They Who Saw The Deep
They Who Saw The Deep - Animation 4.30 mins
The short film They Who Saw The Deep tells a cautionary tale of environmental destruction. Mimicking the style of epic poetry this experimental film tells the story of Gilgamesh, an Assyrian deity who arrives on Earth to highlight “the period of the sixth mass extinction” and the self-imposed cataclysmic future faced by humanity.
The film is set to a soundtrack of an archive recording made in 1954 of Henare Hamana, a Maori man, whistling his imitation of the Huia’s call. The Huia was an exquisite bird, native to New Zealand, made extinct in the early 20th century due to habitat destruction, introduced predators and over- hunting for its black and ivory tail feathers. In order to lure the birds to their snares the Maori people learned to mimic the Huia song. This mimicked song was passed down between generations, a practice that continued even after the Huia was gone. Due to the fact that the Huia vanished before field-recording technologies existed, what we hear in the film is in fact a sound fossil.
They Who Saw The Deep asks the viewer to use their imagination to visualise a world that no longer exists, to imagine a bird that has been extinct for almost a century to highlight the fact that the current rate of extinction is of unprecedented scale and unsustainable and underlines a precarious future.