A closer look at Under the Dome's films

13 Sep 2019
13 Sep 2019


Below is a closer look at some of the films being showcased at the CCA's Under the Dome experimental film festival which opens on the 15th of November at Iziko's planetarium. Free tickets will be made available through our mailing list so sign up!

The project is run by the Centre for Curating the Archive in collaboration with Iziko Museums of South Africa. It is convened by Martin Wilson and Lyndall Cain.



Inside Out is an abstract journey exploring the relationship between the outside world and the inner world of the mind. We furnish our minds with the rich topography of what we see outside ourselves – we speak of being elated or depressed, as though we are the terrain itself. We construct and inhabit our own mindscapes: intricate mental sites of the imagination that appeal to our common intuitions and give form to our thoughts. 

But to what extent do our inner worlds affect the external world? The production seeks to dismantle the convenient assumption that the influence of the external world on us is unilateral. As the narrative unfolds, the boundary between outside and inside becomes less and less distinct, until eventually they coalesce. Through immersive projection of a constructed world, the experience potentiates the mind’s propensity for projection of the psyche to expose the interdependence of the two realms. 

The project steps beyond the plane of two-dimensional, observational cinema, and into the art of spatial immersion, where the viewer is the subject. Narrative devices are restricted to form, light, texture, colour, movement, and sound. Changes in the scenery engender tension, release, and resolution. The landscape itself represents the narrative arc through which the subject travels, evoking the visceral, uncanny, and sublime. 

Created by Adam Oosthuizen, Ross Eyre, Thom Dreyer and Ché Coelho, the content is produced using a combination of computer-generated graphics, data from the HiRise camera orbiting Mars, and filmed footage. 


WRPD attempts at exaggerating the distorted visual effects of dome projection. This dance film uses movement to trace distortions of the physical form, placed against a surreal landscape. It is a visual exploration of reflection, refraction, duplication and deflection. 

The concept plays with perceptions of ‘from below looking up’ versus ‘ from above looking down’, while the dancer’s movements are designed to reflect this through duplication. By representing the human body through these multiplying frames, we assemble a strange, kaleidoscopic collage of the physical form. The resulting layers form a depiction of the human form as fragmented, architectural, juxtaposed… alien to its natural landscape. 

Created by Louise Coetzer and Oscar O'Ryan.



LIDAR, or Light (Imaging), Detection, and Ranging is a technology that surveys three-dimensional objects and spaces by scanning them with a rotating laser beam, and recording the return times and reflectance values as sets of digital values. These are typically employed to create  accurate 3D representations of what has been scanned.

As its acronymic predecessors, RADAR and SONAR, LIDAR recreates a quasi-realistic impression of its subject, which often emanates a sense of uncanny lifelessness –  a sense that is enhanced and exacerbated when the viewer negotiates the recreated 3D image from positions not intended in the recording process.

This sense of navigating beyond surface and the visible is in seeming contrast with the knowledge that LIDAR engages purely with surface.  "Reflectance" negotiates this dark, broken-up environment of recorded values –  on the one hand by juxtaposing surface with an always inferred interior, and on the other by explicating temporal artefacts as three-dimensional spatial coordinates, questioning both the fabric of a present, and what we can know.

Yet, persistent through this action of re-surfacing and re-presenting, moves the ghostly eye of knowing and recognising. The abstract space, opening up, becomes little more than a gridwork for what the viewer already knows they will see. What is haunting is not the space itself or its layering over the darkened surface of the dome, but the vaguely threatening Žižekian jouissance of what’s Other, the persistent process of historicising that the viewer’s mind, as much as the traversing beam of light, is locked into.

Created by Jason Stapleton and Jacques van Zyl.


This is the first in a future series of 360 degree video documentaries looking at established artists and their studios. Artists’ studio spaces have always been a source of intrigue for art collectors, art patrons and gallery visitors — seen as spaces of creativity wherein artists generate their artwork: spaces full of ideas, potential and passionate energy. This video showcases the studios of contemporary South African artists Stephen Inggs and Penny Siopis.

Created by Melvin Pather and Moeneeb Dalwai.

Photo credit: Penny Siopis by Mario Todeschini.





Animortis is a journey into the realm of death.

In the expanding, contracting cosmic void, animal, bird and insect spirit-automata attempt to reclaim their mobility.

Guardian consciousness from the Animalia kingdom keep a watchful eye out.

This immersive film was created with found insect and roadkill corpses.

It speaks to our collective fate and current ecological crisis.

The abyss IS staring back at us.

Created by Kali van der Merwe and Simon Dunckley





This documentary was first proposed by Pippa Skotnes who imagined a story based on the thousands of buttons found in an excavation by Elizabeth Jordan of a site on Table Mountain where slaves had once washed clothes. Following initial discussions with Susan-Glanville-Zini, Theo Ferreira and Ofentse Letebele, the documentary Fragments of an Untold Histor, was realised in a dramatic poem written and narrated by Tracey “Khadija” Heeger and created by Cliff Bestall, Martin Wilson and Karen Ijumba, with sound by Warrick Swinney. It inspired the conception of the Under the Dome Festival, opening up new possibilities for creating local content for the Iziko planetarium.








DIANE TSA BORWA (Southern Proverbs)

Diane Tsa Borwa (Southern Proverbs) is a collaborative experimental film by multimedia artist Ofentse Letebele (King Debs) and filmmaker Chris Grava. The collaboration was born out of the creators' shared interests in technology, storytelling, and cultural expression.

Grava works behind the lens, documenting the pensive movements of King Debs as he paints his cryptic calligraphy in an abandoned warehouse in an undisclosed Cape Town location. 

King Debs’ self-developed calligraphy expresses traditional proverbs from various Bantu and Nguni languages of South Africa. By painting traditionally oral proverbs, King Debs archives and expresses indigenous knowledge that may otherwise be lost or forgotten. In doing so, he provides his own means to bring tradition into the modern era.  By documenting this with 360 degree cameras and screening the content in immersive viewing spaces, the creators combine tradition and cutting-edge technology to (re)present indigenous knowledge in new ways.


Frequencies of a Birthmark is a non-linear narrative film concerned with notions of diaspora and exile through the use of visual archives and found sound video from 1940 onwards. The film interrogates various temporalities of collecting and storing data which is seen as contentious and nebulous material. It attempts to refigure para-narrative forms of re-enacting history within a post-colonial gaze, through the exploration of a fictional character Godide who was the son of Ngungunyane in Gaza, now modern Mozambique. After Ngungunyane was overthrown by Portuguese troops, Godide accompanied his father into exile. The film explores Godide’s return to the land of his birth place.
Created by Phumulani Ntuli.


This documentary film explores the history of the board game, Dumm, and, in so doing, tells the a story of slavery and forced removals in Cape Town. It offers an opportunity to understand how cultural practices served to retain connections in communities under siege as a result of apartheid laws. The game is not only of historical significance. It draws attention to rethinking history and the resilience and tenacity of the racially oppressed. Directed by Professor Siona O'Connell, produced by Jade Nair and edited by Martin Wilson.





For enquiries please email lyndall.cain@uct.ac.za