The climax of Paul Verhoeven’s martian science-fiction epic Total Recall sees Arnold Schwarzenegger’s conflicted construction worker Douglas Quaid singlehandedly activate a subterranean reactor to liberate a source of stored oxygen, thus rendering the planet’s atmosphere breathable and its population saved. Whilst depicted as the film's brave and heroic denouement, it is the potentially problematic ethics that underpin this fiction terraformation that moving image artist Ted Le Swer uses as the starting point for his latest short film project.
In ‘Storm Arnold’, Nottingham-born, London-based Le Swer - a graduate of Chelsea College of Art’s BA Fine Art programme - focuses on a quartet of characters either unseen, unheard or underrepresented in the 1990’s original. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s stunt double, two ‘so-called’ mutant extras and the, now anthropomorphised, atmosphere unite to reenact scenes from Total Recall by way of mining their ecological memory in order to build a collective resilience against the film’s preordained narrative. Le Swer similarity investigates narrative dominance through his filmmaking style, which utilises green screen, prosthetics, costume & set design and computer-generated imagery to deconstruct the accepted production process. ‘Storm Arnold’ contains no oral dialogue, with Le Swer relying instead on the character's ability to converse through choreographed movement, assisted by a soundtrack of ambient electronica and original sound effects from ‘Total Recall’.
Through my continued discussions with Le Swer during the production of ‘Storm Arnold’, and my wider knowledge of his artistic practice and previous projects, I am aware of the diverse and substantial interests and influences that have informed and that conceptually support the finished short film. Contemporary society’s relationship to and understanding of ecology, the 21st-century phenomena of private space enterprise and its ecological implications, human civilisation’s terraformation to initiate an Anthropocene epoch, evolutionary theories on the significance of symbiosis in genetic mutation and Harun Farocki’s experimental 1983 short film Ein Bild (An Image).