SCI-FI is an abstract retelling of a story about migration, trauma, and loss brought about by the cataclysmic 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo on the largest island of the Philippine archipelago. The minimalist animation of geometric figures dramatizes geophysical phenomena, explosive light, enveloping darkness and devastating diaspora. The choreography of black, white and grey creates a chiaroscuro-esque play of light, depth and shadow.

The shapes themselves enact the emotional narrative, moving through a series of symbolic episodes: Pandora (the long dormant Pinatubo opens); Wrath (land and sky become one); Midnight Sun (a pillar of light reaches the molten earth); Chaos (disorder made apparent, as the sky clears); Mercury (lava flows through oceans of ash); Pan (panic and pandemonium); Tabula Rasa (nothingness); Diaspora; and reaching for a New Realm.

The film is cropped in a square aspect ratio framed by two black rectangles, creating an illusion that the events occur within a proscenium stage or beyond the flat screen of a computer monitor or television. The shapes occasionally dissolve into the side stages, expanding the narrative beyond its own realm.

The abstract figures of SCI-FI are choreographed to entrancing musical arrangements inspired by Philip Glass’ 1983 opera Akhnaten, intermixed with sound samples from science fiction films, creating hybrid rhythms to reflect the struggle between order and chaos.

SCI-FI reinterprets the abstract theatrical works of Robert Wilson and suprematism artistic expressions of Kazimir Malevich, which deploy minimalism and basic geometric figures in ways that dramatically amplify sensation. The specific motivating narrative of SCI-FI is only subliminally expressed, thus it is open to an infinite number of dramatic interpretations.

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Bio of artist:

Ralph Gutierrez is a Filipino artist and designer from Winnipeg, Canada. His work intends to reify identity and define experiential spaces by investigating the niche between art and architecture through the visualization of rich and immersive built environments. By means of collages, animations, photography and found media, he explores the spirit, character, and phenomena that natural, and built environments embody. He is currently pursuing his Master’s degree in Architecture from the Faculty of Architecture at the University of Manitoba, where he completed his undergraduate degree in Environmental Design in 2019. He also studied Architecture at the University of Santo Tomas in Manila. Ralph was born and grew up in the Philippines right at the epicenter of the devastation brought about by the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo.


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Theatres of Architectural Imagination Frascari Symposium V