Small, endangered amphibians live their life in enclosures created by researchers. The wild and the artificial, the past and the future are simultaneously present. Should we fight against the prophecy of destruction, or should we just surrender to the apocalyptic story? What kind of realities and futures do we construct inside our minds and in the outside world?
Liinu Grönlund and Okku Nuutilainen have for the past several years been following scientists and enthusiasts who specialise in preserving endangered frogs. Observe these words (2020) was filmed in the frog research lab at Paignton Zoo in England, where animals from the wild live in their little artificial worlds of their own as part of the man-made order. Simultaneously documentary and poetic, the video examines a vanishing world and the future of animal species. The leisurely, essay-like narrative borrows its style from meditation speech, setting the message of freedom, living in the moment and a carefree future against the frogs’ artificial and regulated habitats. In the context of the Anthropocene and current ecological crisis, the work explores our way of looking at and identifying with animals, while reflecting on our place in this day and age. “Day by day you detach more from all things around you. Your memories are fading,” says the narrator’s soothing voice, a message that seems to apply to the current fate of frogs and humans alike.
Liinu Grönlund (b. 1984) and Okku Nuutilainen (b. 1981) work with moving image both individually and as a duo. Their work has frequently had animals as their theme. Observe these words is their first collaborative piece, and they are currently also directing a feature-length documentary on the subject. Grönlund and Nuutilainen have both studied at the Finnish Academy of Fine Arts as well as the Department of Film at Aalto University, Grönlund in the programme of documentary film and Nuutilainen in the programme of film editing.
Grönlund and Nuutilainen have received support from Kone Foundation.