We Edit Life

The other day I came across a video by People like Us (a.k.a. Vicki Bennett) on Ubuweb, specifically the collage video she put together from found footage at the Prelinger Archive called Remote Controller (2003). It comes highly recommended, and the description at Ubuweb frames it succinctly:

This work explores the subject of experimentation in human body and machine interfaces in the 20th century. The film edits together the different ways we have controlled our environment – through technology, magic and theatrical devices. As the world of communications brings people together, power still exists by pushing a button and pulling the puppet strings.

The film got me excited, so I went searching for more. I found out the she has a weekly radio show on WFMU (why am I not surprised by this?)  called Do or DIY. And with just a bit more searching I found another gem by People Like Us called “We Edit Life” (2002). This film is an excellent model for video collage in my mind (much like Donald O’Finn’s work) that is almost entirely dependent upon the audio. It’s abstracted by a series of inter-connected themes like creation, visual design, technology, communication, manipulation, destruction, and death that are weaved in and out by and amazing soundtrack that might be understood as a series of crazy dialogues and songs, but yet have none of the predictability or organization premised by these traditional narrative cues. Rather it provides a kind of mood noise that undulates in an uncomfortable struggle for meaning. My favorite part of the film comes at about six minutes in when you see the golden-bodied robot (which the designers created earlier in the film) singing a far out song for which the lyrics move from “never to die” to “we will all die…die, die…” It was a powerful shift for me, and it was all in the audio—the voice of the robot was derived from a kind of MacInTalk Fred which adds brilliantly to the effect. Trippy and powerful stuff that just makes me want to return to the Internet Archive daily and search for crazy stuff and create one found footage mashup a week—which actually sounds a lot more appealing to me than a picture a day.

And speaking of MacInTalk Fred, for more craziness that is very much in line with the experimentation by People Like Us, check out the song “Within One Universe there are Millions” by Man or Astro-man? that features MacInTalk Fred on the vocals, in fact their entire live performance at the BBC studios in November of 2001 is available on the Internet Archive here.

Download Man or Astron-man? “Within One Universe there are Millions”

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4 Responses to We Edit Life

  1. Ed Webb says:

    Fabulous! “Music will kill us all” – well, only if the internets don’t get us first.

    Also, note the sponsorship by the Arts Council (UK), EU etc – stuff like this is a great argument for state funding of artistic production.

  2. Scott Leslie says:

    not to be pedantic, but the radio show is “Do or DIY” (otherwise the joke kinda doesn’t make sense)

  3. Reverend says:

    @Ed
    Hopefully music will kill the RIAA!

    @Scott,
    I hate it when plaid pants-wearing hippies correct me on my blog. It’s even worse when I didn’t see the linguistic play in DIY at all. Man, I’m getting old, which doesn’t help my dyslexia or my bursitis. I’m watching you Leslie.

  4. Love to talk sometime.
    donald O’Finn

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