The People

Ian Flitman

Net art, GB, 2010
The People films people listening to a poem of the same name by WB Yeats. This is a remembered conversation between the poem’s narrator and their phoenix. When the poem ends, the listeners remove their earphones and look long into the camera and us.
There are eight voiceovers for the text each precisely edited to the exact same timing. This allows each listener to synchronise and attend to a different voice and through which particular combination our own interpretation and their performance is coloured.
There are three modes of playing The People. In ‘single’ mode you watch a single listener from beginning to end. In the ‘phoenix’ you choose two listeners thereby implicitly casting them in the active roles of narrator and phoenix. The poem is split into ten sections in the ‘mixed’ mode where the succession of faces forms chains of human listening as thought.