Ah humanity! is a large-scale audio-video installation by the artists Ernst Karel, Véréna Paravel, and Lucien Castaing-Taylor. The Harvard University Committee on the Arts is sponsoring this weeklong event, in which four channels of sound will be projected into the Plaza and a single channel of video onto the façade of the Science Center, every evening.
Ah humanity! reflects on the fragility and folly of humanity in the age of the Anthropocene. Taking the 3/11/11 disaster of Fukushima as its point of departure, it evokes an apocalyptic vision of modernity, and our predilection for historical amnesia and futuristic flights of fancy. The images were shot on a telephone through a handheld telescope, at once close to and far from its subject, while the audio composition combines empty excerpts from Japanese genbaku and related film soundtracks, recordings from seismic laboratories, and location sound. Artist Ernst Karel will be mixing the film’s soundtrack live on the Plaza on select evenings throughout the week.
Karel is Lecturer on Anthropology, Manager of the Sensory Ethnography Lab, and Assistant Director of the Film Study Center at Harvard. Paravel is an anthropologist and filmmaker in the Sensory Ethnography Lab. Castaing-Taylor is Professor of Visual Arts and Anthropology. Their previous collaborations include the 2012 film Leviathan.
Ah humanity! was made with support from F93 in Paris, and the Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies, Digital Arts and Humanities (DARTH), and the Harvard University Asia Center. It was produced in the Sensory Ethnography Lab, Harvard University.
The Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies at Harvard is sponsoring an accompanying roundtable and reception on Wednesday, April 13th, at 6:00 pm in CGIS South. Afterward, attendees are invited to experience the work on the Science Center Plaza.