“We are going through a long and painful transition from industrialism to a new pre-civilization” begins Primer, an eight-minute short film that explores the notion of Pre, and how it may take form in a contemporary post-everything world. Conceived of by the artist collective CROSSLUCID the work conceptualises of a future in which the gender binaries and divisions that define contemporary reality will have dissolved. A reality in which instability will foster a landscape of fluidity and openness liberated from the structures confining the now.
The script that accompanies the film was drawn primarily from the writing of Ion Dumitrescu, specifically his essay Pre, and interspersed with poetry written by artist Sylwana Zybura — who founded CROSSLUCID alongside Tomas C. Toth. In the text, Dumitrescu asserts that “the collapse of the world as we know it gives birth to several” — and it is this that forms the basis of the film. “Post is the agony of structure (totality),” explains the narrator, “Pre is the ooze of potentialities”.
A meeting with the designer Don Aretino, who produced the film in collaboration with CROSSLUCID also acted as a catalyst for the project. The berlin-based fashion designer explores politically-charged narratives through his designs: “Aretino’s work transcends typical fashion design,” say CROSSLUCID, “he interrogates ideas that are important to us”. The collective reference a particular collection that oscillates around how we create the idea of the other — a construction that is done away with in the Pre-universe of Primer, in which the narrator asks, “Is gender-neutral ancestral and cis-gender the glitch?”
The ideas of Dumitrescu and Aretino provided points of reference; a means to help visualise an abstract phenomenon. “These things collided,” say CROSSLUCID, “we were collaging different ideas together”.
CROSSLUCID, whose project Landscapes before Eternities was the cover feature of our The Figure – Adornment and Identity issue, developed out of the duo transforming their image-making practices into a more interdisciplinary approach. “We take the general direction of the image, and interact with people for collaboration — performance, installation, music,” they explain. Visually, Primer comprises multiple elements: CGI, found footage, new visuals, choreography, styling, and sound design. “We wanted to experiment with how all of these elements of story-telling could correlate together,” say CROSSLUCID, “but not necessarily in a linear, monolithic, and narrative way”. The collective intended the final film to provoke discussion, and leave room for personal interpretation: “The most important thing is that you strive to start a conversation.”
“Is gender-neutral ancestral and cis-gender the glitch?”
The aesthetic of the film embodies the undefined worlds that its narrative alludes to. Sinuous forms; bodies moving in unfamiliar ways; blinking lights and static — a mishmash of alien visuals that blend together and create a soothing stream of sensory stimuli. As an individual with flowing black hair twists their arms around their body, the narrator whispers: “Can’t you see how the boundaries move like a snake, in perpetual now without tomorrow. Forget your own code, the scaffolding that you have been constructing yourself.”
“This is what we would like to achieve, the feeling that things are possible,” say CROSSLUCID. The film’s core message is optimistic in what are dark and fragmented times. “We find it problematic, or even impossible, to define contemporary realities in relation to Post anything … there has been breakage or a change of mind,” they continue. The collective discusses how a collapsing world and society, coupled with the advent of uncharted technological possibilities, have created a rupture: a space in which to re-establish the very definitions that have shaped society as we know it. And, ultimately, Primer endeavours to capture this — to cultivate a sense of what could be and allow viewers to make what they want of it.
Primer can be watched in full here.