Laura Poitras Among 2012 MacArthur Fellows

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Documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras is among the 2012 MacArthur Foundation "Genius Grant" award winners, announced yesterday. Her 9/11 Trilogy was included in the 2012 Whitney Biennial film program. My Country, My Country (2006), followed a Sunni Arab doctor running for office in Baghdad. The second film, The Oath (2010) is set in Yemen and Guantanamo. Select footage from her upcoming film on domestic surveillance, which profiles William Binney "a 32-year veteran of the National Security Agency who helped design a top-secret program he says is broadly collecting Americans’ personal data" is available to watch on the New York Times' site.

Worth watching her appearance on Democracy Now, discussing how "how she has been repeatedly detained and questioned by federal agents whenever she enters the United States."


As Glenn Greenwald wrote earlier this year:
Poitras is now forced to take extreme steps — ones that hamper her ability to do her work — to ensure that she can engage in her journalism and produce her films without the U.S. Government intruding into everything she is doing. She now avoids traveling with any electronic devices. She uses alternative methods to deliver the most sensitive parts of her work — raw film and interview notes — to secure locations. She spends substantial time and resources protecting her computers with encryption and password defenses. Especially when she is in the U.S., she avoids talking on the phone about her work, particularly to sources. And she simply will not edit her films at her home out of fear — obviously well-grounded — that government agents will attempt to search and seize the raw footage.

That’s the climate of fear created by the U.S. Government for an incredibly accomplished journalist and filmmaker who has never been accused, let alone convicted, of any wrongdoing whatsoever. Indeed, documents obtained ...

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Short Documentary on Internet Infrastructure

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Bundled, Buried & Behind Closed Doors is a short documentary explaining internet infrastructure, focusing on the art deco building 60 Hudson Street in Tribeca, which is now one of the most concentrated carrier hotels in the world. The internet has an "ironically very limited geography in terms of big strategic concentrations," explains Stephen Graham, professor of cities and society, Newcastle University, in the short film. "The big affluent high tech information rich regions" is where the infrastructure is densely located. And 60 Hudson Street was especially ideal as a hub, given that the building was already designed to accomidate cables as it was first fitted for pneumatics tubes, then telegraph cables and telephone lines. 

In an interview with The Atlantic's Kasia Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg, director Ben Mendelsohn explains, "The issue of how this infrastructure is hidden fascinates me. Andrew Blum has a book coming out in May about physical Internet infrastructure, which I'm very excited for. He was giving a lecture and handing out postcards of "data monuments" in New York City, and I asked him: if these are monuments, what do they reveal about the culture that built them? Their message is really one of ambivalence. Service providers need to let potential clients know where they are, but they generally decline to make their presence widely known beyond that marketing purpose. Andrew did say that he envisions "brewery tour" style visits or class field trips to Internet buildings in the future, and I think that would be great, but the industry is not there yet."

 

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New Adam Curtis Documentary on Network Culture "All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace"

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BBC posts the trailer for the upcoming Adam Curtis documentary, "All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace." It airs Monday May 23 at 9pm on BBC2. Curtis' previous documentaries (It Felt Like a Kiss, Century of the Self, The Power of Nightmares, etc) are available streaming free online at archive.org.

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The Fire Theft (2010) - Isabelle Hayeur

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This video explores the themes of dispossession and repression. It was produced using sequences broadcast on the Web and scenes filmed in an abandoned house. It includes shots of the Olympic flame relay (Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics) and the Keith Sadler Foreclosure Resistance. These were taken from a live stream off the Ustream website, then re-worked. The low definition and strong compression of the images creates a somewhat sombre atmosphere, which is accentuated by a sound track with strange and discordant noises. The degraded video signal mirrors the difficult social conditions evoked in the work, especially in the shots of dilapidated interiors. The Fire Theft reminds us that major sports events benefit a handful of corporations, and often are used as a pretext for real estate speculation and gentrification.

-- FROM THE ARTIST'S STATEMENT

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The Future of Art

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The Future of Art was shot from the 1st through the 6th of February 2011 during Transmediale. The short film asks the following: What are the defining aesthetics of art in the networked era? How is mass collaboration changing notions of ownership in art? How does micropatronage change the way artists produce and distribute artwork? The creators behind The Future of Art describe the project as "an immediated autodocumentary" where "immediation is immediate mediation – an instant transfer of experience into media, enabling self-reflection and perspective shift. Immediation enables collaborative storytelling via frameworks of participation. Autodocumentary; auto as in autodidactic + documentary. Autodocumentaries are made by the people they are about."

Originally via mediateletipos.net

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Dance to the End of Love (2010) - Akram Zaatari

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4 channel video installation based on YouTube material made by individuals filming themselves in Egypt, the Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Palestine, Yemen, and Libya.

From the exhibition "The Uneasy Subject" at MUSAC

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oops (2010) - Chris Beckman

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"oops" || appropriated digital video || 2009 || concept by Billy Rennekamp

Somewhere between a home-video mixtape and a postmodern travelogue, "oops"—a ten-minute art video composed entirely of appropriated YouTube videos, seamlessly stitched together via a motif of camera drops—serves both as transportative adventure and metaphorical elucidation of YouTube itself (i.e. endless related videos), exemplifying the Internet's infinite repository of "throwaway" social documentation. From suburbia to subterranea, the radically shuffling environs induce a vertiginous yet aesthetically contextual thread—a transcendent, reincarnating POV; our omnipresent Camera—by which, the nature of the ultra-verité videos, eschewing any filmic grounding, plunges the viewer into a relationship of fleeting immediacy w/ its many videographers: a self-portrait at arms length, the digital blur of an obscuring thumb, a disembodied narrating voice.

-- FROM THE ARTIST'S STATEMENT

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Videos from the Documentary Real Symposium

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I came across these videos via WMMNA. These talks were taped during the symposium The Documentary Real which occurred on October 21, 2010 at Domzaal, Art Centre Vooruit. The event invited artists and theorists to "interrogate the ambiguous relation between documentary film and reality." I've only had a chance to review the two Gregos and Bruzzi clips posted below, which both emphasize the changing notion of the "real" within a heterogeneous media landscape, especially with the advent of the internet. All the talks are available on the site, here.



Katerina Gregos "The Elastic Documentary"


It has been a number of years that the so-called ‘documentary turn’ has become a frequent phenomenon in many artists’ films. The talk will be a comparative look into recent documentary practices that diverge from the orthodoxy of documentary as ‘factual’ film’, a notion which contemporary artists have repeatedly challenged of late. These artists working from a documentary point of departure use multiple strategies to reveal known or hidden ‘truths’, sometimes weaving fictional elements into their stories. Many of them demonstrate that ‘truth value’ does not lie in mere representation but may emerge even more forceful through artistic abstraction, translation, filtering and interpretation and that nowadays the borderline between documentary and fiction, or reality and fantasy is often becoming hard to distinguish. The talk aims to illustrate that the notion of the ‘documentary real’ is continuously evolving and cannot now be pinned down to a single definition or delineated through specific boundaries. Indeed it aims to show that some of the most interesting documentary practices are those which I call documentary ‘with a twist’, i.e. films that interweave the political with the poetic, and navigate between different filmic categories to arrive at highly individualistic hybrid documentary forms where the notion of realism is in ...

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FREE KEVIN at Art in General

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Hackers Trailer

Next week, on October 14th at 6pm, Laurel Ptak of photography blog iheartphotograph will host FREE KEVIN at Art in General. The screening will present films depicting hackers and computer culture from the past 30 years, all sourced from Pirate Bay member pirateturk. For the AIG event, Ptak will show WarGames (1983) and Hackers (1995) from pirateturk's 15.4 GB collection, and the screening will also be an informal ripping party, so attendees are encouraged to bring their USB sticks and laptops to lift material for later viewing. Named for Kevin Mitnick, a hacker arrested in 1995 by the U.S. Government for computer fraud, FREE KEVIN examines the representation of hackers in popular culture and its relation to concerns about security, intellectual property, and technology. A roving, evolving project at its core, FREE KEVIN is realized as a website as well, with a smattering of clips from the films in the collection, and the organizers invite other, parallel FREE KEVIN screenings around the globe. (To arrange a screening in your town, email screening [at] freekevin [dot] info.)

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A Report from Trust: Media City Seoul 2010

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The first physical art work that you encounter when entering “Trust: Media City Seoul,” the sixth edition of Korea’s international media arts biennial, is Willem de Rooij’s Bouquet VII, a collaboration with local florist Kim Da Ra. A large-scale spherical gathering of blossoms in various hues of pink stands on a pedestal, resembling a centerpiece at an upscale wedding or a museum benefit party. The floral arrangement seamlessly integrates natural and synthetic flowers, blurring the boundary between the real and the artificial. Innocuous and timeless, this work sets the tone for this year’s Media City, an exhibition that eschews the embrace of new technologies in visual art in favor of a return to more traditional media and a broader definition of the term “media” itself. Bouquet VII also subtly introduces a method utilized by many of the artists in the exhibition: the conflation of fiction and reality.

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