The Unknown

The Unknown
Generative film, 4K, sound, infinite duration, 2022
In situ installation, group show Supplementary Elements, University of Strasbourg, April 25th – May 22th, 2022, curated by Emeline Dufrennoy

The Unknown is a generative film that questions the fictions and ideologies conveyed about science by image banks. A programme randomly and endlessly edits a large number of video shots from image banks evoking science: laboratories, researchers, gestures, images of space, etc. Their smooth, interchangeable, positivist and falsely inclusive aesthetics could just as easily be applied to companies. Like contemporary ‘mythologies’, these images, which are free of reality and conflict, convey an ideology, impregnated with notions of progress, efficiency and performance.

They also have a performative dimension and contribute to a collective imagination of science. The film superimposes questions on the relationship between science and reality, uncertainty, doubt, the search for truth… These texts do not respond to the images, but aim to put them in tension. The Unknown thus aims to question the relationships between science, images, the search for truth, and the notion of uncertainty. Are these images true or false, real or staged? In a post-truth era, how can we interpret them and what do they tell us about our expectations? How do our fictions and our research intertwine today? Do these images have a political dimension?

Extract from a video recording (please put the sound on) :

Production: University of Strasbourg.


65 inch LCD screen, USB key, wood, program-generated video (1080p, 14h), 145 x 80 x 8 cm, 2020

On the ground, a very large screen shows the image of a tombstone whose inscriptions are constantly being rewritten, as if it had remained alive. Its first name, dates and epitaph are constantly erased and rewritten, often very quickly.

While the dead are those who, by definition, never respond anymore, Ungrave establishes the fiction of a zombie death, whose technology would have perverted the very principle and which would continue to bug ad vitam æternam, constantly questioning its existence and the best way to sum it up. The project evokes ironically the transhumanist ideology of an unlimited rewriting of life, where everything would still be possible, even after death. It is also a vision of hell, where traditionally the souls continue to wander and act, without never being able to get this over with or finding peace.

The name on the tombstone is alternatively John or Jane Doe. The date of death varies constantly, but the date of birth is always 2020, evoking a person who is somehow already promised to a “becoming-program”, in the Deleuzian sense of the term.

Produced with the support of Biennale Chroniques, 2020