Other Spring: A theory-fiction short film

Other Spring is a theory-fiction simulation project currently in development. It is sponsored by Hyundai Motor’s 5th VH Award and premiered on May 2nd, 2023.

The artwork is currently on view at HMG Vision Hall (Yongin) and Elektra Virtual Museum (Montreal). It will also be presented at Ars Electronica (Linz) and Museum MACAN (Jakarta), with dates to be announced.

film snapshot

“Other Spring” is a multifaceted project that critically investigates the societal implications of computational mediation, automation, and artificial intelligence. Inspired by the ancient Chinese fable 桃花源记 (peach blossom spring), the project comprises a research essay, a virtual world, and a short film exploring the potential of “heretic computing” (coined by NYU media theorist Alexander R. Galloway) to challenge the monolithic idea of efficiency, convenience, and data exchange that characterizes our contemporary information society. Set in a speculative future where an all-seeing, AI-driven network called UNO (Universal-Network Observer) dominates, the project reflects on the urgency of privacy, agency, and individuality in our increasingly interconnected world.

film snapshot

The project’s structure is rooted in world-building, with two distinct worlds: UNO, the all-seeing, AI-powered automatic society, and Other Spring, an insulated local network protected by HAZE—a set of unique protocols and middleware embodying an alternative algorithmic design philosophy. HAZE allows Other Spring to remain invisible to UNO, fostering heterogeneity, individuality, and privacy security among its inhabitants. Drawing from research and engaging with architects, the project combines reality and speculative fiction to create a vivid, immersive experience that challenges our understanding of informatics societies and the power dynamics they entail.

The urgency of the subject matter lies in the increasing influence of algorithms on our lives and the erosion of privacy and agency in the digital age. “Other Spring” offers a unique and unprecedented approach, melding academic rigor, creativity, and poetic language to shed light on the potential of heretic computing and alternative algorithmic landscapes. By highlighting the significance of opacity, intimacy, and intrinsic values in computational design, the project invites further dialogue with media theorists, artists, designers, and video game developers, ultimately promoting a more thoughtful and humane relationship with technology.

Created by zzyw (Yang Wang, Zhenzhen Qi)

Creative Producer: Matthew Doyle
Research Architect: Junling Zhuang
Worldmaking Architect: Mehrdad Ranjbar
UE5 Technical Art Generalist: Cecil Boey
Graphic Design / Film Editor: Qinru Zhang
Music Composer: Maxwell Sterling

Thanks: Qifan Pu, Ph.D (Consultancy on Cryptography) Kevin Chen, Ph.D (Consultancy on Cryptography) Yuehao Jiang (Guest Critic) Hanwen Zhang (Guest Critic) Huiqi He (Consultancy on Cinematography)

Audio Clip Courtesy: Alexander R. Galloway & Hank Scotch (Critical Inquiry Podcast)