Dan Sickles / United States / 2022

MACHINE is an allegorical sci-fi documentary exploring co-dependency between Homo sapiens and machines. Toggling between archive and a documented domestic experiment, MACHINE explores the future of human autonomy in a digital world.

Modern humans have inherited an appetite for tools to increase efficiency, convenience, speed, and service. MACHINE presents an opportunity for multiple test subjects to live out a techno-fantasy within the domestic ‘container’ of a fully automated house, aptly called HOME. Our commitment to working with subjects experiencing HOME in real-time comes from a desire to hold a mirror up to our audience and ask the question: what do you do when everything is essentially done for you?

This can only be observed when technological gifts become normalized, and their human creators find new ways of operating, behaving, and experiencing daily life. As test subjects arrive in HOME, we experience the wider implications of giving up decision-making power and favoring comfort and convenience over freedom. Automation, AI, attention-grabbing technologies, and robots are here to stay. ‘MACHINE’ seeks, in the most authentic way imaginable, to show us what the future looks like where these technologies are integrated into our lives. This high-concept reality television experience is punctuated by archive-driven sequences to provide a contextual framework, taking the audience through a journey of technology, science, and consumerism.

We will outfit HOME with cameras and microphones, as well as receive the audio/video from various machines already in HOME (computer cameras, motion sensors, utility bots). As the film progresses, the experiences of various subjects will start to weave together. Instead of each subject’s story being shown linearly, scenes will be “stacked.” Our audience will experience the film in a similar way to how a computer might extrapolate data, by comparing data points rather than observing a purely linear progression of events.

‘MACHINE’ asks: if our choices are not merely our own, but the result of a complicated biochemical process in our brains, and machines can read and decipher these processes for us, what will we become? Will our quest to technologically predict human behavior ultimately modify it?

Welcome to HOME.