When did you start making these animated flash photographs and what inspired you to do them?
Eric Blumrich: I started making flash videos, a few weeks before the invasion of Iraq. During that time I was appalled at how the corporate media was dutifully echoing this administration’s case for war. I’m a news junkie – I watched the “liberal media” playing host to an endless line of neo-conservative pundits spewing out talking points (which we all know now were deliberate falsehoods), and never giving a second’s consideration or airtime to those who believed this foregone conclusion of war to be ill-advised.
The straw that broke the camel’s back was the antiwar march in New York on March 20, 2003, which had brought at least a half-million people out into the streets. It was an amazing experience – hundreds of thousands of people of every ethnicity, faith, and age were there, braving the bitter cold, hoping to make their voices heard. The most memorable part of the event was when we were asked to give a minute of silence, followed by a mass chant of “The World Says No to War!”
Silence in New York City is a rarity – much less so when you have a crowd of over a half-million, but we pulled it off; the loudest sound was the police helicopters buzzing overhead. Then, the air shook and reverberated as hundreds of thousands of voices spoke as one.
It was cool.
I came home that evening, and checked the internet, millions of others had taken part in protests from Juneau, Alaska, to Beijing, on every continent (including Antarctica.) This, I thought, was big; the media HAD to take notice.
I flipped on the TV and had to wait 20 minutes before CNN bothered to spend 10 seconds, covering the largest antiwar action in world history. When they deigned to show a few seconds of the day’s events, it was accompanied by a commentator’s voice, quoting Rush Limbaugh, saying that those in attendance were “Marxists” (And, that only about 10,000 showed up for the march.)
I was pretty outraged by this. It was apparent that the traditional media had voluntarily castrated and blinded itself, to better become a more streamlined conduit for the Bush administration’s lies.
Now, a few months before this, I had become interested in the alternative media available exclusively via the web. I spent some time at Take Back The Media (takebackthemedia.com) and Information Clearing House (informationclearinghouse.info), and had noticed that there were a few people out there creating these flash slideshows with political/antiwar content.
I was unemployed at the time and had a bit of free time on my hands. I knew flash, had an extensive collection of obscure European industrial music, and knew how to mine images off of the web. I figured “what the hell; I’ll put together a flash animation about how much I hate this drive to war, and put it online…”
Now, this was before “viral video” entered the popular lexicon. I figured that maybe a few hundred people would download the (admittedly) amateurish and inarticulate visual screed I had put together, but was surprised when, the next morning, I found that it was being downloaded hundreds of times per hour. The guys who were hosting my stuff at the time were screaming bloody murder, because the demand for the piece was slowing their server down. I then invested 200 bucks in 200 gigs of transfer, but it was all used up, within 12 hours – 50,000 people had viewed my video, while I had been sleeping and eating breakfast.
It became apparent that there was a hunger for this sorta stuff out there. I chalked it up to the MTV generation; as long as it’s short, set to good music, and visually compelling, people will pay attention.
I figured to push it a bit further. The reason that most Americans were really cheering for war at the time, was because to a great extent, none of them knew what war actually looked like. They saw it as a bunch of explosions on their televisions, and went to sleep, comforted in the knowledge that those pretty blossoms of flame were the result of “smart bombs”, which never really hurt anyone, because they’re just so danged accurate…
I used my small media pulpit to show people the grotesque bestiality of war. Dead children – ruins – sadness – hopelessness – sorrow – violence – and hoped to hell it would make people think…