This short video consists of fast intercutting between two types of images: people running through subway stations, and nighttime cityscapes. Both the runners and the buildings are shown being attacked by ‘spaceships.’ These spaceships and the ensuing explosions are low-res graphics as found in handheld video games. The runners are often followed by the crosshairs of a viewfinder. A relentless, tabla-sampling techno beat recreates the repetitive drive of arcade-game music.
The video is dated 2001, so I’m not sure if it was made before or after the events of 9/11, but it does effectively convey the sensation of people, caught in the relentlessly fast-paced hustle of city life, feeling that they are targets, constantly on the run from an unspecified source of random explosions.
The relentless repetition in this short video (a single pace, mood, and idea endure through the entire thing) effectively conveys the numbing repetitiveness of modern life, even though it is sometimes actually numbing to watch. Staley is not presenting terribly original observations: the pace of contemporary life is fast, violence is increasingly abstracted and random. He borrows heavily from the quickly intercut style of network TV promos, without their visual slickness and skill but also without his own original style. Despite these shortcomings, Staley has created an effective evocation of urban paranoia, to which I, as a post 9/11 city dweller, could relate.