James T. Hong, Total Mobilization, 2006
Total Mobilization is a 16mm film made in collaboration with Yin-Ju Chen. It is framed within four distinct chapters demarked by intertitles that read; ‘The Third World’, ‘Struggle’, ‘Migration’, and ‘Victory’. The film is eerie, venerating mid-century horror techniques and metal music’s use of Xerox print aesthetics with black and white font. Here, however, we witness a disturbingly prescient critique of American xenophobia in the form of an experimental film and harrowing accompanying soundscape. In the film, we witness the gradual development of an ant colony through its initial gestation, multiplication and growth, and eventual overwhelming consumption of a map of the United States of America. Initially, the film looks like found footage from an educational film detailing the behaviours of cells or microscopic organisms. Due to the soft focus and multiple exposures, it is not immediately clear that we are seeing ants. As it becomes apparent that this is an ever-growing swarm of insects, Total Mobilization’s atmospheric sense of dread is heightened further via the industrial, gothic soundscape of deep percussive sounds, clangs and screeching drones. Hong’s use of rhythmic editing and visual effects engenders a malevolent energy, one born of paranoia and hysteria that is so often the impetus of xenophobic violence directed toward ‘othered’ people. At the film’s climatic end, the insects we have seen multiply and migrate, descend on a brilliant white outline of the United States. Not so slowly engulfing the territory, the white map turns dark with the insect bodies; a controversial metaphor laid bare, that plays into the most violently nationalistic ideas of swarms and invasions. Hong himself said; ‘Migration is fact; immigration is destiny’.
|Medium||16mm film transferred to SD video 16mm film, DV cam collaboration with Yin- Ju Chen|
|Duration||8 minutes 6 seconds|