John Davis – Candide (United States 2001, 9:56 mins.)

“[Silence]
First voice (very softly)”
Then a text quote by Dylan Thomas’ ‘Under Milk Wood’, which concludes with “And all the people of the lulled and dumbfound town are sleeping now.” A black screen again. We hear horror screams combined with dreamlike music. Flashes of advertisements pass by, showing rich, happy white men living the high life in the US, women with operated faces displaying beauty tools on TelSell. The screaming soon stops but the lulling, beautiful tune remains. Slowly other images appear in the stream of advertisement flashes. A violent scene of a black man hitting someone on the street. A half naked crazy man sticking out his tongue. An old Chinese man nervously crossing a dusty street. Images of scientific experiments are mixed with fast food commercials, followed by a woman vomiting. The happy images get fewer, the violent ones more. The video addresses normalization within western society and the role that image production plays in our understanding of happiness, safety and success. Davis smartly builds up relations between different image fragments and sound, until in the end even the prettiest nostalgic childhood shots become uncanny and gloomy.