DESCRIPTION OF VIDEO
It's not my memory of it: three recollected documents
(25 min., NTSC, color) 2003
SPECULATIVE ARCHIVE BIO
SPECULATIVE ARCHIVE CV
Produced and directed by Julia
Written and directed by David Thorne
Sound design by Chris Kubick
Partially funded by The Paul Robeson Fund for Independent Media
Distributed by the Video Data Bank, firstname.lastname@example.org
"It's not my memory of
it" mobilizes specific historical records as memories which
flash up in a moment of danger, in order to raise questions about
notions of disappearance and the tenuousness of historical fact
in the current climate of terror. A dynamic of knowing and not
knowing-central to practices of secrecy, memory, and documentation-is
elaborated through 3 recollected documents:
During the Iranian revolution of 1979, a group called Muslim
Students Following the Line of the Imam took over the United
States Embassy in Tehran. Embassy officials, in their haste to
evacuate, left behind a significant body of classified documents
pertaining to all aspects of U.S. policy in the Middle East.
Officials managed to shred some of the documents, but the students
painstakingly reassembled the pieces, and translated and published
the entire collection of captured records in a 77-volume bilingual
edition. A former CIA source recounts his own disappearance through
shredded classified records which document the Agencys' construction
of his false identity.
In the early 1970s, the CIA built the Glomar Explorer-the largest
ship in the world at the time-in order to retrieve a sunken Soviet
nuclear submarine from the floor of the Pacific Ocean. Over the
course of the salvage operation, the bodies of 6 Soviet seamen
were recovered. They were buried at sea in a bilingual ceremony
conducted and captured on film by the CIA. Recorded in 1974 and
unacknowledged until 1992, the burial collapses Cold War antagonisms
in a secret moment of death and honor.
On November 3, 2002, an unmanned CIA-operated Predator drone
fired two missiles at a vehicle traveling in the desert of northern
Yemen. Six passengers, one a suspected terrorist, were killed.
Images pertaining to this publicly acknowledged but top secret
incident form the basis for a reflection on the relationship
between secrecy, evidence, and current doctrines of preemption.
These documents are punctuated
by fragments of interviews with information management officials
from various federal agencies. The officials distinguish between
"real" and "protocol" secrets, explain what
it means to "neither confirm nor deny" the existence
of records on a given subject, and clarify the process of separating
classified information from unclassified information.
Current research and work
Material Support is an experimental documentary, currently
in pre-production. The project focuses on documents-found and
produced-whose circulation and interpretation is mediated through
the discourse of the "war on terror." Our research
around these documents will be supplemented by set of interviews
about image and document analysis, interrogation techniques,
intelligence gathering methods, and how prophecy is written in
both secular and religious texts. Material Support will
activate these elements within a formal and conceptual framework
which critically engages the implications of a terror war characterized
as unavoidable and endless.
Many of the prominent documents generated in this war are structured
around speculation-around the potential for future trauma and
violence, and visions of the world to come. Material Support
will examine the complex temporalities of these documents, the
temporal shifts they set in motion, and their relationship to
a range of material effects-laws enacted; security measures implemented;
bodies searched, detained, incarcerated, exiled; wars imposed;
and political processes short-circuited by a discourse of terror.
The tape will focus in particular on documents which have been
or could be interpreted as evidence of an event that has yet
to occur, but that will, it is claimed, almost certainly occur.
As sites of prediction, these documents function to justify the
current material practices and policies of a "state of exception."
The tape will consider this state of exception, and the wars
which support it, as a space in which all sides claim to see
the future-in visions strongly inflected with religious fundamentalisms-and
act accordingly. Material Support will thus be embedded
in the preventive, preemptive, predictive, and prophetic spaces
of the present.
THE SPECULATIVE ARCHIVE
The work of The Speculative
Archive focuses on the production of documents, their collection,
circulation and reception, and their socio-political effects.
Past projects include "Free
the, Demand your . . . ," an installation developed from
research in an archive of leftist political graphics; "A
Brief History of the Internal Conflict," a presentation
constructed from declassified U.S. government files pertaining
to the 36-year war in Guatemala; "In light of the recent
events," a presentation about events in Chile in 1973; and
"It's not my memory of it," an experimental documentary
which explores the dynamic of knowing and not knowing that is
central to secrecy, memory, and documentation. The Archive is
a collaborative project of Julia Meltzer and David Thorne.
Through a consideration of
the documentary processes operative across bureaucratic, political,
mnemonic, secret, and public spaces, our work poses a range of
questions about knowledge and power. While we recognize a certain
value in instrumentalizing information in order to foreground
power dynamics and their constitutive conditions, we are working
to develop formal and conceptual strategies that challenge and
expand our notions of "information," "history,"
and "evidence" in order to engage different approaches
to the possibility of changing these dynamics and conditions.
We do not consider our work an exercise in clarifying the past,
but an historical practice of complicating the present.
We employ the word "speculative"
in our project name, and as a qualifier for the documents produced
by the Archive, in order to foreground the temporal complexities
of archival and documentary practices. We put forward documents
as possible extensions of a specific body of source materials
in order to explore the conditions of possibility of both, and
to generate ways of looking and thinking which raise questions
about the politicized production, circulation, and reception
of information. Our "Archive" is conceived not as a
physical site in which a kind of static retention occurs or in
which an historical truth is fixed, but rather as a set of socio-political
and cultural practices in which documents, objects, and memories
of documents and objects are taken up in ongoing processes of
Julia Meltzer is a media artist and executive director of Clockshop,
a non-profit production company in Los Angeles. For the past
ten years she has produced media projects and documentaries which
deal with social issues such as police brutality and the criminal
justice system. Her work has been exhibited and broadcast at
venues including Creative Time's Art in the Anchorage, The New
Museum of Contemporary Art, Mass MOCA, Forum Stadpark (Graz,
Austria), the Next Five Minutes (Amsterdam) and on select PBS
stations. She received her BA from Brown University and her MFA
from Renssealaer Polytechnic Institute. She has taught video
and digital media at Hampshire College and UC Irvine. She is
a 2004 recipient of a Rockefeller Media Arts Fellowship.
David Thorne makes work addressing
the conditions of so-called globalization; notions of justice
shot through with revenge; and memory practices in a moment of
excessive rememorations. Current projects include The Speculative
Archive; the ongoing series of photo-works, Men in the News (1991present);
and Boom!, a collaboration with Austrian artist Oliver Ressler.
David is a 2004 recipient of a Rockefeller Media Arts Fellowship.
He completed his MFA in Interdisciplinary Studio at University
of California Los Angeles in 2004.