The Offices

2020 (HD video, 18:00 min; unity game engine)

The Offices (2020) is a short film exploring mnemonic architecture and spatial avatars within games. The narrative follows a dialogue between two unseen characters around the gamified map of labour conditions. While they navigate an antagonistic environment, the pair is prompted to uncover interconnected sites of memory and loss.

Created within unity engine software, the digital ecosystem can be viewed as a spatial and cultural product of human labour. Within this highly competitive environment, interactions are dictated by a battle royale for survival. As the players roam through a glowing office, ripe with vegetal ruins and draped in a tapestry of flames, they activate memories associated with their surroundings. Buildings become checkpoints, housing imprints of thoughts and memories. The sites they encounter are catalysts, prompting them to uncover contradictory narratives of exploitation, grief and love. While one character seeks to remember, the other hopes to forget. Weaving together spatial and temporal elements of architecture, they begin to perceive the self as space in its own right.The dialogue between the characters eventually dissolves into nonsensical chirrups of sparrows. Companions to manmade settlements, sparrows can be viewed as a metaphor for different modes of perception, described by the German terms bauwelt and umwelt. While bauwelt denotes a human-built environment, umwelt describes the sensory world as perceived by nonhuman organisms. As the film progresses, we realise the protagonists may not be human after all, but rather spatial avatars, containers of memory in which reality systems collide. Sites of Encounter questions how we might reflect on this morphology of objects and learn to remap our perception of space, memory and labour in alternative ways. 

The Offices is a first part in the Sites of Encounter series.

Text by Tamara Hart