Serpent Rain – Arjuna Neuman and Denise Ferreira da Silva

This gallery is not that large, but the exhibition that was being held on the ground floor, in a back room was phenomenal. As an aspiring filmmaker, the film was really influential. Arjuna Neuman was the artist/filmmaker and Denise Ferreira da Silva was a philosopher working with the project. The film [Serpent rain] explored the history of slavery and the Black Lives Matter and juxtaposed it to the subject of time and the degradation of the natural world. This visual comparison of the Black Lives Matter movement and slavery, intercut with imagery of time passing and destruction of our world was very impactful and produced a strong, clear narrative for the viewer to follow. This metaphor is used to get across a clear message of change and progression in the future. There is a physics professor who explains the laws of time and progression in this film, which I think is an interesting way to present quantum physics in a digestible way, this links to my current project exploring time and language. It’s an art house film which is edited like a rhetorical question. It provides you with the tools to interpret the film without blatantly telling you how to fell or how to think, which I think is important when it comes to the themes that this film is exploring as it’s a really respectful approach.

This film starts with the artist asking a philosopher “how do we get to the post-human without technology?” Working to any means ultimately leads to progression to an end. Which means that you can even progression through regression, so the answer to that question is yes, but it’s displayed in an abstract way. Which I think is a very relevant question to me at this current point in time as I have been doing a lot of research into future technologies through reading books like Homo Deus.

The long takes in this piece really slow down the pacing and get the viewer to really appreciate and take the time to look at the details and enjoy the artistry of each shot. Since, the shots of nature have the original audio it also helps slow the pace of the film as there is no consistent soundtrack to help carry the viewer through the whole film. In addition, it helps develop an understanding of the theory of time as explained by the professor, as well as subtly hints at how our progression as human beings is slow but keeps progressive.  

When images of the refinery are shown the original audio, whereas everywhere else in the film there is a consistent sound track. The low rumbling sends shivers down my spine. The irony of this clip of the film being that you can hear all of the machinery at work yet over the top you can still hear birds tweeting. The audio alone is a symbol of nature versus human advancement. This goes for the rest of the shots of nature, they are all filmed and presented with the original audio, which makes the shots of nature feel more awe-inspiring and impressive to the viewer. It emphasises the power of our planet makes the evokes a feeling of respect for a force that we cannot tame. This film shows the “horror in symmetry and the beauty in nonconformity,” which links to the themes of the ballet I saw recently called “Untouchable.” The temperament of both of those pieces are the same: we should be more fearful of uniformity than chaos, as uniformity is what a negative, dystopian future looks like, whereas, chaos and organic life is what a positive, utopian future looks like. Through uniformity, we will have no free will or self expression, whereas, with a more chaotic, organic future we will have more control and freedom to do as we will. However, due to technological innovation and human advancement will are going to find ourselves in a more algorithm driven existence, which becomes more predictable and set. 

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