The Red Earth Project
8. Planetary Portals
The Planetary Portals project examines the colonial afterlife of gold and diamond mining in South Africa by drawing attention to the social and environmental costs of extractive industries. In collaboration with Kaythryn Yusoff (QMUL), Kerry Holden (QMUL) and Casper Laing Ebbensgaard (UEA), we examine how colonial dreams of Empire have been and still are sustained through 'changes of states' – that is, turning clay into bricks, bricks into speculative real estate, real estate into capital, capital into a speculative mining, and diamonds and gold into racialised dreams of Empire.
The visual and narrative explorations for this project, examine the potential of virtual architectures, terrain and topographies, to bridge epochs of time to reflect on the legacies of extraction. From 19th century origins of the mines, to where these resources end up today, and the impact they have on society, bodies and lives. This artistic project—a muti-channel film work—brings to light the negative space of these histories.
Diabolical Architectures of Colonialism
A lone spectre drags their injured body across a barren landscape decimated by numerous forms of extraction. What are they looking for?
Responding to data from the Cecil Rhodes archive (held at the Bodleian Library, Oxford) during the Kimberley diamond rush (1871), South African gold rushes (1873-1886), and African expansion as a result of British, German, and Portuguese imperialism, this film was created as part of a broader research project in collaboration with professors from Queen Mary University and the University of East Anglia, explores time, labour, psychological, material and climate decimation in the afterlives of colonialism.
A slow, speculative invocation of awkward spectres peeks at the haunted underside of perfect digital utopias, as the capture of land and resources still shapes today’s economic disparities and fantasies of interplanetary colonisation. Accompanied by slowly building subterranean sound, an unknown narrator offers poetic musings throughout the film, drawing our attention to the negative spaces of extraction typically ignored by official records. What is the consequence of an economic system that stands on these legacies of extraction?
Created with game engine software, this film self-referentially engages the ravages of time and asks whether emotional resonance is possible in imagined virtual futures powered by energy-intensive GPUs often using rare metals. It focuses on the complications of the present moment when more energy is required for more innovation, to an end we are not yet sure of, where often invisible limping spectres across time and space, still communicate something important to us.
Lecture-Performance, Transmediale 2023, Berlin.
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