the people of the tent

I had my first up close and personal encounter with HD TV. I was at a friend’s house this morning and they had recently purchased a flat screen TV and switched to FIOS.

I was shocked at the image on the screen. At first, I got really irritated with my friend because, based on what I saw in passing on the screen, I was convinced that she was isolating herself in the house and watching daytime soaps. Then the main character came on the screen and I did a double take. She wasn’t watching daytime soaps; she was watching “House.”

I started flipping though the channels – a little sports here, a game show there, and then…a Jodi Foster movie…and back to House again. She asked me what I thought about it and (not thinking about her feelings) I blurted out, “It’s horrible. Everything looks like a badly lit set on a soap opera.” The sports and all were perfect but if it was a drama or movie – all the cinematic art was gone. Every image, every scene had all the depth of a quickie one shot on All my Children. The nuance and life of the actors was gone, they looked so heavily made up (as they actually are) that their facial expressions were grimaces. Every bit of blue screen was twenty times more obvious. The fact that they were on a set was glaringly obvious.

Everything was sharp and clear. But, it revealed the pretense behind the premise. Instead of seeing characters in a drama meant to portray reality, one sees the reality of the pretending. It was impossible to “suspend disbelief” and enter fully into the story, everything stayed on the surface.

I think…in order for the art of video/film and drama to survive HD, the entire process of lighting and makeup also has to evolve and change. Just changing the technology of how the image is recorded is not enough.

I shoot in HD. Part of why I have to shoot so much footage for so short a video is because I have to constantly refigure angles and lighting so it doesn’t come out looking like cutouts. Then there is the layering of effects to make everything “realistic” in a very non-realistic way. We don’t see with the kind of cruel clarity that HD shoots in. We see things fuzzy, softened with nuances of changing light, skin tones that reflect eyes and motivations – not this…icy puppetry that is on the screen now.

well, whoops, that was like an eight hour blip between my starting this post and then coming back to finish it.

I have spent the day walking and mulling over things. I am in the middle of teaching another session of one of my workshops and it has given rise to some questions in me, along with the questions that have risen from the rather dramatic period of change and challenge I just came through and I find myself spending more and more time in careful consideration of the next step. I think I know what the next video will be of. I think I am also ready now to write the one part of the City of Love that has (to pardon the pun) just been a wall to me. Its been a stopping point because it requires a layer of honesty about something I have been avoiding. And, rather than do what I usually do at the next workshop session and bring in one of my samples of when I have done for the exercise – I think, for this group, I am going to bring in the one that started it all.

And speaking of icy puppetry –

Libya is in the midst or a radical transition but no one knows to what. It makes me slightly nervous and tired when people start talking about the impact the fall of Gaddafi will have on Europe’s oil supply. That is slippery-speak for the US sending forces in, and the UN as well. That would be about as good an experience as Iraq and most likely worse.

Saddam Hussein had a developed series of guards, army contingents and ministries that enabled two things to occur – 1) a resistance to the invaders and 2) it left at least the bare skeleton of a government that could be propped up by invading forces while the new government tried to gain its feet.

Gaddafi has been a much better dictator then Hussein. Quite literally, it is fair to say that Gaddafi is Libya. He was very careful to keep the army week to prevent coups, to use only members of his own family and tribe in key positions and to have no established departments or ministries except those that began and ended at his will and pleasure.

He, his entourage and privileged members of his elite ruling group are referred to as “the people of the tent.” That is a reference to the actual tent that Gaddafi owns and travels with; which he does so because he is of the Bedouin. Much is made in the western world about his cadre of female guards, but in Bedouin lore, the female is the preferred guard as they are consideredmore cruel and less distractible then a man. He is also slammed for his “crazy and long” speeches, but again, part of the Bedouin culture is to talk, and with an audience, to talk until the speech no longer comes.

Without Gaddafi, there is not even a bare skeleton of a governing system for the rebels to fill. There is nothing. Which is why pundits are seriously questioning a possibility of a civil war.

Like many Middle East countries, the tribal divisions are strong. Unlike many Middle East countries, Gaddafi did little to unify the tribes and much to keep them separated (by use of favor and privilege) to prevent them forming an opposing coalition.

There is not even a common language between them. Each tribe has its own distinct dialect and pattern of speaking.

But more importantly, Gaddafi separated Libya from the Middle East back in the 70s and threw their lot in with the African Nations. Libya, politically, is not considered a part of the Middle East. Gaddafi is famous for threatening Ethiopia saying,

“If you don’t change your policy,” he said, “I will take Libya out of Africa and put it back into Europe”.

when he felt the African Union did not have enough Arabs in it and was racist. Note, he did not say he would take Libya back to the Middle East, to him, they were not worthy of his country.

Libya is an oil rich country with a very poor population that is culturally and socially divided by tribalism. They have also not been exposed to the Middle East culture of the Arab World as it has grown and changed over the years. Their more recent history lessons (of the past 30 or so years) have been from Africa, and those lessons are not ones that will win anyone gold stars.

It is also concerning to me that the story about him ordering Lockerbie is being reprinted. That story came out of a Swiss Tabloid with about as much credibility as the Enquirer before Carol Burnett sued them for a penny.

I fear that the slow bridge of rationalizations for becoming involved in a policing action is rising.

I wonder, as do the rest of the world’s observers, whether North Korea will be next. There are unconfirmed reports of people using DIY megaphones to protest and demand rice and electricity. But…they are unconfirmed. What is known is there has been a crack down on the rental of mobile phones to visitors to try and prevent any news of the unrest from reaching the people of North Korea.

Ok….I need much coffee and to get my work stuff back on track. I let myself bask for a few days in the executioner but now its time to get back to the grind.

c.2011. Cassandra Tribe. All Rights Reserved.

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About cassandratribe

"There are few artists that can do what Cassandra Tribe does. Whether with her poetry, her videos or her blog, Cassandra examines the truths that most of us can never come close to realizing and shows it for what it is, both beautiful and frightening at the same time. She exposes our inner-most workings like the cross-section of a powerful but flawed machine, our gears and springs, nuts and bolts removed and laid out before us. She is a true artist. Her new video, Requiem for a God, is the latest example of Cassandra's willingness to tear open and examine the very things that make us human. Shooting the film entirely by herself, she also eliminates all the little excuses we come up with to keep us from ourselves and our truth. You see, even when she's not trying to be, Cassandra Tribe is a beacon of truth and humanity in this darkest of worlds." (Michael E. Quigg, The Culture Network, June 2009)
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