a series of video letters investigating
terrorist propaganda in the age of social media
(in collaboration with Kevin B. Lee)
Bottled Songs is a series of video letters exchanged between Chloé Galibert-Laîné and Kevin B. Lee, documenting their investigations of online media related to the audiovisual propaganda produced by the terrorist organization Islamic State. These “desktop epistolaries,” recorded from the artist-researchers' computers, depict their experiences navigating through an unstable virtual environment of fear and attraction. The epistolaries examine a range of subjects connected to ISIS media: specific videos produced by ISIS; spectral figures who appear in the videos; and viewers of the videos with a diverse range of motivations and interests. These video letters function within multiple forms: a multi-part episodic series, a two-channel installation, a feature length film, and audiovisual performance lectures. These multiple manifestations of the work account for the volatile and mutational nature of contemporary terrorism across medias: a network of intersubjective desires perpetually (mis)perceived, (mis)understood, commented, shared, re-purposed and re-contextualized. These investigations combine to give a multifaceted account of the images, people and networks that make up an unruly sphere of online terrorist media.
Two chapters from the series have been shown publicly as a two-channel video installation at the 2018 Ars Electronica Festival (Linz, Austria), the 2018 Impakt Festival (Utrecht, Netherlands), the 2018 Rencontres de Bandits-Mages (Bourges, France) and the 2019 WRO Media Art Biennale (Wroclaw, Poland):
My Crush was a superstar
This chapter tracks a French ISIS fighter through a trail of messages, videos and online postings. This leads to an uncomfortable first-person exploration of the gender dynamics behind ISIS recruitment strategies.
A first draft of the video as well as an accompanying written statement was published on NECSUS European Journal of Media Studies.
“The Spokesman” investigates the online traces of a British news reporter who was kidnapped and appeared in several Islamic State propaganda videos.
A recent interview about this project can be read here.
This project has been discussed as a work-in-progress in venues including the Freie Universität Berlin, the Essay Film Festival in London, the Temple University Documentary Symposium, the Berlinale Talents program, the Birkbeck Institute (University of London), the Yale University Theory/Practice Symposium, the Jihadi Audiovisualities conference at the University of Mainz, and the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts.
Bottled Songs was conceived with the support of the Harun Farocki Institut, sponsored by the Goethe Institut. It was then developed at m-cult (Helsinki) within the framework of the European Media Artists in Residence Exchange, funded by the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union. Further funding has been provided by the Sundance Institute via their Art of Non Fiction program.