Lessons in Modesty

'Lessons in Modesty' (1995) is a feature film by Stefaan Decostere, also known under its Dutch title 'Lessen in bescheidenheid'.

Lessons in Modesty

Wiretap 1.02: Lessons in Modesty

Decostere looks at the inherent paradox in the conception of the future by scientists from the San Francisco area, who praise the merits of an on-line virtual community which will ultimately allow users to never leave the periphery of their neighbourhoods. In Lessons in Modesty, artists are made to experience and comment on the fiction of empowerment through high technology. Clearly two models of artists are set up before us. There are those who come out of studios, taking their work to in situ performance spaces, away from art institutions which are still suspicious of high tech, using their bodies as sites and receptacles of the techno-experience. And there are those whose studios are corporations such as Xerox and Nasa, and who project a distance from the body. The first category addresses issues touching the materiality of the body head on. The second category is invested with a mission, a task: constructing a new time for a new body. This task is neither sacred nor profane; it is divine creation itself and the Mekka is the American West Coast. (Synopsis by Argos).

 

A TV program about body and technology, shot in the 1990s in San Francisco, at NASA at Xerox Palo Alto Research Centre (PARC) and Las Vegas. We, TV makers, are coincidential spectators. Artists, however, can put their own life on the line to allow us a glimpse of the technological fate of the human body. But also those who have a PC and a modem at home will have a chance to play a role in the technological pageant of the future. Why on Earth do we all dream the same dreams? After a moment of intense therapeutic conditioning and a number of instructions by specialized builders of the future at NASA and Xerox PARC we wonder how San Francisco will look after the future is over. As if driven by the same dream we land in Las Vegas where a decisive battle is fought between Good and Evil. During this 'program wrong' Decostere delivers the future at your doorstep. "Daddy", a girl asks us, "when will I be reborn? the girl I used to be is dead. Long live the new. I no longer recognize myself. I used to walk as if lost, but now I can no longer believe my eyes: daddy, I can see again."

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