It felt awesome lying on my back, gazing at the starry sky and the embers dancing past. The biggest and the smallest fire dancing together. The stars were always there, twinkling slowly across the skies, never fading, the embers burning out before I could even see where they were headed. Up there were archers and maidens and lions and bears, and one of us told the campfire stories, conjuring the magic of that endless space to us listeners. The sound of the voice summoning the god of the rock, the god of the moon and the sun. And next evening we found a new place to lie, getting some rest on soft sand after a long day, with friends and family. And its my turn to recount the stories, from memory.
Then someone wrote down the stories, for us to remember them right. The words stayed the same for every reading, the text got inner logic, it emerged. And we could argue over the meaning of histories, rather than their course. We could talk about the structure of text, how magical text is, but we forgot the magic of mossy mounds at dawn. A bunch of us walked on stage to enact the text. I was in the same space with protagonist and antagonist, and the onlookers yelled out when it was good or bad, and when we forgot our lines. The words were written in ink, developed into long trains of thought that were printed in millions of books, so the world could share one idea.
Then movies and Cinema came along, and I jumped in my seat as steam trains, cars and space ships charged at me on the screen, from behind the screen, through the brick wall. It took me some time to see how the moving image also moves time and space. What I saw was not reality, but images of different times and places joined together. Still, in our heads the stream of images on the silver screen always conjures one fluid reality. And I kept building stories from the images I saw, and I cried when the beautiful people on the screen were in pain.
TV was all those things in one. Even at the beginning of TV, when TV was radio with a tiny round screen, I understood that what I saw was now, a little hole where the world peeked in, the world now delivered directly into our living room. And I saw people being born and die and walking on the moon and I understood we all live in the same world, on the same planet, and it was round and blue. And my jaw dropped and dropped. I got Cinema in my living room, and video in my living room, and Blockbuster and advertising and propaganda. TV handed our attention to … anyone out there. TV wasn't a medium but a network. Myriads of cameras were always there where the action was, and beamed the action into myriads of living rooms, also ours, in real time. And we saw the most important images on replay, again and again and again. Until we remembered where we were when “JFK” and “9/11” got to mean “turning point”. And we had endless channels, so we all got time on screen. And I saw myself on replay, and I had Identity.
Then the network became the Internet, the web, the new campfire, where we can all find someone exactly like us to hang with on video, in real time! For real! Now we all have cameras, and can share all that we see: I am the neutral, all seeing camera eye, and when I share its for real, the true image of the world. And it´s true to us. For the gaze I share belongs to me, not my Iphone. I choose when to pick up my phone and shoot and share. I choose what is important and true: A Kardashian with no makeup! (Assistants mistake, swiftly taken down.) And those kids begging those cops not to shoot their mom. (Body cam evidence, justified share.) Video is Truth. The antithesis of fantasy and fiction. The antithesis of cinema. Cinema is ever more fictional, greenscreen don't fool anyone anymore, now they're using enormous LED screens.
The Mandalorion is shot in front of enormous LED screens, so the actors can see their monsters. Poor guys. My monsters are unseen, hiding behind keyboards. A few less likes. A few less followers. A few not so enthusiastic comments. A PM from someone I don't know. What did I do to deserve that? I`d rather Netflix and chill. At least the parallel universe of a movie has stability. It's the same old story every time I press play. Like a book. There´s security in that. Then I don't have to look at that little image of myself on Zoom, regretting the sweater I put on, and my lack of hairdo. Isn´t my nose a bit too crooked? I´ll find some ice for my background, hoping it'll make people think I´m cool. Trying hard to define and show myself as something other than the other. I choose who I am! In my parallel reality I has the power and I am not afraid to use it.
So I light a Plexiglas campfire with LED lights during office hours today. No embers, but lots of party lights from Walmart (9,99 a piece), making a starry sky in this black box that's not a black box, but some kind of hybrid proscenium stage with graded permanent seating, but no proscenium, and lots of standing room suspended from the loft. Catwalks everywhere, and the starry sky conjured with LED lamps on a razzle dazzle hyperfunctional non-functioning architecture. I lie on my back on the floor. It's awesome. Soft disco lights and hard shadows. Is this what it felt like doing speed at Studio 54? I´m projecting 360˙ of forest around, archers and maidens and lions and bears hiding between the trees, inviting people in for a talk. Because the audience don't yell comments at stage anymore, they need a personal invite for the Post Show Discussion, led by a moderator schooled in Critical Response Process, who can ensure that everyone is heard. They should have one of those on “Ex on the Beach”. Mmmmmmmh. A sandy beach and a starry sky and mellow conversation with someone just as curious as me.