Sj7g09's Blog

Feedback on Videos

Posted on: December 16, 2010

I’m just so tired and stressed I can’t think. Want to write down the stuff from my tutorial today, so I have some recollection of it, but feel so tired I feel ill.

Showed some of my photos and videos in a tutorial… I think I’m picking out all the worst things that were said. I’m not sure I even remember there being anything good, although it didn’t feel so bad at the time.

The comments that interested me most were on the videos, which were ridiculously hard to share. I put together something last night… well, until 4 in the morning… that I thought would be reasonably well received seeing as it makes no sense, but it was a tutorial with a different staff member, so the criteria was all different again. I was surprised at how positive he was about it all though. Anyway, I made a video that has all the typical documentary-style filming – closeups of typing on laptop, filming the screen as the words appear, wringing hands, fiddling with jewellery, playing with hair, etc. I’m not really sure why I tried to make it like this, it just seemed apt. From watching videos of myself sped up, I’ve noticed the sort of actions that I continually do, and I wanted to slow these down and make them very deliberate, and thought they were the sort of things that emotive documentaries would focus on. I wrote some text, that is true and my own words, but translated it into Russian, then put it through a text-to-speech synthesizer, so all the images have Russian speech over them. I was surprised that one of the comments wasn’t that it came across as racist. I’ve picked up on using Russian language because of how it’s often insisted by customers that I cannot be British, I’m lying, I must be Russian. I think I use different languages, or a complete lack of speech, to get across the idea that, from an outside view, I appear to have no power. I don’t want to have character either, because of the idea that a group of people who have nothing to do with me can speak for me, and that makes me generic and voiceless. A symbol rather than a person. I wonder about working more specifically with my own experiences because I don’t want to seem like I’m trying to speak for anyone but myself. Really I just want to get across my perspective, seeing as I feel like people are completely unwilling to listen to me because it’s supposedly in my best interests that I have no say, and I don’t want to become that oppressor to other people who don’t agree with me.

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One comment I found really interesting about this video was that the word for ‘prostitution’ was picked out, and so the assumption was that it was about prostitution, and because I was using an image of myself, I was a ‘character’. He was fair in saying that he wasn’t sure, because he didn’t understand the language and didn’t know what the text was saying, but asked whether I was a representation of a prostitute. I explained that it wasn’t about prostitution, it was about something that the government had termed ‘indistinguishable from prostitution’, and that the images of me weren’t intended as a stereotype. The video of myself was actually just made of me looking into the camera, and I happen to still be wearing the things that I’d put on for the previous videos I’d been making. It was just an experiment to see how pixellated I could make the video look, for looking into the idea that pictorial representations cannot be ‘selling yourself’ – it’s a representation of your image, made up of pixels.

Anyway, he said that the images of me looked like a disguise, like a character, like I was performing. I’d like to look at the line between performance and reality, because the ‘character’ of me as a sex worker (I need a better word for sex worker, because it doesn’t encompass what I actually mean) was seen as fake, completely fictitious, presumably that I was just taking media stereotypes and playing off those to make something totally unreal. The reason it was seen as a disguise was how much makeup I was wearing. What makes this video fake, as compared to when I am infront of my webcam, dressed up in ways that I maybe usually wouldn’t be, for what would be seen as reality? I think if I were to say to my parents that I strip on webcam, the boundary between fantasy and reality wouldn’t be understood – it would be no defense to say “but it’s not real”, because physically it is real. But what makes this different to acting? If you’re on stage and you do a certain action, it’s acting, not reality, but you did really undertake the action. I suppose it’s just the motivations behind doing it, I dont know. I always have a character when I’m being watched – it’s natural, I think everyone does – so why is that a part of who I ‘really’ am, whereas in video made specifically for art, it’s theatrics? I don’t make up a character for when I’m on webcam, but I do have a different name, and it’s therefore a bit of an alter-ego. I don’t want to use that name in my schoolwork, so it gets further removed and my alter-ego has an alter-ego. I use the name Natasha when it’s for school work, seeing as it’s the generic label for the face of the feminisation of poverty. The Natasha trade and so on. I use the surname ‘Dobycha’, because it was the phoenetic spelling of a Russian translation of ‘victim’ or ‘prey’, and then when I translated it back, it came up with all sorts of other words that I felt were fitting – ‘trophy’, ‘loot’, ‘plunder’, ‘kill’, ‘capture’, ‘spoil’… I explain this in the video, using images of translations, so I thought it made some sense even without knowing what the voiceover was saying, but it’s probably not all that clear. I’m never really sure whether to just tell the truth, share my actual experiences of creating what is seen as a ‘character’ academically, and what is sometimes assumed to be real at others, and to present my findings of my own work, or whether it seems too uninteresting to others. I’m the sort of person who adores documentaries for their anthropological and sociological value, but I don’t know whether I’m really that interesting to share findings that are to do with something I’ve done. At least I’d be talking about something I understand, but at the same time it makes me vulnerable, and maybe I seem self-centred.

The other video discussed was an experimentation to do with depicting the idea of rescuing women, and that whole moral crusade to ‘better’ women, as degrading and abusive. Because it is. If anything is abuse, it’s that, because it’s non-consensual and completely denies any rights or autonomy. So I made a video, using cameraphone and torch-light again, where I’m stroked and patronised and infantilised, and the speaker oversteps all the boundaries, all with the best of intentions. I don’t think it’s a bad idea, even if I haven’t found the right way of presenting it yet. The ostensibly reassuring words are contrasted with the torch-light on my face, which I’ve tried to use as a means of objectification – that the torch shows where the viewer, both in and outside of the video, are looking at the time. I don’t know whether I made the right choice in having imagery that looks ‘traditionally abusive’, like smeared makeup, and eventually tape over my mouth, but the makeup was smudged from trying out more aggressive actions previously, and my original idea was that I wanted it to be filmed visually quite like amateur horror, but then there is no violence or abuse or overt sexuality – there are just sickly kind words and invasion of personal space in the aid of being positive and comforting.

Again, I didnt want any sort of voice… I spoke in the original, but have edited out almost all of my speech, because I don’t want that sort of power. This sort of behaviour is abusive precisely because it claims to speak for people without a voice, while ensuring that the people actually involved are discredited and seen as poor little things that may not ever recover, may never be able to be taken seriously. The main thing that came up about this video was that it mentions child abuse, and that will make viewers not listen, or upset them, etc. I’ve been trying to think about this, and I do feel that the lines about abuse are important. I realise that they can be taken the wrong way, but  that’s only from misunderstanding the piece. The actual line used is “Were you abused when you were a kid?”, in the original I say ‘no’ but this is obviously edited out, followed by “maybe you’ve just repressed it”, showing that the only response I could have given was negative. It was suggested that it seems like I’m pretending that I’ve been abused. I think it’s well within my rights to freedom of expression to make a video saying I’ve been abused when I haven’t, but that’s not what this particular video is. I’m not even saying that the on-screen character has been abused – the answer, through reading the responses of the speaking character, must be no. And I feel that this is an important thing to raise, because it’s a way of discrediting people. It’s also a way of justifying ‘deviant’ behaviour – it can’t just be that this person is an individual with varying fantasies, it’s that there must have been something bad that happened that caused them to become like this. Even when categorically saying that you were definitely not abused, people will still claim to have more knowledge about yourself than you do, through playing the repression card. It happened, but you don’t remember it, you poor, traumatised thing. And the scary thing is the amount of material claiming to be feminist that puts forward this view, telling women that there’s a good chance they’ve been abused but just don’t remember it, especially if they have positive feelings towards ‘abusive’ fantasies, or negative feelings towards ‘normal’ sexual activity. I haven’t quite decided how much I want to push to cling onto the abuse lines, because I don’t think they’re the most important part, but they do most definitely highlight a theme that is significant.

I know that the ‘characters’ expressed on these videos aren’t me in my natural state, but are they really characters? To me, they are a lot more just how I react to the stimulus within the videos, and that the reactions are the real reactions to how I myself behave towards the things that are happening while also being infront of a camera. Obviously some of the things I’m responding to can only be acting – when I’m being patronised and infantilised, the person saying the words doesn’t really mean them, but it still felt bad to have them said to me, while being touched so delicately, and the feeling that that character was overstepping my personal boundaries by demanding to hold my hand and such like. So the person I’m reacting to is a character, but a character based on reality, seeing as there are so so many people who’ve made me feel uncomfortable with this sort of ‘affection’ in my life. One thing I’m considering making is something to do with the non-consensuality of being touched as a child. Not sexually, but ‘affectionately’, by relatives, generally because you have to have them touch you or you touch them to pretend that you love them, because they’re giving you money or a birthday present or something. How is that not prostitution?

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  • fred whitacre jr: they don,t have any sex invaled why are we so againce children being nude in pictures because of alll the sick fucking rapetist out there children
  • fred whitacre jr: she only 12 but it is not porn at all it is nude only only a sick person would want to fuck her not me but i will tell you the true she is a very hot
  • fred whitacre jr: i see noghting wrong just a nude girl no porn that would be wrong with a child but not worng with a grown up only nude pics of children is ok if no se
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