User:Emily/proposal 0.03

From XPUB & Lens-Based wiki

Title: If You Meet Your Double, You Should Kill Him


The joy of reversal


Keywords: MacGuffin, Internet criticism, the double/the other, the crowd

On 26 February 2015, a dress “divided internet”. #TheDress/#Dressgate bought forward a simple question: “What colour is the dress?” — like a viral take over the internet, as well as mainstream media, BBC, NBC, Guardian, etc. The puzzle made the whole world/crowd act like the characters on the screen worrying about a MacGuffin. For Hitchcock, A macGuffin is something feeds into the wheel of suspense and sets the plot in motion. “It attracts the viewer's attention, but is not important by itself.” More explicitly like what Johan Grimonprez talked about his film Double Casting ,“Everything must be duplicated or translated. ... the misunderstanding becomes the culture, the poetry of misunderstandings begins. And the words and the things start to separate.” If we look back at the Dressgate again, it is not the answer to which colour that matters but the real consequence, even after the answer has been confirmed. Meme follows overwhelmingly, even charity campaign use it, the topic seems turn mainstream media as click-bait sites. Even if it started with a innocent purpose, the discourse/plot is devised. As such the crowd, us, were in the [1] and be consumed. The non-existed double has been asked to be truly existed.

Possible Outcome

1. A two-channel carefully edited video installation, in which a “MacGuffin” is being told/described as voice over by a narrator/narrators. The MacGuffin drives the main character in both channels to take completely different actions. Despite the MacGuffin seems to set the plot in motion, it leads to nowhere. 2. A two-channel video installation, in which a “MacGuffin” is being told/described as voice over by a narrator/narrators. From the left channel spectators can view a carefully edited vision that characters meet their own double (same in appearance but have different characteristics). From the right-channel, all the narrations as its original form, text, could be read parallel.

Audio: The narrative may extracts from specific issue? fiction story? hybrid narrative? First intuition was to have hot debate online, serve as content (for voice over). ! * "#whiteandgold", "#blueandblack", and "#dressgate"

  • online news reporting comments
  • Amazon book reviews
  • online art criticism

Although a MacGuffin itself can be a concrete object/human etc, it will remain anonymous and be mentioned via pronoun(it/he/she). The voice-over will be first tested using computer voice, but ideally it would be nice to have cadence of speech just like actors or actresses performing in cinema.

Visual: Following my interests in double visions and research in works from Johan Grimonprez, Hitchcock, Jorge Lis Borges, Fyodor Dostoevsky, and interestingly it can be traced to E.T.A Hoffmann who I mentioned in the first year about his novel The Life and Opinions of the Tomcat Murr. The double in appearance implies the misunderstandings or variation in understandings in our cultural scenes. And “being constantly faced with the other side of things increases the feeling of irony.”

  • In order to get different reactions from the exact double(the same characters), the video materials could be taken from films about schizophrenia.
  • The visual material can be exact from films which contain a MacGuffin figure inside, as a mirror


  • Footages shot by myself. Long takes, and slow motion at a human figure, as if he/she is the narrator, and also a collaborative figure which forged through the internet criticism (comments are turned into collaborative thinking). The character, his/her face never shown in front of camera, and constantly exposed behind a luminous screen.
  • Footages shot by myself on repeated daily movement in different rhythm (turn on/off light; boiling water, construction work). The repeated content displayed each time with different voice over, duplicate similar but different perception. I have mostly off-camera works, so I am quite unsure to control the movement, lighting, etc and sort of social work.

Related to Larger Context

A MacGuffin is said as a plot device in the form of some goal, desired object, or other motivator that the protagonist pursues and moves the plot forward. The name "MacGuffin" appears to originate in 20th-century filmmaking, and was popularized by Alfred Hitchcock in the 1930s. He often quoted the following story to illustrate its nothingness: "Two gentlemen meet on a train, and the one is struck by the extraordinary package being carried by the other. He asks his companion, 'What is in that unusual package you are carrying there?' The other man replies, 'That is a MacGuffin.' 'What is a MacGuffin?' asks the first. The second says, 'A MacGuffin is a device used for killing leopards in the Scottish highlands.' Naturally the first man says, 'But there are no l!eopards in the Scottish highlands.' 'Well,' says the second, 'then that's not a MacGuffin, is it?’”! Zizek find this pretext, Macguffin in the real world. The “Iraqi weapons of mass destruction” fit perfectly the status of MacGuffin, especially comparing with the “radioactive diamonds” in one of Hitchcock’s film, Notorious. But what really left behind was a ultimate paradox. According to Zizek, !“the very strategy of preemptive strikes will contribute to the proliferation of nuclear weapons. When US attacked Iraq and not North Korea, the underlying logic was clear: once a "rogue" state crosses the critical limit and already acquires substantial nuclear weapons, one cannot simply attack it because one risks a nuclear backlash killing millions on our side. This, precisely, was the lesson North Korea drew from the attack on Iraq: the regime sees nuclear weapons as the only guarantee of its survival.” It’s exact what I talked about the double which is asked to exist and the h!idden function that the real MacGuffin played. ! Like in the film Primal Fear, there is scene really caught my mind. The layer who has seen the suspect had schizophrenia (although it was revealed in the end that was all fake), he actually ask for the fake personality to present in the court in order to escape from justice. The other figure is needed there, no matter it is real or not. Isn’t it the MacGuffin that the media/retail need white and gold dress; the North Korea may want WMD.

My work here is trying to reveal the less invisible mechanism of control that actually demands the double, the Doppelgänger. In Johan Grimonprez’s film Double Casting

Relation to Previous Practice

In the last academic year, I have been working on manipulation of audiovisual content (mainly cinematic materials), examining how could it alter the way of seeing. My work started in a quite simple manner, in which films are utilised as input to produce books (link), videos(link), browser- based works(link), and interactive installations(link). Through these works, different accessibilities are provided and meanwhile doubts are bought forward on the ability of recognition - namely the ability to recognise time and space, fiction and fact.

Starting from my interest in video editing, the practice and research brought me back to think about montage, but in a much broader and freer manner. I started to research the “cut-up” techniques through different times, from literature to cinema works and data manipulations. All these works are more or less leave a space for the “performativity” inherited from their original materials. !Departing from the exploration of performativity, I considered about the control on the works like for example from Gysin which I thought at first were freedom. Interestingly, the control mechanism is to hardwire conceptual frame with technologies which later on may translate to be (standard) code. The materials to feed perception become layered and less visible. It brings the question on what this control would affect on cognition, from both human level and machine level (or the architecture of technology). This is how my previous works leading me to where I am now. And the moving images become to be the appearance of my work visualising my idea, containing metaphors.

  1. “jouissance”