All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace

Image of still from BBC series: All mWatched 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.

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    2 Comments

    1. Molly wrote:

      Hey Christian,

      I noticed your picture entitled All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace and wondered whether you knew of the poem of the same name written by the phenomenal Richard Brautigan? I have quite a collection of his work and can most highly recommend it, and I performed that poem for my interview for my Voice MA. I love his work. Here it is:

      I like to think (and
      the sooner the better!)
      of a cybernetic meadow
      where mammals and computers
      live together in mutually
      programming harmony
      like pure water
      touching clear sky.

      I like to think
      (right now, please!)
      of a cybernetic forest
      filled with pines and electronics
      where deer stroll peacefully
      past computers
      as if they were flowers
      with spinning blossoms.

      I like to think
      (it has to be!)
      of a cybernetic ecology
      where we are free of our labors
      and joined back to nature,
      returned to our mammal
      brothers and sisters,
      and all watched over
      by machines of loving grace.

      • pixelfibre wrote:

        Cheers Molly – That’s incredible! Love it. Great choice for a performance too.
        I’ve never heard of Richard Brautigan before and have just had a brief look at his repertoire.
        Looks like I could be on for some Winter reading there! Thanks for the heads up. Anything you recommend in particular?

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