A Machine To See With


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Documentary footage of Blast Theory’s A Machine To See With, a project that is part game, part theatre, part city tour.

A Machine To See Withis a film where you play the lead. You sign up online and hand over your mobile phone number. On the day, you receive an automated call giving you the address you need to go to. Once you arrive on your allotted street corner your phone rings. From there a series of instructions lead you through the city. You are the lead in a heist movie; it’s all about you. As you move from hiding money inside a public lavatory, to meeting up with a partner in crime and onwards to the bank, the tension rises. It’s up to you to deal with the bank robbery and it’s aftermath.

Like Ulrike and Eamon Compliant before it, A Machine To See With puts you at the heart of a crime redolent with political overtones. Inspired by Philippa Foot’s Trolley Dilemma it makes you the protagonist in a developing narrative of ethical decision making. The fiction of the piece and its movie pretext are situated in a real city with a real bank. As you prepare to rob the bank you are aware that the line between pretend crime and real crime are starting to blur.

As the voice on the phone says “If the police are called they will not take any notice of your excuses. If you get caught you just deny that you knew you were breaking the law, just tell the authorities that re-distributing capital from where it is not being used to where it will get used is a service.”

It is about cinema.
It is about the tyranny of choice and consumerism.
It is about the financial crisis.

“This is not a personality test. This is A Machine To See With. The ending is up to you. In 8 seconds I will hang up. You will not hear from me again. Goodbye.”

A Machine To See With is a Locative Cinema commission from the Sundance Film Festival, 01 San Jose Biennial and the Banff New Media Institute. It was created between January and September 2010 and premiered in San Jose on 16th September.

Blast Theory, 2010, PAL DVD

Additional information

Weight 199.0 kg