Moving images and photographs created by individuals around the world document the surface of the planet in ever greater detail. Taken together they operate as a decentralised cinematographic apparatus. Various technologies contribute to this collection of data at different scales, zooming in and out to create discreet snapshots of various locales and moments as well as recording planetary processes over long stretches of time. Corporations and governments feed into and extract from this distributed network of footage, for purposes of territorial measuring and tracking of events. Besides the politics of surveillance at scales ranging from the individual to the global and out into space, this vast collection of visual, auditory and geographic data is increasingly utilised to make predictions about the future. Meteorological information is combined with topographic mappings and other data to forecast plausible situations that might become politically and economically crucial.
Attempts at combining various pieces of diverse information to make assumptions about the future are not new. Early cybernetic experiments such as the Chilean CyberSyn, a late 1950s utopian—if failed—computational attempt by the socialist Allende government to plan the national economy is one such example. Today, however, calculations occur at an unprecedented mass-scale and extend to volatile ecologies—both with the aim to mitigate the effects of global heating and to avoid political conflict, but also to calculate economic profitability in the wake of ecological and other forms of disaster.
In the exhibition Making of Earths at Kunsthall Trondheim, the collective Geocinema (Asia Bazdyrieva and Solveig Suess) explores the longue durée of the modern trope that the future is manageable. If feminist and queer critiques have shown that totalising attempts of systems planning were flawed from the outset, today’s concurrent climate catastrophe, reactionary political situation and social insecurity crystallise this in a way that is increasingly palpable also in the Global North. Previous certainties and promises of progress crumble, leaving behind conditions that feels destabilising for many. A chasm widens between the lived experience of overwhelming uncertainty on the ground and the mass of data collected to profit off of this context. The visual cultures emerging from this moment are imbued with values and assumptions of the present and the future. They are to a large extent wielded to mediate planetary sensing for political and economic interests.
In Geocinema’s first solo show, the collective expands on their previous work on geosensing as a planetary cinematographic device with research specifically consolidated for this occasion. Taking groundwork conducted primarily in China and Thailand, with a focus on the Belt and Road initiative, as a point of departure, Bazdyrieva and Suess unpack how the idea of a manageable future unfolds through images across geographies and media. The exhibition is organised in three zones; the Forecaster, Calibration, and the Stitcher. Consisting of newly edited videos; a podcast with media theorist Jussi Parikka; reference literature by TJ Demos, Jennifer Gabrys, Ute Holl, Xiao Liu, and Parikka, as well as references to Maya Deren’s visionary ideas on technology and cinema, among others, the exhibition examines the political, social and economic dimensions cast with the technologised, distributed eye.
Curator: Stefanie Hessler
Assistant curator: Katrine Elise Pedersen
Geocinema consists of art historian Asia Bazdyrieva and filmmaker Solveig Suess. Bazdyrieva studied analytical chemistry at the Kyiv National University (2009) and art history at The City University of New York as a Fulbright grantee (2017). Suess completed her undergraduate in Visual Communication at the Glasgow School of Art, with her postgraduate at the Centre for Research Architecture, Goldsmiths University, London (2017). Bazdyrieva and Suess started their collaboration at The New Normal think-tank, Strelka Institute, Moscow (2018). In 2018–19 they were fellows in the global research network Digital Earth.