The Quiet Ones by Marrianne Hoffmeister Castro (2022)

The Quiet Ones

Video. 4K (4096X2160). 22:45min. 2021-2022.

The Quiet Ones examines the complex trajectories of nonhuman instrumentalization through the stories and perspectives of one of the most frequently used model organisms for scientific research, mice. Filmed in collaboration with the taxidermy mice model collection at the Center of PostNatural History in Pittsburgh, the short film portrays a story of haunting affects featuring C57 Black mouse, Ribfull and Ribless Mouse Embryos, Mouse Balb/cJ, C57 Black Mouse Obese, DBA Mice, Alcoholic Rat, and a human that cares for them. Through a series of vignettes focused on each mouse, where they are gently cleaned, tickled, whispered to, they are brought back to the realm of the living. By blurring the boundaries between the animate and the inert, the ghostly and the material, complex issues of bioethics and animal rights arise. Paradoxically, the care that perhaps was never received during their lifetime comes now, when they exist as artifacts embedded into the fields of knowledge production. The film also utilizes diverse emotional registers that draw from the poetic, the anthropomorphic, the humorous, the sentimental and the fable-like to reveal the complex threads of violence, instrumentalisation, objectification and alteration in which many nonhuman animals are forced into. The dissonant emotional registers convey the challenging space in which these beings exist, which poses questions and reactions that are difficult to answer or locate. Ultimately, this piece fosters a space of radical empathy for beings that have become the bearers of the consequences of our actions.

The project was possible with the generous support and guidance of The Center for PostNatural History. It was also supported in part by funding from The Carnegie Mellon University Frank-Ratchye Fund for Art @ the Frontier.

In the Nameless Hour of the Night
(or - an Ordinary Form of Love)

Video. 4K (3840x2160) 32:53 min, 2022.

In The  Nameless Hour of the Night (or- an Ordinary Form of Love) is an experimental short-film that follows the nocturnal meanderings of a group of mice that inhabit the kitchen of the artist’s living space. Filmed with a motion-activated camera, it portrays glimpses of the mice’s explorations, escapes, and encounters during the span of a year. In consonance with the isolation and withdrawal brought by the Covid-19 pandemic, the piece draws our attention to the intricate inner worlds unfolding in our living spaces: a domestic realm that embodies one of the simplest forms of multispecies cohabitation. In this domain however, the mice are not metaphors or a secondary narrative device but the subjective center and creators of their world. We, as observers  —or intruders peeking into their nocturnal space— are invited briefly to witness a world of mouse sovereignities, intimacies, escapes and fleeting encounters. A glimpse to a different universe is introduced to us, a world where the human is just a fragment in a vast constellation of relationships. Inspired by the genre of slow cinema and the ethical framework of ecocinema which offers alternative strategies to represent nonhuman animals, the film offers a tender yet serious space to cultivate forms of attention for other modalities of being.

This project is supported in part by funding from The Carnegie Mellon University Frank-Ratchye Fund for Art @ the Frontier and Graduate Small project Gush Research Grant.