ES: I want to give time and space for the viewer to walk into these landscapes and explore. And to raise questions instead of giving answers. For me, it is important to see contemporary, scientific structures distanced and to see them already as ruins. I am not trying to praise the scientific process, but rather to question it and re/contextualize this epoch within mythology. I propose a new geo-strata created by visualizing current geopolitical actions.
From the Soviet ruins of the Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant to the ancient tombs of the Etruscans, from the Andra nuclear fuel repository under France to the atomic deserts and abandoned mines of New Mexico—my film Burial takes us deep into the earth, not only past the thin crust of surface beneath us but also into time: technological, geological, metaphysical. It follows the cycle of power, the fire of creation and destruction, through dreamy sunscapes to the shadowy underlands where we bury both the dead and the apocalyptic wastes of our progress.
Arc welders slice off piece by piece the blades of nuclear reactors from the remains of Chernobyl’s twin-sister plant in Lithuania while a python slithers and curls over its abandoned control room. Remnants from the dying burst of a supernova six-billion years ago, uranium journeys from extraction to production to finally the spent fuel rods that end their loop. They are then hidden back into the earth, a radioactive grave with poison burning a half-life of 159,000 years. The mines and plants and repositories resemble the graves of our ancestors. As Robert MacFarlane wrote, “Into the underland we have long placed that which we fear and wish to lose, and that which we love and wish to save.” A cycle, an eternal return, another snake eating its tail.
The project Sounds from the Desert features Sun Ra Arkestra musician Abshalom Ben Shlomo walking us through a tectonic feature in the Negev desert that separates the Arabian plate and the Sinai sub-plate. Through the personal history of Abshalom, starting from his early life in Chicago in the 1960s, where he was born in wartime, the descendent of slaves, the film explores the developing intersection of African and American culture with elements of science fiction, historical fiction, fantasy, and magic realism with Black Hebrew diaspora cosmologies, all as we travel through the cosmos with him as an African-American refugee, legendary jazz musician, and spiritual searcher.
And again my film Sirenomelia, in which I performed as a siren, I linked the past and future by exploring the memory of Etruscan cemeteries, a nuclear power plant in Lithuania (twin sister of Chernobyl AES), Super-Kamiokande neutrino observatory in Japan, the Antimatter Factory, the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, Duga (Soviet, over-the-horizon) radar, and a Cold-War submarine base above the Arctic Circle. I read recently in Gregory Benford’s book Deep Time that "deep time is as much the province of the poet as the scientist," and truly I'm interested in seeing it in every way possible.