China Town

2009 | 00:51:30 | China / United States | English | Color | Stereo

Collection: Single Titles

Tags: Animation, Consumer culture, Documentary, Documentation, Environment, Future, Labor, Landscape

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China Town traces copper mining and production from an open pit mine in Nevada to a smelter in China, where the semi-processed ore is sent to be smelted and refined. Considering what it actually means to "be wired" and in turn, to be connected, in today's global economic system, the video follows the detailed production process that transforms raw ore into copper wire--in this case, the literal digging of a hole to China--and the generation of waste and of power that grows in both countries as byproduct. The video uses an experimental edit structure, composed entirely of animated sequences of digital still photographs and ambient sound recorded on location. Thousands of individual images with varying frame rates are combined in a granular, accumulative narrative, that structurally echoes the many discrete processes, human efforts, and geographic locations that go into copper mining and commodity production. Many of the laborers who worked on mines throughout Utah and Nevada in the late 1880s were Chinese immigrants--a population who was also involved in construction of the transcontinental railroad, which connected just north of Salt Lake City on the mining site was called Chinatown. Today, the historic mining town of Ruth, which sitll sits at the base of the mine and most of whose population of several hundred works there, is another sort of China town: sending their ore overseas as China's rapid industrialization and urbanization demands a growing amount of raw materials from around the world. China Town follows the contemporary recycling of the American landscape and industrial economy as raw mineral wealth for a developing nation.

Premiere

MASS MOCA
North Adams, MA
2009

Exhibitions + Festivals

Abandon Normal Devices

Chicago Underground Film Festival, 2009

Frieze Art Fair

Migrating Forms

MoMA Documentary Fortnight

Nevada Museum of Art

Wexner Center for the Arts

DOKUFEST, 2015