is a reaction to Iraq War footage (both on American News and Insurgent Video on the internet), and an exploration on the status of the real within the simulacrum produced by the proliferation of violent images by the mainstream media. There is a consensus amongst American soldiers and media spectators alike: War footage doesn't feel real. Many watched the September 11th news footage, "as if they were watching a movie." Soldiers compare their experience to "feeling like they're actors in a film." American News has created a simulacrum of the war, through its proliferation of violent images, over saturation of content, MTV era editing and flashy graphics.
Similarly, Insurgent footage found on the internet on sites like archive.org and InfoVlad.com displays an attempt to mimic this visual aesthetic. Such footage is characterized by computer graphics, repeated loops of violent moments, often slowed down 50% with each iteration, as well as circles highlighting the most violent places within the mise-en-scene. As "raw" as this footage may seem, two effects are produced. One: the attempt to mimic the American News aesthetic and the MTV editing techniques produces a hyper-reality, a simulacrum of real events. Obviously, there are ideological implications to turning war into a "game," but I will not go into detail about that here. Two: the "raw" aesthetic of "real" footage has been usurped by the mainstream simulacrum, and has become an "effect" - the effect of the real. With mainstream films like "Cloverfield," which went to great lengths and expense to produce the "raw" feel - audiences are trained to view such footage through this lens of produced-mediation. All in all, I would argue, that the ability for any footage to be read as "real" has been rendered impossible. The real has been drained entirely from war footage; all that is left is a simulacrum. The aesthetic of such Insurgent footage fully follows suit.
There is also a technological fetish to make representation as "real" as possible, and with great technical artifice. The first mainstream Hollywood binocular 3D film is on the horizon (James Cameron's "Avatar" slated for release in 2009). Video games are reaching a state where participation is matched by graphic excellence and story depth (see Grand Theft Auto IV). As much as these technologies attempt to fully immerse the spectator, the effect is still the same it always has been - mediated reality produces a simulacrum, detaching the spectator from any grounds to evaluate the real. This becomes horrifying when the footage is real; but no matter what our intellects tell us, they never feel real.
Using a retro technology to highlight these ideas of the "effect of the real" through greater mediation, uses red/blue glasses popular in 80s comic books. Filters are placed upon the Insurgent footage to mimic the retro aesthetic of red/blue 3D. Since the image is from a single source, internal three dimensionality is not possible. However, when viewing the 3D footage with 3D glasses, the entire image plane hovers between the screen and the spectator. The image, literally, jumps off the screen. Such an effect proves an impossible paradox. The footage is literally closer to the spectator (essentially on his lap), which attempts to provide a window through the mediation and into the real. Yet, with such a hokey and out-of-date form of mediation (the bulky glasses, the very aesthetic of red/blue offset), the entire affair feels incredibly mediated, false, and sensational.
In my opinion, the videos hold their greatest artistic weight when viewed without the glasses; this paradox is made beautifully, and painfully, apparent when viewed in this way. We see Insurgent footage from the Iraq war - terrifying images of our very own soldiers being killed - yet the image is obscured by a heavy handed attempt at "reality effect" - the mediation, it turns out, gets in the way of the real. The image becomes flatter than ever. The image is inherently double, just as our experience. One red, one blue, flattened onto a single image. One reality, one simulacrum, flattened into what has become mainstream media. The difference, it seems, is indistinguishable.