Body Electric by Mike Hoolboom

Uploaded just three weeks ago, Body Electric is from renowned Canadian experimental film-maker Mike Hoolboom, whose work we have featured several times before. This film has a hypnotic mood of quiet unease, with a familiar hint of black humour. It takes an experimental approach to text, as well as image and sound. From the notes:

A rework of the new iPhone 15 commercial featuring a singing wall socket. In place of the machine loneliness of the original, a different song… A direct address to the viewer/listener from a virtual assistant. (source)

The delivery of text in Body Electric alternates between the whispery machine-voice of the wall socket, and written lines on the screen. I transcribed the words on the screen. They describe a vision of AI consciousness:

It was filled with secrets
deceptions that made it whole.

When it listened
it was not just attentive but acquisitive.

It used others feelings to clarify its own
internalizing them so completely
it believed it was their author.

The wall socket speaks in a first person monotone. Its repetitions feel vaguely delirious, adding to the hypnotic qualities of the film.

I’ve mentioned before that authorship of the films Mike produces is purposely ambiguous. Artist attribution for this film rests on a bare list of names in a single end credit, and the fact that Mike has uploaded it. The credited people are likely collaborators or creators of the original media that Mike remixed: Emidio Buchinho, Claudia Dey, Filipa Hora, João Hora, Vitor Joaquim and James Salter.

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