Seeing as how Adam Curtis is one of the greatest artists and filmmakers of this age, I find it fitting to pass along news of his latest film, All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace. Presented in the same image-rich, captive style, this film explores the relationship between humans and technology, and just how much it has come to dominate our lives. In an interview with the Guardian, Curtis’ latest project is discussed, and it will prove to be phenomenal:
The new series can be seen as a continuation of a theme to which he has often returned in his 20 years in films: that power works through many different channels, not just Westminster or the White House. So Pandora’s Box, in 1992, was about how politicians had tried to use scientific ideas to control society; The Mayfair Set, in 1999, was about how entrepreneurs such as James Goldsmith paved the way for the resurgence of the markets; The Century Of The Self, in 2002, looked at how Freud’s theories of the unconscious were used to promote shopping from necessity to leisure activity; The Power Of Nightmares, in 2005, was about how politicians were turning to fear to try to restore their waning influence in a society disillusioned with them.
Now he has moved on to machines, but it starts with nature. “In the 1960s, an idea penetrated deep into the public imagination that nature is a self-regulating ecosystem, there is a natural order,” Curtis says. “The trouble is, it’s not true – as many ecologists have shown, nature is never stable, it’s always changing. But the idea took root and spread wider – people started to believe there is an underlying order to the entire world, to how society is structured. Everything became part of a system, like a computer; no more hierarchies, freedom for all, no class, no nation states.” What the series shows is how this idea spread into the heart of the modern world, from internet utopianism and dreams of democracy without leaders to visions of a new kind of stable global capitalism run by computers. But we have paid a price for this: without realising it we, and our leaders, have given up the old progressive dreams of changing the world and instead become like managers – seeing ourselves as components in a system, and believing our duty is to help that system balance itself. Indeed, Curtis says, “The underlying aim of the series is to make people aware that this has happened – and to try to recapture the optimistic potential of politics to change the world.“
To all who are interested in popular media, history, politics, and psychology, I emphatically recommend you see this film.