Manifest Destiny, 2009

HD video 17'00

Manifest Destiny, tells the story of a scholar’s search for an alien world. He recounts his passion for astronomy, cultivated from a young age: “I was particularly interested in places where there was nothing – a vast amount of nothing,” he says. Nowadays he has dedicated his career to the search and discovery of new life forms in the universe. Yet these efforts to harvest knowledge about the distant unknown perhaps convey deeper feelings: locked in his apartment, he is secretly in search of contact. Although an expert in the classification of the distant unknown, his direct and familiar surroundings remain a true source of mystery.
To develop the character of the protagonist of their film, Persijn Broersen and Margit Lukács conducted interviews with contemporary researchers and scholars. From the perspective of an ambitious scientist, a story unfolds about the fantasies of alien life and the urge to quantify this imaginary world. The barren Atacama desert in Chile is the point of departure for a quest into the unknown. In fact, examining the representation of extraterrestrial space in documentaries and science fiction, it becomes apparent that our own landscapes are present in these imaginary spaces. Manifest Destiny reveals the proximity of reality and fiction that are inevitably found when the explorer is led by a longing for a new reality.
The same forsaken landscapes are the subject matter of a series of silkscreens. In line with the film, these images depict the overwhelming and unfathomable mystery of the desert. By emphasising the contours within the landscapes, the works point to our urge to discover and capture the unknown. [Flora Lysen]


.....In Persijn Broersen's and Margit Lukács' film we hear the narrative of a fictional scientist as he describes his search for life on other planets. His story is accompanied by the artists' vision of far away planets, desert landscapes, long plateaus, and computer graphic interventions of floating rocks--meant to be the form of the silicon-based lifeforms the scientist predicts finding. As the story develops we find that it is less about life on other planets, but a story of obsession and escapism. The camera suddenly pans over the scientist's dismal apartment, in his face a deep sadness. We learn that he has isolated himself in the observatory; while there he dreams of social interaction on his own world, and when out in the world dreams only of the observatory and his far-away planets, the data streams and their implications of other life-bearing planets. The film is titled Manifest Destiny, a trenchant commentary on the urge to discover and conquer at the expense of life at home.... [Natalie Hegert, ARTslant]


Actor/voiceover: John Pope

Camera: Bert Oosterveld, Persijn Broersen

Music/sound effects: Berend Dubbe

3D-animation trailer: Geertjan van Ouwendorp

Manifest Destiny is distributed by Montevideo/NIMK

this work has been made possible by The Dutch Filmfund