Anna Friz

2018 Hellman Fellow

Assistant Professor of Film & Digital Media
UC Santa Cruz

Project Title: We Build Ruins

Project Description This project seeks to expressively document mining and industrial corridors in the high altitude deserts in northern Chile, resulting in a sound-focused media art installation, which will include immersive multi-channel sound along with projected moving images, photomontage and still images. We Build Ruins considers the temporality and scale of massive extractive industries and accompanying infrastructure made by humans in an equally vast desert and mountainous environment that further exceeds the human, contemplating the historical and future impact of industrial development that is currently servicing demand for copper, lithium and rare earths, all key elements in such high-turnover miniature technologies like smartphones, as well as the recorders and cameras I will be using to do the documentation. The project considers these contrasting forces of small and large construction at work in unchecked unsustainable technological innovation, which yield leftovers such as the monumental tailings mounds surrounding open-pit copper mines made entirely of waste materials and visible from satellites, sometimes burying whole towns, and which will shape the landscape for centuries to come. With the aid of the Hellman Fellowship, Friz will be able to conduct production and post-production with recordings from two field trips to northern Chile. We Build Ruins explores the micro and macro scales of human intervention and activity in relatively remote areas which occupy the space between urban sprawl and wilderness, and investigates the role of people (and artists) as agents in the myth-making and storytelling process which offer critique and suggest counter-narratives to those of progress and growth that propel unsustainable extractivist industries.