‘Death in Geological Time’ is a short, experimental film work which touches upon themes of death, time and authenticity relative to the current geological epoch, the Anthropocene.
The film is set at LifeGem Laboratories, a manufacturer which utilizes high pressure, high temperature technologies (HPTP) as means of producing gem-grade synthetic diamonds from the cremated ashes of human remains. Narrated by ‘the company’s managing director’, the process and product itself is illustrated as a unique means of memorialising a deceased loved one – as a diamond.
The work takes the form of a pseudo advertisement, or a slow and languid geological horror which reveals industrial ingenuity at its most absurd. The material substance of the film – the dust of the human – is subjected to the diamond press; an act which not only bypasses the ‘natural’ temporality of geological time, but also bypasses the subject’s ‘natural’ progression towards the fossil record. The messy, viscous, reality of bodily corporeality is absent in both the subject and object of the work. Instead it is eradicated, processed and reified in the most coveted of stones, humanity preserved in the most desirable of lithic forms.
Despite the works more humorous undertones, the silent horror of the Anthropocene narrative seeps through the quieter sequences of chrome laboratory surfaces; the subtext of which not only addresses this proposed epoch’s geological narrative. One of speculative human-constructed layers of geological detritus, whether it be the lowly micro-plastic, the glutinous fatberg or in this case, the heady excess of gemstone manufacture. The allegory of a diamond conjured from human substance extends beyond the artificial and future geological sediments of the Anthropocene, but additionally evokes the anthropocentricity of a more widespread sentiment of the denial our own species extinction and immortality in parallel with the current worldwide denigration of ecological environments.