Tattle-Tale Heart, 17min, USA 2016

Tattle-Tale Heart is a queer speculative fiction about authenticity, privacy & connection in social media—all seen through the lens of the human heart. A dystopian portrait of blurring boundaries between body and machine, it’s based on an app that reads heart rate through your web cam, calculates your *true* mood, and posts it directly to your feed.

 

The film follows three friends as Tattle-Tale Heart’s app impacts their lives—for better or for worse. Sofi, a wanderer with the air of a sultry teen, longs for connection. At first, Tattle-Tale Heart makes flattering posts about her desire for love and determination. When the app’s tone changes to decry Sofi as “brittle” and “needy,” she compulsively reaches for another reading. She somehow manages to use the app in the midst of shooting a porn scene by pointing the phone awkwardly at her face while she is fucked from behind. The resulting post “outs” her as porn talent on social media, which is clearly an identity she had kept separate from her personal profile. Sofi is met with barrage of messages from unknowing family members and creepy fans.

 

Raul at first has a humorous encounter with Tattle-Tale Heart: the app posts that his grandma is “oversexed.” He calls his mother, who is making chocolate covered cherries, to find out what exactly is transpiring with his grandma. The mood quickly darkens after his mother tries a Tattle-Tale Heart reading and the results claim she has cancer (a cherry slips from her grip; it falls in slow motion). Raul is consoled by his friends Mona and Gage, each of whom have different perspectives on the nature of Tattle-Tale Heart.

 

Taylor, a musician-babe with a day job, loves Tattle-Tale Heart until she learns of different applications for its heart-reading technology. On her first day at a new job, a co-worker warns her of Babump: a surveillance device disguised as a business card holder that allows employers to monitor employee heart rate in real-time. Thanks to Babump, her boss is quick to discover that Taylor is bipolar, hung-over, and gay.

 

Dancing around heavy undertones with a good dose of humor, sass and the drama of an after-school special, Tattle-Tale Heart is a “dystopic queer DeGrassi on drugs”. In the end, Raul finds love (with help from Tattle-Tale Heart); Sofi gets a date then loses it; Taylor is accused of being a phone addict—and one of them gets critically injured.

 

The three characters are all in different cities—New York, LA and Oakland—and never meet in person. Their communications are a series of tenuous social media posts and multi-tasked text messages. In many ways, Tattle-Tale Heart feels like our present moment of snowballing tech addiction and distraction—a nascent reality where our digital lives usurp physical space. It’s a speculative portrait of what could happen should Big Data tap into the pulse of our most intimate organ. However, the film challenges conventions of speculative/science fiction as the heart-devices featured in the film do, in a sense, exist.

 

Prior to making the movie, artist and director Lark V.C.R. created Tattle-Tale Heart, Babump, and Meeglo as critical design projects. They all really do read heart rate, and each have their own branding and websites. Meeglo—a handheld device for meditation that teaches people to breathe in sync with their heart rate—received support from a tech incubator and could possibly make it to the market. As much as it is a parody, the film is a reflexive critique from within tech. By showcasing technology and its marketing trappings, and taking it just a little bit too far, Tattle-Tale Heart shows how Silicon Valley start-up culture might be leading a sometimes eager public into a dystopian future.

 

A film by Lark V.C.R

Writer, Director, DP, Editor, Motion Graphics, and Color

Starring

Shawna Shawnté, Corazón de Fruta, Mona Wam, Raúl DeNieves and gage of the boone.

With

Crissy Bell, Vivi Veronica, Fina Velandia, Vanessa Christine, Abbi Schkloven, Sophia Kim, Cyd Nova, Ben Anjo, Christy Sandborg, Peter Headington, Lydia Brawner, Neelam Sahdev, Becca Cohn, Fjord Vox, Fecal Matter, and Granny

Story editor

Nichole Herring

Score

Aja Archuleta

Sound and Grip

Gentry McShane, Nica Ross, Edie Fake, Ciriza, Kendra Dorman, Levon Fox, Fjord Vox, and Granny

Sound Design & Re-Recording Mix

Kadet Kuhne

Motion Track Assist

Dillon Thomas

Songs by

Ajavision, Big Debbie, Judy Experience

Made possible by

Murphy-Cardogan Contemporary Art Award, CITRIS Invention Lab Fellowship, Berkeley Department of Art Practice, and the Foundry Tech Incubator

 

Screenings:

Mix NYC | February 2017

CNTRL-SHFT Collective, Oakland | November 2016

Hong Kong Arthouse Online Film Festival | November 2016

TWIST Seattle Queer Film Fest | October 2016

Echo Park Film Center, Los Angeles | October 2016

Artist Television Access, San Francisco  | July 2016

Berkeley Art Museum, MFA Show | July 2016

 

Awards:

Honorable Mention LA Underground Film Forum 2016

Award of Recognition IndieFEST Film Awards 2016

Honorable Mention Experimental Forum 2016