American Memory is a new and compelling DVD coming from extended Skinny Puppy posse members William Morrison and Justin Bennett later this year. It took me a while to figure out exactly what was going on (and exactly who was responsible), but that didn't detract from this hypnotic and ultimately forceful piece.
The voice in the clip on the DVD's trailer is that of former slave Alice Gaston, interviewed in her eighties for the Library of Congress in 1941. The actress is lip-synching to her dialogue. Videomaker William Morrison explains that the whole project works this way, using audio from the American Memory Archive along with new and processed footage. And, of course, delicious and eerie post-industrial music.
According to Morrison: "The theoretical context of the project is that some time in the very distance future, long after America is gone, some artists scouring the backwater of whatever the net has become discover the American Memory Archive. They have no context for it's meaning but are intrigued by the sights and sounds. They create surreal impressions of the material they find and broadcast it back through time. A quantum radio channel beamed into the sub conscious minds of the 21st century."
A few different permutations of the band will be playing a show on December 4 at the Gramercy in NYC, with special guests Doug Mesner and, if I can get my act and gear together, me.
Douglas Rushkoff is a guest blogger.
Winner of the Media Ecology Association's first Neil Postman award for Career Achievement in Public Intellectual Activity, Douglas Rushkoff is an author, teacher, and documentarian who focuses on the ways people, cultures, and institutions create, share, and influence each other's values. He is technology and media commentator for CNN, and has taught and lectured around the world about media, technology, culture and economics. His new book, Program or Be Programmed: Ten Commands for a Digital Age, a followup to his Frontline documentary, Digital Nation. His last book, an analysis of the corporate spectacle called Life Inc., was also made into a short, award-winning film.