Final Searcher Blog – Wenxin Yan


This is the official music video (shot on Jan.26.2002) of the song Sleep Now In The Fire (from 1999 album The Battle of Los Angeles) by Rage Against the Machine.

Although this looks different from what we have studied, I still want to write about this, not only because I see it as an experimental short film, but also because the shooting process itself is an experiment.

Michael Moore, the famous documentary filmmaker, and political activist collaborated with the band to make this music video by asking the band to perform in front of the New York Stock Exchange. Before the shoot, Moore got the permission to use steps of Federal Hall National Memorial, but did not have permit to shoot the streets, or creating loud noise. In the video, we can see Michael Moore taken away by the police, but he did not let the camera stop rolling. Indeed, he told the band to continue playing no matter what happens.

After learning about the transition from film to digital, I started to think about the content of this music video as a product of digitalization. First of all, Rudy Giuliani’s smiling face was playing and rewinding on repeat, reminding me of Ballet Mécanique (1924). It is surprising to see that experimental expression like repetition still being applied after 80 years. The mass entertainment and TV element reminds me of Nam Jun Paik’s Global Groove (1973). Of course, after 27 years, we are all aware of the rapid development of technology which brings the world together, but different in its ideology, this music video is displaying mass ignorance and the influence of capitalism (in USA). For example, the constant footages from Who Wants to Be Filthy F#&%ing Rich? (The parody of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?) intertwined with the band’s performance imposing on backgrounds like gigantic green US dollars, nuclear explosion, and TV commercials (mostly capitalist items). The experimental expression in the film is very simple, but the symbolization is successful and powerful, like when Zack sings in front of puppet faces of Al Gore, George W. Buch, and John McCain.

Gary Bauer’s voice appeared at last, “A band called The Machine Rages On… er… Rage Against the Machine, that band is anti-family and is pro-terrorist.” Note here, Bauer was once appointed by Trump to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, and a person holding a board that supports Trump as president appeared in the music video. Nobody would have thought that would come true after 20 years. Going back to the point we have discussed in class about if a film can make people act, my answer is not sure, but they certainly have the potential. In this video, the riot of people storming into the hall happened during the film shoot.

And who would have thought Limp Bizkit’s music video of Break Stuff won that year, instead of this one… I seriously, seriously, DO NOT understand how that happened.


This is the more recent video. It is the official music video of Depeche Mode’s song My Favorite Stranger, in their latest album Memento Mori (2023).

I have a fascination with music videos. Most rock band music videos seem very experimental to me. I picked this one because this looks exactly like what I wanted to film. Just a black and white visually great cool guy/woman walking in places that you cannot tell if it is modern or not. I forgot to mention that my first homework film was also inspired by this video.

The cinematography creates a clear contrast in this black and white world. The black outfit, especially hat, symbolizes mystery. The stranger looks like to be pissing on a tree, but after the stranger moves away, what we see are blood stains. The picture is black and white, so you cannot tell what the liquid really is. However, you just know it is blood.

Throughout the video, the stranger walks in slow motion, so the high quality camera captures every little detail of the cool walking style and the movement of the long coat, creating a dream-like quality that resembles Maya Deren’s works. What makes the scene even more like a dream is the fact that the stranger walks along forest and streets (a contrast between primitive and modern) that not a single person can be seen. It seems like the whole world is muted and dead, and the stranger is the only one alive.

At one point, the stranger stops in front of a shopping window to see self-reflection. Not only the clear window, but also multiple vintage television sets on display reflect the figure. Like the lyrics say, the perfect stranger might just be ourselves. The figure in the video is a reality encapsulation of the dark side of our personality that we never reveal in real life.

In the end, we finally get a good frontal look at the stranger’s face, and guess what? The mustache is fake. This is an androgynous figure.

Week 12 Reader Blog


The Aesthetics of Narcissism

The article starts with, “It was a common place of criticism in the 1960s that a strict application of symmetry allowed a painter to ‘point to the center of the canvas’.” (Krauss, 50)

       It reminds me of the passage Ideological Effects of the Basic Cinematographic Apparatus Jean-Louis Baudry wrote. Both that passage and this one mention painting traditions. In fact, all art forms tend to position towards the center. In paintings, we usually see the main subject matter in the center, something like this (that I randomly found and drew):

That reflects the self-centered narcissism, which “describes a psychological rather than a physical condition.” (Krauss, 50)

       Video art is indeed a mutual process. When the filming apparatus works, the body that is recorded also has to respond to this process, creating a feedback loop, which connects to the artwork Boomerang (1974) in which the performer experiences a weird self-awareness when she hears her own voice keep getting send back to her earphones instantly after she speaks, like a “mirror” experience.

       Krauss also states the difference between “reflection”, which means external symmetry and “reflexiveness”, which is asymmetry from within. Reflection usually involves the use of mirrors, and it produces the exact same symmetrical image in the outside world. Reflexiveness in the context of video art is like the feedback from the artist’s inner mind and creates an interaction with the art medium itself.

       My question: A clearer explanation of the relationship between the projection on screen and the projection of oneself?

The Rio Experience:

Video’s New Architecture Meets Corporate Sponsorship

The content in this reading got me thinking that I have the gradual feeling that larger art projects involving using a large wall or a building’s exterior are becoming more and more prevalent all over the world. Coming from China myself, there are some buildings used for 3D animation artwork at major shopping malls in Beijing, Shanghai, and Chengdu.

The cost is usually very high, so it poses challenges to artists who wants to achieve this kind of art. Another issue also lies in the uncertainty of whether these arts can make profits. An imbalance and conflict between major corporations and independent artist thus forms. Unless the artists are extremely rich themselves, it is impossible to do without sponsorship. It is probable that these artists are respected better and have lesser difficulty in acquiring the funds they need nowadays. In future media landscape, there should be less conflict between the commercial and artistic value in order for video arts to thrive.

Week 7: Searcher Post

“In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.” – Andy Warhol

This past week, I got on TikTok to watch a man go on a perilous cave diving journey, struggle to breathe, and struggle to turn around because he trapped himself. New fear unlocked. Then this was followed by what it’s like to be inside the Las Vegas Sphere during a performance by the band U2. This was followed by an interview with a pop star who had spent $150,000 on ketamine. And then a sponsored post that featured a “Shadow Work” journal that promised to help with personal growth and spiritual development. This is the reality now—an endless flow of random and meaningless information that only gets better and more addictive the more we consume it. It enters our minds through our screens and quickly exits without much thought. Andy Warhol’s famous quote about “15 minutes of fame” reflects this exactly and goes to show how he predicted that the future is going to be a fleeting information-saturated world. 

I found an article that draws a connection between Warhol’s works and the modern-day attention economy, which you can read here:;c=mqr;c=mqrarchive;idno=act2080.0036.206;g=mqrg;rgn=main;view=text;xc=1. This piece is an in-depth scholarly article that explores the shift from an industrial society that focused on the production of material goods into an information society/attention economy where we (our attention) are the product. Richard Lanham, the author, investigates how, in comparison to more traditional production components like land, labor, and capital, information and our attention have become important resources. In the age of information, human attention has become the most precious commodity. We are bombarded with an overwhelming volume of content that is impossible to process and understand. And it has become so effective that distinguishing between actual content and advertisements is increasingly challenging. Despite human attention spans being affected the most in recent years thanks to the internet, Warhol was one of the few artists to understand the increasing importance of capturing people’s attention in the world of art and entertainment. Lanham highlights Warhol’s view that the people themselves became the art exhibit. This concept resonates with the idea that people’s attention and online interactions are extremely valuable commodities sold to advertisers and are now prioritized over the actual material products being marketed to consumers. 

Apart from his pop art paintings, Warhol’s anti-climatic and non-narrative films also connect with his ideas about the attention economy and are an interesting retreat from traditional cinematic norms. Lanham states, “When he made his non-eventful films, he was, like Cage, calling attention to a temporal attention structure. He was acutely aware that the new economics of attention changed both self and society.” Warhol instead encourages viewers to experience uncomfortably long films that force them to participate in an alternative mode of viewing that requires patience and reception to temporality. Warhol essentially makes a commentary on our own capacity for sustained attention and challenges the fast-paced, sensationalist characteristics of mass media and culture at the time. His films also apply to our contemporary society in that we are forced to consider whether we are letting technology dictate our pace of life or if we can reclaim control over our attention and have technology serve us instead. Ultimately, his ideas and works prompt us to reflect on how we choose to use technology and how we are serving its demands.