Thousands Watch

1979 | 00:07:00 | United States | English | Color | 4:3 | Video

Collection: Early Video Art, Single Titles

Tags: History, Image Processing, Video History, War

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“A short image-processed work, Thousands Watch deals with the issue of nuclear suicide. The tape’s central metaphor is derived from a 1936 Universal newsreel of a crowd looking on while a young man stands on the ledge of a tall building, threatening to—and eventually succeeding in—committing suicide. It begins with an image of time-lapsed colorized clouds racing across the sky at a frenzied pace while a low siren wail emerges on the soundtrack. This sound forms a pulsing heartbeat and builds into a tense crescendo as the tape progresses. Inter-cut with it are excerpts of familiar historical voices—Truman announcing the dropping of the bomb and Kennedy stating at the U.N. that, ‘We all share this small planet.’ Dense and tightly woven, the tape seems to accelerate stylistically and verge toward self-destruction.” —Marita Sturken, “What Is Grace in All This Madness: The Videotapes of Dan Reeves,” Afterimage 13 (Summer 1985)