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Multi-discipline SDC

The Subterranean Imprint Archive explores technopolitics in Southern Africa

The Lo-Def Film Factory

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Southern Africa

The Subterranean Imprint Archive is an ongoing creative research project that examines nuclearity and technopolitics in Southern Africa. It is a co-created multi-media project at the intersection of virtual reality, installation art and live performance. The work mingles the virtual and the physical present, and draws from archival documentation and lived experience, to generate a hybrid space of text, objects and electronic media. The work asks the questions: Is there an alternative way to determine the value of technological objects other than by their ‘use value’? How have Western dominant techno-optimistic narratives obscured and overshadowed alternate narratives of lived experience? And what is the true cost of progress?  

The project is inspired by the ground-breaking Japanese animated film and graphic novel Akira (1988). Restaging this cinematic epic in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, it maps distant shadows cast by nuclear war and unearths the subterranean narratives at the core of extractive technological processes (the uranium used in the Manhattan project A-bomb was mined in the DRC). It also explores South Africa’s complex technopolitical history. The work envisions an alternative present in which notions of progress are radically reimagined to incorporate the violent histories and extractive processes in which our technologies are complicit.  

The Subterranean Imprint Archive is conceptualised and created by South African artist Francois Knoetzer and performer/writer Amy Louise Wilson, and co-developed with Joe-Yves Salankang Sa-Ngol, a researcher, historian and representative of the Congolese Civil Society of South Africa.  


The Lo-Def Film Factory is a participatory community cinema initiative created by  Francois and  Amy. Employing an experimental cinema praxis which emphasizes co-creation and embraces mistake-making, the collective aims to create a space for storytelling through the democratization of the filmmaking process.   

In 2020 the Lo-Def Film Factory began hosting digital storytelling workshops with a group of young foreign nationals from the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zimbabwe connected to the Adonis Musati Project, a Cape-Town based organization which works with refugees, migrants and displaced people from the SADC region. Due to the pandemic, the workshops were adapted for remote participation and became ‘whatsapp workshops’ – enabling mentorship and experimentation to continue during lockdown. The workshops were facilitated by various guest artists and experts, including Joe-Yves Salankang Sa-Ngol who hosted a workshop on Counter-Cartographies. This explored the origins of mapping as a colonial strategy and the possibilities inherent in collaborative, intuitive mapmaking processes that take into account the hidden forces that underlie the workings of space.