Life Is but a Dream: Beyonce as Deleuze

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An shot from Beyonces debut film, Life is but A Dream
  • A shot from Beyonce's debut film, Life Is but a Dream
Earlier this week HBO released the trailer for pop singer Beyonce's upcoming directorial debut, Life Is but a Dream, a documentary about her life and career. While the release of a new movie trailer isn't generally something to get excited about, this particular trailer represents the arrival of a film that's a complete product of its day and age—something unique to an era in which daily life is slowly but surely moving away from a physical reality and closer toward a digital, image-based reality.

As detailed in a recent interview with GQ, Beyonce appears hell-bent on documenting every single moment of her waking life. Stored in what writer Amy Wallace calls the "official Beyoncé archive," a "temperature-controlled digital-storage facility," is "virtually every existing photograph of her . . . every interview she's ever done; every video of every show she's ever performed; every diary entry she's ever recorded while looking into the unblinking eye of her laptop." The majority of the film is purportedly culled from this archive, which is also said to include "thousands of hours of private footage, compiled by a 'visual director' Beyonce employs who has shot practically her every waking moment, up to sixteen hours a day, since 2005."

This revelation is as disquieting as it is fascinating. At first glance, it seems like something straight out of Phillip K. Dick, as if Beyonce is some self-aware android ensuring future civilizations carry on in her likeness. (I envision a Cave of Forgotten Dreams-style documentary, in which 31st-century explorers discover the archive and make an overly ponderous movie about it.) However, when you consider that we live in an age when images are consumed on what sometimes feels like a second-to-second basis, this behavior doesn't seem as peculiar. The public's access to all manner of videos, photographs, illustrations, GIFs, etc, has undoubtedly resulted in a sort of negligent oversaturation—in other words, people consume images at a rapid clip, but I reckon very few of those images are digested properly. Beyonce's digital cataloging of her own life seems to me the logical extension of every social networking website; or maybe it's akin to an elaborate, highly personal Google search.

Celebritism plays as much a role in this as anything. The constant presence of paparazzi and fans is a burden only Beyonce and a select few individuals ever experience. The fact that those very photos and recordings are then viewed, scrutinized, and objectified by untold millions would make me uneasy, as well; I sympathize with Beyonce's desire to have total control over her image, even if it does feel like a manic scramble toward the realm of the hyperreal.

I'm eager to see the film for the way Beyonce disseminates the images she's so meticulously collected. See the trailer for yourself:

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