Pablo Saura
Artist & Filmmaker

this is britain, 2015, video (screencast), color, sound, 3min 44sec 

this is britain is an experimental short film made using exclusively footage from google street view. the film is a virtual tour through the different urban landscapes of the united kingdom, guided by a voice over inspired by jørgen leth’s the perfect human (1967).

it explores urban british streets and the characters that inhabit them from an outsider viewpoint, contrasting individuals from different backgrounds and social ‘tribes’, querying class issues in british society. britain becomes a nation defined by space and architecture, where surveillance technology reinforces ‘social control’ and class barriers.

this is britain’s production approach is inspired by the documentary style of the french rive gauche and latin-american third cinema. films like chris marker’s la jetée (1962) and jonás cuarón’s año uña (2007) have influenced this is britain in the way of using stills in a film as a substitute for moving images. the film collects footage from google street view, in a similar fashion as canadian artist jon rafman, who has explored through his work the identities of some of our most common virtual worlds — google earth, google street views and second life.

the narration, written by the filmmaker, is a deadpan speech inspired by the experimental documentary the perfect human by jørgen leth, where a man and a woman are subjected to analysis in a zoo-like environment. the filmmaker has claimed that his attempt was to make this is britain a human safari through several british cities, as a response to a leth’s zoo-like approach. this is britain rediscovers urban great britain and its inhabitants, unfolding the bewitching beauty of the mundane world.

this is britain premiered for the first time on march the 17th at eurovideo 2015 film festival in liege, belgium where it won the video innovation award (prix de l’innovation).