PRESS LOTS OF KEYS TO ABORT
Plokta unravels technology and society, by looking through the eye of film.
From 1 to 5 April 2020, discover 𝗧𝗵𝗲 𝗛𝗶𝗱𝗱𝗲𝗻 𝗟𝗶𝗳𝗲 𝗼𝗳 𝗧𝗲𝗰𝗵𝗻𝗼𝗹𝗼𝗴𝘆. Technology is good at hiding. It hides in the cloud, behind friendly interfaces, behind high fences, or within the palm of your hand. Film on the other hand, is good at showing. It sees what the naked eye can’t. It sparks the imagination, searches for answers and fuels debate.
Plokta Festival invites artists, designers, VJs and scientists to share their ideas via films, workshops and talks. So get ready to chow down on microwave popcorn, and watch films about horsepower, algorithms, video games, and zip codes. Enjoy, be critical, or become enchanted by the ghost in the machine.
For opening night, 𝗣𝗹𝗼𝗸𝘁𝗮 invites you to a series of shorts giving a taste of what’s in store during these five days. Kicking off the festival, we’re very proud to host the Dutch premiere of Core Dump by Francois Knoetze.
Core Dump is a visually compelling poetic exploration of the relationship between cybernetics, colonialism and utopias. Core Dump’s four chapters Kinshasa (2018), Shenzhen (2019), New York (2019) and Dakar (2018), interweave found footage, performance documentation and recorded interviews. Together, they form narrative portraits of a global machine on the brink of collapse.
Each chapter explores local and global networks of technologies, people and capital. In these stories of interconnections across time and space, you’ll discover the nervous system of the digital Earth.
More about the opening night still to come!
What connects racial segregation, pest control, mapping systems and WWII fears of the bubonic plague? Rats.
Digging into Baltimore’s historic attempts – and failures – to deal with these notorious rodents, Theo Anthony’s genre-bending documentary explores the underbelly of a city with deeper issues than its rat infestation. From gritty street-level views to computer-generated landscapes, from harrowing reportage to utopian mythology, Rat Film finds humanity in the most inhuman situations.
Anthony’s investigation of his hometown encounters street rats, lab rats, rat lovers and rat exterminators. Neighbourhoods barely recovered from over a century of segregation reveal tragic and comic stories – stories told not only by their human residents and rodent pests, but also hidden structures of demography and city planning. Here, zip codes determine people’s livelihoods: “New maps, old maps, same maps”. As the film progresses, it becomes clear how technology and science have shaped the blueprint for social inequality in the city.
Opening the evening ahead of the main feature, 𝗕𝗲𝗮𝗰𝗵 𝗨𝗺𝗯𝗿𝗲𝗹𝗹𝗮 (2019) by Sjoerd ter Borg & Mark Jan van Tellingen finds another pernicious system of control in Seoul.
Haskell Wexler’s countercultural classic marked a historic turning point for US politics and cinema. A vivid retelling of 1968’s pivotal shift “beyond the age of innocence”, it was also at the vanguard of the Hollywood Renaissance. Like 𝘕𝘦𝘵𝘸𝘰𝘳𝘬 (1976), Wexler’s debut is a gripping, paranoid critique of television news, but with an anarchic spiritedness all of its own.
Medium Cool emphasises the ambiguous role of the camera in social change – a “cool medium”, in Marshall McLuhan’s words inspiring the film’s title. Through its dramatic narration of a TV news cameraman woken up to the turbulent politics of the era, the film emphasises the power of footage either to reinforce or challenge the status quo. It’s the latter that the film performs, its pioneering mixture of fiction and nonfiction capturing a culture on fire, and by doing so throwing more fuel on the flames.
Besides being a hilarious, high octane shoot-em-up, Paul Verhoeven’s (NL) 1987 classic presciently depicted the violent potential of unbridled techno-capitalism. In its dystopian future Detroit, corporations provide a technological fix for crime and poverty: an android police officer, whose explosive arsenal gives new meaning to high-calibre law enforcement.
Robocop critiques the fascism dormant in the worship of violent entertainment, weapons and the lone American hero – by exercising that worship to a pleasurable excess. When justice is left to the market and technology, new forms of injustice emerge, with results that are equally chilling and darkly humorous.
The film will be introduced by Florian Cramer. As a reader in 21st Century Visual Culture at Willem de Kooning Academy, he knows a thing or two about Robocop’s cultural significance – and also about Rotterdam. For Cramer, the future Detroit of this prophetic classic is comparable to his resident city, foreshadowing familiar phenomena in its urban development, neoliberal administration and policing. Watch out for Omni Consumer Products onscreen and in the Randstad.
This film by Theo Balmes follows the 17-year-old monk Peyangki, whom is torn between a quiet life of piousness and the allure of the Internet. When his remote monastery in Bhutan suddenly goes on grid, cellphones open up a new world of technology – and romance. Falling in love over WeChat with a young singer from the capital, Peyangki considers leaving it all behind for the girl who sings to him over his phone.
A delicate study of one individual’s development, Sing Me a Song has documentarian Thomas Balmès return a decade later to the same child from his earlier film Happiness (2014), who was then preparing for the arrival of electricity in his hometown. Besides tracing a unique story of conflicting tradition, ambition and connectedness, it permits an unprecedented view on the impact of the Internet as it reaches into the furthest corners of the planet. With this nuanced portrayal of online dating and screen addiction, you’ll have to rethink your ideas about how technology shapes our development, identity and relationships. Faced with such a brave new world, what would you do?
Dig deeper into Plokta’s theme with this special program of exclusive lectures, performances and screenings. Getting to the heart of the festival, artists and researchers present and perform works considering different aspects of the Hidden Life of Technology.
𝗚𝗿𝗮𝗵𝗮𝗺 𝗞𝗲𝗹𝗹𝘆 (GB)
Explore the fictional island of King Kong in this live video essay by Graham Kelly. Since the original 1933 classic, numerous interpretations of the iconic ape have reflected the contexts of their eras and audiences. Plokta premieres the latest part of this ongoing series of performances and video works, examining the ideological and financial stories hidden in these seminal chapters of cinema.
𝗗𝗼𝗻𝗻𝗮 𝗩𝗲𝗿𝗵𝗲𝗶𝗷𝗱𝗲𝗻 (NL)
Donna Verheijden’s kaleidoscopic video essay, “Eye Trick the I” explores the (un)reality of representation from art history to social media. She finds an eerie humour in how we construct ourselves through visual and digital culture. The result is a visual onslaught of data and images, where questions about public/private life are raised and then left unanswered in the endless scroll. Followed by a unique performance by the artist, created interactively with the Plokta audience.
𝗠𝗮𝘁𝗵𝗲𝘄 𝗞𝗻𝗲𝗲𝗯𝗼𝗻𝗲 (US)
Mathew Kneebone explores the history of electrical innovation and the cultural mechanisms that we adopt to cope with its change. Opening the Saturday program, he considers how visible technologies have become invisible throughout history. The talk correlates technical complexity, malfunction and user anxieties with mythology, superstition and science fiction.