Amanda Hammett 24 November 2018

Acquiring One Self from The Many


It only takes one look and an instant for a stereotype to be made, as it is the natural need for the human mind to be able to categorize, label, and compartmentalize. Inherently this reaction stems from self-preservation, knowing whether or not safety is an issue, and with the hopes of predicting outcomes based on given environmental scenarios. It can take minutes to reverse a first impression, or decades. Even the attempt to first understand how one’s self is being computed by another, much less others, can take an eternity.

These films bid to illustrate different facets of the journey to seek a recognizable identity within the world, one that is easily understood and digested by others, followed by the ultimate pursuit to break that mold. In Undead Sun, lost voices and images of nonexistent veterans trace a man’s relation to machinery and the earth, and how he attempts to understand his external projection. The Beast portraits an older woman’s attempt to dutifully care for her ancient mother, and the personal attacks she receives in return. Rare Earthenware traces the use of precious metals in making everyday electronic devices, giving a glimpse into the nameless faces that endanger themselves to make products that shape our modern status and perception.

Undead Sun by Jane and Louise Wilson

A pneumatic rumination attempting to see the self from an outside perspective, this story-like atmosphere is laced with visions of heavy machinery, distant men, and fabricated animals. An ethereal voice speaks to the relativity in perspective from a physical and environmental point of view, how much the self becomes a part of the landscape, how one sees the self during and after war. The inclusion of facial duplication imagery simultaneously gives value to definitive identity and instantly anonymizes it. A man removes his war garb in pieces and hangs them on barbed wire; in doing so, he protects future persons who must travel through or exist in that same space. With this action he leaves himself naked and vulnerable while also shedding the costume that informs others of his presumed value as a tool in society.

The Beast by Daina O. Pusić

A graphically mesmeric and tonally immersive film, this story envelopes the tiny world of mother-daughter duo Nada and Vera in the sunset of their existence, though 25 years apart. The younger Vera cares for her mother, who is unable to perform most functions without assistance, though clearly is aware of her limitations and embarrassed by them. Vera aids to the best of her ability, though finds herself losing sight of her own character. Their relationship comes to a head as Nada aggressively attempts to obliterate any sense of persona in Vera beyond how her mother sees her.

Rare Earthenware by Toby Smith 

This documentation analyzes the procedural elements that forge technological tools humans use to advance or connect with civilization. The journey is a reminder of how easy it is to ignore the who’s and what’s behind the fabric of technological culture, or to recognize them only as a numerical means to an end. It suggests how little we see or know about the animation that goes into devising the inanimate objects we use to build our own image: the hazardous and intricately textured procedure of generating “common" electronic devices, versus the more simplistic and accepted process of sculpting ornamental clay objects seen as "rare" or "unique." The mode of presentation in Smith’s work intends to invoke a desire to break from certain postulation of other selves.

About the author

Amanda Hammett works from creation to critique with different organizations in the arts and moving image, and is a contributing friend of Imagine Science Films.

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