Slow Action

/ Opening @ 6-8pm

Western Front Media Arts is pleased to present Slow Action, by British filmmaker Ben Rivers, in partnership with Signal + Noise 2011. Slow Action ties together four films shot on distinct islands, into a post apocalyptic science fiction narrative. Filmed on 16mm in four remote locations, Slow Actions depicts Gunkanjima, Japan; a small island off the coast of Nagasaki, abandoned after the close of the town’s lucrative coal mines, Lanzarote, a tropical island in the Canary Islands, an arid alien landscape strewn with abandoned resorts and Tuvalu, one of the smallest countries in the world, made up of a series of tiny reef islands just above sea level in the Pacific Ocean. The fourth installment is set in the countryside of Somerset UK, Rivers’ home county, as a yet to be discovered civilization.

Existing somewhere between ethnographic study, documentary and fiction, Slow Action stems from Rivers’ investigation into the field of island bio-geography– the study of how species and climates evolve differently when isolated and surrounded by discordant ecosystems. The films shift from the present to future conceptions of the Earth, fabricating hyperbolic utopias that appear as possible future mini-societies.

Slow Action is informed by science fiction novels such as Kurt Vonnegut’s Galapagos, Samuel Butler’s Erehwon, Bacon’s The New Atlantis, Herbert Read’s Green Child and Mary Shelley’s The Last Man. This is evident in the spoken text accompanying Rivers’ footage, developed collaboratively with science fiction writer Mark von Schlegell. The narrative voice over details the development and the specific geographical conditions of each of the four island landscapes.

Slow Action was commissioned by Picture This and Animate Projects in association with Matt’s Gallery, London; and supported by Bristol City Council, Elephant Trust, Arts Council England, Daiwa Japan Foundation and the British Council. For more information about Picture This please visit:

The Western Front gratefully acknowledges the support of the Canada Council for the Arts, the BC Arts Council through the Government of British Columbia, the City of Vancouver, our volunteers, members and patrons.


Ben Rivers was born in Somerset in 1972. He studied Fine Art at Falmouth School of Art, 1990 – 1993 and is currently represented by Kate MacGarry Gallery. Ben has exhibited at numerous international film festivals and galleries, and won numerous awards, most notably the Tiger Award for Short Film, International Film Festival Rotterdam 2008 and Best Film, EXiS, Seoul 2008. He lives and works in London.