Set in the context of telecom immunity debates of 2007 and 2008, Secrets for Senators is a performative intervention in which intimate secrets are confessed over the phone to senators who support warrantless wiretapping. This work considers the current threat of pervasive surveillance and illegal spying as a kind of psychic violence inflicted by the state. Secrets for Senators aims to subvert this violence by repositioning the violation of privacy as a deliberate and empowering act of self-exposure. I am interested in amplifying an awkward juxtaposition between private and public voices. In the video above callers leave answering machine messages sympathizing with the government’s need for secrets about its citizenry, and then, in an elaborate quid pro quo, proceed to divulge intimate secrets in exchange for the senator’s opposition to retroactive immunity. In other examples (not shown here), I spoke live to staffers while taking on an aggressive anti-privacy persona in order to co-opt the narrative that those who complain about surveillance must have “something” to hide.
Inspired by my own experience as a liminal subject in Japan, this project explores the tensions between my sense of self as a foreigner in Japan and the image of the westerner in Japanese media. I focused especially on the issue of translation (or translational adaptation), as the piece was originally written in English and then translated into more colloquial Japanese (which I read as voice-over). In the final act of adaptation, I tried to preserve linguistic nuance as I translated the Japanese text back into English subtitles.
An experimental shot in Japan, A Different Self? explores the identity transformations of bilingual speakers. Structured as a series of interviews shot shot in Japan in 2005, the piece revolves around a central question: “Are you a different person when you speak a different language?”
I made this remix in January of 2006 when Youtube was still relatively new. I remember staying up late mesmerized by this new window onto our culture, and I recall being fascinated by the way that the ethos of online video in that particular moment seemed to reiterate so much of what I’d read about the early days of cinema, when the exhibition context was still so connected to its vaudevillian roots and the cinematic medium was driven by spectacle. This thread of media history has been described by Tom Gunning as the “Cinema of Attractions”. In 2006 web video seemed to have returned us to these themes of slapstick, erotica, violence, and bodily risk. Of course we are still in that moment to varying degrees, but there was something about the early days of Youtube that felt like such a defining moment. For me, the youth driven meme of chugging pickle juice (as a proxy for alcohol binging) along with the erotic overtones of the pickle, as a spectacularized object, seemed ripe as subjects of remix. This material also offered a compellingly pairing with the Youtube era fascination for “Epic Fail” violence as two sides of spectacle—one disturbingly macabre and the other pointing to a potential loss of innocence. In this way, while the two very different tags, ‘crash’ and ‘pickle,’ might at first seem unrelated, for me they represented poles along a much larger continuum. They were part of a new 21st century language of spectacle, but one that harkened back to the early nickelodeon era and its spirit of participation and performative risk-taking. I remember being inspired to edit this after discovering the clip that’s shown in the final shot; it was such a perfect crystalizing moment that the rest of the remix just fell into place.