Wax, or the Discovery of Television Among the Bees (1991)
September 11, 2023 4:38 PM - Subscribe

A man recalls the story of how his bees implanted in him a bee television, causing him to lose all perception of space, time, and self in the deserts of the American West.

It's hard to believe it's been over thirty years since David Blair's classic of esoteric cyberpunk, previously discussed on the blue, hit the scene. Its sequel, The Telepathic Motion Picture of THE LOST TRIBES, which the spice has mutated over four thousand years, has apparently undergone a strange transmigration to become The First Movie On The Internet. Or perhaps the last? Maybe we will no longer need cinema, and will only read encyclopedias. Who can say?
posted by phooky (5 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
You can watch the entire film on the Internet Archive. Waxweb still exists, if you want a more lateral approach to the movie.
posted by phooky at 4:42 PM on September 11, 2023 [1 favorite]

Oh wow, I saw this on TV at midnight some time in the mid nineties and it made me feel like I was on the verge of learning some amazing hidden truth. But I also think I got bored before the end and stopped watching. I’ll have to watch it again now that I’m older and less fidgety.
posted by ejs at 6:45 PM on September 11, 2023

I somehow learned about this in the mid 90s, watched the movie while probably high on something. Honestly I found it incomprehensible art school stuff. But it still has a resonance with me.

What excited me about it a few years later was WaxWeb and Blair's other efforts to place the film online on the early Internet. That was absolutely pioneering, as ground breaking as The Residents Freak Show CDROM.

There was a Moo too (an online text adventure game). And a VRML version, early metaverse stuff. They all kind of blended together with WaxWeb. The WaxWeb online now that phooky linked looks quite different from what I remember, more just a collection of video links. I recall it being more branching and exploratory, like a Hypercard stack. (But not quite a game like Myst.)

I wonder what Blair is up to these days? Honestly Wax felt like a singular obsession and maybe not a healthy one. His own site at virginia.edu is still online but seems old and mostly pointers to stuff hosted elsewhere. There's a bit on this Dutch site about his art. This site says he lives in France and has a 2010 interview. Letterboxd has a longer filmography than I expected.

I hope the whole project is properly documented somewhere by someone doing straight curation work, rather than Blair's experimental reinterpretations. He did something unique and very avant garde in online media and I think it had more influence than anyone realizes. Even the bare film; I don't think you get Mark Romanek's music videos without Wax, particularly the Closer video. I suspect Shane Carruth saw Wax, too.

(Apologies for taking up Fanfare space with non-review thoughts. I was going to post about this project yesterday on the blue during the bee party but couldn't make it compelling. If someone wants to use these links for a post there, feel free.)
posted by Nelson at 8:05 AM on September 12, 2023 [3 favorites]

posted by Ashwagandha at 8:15 AM on September 12, 2023

Blair is still actively working on The First Movie On The Internet, linked above. He also has a Patreon where he occasionally posts mystifying bits of video. And he just put The Manhattan Projection up on YouTube a few weeks ago.
posted by phooky at 4:04 PM on September 12, 2023 [1 favorite]

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