“Ah humanity!” is an artwork one would prefer not to describe.
It is a polyvocal, multi-layered, “live” audiovisual project, best experienced in interactive museum installations, and an essay film about the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster.
In the tradition of this film genre and the past work of Ernst Karel, Véréna Paravel and Lucien Castaing-Taylor of the Harvard Sensory Ethnography Lab, this cine-essay is not about one topic or subject, nor was it “filmed” in a traditional way. It was shot with an iPhone camera, a telescope, and a separate audio recorder, with the sound layer created in a studio so that it surrounds the image projection space from four corners, acting as a joint “storyteller.”
The film version of “Ah humanity!”—which premiered in New York and Paris on October 2nd and 3rd— is at once all of the following:
- a study about the paradoxes of humanity—capable of being diabolical or divine, destroying Nature or acting as one with Nature
- an anxiogenic experience of danger and the precariousness of human life, accompanied by a troubling sense of otherworldliness of the apocalypse
- a reflection on the protean nature of nuclear energy, which can give and annihilate life
- an interrogation of the role and meaning of human distance and closeness, to Nature and to outside objects:
- Does using a telescope or a camera, aiming at objects and diminishing distance, really bring us closer and make the experience more intimate and more human?
- When does getting closer yielding a more adequate representation of reality?
- Is distance, optical and experiential, a reason for human lack of agency and seemingly carefree destruction of Nature?
- What kind of distance engenders human caring and feeling one with the reality observed?
- a meta-examination of the modes of the experience of the world and ourselves, achieved by scaffolding the experience about the experience and resituating our position in it.