Q : Do you think digital technology is making the world increasingly distractable?
image source : internet
James: I mean… the whole computerised world now is somewhat distressing with cellphones. People constantly have to check things, and then they just check for a second and leave. It’s just all so weird to me; it’s a weird world that we’re in.
But there are people who are realising that too, and are going in the opposite direction… Some people are learning how to work with technology so it doesn’t completely destroy their autonomy. Like, for me, I’ve been thinking very much about the computer and what [Unabomber Ted] Kaczynski’s written about technology, and that is that the computer offers me complete autonomy in my work; I don’t need a lab, I can do these collages, all this stuff by myself. Sometimes I need some help from a few technicians, but basically it’s not like I have to buy things to make a film any more. It’s all available once I have this equipment.
But because of that I can work constantly now, because it doesn’t cost. All of a sudden maybe the more important autonomy of control, of what your life is about, has gone. Now I’m the slave to this machine, working and concentrating on what I want to do. Now I like that, but at the same time I’m not sure it’s healthy. It’s something one has to negotiate.
And when I see young students who can’t let go of their cellphones, constantly having to text and do that, that worries me… it’s so seductive. A lot of it’s just nonsense, right, what’s going on with those things? Or maybe they have important things to text, but I doubt it.
James Benning (born 1942) is an independent filmmaker from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Over the course of his 40-year career Benning has made over twenty-five feature-length films that have shown in many different venues across the world.