Surfing from Twitter > Lux Associate Scheme > Patricia Lennox-Boyd > Monika Bobinska > Benedictions. Unsure what would be unleashed on me as I clicked on a link named simply Dot, I found myself watching an entire episode of Eastenders. To be completely honest, even as the theme tune was playing and only after watching Dot Cotton talking into a tape recorder for 10 minutes did I realise the full extent of what was happening.“Pretty Baby”, Eastenders Episode 3526 features Dot Cotton (played by June Brown) talking into a tape recorder for 25 minutes. Had I been a huge Eastenders fan, what would this episode have meant? I remember (I used to be an avid Coronation Street fan)how (what felt like) the entire United Kingdom came behind Deidre in her unjust court case. There is something about these fictional encounters entering the real world that fascinates me.

As the nineties powered-on …  the world grew into a smaller place, it became more gullible as a media society. … Worldwide Players came to embody the global power of the media, but also the danger of manipulating politics, and the public’s perception of history and reality alike. War was staged as a reality TV show. … Special effects were no longer the monopoly of Hollywood, and videogaming turned real as smart missiles zoomed in on their targets. … Spectacle  replaced critical distance and obscured the reality of the war being waged in the Gulf. … Suddenly the news industry had transformed itself into a surreal shopping zone: … what the media was selling was history itself. Soon reality would be mistaken for a commercial break.
       Johan Grimonprez: Remote Control

The context that I watched this in does not make me want to watch any more Eastenders. Not only do I understand that this episode was a one off but I understand all the references, who the characters are and the world they are referring to just by being alive in the UK! It doesn’t matter that I don’t watch Eastenders and it certainly doesn’t matter that I don’t watch X Factor or that I was ambivalent during the peak of the MP’s expenses crisis. The media creates such a furore about these that I can’t help but pay attention to them.

According to the simulation thesis, the viewer’s faculty for distinguishing between reality and fiction is disabled by the medium. The primary reality is therefore blurred or replaced by a second, delusional one.
       Absolute Emptiness. The Null-Medium, or Why all Complaints about Television are Irrelevant: Hans Magnus Enzensberger

During a live televised show, hundreds of production teams and camera crews meet in a large room to film an event. The camera crews move around and film the action. Meanwhile, the production teams work hard to report what’s being said, documenting the movement and the feeling of excitement that takes place within the room. This goes on for hours.

Back to the episode, was it successful because it was so different to the 3525 episodes that came before it?

As one reviewer said at the time, “Enjoyable as this Albert Square indulgence was, I suspect that most fans will be hoping this one-hander remains a one-off.”

Notes from Benedictions Editorial:
(Benedictions is a project by Patricia Lennox-Boyd and Jamie Stevens
-Layered into a palimpsest of superimpositions, C/O/N/S/T/R/U/C/T (1974) multiplies one film five times within a single projected image. The image oscillates between the de-calibrated but cloned sequences, which concurrently synchronise and depart from one another within each frame of this 26 minute film.
-The contemporary demand for artists to announce their self-reflexivity in artworks often results in the plundering and transformation of ‘materialist’ strategies into recognised formal devices. Such vapid transferals of serious ideas are what Benedictions seeks to resist.Our intention with the publications and adjunct public events is to consider artistic positions through their own terms with whatever results,rather than fostering patronising reverence as a default perspective.
-David Rodowick aptly defines the structuralist objective (and specifically Gidal’s) as ‘to perform the seemingly impossible task of defining, over and against the massive domination of film by narrative style and ideology, a series of negative strategies capable of derailing history.’3 This is film- making as pessimism – part of a relentless endeavour against the affirmative images of late capitalism. But in the act of derailment, history is also defined and given form. Even if this form is of a capitalist phantom.
– Gidal vigorously directs our reading of his films through the use of the inherent manipulatory devices of film (zooming, panning, editing, printing, etc), an awareness of which is demanded of the viewer.
-Gidal ultimately wants us, as viewers, to be engaged in an activity of seeing, whereby the production of meaning in any film is performed by individual viewers for its duration ‘constantly intervening in the arena of confrontation with the given reality.’
-1 Gidal describes film-makers ‘like Ken Russell or Alfred Hitchcock’ as ‘fascists accepted by the fascist mentality of the passive viewer, the hysterical, catatonic viewer, sitting in his seat in total silence, fear and paranoia and thinking that it’s pleasure – when the real pleasure actually comes out of the work you do yourself, the dialectics you do…’ From an interview: Du Cane, John, ‘Upside Down Feature’, Time Out, (December, 1972).