[iDC] intro

Natalie Bookchin bookchin at gmail.com
Thu Jun 12 17:51:25 UTC 2014

Hi All,
It's great to be among this  interesting group of presenters.

I am an artist until recently based in California, but currently in the
process of moving back to NYC. I will be presenting a project in progress
called Long Story Short -- a film, an installation, and an interactive

The film takes form as a composite group interview, drawn from and linked
to an archive of 75 video diaries. The interviewees are all are residents
of Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area. Some are homeless, some are
unemployed, and some are working at minimum wage jobs, and all are trying
to escape poverty. They include ex-cons, former gang members, low-wage
workers, and unemployed or underemployed blue- and white-collar workers –
members of the so-called “new poor” – who slipped into poverty during the
Great Recession. Most have never before shared their views and stories in
public, let alone on video.

Instead of a single narrator, there are dozens, appearing in multiple
frames of videos across a screen. Voices are layered, and narrators at
times appear to speak in unison. This composite space – filled with
speakers – suggests the scale and multiplicity of poverty in America – for
every speaker, there could be numerous others. By imagining collectives and
social bodies that may not yet exist, or are difficult to see in single
video diaries alone, Long Story Short suggests political linkages, reveals
affinities, and makes connections between unique experiences and points of
view. Together they form a complex collective voice, suggesting that many
of poverty’s narratives and the psychological states it can produce are
fundamentally shared.

Long Story Short makes a link between the rise in digital network culture
and the drastic increase in poverty. Video diaries were made using webcams
and laptops, and have the markings of that genre: its direct address,
intimacy, informality, faces illuminated by the screen. These are some of
the same technologies – high tech and digital – that ushered in hardships
for low-skilled workers and their families in the first place, but here
these tools amplify their voices.

Long Story Short draws inspiration from one the more promising aspects of
network culture and social media – the shift away from a focus on single
voices to that of many, and the expansion of who gets to speak in public
and of what we consider to be expert knowledge. Yet social media has also
produced a class of overly visible and a class of unseen – those whose
stories and data are not worth much. Long Story Short responds to our
current moment of increasing and dramatic economic inequality, and explores
how depictions of poverty and inequality might benefit from, as well as
reflect on, current modes of digital and image mobility, dissemination, and
display. It explores lives mostly unseen, misrepresented or not often
represented in public, especially not in digital form, and not on our
screens. In doing so, it proposes a more social media.
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