Cycle 01/

Screens.Scream, was imagined during the course of the infamous year 2020: the year during which cinemas and cultural institutions were closed down, the year during which our social interactions were suspended and the year during which we finally found ourselves trapped within the confines of the screens of our mobile phones, laptops and TVs.

Through 8 films and 6 online encounters, this cycle traced the shifting position of the spectator in the light of the technological evolution of media: from being a passive observer on one side of the screen, to becoming an image maker/sharer in front of the camera. Screens.Scream was an invitation to reflect on the repercussions that these developments have had on our relationship to politics, identity, community, online personas, mortality and digital legacies. 

This first cycle saw participants tuning in from: Belgium, Ecuador, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, Mexico, Portugal, Spain, The Netherlands and The United Kingdom. Prior to each encounter participants were sent a short essay to provide them with a critical framework to watch the film and to inspire the group conversations. The reflections formulated by the participants were recorded and edited as a collective video-text.

Encounter 01

In the 70s, in the West, a climate of uncertainty was settling in, between the economic recessions and cold war tensions, which constituted a drama thoroughly covered and brought to the households of millions of spectators by the television news industry.

In the film we watched, the logic of the market is transforming the news division of a dying television network into spectacle. On one side of the screen is the figure of the media preacher and on the other, hooked to the television set, sits the spectator, overwhelmed by a medium that enlarges the scale of her world, and that at the same time, shrinks her ability to make any sense of it.

Does the media feed us our own pre existing fears or does it generate them?

Encounter 02

By the 80s, VHS cassettes had gained popularity in the underground video rental industry as they facilitated the circulation and private viewing of violent and pornographic video content.

In the film we watched, images thought to be simulations turn out to be real, and images thought to be real turn out to be simulations. The spectator exposed to a hyper-violent television programme, develops a fatal brain tumour, and others, seduced by the bright luminous box are sucked into the television set, transformed at once into images.

If media is an extension of our nervous system, as Marshall McLuhan once theorised, what do these violent images do to us, and how do we position ourselves in front of them?

Encounter 03

Advances in technology have made video devices ever more present in our homes and lives. After decades of watching images flickering before her eyes, the spectator finally becomes a moving image maker.

In the film we watched, an alienated teenager experiences life through his television set and the lens of his video camcorder, in which, the sense of reality and representation appear to be distorted.

Is the value of the image higher than the value of the experience?

Encounter 04

In the early 2000s, the birth of content sharing platforms and the development of mobile phones that can record videos allow the spectator to express herself more than ever, and most importantly, to connect with others directly.

In the two films we watched, a generation of teenagers attempts to break out of their isolation, angst and self-doubt through their webcams, and a wandering filmmaker looks for friendship behind the tiny, gritty camera of his mobile phone.

How close can we get to a stranger through the images that they/we produce and share?

Encounter 05

We find ourselves in times of generalised disillusionment with traditional politics, and of growing distrust in the media industry that presents us a fragmented, disjointed and incomprehensible reality. On the Internet the spectator has finally found a place to voice her opinions.

In the two films we watched, we saw the spectator using the Internet to connect the dots, trying to expose "hidden truths”, playing sleuth and disseminating fear.

The Internet allows for the multiplication of points of view that can both support and counter the established power and big media, it is a double-edged sword which has made the notion of truth explode.

What are we to do when the possibility of truth becomes impossible?

Encounter 06

The line between reality and fiction, and life and death, is becoming ever more blurred. As we become tied to technology, and large portions of our lives take place online, our relation with our digital selves, and that of others, becomes more entangled. Through social media platforms the spectator is now able to become the protagonist, narrator and distributor of her own story.

In the film we watched, a man is brought back to life through the photographs and videos that have outlived him on his social media accounts.

What will happen to the personas we create on social media, as they begin to outlive us?