Saturday, March 14, 2009

New Film: Kingdom of Moderate Sunshine

You should make sure to press the 'HD' button to get the best image in the player if your connection can support the large file size.

I wanted to make the kind of film that might play on Winston Smith's telescreen in his Oceana home from George Orwell's novel, 'Nineteen Eighty-Four.' This thought was not in my mind at the start of making my film, but as I worked on it I began rereading the Orwell novel and realized that my instincts were following right along the lines of his thinking. The concepts of 'doublethink' and 'newspeak' came naturally to me as I began to assemble my film. I'm interested in the techniques and mind-control efforts of fascism. The use of expressions that are at once meaningless and obvious fascinates me. Orwell uses phrases like 'Ignorance is Strength' for his language of the Party. Once you start thinking along fascist lines and trying to create according to fascist mythology and will to power, it's pretty easy to come up with strange phrases like, 'True History Refurbishment.' That's one of mine from the film. The combining of this kind of language with images that play against each other in the same way creates an almost frighteningly fascist work.

Here's something interesting: a Daily Mail article about the rise of fascism in Austria and Europe today. Look at the images in the article and compare with images from my film. Amazing huh?

I had originally set out to make a film that criticized the use of fascist art techniques for political purposes in the U.S. The primary example of this currently is the famous picture of Barack Obama by artist Shepard Fairey. The poster is powerful but strikes me as bizarrely fascist in its technique and focus on the hero personality gazing upward toward some grand future above all our heads. Pretty damned terrifying if you ask me. But I'm obsessed with the whole idea of it and what drives people to start using this kind of imagery. So I had wanted to make a short film that objected to this kind of thing. But as I worked, I realized that I had made a weak choice. Far better to make an actual fascist film from some mythological totalitarian state that had mastered all the methods of population and mind-control through sound and image. So that's what I did.

The dense layering of images that I used to create new compositions and emotions incorporates many different elements. I used original HD footage that I shot recently, artwork I created in Photoshop, computer-generated voices, machinima footage that I shot directly off of a plasma television screen while manipulating the game characters with an Xbox 360 controller, public domain government films, documentary footage, corporate films, images of graffiti, training films, porno films and old western films. I found that the wealth of footage freely available from was my most valuable asset. It required many hours of searching and scanning for just the right shots for the impressions and meanings that I was interested in for my film.

So, yes, I have created a truly despicable bit of fascist totalitarian social training that tries very hard to convince the viewer to be a good working member of the 'Collective.' But the great thing about working this way is that the humor and unwitting self-criticism leaks out through every shot of the film. It's almost as if the repressive state trying so hard to convince everyone of its strength and noble cause, just can't help but make fun of itself without knowing it.

Since the film uses text so closely related to the images I've classified this as both a film and a cinegram.


jmac said...


This is a very thought provoking and intriguing video! Seeing this really prompts me to question the idea of an image that is supposed to be universal, yet misses the mark, and becomes a slogan. It's difficult to put into words . . .

I am thinking of Leonard Cohen's poem, "How to Speak Poetry," in the context of your critique of imagery used for purposes of control. Here is a quick excerpt:

"The poem is nothing but information. It is the Constitution of the inner country. If you declaim it and blow it up with noble intentions then you are no better than the politicians whom you despise. You are just someone waving a flag and making the cheapest kind of appeal to a kind of emotional patriotism."

This is the difference between a poem and a slogan!

I enjoyed your spin on the imagery, i.e. "Actionized Humility"! :) I'll be thinking about this work in days to come.

Camouflage Lenses said...

Thank you for this, Invisible Jennifer! I like your thinking on this. Now I have to go find the Leonard Cohen poem. I'm intrigued.

I thought this film would be easy but it got harder and harder and I changed my mind about its intentions several times as i went.