In "Subconscious Society", sequences of abandoned industrial sites, such as the science-fiction-like Maunsell Forts in Kent are montaged with interior scenes of characters engaging in ceremonial activities, which take place in Manchester’s Albert Hall. The protagonists have been chosen from area residents of different age groups who had known the hall through its various uses. They comment on it in voice-overs often inconsistent with their motionless expressions. The dialogue is fragmented and abstract and insinuates a sub-conscious chain of associations. At times the theatrically dressed society members engage in the motions of an auction, although it remains unclear on exactly what they are bidding. For they seem trapped in the eternal present of their environment and only able to travel mentally, by means of images of industrial landscapes, which fade in as projections into the space of the hall and expand into new sequences. The Maunsell Forts from World War II are metal bunkers set on stilts rising out of the water. Scenes focus on emblems of technology, such solar panels in the desert, and effects of the mechanical age on the environment, such as in close-ups of a dismal estuary littered with boating relics. These environments suggest a nostalgia for industrial progress. "Subconscious Society" suggests that material technologies exist as memories and have been superseded by a culture of immaterial communication. Travel no longer occurs physically in this society, but through strong mental images. The sounds, techno sounds, merged together with a murmuring of indistinguishable voices, create a sense of an unknown and unmet expectation of a dramatic occurrence associated with the sites visualized. Analogous to ceremonial actions in the film, the spectator thus becomes a kind of ceremonial protagonist in the visible projection machinery behind the illusion. "Subconscious Society" has transformed since its initial conception in 2012. Previous, evolving versions of the film have been exhibited in Manchester, and Margate, England, and at Performa New York in a performative event, each screening featuring different elements.
 
Subconscious Society, a Feature, 2014

35mm film, color, optical sound, 40 min



Images 1, 2, 3: Film still © Rosa Barba 
Image 4: Installation view at 8th Berlin Biennale, 2014. Photo: Anders Sure Berg © Rosa Barba