– affecting all the people, public, general
Fear has become a public affect. People are in distress and dying, and as it turns out, not ‘just’ from COVID-19. Systemic racism, gross economic inequities, transphobia, and other forms of oppression have been revealed in and through pandemic conditions, but what are we to do? There is no neat answer to that question, though there are many possibilities; and so the following non-narrative short videos offer audiences two different affective moments for reflection.
On one hand, you might choose to reflect on how that fear is produced and reproduced. Working with photographs of news coverage of SARS – the first pandemic of this century – Ho Tam’s “In the Dark” (2003) uses rapid cuts and distortions of images, along with accelerated and so too muted audio, to convey the media’s overwhelming reproduction of fear and anxiety. As an experimental video, it leaves much to audience interpretation, and yet there are visible patterns of anti-Asian sentiments, and fear of contagion and travel; it also gestures toward the pacifying context of capitalism, in which one can consume, be affected by, and forget pandemics, racism, and so forth, as one gets drawn into ads in the margins, or something else hits the headlines. The video ends after some 6 minutes, but the cycle – and so too history – repeats.
On the other hand, you might choose to linger in a moment of realization cast in a dreamlike aesthetic that is at one and the same time unsettling, whimsical, and optimistic. The 26 second animated short, “An Unexpected Visit”, illustrates a looming shadow popping a girl’s balloon. Some audience members may identify with that loss of naivete, of coming to learn something fundamental about our ways of living together that was obscured but now seems obvious, whereas other viewers might be witnessing that realization. In either case, Lisa Gibson-Duhaime draws our attention to the possibility for collective action, for working together to realize brighter futures. As a fairy tale of sorts, this short animation invites you to reflect on how we can improve our ways of living, together.
Affect matters, and it is up to you to decide whether you want to linger in critical reflection of fear and anxiety, or in realization and hope. You might even toggle between the two. But in any case, Pandemus invites you to consider how we author our collective futures.