transposition 001
©2022 Sascha Mikloweit & VG Bild-Kunst
transposition 001 (Happy Banality of Everything)
Experimental Film
00:46:01, 4k
Film by Sascha Mikloweit
Animation: Holger Risse
Soundtrack: Irakli Kiziria
The film transposition 001 (Happy Banality of Everything) is a product of the Transpositional Geologies Project three year art residency hosted by the Museum of Mineralogy University Bonn. The collection houses 60,000 minerals, all meticulously named, and catalogued according to the Strunz's classification system, which follows their chemical composition.

The starting point for the production was artist Sascha Mikloweit's vast archive of “object-images” generated from the collection using a modified flatbed-scanner. After a nine-month trialogue between Mikloweit, the animation expert Holger Risse and the composer Irakli Kiziria, the film emerged as a poetic re-engineering of the scientific collection driven by the trio's desire to convey the untold violent History inscribed in the minerals. The effect is at once seductive and profoundly unsettling.

As an act of epistemic disobedience, the film defies the constitutive narrative of Western classification systems, re-narrating the collection as a continuum of de-classified textural and morphological events, lavish in their visual wealth and haunted by Man's insatiable material appetite. The effect is compounded by the beguiling, pulsating soundtrack. Composed in parts from classical music— referencing the German colonial imaginary of its assumed cultural superiority, the sounds appear as acoustic ghosts—along with environmental recordings from mining operations, rooting the sound- scape in techno-industrialism. The result offers a harrowing spectre of extractivism: vague streets of desolate cities, broken components of drifting machinery, fragments of poisoned sky, toxic thistles of crystal, uninhabitable parks and broken flowers of ice. Man's objects of desire, lusted after and attained at all cost are liberated from Strunz's nomenclature, and given a new voice spoken by their transposed computerised counterparts: airless purple shores on lakes of black salt, uninhabitable magma of dystopic architecture where rivers of lithium and mercury crawl along bleak roads.

Freed from the fetishism of the museum vitrine, the film presents the calm dignity and endless promise of undefined material: gleaming like metal, opaque as bark, crinkled to dark plastic foil. transposition 001 evokes the great wealth of technological invention which inheres in raw materiality: the incomparable hardness of a diamond, the magnanimous ductility of copper, the weapon lurking in uranium, and the unique paramagnetics of gadolinium which cause our smartphones to vibrate.

The film is part of a larger project which has taken Mikloweit to the former German colonial copper mine of the Otavi Mining and Railways Company in present day Namibia to physically dig and transpose 300kg of sediment in collaboration with the Tsumeb Municipality to the museum in Bonn.

Imminent in Mikloweit's work is the violence necessary to amass institutional collections, and the epistemic violence implicit in their function as teaching devices for generations of Geologists. Following a Smithsonite mineral back from the collection to its geographical origin in Tsumeb, has lead Mikloweit to a place where there once stood the Green Hill of Chrysocolla whose secret the Hai||om community held dear. The Hai||om would trade copper ore with the Ndonga community who were the keepers of the knowledge of smelting and crafting the ore—presumably utilising vacant termite mounds as furnaces. All that remains of the Green Hill today is a defunct colonial open pit mine, burrowed deep into the Earth—a monument to Man's insatiable global appetite for metal.

Of course, the device I am writing with and the device you are reading on, are likely to contain Namibian minerals, or indeed be powered by them, since the advances of technology are always complicit with complex histories of material extraction. The Transpositional Geologies Project at large and the film in particular are open meditations on the relationships between colonial pasts and techno futures, knowledge productions, Western imaginaries and our places within them.

© 2022 text by peripatetic thinking

09/2022 Kunstmuseum Bonn, Germany
04-06/2023 H1, Electoral Palace Bonn, Germany