Immerse yourself in Cape Town film-maker, Bryan Little’s magical foray into what he calls ‘future film’:
Public art is a risky business in Cape Town, considering the defacement of Michael Elion’s Ray Ban Mandela sculpture on the Sea Point promenade last year, and the Cecil John Rhodes statue at UCT more recently.
But, one public art installation has had locals smiling, rather than plotting its downfall —
The Endemic Project, created by award-winning filmmaker Bryan Little, is a series of creatures, seemingly painted with light, that appear as you drive along Rhodes Drive from the Kirstenbosch bottom main entrance towards Constantia Nek circle. If you download the geo-tagged soundtrack, as you drive past each creature,
you trigger a soundscape made from its voice.
“Endemic species are found nowhere else in the world, so each creature you see is unique to the Western Cape and the fynbos floral kingdom, from the Geometric Tortoise to the Orange-Breasted Sunbird to the Ghost Frog,” says Little. “However, none of them are found along Rhodes Drive any more. They could still exist in the area if the alien trees they are nailed to weren’t there. It’s an interesting frontline between comfort and conservation, indicative of a global struggle.”
Little made the creatures with reflector tape. “I love that it requires light to work, and also that it’s normally used as a warning signal. Our natural heritage is our most valuable resource, so we need to start listening to the warning signs.
“NASA had the same challenges as these modern heroes - the conservationists. How do you get people excited about something as abstract as space? Their solution was to strap a human into a rocket and shoot him into space. Pretty out there, but add a human element and suddenly the public are fascinated. Sadly for many people, the natural world and species extinction is also an abstract thing, so for this project I wanted to turn people’s cars into spaceships to take them on a journey to explore their back garden.”
The soundtrack, arranged by Sylvan Aztok, is available from https://voicemap.me/endemic. VoiceMap is a locally-designed, location-aware technology for telling stories about places.
Little came up with the idea after a dinner conversation with legendary film director Peter Greenaway. “In the last 100 years, the way we experience cinema hasn’t changed. This experiment is one of my first forays into what I call ‘future film,’ where I am trying to find new ways to tell stories, new ways to be a filmmaker. I deliberately kept it very simple and only played with certain elements. Remove the camera – place the audience into the experience. Make it site specific – you have to be there. Let the car’s motion be the element of time and narrative.”
The installation is best experienced at night, driving 50km/hour. For best results, use headphones and a hands-free kit, or if sharing the experience, play through the car sound system, using Bluetooth or your auxiliary cable.