Beyond is All Around Me

2017, video with sound, duration 55:02

This work combines found footage (a YouTube screen grab from the game Minecraft) with found voice (narration from the film Alone in the Wilderness, 2004).

Alone in the Wilderness is a documentary based on film reels and journals made by the naturalist Dick Proenneke, who spent his last three decades living alone in the Alaska wilderness. The narrator sounds like a proverbial wise old grandfather, dispensing hard-won wisdom with wry and wistful asides. It is natural to imagine Proenneke himself at the mic. However, Proenneke’s ‘voice’ in the film is a construction. His journals were edited into a script by the film makers, which was narrated by an actor. Proenneke himself died shortly before the film was made.

Minecraft is a hugely successful video game in which players build worlds in a graphically simple, highly stylised virtual environment. One could imagine a player spending decades within the game, building virtual log cabins and roaming a world which, unlike Alaska, is limitless.

Combined, these two inauthentic sources produce a weird sort of alternate authenticity, which is both liberating and disturbing. We have more world building tools than ever before. Yet data, facts and the voice itself are increasingly questionable, due to deliberate obfuscation for political ends, but also because of the underlying, alienating effects of techno-capitalism.