A collaboration between Ars Electronica and transmediale Berlin, curated by Nóra Ó Murchú
This programme by transmediale festival, Berlin presents a series of video works developed by a selection of artists-in-residence during their residencies at the festival. Onset by Anna Engelhardt and Mark Cinkevich depicts a demon’s exploration of synthetic environments created from satellite images of military bases. The Epoch of Mapalucene by Natasha Tontey delves into the Minahasa worldview, blending ancient spiritual beliefs with capitalist ideas through the lens of digital culture. Set in a near-future alternate Los Angeles, The Alluvials by Alice Bucknell explores an alien watery world through the perspective of various animal characters. In finalforest.exe by Sahej Rahal, a shamanistic figure interacts with a sentient AI program in an unfolding cybernetic ritual. The films examine the legacy of technocolonial violence, narratives of folklore, urban legends, and science fiction, and the blurred lines between reality and digital worlds.
Anna Engelhardt and Mark Cinkevich, Onset, 2023 (25’)
A demon roams through an ominous synthetic environment, reconstructed from satellite images of Russian air bases: Khmeimim in Syria, Baranovichi in Belarus, and Belbek in Ukraine. In Onset, Anna Engelhardt and Mark Cinkevich craft an unholy alliance of medieval demonology, open-source intelligence, and CGI animation to uncover the hidden life of these military outposts.
Credits: Written by Anna Engelhardt, Mark Cinkevich, Alex Quicho, Story Editor – Alex Quicho, CGI Environments & Virtual Production – Eduard Morocho-Baias, Soundtrack – Yikii Tong, Voiceover Actor – J. E. Burton, Underscore – Regular Citizen, Sound Designer & Engineer – Alisa Kibin
Natasha Tontey, The Epoch of Mapalucene, 2021 (24’)
According to the native cosmology of the Indonesian province of North Sulawesi, the first person to ever exist was a woman who gave birth through a stone. With the presence of colonialists from the West and their interactions with the locals, the Minahasans evolved from a gift economy called Mapalus to a stone-based exchange system that was informed by a mixture of their ancient spiritual beliefs and Christian-influenced capitalist ideas. The Epoch of Mapalucene explores the dynamics of the Minahasa worldview through the perspective of digital culture, speculating on the potential for an alternative society based on a reciprocity that brings animate and inanimate realms together.
Alice Bucknell, The Alluvials, 2023, work in progress (9’)
The Alluvials is an open-world video game exploring the politics of drought and water scarcity. Set in a near-future alternate Los Angeles, The Alluvials explores an alien watery world through the perspective of various animal characters. Situated around the once concreted LA River, the game’s protagonists reside in a series of interconnected worlds of desertified towns, dried up lakes, and the headquarters of a private water company.
Sahej Rahal, finalforest.exe, 2021 (9’)
In finalforest.exe we find ourselves amidst an unfolding cybernetic ritual. A masked shamanistic figure, the keeper of ancient secrets and lost histories, converses with a sentient AI program. Whispering remnants of these lost pasts to an AI bipedal, the creature wanders a seemingly infinite tropical forest. Rahal’s bipedal creature is not driven by a single brain but a congregation of multiple AI scripts that are attached to the virtual bones within its polygonal body. Mixing folklore, urban legends, archaeological records, conspiracies, and science fiction, Rahal interrogates the mythic narratives that preserve caste as the core anatomy of Indian society.
Credits: Music by Harmeet Rahal, sound mastering by Pratik Modi.