Filmed inside a game engine, Swamp City imagines the Florida Everglades as a luxury eco-tourism retreat in a near-future reality of severe climate disruption. While New York is underwater and Los Angeles is on fire, the swamp and its precious ecosystem – demonised in a colonial world-view while valorised by today’s climate scientists – has become an unlikely focal point for vending new takes on nature.
Swamp City operates in a non-linear chronology and is narrated by both human and nonhuman protagonists, including an anthropomorphic alligator refusing to migrate, an opportunistic celebrity architect, and a 3,500-year-old Bald Cypress tree resurrected with AI. The film explores tensions between developers, lifestyle capitalism, sentient technology, and a dying swamp, imagining an ecological future that exists somewhere beyond the binary of utopia and dystopia.
Alice Bucknell, Swamp City, 2021, HD video, 34 min
23 May – 12 June 2023
Courtesy the artist
About the artist:
Alice Bucknell (b. 1993, London, UK) is a North American artist and writer based between London and Los Angeles. Working primarily through game engines and speculative fiction, her work explores interconnections of architecture, ecology, magic, and nonhuman and machine intelligence. In 2021, she founded New Mystics, a collaborative platform hosting new forms of artistic practice that merge magic, mysticism and ritual with advanced technology. In 2022, she organized New Worlds at Somerset House in London, an event series keyed on the politics and poetics of emergent worlding practices. She has exhibited her video work internationally, most recently including presentations in Open Systems: Open Worlds at Singapore Art Museum (through 10 August); I’ll Be Your Mirror at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Texas (2023); Kunsthalle Wien; the 17th Venice Architecture Biennale; 3hd Festival in Berlin; Fiber Festival in Amsterdam; Ars Electronica in Linz, Austria; and Serpentine Galleries in London. Bucknell is currently an Associate Lecturer in MA Narrative Environments at UAL, and often delivers lectures at institutions including SCI-Arc in LA, Fabrica in Italy, and the V&A in London. She studied Anthropology at the University of Chicago and Critical Practice at the Royal College of Art in London.