*This diary is loosely based on real-life events
Lately, I have been seeing … things. Without a better explanation, I chose to blame my stress levels and exhaustion for the obscure visions.
With my background in media and animation, it was not difficult to imagine myself doing video editing after my BA graduation. Knowing 3D, film and audio production, I naturally landed in this line of work. Plus I made a promise not to torture myself by doing hand-drawn 2D animation. There is something weirdly meditative about the job of a video editor. It can be so repetitive, it will lull your ADHD to sleep. Dissipate all your worldly worries. Quiet your loud brain. Sedate you into digital nirvana. Yet depending on the precarity of your condition it might as well suck your soul out of the carcass that is your body, and turn you into a content-pumping machine. It all depends on the context. My context dictated me to swerve between all the emotional extremes that were possible to achieve. One day I am engulfed by the hyperfocus, spitting out smooth transitions. Another, I am an anxious ball of fury, racing to meet the deadline. On good days I am basking in the ecstasy of eXpeRiMenTinG. In between these peaks, I feel like a soulless machine. Nonetheless, I am still here, and I am still editing. In some masochistic way, I enjoy these extremities.
Following my therapist’s advice, I decided to journal. One day, I think it was Monday, I opened a Google Doc and started typing my daily experiences. I could not abstain from judging myself for even using Google Docs. I should have chosen a DIY tool, like Etherpad, instead, or write with an actual ink pen (not ballpoint!!!) in an actual notebook, with actual paper pages. Although that did not seem quite ethical either, imagine all the paper waste! Nonetheless, my energy levels were low enough for me to ignore the self-deprecating monologue in my head, and just stick with the tech giant. That’s how this diary was born. A Diary of a video editor.
13:12 Today I came into the office with a lingering exhaustion hovering over my limbs. Sometimes doing nothing to rest exhausts you even more. The first thing I do is make a list. I love lists. To-do lists. To-buy lists. Not-to-do lists. What-have-I-done-today lists. Plan-for-the-week lists. My-plan-for-the-month lists. Life-plan lists. Favourite-films lists. Favourite-restaurants lists. Playlists. This is also a list. I cry in pursuit of constantly self-archiving, compressing myself into a list.
Today someone found a half-smoked joint in the office. I wish I could smoke weed. It gives me nightmares.
In my nightmares, I see Premiere Pro crashing and Elon Musk.
11:49 I open the Premiere Project file that has been lounging on my desktop for almost a week, untouched, starved. I imagine myself removing the debris of digital dust, the remnants of forgotten interaction. If this project was rendered in physical space, what shape and colour would it take? Which shelf above my desk would it be resting on? Would my flatmate’s cat reach it and potentially – in its usual manner – push it off the surface? But I see nothing. It is just a black box. My imagination refuses to conjure more than an image of a crude black box. Crude. Black. Box. How boring. Luckily it’s what’s on the inside that matters, they say. (In the post-cringe world we are all friends) Inside this crude black box, there is valuable content. Around 100GB of raw material (list 1): camera centre, camera left, camera right, 2 audio channels, colour adjustment layer and a bunch of after effects animations. I am a slut for organisation, and specifically *colour coding*. The left camera is always labelled in Mango, while the right camera is Rose. The centre remains in Iris. Adjustment layers – Lavender. The crude black box is not heavy. It only weighs 900KB. The raw material is just links. Links. The elusive spectres of the original content. One wrong move, an eviction of original data from its parent folder (that is so gender-neutral), and the link is broken. The content in the crude black box is merely the projections of the original content format. The black box is a directory in a larger archive of raw files. Raw. Uncooked. Bleeding. Body fluids. Flesh. Breaking. Links. The black box is a list. A self-sufficient archive.
A friend of mine wants me to edit her porn for OnlyFans. I love her dearly. I told her I will think about it.
Still thinking about it.
I would insert a passage on corporeality and porn, but unfortunately, I have been too busy editing videos to read theory.
I always edit with Spotify playing in the background. Fuck the pain away is playing. It makes me think of that time they made a cover of this song for Sex Education. Weirdly I enjoyed the editing in Sex Education, although the motion graphics and kinetic typography were at times a bit sloppy, luckily no one noticed. Euphoria, on the other hand, did not particularly appeal to my tastes, its sultry editing did not quite strike the tone with me. I did nonetheless follow all the drama on Twitter when season 2 came out.
12:12 ( ~Angel number~ )
I don’t like people who are annoyed by angel numbers. We get it, you are smarter than everyone. I, on the other hand, am inspired by a repetitive number in the upper right corner of my laptop screen. I am easy.
I had a breakdown last night, hence my being late today. I heard t̶̡̨̡͚̱̙͈̥̙̩̣̭̀ͅh̷̞̜̳͓͚̰̻͔̰͎̖̥̪̲̘͉̰̓́̐̉̋̅͛̽͑̏̀͋̈ę̵̯͓̬̞̙̩̼͖̱́͆̀̾̄͛̏͂̔̈́̇̕͜͝m̶̨̠͕̠̰̙̲̘̥̜̙̬͕͈̘̖̲͚̞͛̌͌͊͋̊͌̍̆͗̕̚͜ again.
Yesterday I submitted the first draft of the video for the review. Unironically, I love writing emails. In my email, I attached the link to the video on the cloud, a little gift. I closed it off with sweet pleasantries and “xxx”. Waiting for feedback. I receive warm emails approving the content a few hours or days later. I receive more links as return gifts. Content to be included before publishing.
Why are hyperlinks hyper?
In the age of ADHD do the links also struggle?
Wikipedia says: “’Hyper-‘ is used in the mathematical sense of extension and generality (as in ‘hyperspace’, ‘hypercube’) rather than the medical sense of ‘excessive’ (‘hyperactivity’). There is no implication about size— a hypertext could contain only 500 words or so. ‘Hyper-‘ refers to structure and not size.”
Mathematical sense of extension and generality. How generic.
Tim Berners-Lee, yes that exact person that invented the World Wide Web. I could choose to blame him for all my problems, really, but my therapist would not approve. In his book “Weaving the Web” he writes “In an extreme view, the world can be seen as only connections, nothing else. We think of a dictionary as the repository of meaning, but it defines words only in terms of other words. I liked the idea that a piece of information is really defined only by what it’s related to, and how it’s related. There really is little else to meaning. The structure is everything. There are billions of neurons in our brains, but what are neurons? Just cells. The brain has no knowledge until connections are made between neurons. All that we know, all that we are, comes from the way our neurons are connected.
Computers store information as sequences of characters, so meaning for them is certainly in the connections among characters. … The philosophy was: What matters is in the connections. It isn’t the letters, it’s the way they strung together into words. It isn’t the words, it’s the way they’re strung together into phrases. It isn’t in the phrases, it’s the way they are strung together into a document.”
I open the links. I download content. I open Premiere Pro. The next thing I have to do is insert the content I have downloaded into the video. I always have an empty layer lodged under the primary video layer so I could hide things there. My secret stash of visual material.
It is finally Friday, but for a true video editor, the labour of deconstructing audio-visual content never ceases with the onset of the weekend. Being a video editor is a mindset that does not succumb to your average white-crypto-bro grind culture. It is a lifestyle. A calling. Or rather a banshee’s scream between your ears that can not be muted. A loud judgement, that at times impatiently jumps out of your mouth during a Netflix and Chill session (such a turn-off). As a video editor, once you open any streaming platform, you are immediately appalled by the horrific colour grading job in the new tragically cisheteronormative sitcom. A ciscom, as I call it. Or the eye line match is not “good enough”. Or even worse: kinetic typography.
In no way can I say that I would have done a job of higher quality than that. On the contrary, I usually surpass the technicalities in favour of DIY aesthetics. I embrace the cringe. I proudly claim to be a lo-fi video editor. I consciously choose to aestheticize noise, grain and clipping. I choose to queer my practice, by abandoning the duality of good and bad. It is all just plainly bad, but that’s what makes it good. There is no dichotomy between right and wrong, and that is why it is right. Do NOT clean up the green screen. Do NOT make perfect masks. Say NO to clean cuts. Say NO to de-esser. Say NO to meaning. Choose content anarchy.
In my dreams, I dream of micro-wave music. There is a track titled “There is no future in control”. And the music video for it is a perfectly centred long shot (ironic right?) of a microwave in front of a huge pile of garbage. Close-up of a person in a ski mask. They put a pair of handcuffs with pink fur in the microwave and turn it on. Eventually, it explodes. It damages the camera lens and the contents on the drive. You are stuck in an eternal glitch. The track itself is just a monotonous recording of a microwave, soaking wet with cathedral reverb. Somewhere along the lines, the repetitive sound starts shape-shifting, transforming into something that could as well be a chant of post-digital ghost. And I keep dreaming…
In the waking world, I am haunted by the chanting of post-digital ghosts. I approach microwaves with unusual flirtatiousness as if they could provide me answers in exchange for a light caress or a soft embrace. I try to put a fork inside a microwave in the office kitchen, but someone grabs my hand. I try another time, but I get screamed at. I think if I try again, they won’t let me access the kitchen anymore. Unfortunately at home, I do not have a microwave.
I make friends with the chanting post-digital ghosts that inhabit my apartment now. They are against meaning production, so obviously they do not like my projects. They are begging for chaos. To be born out of glitch is to thrive inside glitch. So they crave glitch. I give them “Glitch Feminism: A Manifesto” to read, but they don’t like it. They burn it. Fuck. It was my only copy. I make a noise track. They are satisfied.
Y̷̢̧̢̢̧̰̦͔͓̬̼̯̭͎̥̲̘̹͎̬̯̻̤͕̮̯͍̭͓͖̩͈͖̩̓͐̋̆́̓̆̂̈́̍͋̒̀͐̑͛̔̐͗̚̚ͅe̴̡̨͕̰̟̦̤͔̙͍͎͇̥͍̞͇̜̰̙̣̗̬̜̜̩̱͋͆̀̌͊ͅͅs̴̡̛̪̲̳̪̫̱̋̓̀͋̔̄̓̅͜ ̸̢̨̛͍͍͍̙̜̪͍͖̰̻̠̠̖̝̦̬̜̞͇̝͙̣̦̹̬̹̼̠̘̻̩͎̏͛̿͜͝y̵̨̧̧̢̠̱̫̳͙̮̻̮̤͓̼̣͍͓̠̯̝͍̩̖͇̿̏͐̓̿̈́͊̉̕͜͜ͅe̴̢̡̨̛̳͚͔̣͔̝͚̩̲͇̺̳͖̦̠̼͙͈̲̫͙̞̯͙̥͚͖͈̗̭̎͑͒͌̑͊̑͛̀̓́́̓̾̽̊̌͊̍͒̍̋͂̃̈́̽̽͋̀͆̚̚̚͜͝͠͠͝͠͠ͅs̴̨̨̡̧̡̧͇̳͔̬̩̳͚̬͚̯̮̖̱͖̦͎̥̘͉̩͈̜̝̱̝̯̯̜͚͂̆͒̓͌̄́̀̏̍̚̚̕͝ ̸̢̡͚̥̩̞̠̭̞̤̟̭̝̰̠̭̰̬̟͉̤̂̍͌͆̈́̔̇̓̑͝ͅy̷̢̡̡̦̜͎̞̙̖̯̯͔͈̺͍̞͕̰̮̹͎̟̜̯̝̠̪̘͓̳̯̤̤͇̺͉͛̽͛̄͊̏̀̾ę̴̢̢̧̳̪͎̗̹͍̟̠͕̞̫̫̫̤͍͕̬̞͕͎̞̘̺̥̼͎̱͖̻̖̹̥͗̈́͊̽̊̑͐̀̋͛̑͒̚͜͜ş̷̛̛͍̬̝̜̹̫̭̔͐̈̐̂̀̓̊͊̀̔͐̐̽̋̐̊̾́̎̍̄̐̽̀̏̂͆̕̚͘͝͝. they chant.
I am driving on the highway in my hometown. 2:47 am. It is misty, and I have sadcore music playing on my Spotify. “This is so cinematic” I think. I even picture my life as a music video, then I cringe at myself. We are not in the post-cringe world just yet.
As a video editor, I work primarily with footage of people. When you have to edit a one-hour interview with 2 hours of raw footage, which can take roughly a few days to a few weeks, depending on your workload. (As a video editor you are guaranteed to be working on multiple projects garnished with a generous pinch of freelance gigs on the side, just to make sure your life is a never-ending process of survival under capitalism.) As a result, you become well accustomed to the subjects. You grow attached to them. You know the way they clench their fingers when they think. You know exactly the sound of their laugh, and how they like to use the word “systemic”. You are an observer. A voyeur. You form connections with moving images of humans. At times it becomes bizarre, as you feel like you have interacted with the subject for hours a day for an extensive period of time, but yet they have never seen you, they might not even know who you are, apart from an occasional, warm email exchange. Then you realise… you are the ghost.
Somewhere along the lines of days and raw footage, the ghosts keep chanting. Sometimes they talk about girls-with-bells-for-eyes*. They met in the metafiction world at some random point in the time-space continuum, incomprehensive to human experience. Questioning whether one affected the other, I wonder if the printed matter is more substantial than digital projections. Of course in the most Deleuzian ways I would not separate the material from immaterial, actual from virtual, but rather characterise them.
I freak my flatmate out with my ghastly presence.
It is Christmas. If my life was made into a Christmas movie, it wouldn’t be Die Hard. Just saying.
My ex-lover used to send me links to songs, creating tapestries of meaning. Beautiful networks of sound, memories and Spotify playlists, that I would wrap myself into for emotional comfort, an elusive warmth of presence, as they slowly melted away from my life. Our connection could easily be translated into a link. I wish that link could be deactivated, erased and forgotten, but unfortunately, their impact on my life spreads further than just “404 not found”. They texted me recently. I felt numb. And nauseous. My first thought was how would I capture this feeling in the video. As if my only purpose is that of self-archiving.
I am back to working on my “freelance” projects. I am passionately rendering the 3D animation as if I could make my CPU accelerate by intent.
I always write on Fridays. I am seeing a friend for after-work drinks tonight. I wonder if they will ask me about my essay. Or my diary. I wonder if they remember. Because I do. And apparently, it means I care. I care a lot, I believe, although mostly about the things I probably should not care about. Like colour grading my videos in a specific order, not for the efficiency of it, but for the ritualistic element.
I perform a sacrifice to the post-digital ghosts on the Full moon in Aquarius. I export my final video in the lowest quality possible and delete the original. The post-digital ghosts devour high-quality content in rampant hatred. I watch them open their mouths, and sink sharp teeth into the digital flesh. Frames crumbling on my desktop. I send the low-quality version for publishing, while the ghosts are staring at me in almost admiration. I like that.
I stare at the glitch as a void of knowledge: a strange dimension where the laws of technology are suddenly very different from what I expected and know. – Rosa Menkman, Glitch Studies Manifesto
One day I wake up in a glitch. I am happy. I finally escaped the cis-hetero patriarchal matrix. I am free. The ghosts are back home. No more video editing.