For thirty years, Marion Stokes secretly video-taped everything on TV, twenty-four hours a day. 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. Conjuring up the last 30 years of TV - from world news to talk shows, from the momentous to the mundane - they offer more than just trivia and nostalgia: these phantom images point to the changing way that we consume the world around us.
As Marion Stokes aged, she became wealthier, more reclusive and more obsessed with this private project. 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.