Security Anthem

Kent Lambert

2003 | 00:03:30 | United States | English | Color | Stereo | 4:3 | DV video

Collection: Single Titles

Tags: Image Processing, Multimedia, Politics, September 11th, War

Security Anthem’s requisite components came together relatively slowly. I’d known for years that I wanted to make something out of the Oto speakers’ most sinister, suggestive sentences. I’d taught myself to program music on a Game Boy using a cartridge I’d bought from a Swedish programmer, and I composed a sequence of ominous music that seemed well-matched to the speakers. I’d recorded John Ashcroft singing his self-penned song “Let the Eagle Soar” through a media player window, and I knew that it somehow belonged with the speakers and the 8-bit music. I remember feeling frustrated at a lack of forward momentum in an early, more Dadaist edit, so I typed all of the speakers’ sentences into a text file and re-arranged them until they were as close to a linear narrative poem as I could get them. It read as the kind of poem a deranged teacher might write for and read to a kindergarten class. The period of obsessive final editing and tweaking happened early in the winter of 2002-03, as Bush/Cheney and company laid out their plans for more war, as if the world were their classroom of oblivious toddlers. Security Anthem premiered at KJ Mohr’s Discount Cinema series in late January 2003, along with an early cut of Laurie Jo Reynolds’ Space Ghost. Ben Russell was at the screening and insisted that I add a short pause between the speakers and the Ashcroft cameo. I complied and saw that he was right and knew that the piece was done. It went on to have a wider reach and a longer and more robust screening life than anything else on this compilation by far.  

“A ritual recitation of the mundane for uncertain times.”

New York Video Festival

“Kent Lambert's chilling Security Anthem is an exercise in post-September 11th dementia in which banal lines delivered by talking heads ("The onions made him cry") become increasingly sinister, leading to a surprise ending featuring John Ashcroft.”

Fred Camper, Chicago Reader, August 2003

“A ‘Red States Agonistes’ in which a chorus of concerned faces from the heartland narrate a tragedy of found poetry. Dirty potatoes, sharp knives, an only son, and too-fast driving augur certain catastrophe that not even the intervention of deus ex machina John Ashcroft can divert or relieve.”

Spencer Parsons, Cinematexas, September 2003

This video is part of the Oto Trilogy and is also avaliable on Kent Lambert Videoworks: Volume 1

Pricing Information

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Exhibitions + Festivals

Conversations At The Edge, Gene Siskel Film Center, Chicago, September 2010

Zummer Tapez, Roots & Culture Gallery, Chicago, August 2009

Eye & Ear Clinic, SAIC, Chicago, December 2006

Detroit Film Center, April 2005

Champ Libre, Montreal, September 2004

Dallas Video Festival, July 2004

Courtisane Festival, Gent, Belgium, May 2004


Dialogue With Pop, Spaceworks Gallery, NYC, April-May 2004

Portland Documentary and eXperimental Film Festival, April 2004

You Can’t Do That On Television, curated by Ed Halter, Cinematheque Ontario, April 2004

Images Festival, Toronto, April 2004

Kraak Festival, Hasselt, Belgium, March 2004 (Impakt Highlights Tour)

Ann Arbor Film Festival, March 2004

The Fear and Anger Show, Magic Lantern, Providence, RI, March 2004

Signal and Noise Festival, Vancouver, March 2004

Media City, Windsor, Ontario, February 2004

Mix Festival, NYC, December 2003

Other Cinema, December 2003

Bandits-Mages Festival, Bourges, France, December 2003 (Impakt Highlights Tour)

You Can’t Do That On Television, curated by Ed Halter, Massachusetts College of Art, Boston, December 2003

Video Plataforma Rotativa: Galeria Sofia, Ego Galerie, and Gallery Can Felipa, Barcelona, November 2003 (Impakt Highlights Tour)

Chroma Festival, Guadelajara, Mexico, November 2003 (Impakt Highlights Tour)

Wimbledon College of Art, Wimbledon, UK, November 2003

SMART Project Space, Amsterdam, November 2003

Viper Festival, Basel, Switzerland, November 2003

L’Alternativa Festival, Barcelona, November 2003

Press Play, Pittsburgh, October 2003

Not All Americans Are Jerks tour presented by NYUFF: Gerbaud 9 kino + klub, Cologne; Festival, Berlin; FACT Centre, Liverpool; October 2003

Brooklyn Underground Film Festival, October 2003

Cinematexas, Austin, September 2003

Photophobia 5, Art Gallery of Hamilton, Ontario, August 2003

Radical Entertainment: God’s Eye View, Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, July 2003

Chicago Underground Film Festival, August 2003

New York Video Festival, July 2003

Impakt Festival, Utrecht, Holland, June 2003

Videoex Festival, Zurich, Switzerland, May 2003

Thaw Festival, Iowa City, April 2003

Exploding Cinema, London, March 2003

New York Underground Film Festival, March 2003

Discount Cinema, Chicago, January 2003

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