Binary cinema

Device_art 6.018 film programme selected by Hrvoje Pukšec

Saturday 26.01.2019.

  • 14:00 - 15:30 BLOC 1 - mainstream (92 minutes) @Museum of Contemporary Art in Zagreb (extension) | The Last Fisherman, 2017, Shal Ngo, Vietnam, fiction (12'); More Human Than Human, 2018, Tommy Pallotta, Femke Wolting, The Netherlands, documentary (80')
  • 16:00 - 17:30 BLOC 2 - art (85 minutes) @Museum of Contemporary Art in Zagreb (extension) | A.D.A.M., 2014, Vladislav Knežević, Croatia, experimental (13'); PUK* Bill, 2017, Floris Schönfeld, The Netherlands, documentary-experimental (11'); Androids Dream, 2014, Ion De Sosa, Spain, fiction-experimental (61')

Sunday 27.01.2019.

  • 14:00 - 15:30 BLOK 1 - mainstream (92 minute) @Muzej suvremene umjetnosti Zagreb (extension) | The Last Fisherman, 2017., Shal Ngo, Vijetnam, igrani (12'); More Human Than Human, 2018., Tommy Pallotta, Femke Wolting, Nizozemska, dokumentarni (80')
  • 16:00 - 17:30 BLOK 2 - art (85 minuta) @Muzej suvremene umjetnosti Zagreb (ekstenzija) | A.D.A.M., 2014., Vladislav Knežević, Hrvatska, eksperimentalni (13'); PUK* Bill, 2017., Floris Schönfeld, Nizozemska, dokumentarno-eksperimentalni (11'); Androids Dream, 2014., Ion De Sosa, Španjolska, eksperimentalno-igrani (61')

The research has been concluded, the screenings held and the future foretold. The androids are waiting around the corner, we just do not know which one and when we will get there. It is just a matter of time, every step counts. Even if we do not exactly know when and where, that does not mean we do not know what it is going to be like. A look to the future, which we shape together with the androids, robots, artificial intelligences and various other creations that transcend us in one way or another, is, in fact, a look at our own reflection in the mirror. With our minds on that which is immortal, firm, dominant, filled with potential, and, what is more, around the corner, our weary eyes in our reflection notice each and every of our errors and flaws that have been accumulating for thousands of years. Optimism, disgust, dread, longing, aggression, relief, all intermingling in the chaos of what it means to be human, as we wait for the future to unfold.

As a medium, film is the perfect space and tool for the examination of an android future because, just like people, it is experiencing a slight decline and prognosis is not good: new rules are at play. Precisely because of its waning strength, film imbues the works that both define and make it with additional patina. There is a clear distinction between “us” and “them” in the movies – it is often both the starting and finishing point of this exploration.

Binary Cinema’s program presents two such titles: the short fiction film, The Last Fisherman, by Shal Ngo and the feature-length documentary, More Human Than Human, directed by Tommy Pallotta and Femke Wolting. The documentary shows us how things are, here and now – to what extent our intelligent creations have already found their islands in the oceans of humanity. The Last Fisherman, on the other hand, takes place in the dystopian decades that lie ahead and problematizes the relationship between man and android after everything good or bad has already happened to them. People are almost but extinct, but it is also becoming increasingly hard for the androids – could that be a starting point for mutual understanding?

Understanding artificial intelligence is at the core of PUK* Bill by artist Floris Schönfeld. How do we understand the cognitive abilities of a machine, when they cannot even be described? Is human intuition, that is, a highly non-rational approach, the key? Perhaps artificial intelligence has already emancipated itself a long time ago?

The emancipation of a machine and its awakening is also the central point of the Croatian short experimental film, A.D.A.M., directed by Vladislav Knežević. Instead of an asteroid, a mining drone ends up on Earth, and then uses all the hardware at its disposal in a self-exploratory quest for meaning. Its cognitive pathways and culs-de-sac are worlds apart from human ones, but its final conclusions become increasingly and irresistibly carbon-based rather than binary.

Ion De Sosa masterfully blurs the space containing both humans and robots in his Androids Dream. Was the film made by an android or is it a film about them? Is what we see simply an android’s dream, a horror story for scaring little android-scouts when they are out camping in the wilderness?

None of the films offer an answer, but taken together, they produce a feeling that is felt when we wonder what we talk about when we talk about artificial intelligence, androids or robots – we talk about ourselves.

The Last Fisherman

2017, Shal Ngo, Vietnam, fiction (12'); Tribeca, 2018

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More Human Than Human

2018, Tommy Pallotta, Femke Wolting, The Netherlands, documentary (80'); SXSW Film Festival, 2018

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2014, Vladislav Knežević, Croatia, experimental (13'); Clermont-Ferrand ISFF, 2015

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PUK* Bill

2017, Floris Schönfeld, The Netherlands, documentary-experimental (11'); IDFA, 2018.

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Android's Dream

2014, Ion De Sosa, Spain, fiction-experimental (61'); Berlinale, 2015.

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Museum of Contemporary Art (Zagreb)

*the film programme is in English language