Evolution and extinction from the point of view of rocks and various future others. The geo-biosphere is introduced as a place of evolutionary possibility, where humans disappear but life endures.
The project originated from two novellas of J.-H. Rosny, the joint pseudonym of the Belgian brothers Boex who wrote on natural, prehistoric and speculative subjects—sci fi before it was a genre. The film takes up their pluralist vision of evolution, where imagining prehistory is inseparable from envisioning the future. Also central are Roger Caillois’ writing on stones, Robert Hazen's theory of Mineral Evolution, Clarice Lispector’s Hour of the Star, the Symbiosis theory of Lynn Margulis, multi-species scenarios of Donna Haraway, Hazel Barton’s research on cave microbes and Marcia Bjørnerud’s thoughts on time literacy. In one way or another, these thinkers have all sought to displace humankind and human reason from the center of evolutionary processes.
Passages from Rosny and interviews with Bjørnerud form the film's science-fictional / science-factual spine. Stones are its anchor. To touch stone is to meet alien duration. We trust stone as archive, but we may as well write on water. In the end, it’s particles that remain.
Director / Camera / Edit / Sound Design: Deborah Stratman
Producers: Anže Peršin, Gaëlle Boucand, Deborah Stratman
Sound Engineer: Simon Apostolou
Voices: Valérie Massadian and Marcia Bjørnerud
Music: Thomas Ankersmit, Olivia Block, Nicolas Collins, Brian Eno, Okkyung Lee, Matchess
With the support of:
Centre national des arts plastiques
the TËNK platform
UnionDocs Center for Documentary Art
and with participation of the CNC
World Premiere: Sundance, January 2023 International Premiere: Berlinale, Feburary 2023
"Adopting a polytemporal worldview requires not just recognizing a plurality of times, but also acknowledging the force field between them." - Miriam Matthiessen, Tone Glow, February 2023
"Talk about rejecting empathy: Stratman’s haunting, iridescent work of science-nonfiction actively decenters the human perspective, narrating the history and the speculative future of the universe with rocks as its protagonists. The idea that minerals evolve over time—and preserve records of our world’s many lives—drives Stratman’s inquiry, which, as is often the case with her work, is at once dryly analytical, politically urgent, and cinematically riveting." - Devika Girish, Film Comment, February 2023
"an avant-garde essay film concerned with the histories and stories embedded in the geo-biosphere, subtly pointing to the pretension and myopia of human superiority over the natural world." - Joshua Minsoo Kim, Tone Glow, February 2023
"explores the origins of life from the perspective of rocks and other geologic matter in a fashion combining science, poetry, and speculative fiction with audio-visual textures (16mm film, microtonal soundtrack frequencies) of uniquely synaesthetic force." - Jordan Cronk, Mubi Notebook, February 2023
"less interested in definitive answers to large questions about our planet’s continuing evolution but instead contemplates what it means to make a resource out of the natural world and how to combat this tendency in favor of non-anthropocentric pursuits." - Caitlin Quinlan, Reverse Shot, February 2023
"Rather than observing the rocks, we are invited to feel what it might have been like to exist with them as the earth threw life in and out of turmoil over millions of years." - Erin Evans, The Michigan Daily, February 2023
"the film in actuality is a gorgeous, almost dystopian exploration of history as a geological survey." - Joshua Brunsting, Criterion Cast, January 2023
"In refuting tendencies of anthropomorphic thought, the film becomes an empowering reminder of our own insignificance. Yet any hint of didacticism shrivels away in Stratman’s hands; instead, she embraces pleasure in the unknown and the sprawling ambiguity of the universe." - Ryan Akler-Bishop, In Review Online, January 2023
"floods the screen with a stream of extraordinary images, colours and shapes that are as visually captivating as they are intellectually detonating." - Sukhdev Sandhu, Prospect Magazine,December 2022