“A Smudge on an Electronic Strip” — Part 1

Pair 2019’s Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project with 2020’s VHYes for a double feature about…VHS TV recordings?

It’s fitting that one’s a documentary (Recorder) and the other’s ostensibly fiction, because both concern the technological age’s blurring of reality and illusion, courtesy of the boob tube.

Recorder biographicizes Marion Stokes, who spent much of her time on Earth — which coincided with the advent of not only the right inventions, but also 24-hour network programming — everything she possibly could on TV. She believed she was capturing for posterity both the major and the minutiae that defined the globe while she was on it; how can we fully understand an era and its people without knowing what they were watching, specifically when what they were watching actively shaped their conceptions of life were both inside and outside the home?

Marion herself became someone who never left her home, a hermit more consumed with her newfound mission — and the man who helped her with it — than anything outdoors. In this way, her journey can be seen as an allegory for the digitization of humanity’s attention over her lifespan.

In relation to the lede’s double-feature, these themes serve as sorts of passed hors d’oeuvre introductions to the ingredients that comprise our main course, the subject of tomorrow’s post, the first (but not only) great movie released in 2020: VHYes.

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