Nation Elevated by Eric Saks
NATION ELEVATED is a series of single channel videos, which investigate a United States National Security Agency (NSA) electronic eavesdropping apparatus called ECHELON in the current climate of Elevated Security Threat.
The video is a collage of recorded telephone conversations, the content is the type of which is sniffed by data-mining surveillance from NSA’s ECHELON; the soundbites are editorialized to videotaped imagery of floating smoke rings. The smoke rings appear to be moving in sync with the inflections of voices heard on the soundtrack, moving forwards and backwards — coming towards a viewer and receding back to a point of unseen origin. The audio-visual marriage creates a hypnotic visual and sonic environment of terrifying beauty that elucidates metaphors around the idea of shape shifting power.
The repeated enigmatic term Steak Knife heard in the work variously refers to cocaine, being a white-boy-mac-daddy, and the late singer, Elliott Smith. Steak/Stake Knife was an Echelon trigger word in the surveil system data sniffing for references to a high-profile British mole/spy, code named Stake Knife, who was vetted out of the Irish Republican Army.