The Bottled Songs of Lost Children is a series of four video letters investigating desire, power, propaganda, and terrorism in online and social media. The artists compose letters addressed to each other, narrating their encounters with videos originating from the terrorist group, the Islamic State (ISIS). They use a desktop documentary approach to trace and record the investigations playing directly on their computer screens. These “desktop epistolaries,” recorded from the artist-researchers' computers, depict their experiences navigating through an unstable virtual environment of fear and attraction. The epistolaries examine a range of themes connected to ISIS media: specific videos produced by ISIS; spectral figures who appear in the videos; and viewers of the videos with a diverse range of motivations and interests. These video letters function in a variety of forms: a multi-part episodic series, multiple two-channel installations, a four-channel installation, a feature-length film, and audiovisual performance lectures.
The four chapters are:
Bottled Songs 1: The Observer
Bottled Songs 2: Looking Into the Flames
Bottled Songs 3: My Crush Was A Superstar
Bottled Songs 4: The Spokesman
Screening of Bottled Songs 1-4 at the London Open City Documentary Festival, Sep 12th 2020
In Bottled Songs 3: My Crush Was A Superstar, Chloé tracks a French ISIS fighter, Abu Abdallah Guitone, through a trail of messages, videos and postings to uncover his existence in both social media and reality. This leads to an uncomfortable first-person exploration of the gender dynamics behind ISIS recruitment strategies.
In Bottled Songs 4: The Spokesman, Kevin investigates the online traces of a British news reporter who was kidnapped and appeared in several Islamic State propaganda videos.
Bottled Songs 3: My Crush Was A Superstar and Bottled Songs 4: The Spokesman were presented at the following festivals:
2018 Ars Electronica Festival in Linz
2018 Impakt Festival, Utrecht, Netherlands
2018 Bandits-Mages Festival, Bourges, France
2019 Media Art Biennale WRO, Wroclaw, Poland
2019 Videonale.17, Kunstmuseum Bonn
2019 Online Imaginaries Exhibition, Oodi Bibliothek and m-cult, Helsinki
Bottled Songs was conceived with the support of the Harun Farocki Institut, sponsored by the Goethe Institut. It was further developed at m-cult(Helsinki) within the framework of the European Media Artists in Residence Exchange, funded by the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union.
A feature length version of the project is currently being developed with support of the Eurimages Creative Labs Project Award.
Watch an interview with Chloé and Kevin at the Eurimages Lab Project Awards at the 54th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival.
Read an interview with Chloé and Kevin about the project.