The sky above the port
was the colour of television,
tuned to a dead channel

March 20, 2019
CCA Tallinn and Kino Artis


Artists

Mark Leckey, Basim Magdy, Kristina Õllek, Agnieszka Polska,
Semiconductor, Andrew Norman Wilson

Inspired by science fiction as a thought experiment on the future, the program draws connections between the increasingly rapid technological progress and man-made environmental damage. With a diverse selection of filming styles and techniques, it maps the emotional atmosphere of our present - the almost hallucinatory interplay between utopia and destruction, and the wild mood swings between the promise of a sustainable future and a dystopian existence in the hands of technology and human exceptionalism.

“The sky above the port was the colour of television, tuned to a dead channel” is the opening sentence in William Gibson’s novel Neuromancer, published in 1984.

AGNIESZKA POLSKA (PL)

The New Sun, 2017
HD video
12:19 minutes

Courtesy of the artist and ŻAK | BRANICKA Gallery, Berlin

Courtesy of the artist and ŻAK | BRANICKA Gallery, Berlin

The animated video The New Sun incorporates a character of the Sun: a child-faced star with a beautiful voice. In its half-sung, poetic monologue, the Sun directs its lover, a human - and in an unsettling manner, presents a gloomy vision of a collapsing world, where the only lasting and immutable elements are the words and language. The Sun’s speech is a juggle of styles and moods: it goes from the elevated and emotionally-charged confessions to the goofy stand-up comedy, and ends up with an interpretation of “I got love”, a song from the 1970 musical Purlie.  The general ambiance of the film is dark, but the sung monologue leaves a space for hope and marks the significance of words as tools of social responsibility.


ANDREW NORMAN WILSON

Ode to the Seekers 2012, 2016
HD video
8:30 minutes

Courtesy of the artist

Courtesy of the artist

Ode to Seekers 2012 celebrates the existence of various “seekers” - mosquitoes, syringes, and oil derricks, which symbols some of the most significant threats to human life - mosquito borne illnesses, drug addiction, and the petroleum industry. The composition of the work is based on John Keats' Ode on a Grecian Urn and translates its formal techniques from printed text to video. With a misused Steadicam, Andrew Norman Wilson creates a mosquito’s point of view and guides us through the three movements of the ode: in the first, the broken camera roves through the abandoned children’s ward corridors of Rockland Psychiatric Center (New York). Second, highly saturated computer-generated 3D models of the mosquito, syringe, and oil derrick appear under magic-hour lighting, slipping in and out of an ecstatic trance of liquid extraction—or injection—from a surface that looks at once like desert salt flats and skin under a microscope. Third, each model and its pumping functions are co-opted by an assembly line apparatus, at once medical and industrial, that sucks the color out of everything that comes down a pipe.

MARK LECKEY

GreenScreenRefrigeratorAction, 2010
Digital video
16:37 minutes

Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Buchholz, Cologne/Berlin

Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Buchholz, Cologne/Berlin

GreenScreenRefrigeratorAction (2010) shows a shiny black Samsung smart fridge pondering its existence and mingling with like objects. In a scientifically-charged description that concerns its inner workings, the fridge’s anguished, robotic first person voice over renders audible its inner life and its potential dreams. As we create increasingly smarter objects, Mark Leckey predicts a world in which things become sentient, start communicating, and alter our environment into new digital ecosystems.


KRISTINA ÕLLEK

Nautilus New Era, 2018
HD video
11:38 minutes

Courtesy of the artist

Courtesy of the artist

Nautilus New Era draws from Nantes-born writer Jules Verne’s fiction “20,000 Leagues Under The Sea” (1870) and juxtaposes it with the current problematics of deep sea mining. In Verne’s story Captain Nemo confirms to Prof. Aronnax that there was valuable metals at the bottom of the sea and that mining them was certainly feasible. Today this has become a real scenario, as rare-earth minerals have become essential for the increasing demand for high-tech applications and renewable energy technologies. Deep sea mining promises to deliver the minerals we need to power our green energy future, but on the expense of the fragile organisms and seafloor, with the enormous and inevitable environmental risk. The work was initially shown at the group show “Ascending from the Liquid Horizon”, curated by Kati Ilves, at Le Lieu Unique, Nantes, 20.10.18–06.01.19. It was commissioned by Estonian Art Museum and Le Lieu Unique.

BASIM MAGDY

No Shooting Stars, 2016
Super 16mm and GIF animations transferred to Full HD
14:25 minutes

Courtesy of the artist

Courtesy of the artist

A muted voice travels from deep beneath the surface like an eruption. It speaks of its might and our disillusioned reality. It speaks of its ancestors, their ghosts and the cosplay games they play while conversing about the unreachable islands on an alien abducted moon. This is the place where sunsets look like frozen fireworks trapped inside a magic lamp. This is the endless road paved with turquoise humility. This is my enigmatic lover whose fate is forever intertwined with mine.

Co-commissioned by Jeu de Paume, Paris, Fondation Nationale des Arts Graphiques et Plastiques and CAPC musée d’art contemporain de Bordeaux.

SEMICONDUCTOR

Brilliant Noise, 2006
SD video
5:48 minutes

Courtesy of the artist

Courtesy of the artist

Brilliant Noise takes us into the data vaults of solar astronomy. After sifting through hundreds of thousands of computer files made accessible via open access archives, Semiconductor have brought together some of the sun’s finest unseen moments. These images have been kept in their most raw form, revealing the energetic particles and solar wind as a rain of white noise. This black and white grainy quality is routinely cleaned up by NASA, usually hiding the processes and mechanics in action behind the capturing procedure. Most of the imagery has been collected by satellites orbiting the Earth as single frames, or files of information, that are then reorganised into spectral sequences. The soundtrack brings to light the hidden forces at play upon the solar surface, by directly translating the intensity of the brightness into audio manipulation.