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The Fragility of Life

Year: 2017
Format: HD Video, 3D Animation
Duration: 24 min 16 sec
Audio: Stereo Sound
Produced with the support of the Nieuwe Instituut Research Fellowship 2016.

Do I contradict myself?
Very well then, I contradict myself.
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)
° Walt Whitman, Song of Myself (1855)

The Fragility of Life is a short film following Teresa Barnwell, a Hillary Clinton impersonator, in the final days leading up to the 2016 U.S Presidential Elections. The film is part of The Contents a research project on anthropometric standards embedded in 3d capture and modelling technologies. Used for a wide spectrum of applications, from movie special effects, to forensic investigation, to biometric identification, these technologies define much of how the human body and identity is represented and perceived in digital space. Through film, artefacts and interviews, The Contents challenges parametric constructs of corporeality.

“I have the right to upload all of me.”
° Sprint Unlimited advertising (2015)

In the short film The Fragility of Life, Teresa Barnwell is 3D scanned, appears as Hillary Clinton at a Reality TV award show in Hollywood to accept an award for Donald Trump and recounts her life as a celebrity impersonator. Teresa's career as impersonator started when Hillary Clinton became first lady in 1993 and has climaxed with Clinton's presidential campaign. The border between entertainment and political reality, content and image is continually blurred as Clinton's career turns increasingly political. The Fragility of Life questions the ownership of one's own image in a time of visual saturation: viral images, fake news, mass distribution of information and networked cameras create a slipperly slope of identity, privacy and personal data. Does one own a 3D scan of oneself? Or does the person that performs the scan own the file? Does the right to one's own image, established in photography, apply with synthetic images as well? These questions are crucial for everyone, but all the more poignant when asked through the file of a (political) impersonator.

In a scene of the film, Teresa is heard reading excerpts of Baudrillard's Simulacra and Simulation, the philosophers treatment on the relationship between reality, symbols and society. She continues to wonder about her own symbolism and identity melting: "Is it me, or is it Hillary. Who am I? Lately I don’t seem to know. It does mess with your head sometimes a little bit. Because at times there are people, you know, long time friends, who are just saying it as a term of endearment. They see me and they go “Oh Hillary!”. And sometimes you kind of wonder, Ok do they remember my real name? Or where did Teresa go? She is still here."

Related writing

↑ **The Fragility of Life** (film still) 3D Scanning Teresa Barnwell at Human Engine Los Angeles.

The Fragility of Life (film still) 3D Scanning Teresa Barnwell at Human Engine Los Angeles.

**The Fragility of Life** (film still) Teresa Barnwell in 3D.

The Fragility of Life (film still) Teresa Barnwell in 3D.

Credits

⦁ Script & Animation: Simone C Niquille
⦁ Music: Jeff Witscher & Sam Wolk
⦁ 3D Scan: Human-Engine, Los Angeles
⦁ Featuring Teresa Barnwell as herself.

technoflesh Studio ( ᐛ )و

Design & Research practice
of Simone C Niquille

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