“Scenes of Extraction” creates an archival constellation with the still and moving images of British Petroleum Archives, documenting the expansive colonial network behind the British geophysical expeditions that spanned across Iran, but also reached other British oil operations in South East Asia. The film focuses on the parallel production of geological and ethnographic surveys, both through amateur geological footage and official technical film surveys produced by BP. It weaves through decades of archival documents to parse out the visual history of the “Reflection Seismography” method for oil exploration which was heavily tested across the Iranian oil belt despite its destructive and probable nature. Situated at the nexus between science and technology studies and media archaeology, the film traces the technical legacy of these geophysical methods that are still used in deep-sea mining and are the backbone of the global energy complex. By blending the archival and speculative modes of representing the geological past, “Scenes of Extraction” reveals the gaps and discrepancies between the archival and lived histories of extraction and the ecological ruination of its aftermath.
Sanaz Sohrabi / Vox, Center for Contemporary Images
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