Fordland is an episodic artwork by Danielle Dean, released between June and September 2019.
Fordland takes as its starting point a collection of Ford Motor Company advertisements archived in Detroit where the company has long been based. The advertisements, beginning from the 1920s, position the latest Ford cars against the backdrop of various American landscapes. When viewed collectively these advertisements reveal how an instrumentalised landscape has been crucial in supporting consumer culture and promoting the aspirational ‘American Dream’.
Danielle Dean has deconstructed and reproduced the original source materials in order to remove the car and place the viewer in the passenger seat. However, rather than moving through the scenes of beauty and abundance as depicted in the original adverts, the artist presents the audience with an alternative perspective that highlights the human labour and environmental cost that enables a capitalist enterprise.
The first episode in the series features elements from two locations, The Service Buildingand Fordlandia, both designed by Ford’s architect, Albert Kahn. The Service Building housed the Ford Motor Company's Detroit branch operations, while Fordlandia was 10,000 square kilometres of Brazilian Amazon rainforest flattened for the production of rubber required for car tires.
In Dean’s animation, elements of these two locations appear in front of a rolling backdrop of landscapes created by Ford for advertisements between 1931 and 1955. The landscapes transform and blend into each other as the piece unfolds, only interrupted by a seemingly decaying forest of columns. The Amazonian landscape was eventually key to the destruction of the Fordlandia settlement. The sheer environmental pressure, particularly from insect infestations, as well as regular worker strikes, destroyed the rubber production line.
Dean’s animation fuses together architectural features of The Service Building and Fordlandia, depicting the marble columns of the building in Detroit weeping rubber sap. Accompanied by the sounds of insects indigenous to Fordlandia, The Service Building is now itself subject to the modes of production and extraction utilised by the automobile industry.
By drawing on the technique of original hand-painted adverts, the artist uses the advertising industry’s own method of visual communications to expose the exploitation of the landscape firstly to create cars, and secondly to sell them.
Central to Dean’s formal investigation is the use of a technique called multi-plane animation effect, whereby the different elements of a perspective image are separated into successive layers, crafting an illusion of three-dimensionality, immersion, and perspectival depth or parallax. This technique, extensively mechanized by Walt Disney in the 1930s by re-purposing automobile parts into a multi-plane camera, was a crucial aspect of the industrialization of advertising and the intensification of the technical division of labour in the production of capitalist imaginaries. As Dean explains, “Disney effectively turned the multi-plane camera into a Fordist assembly line for the production of subjectivity”.
From June to September 2019, new episodes will be added to the Fordland series taking the audience through decades of Ford advertising and the imagined landscapes of its advertising executives.
Animation: Amie Nowlan and Gary Dumbill
Illustrations: Marceline Mason and Tida Whitney Lek
Sound: Cruce Grammatico and Dominic Coppla
You have been travelling for four sunrises. Your flask is nearly empty and there are just scraps of dried fruit left in your pack. Your feet drag over ruptured chunks of tarmac and uneven paving slabs, through which tough and resourceful plants push their heads. Deserted grey buildings are your companions, their broken glass eyes lifeless under the midday sun. Your head hangs low with tiredness and heat.
You stop. Through a buckled gate you see the unusual sight of a flickering electric sign hanging from a post in the middle of a long stone courtyard. You clamber through the twisted metal turnstile to investigate. The sign points to an open doorway, through which you see a host of electric lights blinking in a pale rainbow of colour. You enter. The room is bare apart from the lights and a descending spiral staircase. Two doors lead off to the left and right of the room but they are locked shut. Through the small glass windows in their surface you can see only darkness beyond. The room is cool, a welcome respite from the searing weather outside. You decide to follow the stairs downwards. Wide stone steps cause your footsteps to echo upward. You hold the cool metal banister, its black turned surface guiding your descent. Debris litters the less trodden parts of the steps, scraps of fabric and browned paper nesting amongst piles of dust that have gathered in corners where the stone meets the flaking painted walls. You soon find yourself on a narrow landing. Doors to your left and right have been sealed up with scraps of wooden board. In front of you is a large metal door, onto which are scratched the letters ‘H R’. You gently push the door. It swings violently inward at your touch, causing you stumble through. The door closes again before you are able to regain your balance. You spin round and try it but it will not open. There is no visible lock or handle and the door is far too thick and sturdy to break open. You sigh with resignation. It is time to explore your new surroundings.
You are stood in a dimly lit reception area. The walls are black and covered in chalk glyphs. There is a set of double doors ahead of you. To your left is a market stall, bedecked with hundreds of hand-painted wooden necklaces. Each necklace features a symbol consisting of two circles, one on top of the other. The upper circle features a skull-like robotic face, the lower a pair of staring eyes. On top of the stall sits a small, brightly-coloured robot, surrounded by a cluster of electric candles. You step forward to look more closely at the robot.
“Welcome to Happy Redoubt, friend!” The robot turns to look directly at you. Lights flicker across its face as it speaks. “Please rest a while here in the marketplace. You can do jobs and earn currency. You can spend the currency on things you like. You can rest and do jobs. Please enter the market place. Be productive. Earn currency. We are watching. Welcome friend.” The robot gestures towards the doors ahead of you, its arms and head twitching constantly as it does so.
“Have been here before? You seem familiar. Each visit is different. The options are endless. Welcome.”
Restless traveller seeking adventure, knowledge, and happiness.
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3"11' high. Loves to tinker and fix. Was a watchmaker in a grand city. Once tried to fix a nobleís large clock and found it too complex and too unfamiliar a design to repair properly. Widely scorned for 'letting the gnome folk name down'. Still scraping a living.
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The space in which we all exist, on the ground, in the sky, on the internet. We will give you a place to live as long as you know how to inflate us and have a place to put us ñ bring pegs, you wouldnít want us to float away.
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£1 family from Stoke-on-Trent - we like gardening, growing salads and visiting the green spaces in cities. There are three of us, two with strong fringes and one with a beard. We live next door to a large brownfield and an oil refinery. We are keen bird watchers.
Torridon Croft was born into a life of privilege and quickly developed an insatiable appetite for destruction. It is said that great power demands great responsibility ñ not for young Torridon. Last rumoured to be peddling the Dagger of Xian around Kensington's least reputable antiques dealers. The world turns on Torridon's wretched axis.
Follow nine players as they navigate their way through Happy Redoubt, a post disaster marketplace run by the remnants of the former technological age. They will be entering their moves in real time and will receive bespoke responses from Juneau Projects. Their game will form a unique story as they navigate the marketplace, using arts and crafts skills to survive in a new economy of making and creativity.
Three players will begin, followed by subsequent rounds of three players at a time, each making their own journey. The game will run from 19th May to 22nd July.