(with Mark Amerika and Adrian Miles)
Mark Amerika: Let's talk about the vog; as the vog manifesto
"9. a vog is dziga vertov with a mac and a modem"
Could you elaborate?
Adrian Miles: "I the machine show you the world as only I can see it."
Of all the Russian montage directors Vertov is in many ways the most
fascinating. This is partly because of his interest in documentary and
reportage, though it's mainly because his work is oddly prescient. For
instance in 1923 he wrote:
"With the speed of international communications and the lightning
dispatch of filmed material the *Cine-Gazette* ought to be a 'survey of
the world every few hours.' It is not. We must face up to this. The
*Cine-Pravda* is a car on a leash, an aeroplane beneath a ceiling: it
cannot be a *Cine-Gazette*."
This is a description, first of all, of CNN, and then it is a
description of Internet based *production* and distribution–in 1923! As
he says, the current system is a car on a leash, an aeroplane beneath a
ceiling. This is how I see streaming media on the web right now,
restrained by wanting to be just like TV.
MA: Yes, the web suffers from TV envy, but then again, it's pre-TV. It's
almost as though it were in its imaginary stage of telecommunicational
development. Vertov saw that. The Kino-Eye as Writing Machine. The Dream
of Mosaic [GUI-stickiness]. Interfacing with the Processual Mind as it
"captures" screenal logic. In this regard, I think we should mention
Tesla as well, since he anticipated the liberatory potential of
transforming the body into an apparatus of network conduction.
Not to mention Vannevar Bush and his "As We May Think" essay published
in the Atlantic Monthly right after dropping the bombs in WW2. And then
Ted Nelson watching Douglas Engelbart fidget with a mouse and windows-
based computer screen having an epiphany, like watching Man land on the
moon, and thinking–hypertext. Click-click, say no more, say no
more…and then, with utopian-mystical vision [Xanadu?] conceptualizing
what he soon called Literary Machines.
AM: The epiphany for me was when I first saw Storyspace
(http://www.eastgate.com/Storyspace.html) in '91 or '92, those spaces
and link lines made *perfect* and *transparent* sense to me. It was on a
mac and I knew that quicktime would work in there. I was a junior
academic in cinema studies interested in computers and how and why I
would write like this was obvious. Ever since then I've been thinking
and writing with links. Links are what I write with and for me they're
just like film edits. Made of the same stuff. When I write I get lost in
these possibilities, the futures that present themselves while writing,
in writing, through writing. It is this being-like-film that is the
process I explore. Any edges you write are arbitrary, contingent,
sometimes accidental. The key is to locate a vision, to find a
vidcriture that is this writing. The web just ups the ante for the
process as model.
MA: Right, I use the web to capture the work-in-process, to remix my
ongoing ungoing filmtext experience… which brings us back to Vertov
and streaming in real-time theory and cultural production…
AM: Vertov wrote lots of things that today, when transcribed to our use
of streaming media, seem to be very relevant. His criticism of cinema as
stories with illustrations seems largely what most people do when they
think of "video on the web."
He writes slogans and manifestos that let me think of him as posthuman.
He makes no distinction between camera and person, machine and
individual. It's a machinic vision and the role of the film maker in
Vertov's kingdom is to learn how to listen to the machine–to write
(see) with and for the machine, to not subject the machine to the
individual. This is my experience of writing hypertext hypertextually,
and it's what I want to learn how to do with time based media. To write
MA: To write *in* quicktime as a writing or literary machine using kino-
eye cinescripture to essentially code into being a randomized filmtext
environment that others can access by way of a P2P network that sets
into motion a utopian dreamworld of international culture. But I
What about your vogs?
AM: All my vogs are made using pretty generic tools. A domestic quality
miniDV camera, a recent firewire equipped mac, and they're trying to
find a way of writing that works for most web users, most of the time,
where word, sound, moving image, etc., are not discrete entities outside
of each others fields.
MA: Hmmm. I guess I feel like that's how I work already. True, I have to
emulate the seamless shape-shifting that must take place in order to
discreetly pass from one application to another, but in the end, my
nerve-scales are scintillating with raw (indigestible) desire and
without even thinking about it I lose myself in the process. This is
what it means to be a network artist. Finding yourself by losing
yourself in the white-hot chemical decomposition of self in all its
coded glory. Can you relate?
AM: No. Though I probably could. :-) I've never thought of it as
primarily networked but about getting rid of this distinction between
words and pictures. For me writing hypertextually is always a
postcinematic writing and while pictures work differently to words their
different networks (to steal your terminology), or the differences in
their networks, are erased. But it's one thing to talk about that kind
of writing and quite another thing to actually do it. The vogs are an
exploration in this direction. Instead of hypertext being the medium,
it's video, though I guess they are pretty much hypertexts in
quicktime– same questions, same problems.
A part of the code is the network, so you're right. It is about making
things that more or less work now, with no really special requirements,
with a small palette of space, bandwidth, and time. It should always be
about fragments, parts, remixing. Scale is now relative to connection,
+ + +
Mark Amerika is the Director of the Alt-X Network (http://www.altx.com).
Later this year, he will have two major retrospectives of his work
exhibited in Europe and Japan.
Adrian Miles (http://bowerbird.rmit.edu.au/adrian/) has taught
hypermedia theory and practice since 1995. His creative and critical
work explores the relations of cinema to hypermedia via the philosophy
of Gilles Deleuze.