From our homes, we look through the peephole at the world in flux. We take a second to ponder about migratory routes, especially in times where we feel unable to move and restless. Our maps indicate ‘You are here’ and our eyes fixate on this red circle reassuring us that we’re on the right track, yet also looking ahead at where we’re heading. This issue explores our point of origin in relation to destination, wayfinding and navigation in indoor and outdoor environments. It will run in parallel to the 13th Annual Imagine Science Film Festival (Oct 16–23) themed Migration.
Experiments in perception are being conducted in a wonderland of damaged images. It has to be lived once and dreamed twice commences with white noise and machine droning, gray video static and colorful distortion artifacts — in essence, with the beauty of electro-magnetic interference signals. Rainer Kohlberger conceived his work as a post-apocalyptic science fiction film, its story unfolding after the sixth great mass extinction has succeeded in wiping out the human race. A civilization of replicants bioengineered by Homo sapiens before they died out is now taking over the otherwise uninhabitable earth. A murmuring voice off-screen attests to this while reporting confusion over its own genesis and existence, time and again inundated by Peter Kutin´s multifaceted sound design.
The basis of this work is constituted by flashing phantom images and ghostly digital scenes in which water surfaces and natural sites are vaguely discernable as shadowy figures appear and disappear: Kindred to cinema, the ghosts in the machine make their perpetual rounds and serve as a distant reminder of the vanished human beings. Kohlberger´s permutating abstractions render kaleidoscopic and hieroglyphic textures and envision toxic landscapes. The viewer travels through cellular cultures or stellar nebulae, through microcosms that seem to mirror the macrocosm — the universe.
It has to be lived once and dreamed twice tells of the imminent hegemony of artificial intelligence, of mind and body, electricity and computer, spirituality and technology, and the age-old narrative of love and fear. “The mind is a strange loop”, reality is only an idea. A future world uninhabited by human beings provides perspective on an era of hysterical images. Was the world merely a lucid dream? (Stefan Grissemann)
Due to Shanghai’s regeneration scheme, old buildings are being demolished, and consequently almost 100 000 families are being forced to move each year. “Under Construction” explores the human implications of the Shanghai Planning Office and its Property Developers operations. Photographs are composed and animated with documentary shots; the film proposes a voyage through the destruction of a district of the city….
Dragosh, filmmaker from Moldova which was formerly part of the Soviet Empire, discovers a secret scientific experiment. Through nearly ten years of investigations, Dragosh unveils the secret plan to transform Moldova into the Soviet Garden by the application of atomic energy in local agriculture. Agricultural Chernobyl.
It’s neither plant, animal or fungus, but a giant single cell that crawls around eating dead matter. With beautiful and mesmerizing time lapse videography, Smart Slime? introduces us to the quirky work of two high profile slime researchers.
We all grow old eventually. But do we really have to? Could humans be immortal one day? Through the work of global leading scientists on three incredible kinds of animal that don’t really age like we do, Lifespan reveals some of the surprising causes of human aging, and what we could do about it. This short documentary takes a personal approach, blending science interviews, laboratory footage and macro photography to get up close with hydras, fruit flies and naked mole rats.
The story of Captain Obi, the chosen parrotlet, as he departs for the mission that he has trained his whole life for at the Flight Center, Mission Wings. The mission aims to uncover the secrets of aerodynamics for Obi’s human colleagues, and the film demonstrates Obi’s dedication and commitment to the mission from his own perspective as a contributing and willing participant in the project.
A Lunchbreak Year 2222.
Flying is bad for the climate. Yet passenger numbers are increasing year by year. How can we combine environmental protection and our need for mobility? Do we need new aircraft and new aviation fuels — or should we simply fly less? We want to find answers to these questions and ask aircraft manufacturers, scientists and transport experts about the future of aviation.
Kodak hired my father straight out of college in 1976 to work in their film processing labs. One year prior, a Kodak employee had invented the first digital camera. In 2012 Kodak went bankrupt, and today operates at a fraction of its former scale. Over the course of my father’s 30+ year career with the company, he worked amongst blind people who were hired to handle film in the dark due to their heightened tactile sense.
Rich, the protagonist of this video, is a hybrid of my father and an imagined character who worked in film processing at Kodak until a workplace accident left him blind. He then started working in the dark, packaging film with other blind Kodak employees until they were laid off as the company lurched towards bankruptcy. When we catch up with Rich, he’s been unemployed for ten years and seems to be gradually losing his mental faculties. He spends his time in the Rochester public library, shuttling back and forth through copies of tape recordings that Kodak founder George Eastman made near the end of his life in 1930. The story is told through Rich’s point of view.
Camera insectorum — la chambre à insectes (Camera insectorum — the insect chamber)
The title of the film is an evocation of the first entomology book of the XVII century, “Theatrum insectorum”. In this book Thomas Moffet exposed insects as entities, each of which deserves to be examined. Here, the theater becomes a chamber, precisely that of the camera where life took place. Where does this mysterious presence come from inside my camera? How is it possible? She seems drawn to the light. Is this the condition of his presence? Camera insectorum is a short poem celebrating the evanescence of light and life.
Other than the ocean, the rest of the planet was bathed in purple, which was due to the color of the vegetation. The change in the sun’s radiation had probably caused the plants to evolve as they adapted to the new light.
Time is Money: In high frequency trading the fastest data network makes the deal. Computers trade against computers solely committed to the logic of their algorithms. Real life traders have long left the playing field to the more efficient money bots, leaving behind an uncontrollable financial market in which speculating on crisis is the safest bet and investments have exceeded all realistic dimensions. However, it all began in the casinos of Las Vegas with young mathematicians and physicists creating algorithms and the first wearable computer to outsmart the roulette.
Countries of production: Austria / Germany
The story of Rocco Petrone from son of Italian immigrants playing a key role in the birth of Apollo Space program.
Filmmaker, Zena Wood, wants to know how humans will live on Mars. During Covid-19, she sets out on a solo mission to find some answers. She speaks to some of the top minds in the field, including correspondents from NASA, authors, a TED speaker and a professor at the School of Advanced Air and Space Studies. As humans, we have only spent 1% of our history living in one place. To her excitement, all speakers believe that we will become an interplanetary species, and soon. This documentary takes the audience on a journey of how exactly we’ll get there and what it will really be like to live on Mars.
Man shapes his environment, which shapes his brain. Two hundred kilometres from Beijing, men live in a stone quarry amidst rocks that are waiting to be hacked, cut and sanded into sculptures. The same gestures come back again and again, to write a history of deterioration and repair. In the making of monuments, history is obliterated.
“Cassini Falls” tells the story of the Cassini-Huygens international mission (1997–2017) in the words of NASA (about its launch, discoveries, history and final end) intertwined with other voices — from authors like F. Nietzsche, Tim Ingold, M. Merleau-Ponty, T. S. Eliot, David Toomey, Jane Bennett, José Luis Brea, G. Deleuze, L. Mitchel, Tomás Saraceno, Georges Didi-Huberman and that of the artist — generating a flow of textual information of historical, scientific, philosophical and poetic nature. Different fragments of text are combined and linked in multiple readings to account for a story that involves technological and scientific development and reflections on issues such as the image, time, the scope (or advance) of humanity. Many of Cassini’s discoveries are especially attributed to the mission’s longevity, initially conceived for a four-year period (2004 to 2008) and then extended twice reaching its end in September 2017, when it completely disintegrated upon entering Saturn’s atmosphere. The long time out there allowed Cassini to transmit hundreds of gigabytes of information and spectacular images of Saturn, its rings and its moons, especially Titan and Enceladus, to Earth. In the video we see how some of these images, static, acquire movement in a constant flow between them. Cassini not only sent us images that we could never have seen, as it was itself a time-image of our time as humanity.
Affected by polarized light, THE VIBRANCY records the fascinating crystallization processes of various substances. The crystallization process is increasingly fascinating — the colour is awakened, the crystals seem to be sentient, teasing the light, simple and magnificent colours bloom and shine in the dark, depicting a fascinating source of life with wonder manifested everywhere.
DOUBLEWIDE is a portrait of a Texas-based company that sells, constructs, and installs custom-made, secure steel subterranean hideouts for wealthy clients. A trip to one of their newly completed bunkers in Michigan reveals a fortified underground world for the wealthy to retreat from global crises.
Saman is an employee of an engineering company in Iran. he has decided to immigrate to Germany with the support of his friend Ali who lives in Berlin.
As the World Turns is a moving image science fiction, which explores humankind’s place in time and space, through the science of radio astronomy.
Filmed at Goonhilly Earth Station, a satellite communications site in Cornwall, England, As the World Turns visually explores the location through hand-held camera footage, creating an intimate experience and suggesting the presence of a human observer. We are given an impression of the site’s history, the achievements once gained, future endeavours and of technology and nature co-existing. The film provides a sense of man firmly grounded in the landscape, yet looking out into space, framed by our view from the Earth and the technology developed and employed to create an understanding of it.
The narrator endeavours to find her place in the physical universe. Weaving together the personal, technical, philosophical, and profound: scientific descriptions, observational diary-like entries, existential reflections, natural philosophies and rambling declarations. Whilst switching between objective and subjective viewpoints, she explores the different voices man employs to interpret the natural physical world.
Working with radio astronomers from CUGA (Consortium of Universities for Goonhilly Astronomy) Semiconductor have accessed and visualised raw radio astronomy data, which extracts information about the formations of stars and can be used to learn about the origins of the universe. The data reveals man’s signature in the capturing process through visual artefacts, noise and interference in the radio signal, and is used to raise philosophical questions about how man experiences nature through the languages of science and technology.
The monologue has been informed either by elements associated with the science and history of radio astronomy, ideas of measurement and human interpretation, or quoted directly from scientific writings. For example; References to the ‘first dish popping and banging’ were drawn from a publication by the Radio Society of Great Britain, titled Amateur Radio Astronomy. Giving a history of the science, it describes Grote Reber building one of the earliest radio astronomy parabolic reflectors in his back yard near Chicago, U.S.A. Reber described how great volumes of water pouring through the central hole during a rainstorm caused rumours among the neighbours that the machine was for collecting water and controlling the weather; descriptions of “observational studies of young circumstellar discs” were quoted directly from the science paper ‘Planet Earth Building-Blocks — a Legacy e-MERLIN Survey’; and lists of fauna found at the Goonhilly site form part of the Cornwall Council report on Goonhilly Downs as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). The more discursive elements such as “How do we know when it makes sense?…” are reminiscent of Buckminster Fuller’s voice, as he looks to the future and asserts his own world view.
Goonhilly Earth Station is in the process of transforming its original 26 metre antenna into a radio astronomy receiver. It will form part of the UK e-MERLIN network of radio dishes making it one of the most powerful radio telescopes in the World.
e-MERLIN data courtesy of Professor Melvin Hoare and Dr Katharine G. Johnston (University of Leeds). e-MERLIN is a National Facility operated by the University of Manchester at Jodrell Bank Observatory on behalf of STFC
Somewhere on a distant planet in a dying universe, filmmaker Shadab Shayegan has a waxen-looking figure reflect forlornly on the past. Sketches gathered over the years, stowed away in an old-fashioned chest, wait to be deciphered. A seemingly hopeless undertaking: the strange drawings evade all interpretation by the world dweller. What remains is a premonition of something irretrievably lost, which like a weak echo — similar to the sound of the big bang — resounds incomprehensibly from a distant time. Trailing off ever more. Soon, also the knowledge of the final line of this existence, which has become a dystopic outer-space fairytale, will be lost in the void of total amnesia.
Hearing the being’s thoughts: this was once a place full of stars that serve(d) the inhabitants as nourishment; the cosmos is meanwhile depleted, they were crazed by hunger. The relationship to the surroundings and ultimately, to their own existence was cut off. What happens with our ideas when we disappear? Where do we go? Who am I, embedded in the worlds that surround us? These are no less than life’s existential questions floating implicitly in space, framed by sparsely employed spherical sounds. The gaunt body of the creature once revolved like a fetus in “mother space” — a connection that has been long forfeited. The nourishing umbilical cord has turned into a silken thread.
In the field of science fiction, an old adage says that the narrative threads spun there always reflect our present and are never really about the future. The little man has a telescope standing ready for reconnaissance. In the end, mother earth appears; closer than one thinks. (Sandra Schäfer)
This animated short proposes what many earthlings have long feared — that the automobile has inherited the planet. When life on Earth is portrayed as one long, unending conga-line of cars, a crew of extra-terrestrial visitors understandably assume they are the dominant race. While humans, on the other hand, are merely parasites. An Oscar® nominee, this film serves as an entertaining case study.
In a lush and lively forest lives a hedgehog. He is respected and envied by the other animals. However, Hedgehog’s unwavering devotion to his home annoys a quartet of insatiable beasts. Together, they march off towards Hedgehog’s home and spark a tense and prickly standoff.
Exquisitely directed by Eva Cvijanović and based on the classic story by Branko Ćopić, a writer from the former Yugoslavia, Hedgehog’s Home is a warm and universal tale for young and old that reminds us there truly is no place like home.
Filmed in vibrant super 16mm color, and black and white film, Notes from the Anthropocene, is a sensory elegy to the dinosaur. The dinosaur icon shifts from narratives of extinction, to human exceptionalism, and power. Its materiality whether fossil or plastic toy has, through popular culture, become entrenched in the imaginary of oil extraction and fossil fuel production. Notes from the Anthropocene is a speculative iconological look at the dinosaur, delivered by an imagined museum guide who ponders our symbolic relationship to an increasing ambivalence towards the natural world. The mythic dinosaurs that emerge resist domestication and seek to transcend fantasies of human dominion.
Geneticist and environmentalist David Suzuki celebrates the pleasure of knowing we humans are squishy organic material in an inter-related web of life — and we’d better not forget that! An invitation to go out and play and learn from the real world.
Lean into loneliness — and know you’re not alone in it. Filmmaker Andrea Dorfman reunites with poet Tanya Davis to craft tender and profound animation on the theme of isolation, providing a wise and soaringly lyrical sequel to their viral hit How to Be Alone.
This short film chronicles filmmaker Nyla Innuksuk’s emotional journey to Nunavut to connect with the land of her ancestors and with her Inuk father, whom she has not seen in over 20 years. Nyla’s return to her Igloolik birthplace culminates with a lesson on lighting a qulliq, the traditional Inuit oil lamp.
Somewhere in Denmark Eyad is practicing Japanese. He is alone in his room and sleeps several days in a row. He fled through Europe from Syria. Inam is in her kitchen roasting almond for Maklouba. She is his mother. The extractor hood in her new kitchen doesn’t work properly. In a letter read for Eyad, we learn that the narrator’s mother has died. The two of them meet in this longing for something. Can we say farewell to what was in the past to live in what comes next? Through silent pictures, Sayōnara (Goodbye) explores the condition of being lost.
University student tries to grapple with a sense of dis/connect and sudden immobility as her campus goes into a strict lockdown. The piece merges elements of fiction and documentary: while in reality the university never imposed such strict measures, film students were not allowed to form any crews or use any actors for the second part of the spring 2020 semester.
In the world after death, the characters will think about various things while walking in the same place in turn.
In 2018 in Sendagi, an old town in Tokyo under urban development toward the Olympic Games. The present scenery might soon disappear. I went out by bicycle with my video camera. This is a “life road-movie documentary.”
Futako, a girl reincarnated from scraps of last year’s fireworks, is destined to burst on the day of this year’s fireworks. Retracing the past days, she awakes her instinct to soar and shine in the night sky.
Animals are quarreling: to go or not to go to the mountain. A serious incident has happened in the mountain.
A movie made for NHK Educational TV’s program ‘TECHNE’, in order to introduce possible expressions with rotoscope. Everyday, we move as abundantly as this shows.
With her documentary animation film The Outlander, Ani Antonova tells the tale of the long and arduous journey undertaken by Süleyman, Vienna´s first elephant. It was in the 16th century that the animal initially voyaged from Ceylon to Lisbon, before being sent on a month-long journey as a living royal gift to Vienna under Maximilian II.
Over 5,000 individually drawn images render the animal in relentless motion, sketching the strenuous path taken across the Alps by the adolescent Suleiman — named after the Osman Sultan and arch enemy of the Habsburg monarchy — in the company of its courtly retinue. Ani Antonova interweaves historical sources into her film, including images from the time of this extraordinary procession. The voice-over explains, “Wherever they arrived, people were excited to see them.” It is accompanied by delicately precise tracings of portraits, frescoes and animated coin motifs that dissolve into one another and underline the widespread euphoria caused by the exotic creature whose taming was intended to represent the monarchy´s power. The Outlander is the sad migration story of a thick-skinned immigrant passed on from one ruling dynasty to another, as he involuntarily treks across Europe. With this 5-minute pencil drawn animation film Ani Antonova sensitively translates an excerpt of Europe´s past into a thoughtful reflection upon our contemporary world. (Jana Koch)
Translation: Eve Heller
In 16th Century the elephant Süleyman makes a long journey from Ceylon to Portugal, then walks the whole way from Lisbon to Vienna trough the Alps for five months. To be a living royal gift is not an easy job, where even death is not a peaceful end. (production note)
A green object in changing settings. The main character in Susanna Flock’s I Don’t Exist Yet is not the computer-generated image, but the otherwise invisible construction of digital effects. Do CGIs dream of virtual sheep?
The city spreads and devours the jungle. At the same time, the city’s ruins host another jungle, a veritable internal memory. The question of the frontier arises. What delimits one space from the other?
An old couple in a small Taiwanese village is waiting for something.
Dakar 2009. At the heart of the night, three friends gather around a fire. Serigne tells for the first time to Cheikh and Alpha his epic journey to Spain which he has just been repatriated. He has only one idea in mind, jump in the first boat and go to sea again. His friends try to convince him to stay but Serigne, as if bewitched, seems already gone.
Village in Belarus, image of the people and space. There are the fields, wood and the lake that surround their home. Exploration of relations between gesture and image. Different people make simple gestures connected to their life and reality. Gestures that accompany them all their lives from beginning to the end.
When overpopulation reaches its climax in the future a young family has to face consequences of governmental decisions. Meanwhile, individuals all over the world fight the new laws. The people have to face intrigues in the highest circles.
Emilienne could have been my grandmother if she hadn’t had a taste for travelling.
In her home village in the heart of the Jura Mountains, she remembers the years she spent in New York. I discover scraps of her unsuspected life there in the super8 films that she has entrusted to me. Yet something else captures my attention…
An old man tries to return to the homeland of his childhood torn by war. A young man tries to reach the moon. Both impossible paths intertwine to remind us that the journey has no end. Where are we when we travel? That time doesn?t exist.
Milagros is obliged to install a fire extinguisher in her chapel. But first she will have to ask someone’s permission…
“DataMine” is a stop-motion indictment of surveillance society; laboriously animated by hand with light painting to create surreal imagery without the use of computer generated images.
Society embraces an ever-increasing connection to technology, creating digital communities that distract us from our real world existence. As our lives exist more and more in the digital realm, they are catalogued and stored for future mining by corporations and governments. This activity of data mining raises many questions regarding the future of activism and creativity — that which makes us human. In the intricate world of “DataMine,” the oblivious masses are catalogued and scrutinized. The operation spirals out of control, until one of the Scrutinizers is forced to make a choice.