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Arca and Aleksandar Hemon on The Matrix’s infinite relevance

As the latest volume of the cult series hits theatres, artistic polymath and longtime fan of the Matrix series Arca chats to Matrix Resurrections screenwriter Aleksandar Hemon to discuss identity, speculative fiction, and dancefloor liberation

Taken from the winter 2021 issue of Dazed. You can buy a copy of our latest issue here.

The film that freed our minds at the switch of the millennium, The Matrix’s conversations around digital and analogue freedom, alternate realities and identity dysmorphia sparked memes, myth and legend, changing the way we think about AI, and the internet, forever.

Like The Matrix, Arca’s KICK ii, KicK iii, and kick iiii albums lift the veil on the Venezuelan producer’s expansive inner and outer worlds, featuring collabs with the likes of Shygirl, Rosalía, and Björk. Here, she goes down the rabbit hole with Aleksandar Hemon, co-writer of the saga’s latest entry, The Matrix Resurrections, to make sense of two years of pandemic, and a world on the cusp of truth. Which pill is it going to be? 

The late novelist and poet Ursula K. Le Guin once told an interviewer of her discomfort with being referred to as a science fiction writer: “Don’t shove me into your damn pigeonhole, where I don’t fit, because I’m all over. My tentacles are coming out of the pigeonhole in all directions.” The minds and multiple, metaphorical limbs of thinkers like Le Guin flex into the future to imagine sublime worlds humanity and technology have yet to harness. I use ‘sublime’ in the sense of the sublime art theory that Wordsworth, Burke and Kant built upon, where speculative futures imagined by art can be noble, splendid and absolutely terrifying.

The Matrix arrived on the cusp of a new millennium and articulated this widespread sense of wonder and fear in technological advances. Filmmakers Lilly and Lana Wachowski’s sci-fi epic interrogated nascent anxieties about hacking, computers, a Y2K bug-bitten world and artificial intelligence, while also pointing to the possibilities for dual, digital identities and rebuilding societies bolstered by personal freedoms and liberation. The Matrix amassed a cult following, created its own vocabulary and a legacy that traverses pop culture from fashion to contemporary film, and inventors conceiving new technologies in its image.

Though its themes have remained pertinent over the last two decades, now, in 2021, and approaching The Matrix Resurrections release, that liminal historical space pulsates. Nearly two years since Covid struck, our digital existence overshadows our physical selves more than ever, and workers have untethered themselves from offices to work remotely online. What’s more, as writer Andrea Long Chu declared in her 2019 book, Females: A Concern, The Matrix can be acknowledged as an allegory for transgender life. “Neo has dysphoria. The Matrix is the gender binary. The agents are transphobia,” she wrote, suggesting that the red pill symbolises hormone therapy. There’s the possibility of kinship and community with Morpheus’s crew, the chance to build new, tangible worlds and live out identities long stunted like Neo/Thomas Anderson. Lilly Wachowski confirmed this herself in 2020, when she expressed happiness that it had been recognised– society today feels more ready for this transformative power.

The music of Venezuelan artist, producer and singer Arca AKA Alejandra Ghersi similarly weaves through our collective lexicon, pop culture and art. Ghersi is set to follow up last year’s KiCk i release with parts ii, iii and iiii – the four albums combining to thrillingly stretch pop structures and interpolate genres from reggaeton to bubblegum and electro. Through them, we experience Arca’s various self-states, the narrative influenced by her experiences as a trans non-binary woman, digital duality, and the complexities of love, sexuality and gender. She is fiercely open-hearted about what both pop and personhood can be, with a belief in transformation, collectivism and rebellion that is also imbued in The Matrix.

Joining Ghersi in conversation is Aleksandar Hemon, the Bosnian author, Guggenheim fellow, musician and co-writer of The Matrix Resurrections with Lana and David Mitchell, as well as the celebrated TV series Sense8. His books, including The Lazarus Project, Nowhere Man and his memoir, The Book of My Lives, navigate dystopia, conflict and migrant identities, frequently centring on people who are caught between two worlds.

Reflecting on The Matrix’s most urgent themes, Ghersi and Hemon talk technological terror and hope, digital and dual existences, and the shared mission to move beyond binaries – as well as killer soundsystems and heaving dancefloors. Our conversation is most fervent when we discuss speculative fiction, and artists’ responsibilities to imagining new worlds. As Le Guin also said, “The future of science fiction is just a metaphor for now,” however splendid or terrifying that may be.

Alejandra, there’s a line in ‘Incendio’ which references The Matrix: ‘The girl bends the spoon with her mind’. Could you tell us about this lyric, and how the imagery and themes of The Matrix resonate with the music you are making right now?

Arca: I’m really glad that you bring up that image of bending spoons. It’s the archetypal image for telekinesis, for manipulating the world with one’s mind. That scene in the oracle’s apartment is lodged in my subconscious. ‘Incendio’ is also about witchcraft, which is analogous to The Matrix’s themes, and in our own time, with the wilful glitching of the physical world. I think these themes are as ancient and primordial as they are futuristic or ‘now’. It’s in that image of how we’re all trapped in pods, prompted to face our fear of death at the same time. Covid made us all face body horror, the fear of our own bodies and pathogens, which sci-fi is the great therapeutic release for. Something that a lot of people have touched upon is that it made us all feel interconnected, while also alienated. That’s something I’m still parsing in my music.

Aleksandar Hemon: It’s an interesting point. What was not present in previous pandemics was the simultaneity of the web – our digital world gives us live infection numbers in real time, an ongoing anxiety. The interesting reactions are twofold: one, there is the parochial closing across nations with Brexit and the refugee crisis, but now they have another excuse to control migration. At the same time there are people like you and me, Alejandra, where there’s a sense of global, shared experience within the larger entity of humanity. We are all in this together, except there are people who say we aren’t, right? This polarisation, of course, is political in many ways. There’s left-wing and right-wing, but there’s also conceptual polarisation: what we think this world is and how we can live with it. It also aligns nicely with thinking about climate change. And, of course, the pandemic is a consequence of climate change.

Arca: That’s true and poignant. There is something about your mention of the parochial – it is the weaponising of borders. The way that bodies are policed has definitely become stricter. I have a warm feeling in my stomach that you were bold enough to say outright that the pandemic was a direct consequence of climate change, because I think so as well. It’s not something that I think gets talked about very often. It’s seen as somehow a parallel problem. I think about how our body temperatures are oscillating, we’re experiencing extreme heat and cold. The shocks to our system biologically and planetarily, you know? This has been a weirdly godless pandemic. I don’t mean that in the sense of there being more or less of a God, but because what interconnected us was technology, with the real-time stats, that we could constantly check our devices as a way of gauging how bad things were getting. I’m curious Aleksandar – a lot of the premises of The Matrix hinge on something like the singularity. Is it necessarily something to fear? I try to be hopeful. I think that The Matrix is a way of gauging hope, in that it shows there will always be a resistance, if indeed it is the case that the awakening of the singularity colonises the body. Is this something you’ve been thinking about [or] working through for the next film?

Aleksandar Hemon: Well, I started my friendship with Lana [Wachowski] after the first three Matrix films, and became involved in Sense8.

Arca: Which is amazing.

Aleksandar Hemon: Thank you! I’m very proud of it. One of the things about The Matrix is that the whole trilogy and this new film is based on the relationship between the body and mind. It’s a Cartesian argument in some ways. In the matrix and the system, they are separated. The body is in the pod and the mind is in the matrix, responding to fake stimuli. The issue is how they could be reunited, and what is the price of it? The reunification of the body and the mind that happens for Neo and Trinity is somewhat tragic. Neo sacrifices his body to allow for peace in the world of The Matrix. It’s not an argument for the existence of God, but an argument for sheer consciousness.

Is this also an argument for the important of art and speculitive fiction?

Aleksandar Hemon: What art allows for, although it is not automatically guaranteed, is a sense of a shared consciousness. When we read a book, listen to music or see a movie, there’s a sense that there’s a shared process of thinking through something that’s pertinent. Imagination is crucial – to imagine
realities that are not available right now. For obvious reasons, like death, we are always guessing to some extent. It is speculative and propositional. But it also allows for us to simply think about the possibilities of the future. I write fiction in addition to scripts, and what I like to think is that things are not real until they are imagined as real. Not confirmed as real, but imagined as real. It’s possible to live in a world, in a situation or historical moment, that is taking place in reality, but we do not believe it is taking place. Across the last year, a lot of people were exposed to that experience – that this could not be happening, as people probably felt living through other historical catastrophes. What art does is allow humanity to imagine alternative realities and simultaneous realities – not mutually exclusive realities, but realities that are layered and built, both into the future and into the past. To me, this is what The Matrix has done so well.

The trilogy became a cultural notion – living in the matrix, the blue pill, the red pill. It built a whole vocabulary for people to articulate ideas that The Matrix proposed. It’s not just real and virtual realities, and the separation of the body and mind, but also what kind of identities do we arrive at? Who are we outside of the fluid situation of life and the world that we know? What The Matrix has done is established its reality, narratively speaking, and destroyed it. It has shown the nuts and bolts of reality’s construction. And that was prescient – what’s real and not real, fake news. It has entered the mainstream deeply.

Arca: There is this amazing Octavia E Butler quote: ‘God is change.’ There is humility in admitting there are possibilities that we might not yet imagine, or that arrive to us almost like an encounter that changes the way we see the past and future. I’d love to touch upon the difference between Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung on shared consciousness and the collective subconscious. There are nuances between them. I find it beautiful that we are all interconnected, even in our trial-and-error in intuiting the present and future. Technologists, futurists and scientists develop technologies having read specific pieces of speculative fiction. It’s not the work of speculative fiction to predict the future, but by creating a world it influences those who could build a path to it. You had me thinking a lot about VR chat and avatars. Historically, individuals have been encouraged to collapse their identity into one presentation and uphold it into every context. But that strictness is precisely what makes one’s subconscious an upright citizen with no kinks or flaws by day, and a BDSM master by night. This split that we each host leads to an unconscious seeking a release. That will find it whatever the cost, even if it only presents itself in the form of an expression of sexual energy.

“The very notion of being human is changing. No one is born with an unchangeable essence” – Aleksandar Hemon

It may be interesting to touch upon sex, gender and bodies here, within the context of Arca’s work and The Matrix.

Arca: For me, transness is resorting to a technology which, at some point, didn’t exist. Before transitioning, one of the things that was holding me back from expressing that to the world was the question, ‘What would I have done in the time before hormones?’ The answer that I decided to resolve upon, even if it wasn’t 100% satisfactory to me, was...I guess I would probably find the line and cross it in whatever time that was. Transhumanism and posthumanism are deeply entwined for me, and it was a relief to see The Matrix and to imagine that there was something of a desired expression in the way that the characters changed in the film, and the real expression of how they were dressed and clothed in the Nebuchadnezzar (ship in The Matrix). I always found that strangely romantic. While technology can be dangerous and dehumanising, hormones have saved my life. I find it interesting that this technology wasn’t directly developed for trans individuals. The use and creative misuse of technology that can for some individuals, like trans people, provide the experience of feeling alive is something magical. I don’t think this can be overstated.

Aleksandar Hemon: I agree. I think that technology has neutral value. The same thing that might have helped one person might be abused or imposed upon someone else. Technology can fit into structures of power that exceed scientific knowledge, (as with) the Nazis, who were technologically advanced for their time. In the history of science fiction, one persistent theme is the fear of a future that we can no longer control as humans, whether there’s machines taking over like in The Matrix, or there’s a war that is so destructive that we have to start from scratch. Without saying too much, The Matrix Resurrections continues to imagine what is beyond catastrophe and what we fear. In the trilogy, Neo redeems this situation to some extent at a great price – he loses Trinity and a lot of people die. But there’s something beyond that. So, what science fiction does is it proposes a future, right? Not the future in the absolute sense of, ‘This is how it’s going to be,’ but it asks us to think about the future in a way that is continuous with the present. It requires imagination beyond what we have in the present. It allows us to strive towards a shared consciousness of, well, what is going to happen to us as humans? We all know that individually we are going to die, or at least leave this body, but what is the future beyond the death of our bodies? I have children, and what scares me is a future they live in that is beyond my imagination or beyond the imagination of other people I have access to. For me, it’s important for science fiction to imagine the future (so that we) have a utopian option.

That’s one of the things I learned from Lana Wachowski. I’m a pessimist by temperament, being Bosnian. But one of the things she insists upon, both in The Matrix narrative and in conversation, is her belief in humanity and the ability of humans to imagine a better future that we have to strive as artists and storytellers to imagine beyond society’s limits. The scariest catastrophes are the ones that we cannot imagine. What we can intuit can be prepared for. Similarly, the beauty of the future is in some ways unimaginable. After all the historic changes we are going through right now – with our climate, and with technology – (you have to imagine) a humanity that will be better than this. Otherwise, I mean, why bother?

Arca: Beauty is something I think about a lot. When you are perceiving beauty – really beholding it – and experiencing it, there is a sense of freedom in that moment. You go somewhere where time is suspended.

Do you agree that artists have a responsibility in imagining these futures, Alejandra?

Arca: There is a ripple effect in the stories that we tell, and so, since we each grapple with the future and the idea of our past differently, imagining the afterlife makes me want to question what the pre-life could be. Is it something of a return? After we die, do we go back to wherever we were before we were born? The cyclical nature of things makes me want, again, to think about spirit. I had an argument recently with someone about whether free will exists or not, and they said, ‘It doesn’t exist, but it’s better to believe that it does.’ How could you invoke a symbol just to say that the symbol (being) pointed at doesn’t exist? I have started to think of each word as a Rorschach blot, because our words mean different things to each person. I think about different languages, and how each word is a myriad of free associations that are preconscious, or maybe not – who’s to say?

Aleksandar Hemon: We think about our lives and our way of being-in-the-world as a story in which we are the main character. It is contingent upon an idea of individual sovereignty and story, whereas we know, obviously, that no story is isolated. The very construction of social identity comes from other people. Our constructions of social identity can be oppressive, fascist, racist and sexist in any number of ways. But it also comes from love that we receive from other people, the love for the story of our lives. I love that you spoke of transhumanism and posthumanism.

One of the things those two terms imply is that the very notion of being human is changing. It is possible for it to change on a global level as well as on an individual level. No one is born with an unchangeable essence, right? There are these hierarchies and technologies that pin us –

Arca: Police us –

Aleksandar Hemon: – take away agency over our bodies and how we engage with others. What I learned from doing art and screenwriting is that there is value beyond our individual sovereignty. I want to be with other people, do things with other people. Practically, lovingly, conceptually. This is what art and music do, create a prepositional space and invite you into their world. There’s a sense of the laws of sovereignty, of selfhood, but hand-in-hand with the fact that borders can dissolve. The Matrix proposes this porousness between what seems like a fixed social identity and alternate identity. It was seen then – and even more so today – as a story of transness. American cinema has a tradition of individualism, particularly male individualism: you know, the good guy who has to fix the world by way of violence. Sure, The Matrix has guns, a lot of guns, but it is also breaking that mould.

For Neo, guns are toys. It is his mind that has sovereignty, a selfhood that is powerfully entangled with and dependent on his connection with other people – they all have to be on the same ship to get there. Neo does not have to be ‘the one’, but to be of everyone, we learn. I love that. It is a concept of art that is contrary to traditions in narrative art, where it depends on the absolute agency of individuals who need to address the world’s wrongness, usually (with) violence if they are male. Sense8 was about this – how no one is absolutely sovereign, how you are always present in other people and they in you. Everyone’s identity is layered on each other. We are never alone in that respect. 

“It’s not the work of speculative fiction to predict the future, but by creating a world it influences those who could build a path to it” – Arca

Arca: My mind is racing hearing you talk about all this stuff because I think about these themes often. I would dare to say every day! When I think of The Matrix conceptually, I think about wombs. Wombs are a matrix where physical and virtual matter collide, converge and produce a small window for something from another dimension to emerge. I have a very controversial opinion, especially within the trans community, in that I think dysphoria is universal. It’s just a matter of degrees. When you mentioned that the world I have created through Arca feels like an invitation – that it’s a world you can go to and see yourself reflected in, glean something from and then go to another world – that relieves me. That makes me feel like whatever I am doing is somehow working. That’s always been the idea.

As an artist, there is a huge step between creating a world and extending an invitation to it. 

Arca: If that invitation is accepted, then it is that much more real. It is not a fantasy, it is not enforced in an oppressive way. The idea is to encounter, you know? And to try and develop new ways of understanding even the word ‘identity’. You mention Neo not just being one, but rather the idea of one which implies an interconnected whole like in algebra. It’s a very beautiful concept, and one I think we would all do well to remember. In terms of non-binary identity, there is a very strong resistance to seeing multiplicity in each of us. I think, in the past, it may have been useful for whatever utilitarian reasons to collapse this possibility; perhaps that allows us to survive certain things. But if one has the luxury to not have to collapse all the possibilities, to take a more phenomenological stance and observe without judgment, then I think it can open doors and connect us with ourselves. It can reverse alienation that one might believe had calcified because of whatever experiences or traumas. I also relate with your urge to connect, to reach out.

And what about these ideas of sovereignty and selfhood?

Arca: I think there’s an existential dread that sets in when you feel like you can’t tell where you end and where other people begin. If you blend in too much in a crowd, you might want to hit that exit button. That might express itself in a form of neurosis or depression. Conversely, I think when one is too far into one’s own world, too sovereign, too individual, one becomes unintelligible to others and therefore unable to connect, which again makes you feel alienated.

Your single ‘Nonbinary’ comes to mind - the visual shows multiple Arcas in battle. Different self-states that contradict but still recognise the other’s existence.

Arca: Honestly, I think the way that I’ve managed not just to stay alive, but, I think, thrive, is to allow myself to oscillate between the urge to blend and to feel part of a collective, without losing my sense of self, and also to not be afraid to stand out so much that just walking down the street becomes an ordeal.

Aleksandar Hemon: That’s great. I have believed for a while that the path to freedom is towards greater complexity. The more free we feel and the more we operate in the world, the more agency we have: human nature is to move towards complexity. But, of course, oppressive societies are pushing against that. The more free we want to be, the more we want to go towards complexity, and to have a greater opportunity for practising our agency in the world. But it also means that this complexity has, by
necessity, to invoke other people. Ideally, they are allies who share this belief in human potential with space, freedom and the absence of reductive, strictly enforced limits and borders. Again, it requires us to imagine a society, state or family, where that can be possible. Art can do that, particularly narrative art. Sense8 has this propositional world. These people are interconnected, and they can’t help it. They have to figure out what the connection is, then they have greater agency as a group than individuals, where sovereignty is an impediment to them in some ways.

You’re both bilungual – how does that feed into ideas of multiple, intersecting identities?

Aleksandar Hemon: I’m Bosnian by extraction and I moved to the United States at 27. I operate in two languages. My family are refugees, scattered around the world. Bilingual people inherently know that there’s so much more to life, because every word has two options, every idea has other dimensions. Striving towards complexity is a great advantage, but it is something that the simplicity of society and the monolingual, monocultural, mono-fascist society pushes against because it is prohibitive. Complex gender identityis prohibited in oppressive societies, not simply out of hatred, but because it complicates the picture. They cannot allow that; simplicity bolsters control. These complex people, immigrants or trans people, complicate their picture.

Arca: I always struggled growing up because when I lived in the States I felt like I was too Venezuelan, and when I was back in Venezuela I spoke English with this Americanised accent. I always felt ‘other’.I had a strange relationship to the idea of what it means to be a migrant, and also what it means to have kindredness. One thing in Sense8 that I found absolutely gorgeous was that each of these individuals were so unique, and yet they were kindred. There is respect for each other without needing to understand. One of the most powerful notions that I think makes otherness dangerous is (when) the other person becomes a surface for projection rather than a human to encounter in all their multiplicity. Also, in transness and non-binary identities, there are certain things that are analogous, and certain things that are contradictory. But for me, that’s one of the things that feels most relieving. I love what you mention about more nuance and more complexity being closer to the truth than collapsed polarities.

Aleksandar Hemon: I agree! I think art is inherently a utopian project – there is the possibility of imagining a world different from this one, and therefore, a better one. I don’t mean just society, I mean a world where things and objects look different, trees have different shapes, people are shorter or longer, or it’s ruled by pumpkins. There are ways in which art creates worlds that do not replicate a system of values exactly (like) this one. It’s hard to abandon that continuity because we are of this world.

At the same time, our imaginations and our art are the most intimate things we hold. In western societies, there’s a culture of individualism. The utopian idea in art is in the ultimate collaboration. I’m mainly a writer; I sit alone and type. I have been working on this book I’m doing now for more than 11 years. It’s all shit until it isn’t! Writing is inherently self-centred and contained. I do music, too, and I like to collaborate. Imagining something in your head and waiting for it to come out; I experience this as a great relief.

Arca: And terrifying!

Aleksandar Hemon: Yes, of course!

Arca: When you make any kind of gesture, it’s really coming from a place of vulnerability, out there to be misunderstood. I am still a bedroom producer to this day. There’s always a fear that it’ll be misunderstood when it gets outside. It’s precious and beautiful, but I confess that it is still extremely terrifying and excruciating.

Aleksandar Hemon: Absolutely, that is why it’s so courageous to break your own sovereign, controlled space, where you are relatively comfortable. The implicit question is: why are you doing this? The world is full of art already. If no one wrote another book, we’d be good for 200 years.The only way to justify what you do is [through] the very act of making as a means of engaging with the world, as a gesture of extending yourself into other people, with hope. The other possibility to me is more terrifying – the isolation of the artist inside their own consciousness, speaking your own language to yourself. That is far scarier than someone being indifferent to something I have made.

Arca: I’ve been there. It’s no fun. It’s a feat of heroism to make one’s way out of that moment.

Borders are made redundant in The Matrix - does that feel more poignant and personal today?

Arca: I'm curious to hear your thoughts on borders and thresholds. I want to hear about whether beinga migrant has shifted your perception in a way that expresses itself in Sense8 and in The Matrix.

Aleksandar Hemon: There’s a shared experience wherever one might come from. The most common thing in the world is difference – we are individual specimens of a species, however you bend it. This difference is not an impediment, not a border, but just a line of demarcation, if you will: this where I stop, this is where you begin, but we are in the same space and we can talk about it. What scares me about borders – it runs in the family – is the policing of borders. I have privileges as a white-looking cis-het man. It’s easier for me to cross borders. Nevertheless, I fear borders.

Arca: I have had horrible experiences at the border, especially when there’s a cognitive dissonance between how people perceive me with my face-mask on and in my documentation. Whether the immigration police officer is in a good or bad mood, it gives them agency to act with an entire system behind them – like Agent Smith, right? Sometimes I feel like I would literally jump through any flaming hoop I have to and smile, despite how I feel. It’s dehumanising. I think it must also be dehumanising for the immigration officer, because that’s how dehumanisation works.

It’s always both ways, to have that uniform and to conflate a sense of protecting a space with threat in another individual. Borders are harrowing, ugh. I don’t even like to travel as much as I used to. It’s a strange experience.

Aleksandar Hemon: These individuals – yes, like Agent Smith – have a power to identify you, to flatten you.

Arca: Are the agents present in the next Matrix film?

Aleksandar Hemon: Yes, but... Agent Smith is in it, but he has a somewhat different role. It’s not what you would think. I can’t wait for you to watch it. I can tell you that it’s basically a love story. It has this subversive dimension, for insisting on love as opposed to violence. I saw the final cut in Berlin in September.

Arca: I would go so far as to say that my next record is also about love and its hardships. I was discussing with my boyfriend how love and hate are weirdly entwined, and how much purporting to know the
other person is also a surrender, and a form of trust. There’s always an element of the unknowable. I find it miraculous.

Aleksandar Hemon: I like that. Love is always making a move towards greater complexity because there’s this other person next to you – two lives in the same time and place.

Arca: Or more!

Aleksandar Hemon: Love is liberating because we have to question the borders of our sovereignty – what am I going to be willing to do for this other person? It’s not easy, because it’s daily practice.

Arca: To love is also an act of curiosity, to strive to know a person’s unknowability. People who might feel the need to weaponise otherness are depriving themselves of the [possibility] of encountering difference, and experiencing the beauty of something you did not even know was imaginable.

Aleksandar Hemon: It also assuages loneliness. The reason I love making music is because it makes me alert to everything. I suddenly hear things three layers deep into the mix, which is not something I was able to do. In a similar way, what love makes you do is to be alert to other people’s layers. It’s very simple.

Arca: Barring lyrics, music is an abstraction that is sometimes outside of language. I find that particularly delicious. It might be a note hitting just at a particular moment, or the texture of a hi-hat, any of these things... it’s sensual. Not just sensorial, it’s sensual. It unites mind and body.

Aleksandar Hemon: This is also why I like dance music, because it is actualised in the body. With a good soundsystem, you can feel your muscles reacting to it. Well, at least when I dance, it is not predictable.

Arca: That’s a good thing.

Aleksandar Hemon: (chuckling) You haven’t seen me dance.

Arca: I love that. Anytime someone is like, ‘I don’t know how to dance,’ those are my favourite people to watch dancing. When you unite different people in dance there’s a cosmicism to it. It reminds me of
stars, a constellation of psyches, and the resonance that you can reach at a fever pitch. It feels like ultimate freedom and the separation of mind and body. I would say I’ve had spiritual experiences
on the dancefloor.

Aleksandar Hemon: Music is the closest to the spiritual realm because it cannot be simply interpreted. It does not produce direct meaning. It is the thing that it is. And that’s very close to spirituality. I’m not particularly religious, but the closest to spirituality I can get is by way of music. If I am ever tempted to believe in the existence of the spirit, it is because of music.

How does music come into the new film?

Aleksandar Hemon: (The composer), Tom Tykwer, worked with Lana to choose the soundtrack. He composed the music before the shoot, too, and he played it at the table reading. Then the movie was cut to the music, and the music was cut to the movie. I heard it at the first table read in San Francisco in February 2019, it’s quite amazing. It’s very intense.

Arca: I can’t wait to hear it come rumbling through the theatre soundsystem.

Aleksandar Hemon: I look forward to hearing your album, too. I love the track with Sia, it’s beautiful.

Arca: Thank you so much. Let’s meet on a dancefloor somewhere soon.

The Matrix Resurrections MIND is in UK cinemas from December 24. Arca’s KICK ii, KicK iii, and kick iiii albums are out on December 3 via XL. Aleksandar Hemon’s debut track, "Howdy, Hand of God!" is out now via Bandcamp