‘I am not scared… I have a beer!’ he says as soon as we meet. He is surprised and enthusiast as he sees the bricks. He is Slavko Martinov, filmmaker who filmed and produced Propaganda [See previous Post]. I explain him that the method is not a psychoanalytic session, but a search for truth ‘Which is typically subjective’ he adds.
As a filmmaker who has been working hard on the issues of propaganda and information, my questions were simple in their constructions, to let Slavko’s views and ideas to emerge freely: What is Information? I ask.
He stays silent for a while and starts playing with the bricks. He turns all the bricks upside down.
All separated. All detached. All on the table. Then, when he’s finished, he starts talking:
‘All these pieces are information… If you ask me what information is, it really makes me think that if everything I have turned the other way was information as it’s presented, my natural instinct is to turn everything over and examine it from underneath, or sideways or back to front, or upside down… That’s how I get to the truth. I just don’t accept information as it’s given to me. So, if this is me, my idea…’ and he pics the human figure and shows me the flower on the head ‘this little flowering of an idea or the bloom of an idea is that to question everything, upside down… even if I was built up and passed of some information I have to ask, according to who, where the source come from, who benefits and why I have been given that structure of information… I would completely take it apart to examine it…’
‘What are those signs on the small bricks next to the human figure?’
‘I think the common perception would be that these were eyes, just my building ability is so lacking…’ And while talking, he puts the little yellow bricks under the feets of the minifig.
‘So what are those eyes made of? If this man represents ideas and he stands on eyes, what are those eyes?’
‘It depends whose this person is… if he is standing on the eyes, is it suppressing eyeballs? controlling eyeballs? controlling information eye balls? It could be Reuters or it could be any kind of network…’ He picks the man up and look at the minifig closer ‘Although he is smiling… what kind of smile is that? it’s not a very nice smile, it’s kind of pernicious gaze, isn’t it? it’s like ‘I own this eye balls! I will tell you what to see’ in which case the construct of information it’d be turned over and build something and put this person on the top…
complete with the antennae’ – he says by adding the antenna on the top of the head of the little human figure – ‘ and then it would be transmitting to those eyeballs, which are at the bottom of their feet…’ He says while looking at the construction for a moment.
‘But the information [the human element] works with, is all detached…” I point out looking at the bricks Slavko turned upside down.
‘Yeah, as I were saying, I was like deconstructing information or deconstructing what I am told… If you were to say what is information according to me and that is information that I would build…’
‘Build it!’ We laugh.
He stares at the bricks for a while.
‘Information as information I’d make it or information as I’d interpret?’
‘You will tell me’
‘I am too cautious.. it’s about information in film…’
‘You will tell me’
‘If I was making a film, I’ be so careful and so cautious about putting something together, I’d never just do this, because you have to be so careful about what you do… Except maybe once you have a lot of time to think about what is you want to do, what you want to say and research a lot, and then you go out and start filming… the reason that this makes me feel… not tense, because I am very relaxed with you, but it reminds me of the editing process as opposed to the writing process, where I can take my time researching, and writing, and thinking and thinking and thinking and come back. This is like editing and having to write during editing, because there’s no time, you just have to start writing on the spot…’
I look at the model and question him:
‘We have a black base, bricks on the top… What’s the black base?’
‘On a purely shallow level I just take these as the national colour of New Zealand, but that wouldn’t be true… I don’t know, if I was to make something, I would never pursue something unless I am not completely certain that is was worth doing. So perhaps the black represents a really really solid, clear, unequivocal foundation for what to build…’
‘What’s the origin of that base?’
“I think it’s itself art… which I think it’s common for all artists… Some people can do things and they need t express or they want to paint or want to do something and they just start emoting and expressing immediately without any fear or what so ever. It’s something I can do, when I am writing and I have an idea on my head and just start writing, really very quickly… pages and pages. If it’s something like film, there’s a lot of fear involved because you can’t just do something for the sake of it, it’s kind of filled with dread and excitement at the same time…’
‘And what’s the next layer?’
‘Good question because then I think I’d just start fearless putting things on because in fact I was just putting things on without thinking… because life is fragmented and all humans are fragmented and made up of mini parts and completely imperfect and flawed… So now I have no fear about whatsoever about just putting together, and I would not be pretty, and I don’t care about looking good at all, because this is humanity itself, flawed and imperfect. So many different discourses make up who we are and it’s very fluid, so I just keep putting things in without thinking… this is life itself: sometimes appealing, fascinating, non sensical …’
‘So life is on the top of the base?
‘Well, one would hope that you have one solid foundation, but what is a solid foundation for some maybe not be for others, and that brings me to talk about faith, because I often think in New Zealand we were very blessed and why was I born as a white man educated in New Zealand and the next soul is born in Chad… it makes no sense, I don’t know… Maybe this is a sense of gratitude from me, even though it’s dark, having this one solid foundation, as shaky as it is, and as complex and flawed and mapped with mass of failures in my life… my life is… fragile and flawed… makes good stories…’
I take him back to the model and the key question: where’s information in the model?
‘Where’s information coming to the model or where’s information in the model?’
‘Where’s in the model?’
‘Then we have to say what information is…’
‘I know, that was the question…’
‘So where’s information here? This entire thing is information. Every little part of it, and every little part of me, and everything I’ve ever known, and everything you’ve asked me, and every person on the road and everything that’s going on outside and ever was, contributes to this thing with a little bit of information. And information can be complete bullshit but it is information, all of it…’
‘For me knowledge is… And I’am not saying this as truth for everyone else, but knowledge for me, at this point of my life, I am now 42 years of age – the longer I am around and the more I find out and the more I see and read and the less i know… And I am struggling with that, I’ve become increasingly aware of the fact that I know so little…’
‘We have been talking about information, life… what is propaganda?’
This question opens an universe.
‘Are you talking about propaganda as a construct or propaganda the film?’
He starts taking and I mock him “ I don’t want the answer you have already given, build it…’
‘You are like a theatre director – don’t say, do!’. We laugh.
He spreads the bricks around and then he picks up a film catalogue and puts it in front of the bricks.
‘… propaganda is this, that you can’t see it. Those who construct propaganda hope this is what you see, they don’t want you to see anything. My goals is this’ – he says while taking off the magazine – ‘that you see it and you ask who is who is making it, who is it? who’s selling this to you or telling you something or try to influence you… And then, piece by piece, you start taking it apart, looking at it, asking questions, talking to each other, why I am being told this? who benefits… sometimes it’s not easy to take it apart… and you use the word, propaganda, not public relations, not informational diplomacy or advertising or marketing… Propaganda, because that’s one construct, you know… ‘
The conversation with Slavko Martinov then went on getting deep into the issue, talking about propaganda and how propaganda is covering the truth in this world.
This part dealing with propaganda and the current political situation, is published as an exclusive interview for the London Progressive Journal.