Michal Migurski's notebook, listening post, and soapbox. Subscribe to this blog. Check out the rest of my site as well.

Oct 7, 2004 4:56pm

style over substance?

What Barry Says (26Mb quicktime movie) is a stylish visual monologue about "War Corporatism" - the current political situation in the United States that gives weapons manufacturers and military-industrial complex participants a say in the country's foreign affairs, including a near-continuous state of U.S. conflict in some part of the world or another for decades. It's a typographical animation narrated by Barry McNamara.

I'm curious whether the visual punch of this piece overloads its message. Is it possible to take a monologue seriously when it's accompanied by jarring imagery of planes, tanks, bombs and maps in an intentional 1930's fascist throwback style? Or is it a necessary component of the piece, with visual allusions to last century's propaganda part of the message? The piece reminds me strongly of The Fire This Time, a 2-CD set from last year, featuring a history of the lead-up to the current Iraq war overlaid on the music of electronic artists like Aphex Twin, Orbital, and Speedy J.

I was also taken back to the animated portions of Errol Morris' The Fog Of War, monochromatic illustrations of General Curtis LeMay's bombing campaign against cities in Japan, with comparisons to U.S. cities based on population. I was lucky enough to enjoy that movie from a seat ordinarily far too close to the screen, in the second row. The animated sequences and Morris' unconventional framing of his interviewee made for a delicious, overwhelming, almost architectural visual experience. Everything wrapped around me. The film occupied my entire visual field, stretched out to my peripheral vision. In viewing the current Barry McNamara piece, i wanted to see it projected against a building, with the stark red/black/white images filling up the space in front of me. I'm not surprised that the Nazi Party's visual identity has been called the most effective branding exercise in history.

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