Tuesday, July 14, 2009

NZ International Film Festival: We Live In Public

The tragic story of lonely genius, Josh Harris, the first person to ‘get’ how the internet would radically change TV. In the heady 90’s as technology and media clashed, his foresight with the 1999 – ‘Pseudo TV’ starts to collapse under the weight of it’s brilliant master as he opens his life to a 24/7 experiment in celebrity. Performance artists were interrogated by ex CIA officers and the flood of people prepared to follow them was the horrific pre-taste to it’s bastard offspring, reality tv .

People lived in ‘pods’ beneath the ground in this hotel Josh builds filming everyone as Josh starts to become affectionately known as ‘Oz’. Everyone has a camera and there are screens everywhere playing everything being filmed, people showering, eating, partying, shitting and fucking are all captured in glorious grainy vision, the countdown to absolute oblivion is so self evident the tension is beautiful. Josh proclaims, “Warhol was wrong, people don’t want 15 minutes of fame, they want 15 minutes of fame EVERY day”.

The fascist surveillance culture added with the hard core interrogations start to drive the contestants crazy and the truly amazing thing is how quickly the entire process starts to border on Abu Ghraib. January 1st 2000, the authorities close the entire thing down believing it’s a millennium death cult and Josh gets bored of his subjects and ends up throwing them all out on to the street.

The excitement and terror of breaking new media ground in a surveillance format we take for granted each day without questioning buzzes through this doco and the culmination of his final experiment, weliveinpublic.com, saw him rig his apartment with cameras to watch everything he and his girlfriend do was the final leap of madness.

A new reality based on the alienation caused by modern society was Josh’s insight, but it was an insight that ended up destroying him. This doco is a must to understand the zeitgeist of today’s media.

4 stars

We Live In Public
Director/Screenplay/Photography: Ondi Timoner

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