For thirty years, Marion Stokes secretly video-taped everything on TV, twenty-four hours a day. What do her 70,000 VHS tapes tell us how TV has shaped the world?
Starting with the Iranian Hostage Crisis in 1979, she witnessed the emergence of the 24-hour news cycle, which burgeoned across the channels and transformed the way we receive – and dispose of – news.
A rising star of the Communist Party in Philadelphia, Marion Stokes was a civil-rights era radical and public intellectual. Aware of how easily history could be lost or re-written, she felt compelled to record everything; to rescue fact from the compost heap of yesterday’s news.
Matt Wolf’s curious and compelling profile of the activist-hoarder crackles with footage from the 70,000 VHS tapes recovered after her death. But far from relegating her to the realms of paranoia, Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project opens up her archive, showing how the media shapes and reflects our lives, and how fine the line is between eccentric and visionary.