Planetary Portals
2022—
The Planetary Portals project examines the colonial afterlife of gold and diamond mining in South Africa by drawing attention to the social and environmental costs of extractive industries. In collaboration with Kaythryn Yusoff (QMUL), Kerry Holden (QMUL) and Casper Laing Ebbensgaard (UEA), we examine how colonial dreams of Empire have been and still are sustained through 'changes of states' – that is, turning clay into bricks, bricks into speculative real estate, real estate into capital, capital into a speculative mining, and diamonds and gold into racialised dreams of Empire.
From gleaming skyscrapers in the City of London and the Rhodes estate in London's East End to the gold and diamond mines in South Africa, the colonial legacy of the extractive industries create an uneven geography where the vertical city can be mirror massed in networks of shadow architectures that stretch through quarries, shafts and mines. We develop the portal as a speculative archival method for examining geo-social inequities that were necessary in sustaining spatial imaginaries and dreams of Empire through these shadow architectures of vertical expansion in the emergence and maintenance of extractive planetary futures.
The visual and narrative explorations for this project, examine the potential of virtual architectures, terrain and topographies, to bridge epochs of time to reflect on the legacies of extraction. From 19th century origins of the mines, to where these resources end up today, and the impact they have on society, bodies and lives. This artistic project—a muti-channel film work—brings to light the negative space of these histories.
Visualising the ghosts of extraction, telling stories of the invisible from then and now; such as miners, workers, or those displaced by today's gentrification in the largest cities of the world, these short narrative stories, come together as a film work, that straddles both physical and virtual realities, given the virtual is reliant in many natural resources.

Written, directed, designed
and animated by Michael Salu

Selected Projects

Both complete works and experiments, thinking never breaks stride.
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