Revenge Remix: TERROR NULLIUS (2018) and the Politics of Sample Filmmaking
TERROR NULLIUS (Soda_Jerk, 2018) is an experimental sample film that remixes Australian cinema, television and news media into a “political revenge fable” (soda_jerk.co.au). While TERROR NULLIUS is overtly political in tone, understanding its specific messages requires unpacking its form, content and cultural references. This thesis investigates the multiple layers of TERROR NULLIUS’ politics, thereby highlighting the political strategies and capacities of sample filmmaking. Employing a historical methodology, this research contextualises TERROR NULLIUS within a tradition of sampling and other subversive modes of filmmaking, including Soviet cinema, Surrealism, avant-garde found-footage films, fan remix videos, and Australian archival art films. This comparative analysis highlights how Soda_Jerk utilise and advance formal strategies of subversive appropriation, fair use, dialectical editing and digital compositing to interrogate the relationship between media and culture. It also argues that TERROR NULLIUS employs postmodern and postcolonial approaches to archives and history to undermine positivist, linear historical constructions and colonial mythologies. Building on these formal and theoretical foundations, this thesis also closely reads TERROR NULLIUS to scrutinise the accessibility of its arguments for Australian and international audiences: one reading utilises Donna Haraway’s cyberfeminist theory to interpret TERROR NULLIUS’ progressive identity politics, and the second explores the cultural and historical references imbedded in TERROR NULLIUS’ samples to unpack its commentary on contemporary debates in Australian politics (particularly regarding refugee detention and white nationalism). Ultimately, this multi- faceted analysis of TERROR NULLIUS’ form, content and references highlights the complexity of sample films’ political messages, which are radically open to diverse interpretations.