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Diatribes is a simultaneous interview between Joe Farbrook (German/Jewish descent) and Sama Alshaibi (Iraqi/Palestinian) as they try to grapple with the war with Iraq, a war that the American government has waged, and which every American must share responsibility.   Entangled in the mix is a sampling of the media being broadcast during the build-up and aggressive period of the war as well as various protest demonstrations happening during this time-span.   Viewers are asked to choose which audio track to listen to and create their own live mix of the four points of view.   Pushing the 'audio' button on the DVD player remote control switches between the audio tracks.


During the U.S. buildup to the second war with Iraq, rhetoric and conversation concerning the impending conflict came from all directions.   Not only did every media source have a point of view, but so did every person; every consumer of the media.   Much of the world was engaged in the conversation about whether the war should happen, what the ramifications were, and what the outcome would be.   As I was glued to the television, watching the conversations and listening to the stories, I found myself surfing from viewpoint to viewpoint with my remote control.   This experience of tying perception to a button held in my hand became the underlying conceptual framework for the creation of Diatribes.

Iraqi born artist, Sama Alshaibi, became my collaborator in this project.   She had spent her childhood under the rule of Saddam Hussein.   Her mother is Palestinian and her father, Iraqi.   On the other side of the political spectrum, my own background is German and Jewish, my grandparents having been lost to the concentration camps.   We realized that our family's histories put us in opposing positions in view of this impending war, and it would be powerful for us to interview each other as we interpreted the media barrage that was 'bringing us' the war.   We set up two video cameras to face each other, beginning the many hours of simultaneous interviews that we would tape for this project.  

We also felt that we should include some of the media that we were watching, so I created a sampled mix of various television network broadcasts.   Feeling that we also needed to include some of the voices and opinions of some of the people around us who had influence, I attended rallies and demonstrations both for and against the war.   I videotaped many speakers and demonstrators, later editing this material together into a final mix.

It was decided that we should present the four viewpoints (Alshaibi, the demonstrators, the media, and myself) as four video boxes on a DVD to be played on a TV set.   We decided that the viewer, via remote control, should be able to surf the audio tracks corresponding to the four viewpoints.   By this method, the viewer becomes an active participant, spontaneously creating a perceptual narrative, as we did when the original events unfolded.   One then becomes aware of the choices one makes-which story one wishes to hear-when building a reality. 

The final multi-channel DVD was created in a long and short version (forty minutes and twenty minutes respectively).   An infinite number of mixes would be available to the viewer of this work. An example of a possible audio mix during a 10 minute clip can be found here.