Bodies In Flux

Presented in conjunction with Ghosts of the Machine, Bodies In Flux is a program of three short films that expand the possibilities of the body. Across these films, the body is treated as an empty vessel to be customised; as a terrain on which we build our digital identities; and as a powerful force for connection and understanding. By pushing the boundaries of the body, these artists centre artificial, virtual, and nonhuman subjects, raising provocative insights around who, and what, is deserving of personhood.

Post-screening Q&A with Ghosts of the Machine Curator Elliott Ramsey

Doll+: Body Transmigration in its Ideal Fantasy
Ran Zhou | Canada | 2020 | 13:21

Doll+: Body Transmigration in its Ideal Fantasy observes the stereotypes surrounding body aesthetics from a posthuman vantage point. It centres on a nonsexual virtual character – a plastic toy produced in a Chinese assembly-line factory. By placing the reborn body of the doll into a virtual world of absurdity, this work stimulates a doll's perspective of self-identification. Blurring the boundaries between human and object, this project presents the “body” as a product of consciousness, while consciousness is sculpted and confined by both capitalism and collectivism.

About Ran Zhou
Ran Zhou (@ranzhouart) is a multimedia artist based in London and Vancouver. Experimenting with 3D animation, multimedia installation and sculptures, Zhou investigates how the pharmaceutical industry, pornography industry, and late capitalism are integrated into the cycles of reproductive and social control through the regulation of bodies. Zhou considers her explorations in poetic absurdity and black humour as an antecedent to a deeper examination of the contemporary cohabitation with technology. Through exploring issues of immigration, gender, education, history and memories, Zhou further explores the notion of cultural identity, resilience, and hybridity.

Zhou holds a BFA in Visual Arts (Hons) and Art History (Hons) from the University of British Columbia, and is currently completing an MA in Contemporary Art Practice at the Royal College of Art, London, UK. She has had solo exhibitions in Vancouver, New York, and Paris.

Flesh Nest
Andrew Thomas Huang | USA | 2018 | 09:23

Flesh Nest is excerpted from a nine-part sci-fi video series illustrating a post-apocalyptic digital purgatory imagined by filmmaker / video artist Andrew Thomas Huang. This Inferno-like world is inspired in part by the apocalyptic panoramas of Bosch and Bruegel paintings, and also in part by the book Networks of New York by artist and writer Ingrid Burrington who documents the fragmented palimpsest of Internet infrastructure woven into our physical urban surroundings.  Created with motion capture system Perception Neuron, Flesh Nest features costumes by Ashley Eva Brock and choreography by Nina McNeely, the latter who worked with Huang to create a digital library of behaviors and movement inspired by instinctual human activities that regularly enact and proliferate themselves across Internet fiber lines.

Flesh Nest offers a reality parallel to our own, in which such behaviors are mapped onto androgynous humanoid proxies that aimlessly collide and interact, superimposing themselves over desolate, cable-strewn geologies and junk landscapes that operate more like charnel grounds: liminal spaces of half-mortal, half-digital existence. Flesh Nest is an attempt to represent our digital reality as it physically is: a fleshy, tangled, messy collision of human behavior mapped and propagated via snaking cable lines across a decaying and irreversibly modified planet.

About Andrew Thomas Huang
Writer-director Andrew Thomas Huang crafts hybrid fantasy worlds and mythical dreamscapes. A Grammy-nominated music video director, Huang's collaborators include Bjork, FKA Twigs and Thom Yorke among others. His films have been commissioned by and exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, NY, The Sydney Opera House and the Museum of Contemporary Art, LA. Inspired by his Chinese heritage, queer Asian mythology and folklore, Huang is in late development on his first feature film TIGER GIRL, which has received support from Film Independent, SFFILM, Cinereach and the Sundance Institute. Huang graduated with a degree in Fine Art and Animation from the University of Southern California.

Marc Johnson | France | 2018 | 08:44 | Thai with English Subtitles

Ultraviolet invites us into an encounter with other forms of life and experiences, involving themes of inter-species sociability, collaborative survival, the Anthropocene, the Posthuman and the fable. Inspired by a Chinese poem of the 3rd century BCE – “The Butterfly’s Dream”, written by Zhuangzi – “Ultraviolet” conveys an allegorical narrative in which the parable and the fable unfold in a futuristic and enchanted world. The connection between human and other species is no longer seen in the dominant verticality of humankind, but rather as a horizontal relationship where all beings are considered equal.

The fable tells that one night, Kanchanna was dreaming she was a scorpion: a scorpion happy with herself and doing as she pleased. Soon, she was waking – and there she was, unmistakably real. Then, she did not know whether she was a human dreaming that she was a scorpion, or whether she was then a scorpion, dreaming of being human. Yet, shouldn’t there be more of a difference between a human and a scorpion?

About Marc Johnson
Marc Johnson (France, 1986, lives and works in Stockholm and Paris) is a French writer, photographer, documentary film director, trained architect, multimedia artist and, film essayist with ancestors in Benin, Togo, Ghana and, Congo. Johnson’s work has been shown extensively internationally, and he has participated in more than 50 international film festivals worldwide. He received the LVMH Young Artist Award in 2009, was awarded the Best Short Film Award from the Las Palmas International Film Festival de Gran Canaria in 2016, the Cornish Family Prize for Art & Design Publishing from the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne in 2017, the Best Short Film Award from the 10th Annual Milwaukee Film Festival in 2018 and receive the i-Portunus, European Commission’s mobility scheme for artists in 2019. Marc Johnson is currently a PhD candidate (2021-present) in the Film and Media department of the Stockholm University of the Arts, in Sweden.

Image: Andrew Thomas Huang, Flesh Nest, film still