...we were but electrons on the threshold

single channel video installation, 2021 

'...we were but electrons on the threshold’ is a single screen video installation exploring the social consequences of the rise of surveillance in public and virtual space.

The project is set in a future Rotterdam, which has been rebuilt again after a mysterious disaster. It follows a fictional narrative inspired by the reconstruction politics of Rotterdam after the bombing of the Second World War, reimagined in today’s context of constant urban renewal, displacement of socio-economic groups and the development of surveillance technology.

Themes of nostalgia and estrangement are intertwined with issues of privacy and censorship. By exploring how catastrophes are used as clean slates for creating ‘new and improved’ urban and virtual spaces, the project dives into how this can also be used as an opportunity for new ways of governmental or corporate control to be inserted.

The project started during a residency in Dresden, Germany in autumn 2020, where I started to research how Dresden and Rotterdam evolved after being bombed during WW2, how this disaster was presented in the media and became part of the cities' identities, as well as the social, political, ideological and economical factors that influenced their rebuilding. The research become the basis for a story set in a future Rotterdam.

In the video we experience the perspective of Victoria, who lives in Nieuwe Erasmus Plein, the rich part of the city where the citizens’ data is sold for profit. Through a series of video messages, she is trying to contact her best friend April, who chose to keep her privacy and stay in a poor neighbourhood.

Video link is available upon request.

The installation was co-produced by Oana Clitan and V2_Lab for Unstable Media as part of the Summer Sessions art and technology residencies.

The project is supported by CBK Rotterdam, Goethe Instituut Niederlande, Stichting Droom & Daad, Gemeente Rotterdam

Sound design: Ismael Lo

Special thanks for lending their voices:
Marijke de Vos, Emmy van Thiel

© Oana Clitan 2024