About two weeks ago I began working on a new film provisionally titled ‘MIRAGE’ made possible due to a small bursary from Brunswick Club. My trigger for the idea was ‘The Wall’, a novel by the Austrian author Marlene Haushofer, which to me pre-empties some aspects of the current situation of uncertainty and change. In this psycho-sociological novel first published in German in 1963 Haushofer engages with the implication of a major disaster which wipes out the majority of the world population. The narrator in the story, a woman in her 40s happens at the time to be staying at a small holding in the mountains and survives by sheer chance. What has rescued her is an invisible wall that separates this alpine valley from the rest of the world. Haushofer does not make it clear whether what she creates is a dystopian view of a future, a radical criticism of modern civilization or the depiction of how a person in the state of catatonic depression perceives the world. What interests me the most though is how living in post WW2 Austria has contributed to the creation of this story. Brian Massumi (1998) suggests that a threat always implies potential danger, a sensed danger, not necessarily a fact-based danger. This kind of risk that is always there, as a ‘virtual in the actual’, has been instrumentalized, I suggest, to justify the implementation of the cold war.
Haushofer born 1920 in Austria had not only experience of a succession of radical political changes but also of what it means to live in a country that shared a section of the iron curtain with at least two if not three member states of the Eastern bloc. Seen like this, Haushofer’s story could be understood as a reaction to a politics dealing in affective facts where a glass wall conflates fact and fiction within an all too convincing mirage.
Drawing on my knowledge of digital porosity I want to engage with today’s glass wall, the shimmering shield inherent to online mediation, and highlight its deceptive reflections through collating self-generated footage and gleaned online image material. The outcome will be a dimensional collage in form of a 10 to 15 min long moving image piece.
So far I have read the book, earmarked lines and many paragraphs, and, thanks to Google Street View, have spent time taking myself for a walk in the virtual simulation my neighbourhood. In the middle of the week I will take my camera on this route to see with my own eyes what is there on the day and capture my own footage. Then I aim to compare my recordings with Google’s online mirage created by moments fixed in the past. Is this exploration of the suture between the virtual and the actual a futile endeavour? Most likely. Nevertheless, showing the cracks and overlaps in the unevenness membrane of online mediation could also be worthwhile. It may not only remind us of the possible linkage between fiction and facts but also show that, unlike Haushofer’s transparent and impenetrable wall, the virtual mirage of this shiny screen is far from perfect.