FACELESS the film
FACELESS by MANU LUKSCH (2007 AT/UK)
included in the Collection de Centre Pompidou, currently on show at Ars Electronica Centre
FACELESS was produced under the rules of the 'Manifesto for CCTV Filmmakers'. The manifesto states, amongst other things, that additional cameras are not permitted at filming locations, as the omnipresent existing video surveillance (CCTV) is already in operation.
The UK Data Protection Act and EU directives give individuals the right to access personal data held in computer filing systems. This includes images captured by CCTV recording systems. For a nominal fee (£10), an individual can obtain a copy of this data: financial or medical records, or video recordings. Other legislation states that the privacy of third parties must be protected. In CCTV recordings, this is done by erasing the faces of other people in the images - hence the 'faceless' world.
SYNOPSIS: In a society under the reformed 'Real-Time' Calendar, without history nor future, everybody is faceless. A woman panics when she wakes up one day with a face. With the help of the Spectral Children she slowly finds out more about the lost power and history of the human face and begins the search for its future.
voice: TILDA SWINTON
choreography: THE BALLET BOYZ
soundtrack: MUKUL piano music: RUPERT HUBER
produced by AMOUR FOU FILM PRODUKTION and AMBIENT INFORMATION SYSTEMS
RealTime orients the life of every citizen. Eating, resting, going to work, getting married – every act is tied to RealTime. And every act leaves a trace of data – a footprint in the snow of noise... (FACELESS 2007)
Original language: English.
Sound: Dolby surround 5.1.
Color/BW. Ratio 4:3. PAL
Fear blots out the present. It feeds on a past that spills over uncontrollably into the present; it takes possession of the future. Vanquishing this fear by eliminating past and future is the promise of the Big Brother state. This promise is contrived to legitimise the constant observation of public space, which turns the dream of a carefree existence in an isolated present into a nightmare reality.
Manu Luksch employs the vocabulary of science-fiction film to draw us into this nightmare. Crucially, she uses only images obtained from the operators of CCTV video-surveillance systems in London, under the terms of a British law governing access to data. In a fantastic and poetic concatenation, she transforms oppressively familiar views of the city into locations of a fateful scenario, in which a woman is thrust into a startling escape from the perpetually administered present of Realtime.
Once as faceless and devoid of history as the other individuals anonymised in the recordings by the CCTV operators (to comply with privacy legislation), the films protagonist abruptly regains her face, and casts off her former existence as a bit of data to dive into her stolen past.
In a mirror image of the failed act of liberation that the trauma of this realization incites, Faceless succeeds in traumatising its viewers by means of an equally atmospheric and weirdly illuminated metanarrative that of a society whose self-understanding is occluded by its dazzling media hyperpresence. (Robert Buchschwenter, translation: Steve Wilder)