Meredith Morran 01.05.21 - 31.05.21
I. We r watching u ! is a 15-minute short film about surveillance that I created for Residency 11:11 in May 2021. (This is me.) It also features a series of nine interruptions created by nine other writers, artists and creatives, who you can read more about below.
The film is voiced by the text-to-speech bot Kimberly and the visual content includes recordings of the sky taken at multiple locations on Munsee Lenape and Canarsie land in three boroughs in New York City: Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens.* The narrative content of the film leads audiences through a series of three stages titled “Skies,” “Clouds,” and “Screens.” The first of these stages, “Skies,” follows a careful practice of looking up. To begin, viewers are prompted to examine many recordings of the sky. Similarities and differences are pinpointed; comparisons are drawn. All of which begin on the level of the strictly-visual:
Kimberly: “There are skies. Like this sky [video of: sky 1] and this sky [video of: sky 2], and this sky [video of: sky 3], which is slightly more blue than the previous two skies but slightly less blue than this sky [video of: sky 4], which might possibly be the bluest sky you will ever see.”
This pairing of visual and auditory elements—of skies and a devised taxonomy for them—sets up an internal mode of signification in the film. Audiences are encouraged to ‘read the sky.' As this act of 'reading’ teased out, the content prompts audiences to consider the act of viewing the sky as spatialized experience, namely one which is informed by viewing position. These moments are described:
Kimberly: “Then there is this sky [video of: sky 8] which is likely viewed by people who hold more power than those who are viewing this one [video of: sky 9], even though the concept of power is an imaginary one. And also kind of immeasurable, but not without social and political consequence. So we can say that power is complicated especially when weighted in terms of sky-viewing-position.”
This section ends with a categorization of particular skies—nighttime skies—as more dangerous than others—daytime ones.
* As this project exists in digital space, viewers are encouraged to visit this site to acknowledge the land from which they are currently tuning in.
CV Sise is a comedian and scientist living in Brooklyn. Lately, they’ve loved listening to Dolly Parton and looking at the color lime green.
Theadora Walsh is a writer and artist who lives in Los Angeles. She received an MFA from Brown University's Digital Language Arts program and writes for a number of art related outlets.
Emilia Figliomeni makes videos and scribbles, usually in Providence, RI and sometimes in Italy (where Emilia was born). Emilia received a B.A. in Visual Art and Literary Arts from Brown University in 2018. Currently, Emilia is The Choices Program's Video Producer.
Nico Vela Page is a documentary poet and filmmaker whose work is rooted in a variety of research practices. She is Chilean-American, trans, non-binary femme, and is living on Narragansett land in Providence, RI. Their first collection, Americón, is forthcoming from Wendy’s Subway (2021). Nico’s interruption features the track “G” by Ruth J. Allen.
Ellie Gravitte is an award winning filmmaker based in New York City. An avid reader and learner, Ellie is most excited by the possibilities that directing offers for invention and collaboration. She wants to create dialogue by subverting expectations. She wants to work with her heroes. She is passionate about centering queer stories in her work, and holds strongly to the belief that artists will be the ones who save the world. Click here to check out Ellie’s website.
Caroline Fortuna is a video editor in NYC who’s interested in exploring experimental documentary filmmaking. They are also a Gemini.
Indigo Asim is an artist, writer, comedian, and a triple fire sign. Her personal film work often centers around ritual and forgetting other people can see you. She’s working on being confident on saying her ig name out loud. You can follow her on Insta @thickandoutofcontrol and on Twitter @indigothatsenuf
Qianxun Chen is a media artist, programmer, and researcher. She works at the intersection of language, art, and digital technology, with a focus on digital textuality, generative poetics, and the aesthetics of algorithms.
Joey Massa is a writer, intimacy coordinator and general freelancer of your choice (hire them :) ). They're passionate about exploring consent education models, supporting survivors of violence, and taking long but slow walks in parks with iced coffees.
Index of Sources
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Chun, Wendy. Programmed Visions. MIT Press 2011.
Daston, Lorraine. “Cloud Physiology” in Representations Volume 135, Issue 1, The University of California Press Summer 2016.
Daston, Lorraine and Peter Gallison. Objectivity, Zone Books.
Deleuze, Gilles, Postscript on the Societies of Control, 1990.
Ford, Paul. “What is Code?” in Bloomberg, 2015.
Galloway, Alexander, Protocol: How Control Exists After Decentralization, 2004.
LaRochelle, Lucas, “Queering the Map: On designing digital queer space” in Queer Sites in Global Contexts; Technologies, Spaces, and Otherness, 2020.
Mulvey, Laura. “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema.” Narrative, Apparatus, Ideology: A Film Theory Reader. Ed. Philip Rosen. New York: Columbia University Press, 1986. 198-209. Print.
Richardson, Rashida. “Dirty Data, Bad Predictions: How Civil Rights Violations Impact Police Data, Predictive Policing Systems, and Justice,” 94 N.Y.U.L. REV. 192 (2019) (with Jason Schultz & Kate Crawford)
Syms, Martine. Mirror with a Memory (podcast).
Tiqqun, The Cybernetic Hypothesis.
Wang, Jackie, Carceral Capitalism, Semiotext(e) and MIT Press, Cambridge MA and London, England, 2018.