a masterpiece in my opinion, winning the¬†World Cinema Audience Award: Documentary¬†at the¬†Sundance Film Festival, 2004, along with a Special Jury Award at the¬†International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA)¬†in 2003 and 2004. They have certainly changed and shaped my present view of the world in which we find ourselves (as well as my interpretation of PKD’s novel). I hope you can find the time to view them both, and I look forward to the debate these docos will hopefully initiate on the comments section.

If you want to research even more into this topic after watching the documentaries, I recommend the book Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of the Psychopaths among Us by Robert D Hare, the psychologist who developed the Psychopathy Checklist (PCL) and Psychopathy Checklist Revised (PCL-R).

Marwencol


Marwencol is the strange and wonderful story of Mark Hogancamp, a man who, after suffering brain damage resulting from being severely beaten-up by a group of drunken thugs, sets about creating his own very personal brand of therapy. This therapy involves revisiting his childhood passion for Action Man figurines. Mark creates and maintains a miniature, fictional WWII era Belgium town named Marwencol, and documents, in the form of highly accomplished photographs, the on-going narrative of its occupants, modified Barbie and Action Man dolls based on real people in his life. Eventually he and his creations are discovered by a curator, who is so impressed and taken-back by Marwencol that he proposes putting on an exhibition of Mark’s photographs of his town and its curious narrative.

A must see! Highly recommended. Link to full film bottom of post.

Speaks to the addictiveness, the catharsis, the unpredictability, and the eternity of the creative process. – Jeffrey Chen, Window to the Movies

Marwencol is a mesmerizing documentary, and like Mark Hogancamp it continually surprises you. It may also be one of the best films you’ll see all year. – Beth Accomando, KPBS.org

First-time director Jeff Malmberg does almost everything right in this stunningly empathetic documentary. – Jeff Meyers, Metro Times (Detroit, MI)

Marwencol, full film stream.

Mark’s website, marwencol.com