The Art of Confrontation: Threat Condition Orange


Metamodern Film. Art of Confrontation: Threat Condition Orange.

“In the art of confrontation, how complacent or reactionary is a society when it comes to acting in its own best interest?”


By Dale Richman

The art of confrontation has been practiced by the species since the first time a homo sapien challenged another’s claim to personal property, food, resources or belief systems. Humans regardless of their claims to individuality are still susceptible to the whims of one collective or another. Whether it has to do with physiology, technology or philosophy, mankind has unlimited ways of paving the road to hell through his own institutions of religion, governance, commerce and education.

The duality of metamodernism and the art of confrontation share the same societal concerns with authority as the modern and postmodern eras. In less contrast to the modern than the postmodern, fascism has regained its stature as the looming menace feared by society during the first and second world wars. Communism eventually emerged as the new menace throughout the postmodern cold war era and in the metamodern, the fundamentalist rogue nation is the latest threat to rally public support for its own imprisonment.

The art of confrontation is a double-edged sword. Authority can persuade a majority of individuals through campaigns to win their hearts and minds or through acts of terror. Authoritarian regimes can be described as communistic, socialistic, totalitarian or non- secular as in cultures that enforce Sharia law or fundamentalist Christian ideals. Reasonable and empathetic individuals we attempt to operate under a level of personal accountability and conscience as a matter of our mutual survival, but collectively our desire for organization and a safer society dictates that we establish governing bodies and collective structures to preserve the social order. When these systems are not monitored and maintained according to the founding principles we have a breakdown and entropy begins.

Within the entropy or convolution brought on by social apathy or complacency is the camouflage that corrupt, self interests work behind. And eventually mechanisms and fail safes are produced as countermeasures against social retaliation, when any evidence of chicanery begins to surface. The blame and accountability is shifted to the general population through their own manufactured consent of illegitimate institutionalized authority. The end result is often an example of fascism or totalitarianism no matter how free a society has been convinced it is.

Defining parameters or boundaries to authority has always been the focus of any debate about the legitimacy of authority. How much authority a society is willing to accept over their lives in exchange for security has been an underlying social indicator since Ben Franklin. As we develop industry and technology the military industrial complex employs the art of confrontation more and more throughout the world. So much so, that we have cultivated much resentment from other societies to the point of imprisoning ourselves with our own authoritarian systems of national security.


Threat Condition Orange: The Art of Confrontation was interpreting through a loosely based script, scenarios of abduction and interrogation under a condition of martial law. How complacent or reactionary is a society when it comes to acting in its own best interest? How much of our freedom will we sacrifice for our own security? And how easily are the masses manipulated into accepting their own isolation from freedom, self-determination or critical thinking by their own hand?

Visitors entering the art exhibition had an opportunity to sign the guest book as with any reception but this book had the addition of a space to enter a thumb print. With an authoritative military presence at the door, approximately 80% of all the attendees voluntarily left their finger prints upon entering. The complacent manner in which the guests were willing to share a very personal and trackable form of identification with perfect strangers was worth noting.

The Homeland Security Advisory System had five risk levels. The color coded levels being blue, green, yellow, orange and red. Threat Condition Orange determines a “high risk of terrorist attack”. Government forces; military, etc. would start to interact with normal civilian law enforcement agencies with an obvious presence and civil rights and freedom of movement would be restricted. The HSAS has since been replaced with the National Terrorism Advisory System, by which if or when a threat occurs, the government will inform us as to its impact and what measures should be taken for our protection.

Interrogations were recorded previously and the “detainees” wore the same attire on opening night. As they were “disappeared” into the interrogation room, any audience members who followed would find only an empty room with a smoldering cigar in an ashtray, signs of a violent struggle and a video projected on the wall of the actual interrogation. The individual abducted in plain sight from the crowd is never physically seen again, symbolizing the desolate anonymity of the victim.

It was interesting to note that several guests in attendance were quite moved by the performance since they were from countries where events of this nature are quite common. Most Americans can hardly imagine what life would be like under a military occupation or dictatorship where their freedom of speech and freedom movement would be severely restricted by curfews, checkpoints and random searches. Experiencing very little risk or immediate threat, any society can become complacent, indifferent and almost apathetic to its own government’s policies, until it’s too late.

Written and Directed by EJ Wickes
Video/Audio – Ian Miller, Crystal Amos
Interrogator – Jeff Ashe
Detainees – Lauren Hickman, Joshua Boyd
Other Guy: EJ Wickes


Underground filmmaker L.K. Hickman presents her cult classic Flick. In a failed coming of age story, young (and unfulfilled) artist Sonny returns home to a troubled past and his all too obvious substance dependency. Dealing with his difficult decision to leave home after the sudden loss of a parent and being put into the care of his less-than-role-model half-brother, he now must contend with mixed feelings in abandoning his childhood sweetheart, Jade.

The story unfolds in one night – a jilting evening of the past and present in cathartic collision hosted by a ship of lost souls, the events are catalyzed unknowingly by a violet cigarette lighter belonging to the ethereal and elusive woman, Ukweli – enlightening the past and transforming the present.

Grant Monohon
Travis Jahnssen
Nicole Rae

46 minutes. Produced in 2007.
2012. Axis Manifest LLC All Rights Reserved.

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