Sunday, January 15, 2017

Filmmaker Wraps Up Solitary Confinement Project

Vice collaborator James Burns approached the outlet last year with an idea: a live-stream of his time in voluntary solitary confinement.

That turned out to be 30 days, across December and early January, at La Paz County Jail in Parker, Arizona. The New York-based Burns plans to put together a documentary about his experiences.

From an interview in the Havasu News, done after his completion of the project:

“It was loud…the cell was kind of an echo chamber,” Burns said. “I could hear doors opening and closing outside. After a while, I noticed the buzzing of the fluorescent lights, the water dripping from the pipes…it was not a peaceful place.” …
“I wanted to raise awareness, and start a conversation about the use of solitary confinement in this country,” Burns said. “I want to show where it’s done, how it’s done and who’s affected by it. It’ll be good for us to have that conversation as to whether there’s a place for it in modern society.”

The December 12-January 10 Vice live-stream was viewed by 2.5 million people. In a piece Burns wrote for Vice just before entering lock-up, it was noted that he could ask for and receive release at any time. He was also monitored during the process by Vice employees.

Burns, in the newspaper article, also drops a nice plug for local Mexican joint Tierra Caliente Meat Market. It will be forever etched in his memory as the place where he enjoyed his first post-La Paz non-prison meal.

[James Burns website]

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