Director: Alice Wang and Ben Tong
Country: US/China
Duration: 9’56”
Year: 2017

About the Film
Oracle is a meditation on the relationship between plants, humans, and technology. Filmed collaboratively by Ben Tong and Alice Wang at Biosphere2 — a self-contained ecosystem enclosed in a 3.14-acre glass and steel structure, the work defamiliarizes the synthetic structure and the organisms living within it. In the age of the Holocene, the space of Biosphere2 becomes an allegory for our entanglement with the world.

Despite our technological interventions, we find that it is no longer the case that we can disregard the noumenal world. Forces and substances like CO2, bacteria, UV rays, the weather and viruses exert their own presence. What is at stake is another way of relating to our mediated environment, our place within it, and death.

The end, however, might not be as instantly catastrophic as our movies predict. Evil, as Hannah Arendt said, might be more akin to the banal. It is what we see, and what we have become normalized to — in the everyday reports of rising sea levels and destructive weather patterns. Not merely conceptualizing these threats, Oracle seeks to generate an emotional and aesthetic relationship to the world we live in, and to build complex intra-actions within our space.

About the directors
Over the last five years, Alice Wang has been working with the mantra that the Earth is plummeting towards the Sun while just missing it. The facts in this statement describe both our lived reality and an apocalyptic miracle conjured by the imagination. Through first-hand encounters at geological and ancient sites as well as technological facilities—the Denali National Park in Alaska, the Tibetan plateau, the San Andreas Fault line, the Arctic Circle, SpaceX, Biosphere2, and the Mayan Pyramids, she investigates the uncanny dimensions of the natural world. Using sensitive plants, moss, fossils, meteorites, silver, gold, water vapor, wind, beeswax, and other metamorphic substances, her work explores the material consciousness of sculptural forms. From the cosmic to the geologic to the molecular, matter — like relic radiation leftover from the Big Bang, corpses of prehistoric organisms that turned to stone, or wax secreted from the glandular abdomens of bees — reveal certain underlying forces in nature. Working with byproducts of the metabolic process of the universe, forms shapeshift and time travel within different timescales. The physical boundaries of the work are not limited to its visible dimensions. Motion, oftentimes imperceptible, is built into the work wherein its protean qualities embody a kind of metaphysical phenomenon as kinetic forms.

Alice Wang received a B.Sc. in Computer Science and International Relations from the University of Toronto, BFA from the California Institute of the Arts, and MFA from New York University. She was a fellow at the Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, a Villa Aurora fellow in Berlin, and the recipient of several major grants from the Canada Council for the Arts. Wang has presented solo exhibitions at Capsule Shanghai, Visitor Welcome Center, Human Resources, 18th Street Arts Center; participated in group exhibitions, screenings, and performances at the K11 Art Foundation (Hong Kong), Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibition, Armory Center for the Arts (Pasadena), the Moscow Museum of Modern Art, Taikang Space (Beijing), FLAX Foundation, the Hammer Museum; and presented talks at the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (Beijing), Chronus Art Center (Shanghai), and Shanghai Project. She is an assistant professor of arts at New York University Shanghai, and co-organizes The Magic Hour, an outdoor exhibition platform in the Mojave Desert in California. Wang is based between Los Angeles and Shanghai.

Ben Tong is an artist currently living and working in Los Angeles. Tong obtained his BSc in Computer Science from the University of Toronto, BFA in Photography from the California Institute of the Arts in 2010, and MFA in Art from the California Institute of the Arts in 2012. His practice includes video, photography, and mixed-media installation.

Tong’s works have been exhibited at, among others, Hammer Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles, ltd los angeles, REDCAT, Night Gallery, Commonwealth and Council, Golden Spike Press, and Underground Museum, all in Los Angeles; Capsule Shanghai; Practice, New York; Toronto Images Festival, Toronto; University of California Santa Barbara; and Hochschule für Bildende Künste Braunschweig. He was an artist-in-residence at SOMA Summer in Mexico City, a Villa Aurora fellow in Berlin, a recipient of a DAAD Academic Research Grant, and a recipient of an Ontario Arts Council Grant.