Stay the Same


The Entire History of You
1 March 2012, 6:17 pm
Filed under: ALL

A while ago someone suggested I watch Charlie Brookers drama Black Mirror in response to this film.

There is no TV reception here and limited broadband but it looks great. I’m particularly interested in The Entire History of You in which everyone has an implant that records everything they see and hear so that they can play back real recordings of their lives as a supplement to the brains flawed memory. Here is a clip . . .

It’s a fantastic idea for science fiction because it is both very close to what is technologically possible and picks up on our increasing desire and ability to document every aspect of our lives, whether it is using mobile phone cameras or facebook updates. It is only recently that scientists have begun to understand how our memories are created which is far more like re-imagining and re-creating events than storage and retrieval and I wonder whether it is partly an awareness of this that drives our obsession with documentation. I also think it reflects the desire to preserve experience beyond time.

The question I’m guessing this episode deals with from the trailer is whether these recordings are any more reliable a record of events than our memories. What’s interesting is that in The Entire History of You the recordings of life look a lot like the reality that’s presented (which they have to for the programme to be watchable) where as the inevitable truth, as any aspiring documentary filmmaker will tell you, is that if you really did have a camera in your head recording everything you saw and did, you would almost certainly always be looking at the wrong thing at the wrong time and the rest would be very boring (hours of the same thing and then a lot of shaky cam and rustling) because it takes a huge amount of work to construct a believable reality in film and TV whether it is fiction or documentary.

Some of the scrutiny this project has come under has forced me to be more articulate about the ideas behind it. One common misconception seems to be that I am filming a time lapse of myself ageing whereas I really do hope you won’t actually see me visibly age that much over the course of the year!

This project is as much about the desire to document life (and the paradox of not living as fully as a result of doing so) than it is about actually documenting it. It is about mortality and ageing in the sense that there comes a point in ones life when the desire to record and preserve moments in time becomes more urgent, in my case this was after a year in which I was confronted with my own mortality on more than one occasion.

I’m particularly interested in the way we use film and photography as a way of helping to construct personal narrative (particularly now that technology has become so accessible), we create family albums, we make little films, we post pictures on internet timelines. Which is why I am interested in hearing from people who have photographed one thing over a period of time and why Mac’s Gate fascinates me so much because, whether he is aware of it or not, it has become part of the narrative of his and his family’s life, just as this film has become part of the narrative of mine.

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