Is it me or is documentary a new art form? I beginning to think that many of the changes we are seeing in today’s society are no longer being pushed by the same processes as they were in the past. Hour upon hour of documentary is released onto the internet these days, but very little of it sticks. Nothing is emerging. As I read recently, there’s still no Mona Lisa, no Bible no anything in fact, just some new and not really improved candid camera and home-movie mishaps.
What is the effect? Mainly distraction. Whilst I am not against consuming out right (we have to eat, learn and relax), I think that we should be pushing harder to inspire. The world around us is morphing in ways we can’t understand if we are always connected to youtube watching reruns of things we loved as kids.
Above all, we are watching the world as we know it implode around us and the best we can do is shoot footage on camera phones and share it in what was always the most underground means of communication – word of mouth. After all that’s all social media are. Granted they have given us new speed and greater possibilities to preserve eye-witness evidence, but there is nothing new. There is no reaction.
We sit and watch these videos feeling outraged but too few take to the streets to do anything. Let’s not talk of the lack of emotion stirred by watching a mainstream news media. If we do not create something new, a symbol of what this new freedom means to us, the purpose it serves, then we will lose it along with the rest of our liberties.
I always say expect a revolution sooner or later, because by nature, they come around once in a while. And with all things cyclical there are patterns. That to which I draw your attention now is the loss of freedoms over the last years. Some major steps have been taken, most notably against habeas corpus. This snowball will consume more before the thaw comes. What is important is not to avoid this or that getting caught up in the middle not to be reclaimed until some time later, although I think we’d all miss the internet were it to be handed over to the powers that be (it’s been discussed, don’t kid yourself). What is important is that we create a symbol now, one that will endure and unite people the same way they have long been led by flags, patron saints and religious icons.
We are witnessing the handover of money to the hands of a few and basic rights and freedoms to those we elect to protect them. This cannot and will not go on forever, but as with most bubbles, we can expect a rally before it bursts. As the value of our essential liberties rises we must be the ones to set the price at which these assets are overvalued. We must be the ones riding the wave down. This will only be achieved through the creation of art, not documentary. Artists predicted this period of history and out there somewhere they are predicting what will happen next. It is up to us as a community to decide and hold aloft a representation of what will come after. Anything that emerges post-revolution will have to be rooted now or it will never last.
Let’s stop portraying the world as it is, but as it should be. Let’s decide now what is good, what will last and what is just a rehash of old ideas. We need to confront our reality and idealise everything that is new and shiny, create symbols to embody it and paint them on every wall, so that when we rise from the ashes, everyone will know who we are, what we represent and rather than be seen as opportunists, we will be known as those who pushed for change on the basis of what we embraced as right.