People Like Us/Vicki Bennett Filmography

“The Mirror” (live performance), in progress [Spring 2018, taking bookings)
“Gone, Gone Beyond” 10 Screen / 8 Speaker work, Stage One complete, Stage Two in progress [2016-2017, taking bookings]
Can’t Stop What’s Coming” video edit for THE THE [2017]
Optimized! Expanded Radio & Artist Residency at WFMU with People Like Us & Let’s Paint TV” documentary film [2016]
Optimized! Special: The Dusty Show with Clay Pigeon – At Union Square, Manhattan” documentary edited by Vicki Bennett [2016]
Ultimate Care II Excerpt 5” – official video for Matmos [2015]
Nothing Can Turn Into A Void” – documentary film about People Like Us edited by Vicki Bennett and directed by Carl Abrahamsson [2015]
CCCitations” [2015]
Citation City” (live performance) [2015]
“Art Heist” (film – under construction) [2015-]
“The Big Sleep” [2014]
“BLINK” [2014]
Notations UK Tour Travelogue” documentary [2013]
“We Are Not Amused” [2013]
“The Golem – An Inanimate Matter” [2013]
“Notations”
 [2013]
“Gesture Piece” [2013]
“BWPWAP” [2013] Continue reading

People Like Us “Story Without End” DVD

Released Autumn 2005
4 Short Films by People Like Us
Design by Joerg Hartmannsgruber & People Like Us

Sonic Arts Network proudly presents a collection of short films by leading British A/V artist People Like Us, a true champion of a particularly English sense of humour. The DVD shows a journey though a multi-layered 20th Century, represented by bright eyed and enthusiastic images of the modern world, concluding with the new Sonic Arts Network commission ‘Story Without End’.

Contains:
We Edit Life
The Remote Controller
Resemblage
Story Without End



UK – DVD price including P&P: $10
Buy in UK
EUROPE – DVD price including P&P: $11
Buy in rest of Europe
ELSEWHERE – DVD price including P&P: $12
Buy in rest of world

Story Without End – DVD

Sonic Arts Network proudly presents a collection of short films by leading British A/V artist People Like Us, a true champion of a particularly English sense of humour. The DVD shows a journey though a multi-layered 20th Century, represented by bright eyed and enthusiastic images of the modern world, concluding with the new Sonic Arts Network commission ‘Story Without End”. Each of these films are available on this page, through UbuWeb, for free download in mp4 format. However, if you would also like the DVD, which has beautiful fold-out packaging, go to our shop. All prices include postage and packing

Scans of Reviews here:

Story Without End – Review in Jazzthetik July 2006
Story Without End – Review in Trax Magazine June 2006
Story Without End – Review in Black Jan 2006
Story Without End – Review and Interview April 2006
Story Without End – Review in Cinemania May 2006
Story Without End – Review in The Wire May 2006
Story Without End – Blow Up February 2006
Story Without End – Rock Delux Magazine February 2006
Story Without End – Magic Magazine February 2006
Story Without End – Debug Magazine January 2006

Story Without End – Intro Magazine February 2006
Story Without End – Sonic Seducer Magazine February 2006
Story Without End – D Side Magazine January 2006
Story Without End – Go Magazine January 2006
Story Without End – Bad Alchemy Magazine January 2006
Story Without End – Clone Magazine January 2006
Story Without End – Metro Magazine Summer 2005

Story Without End (and three other Films) – review

Music videos for mash-ups are rarely as enjoyable as the audio originals – the pleasure of the sound collage is the simultaneity of clashing spaces, where visual montage makes us choose between one space or another through sequence. The web is awash in video cut-ups today; giddy editors take advantage of bountiful source material in online archives, easy desktop editing software and mostly free distribution through video.google or youtube.com. Surrealist film technique is the stuff of late-night television comedy, as each day’s presidential speeches are cut up and re-arranged for comedic effect.
This explosion of montage only highlights the differences between sound collage and video pastiche. Multi-track recorders, turntables, samplers and sequencers gave us densities no film editor could dream of. Yet sometimes film collage carries a more obviously political impact – visual juxtapositions seem to jar more directly.

Into this dynamic steps the singular art of PEOPLE LIKE US. At the controls is artist Vicki Bennett, a masterful and prolific sound-collagist whose works in video have been recently released by the Sonic Arts Network as a DVD. Where traditional montage makes us choose between one cut or another, Bennett’s meticulous work relies on compositing, masks, and mattes to create a visual simultaneity every bit as dense as what we hear in her music.

Through four works, completed between 2002 and 2005, Bennett has extracted various subjects from their backgrounds, and backgrounds from their contexts. Recombined, these artifacts occasionally grow synchronous with sound, but always stand out in contrast to each other. As in some of the more jarring mash-ups one might encounter on Bennett’s radio shows for WFMU, the seams are far from hidden. A boy sets a toy house down upon a giant circuit board – later we see him again laying out his little town on a pumpkin patch.

Opacities and edges blur to give way to various cohabiting characters – a man peers into a screen to reveal another composited world, even as he’s oblivious to the third one above him, or the beetles crawling over the screen on yet a fourth layer. Narrators stand above it all, promising all sorts of things to come. Bennett introduces each new element as she would a new loop in her sonic compositions, and lets us hold it all in our head for a moment (or sometimes far longer – she loves repetition) before moving on to something else. It’s a happy marriage of pastiche in sound and video that helps demonstrate the musicality of vision – the work is more Vertov than Eisenstein.

All of this makes STORY WITHOUT END a welcome and rare addition to the lively world of the cut-up. Bennett’s films offer much more than this, however. After all, as the narrator of THE REMOTE CONTROLLER tells us, “mixing is so simple, a child could do it.”
Directing Bennett’s deft and patient hand at the mouse is a very specific sort of curiosity, and a particular approach to human creation and action. These films are the result of countless hours of sifting through the archives of various digital and physical collections. Specifically named in the credits are the collections of Rick Prelinger at The Internet Archive (http://www.archive.org), Skip Elsheimer’s avgeeks.com, and London’s Lux collection of avant-garde film. Except for some footage of Bennett’s own screen desktop in WE EDIT LIFE, none of Bennett’s source material appears to be self-generated. She even borrows from herself, recycling audio or video from old works in new.

The result is a very specific kind of collection. Though individual elements within a frame are composited to remain estranged from one another, the ingredients add up to a whole that’s from a particular palette, a specific time and place. In all four of these works, we see and hear hopeful proponents of techno-marvels from modernity’s golden age. Men and women hunch over vintage screens and typewriters, monitoring, tweaking and enjoying newfound power through perfect analog connections. Telephone operators, orchestra conductors, audio engineers, and city planners listen to the spaces on the other side of an edit, command our attention, or carry out plans via remote operation.

We see an artist and an engineer negotiate a new collaboration; we get transferred by a series of attractive switchboard operators from Chicago to Wabash. Maps and radar, puppet strings and monitors mediate the relations between distant actors. Throughout it all, Bennett plays an equally magical role, creating new seamless spaces through edits, as her subjects create spaces through telepresent connections. These hopeful operators and technicians are people like us, twiddling knobs at a remote, if enamored, distance. By revealing her own hand, Bennett identifies herself with the films’ optimistic subjects, who according to their narrators “merely push a button and let something else do the work.” Another narrator adds, “the result is breathtaking beauty, and lasting good taste.”

Like Craig Baldwin in SPECTRES OF THE SPECTRUM, Bennett tells a story of hope about technology, using the artifacts of a more hopeful age. Her films marry medium to message to reveal the folly of such hope, yet without resorting to irony. Refreshingly gentle and humble, the work relies on humor, awkwardness, and empathy to produce skepticism without cynicism. If through her reliance on found materials Bennett lacks the faith of scientist-magicians who create something from nothing, she shares their joy at seeing pushbuttons produce results.

In the tradition of modernist reflexivity, Bennett relies on the stutter, the scratch or pause to call attention to her own hand. Importantly though, she reminds us that stutters and burps are also human, and funny. Laughter is likely to be one’s first and lasting reaction to Bennett’s work in sound and video – so much so that perhaps this act of analysis might seem absurd. Close examination of the works on STORY WITHOUT END yield rich results, however, and make me grateful for Bennett’s generous and labored marriage of humor and criticism.

Kevin Hamilton
February 13, 2006
http://www.kevinhamilton.org

The Remote Controller – short film

The Remote Controller (2003) 
Using found footage sourced from educational films in the Prelinger Archives this work explores the subject of experimentation in human body and machine interfaces in the 20th century. The film edits together the different ways we have controlled our environment – through technology, magic and theatrical devices. As the world of communications brings people together, power still exists by pushing a button and pulling the puppet strings.

“The Remote Controller” won second prize in the Backup Festival in Weimar 2004

It has been screened at:
November 2006 – La Casa Encendida Madrid
April 2005 – Britspotting Berlin
April 2005 – Femme Totale, Dortmund
February 2005 – AHRB Centre for British Film and Television, London
January 2005 – Stuttgarter Filmwinter, Stuttgart
November 2004 – Rio de Janeiro International Short Film Festival
November 2004 – Tromsø Kunstforening
November 2004 – Festival International du Film Independant
November 2004 – INVIDEO, Milano
October 2004 – Leeds International Film Festival, Leeds
October 2004 – Backup Festival, Weimar
September 2004 – Seoul New and Film Festival – Seoul
August 2004 – Chicago Underground Film Festival
January 2004 – Hanger, Barcelona January 2004 – Rotterdam Film Festival
October 2003 – Oslo S-, Oslo
September 2003 – Kino Central, Berlin
July 2003 – The ICA, London – Radical Entertainment season
March 2011 – Ambulante Festival, Mexico

Download some People Like Us artwork, made from photooverlaying scenes from The Remote Controller. Good for fans of DO or DIY with People Like Us too! Click on the image below to download a larger image. There’s another on the right…

Here are the words to the film:
The Remote Controller
It’s in the hills and the bright blue sky
It’s in the quiet lakes with their soft horizons
It’s in the fields of ripened grain
It’s in the clear early morning
It’s in the late afternoon
It’s in unexpected places with sudden bright surprises
It’s found in new things
It is the harp string and beauty
The keyboard of mood
Through the dark ages
And now of course the problem is
How to create order out of confusion
How to achieve something harmonious, creatively and scientifically new
Mixing is so simple a child can do it
The result is breathtaking beauty and lasting good taste
In lovely homes and simple dwellings
Through the length and breadth of the land
The next step was to put it together
Take the proven quality
Strength and reliability of the prototype
And build them into each and every production line
Pretty little puppets
Dancing on their toes
What they’re really thinking of
Nobody knows
As a matter of a fact puppets don’t think at all
They don’t have to
They get everything they want by pulling strings
Or rather by having somebody else pull the strings for them
All of these motions are the work of the artist who manipulates the control stick
A twist of the wrist, tension on the string
A crook of the finger or gentle swerve of the arm
And our gay figures perform cleverly for the delight of beholders
The puppeteer can endow his character with surprisingly lifelike motions
Through the movement of his hands
He gives his wooden mannequins all the characteristics of living breathing persons
By remote control the puppeteer puts his characters through any desired action
There is of course the necessity for close study of action in real life
So that it can be truthfully interpreted
Then what seems to be a minimum of finger and arm movement
The control stick is twisted turned and bobbed
The strings actuate the puppets
And we see a remarkable natural portrayal of life
This is a form of remote control that brings much pleasure in the entertainment field
The hands of the puppeteer send signals of action to actors on the stage
And it’s strictly a one man show
Some of the most amazing theatrical effects brought about by remote control take place on stages in modern theatres
Audiences in these theatres witness instantaneous changes of elaborate spectacles
As huge stage settings rise or disappear at unpredictable moments
Actually the stage is a series of elevators that are controlled from the switchboard
Pushing one of these buttons is the only physical labour connected with moving the stage elevators
Then pressure goes to work, pushing up huge platforms which make up the stage
The control system is so elaborate yet functions so easily and swiftly that amazing scenic changes are possible during a very short blackout
Through the magic of remote control all things become possible to the men who plan and design spectacles for the modern theatre
Every form of showmanship is utilised on stages where the mere pushing of a button creates magical effects for an audience
Effects that add novelty and beauty to artistic settings
Even more dramatic in these days of increased production when our nation’s industrial centres must be tied even more closely together an unseen hand moves in a tower miles away
A switch clicks
A signal is displayed
No unnecessary stops
Operators sit in control rooms and watch illuminated diagrams
By pushing a button that sets switches a hundred miles away
Without leaving his position
Here is a world of communication
Tailored for your needs of today and tomorrow
Bringing together all people in a new era of understanding
Pick a city
Dial the area code
Presto, instant weather
Turning light into electricity to run this display
Solar batteries are used to convert sunlight into electrical power
And make our satellites talk back from outer space
Like the gentle twist of a puppet string or a push of a button that sets tons of stage into motion, with a slight slip of a finger on a lever
This work doesn’t even require separate motors
While the driver retains just enough of the control to be the real boss at all times
In no other application does the use of remote control benefit us so much
Ours is merely the light task of remote control
Remote control is a big factor in modern living
Yet, because it is a development intended to save us from unnecessary work
It is something we know very little about
In fact we do very little
Merely push a button
And let something else do the work for us
(credits)
You have been watching The Remote Controller by People Like Us
Thanks to Prelinger Archives and The Internet Archive for footage
remote-overlay