An artists series
Pierre Cassou-Noguès, Stéphane Degoutin et Gwenola Wagon
Welcome to Erewhon
Erewhon emerges from images circulating on the Internet. It is a loose adaptation of a philosophical fable published in 1872 by the British writer Samuel Butler. This utopian satire, which is set in the fictitious city of Erewhon, proposes that we consider technological progress and automation as the evolution of the “machine” species, comparable to the evolution of biological species, but much faster. This hypothesis governs the habits and mores of its inhabitants, down to the smallest aspects of their lives.
The eleven chapters, each accompanied by a text, come together in a 52-minute film. They can be seen on the platform Welcome to Erewhon.
Like Butler’s narrative, « Welcome to Erewhon » depicts a city located in a parallel present. Automation has been taken to the extreme. Work as we know it has disappeared.
Lissandra Haulica, Irrévérence films
Avec le soutien de
Artec, Agence Nationale de la Recherche
Laboratoire TEAMeD, Université Paris 8
Chapter 7 : Animal Love, 2019, 3 min 37
I observed with happiness that certain Erewhonians had decided to grow closer to animals, to share bonding moments with them.
Everywhere I saw striking scenes of joy between the most diverse species. It appeared that the commonly accepted differentiations in the past between animals, plants, and humans had ceased to exist, or that at least humans had put into practice everything they could to be closer to animals and plants.
Chapter 8 : Spa total, 2019, 3 mn 38
Starting out from snippets of Samuel Butler's texts, machines reconstructed his voice, enabling him to wander through the images circulating in their brains.This voice led us to the city where machines had become autonomous: they showed us the organization of production, the evolution of machines, the games played by humans in offices, streets under the gaze of kindness cameras, domestic life in homes, the elderly shut away with their robots, the relations of humans with animals and plants, moments of relaxation in spas...
Chapter 9 : Humans Plants, 2019, 4 min 30
One day, I had had enough of offices and people. I moved to a detached house in a suburb of Erewhon. I began to tend my garden. Laying down, my chin to the ground, I watched machines work, grass grow. It was restful.
Then the plants grew; they gave fruit, which the machines picked, and I ate. The machines took care of me, just as they took care of the plants. I thought: humans are plants.
Chapter 10 : Welcome to an engineer's dream, 2019, 5 min 10
Engineers dream of immense generic buildings containing all possible products, waiting to be ordered and delivered in perfectly smooth fashion, as easily as one conducts a web search.
They dream of automated warehouses organized around giant shelving units, forming metallic grids that extend in all directions within a homogeneous and indifferent space--in which the infinite variety of the world is reduced to Euclidean coordinates.
Chapter 11 : Epilogue, 2019, 6 min 19
I would have greatly loved to live in Erewhon. I would have jumped into the colorful tubes, gravitating from one place to another in the city, sucked up by the speed and twists of the curving slides. I would have visited the former offices converted into game areas. There are rolling chair races in open spaces, stapling competitions, blindfolded paper plane throwing competitions, and the day finishes with a striptease in a disused call center.