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Live cinema, surveillance as memory, the suspension of violence.

You Are Being Remembered seeks both personal and universal truths. Who stabbed Mr. Neil in the Mt. Work High parking lot? Where was I at the time? Is there such a thing as an innocent white boy? Which is worse, virtual or physical violence?

The nice thing about the future is that we can't remember it yet. The nice thing about the past is that we can make it up as we go along.




A man or boy about Conn's height and weight in a ski mask and down jacket approached the vice principal and said, Mr. Neil, I have something for you. Then he thrust a knife into him, into his tender lower belly. To be stabbed could be seen as a kind of crude intimacy. Of all places to pierce, the man in the ski mask chose his target carefully. This wound would linger.

It was January, 1978, in the west coast municipality of Saanich: in the teachers' parking lot in front of Mt. Work Senior Secondary, the late afternoon sun tinted the concrete block walls with a faint amber – the wooden bicycle racks and silver metal fences were drawn with a bold, expressive palate, the shadows grown charcoal in the corners and crevices. It was still ugly but it was almost beautiful. The back wall of the private sports club arena next door was covered in graffiti, in contrast to the school's continually sand blasted, silenced walls. The Day-Glo initials and clever messages were pumped by the pre-dusk lens-happy light. And of course there was the blood.

That morning Conn had had a heated argument with Mr. Neil in his office beside the library. He was on his own the rest of the day driving around the outskirts of the city, thinking about what Mr. Neil had said. So he had no alibi. When he heard the news the next day he waited for the police to call.


Mr Neil clasped his hands together on his desktop and leaned forward for emphasis, the shoulders of his tweed jacket creasing tightly. How do you think it's going to be in the real world if you don't show up for work? They're going to fire you, that's what. Every day you go to bed you'll have to ask yourself, What did I do today to make sure I have a roof over my head and food on the table? The real world will teach you if we can’t do it here.

His office was tidy and barren. Nothing on the walls, no photos on the desk, he had a wrinkled, leathery face with unusually thick eyebrows. In fact he leaned forward just like a gorilla.

Conn sighed, I've had plenty of jobs, it's not a problem.

He had a policy for school. He wanted to spend as little time there as possible, while maintaining a C+ average for entry to the new local university. This was just in case the world didn't end. He didn't think Mr. Neil would understand this. The world was coming to an end Mr. Neil.

You have to attend when we tell you to.

Go fuck yourself.

Even Conn was surprised when he said it. Mr. Neil's face turned dark red, like a bruised knee, and he yelled, That's it, you're expelled. He stood up, almost knocking his wooden chair over, and pointed out the door like a triumphant head ape banishing Conn from the jungle.

It was like a dream, the last thing Conn expected, but it didn't matter as it would all be over soon and maybe that was just as well. Conn had just read 1984 by George Orwell. He thought he should get it from his locker and return it to the library. In fact he'd better clean out his locker. He also had out a dog-eared paperback about Nostradamus, the sixteenth-century seer. According to the book he'd correctly predicted Napoleon and Hitler, and that the world would end that year – in 1978 – which made perfect sense. Conn thought of the four star General on TV saying there were now enough nuclear warheads in existence to blow up the world seventeen times over.

He would miss one class – Mr. Gerrard's Civilization course. But now they were at the end of history. Soon Mr. Gerrard's Greeks wouldn't matter any more – their dust would be the same as Conn's. He'd never get to see Orwell's bleak vision of endless bachelor apartments with two-way TVs and perpetual wars to maintain the economy. Maybe humanity didn't deserve to survive – the earth would renew and new organisms would get their chance. Cities were no different than ant colonies smothering savanna, or the growing number of wet creek rats at the edge of the playing field, the size of rabbits, their time would come too.

In the library Conn dropped off his books. He'd discovered he could find good ones by intuition, if he allowed himself to be led to the right shelf. He paused in front of the H's. That year he'd read Hesse and Hemingway and everything written by Aldous Huxley, including Brave New World. Mr. Gerrard said it was a work of dystopian literature, a subset of utopian works, and suggested Conn read some related books, including the original Utopia by Thomas More. Like most of them, Utopia's ideal planned society included a slave class. Conn wrote an essay about it. More's attempt was useful in some ways – no property and equal rights for citizens – but the non-citizens did all the hard work. Conn said goodbye to the library.

He needed a plan. He'd drive to all his favourite places, he'd stop and play a favourite song that went with each place, and remember what had happened there. And he'd throw something. He'd find something at each place and throw it, into the ocean or off a cliff, through the air and out of sight forever.


They never caught the stabber, a rumour said he was the boyfriend of a girl Mr. Neil had made a pass at. The police never contacted Conn.

Conn took a job at the plywood mill on Gorge Road the fall after his expulsion. He was on the graveyard shift, leaving work at 8 am as everyone else streamed towards town to begin their day. He rented a one room apartment in a leafy neighbourhood at the edge of downtown – it had a smoked mirror wall in the eating area and a floor-length version in the bathroom too, but he made sure he was never naked in front of them. He went to the bathroom in the dark and undressed in the entrance way, which was out of sight of the TV too, just in case Mr. Orwell was right.

It would soon be 1979, and so far they were still alive. On a whim Conn took a poetry class evenings at Central Junior High. He was the only man, and all the poems were sad. One night after class he walked out to the middle of the dark playing field and stood listening to the city moving around him, and he thought about people building countless communities with utopian ambitions and dystopian results. All that absurd, admirable, and almost limitless hope. Suddenly he could see that if one day he eventually turned forty, after spending years acting as though total destruction was imminent, he would waste his life. He'd be alone, loving no one, affecting nothing, nowhere.




You Are Being Remembered is part of U BEND.




Photobooklet  .pdf, single page view for smaller screens, colour image diptych series, 6.1 MB

Photobooklet  .pdf, double page view for wide screens (recommended), 6.1 MB




Exhibition media: Blu-ray Disc x 2 + mp3 (24 minutes looping and re-mixing), + other elements such as text poster, photo diptych series, or web-based materials.

Production media: Super 8 film, HDV + HD video, Satellite-based surveillance found footage.