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36 min. English.

Welcome to the age of cosmic radiation! In 2021 the sun fell to its lowest point of activity since the birth of science. Its magnetic waves that once shielded Earth dramatically weakened. During this solar lull powerful intergalactic cosmic rays penetrated our atmosphere. Originating eons ago from the explosive remnants of dead stars, these silent, invisible, and highly charged particles were only noticed in their effect – in what they did to our bodies, to the technologies we thought we could rely upon.
Compiling stories from the recent past of interaction with cosmic radiation at ever descending altitudes, The Phantom Menace is a techno driven stroboscopic climate fiction film written in conversation with Amazon warehouse workers. Initially inspired by the plans of the US government to install their fragile predictive supercomputers deep underground to protect them from these upcoming ancient alien invaders, the film uses once costly low-resolution scientific visualizations produced on these supercomputers to speculate on the role of labor in the subterranean near future. Planes crashing, computers malfunctioning, and elections going haywire – these were just the prequel to the future.

Graeme Arnfield, born in 1991 in the UK, is an artist, filmmaker, and curator living in London. He graduated with a Masters in Experimental Cinema at Kingston University. Producing sensory essay films from found, often viscerally embodied networked imagery, his films use methods of investigative storytelling to explore issues of circulation, spectatorship, and history. Research topics have included: the politics of digital networks, the material distribution of ecological matter, and the adaptive capacities of global and local histories. His work has been screened in different film festivals around the world. His short film ASBESTOS (with Sasha Litvintseva, 2016) was part of the 2017 Forum Expanded program.

Production Graeme Arnfield. Production company Graeme Arnfield (London, United Kingdom). Written and directed by Graeme Arnfield.


2014: I'm Sorry I Have to Run (16 min.). 2015: Sitting in Darkness (15 min.). 2016: Colossal Cave (11 min.), Asbestos (with Sasha Litvintseva, 19 min., Forum Expanded 2017). 2017: Shouting at the Ground (17 min.). 2018: Pedigree (21 min.). 2019: The Phantom Menace.

Photo: © Graeme Arnfield

Funded by:

  • Logo Minister of State for Culture and the Media
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