Where will we go after death? What will happen to the Earth in the future? These kind of questions have been plaguing scientists and philosophers for as long as humanity has been recorded. Today, on top of common religious and scientific theories, there are a great number of conspiracy theories that claim to have answers to these questions. With so many options available it is difficult to decide who to trust (if anyone) and what to believe in (if anything). Artist duo Wilkins Hill recently exhibited at Boxcopy in Brisbane a work that played around with these ideas through the dissection and abstraction of language.
lemurs roswell wheat pyramids mosquitoes yellow skin humans that lay eggs bestiality nazi aryanism (2009) is a nine-part video filmed between Berlin and Paris over a six-month period. Artists Wendy Wilkins and Wesley Hill used text-to-speech software, voice recognition and automated translation websites to create abstract narrations paired with simple yet stunning imagery.
Each short film gives some sense of an idea or opinion. Some make more sense than others in that they seem to be making scientific statements or predictions about the future. The narrative in each film is so obscure, however, that they never quite deliver any direct meaning and are instead left open for interpretation. There is one particular film that seems to give way to an overall meaning though. It is called Humains qui pondent des oeufs(humans that lay eggs). The footage used was taken from a clip of the world-famous, widely followed and highly criticised American medium Judy Zebra Knight (AKA J.Z. Knight) being interviewed on the Merv Griffin Show in 1985. Knight claims to be a channel for the spiritual entity named Ramtha. Before starting her mystic teachings in the Ramtha’s School of Enlightenment, she was interviewed by Merv Griffin and displayed herself ‘channelling’ Ramtha live on national television.
Wilkins Hill chopped and changed this clip and added their own audio to it. With the visual and audio slightly out of sync and completely nonsensical, it has an awkward, pessimistic, freaky feel; much like the feeling you might experience while watching a dream sequence from a David Lynch production. The new J.Z. Knight speaks in French about a new breed of humans called the ‘Rhizomatic Items’. As bizarre as it comes across, she is almost convincing. We know that these humans do not exist, yet we want to believe her. It is tempting. Perhaps this is Wilkins Hill’s comment on J.Z. Knight and conspiracy theorists in general, questioning the discourse of conspiracy and possibly even hinting at epistemology.
Grace Winzar is the Brisbane Sub-editor for Das 500.