The Mineral Universe — December 2018 Issue
28 films from the Science New Wave — labocine.com
When it comes to filmmaking, a few fields of science tend to steal the spotlight. Mutant DNA and space exploration offer inarguably exciting possibilities for plot line and memorable visuals, but we believe that any subject can prove equally inspiring when you really delve into it. Even the seemingly static worlds of geology and mineralogy. For Earth is primarily a mineral body — our world of biological life is only tiny outer covering beyond which many secrets lie. Beneath our feet a multitude of elemental dramas play out: matter in transformation, crystal growth, concentrated energy, volcanic shifts, radioactive isotopes. So for this issue we unearth gems from across inorganic cinema, from speculative crystallography to familial diamond procedurals to seismic documentary.
Kinsetsu — textures from planet 9
A short macro sci-fi journey to planet nine. Alien worlds created by taking a closer look at our own.
Oscillating between aesthetic and documentary forms, KALTES TAL describes the daily business of a strip mine harvesting lime. The material removed is processed and returned to nature through forest liming. This measure attempts to counteract acid rain that troubles the forest floor. A cycle like a Mobius strip — an irreversible consequence due to the mining materials in order to restore the fragile natural balance. Lime dust delicately dusts the forest floor. A white, spherical alternative world opens, questioning our ambivalent relationship to nature.
Where Shapes Come From
Where Shapes Comes From is a moving image work which considers how science translates nature, on an atomic scale.
A jeweler tells his children the story of diamond. An existential perspective of the history of the precious stone, supported by the voice of a storyteller prone to digress…
Iridescent waves, geometrical gardens, and spiraling sand dunes found in the landscapes of a crystal’s microscopic structure.
The Lanthanide Series
An experimental documentary, The Lanthanide Series examines the materiality of the digital world, combining approaches of non-fiction narrative essay, abstract visual and sound exploration, and the history of black mirrors. Each chapter of the film is based on one of the fifteen metallic chemical elements of the periodic table, referred to as the rare-earth metals or the Lanthanide series. Exploring the historical connection between science, art, politics and poetry, the film is a deeply original work, which wittily exploits the freedom of art to suggest hitherto unimagined relations. Most of the film was shot in reflection of a defunct iPad — the black mirror of our times — providing unusual optical illusions, including in-camera split screens and the doubling of images. The piece is a meditation on how technology has been shaping the way we see the world, how we record the present and replay the past. It is also a consideration of the unusual visual and aural properties of rare earth elements and the political and environmental costs of their mining.
A trip towards abstraction, as an hypothesis on how mountains might have been formed.
Meteors and lunar rocks seen through a microscope slowly morph into an interstellar landscape.
The Greek island of Syros is visited by a series of unexpected guests. Immutable forms, outside of time, aloof observants to our human condition.
“Metamorphism” is a creative reflection on resource extraction and its effects on the environment. It focuses on mining slag waste from the Blinman Copper Mine in the Northern Flinders Ranges of South Australia, as a way of imaging the incredible forces human society and technology exert upon the earth. This project continues a long-standing collaboration between media artist Grayson Cooke and sound artist Dugal McKinnon, investigating the relationship between geological “deep time” and the technologically amplified time of the human.
Echo 1, alone, guided by radio, makes archaeological excavations in search of traces of human life. Imprisoned between the post-apocalyptic infinity of an arid universe and the cramped confinement of a rustic shelter, his only escape lies in the dreamy contemplation of simple and majestic nature.
Light of Its History
An archive of stone memory. Mapping time with geological media. Fumbling to reach through time to the things themselves.
It is the tragedy of children forced to work at the coal mines in the town called Tur/Samangan Afganistane, a place unheard to many.
A volcano is where Earth delivers up its messages: tectonic movements, harmless vapors, toxic acids, scalding minerals and the possibility of new geography. Basalt becomes infrastructure, architecture or souvenirs. Divieto 2 (2018) follows a team of INGV volcanologists to their data centers near the peak of Mount Etna, but pays equal attention to the miners and shopkeepers working on its slopes. The result is an expanding tableau of the mountain’s erratic economies. A volcano is thus a source of imagery; a cache that mirrors every eruption.
Mined, extracted, and woven, asbestos was the magic mineral. Towns became cities under its patronage, Persian kings entertained guests with its fireproof nature, and centuries of industry raked in the profits of its global application. We now live in the remains of this toxic dream, a dream that with the invention of electron microscopes revealed our material history as a disaster in waiting. Yet the asbestos industry has far from left us with extraction from the soil transforming to extraction from our walls. We are now faced with two options: to remove this material from our homes and start anew, or to build upon its residue. Removal is a dangerous and costly operation. So often we choose to live amongst it instead, choking out our walls with plastic tarping: the failed promises of modernism literally entombed all around us. Shot in the mining town of Asbestos,Quebec, home to the world’s largest asbestos mine that only stopped extraction in 2012, the film is a meditation on the entanglement of the fragility of bodies, the nonlinearity of progress, and the persistence of matter.
Lunar Economic Zone
The 2028 Mid August Day Lunar Mineral Parade is a speculative event which takes place in the newly formed Lunar Economic Zone, an administrative agglomeration of Shenzhen and the Moon, on August 15, 2028. Coordinated by Zhan Wang, the event is designed to be seen by the mechanical eyes of the world’s media and is an external projection of pomp and ceremony showcasing an emerging resource rich, technology advanced superpower. As the media frenzy descends on the city the world is invited to the grand parade that marks the first consignment of lunar minerals touching down on earth. The parade route takes spectators along the main axis of city from the 10000 meter tall space elevator to the mega ships of the world’s largest mineral port. As the world’s largest rare earth producer China currently controls 90% of the mineral market. Their recent limits placed upon mineral exports has artificially driven rare earth prices to unprecedented levels. Western nations are scrambling to find their own mineral deposits to counter the Chinese monopoly. Between documentary and fiction, between propaganda and news the Lunar Economic Zone plays on our fears of a localised resource economy.
A Thing Among Things
The video combines a recollection of visual memories of a blind person with close-ups of transparent minerals. The images work almost as a setting design open to different interpretations: as to see something presuming being something else.
Anthropology of the Future
A series of 6 chapters that explores the future of humanity through the embodiment of the future in evolving creatures.
Amber is renowned for its beautiful preservation and arguably the most valuable scientific collection lives in the American Natural History Museum. Dr David Grimaldi and Paul Nascimbene share their passion for amber in this film, which looks at the millions of years old specimens inside as well as the need to preserve them for future generations.
Nicolas Steno a Danish scientist and religious person, faces himself with doubts and new scientific discoveries about the planet we live in.
Wisdom Teeth is based on the research done by the danish scientific Nicolas Steno(1638–1686) on geology. It was filmed in Piedemont, Italy, where the first edition of his work (1969) is stored today. His investigation centers in the Glossopetrae, a fossilized shark teeth commonly found on the italian landscapes that guided Steno to propose his laws about the formation of the terrestrial layers.
The Ashes Remain Warm
“Every morning when I go out of the door, he is the first one I see. He is the first to tell me good morning.” “He is a father. Although he is destroying us, he does not kill us.”
The villages of ‘Chã das Caldeiras’ lie inside the crater of the volcano ‘Pico do Fogo’ in Cabo Verde. After losing everything they own on the last eruption, its inhabitants are forced to reconstruct their lives. A subjective visual tale on real loss, a symbiotic relationship and the possibility of the eternal return.
Cosmorama observes the world such as it doesn’t seem to us, making an inaccessible strata of the luminous spectre visible. Shot near an observatory, the film uses an infrarouge imagery process with which astronomers usually observe objects of deep space. The film creates the conditions of a tangible and collective experience of disorientation, and the disruption of spatial and time scales.
In Southern Iran, in the province of Khuzestan, in a stark and mineral landscape, a woman breaks rocks off a cliff, using only the strength of her arms and a crowbar as a tool. She lives there, in a hut made of stones dug out of the rock. Her day-to-day life is divided between the care she provides to her husband and the long hours spent extracting stones.
Like Sisyphus, she seems doomed to live eternally the same daily routine. Day after day, shot after shot, her gestures are the same. Her living space, built around this extremely rudimentary home, is enclosed there where the barren landscape seems limitless. The camera that films the surroundings in slightly low-angle highlights the confinement of her situation. She thus appears condemned to the punitive task of deadening work whose meaning is only revealed to us at the end of the film. The absurdity of this woman’s destiny asks questions, like that of the meaning of life.
Matière première (Raw Material)
“The journey proceeds on desertic lands. Starting with the laborers quarrying red dirt at open-air mines, it follows the iron ore all the way to the ocean, aboard the world’s longest train. At the end, the wrecks scattered on the beach announce the voyage’s end. Meanwhile, bound for prosperous countries, the cargo of valuable ore is heaped into the holds of ships at the dock. This film uses the pinhole camera device, one of the earliest ways of capturing reality. The technique yields an unusual perception of the desert’s geology, light, machines, and men.”
The molecular structure of a precious opal is a record of the peaceful and orderly deposition of perfectly rounded spheres of silica over millions of years. Opal contains more water than any other gem, also contributing to the unique activity of light inside the stone. Light passing through the layers of silica spheres diffuses and overlaps into a ever-shifting Play of Color.
This video exploration reveals 3mm vistas inside of Mexican opals, traveling through miniature caverns containing pastel nebulas. Filmed through an optical microscope using motorized micro equipment, & Play of Color is the first video to bring these scintillating landscapes to light at a small scale.
65 million years ago, a rock of unknown origin travelled through space to percute the Earth to put an end to three quarters of the life on the planet. At the region of the impact, a group of searchers venture into the darkness of a Mayan cave to explore the acoustics of the place. They set in a strange technical ritual to evoque the cosmic crash.
Three video sequences go against each other, into a three splinter in distant world. By looking up, the film travels through places to which the strength is be able to create another imaginary realm; a territory is strongly damaged by human hand, where is a probable generative act, in reality there wasn’t any violent or destructive events, rather one slow and deaf implode of reality, that under his weight it lose into a fantastic world.
Labocine is an Imagine Science Films initiative to extend our film programming to a broader and more diverse audience. We have over 2,000 film titles from 200 countries for all ages brought to you by artists, scientists, filmmakers and educators.
By experimenting with cinematic form and style, we are committed to provoking scientific intrigue and understanding, always ensuring compelling and well-founded narratives. Periodically, we release Spotlights online. On the first Tuesday of every month, enjoy our issue selections which complement newsworthy science by proposing a surgically curated online festival. From documentary to fiction to lab footage, we hope to always challenge the way you understand, interpret and appreciate scientific ideas and perspectives.
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