AND SO SINGS OUR MECHANICAL BRIDE

Digital Video, 2005
Running Time 19:00 minutes
Producer/ Director: Sabine Gruffat

Voice: Joseph Gandurski
Selected Text: Michel Serres and Eddie Boyd
Archival footage supplied by:
Southeast Chicago Historical Society
Calumet Regional Archives, Northwest Indiana University
Prelinger Archives (at archive.org)

Combining archeological excavation and science fiction thriller, this video resurrects the site of an abandoned US Steel mill—now an archetypal monument of industrial history preserved in concrete—to investigate themes concerning the unfulfilled promises of industrialization and the destructive capabilities of evanescent ideas and imagery on fundamentally physical beings (and objects). History and future are aestheticized evolving into a mournful landscape where a decomposing body still continues to breathe.

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There is and has always been an integral relationship between industrialization and early cinema. Thomas Edison’s first films were not intended for cultural purposes, but instead served as practical aids to industrial training, largely teaching factory workers to efficiently perform repetitive tasks. Consequently, there are intentional conceptual and formal links in this film: between the rhythm of the steelworker’s movements and the flicker of archival film footage, the abrupt edits and the alienation of the factory worker from family and community, and lastly, the relative anonymity of archival footage and the loss of human autonomy in an industrial era.

This is not a nostalgic film, but rather a film about the collective nostalgia of a past relative to our future. An aesthetic shift occurs halfway through the piece when the ruins of the mill walls are recast in a digitally rendered future. The ending is a metaphor and question: Does the digital era signify the death of analog physicality? What is at stake and who are the victims of the post-industrial shift?