The Lanthanide Series

The Lanthanide Series

  • Wed Apr 20
The Lanthanide Series

with director Erin Espelie ’01 in person

Erin Espelie

An experimental documentary, The Lanthanide Series examines the materiality of the digital world, combining approaches of non-fiction narrative essay, abstract visual and sound exploration, and the history of black mirrors. Each chapter of the film is based on one of the fifteen metallic chemical elements of the periodic table, referred to as the rare-earth metals or the Lanthanide series. Exploring the historical connection between science, art, politics and poetry, the film is a deeply original work, which wittily exploits the freedom of art to suggest hitherto unimagined relations. Most of the film was shot in reflection of a defunct iPad—the black mirror of our times— providing unusual optical illusions, including in-camera split screens and the doubling of images. The piece is a meditation on how technology has been shaping the way we see the world, how we record the present and replay the past. It is also a consideration of the unusual visual and aural properties of rare earth elements and the political and environmental costs of their mining. With voiceover text by WB Yeats, Rebecca Solnit, Virginia Woolf, and others.

Erin Espelie '01 has a degree in molecular and cell biology from Cornell University and an MFA in experimental and documentary arts from Duke University. Her films have shown at the New York Film Festival, the British Film Institute, the Natural History Museum of London, and the Rotterdam and Edinburgh International Film Festivals among others. She holds a joint appointment at the University of Colorado Boulder in the Film Studies Program & the Department of Critical Media Practices.

This program is made possible in part with public funds from NYSCA's Electronic Media & Film Presentation Funds grant program, administered by the ARTS Council of the Southern Finger Lakes.


DCP color
1 hour 10 minutes
release year/country
2014 USA/France/UK