Evidence is an 8 minute 35mm film authored by Godfrey Reggio, during his term as director of Fabrica – a new school founded by Benetton – and a student collaborator, Angela Melitopulos. the film was shot in Rome during March 1995 and edited by Miroslav Janek, a collaborator of Fabrica, with music by composer Philip Glass.
Evidence looks into the eyes of children watching television – in this case Walt Disney’s “Dumbo”. Though engaged in a daily routine, they appear drugged, retarded, like the patients of a mental hospital. Evidence is about the behavior of children watching television – an activity whose physiological aspects have been overlooked in the current controversy surrounding television.
The pervasive nature of this technology is on the rise throughout the world, yet people watch television without the least awareness of the effect that the medium itself has on individuals and societies alike. In the United States, for instance, children attend school for approximately 40 hours a week; they then watch television for about the same amount of time.
Unlike people in a movie theatre, where images are projected onto a screen, television viewers become prey to the television’s own light impulses, they go into an altered state – a transfixed condition where the eyes, the mind, the breathing of the subject is clearly under the control of an outside force. In a poetic sense and without exaggerating one might say that the television technology is eating the subjects who sit before its gaze.
The phenomenon recorded in Evidence relates not to programming or software, but to the medium itself – television the household appliance, the cathode ray tube, the radiation gun aimed at the viewer. This gun can be reasonably compared to a tractor beam that holds its subjects in total control. The physical, spiritual and social consequences of this phenomenon are subject to debate. Evidence hopes to enliven the discussion on the hazards of the medium itself.
Evidence is one of the first products to come from Fabrica, whose mission is to smell the new world coming, to perceive the future as it is revealed in the present.
In this sense, Fabrica is seeing the future as revealed in the eyes of the children: the vision is both alarming and tragic. As with so many developing technologies, the results can be more soberly viewed not from alluring promises, but from simple human observation.
Television the programming is one thing: television the medium is something else. It is the medium that Evidence is about. From the point of view of the medium, Evidence is an autopsy, an opportunity in a few minutes to feel and to see, to witness the effects of a technology that has gained acceptance the world-over without question.