Following Seven Alchemical Metals # Metallurgy, Media, Minds

This project is part of the Geomediations Collective initiative. In each of the seven found footage films in this series of Metallurgy, Media, Minds I follow one of the seven ancient metals that were known of an d used in alchemy. This project departed from the idea put forward by Deleuze and Guattari in A Thousand Plateaus that “everything matter consists of metal” or, metal is in everything.  In a new materialist perspective, the materiality of matte also implies its metaphoric and immaterial properties, which directly relate back to alchemy.  I became interested in the idea of filmmakers as metallurgists that shape, bend, weld and transform our historical and collective consciousness. As an experiment I started out by looking at gold in both its material properties and its significance in human history. The first film in this series (when I was honing my editing skills, as I still am), was Following the Gold. Obviously many more metals could be followed, especially in the context of our modern media world where every machine, every screen, every gadget is full of (rare) earth metals. But the idea of returning to the old alchemical planets gave the project a clear scope.

The aim of these films is in the first place to investigate each metal (gold, silver, copper, iron, tin, lead and mercury) in their transmutations, following the trajectory from its extraction from the earth’s crust, into the object, tools, weapons, products, stories, desires and imaginations that each metal allowed, always ending at its connected planetary body (Sun, Moon, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn and Mercury). What I found out is that indeed, metals are everywhere, but also that each metal has its own “personality”, its own agency that allows certain connections and uses, and rejects others. I also found out that each metal deeply affected me in a very different way: respectively: hatred (gold), wonder (silver), love (copper), awe (iron), wacky tenderness (tin), endurance (lead) and mysterious fascination (mercury). The aim is to develop from the research findings of these films a book project where I want to investigate the particular metallic “geomediations” of our contemporary media culture, including the cinematographic stories and myths connected to each metal and the further development of the idea of filmmakers as metallurgists of our time. Methodologically the book project will follow each metal along three ecological axes (following Guattari’s three folded ecologies of matter, socio-political and mental ecologies). Several articles are connected to this project (“The Filmmaker as Metallurgist”, “Deep Blue Geomediations Following Lapis Lazuli in Three Ecological Assemblages,” “Canary in a Coal Mine: Carbon Cinema and Three Ecologies of Energy”.  Each of the films in # Metallurgy, Media, Matter (below) has its own rationale that indicates the main trajectory of each metal.