Wednesday, 21 October 2009

The Living Dead: Adam Curtis Documentary

I've just finished watching Adam Curtis' documentary on memory and psychology, it's a startling account of how governments have tried to manipulate the memory of individuals and nations for control.

The most shocking aspect was of the American CIA and Russian KGB
funding neuroscience experiments during the cold war in an attempt to change and implant memories in individuals. It's terrifying to think that this research actually happened and is not merely a work of political fiction. The original Rollerball movie touches upon a similar topic of mass control through the medium of sport instead of direct brainwashing. For me its message seemed to be dampened down by its dated look and lack of realism, however Adam Curtis' offering, seemed all the more threatening with it's first hand accounts by lab technicians and sometimes grim archive footage.

The fact that the scientists succeeded in wiping memories but failed to implant new ones is no consolation either. They surmised that the human brain was like a computer and as such the computer must be able to be programmed to store memories of its own. This led onto the development of military weapons that were able to directly target objectives and therefore contributed to the arms race of the cold war and the brutal military regime in the gulf during the 90s.

Aesthetically speaking I found the programme particularly engaging, it makes use of a vibrant catalogue of recycled library footage which helps the narrative along in a metaphorical way rather than totally direct reference.
Which reminds me of a video for the band God is an Astronaut which also makes good use of recycled library footage to illustrate a new idea.

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