All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace
The BBC has ventured into the realm of film-maker Adam Curtis for their latest intellectual evening series, All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace. I certainly recommend catching up on this series from episode one if you’ve missed any of it; not only is it fantastically made but it focuses on the slightly disturbing subject of computer enslavement, which as many of the programme’s interviewees predicted back in the 50’s, is something most of us are blissfully unaware is happening right now.
Episode one uncovers the eerie effects of computers on the global financial system and the selling point for me was hearing the futurist prophecies of Russo-American Philosopher, Ayn Rand whilst she eyeballs the interviewer and makes strange lip movements during a 1950s TV interview. It is a frightening example of someone who so is swollen with burdensome theories that it actually manifests itself physically. The third film in the series (The Monkey in the Machine and the Machine the Monkey) concentrates on the experiments of Bill Hamilton who believes that we are guided (as with computers) by series of codes and the film follows his journey to the Congo where he tries to prove his dark theories. But soon enough the film takes a strange twist into the history of the West’s exploitation of the Congo. Real Heart of Darkness stuff that exposes our blindness to behavioral routine.
The films are loaded with intimidating but subverted sound effects and clever editing that gives the odd impression that some self-aware computer programme has tinkered with the final cut. This is an intelligent and emotive series that profoundly exposes our reliance and indifference to the way that computers have become part of our daily routine, jobs and lives in general. You can catch up on the series from the BBC iPlayer and you really should too. But preferably when you’re comfortable.