[< OCCULT v. + -ED1.] Hidden, concealed. Also as n.: (with the and plural concord) concealed objects or phenomena.
“Problem. To make what you see be seen, through the intermediary of a machine that does not see it as you see it. And to make what you understand be understood, through the intermediary of a machine that does not understand it as you do.”
—Robert Bresson, from Notes on the Cinematographer
Occulted is a meditation on the increasingly sophisticated surveillance systems that blanket public space in London, training watchful eyes and ears on a population that passively complies. The English have long been at the forefront of the willing surrender to this phenomenon. Prominent examples range from the proposed Panopticon (a late 18th century brainchild of British philosopher and legal reform theorist Jeremy Bentham that would have allowed prison guards to observe prisoners without being seen), to the Mass Observation Movement formed in 1937 to intrusively pry under the rubric of social research, to Orwell’s chillingly prescient “1984”, written in 1949.
The viewer of Occulted is immersed in the sights and sounds of the streets of London, barely six months after the traumatic subway and bus bombings of 2005. The observation of the individual is close and intimate, at times uncomfortably so, with periodic reminders that cameras are everywhere, scanning the surroundings. A populace that willingly submits to surveillance is observed, revealed and exposed in ways that leave us to ponder the effects of suspicion on our interior lives.
Director: William Noland
Camera, sound design & editing: William Noland
Completion date: 2006
Running time: 19:40
Original format: DVCPro HD 720p 24