Nicholas Mortimer

Duty To Act

3 Channel HD Video – 11mins 50 secs

An aspiring television editor, film maker or spokesperson plays out a once plausible world event within an amateur media centre – ‘Duty to Act’  is a film which considers the construction, delivery and reception of media imagery. 

An undelivered speech, written for John F Kennedy to announce the bombing of Cuba in 1962 forms the starting point for the combination of a counterfactual history and a series of speculative obsessions. The protagonist acts out a variety of roles surrounding the pre-emptive, Presidential address in a confused version of todays culture of producing and consuming personal media. 

Scale models of disaster scenes are filmed with home made cameras, and the footage is edited in a closed system of simulated media imagery. A hobbyist’s response to the world of broadcast television, married with a domesticated DIY aesthetic, reflect today’s implosion of socially mediated, self published news casting. The use of a historically loaded document as a script aims to examine the role of rhetoric and political speeches as a form of linguistic technology which could be seen to aid the design of ideologies, emotions and culture.  

My practise brings together cultural studies of media and technology, historical research and theory. This short film is an attempt to create an array of interpretations on the theme of the power of media messages, the ambivalence found in real life news events, and their fictional counterparts. By constructing a character who presents an elaborate set of simulations, we question our relationship to projections of fact and fiction, and an interpretation of current issues surrounding the politics of terror attacks and their management in all media.

Special thanks to
Zara Mckenzie
Fiona James
Sophie Yetton
Matthew Mcquillan
Nina Pope
Noam Toran