On the 40th anniversary of the Internet, this Sundance Award winning doco explores the psychic effects of the web through the eyes of the greatest Internet visionary and provocateur you’ve never heard of – Josh Harris.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2009
Foremost chronicler of mad prophets, Ondi Timoner (Dig!) weighs in with this fine portrait of Josh Harris, the dotcom millionaire and Internet pioneer who predicted our virtual society before falling prey to his own extravagant experiments in surveillance. Raised on a diet of TV and neglect, Harris learnt early to turn alienation into profit, with a swift rise from web consulting whiz to founder of Pseudo (the first Internet TV network) during the mid-90s dotcom boom – a bizarre moment when computer geeks became the rock stars of downtown Manhattan. None partied harder than Harris, who threw wild raves to recruit staff and created a repellent clown persona called Luvvy. At the turn of the millennium, his twin obsessions with technology and bacchanalia culminated in ‘Quiet’, an art ‘installation’ in which 100 bohemians lived under 24-hour mutual surveillance in an underground bunker for 30 days. Along with free-flowing booze, Harris supplied a gun range, sleeping pods, communal showers and interrogation rooms. He then hired inmate Timoner to document his Orwellian experiment. Timoner's footage and ‘Quiet’s own tapes capture every nuance of the ensuing insanity. Not content with driving others mad, Harris then turned his own life into television, switching the cameras on himself and his girlfriend to create weliveinpublic.com where you could watch the couple doing the things couples do 24/7 live online. Only Harris was surprised when the monster he created devoured him too. It took Timoner years to track down her subject again. Quite what the ultimate TV-raised genius is doing in deepest Ethiopia provides yet another fascinating conundrum. — BZ