acta est petrolium, plaudite!
(oil is over, applaud!)
Brief: Project Summary
The world as we know it both conceptually and literally is reduced to an aesthetic surface, recorded in the form of footage (factual and fictional) and flattened as image on screen. These are the apparatuses.
The common denominator of the world is a single material defining our age, driving our collective global narrative – always prevalent beneath every surface, powering all physical and digital progress; but never in direct sight. Everything dependents on this elusive force, its extraction, its consumption, and its reshaping of all human experience on every scale.
Horrifyingly beautiful, here our story begins. The age of progress, of gleaming surfaces, of an interconnected humanity utterly dependant on a material seldom seen but always there. It’s story has been interweaving an entire planet’s collective narrative for the past 200 years. Our media build facts and fictions around its consequences never straying beyond the surface of what is reported. The illusion of objectivity. It is everywhere and it is running out.
Narration & Storyboard Script
“I had a dream, which was not all a dream.
The bright sun was extinguish’d, and the stars
Did wander darkling in the eternal space,
Rayless, and pathless, and the icy earth
Swung blind and blackening in the moonless air;
Morn came and went—and came, and brought no day,
And men forgot their passions in the dread
Of this their desolation;”
Introduction – The Surface of the World – Perspective:
Darkness. A slither of light appears. The doors slowly creak open. As we move closer the light grows from a line to the dim interior of a room. An ominous object hovers over a marble plinth – a glowing puddle suspended in mid-air. Upon our approach the flat surface reveals itself to be a portal looking unto the rolling surface of the globe.
Into the puddle we descend beyond the glassy plane of the screen we land on the globe, thrusting forward, gliding over sandy dunes until the ascent over one of them reveals a vast landscape – pillars of thick black smoke stretching as far as the horizon, holding up an even darker surface; a veil over the sky.
As we shift our view the landscape slides away and we move from one surface to another. A short interval offers a glimpse of other screens, news footage and media events surrounding the thing itself are briefly seen and heard. Their interference fades as we enter the surface of objects.
Nano – Circuit board Surface – Plan:
What might seem as a night shot of a city in plan slowly turns into a glowing circuit board. Highways of circuitry wrap around towering transistors and resistors of all shapes and sizes. ‘Daybreak’ reveals our circuit board. A surreal element invades as we continue to move over it; black beads – tar-like droplets – appear between our gridded runways and cavernous circuitry. The substance gradually multiplies, forming rivers of dark ooze flooding the board. However, long before this culminates into a black deluge that smothers the whole object (prophesising the city end scene), we find ourselves slipping out of the shiny surface of a phone screen.
Body – Skin Surface – Perspective:
Behind the screen a mirror and a woman staring at herself. A closer shot of bare lips is animated by a hand moving a dark red lipstick over them. The trace behind the motion is highlighted by the dark ooze – subtly but evidently. Eyeliner, and lashing eyes sprinkle dark droplets into the air. She has worn her face. Bottled water perspiring with the black substance aids her swallow several pills. Harmless vitamins but their cabinet is also oozing with the fluid. Freshly painted nails start perspiring their own dark droplets as the perfume bottle sprinkles more onto her skin.
Food –Table Surface – Plan:
In the kitchen the family gathers to consume off the table. Packaging of all sorts is gradually leaking its dark ooze on the table top. As food is prepared hobs are turned on and dark liquid in pans sizzles. The camera in plan view to the table top shoots each dish being laid before its eater. Smiling mouths bight into meat and vegetables indifferent to the ever increasing tar-like fluid trickling down their faces and staining their clothes and filling their plates. A hand lifts a spoon-full of fluid out of a small plate ready to feed the family’s infant. The scene ends with luscious raspberries in a bowl next to their packaging labelled New Zeeland produce – the shining bubbly red fruits are slowly drowned in the black fluid. The bowl overflows and the table is slowly covered as we zoom out in plan view, out of the screen to pan onto another.
Products –The Shelf Surface – Elevation:
Our mother walks down an isle shopping as we follow her in elevation view of the shelving. As she moves forwards the shelves she leaves behind turn into cascading waterfalls of dark ooze. At the tills we have an elevation shot of the plastic bags piled and used for delivering purchases home.
Music/Culture? – Audio turns into concert – Zoom Out:
Monuments to national identity and human history are only preserved from the fumes induced by the substance by deploying methods requiring conditioning that can only exist because of the substance. The fresco of the Last supper perspires black droplets as a heftier amount of fluid gushes out of the holy grail. The Sistine chapel (ceiling plan zoom) cracks as the sky rains down with fluid. Fluid drips down the marble surfaces of columns; marble and gold become stained with the fluid.
Guitar/cello/violin strings vibrate as an orchestra plays. Gradually an orchestra is revealed with the fluid splashed off the instruments’ strings onto the stage, flowing into the isles. From the entertainment/cultural stage we move to that of politics.
Politics –The premise for wars – footage:
Symbols of government as well as officials themselves wallowing in oil as war horns sound and forces mobilised. The war machine leaking more and more fluid as it moves to deliver the political will unto other areas of the world. Kuwait, Iraq, Iran and the Middle East become the cesspool of military operations and resource extraction.
Vehicles and Infrastructure:
The oil secured. A static shot of the horizon at sea is slowly blocked by the movement of an oil tanker that comes into view and covers the entire screen (like the Boeing 747 in Koyaanisqatsi). An isometric-like view of the sea reveals more and more tankers as we zoom out to a landscape full of ships.
The oil well – zoom out to landscape:
An oil well in Kuwait is pouring oil out like a fountain. The camera moves swiftly over pipelines. A screen off the current screen is showing the earth gradually covered over by a black network of lines (the pipe routes) like veins pumping the fluid to fuel humanity.
Landscapes – plan view
Food production – agricultural fields with machinery leaking the fluid all over the produce. Animals downing in it. Arctic ice caps are stained with dark blotches from beneath as oil begins leaking over the ice. The desert sand turns black. Greenery is covered by waves of darkness.
Aesthetics –All kinds of surfaces – ornate interiors, asphalt roads etc are slowly washed over with black waves– elevation/ plan
Landscape shots are mixed with surface shots. We are panning over surfaces, plastic, synthetic furs, faux gold, real gold, ornaments, marbles, precious art pieces – as they are gradually stained or washed over by waves of black fluid. The cuts are transitioning into movements on and off screen surfaces, as we start perceiving the screens more as a faceted diamond rather than a flat surface over a plinth.
As the earth is close to turning into a complete black orb in space.
“The world was void,
The populous and the powerful was a lump,
Seasonless, herbless, treeless, manless, lifeless—
A lump of death—a chaos of hard clay.”
Drowning City – end scene.
We stare at a static view of a cityscape as sounds of it’s bustling life are gradually extinguished by the rushing force of an unseen flood. Then we slowly see the dark substance rising in waves between the streets, buildings are perspiring it and gradually the entire city is drowned (just like the circuit board) in the very material that makes it’s existence possible.
Storyboarding each of the scenes above to be uploaded later as well!
Working with a software called RealFlow to try and simulate fluid dynamics over models and in spaces. The opening to the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo used the same software for different reasons (create a nightmare of black ooze – I literally want the ooze to refer to the oil industry and make it more critical in the context of the project)