Experimental Short Film: 01.39411.999
It’s difficult to deny that, as a culture, we’ve become inured to televised, projected, streamed and transmitted violent images — as long as they don’t hit too close to home. Rajee Samarasinghe’s experimental short film 01.39411.999 may feature degraded and manipulated video to the point of abstraction, but the reality of its violence is still terrifying to behold. WARNING: Not for the faint of heart. (Seriously.)
01.39411.999 bears some comparison to Clint Enns‘ 2009 short film the death of natural language, which abstracted a plane crash into computer ASCII code. However, Samarasinghe’s foray into abstracted violence is much more personal and intense, bound to leave a mark on the viewer in an unpleasant way by using (spoiler alert) an infamous beheading video as his abstracted source.
The filmmaker’s official description of the video indicates that it is at least partially inspired by Susan Sontag’s book Regarding the Pain of Others, a dissertation on war photography. What makes 01.39411.999 more biting than still photography, even when manipulated to abstraction, is the keeping intact the original audio, grounding the blurry, globulous images in terrifying reality, particularly to those who remember watching the original, unmanipulated video still visible in the dark corners of the Internet.
Samarasinghe recently won a jury award for 01.39411.999 at the Sydney Underground Film Festival where jurors Jane Mills and Alex Munt described the film as a “horrifying film on torture that refuses to aestheticise violence.”