Introduced by Lesia Prokopenko
Introduced by Lesia Prokopenko
The Black Forest is the primal place where the fairy-tale unfolds. Metahaven describe their work on Information Skies as one of the most peculiar shooting experiences: sharing a cabin by the lake in the wilderness with the entire crew to make a film on virtual reality and digital communication was an insightful move indeed. And, in all senses, it was a down-to-earth move too: in order to talk about information one must necessarily take a step outside the technological realm and observe its flows everywhere, notably on the levels of much greater, non-human magnitudes.
The Hansel and Gretel of the fairy tale — told in Hungarian with artfully implanted Korean and English subtitles — are a young couple wandering in subdued crepuscular landscapes as well as in galaxies of pixels. “We are dragons, newborn from the mouth of an unverified source” — with VR headsets on, immersed in the greenery, or gearless, catching sunlight that comes through the clouds and makes the waves on the lake shimmer gently, they stay connected to a sublime fantasy realm presented in the film by means of minimalist animation, indulging in its fragmentation to embrace the true integrity: “Desperately seeking, we seem to have found that source, the road through the forest, the clearance, each other, another”.
Along with the damp landscapes of the Black Forest and space anime, Information Skies comprises yet another visual dimension — that is, the graphic framing in grey, blue and indigo, at times resembling torn and melted film or, perhaps, a deconstructed digital control panel. Metahaven perspicaciously call it “interfacial ruins”. Ruins are inevitably a beginning, a potentiality; they have an “existentialising function”, as coined by Félix Guattari in his essay Cracks in the Street: “Cracks in the text of the State, cracks in the state of things, in the state of places, in the state of norms… Cracks leading us despite ourselves to new social practices and to new aesthetic practices which will reveal themselves as less and less separate from each other, and more and more in complicity”.(1)
Information Skies is not a dystopia but rather a poetically rendered document of the current evolutionary mutations that concern changes in communication tools and reality processing. Metahaven succeed at grasping the essence of these changes by virtue of their creative origins. Leaning on graphic design as a primary and ultimate instrument for storytelling — film being incorporated as yet another one of its extensions — they find themselves at the heart of these mutations. As early as 1992, Guattari described how “computer-aided design leads to the production of images opening on to unprecedented plastic Universes”.(2) Metahaven perfectly embody this thesis: in their work, form blends with content, enlarged visual tropes and symbols (which might unjustly be overlooked by cinema snobs) serve as pivot points for process of the production of meaning. And the universes it opens shed light upon the upcoming universes.
Information Skies was commissioned by the 11th Gwangju Biennale (2016), alongside the mural featuring the inscription “Cosmic Disinformation”, against the backdrop of an anime-style portrait of a woman. It is a still from the film that shows the crying mother of a suicide bomber, one of the metaphorical collective images that took shape in the narrative. Being human stands for some very simple things, even and especially in the times when the world is no longer what it used to be — this is what Metahaven keep talking about. And the world keeps changing — this is the way it lives on.
(1) Félix Guattari, “Cracks in the Street”, translated by Anne Gibault and John Johnson, in Flash Art n. 135 (Summer 1987): 82-85.
(2) Félix Guattari, Chaosmosis: an ethico-aesthetic paradigm, translated by Paul Bains and Julian Pefanis (Bloomington and Indiana: Indiana University Press, 1995), 5.