Truth-Production 24 Seconds a Time (And Every Cut is a Fun Fact)

Truth-Production 24 Seconds a Time (And Every Cut is a Fun Fact) is a continuing video installation series that extends the duration of a film (or sequences of films) by extending each frame to 24 seconds and replacing every 24th frame with a “fun fact” about the film. The project has been conceptualized by twisting one of the most recognizable quotes in the history of cinema, “Cinema is truth 24 times a second”. The quote has often been used to praise the greatness of cinema as a truth-capturing tool in real-time. However, not only this is a misquotation – one must add “and every cut is a lie” to quote the line properly – the praise often originates from the confusion between “truth” and “fact”; the true meaning of the word “truth” is rather a sense of manufactured and/or mediated reality which can easily be associated with issues of power.

Alongside the clock, cinema has contributed to the enforcing of “clock-time” as E.P. Thompson puts it, for it presents fragments of space-time in a mechanically “perfect” temporal succession. From the invention of the cinematographe, many Euro-American governments and investors saw the potential of cinema as an educational tool that can “uplift” the uncivilized colonized peoples. During this process, not only did cinema contribute to constructing a visual depiction that looked at the non-White bodies as uncivilized, but it also took part in erasing the cultural understandings of lived time and replacing it with a rational temporality that can be rationally divided and commodified into these worlds.

To reflect upon this aspect further, the first iteration of this series begins with three films by the Lumière Brothers in Indochina. After the success of their first films, which are generally considered to be the beginning of cinema as we know of, the Lumière Brothers deployed many operators to the world to produce films outside of France including the colonized worlds. When doing so, the Lumiere Brothers ordered their operators to photograph these worlds that resonates with the sceneries that were portrayed in the oriental literature that was popular in Europe at the time[6], which were the same literature Said used in his magnum opus, Orientalism(1978), to critique the colonial gaze that produced the notion of The Orient (or The Other). This coincided with the appeal of the medium to many government officials and the bourgeoisie to see it as an “educational tool” to integrate the colonized people within the industrial model the Euro-American wanted to enforce through colonization which has been particularly true with Indochina at the time.

The current series consist of works: Lumière Actualités (Indochina) #1 to #3. It asks the audience to contemplate on the industrial logic behind cinema – a succession of multiple moments in time-space at a precise velocity (as if they were laid on a conveyor belt) – and the effects it had in shaping the image of The Other and its colonial routes.