alex mackenzie : mediaworks

home safety , 1997

home safety
pixelvision, 8 mins, 1997
Home Safety uses the low resolution aesthetic of the Fisher Price PXL 2000 camera to emulate a tattered, "found" look, accompanied by a similarly ragged soundtrack. It samples 1960s 8mm porn along with a wide range of obsessive and paranoid visual sources, posing questions to the viewer about a visual detritus which simultaneously delights and despairs in the pornography of media.

Home Safety was a work that sprang from a desire to create a spontaneous piece, genuinely “invented” on the fly, in as much of a stream-of-consciousness way as can be achieved with the video format. All images were recorded on Pixelvision directly to a VCR in my living room, limited by the length of the RCA cable–images were drawn  from elements within an 8 foot radius of my television. I arranged a few elements ahead of time (primarily a regular-8 projector and film), but otherwise just imagined the segment as I filmed, pausing the VCR while I decided upon and set up the next shot, limited primarily by the amount of time before the video would automatically click off the pause phase to save the heads on the VCR. And so it was cut together in the order it was shot, in the moment. The text was improvised spontaneously as I watched the pixel images I had just edited together–I spoke the words into an antique microphone, then slowed this down on an old 4-track with variable speed and created crowd sounds on a Casio SK-1 keyboard from a record sample as I spoke. The transformation of my voice surprised even me, and to this day nobody believes me when I tell them I am the person speaking. It is genuinely convincing as a tattered, found speech on an old audio tape or record, unlabelled and unidentifiable. The images were an attempt to emulate this same sense of tattered and ragged quality, and Pixelvision seemed the most appropriate form for this. The speech I invented was spawned from an interest in recordings of famous and less-than famous speeches (MLK, Malcolm X, JFK, other presidents) and the power of cadence over sense that I had noted in these–the timing of words over their meaning. The speech ends in being some strange mixture of human rights, libertarianism, paranoia and evangelism. In retrospect, it seems quite prescient of the current political climate in America today.