by Mikki Halpin

"In our electric age, when our central nervous system is technologically extended to involve us in the whole of mankind and to incorporate the whole of mankind in us, we necessarily participate, in depth, in the consequences of every action."
-Marshall McLuhan

There's a scene in Slacker of a character who is hooked on video feeds. Wired to a bank of VCRs as elaborate as a hookah, he's taken to sitting in a wheelchair so he can go from monitor to monitor more quickly. He's also, clearly, about to go postal. "I saw a guy bleeding on the street the other day," he says, "but I couldn't tell if it was real or not. I couldn't rewind or fast forward." Despite McLuhan's zippy civic predictions, representations of techno-lust are predominantly dark, from the pop-horror of Videodrome  to the sick mutations of Johnny Mnemonic.  But there are those on the inside who monkeywrench the process by exposing its guts, its cancers, its teleological biases. Groups like Paper Tiger Television turn the medium on itself, stepping up to the podium to point out that those at the podium are liars.
Satellite dishes provide access to the hidden spaces of television, its interstices and dirty secrets. Constructed solely of pre-broadcast feeds, Brian Springer's Spin  provides us with a window on the unmediated lives of those who live in the box, including Pat Robertson complaining about homos and Larry King and George Bush yakking it up about Halcion. Taking place over the constructs of the 1992 presidential election, the Los Angeles Riots, and other events, Spin  will force you to rethink your memories and reindex your assumptions as a series of received ideas. STIM spoke with the director via email.
STIM: Brian Springer:
"In the beginning of Spin, in your voiceover, you discuss how getting the dish seemed really empowering to you because it gave you access that you were not supposed to have. You had become privy to a series of images that you were not supposed to see. These images which enabled you to unpack and decode mass media events, like the Larry King Show.  Do you think the feeds are a tool of subversion?" "Subvert is a pretty strong word. I think feeds do alienate the viewer from TV which helps them evaluate TV better. Comparing the packaged and unpacked elements of a news event does help achieve a degree of media literacy, which is valuable for reading news television.
"The bottom line is that this is still the network's camera. It's still necessary to get a vantage point which is outside the viewpoint of the network."
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illustration by Bart Nagel