Techno-Fix: Obscured Connections & By Extension

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Sunstone, dir. by Louis Henderson, Filipa César

Discourse around contemporary technologies more often than not tends to be split across two opposing camps: techno-optimists and a solutionist belief that tech can help overcome all big issues facing humanity and the planet, versus techno-sceptics, attuned to the inevitable corruption that capitalism, state and corporate control bring to any new tech development. While current global events give more weight to the latter camp, there are undeniable and revolutionary possibilities presented by technologies if decentralised and in the hands of the collective. These conflicting threads run through GSFF22, with several nods in our Bill Douglas Award selection, yet are brought into more considered focus in two stand-alone highlights of this year’s programme – All Light, Everywhere and Camille & Ulysse, and in this strand Techno-Fix, which delves into the potentials and threats of technologies and the digital world in relation to our bodies, oppression and liberation. These two programmes shine a light on underexplored histories and realities, and stretch from the dystopian to the utopian, evoking reflection on the possibilities in between.

The first programme Obscured Connections explores lesser-known and often hidden relationships between technological developments, state control, surveillance and colonialism. Tying in with the interrogation of ‘seeing’ and objectivity in All Light, Everywhere, Haig Aivazian’s All of your Stars are but Dust on my Shoes traces connections between light and policing, while Louis Henderson and Filipa César’s Sunstone links the development of optical technologies to military and colonialism. The peculiar abstract and poetic As Birds Flying (Heba Y. Amin) is inspired by an innocent stork suspected of carrying an espionage device over Egyptian territory, and Tabita Rezaire’s style essay Deep Down Tidal reflects on the relationship between modern communication cable networks and old colonial routes. 

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VO, dir. by Nicolas Gourault

By Extension combines optimistic and sceptic narratives on how technologies can extend and amplify the body and the physical world, reflecting on ideas of progress and preservation. Kicking it off is Nicolas Gourault’s VO, an unsettling reflection on automation and labour through the humans behind self-driving cars; meanwhile in Deniz Tortum and Kathryn Hamilton’s essay Our Ark we consider the potential use of modern tech to digitally archive our planet as we hurdle towards collapse. But who for? There is a belief in better in Ursula Mayer’s Atom Spirit, which connects to the cyborgian visions of Donna Haraway (see Camille & Ulysse) through a speculative narrative that ties together ecology, queerness and techno-science. A real-world current-day hopeful vision comes in Tracing Utopia, which documents a group of young queer people who build virtual spaces for safety, community and empowerment. 

Sanne Jehoul

GSFF Programme Director

Techno-Fix: Obscured Connections is screening at 18:30 on Sat 26 March at Civic House.

Techno-Fix: By Extension is screening at 16:15 on Sun 27 March at Civic House.