World Brain is at the same time a cinematographic essay, an online map and a video installation. It proposes an excursion through the folklore and the beliefs related to the Internet. It explores the hidden stories of data centers, animal magnetism, goes back to the original myths of the Web, looks at the inner life of rats, experiments with natural communication networks, of a group of researchers trying to survive thanks to Wikipedia, connecting kittens with stones...
The world we live in often resembles a Borgesian story. Indeed, if one wanted to write a sequel to Borges’ Fictions, he could do it simply by putting together press articles. The World Brain is made out mostly of found materials : videos downloaded on Youtube, images, scientific or pseudo scientific reports, news feeds… World Brain is an assemblage of materials found online on YouTube or extracted from information feeds and actual experiments. The project can be viewed in a linear or fragmented way, episode after episode.
The utopia of an universal connection leads humanity into a pharaonic project : the construction of a world space specifically designed for the comfort of data, made of hundreds of thousands of data centers interconnected by submarine or underground cables. World Brain takes the viewer into this Promethean machine. Many believe that a global brain will emerge of it, which we would only be the neurons.
World Brain propose une plongée à l’intérieur des lieux physiques par lesquels transite le réseau Internet : câbles sous-marins, data centers, satellites. Le spectateur voit le monde comme s’il était une information, traversant la planète de manière quasi instantanée, recopiée à l’infini, ou au contraire stockée dans des lieux maintenus secrets. Le film suit les ramifications du réseau mondial, en montrant l’infrastructure matérielle des réseaux des data centers et des câbles sous-marins.
World Brain takes the viewer through a journey inside the physical places by which the Internet transits: submarine cables, data centers, satellites. The film adopts the point of view of the data. The audience view the world as if they were information, crossing the planet in an instant, copied in an infinite number of instances or, at the contrary, stored in secret places.
The project describes the planetary network surrounding us and offers theoretical tools to interpret it. It considers the perverse effects of the universal connection, and the risk for the individuals to become numb, under the reign of collective intelligence. The film also shows the peregrinations of a network of nomadic researchers who meet far from traditional research networks in the different forests of the world. They imagine prototype scenarios of experimental lifestyles, taking into account the interconnectedness of human beings. Their goal is to build an alternative project for the survival of mankind.
World Brain offers a short story of the idea of the communication between brains. The idea emerges long before the Internet : galvanism, animal magnetism, mesmerism, universal fluid, ether, fifth element, spirit telegraph… It starts to become real with Chappe's semaphor, Morse's telegraph, the telephone, cybernetics and the invention of the Internet.
The idea of a global brain used to be an intellectual speculation. It has suddenly become an everyday reality. All human beings, interconnected from the inside, form a superorganism. Mankind builds a global brain, synapse after synapse. Many writers have imagined a collective consciousness that would emerge from the universal connection of minds. They usually see the human race being unified, in a holistic and often mystical perspective, sometimes linked to the concept of biosphere or to the Gaia hypothesis. The utopia becomes real. The limits of the individuals begin to blur. Data travel through the whole planet. They run through a network of fiber optic cables, whether subterranean or submarine. They are stored in a network of data centers.
The installation makes it possible to walk through the books that were used to build the project, and surrounded by the chapters of the film.
World Brain Project / Whole Earth Catalog
Published from 1968 to 1972, the Whole Earth Catalog, edited by Stewart Brand brought together books, articles and tools for understanding the world. The project's primary audience were the members of the utopian hippie communes of the time. The catalog proposed thinking tools and solutions for alternative lifestyles. It hijacked the structure of the mail-order catalogue to promise its readers "access to tools and ideas".
Like the Whole Earth Catalog, the interface of World Brain makes available online the resources that helped build th project. At the same time interactive map, film and book, it gives access to a series of short films, texts, different media and links to other sites, hundreds of references, images. The quantity of links is too large to see or read everything : it shows an overflow, where one gets lost in the hyper-information, whereas the film, on the contrary, is an attempt to draw a logical line in this heap of data.
Andreas Rauth, Dream Of Reason… Interview with Stéphane Degoutin & Gwenola Wagon about their transmedia project World Brain, Jitter Magazine
Transmediale-Film "World Brain" sucht Gedächtnis der Welt (auf Deutsch), Die Zeit, 2015
Carolina Söderholm, Kritik med hjärna, Sydsvenskan, 7 décembre 2015
Infosphere : ces données qui nous entourent, Arte Creative
Elsa Ferreira, World Brain, le vertigineux fantasme d’un cerveau mondial, Makery, 5 mai 2015
Nadja Schlueter, Man braucht nur Luft und Date., Jetzt, 6 février 2015
Science et vie, avril 2015
Dominik Schönleben, Nackt im Wald nur mit dem Wissen aus Wikipedia überleben? Ein Film fragt, ob das wirklich geht, Wired
Stéphanie Lemoine, Une voie vers l'imagination, L'Œil, février 2015
Max Hoppenstedt, Mensch-Maschinen aller Länder, vereinigt euch (auf der transmediale in Berlin), Motherboard, Vice, January 23, 2015
Julia Kausch, Haie essen das Internet Das war die Transmediale 2015Das Filter, February, 5th 2015
Unika bilder från insidan av Internet, Sveriges Radio
Emma Guerchon, World Brain : l'expérience d'une humanité connectée, Arte Creative, 29 Janvier 2015
Nicolas Nova, World Brain: a a stroll through data centers, February 18, 2015
Ewen Chardronnet, Transmediale, the great worldwide game, Makery, 2 February 2015
Marie Lechner, Data centers, art around the bunker, Libération, 17 Janvier 2014
Exhibition Forêt thérapie, CAC La Traverse, Alfortville (France), may 3 – june 23, 2018
Exhibition All I Know Is What's On The Internet, The Photographer's Gallery, Londres, october 28, 2018 – february 24, 2019
Exhibition La belle vie numérique, EDF Foundation, Paris, november 17, 2017 – march18, 2018
Exhibition Non Compliant Futures, Eastern Bloc, Montréal, Québec, september 27 - october 1, 2017
Exhibition Infosphere, Centro National de las Artes, Mexico City, may 26 – september 3, 2017
Exhibition Are We Human ? Istanbul Biennial, october 22 – november 20, 2016
Exhibition Caméra(auto)contrôle Centre de la photographie, Genève, june 1 – july 31, 2016
Exhibition Nervous Systems. Quantified Life and the Social Question, HKW Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin, Germany, march 11 – may 9, 2016
Exhibition Futurs non conformes #1 Mythologies, Jeu de Paume virtuel, april - october 2016
Screening of the film on Arte TV channel, december 15, 2015
World Brainn Survival Tools, screening of the film World Brain, performance by Julien Imbert, lectures by Pierre Cassou-Noguès and Emmanuel Ferrand, Gaîté Lyrique, Paris, december 8, 2015
Exhibition and lecture, Medea Showroom, Niagara, Malmö University, Sweden, december 3-10, 2015
Screening and lecture, L'invention du réel, Sauver les phénomènes, Plateau de Millevaches, France, november 28, 2015
Exhibition Project Daejeon 2014 : The BrainW, Daejeon Museum of Art, South Korea, november 22, 2014 - february 22, 2015
Exhibition and screeninng, Every Step You Take - Art and Society in the Digital Age, Dortmund, Germany, november 13, 2015
Innstallation, screening and lecture, Impakt festival, Utrecht, Netherlands, october 31 – november 1, 2015
Screening and lecture, Festival du Nouveau Cinéma, Montréal, october 7-18, 2015
Exhibition Ego Update, NRW Forum, Düsseldorf, september 18, 2015 - january 17, 2016
Exhibition Globale / Infosphere, Zkm, Karlsruhe, september 4, 2015 - january 31, 2016
Screening, HEK Haus der elektronischen Künste, Bâle, june 4, 2015
Installation, Hospice d'Havré, Tourcoing (Fr), may 29 – july 19, 2015
Screening, , Gaîté Lyrique, Paris, april 26, 2015
Exhibition Digital // Analog: Indifferenz, Motorenhalle, Dresde, april 22 – july 22, 2015
Exhibition Surveillance .02, East Wing gallery, Dubai, march 12 – may 7, 2015
Screening, festival Tropisme, La Panacée, Montpellier, march 7, 2015
Online screening, Arte Creative, january 2015
World première, Transmediale, HKW, Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin, january 29, 2015
Lecture, Signals:24/7, International Film Festival, Rotterdam, Netherlands, january 21 - february 1, 2015
“Paul Otlet et la transcendance cosmique des chatons”
Film color, 16/9, 72'
Production : Irrévérence Films.
Directors: Stéphane Degoutin and Gwenola Wagon
Scenario: Stéphane Degoutin et Gwenola Wagon
Editing: Stéphane Degoutin et Gwenola Wagon
Director of photography: Marianne Tardieu
Sound recording : Sébastien Cabour, Damien Tronchot
Audio mixing : Christian Cartier
Models : Martin Gautron
Set design: Olivier Peyricot and Julien Imbert
Costume design: Stéphane Degoutin and Maria Delamare
Graphic design: Joffrey Dieumegard and Rebecca Hargreaves
Web design: Olivier Riquet and Guillaume Libersat
Voice-over: Stéphane Piveteau
Main actors: Philippe Durand, Catherine Hargreaves, Selma Fortin and Julien Imbert
With Pierre Cassou-Noguès, Michael Chorost, Kevin Warwick, Olivier Bosson, Alexis Chazard, Martin Howse.
Co-Production and diffusion:
Arte Créative, Picatovo, CNC support and Fresnoy.