The Reality Machine (2)

Updated: Jul 24, 2020

What triggered me was the murder of George Floyd and I'm definitively not alone in this. For a couple of weeks we got the news served on Dutch TV in daily items, A world wide movement emerged, riots, protests, inquiries, shame and reflection, kneeling police men, crying authorities and what not. I saw the video registration of the murder on May 26 one day after the event took place in East 33rd street Mineapolis Minnesota.

This video was just as disturbing as it was odd... not the chaotic shaky registration we usually see when a bystander document a shocking event, but a steady long shot video with crystal clear sound. We can hear the poor victim begging for his life and moaning the emblematic words: I can't breathe, while police officer Derek Chauvin keeps pushing his knee on the neck of the hand cuffed man. Another officer named J. Alexander Kueng does not seem to bother about the filming bystander, or anything else for that matter, he just stands there apparently unmoved, shielding his colleague a little. The whole suffocation ordeal took 8 long minutes and 46 seconds as reported in the media. Weird coincidentally 8:46 am is the exact moment when Mohammed Atta allegedly crashed Flight 11 into the North Tower of the World Trade Center now 11 years ago. Later I saw another video where they pulled the lifeless Floyd on a stretcher and shoved him into a waiting ambulance... no medical checks or special care was applied as if they all were in great hurry. The view of the whole event was partly blocked by a police car (with a licence plate reading: POLICE).

At that point I knew that I had to make an instrument to mark this uncanny event. We collectively arrived at an interesting junction. The reactions to Floyd’s death under Derek Chauvin’s knee and to the ensuing protests followed a familiar script. Some see it as further evidence that U.S. policing is deeply racist, we got the Black Lives Matter movement and now Cancel Culture. Speculating on the communal guilt and responsibility of Western civilizations. Others think the protesters are overreacting to a fatal police incident. And finally there is the group of people who start to ask themselves if the whole scene could indeed be staged, using a silicone rubber doll. All the different perceptions of what happened have such strong opposite realities that I felt the need for a mechanical talisman or indeed a Reality Machine. If only I could turn the handle and hear the drums of time rattling so to speak that could be so soothing and informative.