I have been thinking about the smart phone and its troubled relationship to the tricky subject of identity. There is no doubt of the device's prosthetic quality – of how it insinuates its way into one's procedural memory, steps in where our semantic memory fails and is a storage zone for our episodic memory. Lose the device and bits of life vanish. To drop it, forget it or have it stolen can physically hurt.
As a watching device it has no fixed orientation, it turns itself to you, reformatting an image to suite, landscape – portrait, whatever – it is interchangeable – accommodating. Trying hard to please.
It seems self-evident that one's identity is sured up, collated, stored, hacked, hybridised, invented, policed, destroyed and glamorized by the phone. I often see women using it as a mirror on the train for elaborate applications of make-up or hair arrangements or just to check that one still exists as an image?
But what really interests me is that it has generated a new way of thinking about what editing is. Deleuze's Cinema 1+2 books make a case for the edit of the French New Wave as producing a different kind of consciousness, but that was a a while ago now and the nature of the edit has burst out of cinema and from the hands of experts and on to a phone. Things have certainly shifted for film making.
Each person holding the smart phone is cutting a small film each day (or several films) – that is short films of their desires, fears, interest, obsessions. left as a trace in their phone memory – or cloud.
I am interested in this form of vernacular unconscious editing – so much so that I often risk anger from the creators as I gaze at their actions, (when they sit next to me on the crowded commuter trains), as they move from games to Facebook; to some search on info or a look at products. To me this local editing – this vernacular, is not created by the nature of the device–and the mind is not shaped by it – but in fact it reveals the way modern humans think. The bouncing backwards and forwards across states of attention; the radical jump cut to a totally different type of event; the state of the subject;, the push of an image against another ; the abstract tings and bings and bongs that represent a kind of rhythm of thought.
I saw the Turner Prize work heralded as being made with a phone whilst I was working on the film I have on show in Oslo – I felt that the actual form of the film did not account for the quality of what a phone does or is but stayed close to a very traditional edit. One that could have been made on a handi-cam. The phone was just a means to an end but not a form as such.
I wanted to think of the button, the sounds – the storm of imagery and the issue of identity but this is very troubled in my own work by the content of Tetragrametic Chimarism – a trope for the complexity of time and memory and self hood as it passes through technology.