We Want (Manifesto Piece)
- Series: Media Art
This month’s video for Media Migrations is a 15 min version of Erica Scourti’s We Want (Manifesto Piece) made exclusively for this channel.
Public Space: Private Consumer
We Want (Manifesto Piece) is a text-based video work in which Scourti pasted handmade posters in various spaces around the streets of London. It explores the uncanny echo of the utopian language that defined the revolutionary moment of the late 1960s in the commercial messaging of culture today.
“The texts are corporate slogans fronted with the phrase ‘we want to’, converting them into demands, promises or unfulfilled yearnings, such as “WE WANT TO BE THE BEST”. Taking inspiration from Nietzsche’s statement ‘We want to be the poets of our lives’, as well as the use of the phrase ‘we want’ in political speeches, philosophical tracts and polemics, I was interested in the commonality between revolutionary language, political rhetoric, philosophy and corporate verbiage. Each lays out a vision of a potential future, a belief in something; each tries to sum it up succinctly in a way that will resonate with the wider culture.”
This corporate verbiage or language of commercialism addresses its audience, ‘the public’, in a very specific way. Indeed, as Scourti suggests, the particular use of language in advertising and PR messages is as much aimed at constructing an audience as it is about addressing a definable group of people.
Posing as collective and shared, it is in fact exclusive and alienating. How, Scourti asks, is public space constituted, ‘when citizens become consumers?’
In the face of the increasing privatization of public space, We Want (Manifesto Piece) attempts to re-appropriate some of the ground occupied by this kind of messaging by parodying or making uncanny the cultural assumptions at the heart of commercial culture.
What is particularly interesting for me in this context is the spatialisation of an older convention in cinema: the inter-title.
The inter-title used to come between shots in silent cinema as a way of directing the narrative flow of film. The inter-title would make connections on behalf of the viewer, steering them through the events taking place on the screen, speaking, as it were, exactly what the viewer was seeing.
In a sense, modern street space has become a space between messages. A spatial and temporal movement between inter-titles that attempt to guide or narrate the ‘films of our lives’.
Media Migrations hopes to question modern forms of movement: the real and imaginary boundaries and thresholds that define modern urban experience.
We Want (Manifesto Piece) is the second in a series of artist-led video web installations on 2010Lab – the first was Island Race by William Raban.