Press Pause Play

Feb 17, 2011
Photographer News

We’ve got our eyes on a documentary in the works called Press Pause Play, which addresses some of the major contradictions of creative work in the digital age. The documentary, directed by David Dworsky and Victor Köhler, includes the highly recognizable bald heads of Moby and Seth Godin; also interviewed are Behance founder Scott Belsky and Bill Drummond of the KLF. Here’s the trailer:

The film’s website describes the central theme:

The digital revolution of the last decade has unleashed creativity and talent of people in an unprecedented way, unleashing unlimited creative opportunities. But does democratized culture mean better art, film, music and literature or is true talent instead flooded and drowned in the vast digital ocean of mass culture? Is it cultural democracy or mediocrity?

This is a contradiction familiar to most photographers, who have watched as Flickr and iPhone cameras have changed the field entirely. We’re hoping, however, that this film can help us look at the changes in a different, and potentially more optimistic way. Creative Review quotes the directors as saying:

After working in the creative industry for a number of years we got a bit tired of the loud complaints regarding the disappearance of business models due to pirating and continuing profit losses. These subjects had been discussed to death at media panels and in newspapers around the world. We felt that an important part of the story had been lost – the unprecedented cultural impact. Sure, there are lots of industry problems caused by technological innovation but there are also enormous new opportunities for creation.

I was particularly interested in seeing the contribution of Bill Drummond, one of the masterminds, along with Jimmy Cauty, of the avant-garde pop phenomenon The KLF. This is a group that systematically refused to represent itself as an author of its music, in any traditional sense; if you listen to an album like The White Room, you might think that The KLF is either a megachurch or a transnational corporation—instead, it was two people who hired session musicians and performers to mythologize them. They wrote a book called The Manual (How to Have a Number One the Easy Way), which claimed to reveal the formula to producing a number one hit, based on their success with “Doctorin’ the Tardis.” The instructions, reportedly, were used successfully by Edelweiss and Chumbawumba. (A good thing, since a refund was offered to those who followed instructions and did not hit number one.) In a later incarnation as The K Foundation, they would travel to the island of Jura and burn one million pounds in cash.

Here’s a classic example of their work:

I tracked down a snippet of Drummond’s interview, but without context, it is quite hard to understand what he is saying (anyone with an idea should post it in the comments). We’ll have to wait for the film itself to see more. Until then, here’s a teaser with some more tantalizing clips.