Tim Barrus / Psychiatrique


Tim Barrus/ Kids and Cops

You DO exist.

 It is not what I expected, SMYL. I thought we’d make some nice little videos and then we could all go home.

But what “at-risk” is is in my face. Just saying: like all the time.

It did not occur to me that so much of it would be dangerous. There seems to be a cultural conspiracy that says you are the property of parents (some of you are) and families. Some of you are on your own. Some of you are runaways. Some of you live on the street.

I have videos of kids in Rio — gangs of them — stealing stuff at night, and the cops chasing you. I can’t use those. I know the argument is that crime is why you are AT RISK. But crime is a line in the sand. Sex is another line in the sand. I don’t want to see you having sex with adults or even one another. I will not cross that line. That doesn’t mean you can’t find symbols in filmmaking that mean these things and you can make those metaphors powerful. In fact, as filmmakers, it’s your responsibility. I’ve been literally making film for fifty years. It’s not that I care what the audience thinks (trust me). It’s that I care about drawing lines in the desert sand all over the place that say: they will not shut us down if we jump over here and then over here and then across this new line they’ve laid down. I am still here and everyone else I used to know — activists, all — is dead. It’s that simple. I had no fucking idea that Show Me Your Life would deal with life and death issues. But your issues are life and death issues and there it is. Those of you in London are being affected directly by making what has once been the carrot and the stick (education, jobs) no carrot and the stick is one the cop has. I hear you. What I believe though is that your corporations are your government because they are everyone’s government.

All of that makes you a filmmaker.

Some of you live in places that are shit holes. I see that. But consider this:

One young female filmmaker in SMYL was living in a squat. It had been condemned. All kinds of kids lived in there. She took video of cop cars rolling by. Those cops knew that place was overflowing with homeless kids. Their ignoring it and rolling by was a problem. I rejected those shots but they wound up going around anyway. Be careful about who you share with. Those cops came back and beat the shit out of her. Now she’s back out on the street and turning tricks.

Many of you have stories that have real people in those stories who do not want those stories told.

Sexual abuse is far, far more common that I had assumed. And many of you have filmed your guts out in the process of demonizing daddy. Often, he’s a metaphor for someone else.

Mine was a doctor. I was ten. Strange, I didn’t even know what he was doing. But I know now.

This shit just happens. In life.

I have heard from you (loud and clear) that you almost resent my not posting a lot of video.

You’re just too good at this.

You made him into a monster. Okay, so you did it. But now you have to live in the same house, the same family, he does. And I just don’t want what you’ve done to him on the Internet because he has to live with himself. You WILL get out. It happens. It’s going to happen to and for you. You have made some dangerous and guerilla video and in some cases I would question your safety. I have to live with myself, too. When Mose was killed, he had a camera. Remember.

The reason I am posting this video called Standing Your Ground is because as photographers — and each and every one of you is am photographer — the kids in Show Me Your Life have sometimes come up against the same exact issues concerning filming in public that adults confront. Please note: this is a video about adults, concerning adults, filming other adults. When a minor is involved as the photographer, the response is far worse. Mainly because minors essentially have no rights. Even if the kid in question has been adjudicated as emancipated. No security guard will believe it. Security guards are the worst. They are far more apt to bully to get what they want. Cops will even sometimes read THEM the riot act if the photographer is following the rules. Basically, the rules say you can film in the public domain but not on private property. As we all know, even if you are across the street, security guards will start coming out of the walls to grab you.

The PlaySport is not a phone. It takes great video. But it’s a camera. Even if some of you guys are pretending it’s a smart phone. You are speaking into an lcd screen. I suppose people do think you are on the phone and not filming them when you are filming them. I do have a Nikon I can upload to the Internet immediately; it’s just posting through email. So sometimes I can haves the images on the Internet before the security guard is able to reach me.

You can always be nice and leave. They are going to tell you that you CANNOT film their buildings. Yes, you can. If you are not on their private property. With an adult, they are going to simply try to intimidate. With a kid, they call the cops 100% of the time. If you do not leave, be prepared to deal with the police.

Everyone will want your film. You will not have film. Explain that you deal in digital content and you’ve already uploaded (I would never tell you to lie) to the Internet, and they are too late. Then, they will demand to know who you are working for. They will usually assume that your project is a school project. Tell them about SMYL. This seems to calm them some. I have no idea why.

One thing they will get real physical about real fast is being filmed while they are bullying you. It’s your call. Is it worth it. Is this building or this street worth the hassle in the telling of your story. Your call. You keep telling me you can handle responsibility even with cameras. You now have that opportunity. Some of you can and some of you can’t. I don’t do pep talks. I am not a pep talk we can all do this kind of guy.

It’s one thing when an adult wants to sound like an attorney, and I am here to tell you that when a kid does it, the security guard WILL put his face directly in your face.

This is how it works. People think telling these stories is easy. They simply have no idea. Just like when some of you do arty vids, people have no idea the work that goes into it.  

In the video posted, I love the property manager who is slick enough and smart enough to invite the photographers inside. If it had been me, just saying, I would definitely have gone on that tour just to see what shots I could get. But that’s just me. Most of these locations are dull and boring unless the sight of a bunch of suits is your thing.

And let’s face it, if suits were your thing, you would not be here.

If you cross over the line onto their private property, they will bust you. Good luck on finding your camera when you get released.

So take a look at how adult photographers are dealing with the same issues. And then go out there and film what you are compelled to film. No one ever said it would never be dangerous. This is the cultural conflict over what is private property and what is the public’s right to know. The recent riots in the UK have made a lot of people with private property to worry about nervous. They don’t like the idea of an underclass that appears in any way similar to A Clockwork Orange. They want to rip people off in plain sight without being hundred in the quest for corporate profit. They own YOU. You do nor own THEM. And they will play a rough form of rugby if you want to push them. You push them at your peril.

The security guards who work in these buildings are existing as much at the bottom of the cultural barrel as most of you think you are. They’re making the minimum wage. They have little real authority. Their corporate masters tell them exactly how high to jump and no one jumps an inch higher. Their job is to intimidate you and they know how to do this. Okay, so now let us pretend you are now out and about and among the rioters moving from location to location. My subjective advice to you would be for you to get as close to that as you can so you can learn to understand the tools and how that works. This would be the technology. Not necessarily from the inside of a looted, burning store. I’m your audience. I want to know how that kind of communication works so I can do that. I want a piece of it. I already know what a burning building looks like. Show me your life.

Tim Barrus/High As A CatGut Rope Can Swing

Tim Barrus: High As A CatGut Rope Can Swing

It will be over in a minute. I was first here early spring. It was still cold then, and the sky was  a dull bluegrey of whispered resonance.

The sign says do not enter. I would strongly suggest that you follow what is a wise suggestion.

This is DrugTown. Some people call it DogTown because everyone has a pit bull. Allow me to repeat that: Everyone has a pit bull.

Duhhh. You arrive with either money, a gun, money and a gun, or you are a meth junkie and crazy as it gets even for DogTown.

I do not know this to be true but I believe it: most urban America has a DogTown. Many Americans will tell you that they are afraid of pit bulls which is why there are pit bulls. But who do you think mainly owns these dogs in DogTown. Oh, Americans.

God, Country, and you gotcher dog.

You have a stash of pharmaceuticals in that apartment shit hole you live in, too. Just because you can smell the crank does not mean you are compelled to drink the Kool-Aide.

Americans love to get righteously moral about drug dealing. It’s criminal. But who do you think is buying all this shit. Oh, Americans.

They will kill you in DrugTown. All they have to do is open the front door and the dog might get out. I am here to tell you it will. They will shoot you dead just like that in DogTown and not think two cents about it. Problem solved.
Anyone they do not know is a problem.

I had to bring Tristan down from the Planetoid Paranormal Paranoia in the middle of the night once and there we were in DogTown.

Any whore will tell you where to park. You do not need to find them. They will find you. They will know who you are in thirty seconds anyway because they will run your plates. A pimp can do it from a smartphone.

They know what you want. It will be over in a minute.

If you are a meth junkie, they would rather you move along. Meth has a bad reputation even in the land of meth.

Tristan had no idea where we were. Or why we were where we were. Tristan was hurtling straight into a sun only he could see.

I did bring him down. It can be done. The thing about pharmaceuticals is that they work. Finding them is the problem.

No one in DogTown is a pharmacist. They don’t live here.

Here in the HIV ghetto.

Fuck me. These are the same people you sit with at the AIDS clinic waiting room. They will sell you their antivirals and you will pay and pay.

The drug Tristan had flipped out on is called Sustiva. Tristan hadn’t even hit puberty, and this drug had soaked his demented brain which can be a good thing.

It can penetrate the brain barrier. Many antivirals cannot. But Sustiva and LSD are a lot alike.

I have all these memories now mauling my brain with witch’s brew and frogs and reptile juice of pulling drugs down from the sky like a pianissimo can reverberate in softness just behind the eyes.

“Are there spaceships.”

“Yes, Tristan. We are waiting for the spaceships.”

The spaceships arrived. Then, it was over in a minute. I have written about drug dealing before. None of it could possibly be true.

I only want to bring the kid home. DogTown or no DogTown. Spaceships coming and going. Quiet as the dead. Even now. I am embalmed. An apparition at a burial. I only want to bring the kid home. I put the iPod ear plugs in his ears. His smile could have illuminated even yet the way. It will be over in a minute. And we left DogTown as if we had arrived just blown in high as a catgut rope can swing all the way to heaven.

Tim Barrus/ don't ignore the signs

We missed the boat on the AIDS pledge thing. In the hundred yard dash to get the public’s attention, timing is everything. People are burned out on charities and causes. There are now so many take the pledge drives that AIDS would be just another face in the crowd. Where are all the AIDS voices demanding a cure. Such an animal does not exist. It’s everyone for themselves now. We are quickly going to a world-wide depression. This PSA featuring Jeff Bridges and hunger in America is excellent. You could never compete with it. It has production values and star power. With the economy imploding, charities are going to be looked at to help bridge a million gaps, and it’s going to be impossible. You will now see charities themselves biting the dust. Few of them will survive a depression. As things stand today, AIDS drugs are getting harder and harder to come by. If Big Pharma loses enough equity in market investments, and they will, AIDS drugs will dry up. They will be one of those fondly remembered things from the past. I feel it would be a mistake now to even begin a take the AIDS pledge to do whatever it takes to find a cure by 2015. 2015 may be a time of extraordinary desperation. It will be a time of disease and hunger, not a time of cure, or even a time of hanging on. It’s not a situation of it’s going to happen. It’s happening now. — tim barrus


Tim Barrus


Tumblr, Show Me Your Life:

Show Me Your Life:

Tim Barrus/ Fake

Fake to whom. The word fake, squeezed out of some snotty weasel’s little mouth, reminds me of a bunch of third grade girls in pigtails out on the playground, and/or some snotty weasel’s little mouth on the Internet. The word — fake — is itself the object of scorn and satire. The Internet, too, is so swollen with those same little girls, whether they be snotty girls or snotty boys, in search of words that supposedly describe the extent of their accumulated derision, and there is nothing more hilarious than the sight of some so-called journalist who sits in a cubicle somewhere in Los Angeles and pretends that he’s Jimmy Breslin. Jimmy Breslin IS a journalist. Some little girl who works for snotty little Galley Cat — or worse yet, Buzz Feed, or worse yet, the LA Weekly — on her laptop is just another ordinary cunt. — tim barrus


Tim Barrus


Tumblr, Show Me Your Life:

Show Me Your Life:

Tim Barrus/ why this dance?

I keep wondering why this dance, and why this kid, and why am I even open to working with him for another year; if I can live with AIDS another year. It takes me a while to GET things. I’m stupid. It finally came to me. The WHY of it. I get the HOW of it. I know how it works. And then, I’m watching him dance, and as I watch him dance, I can feel his heartbeat.


Tim Barrus


Tumblr, Show Me Your Life:

Show Me Your Life:

Tim Barrus/ no voices in the dancing

This year, I’m thinking maybe we can totally eliminate the voices Minnow hears. We’ve already managed to kick most of them out of his head.


No medication.

A lot of: Dance. Choreography. Music. Video. Movement. And taking responsibility for accomplishing these things. One thing at a time.

This year, I’m thinking we could go for broke. — tim barrus


Tim Barrus


Tumblr, Show Me Your Life:

Show Me Your Life:

Tim Barrus/ Things You Cannot Plan For

Things You Cannot Plan For

Minnow has been dancing in the dance company he dances with. He does not hear the voices when he is dancing. The music tends to drown the voices out as well.

But something has happened.

As Minnow has been so involved in the filming and the photography of his dancing and the choreography of the company he dances with, I have, again, inquired about the voices.

1.) If he’s dancing, he’s immersed in the choreography and movement. No voices.

2.) Now that he has a camera, and he’s able to record and reflect — and reflect on — that dancing, no voices.

3.) This is huge for Minnow. For the first time in his life, there are interludes where he is filming (not dancing) yet the voices that haunt him are not present. Why is this.

4.) Creating video can be far more physical than people initially realize or understand. There is a choreography happening here, too. There is an audio component as well. Especially when you are at the stage where you are integrating the sound into the visual images.

5.) So now there are two parts of his day where he is able to escape the voices. One is dancing. The other is creating video of the same dancing.

6.) And yet the school Minnow attends has him sitting at his desk with his pencil and his paper and his hands folded. The voices return, and Minnow’s focus becomes the struggle between listening to his teacher versus listening to the voices. There is virtually no carry-over from the dance activity and/or the video activity into the school environment. This is why Minnow is at-risk. He is at-risk for school failure because the school has essentially set him up to fail by failing to provide him with the kind of environment for him to succeed. The paradigm of the child at the desk with his hands folded is not simply ineffective, it’s child abuse.

This went on all last year. School is set to begin again soon enough. I am hoping he will not be set back by the intransigence of the school.

Minnow and I are almost done with his first video. He has deliberately set himself at the edges of the video during the dance sequence. He has done this so you, the audience, do not really notice him. You will though if you look hard enough. Dancing is one thing. Being noticed is another. What he’s been learning is that you can still express yourself even if you are on the side of the camera that takes the shot. For the first time in his life, Minnow is calling the shots versus the voices calling the shots. In the past, the voices were always telling Minnow what to do. Now, Minnow is telling Minnow what to do. He is taking responsibility for not only control over the voices, but for the project he is creating as well. He is learning how to take control versus learning how to be a victim to authority. I am glad he has not been in school these past couple of months. Minnow is being “included” in the typical classroom set-up. He’s with typical children, which is fine. But he is left on his own to either succeed there or fail there with absolutely no support whatsoever. Support is the key to Minnow being able to succeed at something that has no connection to the voices he hears in his head. I have tried working with the school but it’s impossible. They have no resources and the classrooms are overflowing with kids. All we can really do is set him up with support outside the realm of the educational system.

We have not even begun to explore what digital technology can do with children who learn differently. The technology is simply beyond the reach of most schools.

In fact, my biggest problem with Show Me Your Life is getting the adults to relinquish control of the camera.

I do not think the school can be worked with. I totally reject the idea of it, and please don’t email me with suggestions that would get his school environment to change. It’s not going to happen, and I am not open to wasting my time on stuff that will not go anywhere. No way I am reinventing the wheel.

What we will do is simply continue working with Minnow outside the context and constructs of his school and we will attempt to keep drowning the voices out. I should be able to post his video shortly (it’s compressing). — tim barrus


Tim Barrus


Tumblr, Show Me Your Life:

Show Me Your Life:


Tim Barrus/ they call him minnow

They Call Him Minnow

He will break your heart.

I have been besieged by a twelve-year-old. People call him Minnow. He emails me day and night. Alright, already.

One of the reasons people use the nickname, Minnow, is because he’s diminutive and minnows don’t talk.

Minnow hears voices. But he does not articulate anything. He’s unsure as to which voice would come out.

Minnow and I have been round and round on this. Minnow claims the voices are his life.


I ignore the voices issue. I have the feeling that Minnow can become so focused on the voices that he loses Minnow.

But he doesn’t hear the voices when there’s music and he’s dancing.

Minnow is not crazy.

This condition has a neurological basis where the inner ear IS hearing voices. His auditory nerve, which is the nerve that causes us to hear and which sends those signals to the brain, is damaged. He’s not making it up.

The whole idea of combing choreography with music is based on coordinated movement. Minnow’s neurology and his inner ear (which is where our balance comes from) are focused on the kid moving. He only hears the voices when he is not in motion and there is no rhythmic music.

“What do you do not to hear the voices.”

“I dance.”

I thought minnow meant he danced around his room. He’s in a professional dance company. He’s twelve. He takes dance very seriously.

Tim to Minnow: I would rather see video of dance than have you so focused on the voices. You are not the voices. But I would bet you are the dance.

I used to work with deaf four-year-olds at San Francisco Hearing and Speech on Divisidero. I get the whole not speaking gig.

Minnow both filmed and danced for his video.

We are editing it now.

With any luck, we will be able to post it tomorrow. — Tim Barrus


Tim Barrus


Tumblr, Show Me Your Life:

Show Me Your Life:

Tim Barrus/ thank you for your patience

To the kids in SMYL: Yes, I have a backlog of video to work on for SMYL. I have not been well, and you’re right, it’s no excuse. Two things: I was given some new software by a donor, and it’s the video version of final cut pro. These are expensive programs and I never buy them so this was a LOT to learn, the editing program is one of the most complex I have ever seen, and I am still learning how to use it. It’s going to take a little while until I get the hang of it. SMYL is all volunteer stuff. And I really need to make some money. So I have been selling collages and publication rights to art. I need to be able to continue doing that to put groceries on the table. But I WILL get to the videos you have sent. Chill. And thank you for your patience. — tim barrus


Tim Barrus


Tumblr, Show Me Your Life:

Show Me Your Life:

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