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We Live in Public


None March 4th, 2010

t-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B0036RO1MW">We Live in Public" explores the degrees and dangers of that visibility.

Harris' rise and fall was so quick, that if charted, they might look like an A. As "DiG!" director Ondi Timoner notes, he was among the first to provide hard numbers on Internet statistics and trends early on, making him his first fortune. He made his second by founding pseudo.com, a trailblazer in 'net programming.

But what he did after that gives "Public" its power. Believing the world was moving toward a time where people would give up privacy online, he commissioned an "art project" in which 100 volunteers were sequestered underground. They wore matching uniforms, lived in pods, subject to intense interrogation and were under the watchful eye of cameras for everything they did. Yes, everything.

With food, drink and drugs provided free, the experiment began as quite the party. Before a month was up, however, it had turned into "Lord of the Flies." Some of Timoner's footage is deeply disturbing, as the humans began turning into animals, and everyone is too numbed too notice or do anything about it. (Hey, who thought including a gun range was a good idea?)

After the cops shut that down, Harris went on to the same thing on a much smaller scale, with just him and his girlfriend, Tanya, in their apartment, in which dozens of motion-sensor cameras captured their every move. Yes, every "” there was even one installed inside the toilet. Again, it's all fun until someone gets hurt, and that person is Tanya, when he suffers a breakdown and lashes out at her physically.

"Public" is one of those documentaries that succeeds because of Timoner's access to her subject, over the course of several years. Harris makes for a remarkable focus "” part prophet, part madman, as troubled as he is intelligent. The film is fascinating, although too upsetting to be entertaining. You won't want to avert your eyes, but you'll never want to see it again. And some of it sticks with you so strongly, you may never need to. "”Rod Lott


 
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