Probably the most widely-viewed of Douglas’s computer-animated creations is the haunting THE WHITEHOUSE (1998/2000), in which skeletal ‘spirits’ engage in a variety of activities (including dancing around a fire, playing the cello, watching television, kissing, conversing via reversed English tracts, and -- more ominously -- wielding firearms, torturing and tossing a blind- folded prisoner out of a black helicoptor, etc.) in and around a doorless, windowless ‘white house’ which is slowly engulfed in rising flood waters.
John Douglas’s version of DA SPEECH premiered at State University NY at Purchase (SUNY) on May 8th, 2003. Later that year, in November, the Vermont Film Commission and the Vermont Arts Council honored John Douglas with the James Goldstone Vermont Filmmakers Award for DA SPEECH (presented at the Vermont Filmmakers Showcase, Vermont International Film Festival, in Burlington, Vermont).
The most expansive exhibition of ‘da SPEECH’ to date remains the international premiere screening of five versions at EMERGENCY FILMMAKING PROJECT-RSVP, Singapore, June 10th and 11th 2003 (presenting DA SPEECH videos by John Douglas, Satoshi Kubota, Jin Otagiri, Toshi Fujiwara). - STEVE BISSETTE
modeled and animated in Softimage and edited with Premiere
Simultaneously dreamy and nightmarish, playful and pointed in its subversive attack on the titular seat of U.S. Government, THE WHITEHOUSE has been screened (including Vermont Public Television screenings) in a number of work-in-progress variations, though the definitive version to date incorporates footage of the Bush/Gore Presidential debates from the 2000 election, eerie omniscient views of an orbiting government satellite, and concludes with a race between corporate coptors (emblazoned with Coca-Cola and Pepsi logos; a sardonic subtitle referencing the destination Harvard vs. Yale game further links the aircraft to 2000 election candidates Gore and Bush) that concludes with explosive results. UNDERNEATH: A NOSTALGIA FOR PAINT explores a sterile art gallery displaying only images (from varying points of view) of the same fenced-in winterscape, sheltering an ominous satellite dish and peppered with cautionary signs; metallic cubes housing TV monitors broadcasting war footage are topped by revolving cubes emblazoned with the stars-and-stripes of the American flag; the military-industrial complex's icy grip on communication is chillingly evoked. A later edition of WHITE NOISE mounts a scathing attack on the current Bush Administration's diversionary tactics, opening and closing with archival audio and video of Bush's shameless volunteer boosterism while the mournful body of the video (accompanied by more of Erich Kory's cello music) offers impressions of the Iraq wars and air-attacks amid eruptions of static and agitprop text scrolls. The high-contrast, closeup black-and-white video footage (shot from television) of President Bush's features that opens WHITE NOISE were later incorporated into DA SPEECH, along with other iconographic visual elements. - © STEVE BISSETTE
and an interview with Kenneth Peck of Vermont Public Television