On November 17 1973, President Richard Nixon made one of the most iconic speeches in history: the infamous “I’m not a crook” speech. Filled comedic levels of irony surrounding this statement as this took place in the midst of the Watergate scandal, whereby Nixon had in fact bugged the Democratic National Committee offices in the Watergate Hotel in the heart of Washington DC in order to obtain government secrets, which later led to Nixon making history as the only President of the United States of America to resign. “Houston, we have a problem”: April 11 1970 marks the launch of Apollo 13 from the Kennedy Space Station. After a successful take-off, two days later, an oxygen tank exploded putting the crew in danger but after working with Mission Control in Houston the mission ended safely but not technically successful. This was due to the fact that Apollo 13 was to be the third mission to land on the Moon, however due to the problems the mission faced, the crew were forced to orbit the Moon and return to Earth without ever landing. On April 17 19070, the crew all returned to Earth safely. On September 17 2002, President George W. Bush delivered a speech before a group of schoolchildren, parents, and teachers in Nashville. It is here where Bush provides the world with a stellar fumble in attempting to recite the well-known aphorism: “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” Instead of delivering this correctly, in typical Bush fashion this is his rendition: “There’s an old saying in Tennessee. I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee that says, ‘Fool me once, shame on … shame on you. Fool me… You can’t get fooled again!” Firstly, Tennessee is an independent state and is not in Texas, and with Bush serving as the 46th governor of Texas from 1995 to 2000 prior to serving as the 43rd President of the United States of America, I would expect his knowledge of this state to be quite high, however it would seem that’s definitely not the case. My other form of experimentation came with my vision of how I wanted to open the film. I found it vital to instantly display evidence of historic moments in history, which is represented in the launch of Apollo 13 footage. Not only did I want to represent key moments in history but also moments that defined government and highlights the scariness that these are the types of people in charge of the most powerful countries in the world. This of course is demonstrated by both the Nixon, “I’m not a crook” speech and George W. Bush’s interesting take on the ‘Fool me once, shame on you…’ saying. This creates powerful visuals for the audience from the offset, immediately showcasing what MEMORIA is trying to fight against. The Apollo 13 footage also links to the launch of MEMORIA itself and how a new way of communicating information between government, media and the public needs to be established.
The US military are active in carrying out drone strikes in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, Iraq, Somalia and Yemen. In 2010, the organisation called WikiLeaks leaked 750,000 classified documents that revealed war logs from the Iraq and Afghanistan War. This is one of the biggest, if not the biggest, leak in history. Amongst these documents, it was revealed that the US (and with the assistance of the UK) carried out drone strikes that resulted in the deaths of countless more innocent civilians than were reported. The deceit present here, not only from the government, but also with the media until these publications decided to work with WikiLeaks in order to tell the public the truth and call for accountable and free information is a clear demonstration of abuse of power and it needs to stop. The public have the right to know what our nations are doing as it directly affects us all and as a society, it is even more important that complete transparency is in place within the government and the media so that we can begin to trust the people in positions of authority. Unlawful drone strikes on these countries are despicable and inexcusable and to fabricate data to tell the public is simply disgusting.
China’s Hidden Camps
I am deeply saddened about what is currently taking place at the Luopu County No 1 Vocational Skills Training Centre and the fact that it is essentially a prison holding Muslim minorities against their will masquerading as a “training camp” without acknowledging that they have any rights and prolonging lawful procedures for as long as they deem fit is awful. ““We have a saying in Hotan: If you go into a concentration camp in Luopu, you never come out,” said Adil Awut*, from Hotan City, who is now living overseas.” There have been reports claiming that 1.1 million Uighurs, Kazakhs, Hui and other ethnic minorities have been detained. With the United Nations currently not having access to these camps means that there is no way to ascertain the treatment of the detainees and to question, what I say is a falsehood, Beijing’s claim that the centre is “peaceful thanks to government efforts”. It only seems to be getting worse as, “local authorities are expanding detention camps, increasing surveillance and policing, and co-opting residents through intimidation, force and financial incentives.” More needs to be done to expose the truth of lies beyond those walls and what the government are covering up about what is really happening inside these internment camps.
Tony Blair & The Iraq War
Tony Blair’s decision to take military action, deploying troops to Iraq under the pretence of removing “Sadam Husain from power and disarm Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction” when he was Prime Minister of the UK in 2003, was completely unnecessary and unwarranted. The Chilcot inquiry confirmed this back in 2017: “Saddam Hussein did not pose an urgent threat to the UK, intelligence reporting about [Iraqi] weapons of mass destruction was presented with unwarranted certainty, that the war was unnecessary and that the UK undermined the authority of the UN security council.” With troops remaining in Iraq for a further eight years before being pulled out by the British government, despite the fact that at the time Sadam Husain did not pose as an imminent threat to the UK only reaffirms the absolute unlawfulness of this war. It is for this reason that, in my eyes as well as in the eyes of other, Tony Blair is a war criminal and should be tried for the crime that was ordering the government to participate in the Iraq war when we had absolutely no need to do so. There are many speculations as to the real reason why the UK invaded Iraq alongside the US, and we still, to this day are not privy to this information that had serious consequences and ramifications. The Guardian reporter Bryan Gould puts it well by saying: “There may have been for George W an element of filial piety, and a sense of a task uncompleted, and controlling the oil may always have been a factor, but the main impetus was surely the conviction of that powerful group of conservatives who controlled the Bush administration – advisers such as Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle – that “if you have the power, use it”. The use of what was imagined to be overwhelming American power to change the Middle East map was too tempting to resist.” Although this may be considered well covered territory to some, for the younger generation this would not ever come up on their radar, and this is definitely something that everyone needs to recall or became aware of and learn entirely as it is an event that is a key example of abuse of government power where lies and deceit sit at the forefront of the reasons given behind such unlawful actions.
Yarl’s Wood Detention Centre
An estimated 120 women are staging a hunger strike at Yarl’s Wood immigration detention centre over the conditions of the site and to contest their definite detention. Much like the situation involving the Chinese internment camps and detaining Muslim minorities unlawfully and without the promise of trial shows that this is a worldwide problem, and one that needs to be recognised by the masses in order to push for change and the release of these innocent individuals. No one should be stripped of their human rights, and what is presently occurring at Yarl’s Wood, and many other similar sights, is a demonstration of abuse of government power and example. Diane Abbott, a British politician who has served as the Member of Parliament since 1987 and was the country’s first black MP as well as the longest serving black MP in the House of Commons, was finally granted access to the site after it took over a year to persuade the Home Office to do so. Upon her arrival, she was swarmed by women wanting to tell their stories: “We met another woman who had been held there for nine months. For most of them, the biggest concern was the amount of time they had been in the centre. The striking thing was that they had no release date,” Abbott said. “These women were clearly desperate. Indefinite detention, with no release date, is just wrong.” The women are treated so poorly and they are given no hope of release, the reality of indefinite detention seeming inevitable: “Chakrabarti said she was disturbed by the poor legal advice available to detainees. Women told her that a hunger strike which began on Wednesday was ongoing, although: “Officials flatly denied that there was a hunger strike,” Chakrabarti said. “The women we met felt forgotten.” These injustices need to be addressed in order to protect these people from unlawful imprisonment any further.
Phase 1: Image & Text
The first way in which I contemplated displaying the information in the film was in the form of overlaying text onto the painted mural from The Painted Hall, Old Royal Navy College. As this is the same image that has been used in prior promotional materials for MEMORIA, it would make the brand identity cohesive as this image would become synonymous with the brand communicating with the audience, thus maintaining cohesion and continuity in its brand identity. However, I think there are more interesting and creative ways to present this, as it is quite static and follows the same format as the rest of the film which is not really what I’m looking for aesthetically. I want the footage that I have shot of the model in the locations to contrast and contradict the information revealed in the duration of the MEMORIA film. As the information is different from the other shots, I also want that to be reflected visually and with this people such an integral part of the film, much consideration needs to be taken on this element.
Phase 2: Archive Footage
Abandoning both the painted mural and text, the next phase in my experimentation for how to present the information to the audience was to show video clips on each issue. This introduced a foreign element to the MEMORIA film as before every shot was my own and followed a similar aesthetic and vibe, but this footage brings another level to the film overall, thus bringing great depth to the piece. These are also very powerful visuals that I am displaying here that showcase the issues in a way that will immediately intrigue the viewer to want to seek out further information, not just on these matters but into other areas that the government is trying to keep secret from the public. The primary element that worries me with solely using video footage of these issues is that obviously, if people haven’t already seen these images before they won’t know what it’s related to or what it means, which would go against everything that I envisioned for this particular element of the film and the overall effect of the MEMORIA film itself.
Phase 3: Archive Footage & Text
It is so important that the ultimate message received here is that transparency between the government, media and the public is paramount and that information should be free, not hidden. Therefore, I have combined the clear, bold statement text from Phase 1 and the powerful, striking video clips from Phase 2 to create the ideal way in which to reveal this information. With overlaying the text on the footage, and in keeping with the transparent element of the text, that MEMORIA has branded since its inception, bonds the two elements together as the text looks imbedded and deep rooted into the footage, thus making for an incredibly strong display of these issues. In experimenting in these stages has allowed me to introduce ideas that I think, at that time will work perfectly, but questioning yourself is a vital process of experimentation as it can often lead to far better approaches and outcomes.