Slow Action is a post-apocalyptic science fiction film that brings together a series of four 16mm works [Eleven, Hiva (The Society Islands), Kanzennashima, and Somerset] which exist somewhere between documentary, ethnographic study and fiction.
Continuing his exploration of curious and extraordinary environments, Slow Action applies the idea of island biogeography – the study of how species and eco-systems evolve differently when isolated and surrounded by unsuitable habitat – to a conception of the Earth in a few hundred years; the sea level rising to absurd heights, creating hyperbolic utopias that appear as possible future mini-societies.
Slow Action is filmed at different sites across the globe: Lanzarote – a beautiful strange island known for its beach resorts yet one of the driest places on the planet, full of dead volcanoes and strange architecture; Gunkanjima – an island off the coast of Nagasaki, Japan, a deserted city built on a rock, once home to thousands of families mining its rich coal reserves; Tuvalu – one of the smallest countries in the world, with tiny strips of land barely above sea level in the middle of the Pacific; and Somerset – an as yet to be discovered island and its various clades.
This series of constructed realities explores the environments of self-contained lands and the search for information to enable the reconstruction of soon to be lost worlds.
The film’s soundtrack – narratives by writer Mark von Schlegell – detail each of the four islands’ evolutions according to their geographical, geological, climatic and botanical conditions.
Slow Action, inspired by novels such as Samuel Butler’s Erewhon, Bacon’s The New Atlantis, Herbert Read’s The Green Child and Mary Shelley’s The Last Man, embodies the spirit of exploration, experiment and active research that has come to characterise Rivers’ practice. —benrivers.com
Ben Rivers (born in 1972) is a contemporary experimental film maker and artist based in London. His work has been shown in many film festivals and galleries throughout the world, and won numerous awards. His work ranges from themes about exploring unknown wilderness territories to candid and intimate portrayals of real-life subjects.
Ben Rivers’ practice as a filmmaker treads a line between documentary and fiction. Often following and filming people who have in some way separated themselves from society, the raw film footage provides Rivers with a starting point for creating oblique narratives imagining alternative existences in marginal worlds. Rivers uses near-antique cameras and hand develops the 16mm film, which shows all the evidence of the elements it has been exposed to – the materiality of this medium forming part of the narrative. More recently the film works have developed to incorporate installation.
He has been the recipient of a number of commissions and awards… read more
engaging, inventive cross between "la jetee," herzog's "fata morgana" (only better) and robert smithson's art/writings. the atmosphere and soundtrack occasionally outperform the texts, which relate the stories of ambiguous future utopias. some stories work better than others (the third part is great), and the faux-ethnography becomes occasionally annoying. everyone with a camcorder should make movies like this.
Psychogeography played out on atomic beaches and cosmic oceans, where being intrepid seems like a vice paid for by the dissolution of enigma. Where balancing the equations of love with the plasticity of lust causes zones of orthogonals littered with conspicuous debris. Laser cubes as the new oracles, the language of quantum physics their tarot. Where minds gone to the effects of topology refuse to terminate...
Panahi completes another “effort” under house-arrest, Lincoln debuts at NYFF, Dennis Lim looks at the work of Ben Rivers & more…
A rediscovered interview, a new issue, a fresh round of lists of the best of 2011.
Featuring an interview with Ai Weiwei and more. Also: The Gold Rush and Last Year at Marienbad in New York.