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The Atlas of False Desires

Infer Studio

The infrastructure of fast-fashion: transforming the industry from within.


One of the most difficult thing we can do is trying to predict how the future would look like. Luckily, Infer Studio gets our backs, merging speculative fiction with great design, thus creating one of the most compelling narratives to toy with environmental issues, capitalism and the legacy of the world as we know it. Nathan Su, one of the founders with Chong Yan Chuah and Bethany Edgoose, had already proved his talent in forecasting the world to be with Through Leviathan's Eyes - already available on The Architecture Player.

With Infer Studio, their aim "is to build worlds that propose and provoke, investigating problems and opportunities on our shared technological, cultural and environmental horizons": "the Anthropocene has brought with it an abundance of media artifacts, recordings of our collective fears, ambitions, desires and habits", they say, "from these, we attempt to infer cultural priorities, trends and inter-dependencies, then build worlds, environments, and scenarios that present our findings and speculations, representing these through time-based media".

The Atlas of False Desires is a perfect example of their "method". The film tells the story of Desire Atlas - "a 'click-farm' in India, who in 2020 are running a devious operation to manufacture trends through the strategic placement of fake content and viral followings in social media". From here, following a small IT venture who wanted to command consumer likes, shares and views, we are transported in a world neither physical nor virtual. These dystopian infrastructure is what already lies behind the contemporary fast fashion industry. The urge to forecast new trends, to co-opte them, to exploit them: in this internet plays a huge role, being the space where companies look for valuable patterns to predict and manipulate buying preferences, harvesting social networks.
However the film does not stop here: that is what makes Infer Studio different from your usual favourite dystopian - Black Mirror like - film. Fast fashion industry is collaborating in destroying our environment, polluting countries, exploiting local workforce.

So, in this film, Infer Studio depicts trends as viruses spreading through dataspace, provoking planetary shifts in production infrastructures, meaning that the manipulation of trends is therefore a potentially world-changing tool, but - and this is the real plot twist of the film - "The Atlas of False Desires" speculates on how corporate motivations and conspicuous consumerism could be co-opted for another secret agenda; improving the health of waterways in India.

(Story by Sara Marzullo, The Architecture Player)

Authors icon Credits

Mentioned project: The Atlas of False Desires
Director and writer: Nathan Su
Writer: Bethany Edgoose
Cast: Samya Mohamed-De Meo, Priscilla Riot, Bhasker Patel, Rachel Smyth, Nicholas Zembashi, Andrea Richardson, Stefania Montesolaro, Nabs Aziz, Georgina Parren, Bethany Edgoose
Composer: Sarah Su
Sound Editor: Sepehr Malek
Hair and Makeup: Angie Anand and Rachel Keane
Tutor and drone operator:Liam Young
Tutor: Kate Davies
Additional India Cinematography: Tushar Prakash
Sound Recordist: Agathe Couvreur and Chong Yan Chuah

United Kingdom 2016
Duration: 08'16"