Life on the screen

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The drama of everyday life has been shifting from the real to the virtual world for some time. More and more, the interactions that we face, the conflicts that arise, the relationships we forge, are enacted on the ephemeral stage of the screen. How are these dramas to be portrayed in the cinematic realm? How do we capture the digital life on the screen: so elusive, fleeting, and temporary?

Noah, a film by Walter Woodman and Patrick Cederberg, turns the lens of the camera to the desktop. Perhaps you could say this is Internet filmmaking. The desktop, a schizophrenia of windows into simultaneous conversations and action, constitutes the life of the main character Noah. The desktop is really the perfect stage for the multi-layered life of a twenty-something. Here, Noah, our archetypal digital native, breaks up with his girlfriend, hacks her Facebook page to change her relationship status, then goes searching for contact on Chatroulette, all while playing his favorite “emo” mp3s, instant messaging, and bantering with friends via social media. It may seem like a tediously ordinary day in the life of a typical ADD college student, but placed under the cinematic microscope, it becomes an intoxicating journey through the tribulations and ironies and desperation inherent in our media existence.

For how traumatic is it to break up with a girlfriend as her face freezes on the screen?

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Noah no doubt points to cinematic possibilities in our increasingly technologically-infused culture.  How else can we capture the speed, complexity, and layering of experience that exerts itself online: which, incidentally, makes up the bulk of daily communications for many of us. Furthermore, if we ever expect to process this experience, to understand how the interweaving of electronic communications is impacting our lives and relationships, than what better form of critique than to make our desktop the virtual set for cinematic narrative.

The online medium is already an abundance of riches, a wealth of material for literary and filmic story building. It just needs to be captured! Our endless clicks and navigational gestures become part of a grand vocabulary for orchestrating performances and documentaries on the fly.

And if you haven’t yet seen Noah for yourself, here it is in all its cinema verité glory with a review by Joe Berkowitz: Fast Co-Create

One response to “Life on the screen

  1. I refer you to Sherry Turkle’s book, Life on the Screen, for a compelling history of our digital lives.

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