The Cybernetic Forest
The Cybernetic Forest is a 10-minute immersive multimedia short film by Rhinelander artist and filmmaker Nate Sheppard. Utilizing projected video, dynamic lighting, surround sound and an original soundtrack, the film that explores the tenuous and complex relationship between technology and nature.
This installation was commissioned for the 2022 Project North Festival in downtown Rhinelander, WI. The film was originally designed to be experienced in the multi-dimensional space it was created for and so some of the immersive technological aspects are not fully reflected in the video version of the film. Most notably, the quoted texts that were originally displayed on the small TVs in the room have been overlayed in the video to aid in legibility.
There is a 360 version of the video that is linked in the description of the main video linked above if you would like to see more aspects of how the room was designed.
Project Type:Experimental, Short
Runtime:12 minutes 39 seconds
Completion Date:September 16, 2022
Nate Sheppard is a multimedia creative with a focus on video and music production. Based in Rhinelander, Wisconsin, Nate was the 2019 recipient of the Northern Arts Council’s Indiviual Artist Grant and has worked on a wide range of projects including directing a feature-length documentary, creating an online arts festival, and producing cinematic poems and dance films, designing escape rooms and multimedia art installations, and art performing music on stage and online.
Ever since I first encountered Disney dark rides as a kid, I became obsessed with figuring out how to capture the magic of multi-sensory storytelling. Over the years I’ve developed a system of transforming an average room into a fully immersive experience with the use of set design, dynamic lighting, large-scale projections, and fully integrated surround sound.
The Cybernetic Forest is my most ambitious multimedia project to date as it incorporates the use of old televisions, an original soundtrack composed in full surround sound, and a room full of fake pine trees to simulate a forest. I thoroughly enjoyed putting this installation together as it often resulted in profound comparisons and contrasts between nature and technology, many of which were purely accidental as I simply threw a bunch of ideas at the wall to see what stuck.
I also included a variety of quotes from various thinkers across the spectrum regarding the effect that modern technology has had on our natural ecosystem. The result is a 13 minute meditation that invites the viewer to ponder the good and bad aspects of technology and draw their own conclusions as to the most meaningful way forward.