Artwork > Time-Based

Familiar Shapes (20-minute Film)
Experimental Documentary

This documentary considers two distinct areas of research: malicious social bots and early modern conceptions of the witch's familiar. Both the malicious bot and the witch's familiar are seemingly uncanny entities: non-physical, shape-shifting, and under the direction of hidden and malevolent individuals. But where these two forms diverge -- both in their definitions and their very real impacts upon their present and historic communities -- illuminates a great deal about the behavior of people: how we define ourselves against others, and how we're inclined to muddy the distinction between truth and belief. By comparing malicious social bots and the misinformation they spread with early modern conceptions of the witch, her familiar, and the written records that remain, a cautionary tale is presented to the contemporary viewer: we must change how we engage with social media.

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