40 000 000
full HD video, 7’23”, 2010
40,000,000 is a short video essay linked content-wise to the artist’s older films Socio-fiction and The Theory of Work. Using similar visual means, the artist contemplates the undercurrents of capitalist society and his personal role in all its self-motion. A starting point for the work is Jan A. Baťa’s book We’re Building a Country for 40 Million, a Fordist version of the future of First-Republic Czechoslovakia. In the video-essay the artist analyses on several levels the way capitalist society currently works. The motives of capitalism’s hidden processes mix with individual desires and the trajectories of human beings, who, despite their singularity and apparent independence, are part of the system they help create. An important line of narrative is also the level of drawing attention to the filmmaking process itself, conceived as instructions for thinking. A contingent space in which thoughts and images mix with personal subjective feelings.
I’d like to get rid of one of my bad habits:
The way I see it, allowing for clichés is linked to an inability to think.
One must multiply to succeed.
I hear myself speak with a woman’s voice.
There’s still the chance to think from another’s perspective.
To hear yourself.
I have a plan, but it changes and distorts each moment in the future.
I’ll insert this sentence somewhere in the middle of the text’s flow.
In the beginning there was darkness, like an indiscriminate sea of water,
desire was the first to be born in it, that was the first outburst of the mind.
The flow of text or the current of speech.
It always exists in every moment. I have no idea where it will turn next.
A text about desire and the social system from which it arises.
The flow of speech about the social arrangement that we help create and that persists thanks to our desires.
I’m fascinated by the mechanism that seems to be simple in its operation,
but incomprehensible in its self-motion.
We’re Building a Country for 40 Million.
That’s the title of a book published in the last year of the First Republic of Czechoslovakia, meaning over seventy years ago.
The author of the book, an unwavering Fordist and entrepreneur, presented it as a plan to combat unemployment.
He anticipated that there would be millions of potential customers in the legions of the unemployed.
It was a vision of capitalist expansion.
He created an antithesis to the socialist utopias.
The ten-million-strong Czechoslovakia can sustain a population of 40 million if it has the will to work efficiently.
Let’s change the world, let’s be efficient!
Today the slogan would be:
Let’s be flexible!
The factory was the basic laboratory in which experiments were subordinate to authoritative management. Today these experiments are more developed.
The flexible workforce itself took the initiative and devises how to be even more flexible, thinks up by itself how to be even more enslaved.
The happy republic, a paradise on earth, planned and devised by the corporate spirit. To create the perfect machine driven by desire. That’s the “capitalist utopia”. A bliss-producing machine. A machine that distributes bliss to its machinists.
We long for bliss when we feel pain from a lack of bliss. As soon as there’s no pain, we don’t miss bliss. When we feel pain, the machine needs to be oiled and run.
The perfect perpetual motion. The only threat to this mechanism is desire itself. It can only be subdued for a while.
Or it moves in another direction.
A picture of perpetual motion as a perfect illusion of human happiness.
Work and life become inseparable.
Time loses its linearity, becomes chaotic, breaks down into isolated moments. Along with the restructuring of production and distribution, the nervous system is restructured.
Is one person’s desire the desire of 40,000,000 beings?
It’s just like writing a novel in which the subject’s monologue objectifies the lives of millions of people.
New rivers run through a new landscape and new highways crisscross it.
40,000,000 people don’t have their own voice, don’t exist.
This utopia is a kind of great narrative, a heroic story about courage, obstacles and overcoming them.
The story about an unfeasible future.
The story of our order.
This story has no end.
This story has no end.
A film is constructed using three mechanisms:
composing, supplementing and refining.
This mix creates many spaces.
The mix uses a wide range of conceptual frames.
A mix of phantasm and objectivity, subjective trajectory and theoretical background.
Desire as the mind’s first outburst.
That which you’ve never thought of is what you desire!
Desire is born before the thought.
It’s already there when you’re thinking.
And you think how to satisfy it.
The engine is started.
Thought is a machine that cannot be preset.
Thought is a subject of desire.
It’s as if someone kept pushing you from behind, and when you turn around there’s nobody there. Nobody who could have pushed you!
What kind of neurosis is that?
Or is it psychosis?
Schizophrenia is a breakdown into a number of disconnected present moments.
Deviousness in the base of all reason.
What is rational in society?
Interests and following them?
Under it all is desire, the contents of desire.
Desire can change the social fabric.
The flow of money, of means of production, work force, new goods.
Desire in motion.
The promise of realizing our dreams is the self-deceit within the capitalist system.
Another phase of restructuring the nervous system begins.
The end of the film.