Shutting Down Bangkok: Street Life & the Cinema of Violence
Friday, February 7, 2014
Tokioka Room, Moore Hall 319
This presentation looks at the politics of contemporary images in Thailand, especially during the recent campaign to shutdown Bangkok, which actually began with the formation of the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) in November of 2013. In this story, Bangkok exists as the backdrop for the attempt to “reform” the nation-state, but also operates as a visual trope in the cinematic history of the Thai polis.
I use three images to analyze this politicized city. The first image, of a drone appropriating the Gods-eye view of Bangkok’s Old City, suggests the modes through which military technologies and depersonalized neutrality are weaved into the fabric of everyday vision. The second image, a found-footage sequence derived from Pen-ek Ratanaruang’s 2013 censored film Paradoxocracy, reveals the moral high ground of truth that overshadows the current political deadlock between two competing ideological perspectives in contemporary Thai street politics. However, instead of exploring the content of these ideologies as a question of validity, the film exposes the problems of “truth” by arranging the story in the form of a paradox. The final image, raw CCTV footage of the bombing of Suthep Thuagsuban’s motorcade on January 17th 2014, exposes the captions we create via social media to tell the story of the image, an explanation of violence that persists through the history of Thai film itself.
I juxtapose these visual fictions with the work of several Thai film directors as a means of connecting storytelling with the politics of everyday life in Bangkok. A short film that replays several scenes from the ongoing protests will accompany the presentation.
Noah Viernes in currently an Assistant Professor at Akita International University