Daniel Cockburn Introduces His Film "You Are Here"

"I called American philosopher John Searle on the telephone..."
Daniel Cockburn

MUBI is showing Daniel Cockburn's You Are Here (2010) nearly worldwide from September 29 to October 28, 2016.

I called American philosopher John Searle on the telephone. I told him I was planning to direct a film that would include a dramatization of his famous "Chinese Room" thought experiment, which is sort of a pessimistic cousin to the Turing Test. I said I was hoping he would grant me permission to do so. He said: "Well… I'm very busy."(1)

The film's production designer made Styrofoam props of a book which is a key element of Searle's thought experiment. After finishing the film, I carried these fake books with me from home to home, though I never had a use for them. After eight years, I finally threw them out. The next day, my six-year-old niece asked what a "film prop" is. I said: "If you had asked me that question at any earlier point in your life, I could have shown you. But you are 24 hours too late."(2)

Someone at Rotterdam told me that he had watched You Are Here in the mediatheque. I said it was too bad he hadn't gotten to see it in the cinema. He said: "No, it was perfect watching it on a small screen, in a room with all these other people watching small screens; it was like I was part of an experiment."(3)

1. He later gave succinct approval.

2. That's not exactly what I said. I do know how to speak to children. There are even three of them in the film. And though we shot a scene in which The Lecturer proves logically to The Children that there is no such thing as unconditional love, it was cut. 

3. With this I could not, nor can I now, argue.

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