The SUREN are a series of capsules that contain fragments of thought and which are found by the protagonist of A Stretch of Time (2022) in surreal settings in which modernity is transformed into archeology to present the dystopian development of humanity. Ali Eslami’s video work was created through the use of virtual reality and the Unreal Engine (graphic engine developed by Epic Games for the creation and programming of first-person video games) and presents an adventure in which the faceless protagonist encounter futuristic scenarios, ambiguous and mysterious characters as he keeps on the research for the SUREN. In Iranian SUREN is an adjective that denotes something particularly strong and resistant: not far from a characterization and setting of AKIRA (adjective that in Japanese indicates something bright and clear and anime from the 1988), the run after these strange containers seems to be the only possible action to aspire to the betterment of mankind.

Eslami designs, using the game engine, a subjective video that allows an instant identification of the observer with the protagonist: A stretch of Time becomes an exploration of post-human life within a digital space. By constructing a cinematographic narration, the artist manages to combine the dimension of the video game with that of the storytelling of cyber-fantasy films: following the path of the hero, the gaze enters directly into a post-human reality in which a corporation always has control over life and thought of the man whose every movement is traced.

These are things that they don’t want you to know // Because they want you to stay tired just the way you are. // Everyday, but not so tired that you burn out // Just a little bit below that

An anchor woman warns us with these words: we are entering a dimension in which right and wrong, true and false, deception and truth do not have a linear and identifiable delimitation, rather man’s thinking is constantly at risk of being controlled by higher identities. What will be the fate of the hero of Eslami’s video? We still don’t know it, in fact A Stretch of Time is part of the larger project entitled False Mirror, which is also an online platform, started in 2017 and which still continues as a digital experimentation of a virtual inner space: not having an exhaustion in a resolution of events, the project aims to explore worlds still under construction. Playing with different languages that characterize the moving image, through cinema, videogames and anime, Eslami creates a documentation that is both archeology and prediction of a digital world that is being built in front of us and that seeks to chart a possible future of humanity.

Ali Eslami
A Stretch of Time, 2022
Single channel video, 21 min, 1080p




Ali Eslami, A Strech of Time, Installation View, Rijksackademie Open Studios 2022 © Photo: Sander van Wettum

Ali Eslami, A Stretch of Time, Installation View, Rijksackademie Open Studios 2022 © Photo: Sander van Wettum