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Child taping what remains of his house

May 8, 2012

In the youtube video Child taping what remains of his house, we see a boy filming a pile of rubble which used to be a house. It is of course difficult to confirm if the house belongs to the child and his family, but nevertheless, that is what the title suggests. The man who is filming the child first approaches him as a news reporter approaches a subject of interview in a war zone, and as he gets closer he apparently asks: can you tell me what you see? Which also could be read as “can you tell me what you are filming?” The child responds to the question and other questions posed by the man. Both of them are clearly acting a scenario and the footage also implies a spoof on official/traditional television reportage (they even laugh at some point to a joke that the child makes).

Child taping what remains of his house, youtube still frame

The same video a few years ago would show the child in front of the rubble talking to the camera, now both the child and the other camera are filming. The child delegates the task of experiencing the destruction of his house to the camera, similar to a tourist in front of an ancient a ruin. He does not want to be the represented, but rather the one who represents. Here, in the words of Adorno, one can witness the triumph of representation over what is represented. Not unlike the journalist, the child is also interested in dissecting the site of destruction with a camera, to describe what he can see and highlight the economy of access, but this time to his own rubble. Friedrich Kittler mentions a 1902 German Reich law that gave every man and woman the “right to one’s own image,” here the camera gives the child the right to his own rubble. This gives rise to a new figure of victim, one that is detached from his own destruction by a digital camera. A victim who removes himself from the ruin and whose “rejection of experience can provisionally embody a legitimate defense,” in words of Agamben. A generation that grew up looking at monitors from the point of view of first-person shooter games can now experience its own habitat as the game zone.

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