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Stonewall 2069, Dazed ICA film on queer tech

A sneak peek at Stonewall 2069, our film about the future of queer tech

Commissioned as part of the New Creatives project in partnership with the ICA and BBC, the doc imagines the intersection of technology and LGBTQ+ culture in the year 2069

Queerness and technology have always had a fascinating back and forth. From the hanky codes of 70s San Fran, to social apps Grindr and Feeld, queer culture is living evidence that innovation is precipitated at the fringes and in the underground. 

2019 marks 50 years since Marsha P. Johnson, a black trans woman, threw the first brick at Stonewall, initiating a cascade of events that resulted in the legalisation of gay marriage across America 46 years later. Today we celebrate 50 years of queer culture, but what will the next 50 years bring?

A new film commissioned as part of the New Creatives project (which brings Dazed, the ICA, and the BBC together) explores the intersection of queerness and technology in the year 2069. Across the film, we see the invention and subsequent creation of a prototype that could be part of every day queer life in 2069.

“The coopting, subverting and appropriating of technology, by queer people, for queer people, has played a vital role in 50 years of queer emancipation” – Samuel Douek

Using equipment from Procam, Europe’s leading digital cinematography hire facilitydirector Samuel Douek explores queer futures through a prism of technology and performance. Interviews with players across contemporary queer culture are complemented by an orgy of queer imagery from pink fish tanks to latex masks and industrial ventilation units landing somewhere between Apollo 111 and the basement of Watergate.

Dutch artist Esmay Wagemans stamps the project with her trademark aesthetic: perspex screens and latex masks that manage to look simultaneously edible and repugnant. Bodies and body parts, bionic and biological, probe what we perceive as real, and challenge what it means to be human.

“The coopting, subverting and appropriating of technology, by queer people, for queer people, has played a vital role in 50 years of queer emancipation”, says director Samuel Douek. “Technology has surpassed simply connecting the queer community. It has opened up a world of unchartered visibility where new letters are increasingly uncovered and added to the acronym LGBTQ+.”

“It is shaping the world where queerness is no longer defined by sexuality, gender identity or suffering,” he adds.

So what happens to queerness next? Working with Douek and Wagemans, Berlin-based animator Sam Alridge, who has a background in video-game design, experimented with shape, colour, lighting, texture, and movement to create the visual narrative for a queer future. Exploring queerness means pushing aesthetic as much as concept. And Douek doesn't shy from the challenge. He drapes the film in baroque animations that glitter and glitch; body parts writhing with glutinous abstraction.

Major Zscene styled the film and brought together the cast of LGBTQ+ performers who feature. 

“To go beyond something human is the queer frontier”, says LA based collaborator Thomas Francisco. “If we code future software and upload them to our own hacked technologies, we are able to rid ourselves of all notions of identities, by becoming all identities”, adds Douek

At the story's apex, trans performer and dancer SAKEEMA engages with the prototype at the centre of the film in a performance mirroring the changing relationship between technology and queer bodies.

The film poses a simple dilemma: As technology enters more and more of our lives, where do we draw the line between self and other?

And more importantly, who gives a Q?

Stonewall 2069 will premiere in 2020