Hyperrhiz 12: Mapping Cultures

TOXI•CITY (2013-2015)

4:54 Minutes, 16:9, Color, Stereo.

TOXI•CITY is a hybrid-narrative film that follows six fictional characters who live in a near-future landscape along the US eastern seaboard which was one of the first industrialized port districts in North America and is today home to five of its largest oil refineries. The projects asks what how conditions of life would change if repeated storm surges and tides flooded the densely populated lands with toxins from the hundreds of sea-level petro-chemical industry sites and post-industrial brownfields. The fictions are interspersed with nonfictional accounts of deaths that occurred during recent storms in the area, most notably Hurricane Sandy. A recombinatory film uses computer code to draw fragments from a database in changing configurations every time it is shown. As some stories seem to resolve, others unravel. Just as with the conditions of ocean tides and tidal shores, the stories cycle and change without clear beginning or end. Rather, individuals grasp for meaning from fleeting conditions of a world in flux. As the characters paths intersect, story threads come together. These offer moments of resolution, contact and visions of the future, before the narratives are broken apart and a fresh cycle begins. It is a hybrid film in that it combines narrative elements with documentary imagery and elegiac nonfictional anecdotes, tying imagined futures to the realities of our contemporary condition. The inclusion of these short fragments of real lives lost in contemporary storms grounds the speculative elements of the climate change narrative. The fact that there are many of these stories of personal endings, and that viewers of the film never encounter the same combination of these fragments twice, reiterates the immense scale of loss that such disasters involve. Included in Hyperrhiz is a short (approximately 5 minutes) sample from the film. The entire project includes about 120 minutes of material, which is arranged differently on each run. TOXI•CITY has been shown as an installation and in cinematic arrangements in the USA and Europe, at museums, conferences, and film festivals.


Direction and Production: Roderick Coover
Writing and Production: Scott Rettberg
Voice: Aram Aghazarian, Don Anstock, Kamili Feelings, Alice Gatling, Cynthia Geonnotti, Steve Geonnotti, Saskia Hargrove, Jason Marck, Chris Monaco, Chris Whelan.