Shoreline Movements: Slow Action

This film is part of the exhibition Shoreline Movements, a program of non-fiction films curated by Erika Balsom and Grégory Castéra (Council), in a space designed by Daniel Steegmann Mangrané, for the Taipei Biennial 2020.

Filmed using a Bolex 16mm camera in four distant locations and taking its title from Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of the Species, Slow Action makes use of a speculative conceit to transform documentary images of landscape into visions of a drowned world. The film’s narration, authored by science-fiction writer Mark von Schlegell, transports us to a time when water has flooded the planet’s land masses, forming a new geography of island societies. Aping the conventions of travelogue writing, Slow Action’s voiceovers relay the unique characteristics of four utopian societies that took shape in complete isolation, accompanied by images of real locations: Lanzarote in the Canary Islands; Tuvalu in the South Pacific; Gunkanjima, an abandoned island off the coast of Nagasaki; and Rivers’s native Somerset. In the space between sound and image, Rivers creates a fictional atlas of future ruins that is equally anchored in our fragile present.

Slow Action, 2011, 45:00


  • Ben Rivers

Camera / Sound / Editing

  • Ben Rivers


  • Mark von Schlegell


  • Ilona Halberstadt
  • John Wynne

Sound Mix

  • Kevin Pyne

Narration Sound recording

  • Chu-Li Shewring

Animated objects in Eleven

  • Nicholas Brooks

Costumes for Somerset

  • Alice Dubieniec
  • Gemma Gore
  • Yuki Yamamoto

Images courtesy of the artist and LUX, London


  • Ben Rivers


  • Picture This, Bristol