The X-Ray Files

From Stings to Leaks to Citizen Vigilantes

A video lecture 
Tuesday June 10
7:30 - 10:30  pm

As the story goes, villagers in Jaunpur, or women labourers in Bangalore (depending on if you want to believe Tejpal or Bahal on this) responded to early sting operations by invoking an image of tehelka dot com as an x-ray machine located in Delhi that would expose everyone’s corruption as soon as they came in front of it. This apocryphal story became a kind of intuitive marker for conceptual connections between hidden cameras and transparency in governance and political intentions. 

But all metaphors have their limits. X-rays don’t usually tell you if their subject is even alive or not. People (we will see) are being slapped and pinched even while under “truth serum”. Truth in other words, is extracted or built by a combination of means. The “transparency” produced by early hidden camera recordings relied on elaborate mise-en-scene or “setting”: fictional scripts, unreliable narrators, great performances and hungry network audiences. Stings and leaks in India have been largely an audio-visual medium, framing violence and encounter, far from transparently or opaquely, as a new skin of documentary experience. 

This evening we present a long-format (2 hour 30 minutes) artists’ rendering of a history of images and sounds produced by stings, leaks and more recent citizen vigilante media, with TV overlays and edit styles removed or undone. We follow an evolution or descent of these forms from energetic origins in new media journalism, via proliferating leaks, into an ordinary in which “every citizen now becomes an anti-corruption inspector”, in the words of Aam Aadmi Party’s new Chief Minister of Delhi, at the start of this year. 

There is a difference between ideology and the way things actually look. (It can look worse too). Direction, framing, timing, empathy or lack of it, and again mise-en-scene, count in the difference. Video in this form is a crafted relation between selves and others, a test of ethics far beyond the law, and a precedent for what distributed technologies can do. Video's own protocols are far from settled, and it cruises the edges of "the networks". There are a lot of questions here about what a democracy or community of images might look like. For while the selfie says radically, “I represent myself”, the easier wrist position, or higher Mp camera, still points outward. 

(Part of this material was presented recently as a two-hour video lecture at the 3rd Berlin Documentary Forum, HKW, Berlin.) 


In Delhi: 
Tehelka, Cobrapost, Gulail, AAP
Aniruddha Bahal, Satyashree Gandham, Shaunak Sen, Aastha Chauhan, Ankit Lal, Vinay Shukla 

At CAMP and Bombay:
Zinnia Ambapardiwala, Prerna Bishnoi, Omkar Khandekar, Ashwin Nag, Geeta Sheshu

Lawrence Liang, Jan Gerber 

Fwd: Re: Archive

The central event of a month-long gathering organised around the 10th anniversary of the footage archive, and the 5th anniversary of

At the Berlin Documentary Forum

Unreliable Narrators: Stings to Leaks to Citizen Vigilantes

Saturday May 31, 2014
6pm to 8pm
HKW Berlin.

Camera Obscura

Tate Modern

29th March, 2017, 7:00 pm
South Tank

Into the Midst Workshop

Months long workshop initiated by a group of artists in and around Delhi. To analyse contemporary mediation and media theory as a general phenomenon, to discuss emerging practice and theory, and to produce new work.
Part 1 @Sarai, April 20-22, 2024

Broken Cameras

The Neighbour Before the House
Al Jaar Qabla Al Daar
الجار قبل الدار

What the Cameras Saw and Remembered

Two films by CAMP
Al Jaar Qabla Al Daar (The Neighbour before the House)
From Gulf to Gulf to Gulf

Captial Circus (2009)

The Unfaithful Octopus
MAIIAM Contemporary

To See is To Change

with Bombay Tilts Down (2022) and A Photogenic Line, (2019) as part of Photo 24, Melbourne.
In this pair of large-scale works, CAMP explore two sides of their practice; one that produces experimental film and video, often with unusual equipment and angles of participation, and another that creates and animates archives of moving images, documents and photography.


Low-End Therapy
By Swadesi crew Kaali Duniya (Bamboy/Tushar Adhav) with guest MC's Kranti Naari, Pratika, MC Mawali, Khabardar Revolt.
BassBrahma and RaakShas Sound
Equality on the dance floor.


A tour of the work with CAMP in three acts.
12 January 7 pm, ft. Bamboy
13 January 6 pm
14 January 7:30 pm
20 January 7 pm

Bombay Tilts Down in Mumbai!

7-channel environment. 13 mins, on loop with two alternating soundtracks

A vertical landscape movie in facets. Filmed remotely by one CCTV camera from a single-point location atop a 35-floor building on E. Moses Road during the pandemic.

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