Splendour in the grass
4K, color, stereo, 17:17min., 2020
Highly comport, oddly anxious
3D graphic meadow, color, 4 channel sound, 3min., loop, 2020
The project started with inspiration from an experiment conducted on cattle at a dairy farm in Moscow, showing them a virtual image of peaceful grassland on a cow-customized VR headset. The article that describes this experiment implies the VR experiment reduces the anxiety of cows and has shown a possible increase in milk production.
The utilization of technical apparatus in the welfare of both humans and animals have different purposes, e.g. cows for milk and meat production - humans for improving their quality of life. However, the subject-object relationship in the scientific experiment has strong similarities in the dynamic between the political system and the people. The assumption that presenting utopian images will reduce anxiety connects to the sovereign control of mental health and female reproductive labor being the ultimate catalysis for capitalism.
With various purposes, the endeavor to change perspective and overcome the boundary of visual perception has been technologically achieved, for instance in VR. However, it simultaneously reveals numerous limitations that oversimplify the individual’s experience and relationship to their environment, along with not taking into account the psychological implications in their entirety. How could one embrace the complexity while detouring from the idea of ‘self’? Inspired by children’s stories and human-animal metamorphosis in mythologies, the film and installation take an extremely exaggerated anthropomorphic view of non-humans, which paradoxically reveal the position of humans to widen perceptions, whilst confronting limitations.
Cow takes experimental psychotherapy with Mary, assumably the psychiatrist, who gave a prescription to cow the virtual reality treatment. During the session, the cow goes through her memory trip and illusive experience, which at the end, blur the identity of the cow herself, whether she is an animal or human, subject or object in the treatment.
Written and directed: Hana Yoo
Cast: Zihern Lee
Camera: Hyojoo Yang
Grass voice: Sohee Ga
Editing: Hana Yoo
Installation sound: Sani Nam
Sound design: Christian Obermaier
Production place: Berlin, Germany
Language: Korean, English subtitle
Support: Vilém Flusser Archive, Berlin, Sibfilm, Russia
Rencontres Internationales, video library screening, Paris, France, 2021
CTM/transmediale Vorspiel, screening, Berlin, Germany, 2021