1. Christopher Coleman (Colorado/USA)
2:45 min / 2004
sound design by George Cicci
"Modern Times" examines the issues we cope with regularly such as racism, surveillance, and apathy by using imagery from specific safety brochures. These pamphlets about terrorism readiness, provided by the Department of Homeland Security, are part of a larger system designed to promote meta-fears like terrorism that serve to distract people from their everyday concerns. This animation discusses the effects of fear, apathy, and isolation, and how they are transmitted and utilized for control.
"Modern Times" is an animation created over 18 months and completed in 2005. Because the Department of Homeland Security made their Terrorism Readiness brochures available in digital format, much of the imagery in the video is directly taken from the source, recontextualized, arranged and animated. The original movie, Modern Times, featured Charlie Chaplin struggling to deal with man’s relationship to technology in the Industrial Age. We have now moved into the Age of Information in which our connection to the world around us is not only defined by technology, but the information it does or does not provide.
When first encountering these brochures I was struck by how they, along with other safety illustrations like those found in the back pocket of every airplane seat, are supposed to simultaneously alarm and calm us. There is no sign of fear on the faces of the generic passengers bracing for a water landing. It is interesting to note that while the public was still quite shaken from the events of 9/11 when the US government released these brochures, they were an instant source of ridicule. I have attempted to return their levity but with a different focus.