Saturday, September 03, 2011

The Otolith Group: The Otolith Trilogy

MIT List Visual Arts Center

September 6th - September 22nd

The MIT List Visual Arts Center is pleased to present The Otolith Group's Otolith Trilogy, an interconnected series of films made between 2002 and 2009 that relate scenarios of a speculative future, projected from events in our recent past. Combining fictional narration with archival and documentary footage, the artists create a set of plausible predictive outcomes for the future, from life in the city of the future, to the 22nd Century, when the earth is no longer hospitable to life. The three films Otolith I, Otolith II, and Otolith III show the possible effects of our past and present actions on various aspects of human experience and knowledge, including biology, space travel, urbanism, architecture, economics, media, and culture.

Otolith I (22:16 min.) is set in the 22nd Century, when the human race is no longer able to survive on Earth and is obliged to live in the microgravity conditions of the International Space Station. Dr. Usha Adebaran Sagar, the future descendant of Otolith Group member Anjalika Sagar, is an exo-anthropologist researching life on an earth that she can experience only through media archives. Otolith I imagines a mutant future that looks to the past to find the commonality between the post-war non-alignment movement in South Asia and the USSR, and the 2003 protests against the invasion of Iraq. Otolith I began in November 2002 as a collaboration with artist Richard Couzins. It was completed in 2003 with the support of The Arts Catalyst and The Mir Consortium, which made it possible for the artists to film in a microgravity environment.

Otolith II (47:42 min.) is set in the near future and mixes fiction, archival material, and documentary footage filmed in Mumbai and Chandigarh. The film explores the affective pressure exerted upon inhabitants residing within contrasting and competing versions of the city of tomorrow. Otolith II investigates the politics of futurity in which predictive models of the masterplan, the corporate scenario, and real estate speculation converge to extract labor, convert attention, and capture potential for profit. Otolith II was commissioned in 2006 by the Kunsten Festival Des Arts and ARGOS Centre for Art and Media in Brussels, Belgium, and Casco Projects in Utrecht, Netherlands.

Otolith III (48 min.) takes The Alien, the unrealized screenplay of the legendary Bengali director Satyajit Ray, as its point of departure. Written in 1967, The Alien would have been the first science fiction film to be set in contemporary India. Otolith III returns to 1967 to propose an alternative trajectory in which the fictional protagonists of The Alien attempt to seize the means of production in order to create the conditions for their existence as images. Filmed in London, Otolith III is an experiment in temporal and geographical displacement that The Otolith Group calls a premake, a remake of a film before the original. Otolith III was completed in 2009.

The Otolith Group: The Otolith Trilogy is organized by Joao Ribas, Curator, MIT List Visual Arts Center.

Support for the Otolith Group: The Otolith Trilogy has been provided by the Council for the Arts at MIT and the

Massachusetts Cultural Council.