Incredible Machines (VVVNT, 2014)

This page presents a series of investigations around an essay on early computer-generated movies at Bell Labs (and the documentaries that accompany them) through the contemporary cipher presented in the digital compilation movie We Edit Life (2002) by People Like Us (Vicki Bennett).1 Rather than bind We Edit Life with the interpretive knot of critique, this essay seeks to deploy the movie as a conduit to open productive passages into the database. We Edit Life is uniquely poised to spell out the vexed relations among issues of remediation, digital composition, and archival use. At one and the same time the movie reflects on the origins of computer arts while providing a pioneering instance of the now-ubiquitous digital compilation movie. A close reading of We Edit Lifeโ€”tracing its myriad material sources, the mode and style of its composition, the networks of archival dispersion that screen the movie along with presenting its source material, and finally the broader art historical and contemporary cultural context within which the work embeds itselfโ€”offers a passage back into these historical works operating at the birth of computer culture while refreshing their interpretation from our present vantage. The method of this essay, therefore, is waylaid by a heterogeneous array of interpretive and descriptive strategies, applicable to the n-dimensional facets of digital objects in general and the historical conflux of found footage or compilation movies in particular.

“Incredible Machines,” VVVNT, 2014

Following People Like Us Into the Database, 2012

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