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robertogreco : bitterlake   1

How Adam Curtis' film "Bitter Lake" will change everything you believe about news - Boing Boing
"The acclaimed British documentary filmmaker has released his latest film in unusual, forward-thinking circumstances."



"A new type of understanding emerges as a result of the form itself, an emotional, existential sensation of being present in the effects of the West's foreign affairs. There are also jokes, and audacious music choices, history underscored by Nine Inch Nails, Kanye West, Burial, and droning synth film scores by Clint Mansell. The implications are astonishing, the effect verges on the surreal: vivid, banal, beautiful, and constantly giving rise to elusive new connections in your mind between sound and image. Although any history book can give you some of the same information that’s not the point. What I came away with watching the film was a haunted sensation, a novelistic reality, one in which I couldn’t forget its images, in which suddenly I saw an aspect to war that is often obscured in news; an emotional dimension.

We do little examination of the filmmaking techniques and formalism that constitutes television news, one of the dominant global experiences for nearly a century. Media examination of how news is made tends to focus on institutions and individuals, as the Brian Williams and Bill O'Reilly scandals demonstrate. The focus of analysis is personality, celebrity, and memory; which isn’t all that different from a network anchor’s stated role.


But this means we never engage in discourse about the expectations of the aesthetics and form taken of how we watch news. The editing techniques embraced by news corporations are themselves a kind of power structure that prioritizes inattention. We prioritize the celebrity of Williams or O'Reilly instead of the collective failures of corporate news media, whose compliance with lies planted by the Bush administration contributed to our involvement in Iraq.

While it’s common knowledge that television news prioritizes soundbites, this same editorial process also reduces footage into optical bites. An image must be watched at length to be understood, but the very form of TV news requires it's cut down to its most reductive. As a result, the montage that dominates the cliched, internationally adopted television news format maximalizes the most shocking images of conflict and drama. It’s the geopolitical equivalent of reality tv producers getting their performers drunk and letting the cameras roll, more Real World: Road Rules than The March of Time.

What ends up on the cutting room floor (or at least deleted from the digital bin) is understanding and narrative. Explaining in this great interview, Curtis offers the idea that “…television is really one long construction of a giant story out of fragments of recorded reality from all over the world that is constantly added to every day.”"



"Curtis’ work is often criticized on the basis of how reductive his history is or how he’s retreading conspiracy theories. As can be seen in the interactions on his exceptional blog, conspiracy theorists comprise a segment of his viewership, but tend to be infatuated with correcting his histories and informing him of what he left out.

But conspiracies do not govern his theses. If anything Curtis’ work is about how unreckoned our relationship with power is. It’s an overarching history of the 20th century giving birth to new systems to disseminate and control power. Since we have no working narrative or politics to concede with power, unintended consequences prevail. The stories of his films are almost always a history of how those in power create plans to change the world, and those plans go completely awry."



"Curtis’ work may not be infallible, but it often asks why we have become stagnant and regressive, why we are running out of visions for the future. At the very least, his films have provided a new vision: of how we still have work to do in the form of filmmaking that will help us understand our world. I hope BITTER LAKE most of all raises questions of how news organizations appropriate the imagery that is shot, often at great cost to the lives of journalists, in a way that has narrowed the possible dimensionality of its truth. Even more troublesome, the exploitation of footage created by terrorists has resulted in a horrifying feedback loop where corporate news entities earn profits off of their existence.

In the far future, the real impact of BITTER LAKE will most likely be the filmmakers inspired by it. They may not need to wait for a collection of discarded videotapes, for lurking out there on the Internet is a nearly infinite archive of footage. Over 100,000 hours are uploaded to YouTube each day. It is just out there waiting for artists, journalists and storytellers to help us make sense of it all."
aaronstewart-ahn  adamcurtis  media  film  documentary  culture  aesthetics  news  emotions  afghanistan  iraq  war  filmmaking  brianwilliams  billo'reilly  power  editing  celebrity  soundbites  understanding  narrative  archives  youtube  journalism  storytelling  bbc  bitterlake 
march 2015 by robertogreco

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