“The Human Surge 3’s façade might be that of a technocratic display, a robotic intervention of the cinematic apparatus aiming for aesthetic arrest, but at its heart, Williams’ embrace of “poor images” comes from a decidedly human core.”
An endless stream of open tabs. Frantic cursor movements. The never-ending accruing process of new data. Hyperkinetic and hyperconnected. Chaotic flows and jarring patterns. The most unnatural of settings is the new normal for humanity. We created this, and yet, its hold over our senses makes us the ones that need to readjust. Our faces are now mirrored through weird angles and spectral reflections. Recognizable but disfigured. The most precise embodiment of the uncanny. This is the world of Eduardo Williams’ The Human Surge 3.
When the first The Human Surge happened, it seemed like a seismic event. A landmark moment of digital expansion that reconfigured our notions of interconnectivity and global spaces. But a new Human Surge forces us to consider it an iterative process. We skipped an evolutionary step in the seven years between surges. The second one might’ve been a malfunctioning prototype or a forgotten software lost in the cybernetic wasteland. A missing link, or an entirely idiosyncratic expression, resulting from an outdated present tense we no longer think about.
The progression of the first surge saw in the recurring patterns of late-capitalist, “Global South” online-ness a potential link for a cross-continental dialogue, one fully detached from the outmoded delineation of geography. The possibility of authentically contemporary language. The third surge takes that for granted, positioning us in the middle of a kaleidoscopic amalgamation of distorted textures and colliding meanings. Stealthily, contrasting sociocultural contexts start intersecting, creating a cryptic correspondence whose postmodern nature is never easily decipherable. However, as time goes by and one gets deeper and deeper into the pixelated frescos put forward by Williams, the film’s aqueous flux becomes enveloping.
Just like the first surge, three groups of friends are depicted in distinct geographies. A riverside village in Peru, the dense jungle of Sri Lanka, and a tropical rural town in Taiwan are the physical realms reworked in the third surge. Each one of these locations’ sense of place is progressively eluded by the constant glitches and abrasive angles on the edges of the frame. There’s a conscious disruption of perspective in place, more akin to the third-person positioning of contemporary video games than traditional cinematic formats. Virtual reality is expropriated from the aseptic vitrines of New Media showcases, and filtered through cinema’s expressive power, the constant hum and droney soundscapes of tropical existence the main steward for our sensory understanding.
The Human Surge 3’s façade might be that of a technocratic display, a robotic intervention of the cinematic apparatus aiming for aesthetic arrest, but at its heart, Williams’ embrace of “poor images” comes from a decidedly human core. The freshness of his image-making is a conscious disruption of ossified standards of quality. The conceptual gambit that guides his film is an open inquiry into the rendering of “modern images”, the kind that by virtue of their omnipresence could be detached from any kind of hierarchy. The camera itself is just another element in a multi-layered and horizontal landscape of digital prospects, a place where timelines are juxtaposed, languages become superfluous, and one feels as if reaching out and changing the viewpoint is within the realm of possibilities.