Haunted Engines - UNICA and Other Films from Computer Generated Worlds

+ Q&A with Blaise Kirschner

UNICA is the new, eagerly anticipated film by Blaise Kirschner, a personally absorbing exploration of post-apocalyptic game worlds that merges current forms of digital production such as motion capture with drawing and quasi-archaeological procedures, calling attention to the artificial naturalisation of historical and ongoing violence, and the conditions of possibility for its decoding and disruption. Shot in Berlin, as an eerie fiction, UNICA follows a motion-capture performer and an artist, her mother, as their interstitial machine world is built and born from a landscapes on the city’s edge that has grown over war ruins. The programme includes other examples of artist films that draw on computer generated worlds and we look forward to welcoming Jarman Award winner Kirschner for a conversation about their new film and research.

UNICA is named after the writer and artist Unica Zürn (1916 – 1970), whose illustrated text The House of Illnesses (1958) figures her body and her institutionalisation as one formation. Rethinking contemporary forms of immersion in simulated worlds through Zürn’s body-building, UNICA attends to the syncretic lifeforms that emerge from the intra-actions between the organismic, technological and phantasmal today. The latent presence of an unnamed catastrophe is repeatedly evoked by the protagonists, an artist and a motion-capture performer, via overlapping references to post-apocalyptic computer games, drawings, and dreams. This deliberate indeterminacy is extended to Teufelsberg, a forested hill on the outskirts of Berlin made from the debris of Second World War ruins, where parts of the work were filmed. By merging motion capture with quasi-archaeological procedures, UNICA calls attention to the artificial naturalisation of historical and ongoing violence, and the conditions of possibility for its decoding and disruption.

Hudson Valley Ruins
Depicting various domestic spheres of a suburban north American context, Hudson Valley Ruins is a machinima video that relies on The Sims 3 computer graphics engine to depict the absurd, alienated, and often uncanny lives of several characters, focusing on two young girls and their visions, experiences, and fantasies.

Written and Directed by: Blaise Kirschner
Production: Blaise Kirschner
Commissioned and Co-produced by: Fluentum
Curators: Junia Thiede, Dennis Brzek
Production Assistant: Lena Weißmüller
Cinematography: Julian Moser
Camera Assistant: Luisa Knight
Editing: Katharina Voß
Dramaturgy & Choreography: Zee Hartmann
Motion Capture: OnPoint Studios
Animation: Diana Gradinaru
Production Design: Cleo Niemeyer-Nasser
Hair & Make-up: Kathrin Hieselmayr
Colour Grading: Julian Moser
Sound: Katharina Voß
Sound Design & Soundtrack: Wibke Tiarks
Sound Mix: Kostas Flylaktidis
Gabrielle Scharnitzky (UNICA A)
Grete Gehrke (UNICA B)
Germany 2022
36 mins

Director: Jacky Connolly
USA 2016
30 mins

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Programme notes and credits compiled by the BFI Documentation Unit
Notes may be edited or abridged
Questions/comments? Contact the Programme Notes team by email