Catfish and the wired world


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Catfish and the wired world

  1. 1. CATFISH and the Wired World
  2. 2. • It is a story about the authenticity of mediation – Think of all the different forms of mediation that appear here • Mail • Art • Email • Facebook • Photographs (in newspapers) • Film • MP3s • Telephone • Real Estate Listings • Google Maps / GPS – Each of these are used to perpetuate a hoax – All of them seem to provide an immediacy that turns out to be false – All of them allow for communication of a projected identity. – This is hypermediacy. The movie is constantly reminding us of the technology and media its using. It’s also reminding us that it’s a documentary. • The opening lines of the movie: – Yaniv Schulman: [First lines] If this is your documentary, youre doing a bad job. Ariel Schulman: Why? Yaniv Schulman: Because youre catching me when I dont want to talk about things. Ariel Schulman: How should we do it? Yaniv Schulman: Set it up, organise a time with me, put together some materials, emails, well get the Facebook conversations printed out and well really talk about it.
  3. 3. • It’s a story about storytelling. – Angela is a storyteller who utilizes a virtual world and creates an interactive story. • She creates characters with rich backstories and hopes and dreams • These characters are extensions of herself / a life she always wanted • She creates a “virtual” Abby to suggest a child prodigy painter • Angela is herself a painter (but her paintings are mostly realistic) • She uses the resources of the web (songs / pictures) to • When Nev begins to question the limits of her fiction, she adapts it – When she is found, she pretends she has cancer – Megan is in rehab • Angela becomes an expert at manipulating mediation in the same way that novelists/poets/filmmakers are. • The world Angela creates leads you to ask questions about the author. • This author becomes directly involved in the world she creates.
  4. 4. • Nev is a “reader” – Nev becomes involved with an elaborate fiction – He reads the story in a way that fulfills his own desires – He believes the story because he wants it to be true – He believes it because of details that are in the story until they’re proven to be false. – That story leads him to create another story.
  5. 5. • It’s about the kind of access that technological mediation gives us. – It emphasizes the acceleration of technology – Angela has access to this mode of storytelling because of technology. • The movie could not have happened in 2004. Since it was filmed in 2008, there are a number of new forms of technology that Angela could use to create her story – (Twitter, for instance) – Angela is drawn to Nev because his pictures give her access to the world of dance – Angela is able to take someone else’s pictures and create an identity out of them – Yet that access is ultimately like a Platonic Shadow: It gives the appearance of reality, but isn’t real itself. – All these technologies give Nev access to “Megan,” who doesn’t exist. – The creation of “Megan” gives Angela access to Nev. Since Megan doesn’t exist, the virtual character is a form of mediation that facilitates a relationship. – The film gives us access to this whole event, and is structured in such a way that suggests it really happened this way.
  6. 6. • Its presentation forces you to ask the same questions that the filmmakers do: – Is what’s happening here real or is it a selective presentation? – What are we not being told and why would that matter? – What did they know and when did they know it? – What about the film gives it a sense of realism? – It sends you to the web to interact with it (to find out how authentic it is) – As Angela is manipulating her “audience,” are the filmmakers manipulating theirs? – We’re supposed to believe it’s real because we’re told it is.
  7. 7. Angela’s Fiction• Angela creates a “simulation” and “remediation” of her life and lets it play out. – It is a simulation in the same way that the “simulation” argument lives: it invents a scenario and lets it play out; the people who are involved in it are unaware that they are part of this simulation. – Nev and the filmmakers interact with the simulation – The simulation is exposed when its conditions are interrogated. • Where does this music come from? • How come we haven’t read about the art show in the newspaper? • Does this building have a real estate listing? Is it on Googlemaps? – To test the authenticity of mediation we have to turn to other forms of mediation. The more media are involved, the further we get away from the “truth.”
  8. 8. • Angela “remediates” her own life using “media” – This is a stretch but think about it: • Angela uses technology to create a new existence. • She creates a “technological subject” • In this new subject are some of the same problems as the old one. • All these forms of mediation are utilized to hide something, and their limitations (lack of immediacy) call attention to the problems of media in general. • Mediation always give us an incomplete picture of the thing / thought being mediated.
  9. 9. The Catfish Story – What’s the point?They used to tank cod from Alaska all the way to China. Theyd keep them in vats in the ship. By the time the codfish reached China, the flesh was mush and tasteless. So this guy came up with the idea that if you put these cods in these big vats, put some catfish in with them and the catfish will keep the cod agile. And there are those people who are catfish in life. And they keep you on your toes. They keep you guessing, they keep you thinking, they keep you fresh. And I thank god for the catfish because we would be droll, boring and dull if we didnt have somebody nipping at our fin.