'THE SCHIZOPHRENIC STATE PROJECT' - WAR, MEDIA & APPROPRIATION - 2000-2014
‘The Schizophrenic State Project’ is a project which started in 2000, at the MA in Media Studies program at The New School University in New York. It’s composed of a series of video works, which appropriate mass media footage of violence, war, and protest situations, in the context of my place of birth and growing up; Israel, Palestine and the region. The images are processed via digital means in diverse ways that re-contextualise the found footage, creating poetic videos that formulate media critique. The idea is to extract humanness in the images, highlighting the horror of violence suffered by real people, and at the same time emphasise video as a medium in which these images are delivered to us. It’s a long-term research, forming unique experiences in the shape of video works merging content and texture, dealing with aesthetics, technology and humanism. The work aims to encourage empathy, humanness and sensitivity to the tragedy of violence, that seem to disappear in a post-fact world of clashing truths and “fake news”. The Schizophrenic State Project covers 14 years of work, in which the following research questions came up:
How can creative processing of news footage of violence, suffering and confrontation, illuminate the cognitive effect of the consumption of these electronically transmitted images?
What are the realistic and surrealistic aspects of this experience? Do these images function as a mask or a revealer of the reality they document? Or maybe both? The works aim to capture this complexity.
In light of new digital tools and ways of distribution, how can these video works provoke new thought, discussion and awareness regarding the content of news media images, their nature and their impact?
2012, UK, 3'25''
A young woman is blocking two armed soldiers from firing at protesters in a Palestinian village. The image, picked up from a TV news report found online, is digitally processed and slowed down, and the soundtrack is replaced with lyrical music. The scene is turned to a peculiar dance, almost romantic, highlighting the magical and rare human connection created in the heroic act, captured and transmitted by digital technology.
2001-2003, USA/Israel, 5'25''
First project, made as a final project in M.A studies in Media Studies program at New School University, NYC, USA:
Two images on the TV screen: An Israeli soldier being lynched in Ramallah. A Palestinian child and his father being fired at in Gaza. How can horror be constructed in words? It's a schizophrenic situation - two sides trapped in a cycle of violence. Being in a personal schizophrenic state as well, watching this in New York - not here nor there. Are these images real?
2013, UK/Israel, 4'16''
Breaking-up deesert images from the disputed Israeli-Palestinian region and electronic soundscape are integrated with a poem by the Israeli poet Yehuda Amichai read by the actress Gila Almagor in a recording found on YouTube. The video work is transmitting an urgent message to stop the continuing violence in the Middle East, highlighting the absurdity and pain of repeating human patterns of error, turmoil and destruction, and the difficulties of communication in a deaf, chaotic world.
One excerpt from a flow of Internet video news: a family is hiding behind a wall in a neighborhood that turned into a warzone. The compressed video is slowed down, enlarged, and accompanied by a new soundscape, revealing additional dimensions in the scene. The image is transformed into a psychedelic landscape, creating a troubling contrast between imagery and content, questioning video as medium, leading to an uneasy affect: anxiety deconstructed into pixels.
2007, Israel, 5'00''
Repetitive loops of images from the 1955 Hollywood film "The Ten Commandments", international TV news broadcasts reporting on war between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon, and a video documentation of a belly dancer in the desert. The images are synced up to a hardcore techno music track, creating an apocalyptic Middle East horror rave party, revealing the repetition of contradictions and pathologies in Middle Eastern, and generally human, myths and patterns of behaviour.
Music: Rude Awakening
And a bonus, a seventh work:
Full Research Paper:
- Screenworks Journal: http://screenworks.org.uk/archive/volume-7.3/the-schizophrenic-state-project
- Academia.edu: https://www.academia.edu/35702434/The_Schizophrenic_State_Project_-_War_Media_and_Appropriation
- Doc Alliance online portal: http://dafilms.com/event/269-guli_silberstein/, January 2017
- Ecstatic Truth, animated documentary symposium, Royal College of Art London, 27.5.17
- Journal of Media Practice and MeCCSA Practice Network Symposium, Bath Spa University, 8.6.17
- Research seminar guest, School of Creative Technologies, University of Portsmouth, 18.7.17
- War & Memory session at the 2018 Annual MeCCSA Conference, 10-12 January 2018, London South Bank University.
2006, Israel, 4'57''
Through distorted video signal, we see a happy family on one beach, as 100 km away a girl runs from the bombardment of another beach. The family is shown in a rapidly speeding stream of still images, while the girl is filmed in video, which is gradually taking more and more presence on the screen, creating a growing impact of shock and horror. The video work refers to the thin line between tranquility and chaos, and addressing the impossibility to fully grasp the Real, questioning media role in transferring reality.here.
Guli Silberstein London-Based Video Artist
2014, UK, 4'19''
Radiant, raging freedom fighter, 11 year old Ahed Tamimi, is punching the empty space in front of her. A computer algorithm roughly cuts her out her surroundings, struggling to contain her, with her enemies rubbed off the frame. Gradually, more fragments of the scene are revealed, and the context is made clearer. The processing of a 2012 video found on YouYube, highlights the documented scene as an image, both of a fight for freedom and a media event.