Rock Bottom Riser: Work in Progress

From the earliest Polynesian voyagers who navigated by starlight to the discovery of habitable planets by astronomers, Rock Bottom Riser examines the all-encompassing encounters of a world at sea. As lava continues to flow from the earth’s core on the island of Hawaii – posing an imminent danger – a crisis mounts. Astronomers plan to build the world’s largest telescope on Hawaii’s most sacred and revered mountain, Mauna Kea. Referencing Hawaiian creation chants, the arrival of Christian missionaries, and the observatory’s ability to capture the origins of the universe, Rock Bottom Riser looks through a lens onto the influence of settler colonialism, the search for intelligent life, and the exploration of new worlds as we peer into our own planet’s existence.

For over a decade, my art practice has been focused on 16mm filmmaking. I shoot and edit my films in order to engage directly with the environments I cover and the politics surrounding them. Rather than focusing on a single perspective, my films examine the influence of industry on culture and ecology while referencing their various depictions throughout cinema history. They are drawn to subjects that defy national identity while considering methods and strategies associated with established genres and documentary modes, incorporating mythology, phenomena, and historical accounts. Rock Bottom Riser is my first feature and began with my interest in Mauna Kea land preservation, its cultural impact, and the resiliency that has kept it from further desecration. Mauna Kea is a symbol of resistance.

From the earliest voyagers who navigated by starlight to the discovery of habitable planets by astronomers, Rock Bottom Riser examines the all-encompassing encounters of an island world at sea. As lava continues to flow from the earth’s core on the island of Hawaii—posing an imminent danger—a crisis mounts. Astronomers plan to build the world’s largest telescope on Hawaii’s most sacred and revered mountain, Mauna Kea. Based on ancient Polynesian navigation, the arrival of Christian missionaries, and the observatory’s ability to capture the origins of the universe, Rock Bottom Riser surveys the influence of settler colonialism, the search for intelligent life, and the discovery of new worlds as we peer into our own planet’s existence. —Fern Silva

Director Biography

Fern Silva (1982) is an artist and filmmaker who works primarily in 16mm. His films examine the influence of industry on culture and ecology while referencing their various depictions throughout cinematic history. They’ve been presented at festivals, museums, and cinematheques including the Toronto, Berlin, Locarno, Rotterdam, New York, London, and Hong Kong International Film Festivals, Anthology Film Archives, Harvard Film Archive, New Museum (NYC), and MOMA P.S.1 (New York). Silva has previously taught filmmaking at the University of Illinois (Chicago), Bard College (New York) and Bennington College (Vermont).

Director Filmography

Rock Bottom Riser (2021), The Watchmen (2017), Ride Light Lightning, Crash Like Thunder (2017), Scales in the Spectrum of Space (2015), Wayward Fronds (2014), Tender Feet (2013), Concrete Parlay (2012), Passage Upon the Plume (2011), Peril of the Antilles (2011), In the Absence of Light, Darkness Prevails (2010), Servants of Mercy (2010), Sahara Mosaic (2009) After Marks (2008), Spinners (2008), Notes from a Bastard Child (2007)

Production Year

2021

Director

Fern Silva

Country

United States

Dialogue Language

English

Primary Contact

Fern Silva