Deep Sea Displays

(...) The indigenous people did not distinguish between the spiritual and the material worlds. Animals, plants, rocks, rivers, mountains, thunder, wind and shadow existed as endowed spiritual things. (...)
(...) The value of Europium lies in its natural phosphorescent features. (...) The natural material absorbs energy into its atomic structure and emits that energy as visible light. (...) Europium is embedded wherever an image is projected on a display. (...)
(...) To the Tolai, a community living along the coast, Tabu was also the name for their form of currency, in which shell accumulation was a symbol of individual power. (...)
(...) Saltwater clamshells were harvested from the sea and collected along the coastlines (...)
(...) Sacred to the people of Papua New Guinea, the Nautilus was hung outside their doors to ward off foreign spirits. (...)
(...) Cut open and sliced in half, it reveals a continuous form of growth. (...) Its organic form, a rhythmic spiral, came to symbolize the perfect harmony and beauty found in nature, called the »divine proportion.« (...)
(...) The shell is crushed into a powder. (...) The experiment proves, an unusually high concentration of Europium, an elemental particle discovered in the 20th century and categorized as Rare Earth. (...)
(...) The Europium anomaly, found primarily in the mountains of China, is now being discovered in large concentrations in the earth’s sea bed. (...)
(...) To prevent forgery, the European bank note was designed with Europium embedded into its surface. (...) Europium defines the shapes of Europe’s architecture… in bridges, in land, and in symbol. (...)
(...) A former German World War two bunker in the outskirts of Frankfurt, has been converted into a high security storage facility for rare earth. (...) Europium is purchased, stored, transformed and commodified. (...)
»(...) So we have these machines that basically remove the mountain and create a flat surface. (...)«
»(…) And what we know now is, that there is indeed enough material for at least five years of production mining 6.000 tons daily. (…)«
Europium, 30 min HD, a film by Lisa Rave

What does the magical spiritism of indigenous people have to do with the profane existence of digital flat screens? What links the Tabu with European currency? – A picture gallery with stills and excerpts from the essay film Europium by German film maker Lisa Rave.

The essay film Europium intertwines on various image planes the colonial past of Papua New Guinea and the fetish cult with plans for high-tech mining in the depths of the Bismarck sea and profane everyday consumer products. The film weaves a narrative around the rare earth element Europium. Named after the European continent, the material is mined from the ocean floor to ensure brilliant color images on smartphone displays and other flat screens. Its natural fluorescent properties are also used to guarantee the authenticity of Euro bank notes.

The film describes this seemingly mundane fact as a return and repetition of history, pointing in the process to the complexity of human culture, its economies, and systems of exchange, as well as exposing the invisible ghosts of the past as they appear in the modern objects of our every day lives.

A film by Lisa Rave
Written by Lisa Rave, Erik Blinderman
Assistance: Anna Vetter
1st camera: Nicola Hens
2nd camera: Erik Blinderman
Camera Operator: Moritz Fehr
Montage: Lisa Rave
Sound editing: Christian Obermaier
Color grading: Moritz Fehr

In continuation of her project Europium and with the support of the ifa Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen Lisa Rave will be travelling to the South Pacific region in 2016. She will be working together with local artists and activists from Papua New Guinea and the Fidji Islands that engage in the struggle against Deep Sea Mining plans in the South Sea area.