Events , San Francisco

Fabien Giraud and Raphaël Siboni: La Mémoire de Masse

Drinks 6pm, Screening 7pm, Conversation 7:15pm

‘Where that which predicts its past lives working and dies fighting.’

Foregrounding a frontal approach and experiments that often push materials and technical resources to the limits of their strength, scale and movement, the works of Fabien Giraud and Raphaël Siboni challenge the ever more obvious power of machines and “modes of existence” that are taking shape separately from us human beings, sometimes without our being able to see or inhabit them. Their long term project, The Unmannedis a film series recounting in reverse a non-human history of technics. Eliminating all instrumental conception and at the same time making people a simple expression of its movement, the series retraces the path of an “unmanned” technique – in the sense of uninhabited vehicles in contemporary warfare.

The Unmanned series is divided in three seasons each comprising eight episodes. Nested into each other, each season unfolds on a different time scale. Recently premeried during the 13th Lyon Biennale, the Sixth episode of the first season, La Mémoire de Masse, unfolds during the second Canuts revolts in Lyon in 1834. These riots now known as the ‘bloody week’ came as a reaction to the automation of work in the silk industry by the Jacquard Loom and its implementation of the punched card – first historical ‘mass storage’ system allowing the inscription and replication of complex weaving patterns. This inaugurating event in the history of workers emancipation movements of the 19th century is actually the first revolt against modern computation.

Fully computer-generated, the riot sequence that splits the film in two parts operates a reversed history by transforming a revolt against the algorithm into an algorithm of revolt. Beyond this simple historical vexation, La Mémoire de Masse deploys a dual simulation: both as the reenactment of a past history and the prediction of an entirely different becoming.

The Unmanned is an experiment with time: it puts forward a conception of history in which any exploration of the past is inevitably a transformation of the present, in which any search for the origins of what we are is intrinsically bound to an estrangement with regard to what we could be.

Following the cocktail hour and screening of La Mémoire de Masse, the artists will join Dominic Willsdon, Leanne and George Roberts Curator Of Education and Public Practice at SFMOMA, in conversation.