TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan filmmaker Su Hui-yu (蘇匯宇) presented his first feature film, "Future Shock – End of Eternity," on Tuesday (Feb.6) at Berlin’s Transmediale, an art festival for reflecting on cultural transformation from a post-digital perspective.
Following the screening, Su discussed the influence of American futurist Alvin Toffler and his groundbreaking 1970 publication, “Future Shock,” as it related to his work. Su said the book served as inspiration for his film that examined how rapid transformation can lead individuals to feel pathos for an existence that has become more transient and impermanent.
Su said he discovered the book while sorting his grandfather's belongings. He was surprised the first Chinese translation was released in the 1970s, a time when Taiwan had an authoritarian government that censored most art forms, including books and film, per CTS.
Taiwan film director Su Hui-yu appears with academic Jussi Parikka in Berlin. (CNA photo)
From this initial encounter, Su became engrossed in Toffler’s discussion of the "Fourth Industrial Revolution," which he predicted would bring accelerating rates of change that could induce disorientation and stress in individuals unable to cope with too much change in a short period of time.
Toffler wrote that individuals may experience malaise due to dizzying rates of change. Poorly adapting to conditions can potentially lead indivdiuals to experience a lack of commitment through a succession of short-term relationships with decreasing attachment to birth families.
Su pursued Toffler's writings through a series of field investigations, or what he calls “re-shooting,” which led to the 20-minute short film "Future Shock.” In 2021, he decided to continue exploring the subject as a feature-length film, scouting different locations like abandoned amusement parks, disused hotels, and long forgotten public monuments.
Su’s film, with a focus on futurism, fits perfectly with the curatorial direction of Transmediale, which was founded in 1988. After three decades, the festival has emerged as a leading forum on the impact of digital culture on society.
Su said his film features many buildings in Taiwan built during the Cold War, reflecting upon their obsolescence due to the rapid modernization of Taiwanese society. By re-shooting, he is able to create a dialogue with the audience, bridging time and space.
Media archaeologist and scholar Jussi Parikka moderated the post-screening talk with Su. Parikka said the film "skillfully combines personal and Taiwanese collective memories to present a complex story about time, memory, and identity.”
Parikka also said Su’s film explores the impact of technological developments such as AI and head transplant surgery on human beings. Parikka also questioned Su about how he explores the subject of memory and history through visual images, with Su responding that his art “hopes to repair our memories, our personal narratives."
At the conclusion of the talk, there was time allotted for a brief post-screening Q&A. Many in the audience expressed interest in Taiwan’s role in geopolitics. Su said that this would be the subject of a future long-form political comedy that he is preparing.
Filmmaker explores collective memories in an era of increasing transience. (CNA photo)