The Axiom is the prologue to The Everted Capital. It shows the abstract nature of a landscape entirely composed of elements that have been employed as currency throughout human history. Its rocky ground is made up of a wide range of minerals used in the fabrication of pre-metallic currencies. Its flora is an assembly of heterogeneous plants whose fruits and fibers have been transformed into currencies all over the world. Its fauna is an improbable juxtaposition of tiny living species whose shells, teeth, fur and feathers have been used as money. In a future where the sun has become extinct, the film was shot in total darkness, showing the internal heat of all of the elements which compose its discontinuous landscape and the exchanges of temperature between them.
It is 7231, and the Earth was dismantled long ago, the memory of what it was has been forgotten. A group of immortal communists now lives on a Dyson sphere – a superstructure built around the sun, capable of absorbing all of its energy. They are faced with the reemergence of death and of monetary transaction as atavisms of our own world in this other world. 24 humans repeat the same hour 24 times. Each hour, a human dies. The diminished community adapts or morphs. At the end of the 24th hour, only one remains: an immortal newborn living forever in the empty spaces of the museum.
August 15th, 1971, as the process of dismantling the Earth through the acceleration of its rotation has begun, a group of mortals takes a family of immortals hostage, declaring that they are ready to die with the Earth. As a television crew enters the building and interviews the mortals, a child is born. 3000 years later, the dismantling of the Earth is almost finished, we follow the life of the last of the mortals – 82 generations later – as she endlessly repeats the hostage situation of August 1971. Once again, a child is born. She is the product of a crossbreeding between mortals and immortals. Neither mortal nor immortal, it is “more than life”. An artificial intelligence transforms objects and spaces into this mutating newborn. The film is generated in real time and continues to change form indefinitely.
- Thisstoryoffriedrichkurzweiliwanttotellitmyself -
Inspired by the writings of the feral child Kaspar Hauser and told by the young Friedrich, both father and son of Ray Kurzweil, this story unfolds on the microscope images of a blade cutting through metal. Filmed at the scale of a fold of matter, this cut is the axiom on which the first season of The Unmanned rests.
- In which genealogy is broken and the father-son of a son-father drifts in an emerging new world -
First episode of the series The Unmanned, “The Death of Ray Kurzweil” shows the wandering of Ray Kurzweil (promoter of a technological immortality and of transhumanism) along with his father-son, Friedrich, in the vastness of a tropical forest. This film of anticipation, entirely filmed by drones, takes place in 2045, at the critical threshold of technological singularity.
- In which defeated he leaves the scene and the stage is left in search of its scale -
Second episode of The Unmanned series, “The Brute Force” reconstructs the minutes following Garry Kasparov’s defeat against the IBM Deep Blue computer on 11 May 1997. A camera with computer-programmed movements scrutinises the elements of an empty setting after the chess champion has left the scene, thus abandoning it to the disproportion of a world without its own scale.
- In which he changes the rules of the game and all imitations are suddenly interrupted -
Third episode of The Unmanned series and replicating the editing structure of “1834 – La Mémoire de Masse”, “The Outlawed” takes place in August 1953 on the island of Corfu, in Greece, at the Club Méditerranée resort where Alan Turing spent his last summer. On a sunny afternoon, the mathematician and inventor of the modern computer, subjected to hormonal treatment after being convicted for his homosexuality, embarks on a makeshift raft to study the morphogenesis of marine organisms. As he explores the coast, the raft progressively drifts away. In the absence of any shore, lost at sea, an ungrounded scene unfolds.
- In which a storm breaks out in a computing division and its simulation is turned inside out -
Fourth episode of The Unmanned series, “The Uncomputable” is the story of a failure: the building in the northern plains of Scotland of a giant climate prediction factory by meteorologist Lewis Fry Richardson. This enormous inverted terrestrial globe supposed to host 64,000 women-computers and able to forecast the world weather was never built. Partly shot in a wind tunnel (used for aerodynamics simulation), this episode shows the impossible attempt at building the factory and the collapse of its hypothesis of a global computation. As a storm breaks out over the construction site for the simulation, the film itself and all of the parameters are progressively turned inside out.
- In which predicting its past it lives working and dies fighting -
Fifth episode of The Unmanned, “La Mémoire de Masse” unfolds during the second Canuts revolts in Lyon in 1834. These riots now known as the ‘bloody week’ came as a reaction to the automation of work in the silk industry by the Jacquard Loom and its implementation of the punched card – first historical ‘mass storage’ system allowing the inscription and replication of complex weaving patterns. This inaugurating event in the history of workers emancipation movements of the 19th century is actually the first revolt against modern computation. Fully computer-generated, the riot sequence that splits the film in two parts operates a reversal of history by transforming a revolt against the algorithm into an algorithm of revolt.
- In whiche a lemyng starre returneth in the yeer foretolde and alle thing that spak to us turneth ayeyn to silence -
Sixth episode of The Unmanned and sharing the same camera movements as the episode “1997 – The Brute Force”, “Mil troi cens quarante huyt” refers to the appearance of a comet in 1759 – thus validating the computation and rational prediction of its return by the British astronomer and mathematician Edmond Halley. The action of the film goes back four centuries earlier, in 1348, and unfolds around one unique scene: the escape and the death of a bishop and his court in a forest during the first major outbreak of the Black Plague which was said at the time to be born in the hair of comets.
- In which an intelligence going back to its place of origin discovers the agony of gods on which it thrives -
Seventh and last episode of The Unmanned, “a flood” is set in 1542 as the first conquistadors enter the land later to be known as the Silicon Valley. Mining the colonial past of the region, and entirely generated and edited with an autonomous artificial intelligence system, this film for and by machines only features the return of an intelligence to its place of origin and the death of the animal gods who used to live in it. Closing the series onto itself with a machine trained solely on its first episode (“2045 – The Death of Ray Kurzweil”), it shows the wandering of an inhuman vision trying to revive meaning by recognising itself on the god’s corpses.
Bassae is an ancient Greek temple in the Arcadian mountains of the Peloponnese. “Bassae” is a film made by Jean-Daniel Pollet in 1964. Ever since 1987, when its restoration work began, the temple of Bassae has been covered by a large white tent, making it disappear. Forty years ago, Jean-Daniel Pollet described how stones had fallen back into silence, as the gods withdrew from the scene. “Bassae Bassae” shows the temple now made invisible by its very restoration. Like a contemporary reprise of the original work, “Bassae Bassae” is a film about that which has become mute and invisible.
Narration from the film “Bassae” by Jean-Daniel Pollet, first read by Jean Negroni in the original 1964 work reread here by his son David.
Entirely filmed with a timelapse technique in the archipelago of Svalbard(North Pole), La Mesure Végétale suspends our vision in the frozen vicinity of the Global Seed Vault, a seed depository buried in the arctic permafrost.
If the modern museum was historically conceived as the place for a vast operation aiming at reducing the unboundedness of the world to the scale of the human, La Mesure Végétale shows a full reversal of this paradigm. In this everted place of conservation, it is the climate itself, which while negating all form of life, ensures the possibility of its preservation.
If cinema came into the world as a means of recording its movements, setting its rhythms by the frequencies of life forms, then how should we film the mineral and the singularity of its specific time and unfolding? Shot with an ultra high-speed camera in the empty mineralogy department of the National Natural History Museum closed to the public for the time of its restoration, this film considers the museum as a stone in itself.
The Louvre is the first museum. Its opening in the late eighteenth century inaugurated the critical and political space for the modern sight. In 1989, a particle accelerator was built under the Louvre in order to analyse works of art prior to their restoration. This film shows a confrontation between these two machines of vision and the inevitable death that results from it.
Sixth film in a series of works that responds to a strict protocol: the sunset is filmed with a video camera but without any lens. Every time progress is made in image resolution and a new camera brought to the market, the film is shot once again. This process will meet its critical point when the resolution of the image overpasses the capacity of human perception.
Fifth film in a series of works that responds to a strict protocol: the sunset is filmed with a video camera but without any lens. Every time progress is made in image resolution and a new camera brought to the market, the film is shot once again. This process will meet its critical point when the resolution of the image overpasses the capacity of human perception.
Fourth film in a series of works that responds to a strict protocol: the sunset is filmed with a video camera but without any lens. Every time progress is made in image resolution and a new camera brought to the market, the film is shot once again. This process will meet its critical point when the resolution of the image overpasses the capacity of human perception.
Third film in a series of works that responds to a strict protocol: the sunset is filmed with a video camera but without any lens. Every time progress is made in image resolution and a new camera brought to the market, the film is shot once again. This process will meet its critical point when the resolution of the image overpasses the capacity of human perception.
Second film in a series of works that responds to a strict protocol: the sunset is filmed with a video camera but without any lens. Every time progress is made in image resolution and a new camera brought to the market, the film is shot once again. This process will meet its critical point when the resolution of the image overpasses the capacity of human perception.
First film in a series of works that responds to a strict protocol: the sunset is filmed with a video camera but without any lens. Every time progress is made in image resolution and a new camera brought to the market, the film is shot once again. This process will meet its critical point when the resolution of the image overpasses the capacity of human perception.
The Unmanned presents itself as a history of technology. Although mimicking the classical form of a great narrative unfolding through particular cases (season 1: a history of calculation, season 2: a history of value, season 3: a history of logic) The Unmanned proposes a history of technology that is not that of the instruments and tools at the service of human production, but a history of man himself, as a technical production. From this reversal – and from this ourselves as an artefact – gradually emerges an image of history as an unlimited form of our own uprooting. Through the successive entanglement and mutation of forms and narratives on the scale of the episodes that constitute it, The Unmanned is an exercise in negative anthropology: it attempts to define the contours of a figure that refuses to be assigned any kind of assignment, that has neither origin nor destination, and whose only nature lies in the toil of its infinite drift. Through the structural reversals and material disjunctions on the scale of the seasons that make it up, The Unmanned is an operation of untying: it aims to construct an experience that unfolds in the caesura and the tearing away of any supposed place of origin, the experience of a denaturation.
The Unmanned series consists of three seasons: The Unmanned (season 1), The Everted Capital (season 2) and The Form of Not (season 3). Each of these seasons unfolds, according to the rules of its own medium, a distinct story: The first season, made up of 8 films, traces a history of computing by exploring the invention of modern computing and its automation in machines. Going back in time, it opens in 2045 with the death of Ray Kurzweil, a famous engineer and promoter of technological immortality, and closes in 1542 with the arrival of the first conquistadors and the death of the animal gods in what will later become Silicon Valley.
The second season, consisting of a series of 4 performances, tells a story of value, from the appearance of money as a substitute for human sacrifice by the Lydian kings in the 7th century BC to the dismantling of the earth in 7231, as theorized by the physicist Freeman Dyson, and the advent of mankind becoming a currency for species other than itself.
The third season, consisting of a set of sculptures, unfolds a story of logic based on the following speculation: an artificial intelligence that would be able to trace the course of human artifactual production back to its most distant past. It generates, at each stage of its journey, the form and materials resulting from its simulation and never leads to a ‘nature’ but builds its reverse side: nature as an artefact.
Whether at the scale of a season, in the relationship of the episodes to each other, at the scale of the entire series, or in the relationship between the seasons themselves, The Unmanned is a dynamic process of co-constitution of all its elements. Thus, for example, the formal operations that structure the episodes of the first season (inclusion, retroversion, cutting, etc.) are extracted and used as a basis for the production of objects in the third season. The materials resulting from this reverse production process in the third season are themselves used as the set for the second season, etc.