This Friday, 2nd of November, I visited The Strand X to see the Strange Days: Memories of the Future, a new exhibition that includes 21 videos produced by different film-makers.
The works in “Strange Days” emphasize a fractured sense of time: history collides with the present, and future speculations are vexed by a distant past. It aims to show the expand definitions of identity, vulnerability and power.
Despite many great films in the exhibition, I looked into the one called Grosse Fatigue particularly, as the animation effects applied to this film really interested me. This video is produced by Camille Henrot in 2013. It seems the artist attempts to not only understand the chaos of history, but also visualize this disarray.
In this film, a lot of layers of browser research windows are open on the screen along with a long rap, those windows are placed in various ways, they are overlapped, reshaped, centralized, zoomed in, zoomed out, etc. Henrot is also using the collection of the Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC for which she received the Silver Lion at 55th Venice Biennale. And all of these special formats of film-making has made the video very fluid and enjoyable. Also, the sound effect is just fitted for the frames. Every time a window shows up or slides away, it gives you a sudden feel of appearing and disappearing.
Henrot’s faceless protagonist guides us through the museum without a terminal goal, browsing with the same freedom, if not the same aimlessness, as time spent online. However, Grosse Fatigue evades hopelessness in the face of the weight of human knowledge, whether in the museum or in more virtual archives. Highlighting the limitations of various disciplines, meta-narratives, and creation myths, Henrot also demonstrates the ways in which we necessarily navigate, appropriate, and amalgamate these systems in order to understand our world.
Besides, Henrot follows anthropologists, conservators, and office workers as they reveal the organizational structure of the institution, with its drawers of taxidermy animal specimens, computer archives, and office corridors. These mundane physical and architectural frameworks that constructed to contain an incomprehensible body of knowledge, are ultimately only able to describe isolated areas of human experience and achievement. Science, history, ancient and modern myth, religion, art, anthropology – there are so many of them squeezed in this 13-mintue video, almost giving us information explosion in our heads, and every single frame is thought-provoking.
In conclusion, the video has really lead me into the interesting part of history chaos by telling the story of the universe’s creation from a computer desktop and using collections of animal bodies. Grosse Fatigue is a curious hymn to foundation and creation, but above all to death and extinction. In addition, we can see a lot of researching and building up work behind this video and how the artist has using her divergent thinking to link all of the information together. As a whole, Strange Days is a very inspiring and exhilarating exhibition that I would strong recommend people to visit.