Recently I have begun to read a journal based out of the University of Texas called Velvet Light Trap. In issue #60, entitled Documentary Now, Jaimie Baron has an essay, Contemporary Documentary Film and “Archive Fever”: History, the Fragment, the Joke that has inspired this week’s pick. In the essay Baron uses both the archive and notions of humor/jokes to delve into several documentaries. One of which being Andre Silva’s spam letter + google image search = video entertainment. In spam letter we have an experimental film that looks to document, well, spam. Combined with images pulled from Google Image Search we follow the often read, and hopefully seldom believed “dead relative” scam.
…Moreover, its use of the archive is so disturbing to conventional notions of history that, I contend, the film is forced to change genres, ousted from the realm of documentary to be classified and contained in the category of the experimental. Looking at it as a documentary, however, challenges the distinction between “proper” and “improper” uses of the archive as well as refined notions of the historical.