Slow Action
by Ben Rivers


  • 12 minute extract from Slow Action
  • 2Ben Rivers discusses Slow Action

    Download this video
  • 3Video documentation of Slow Action installed at Picture This, 2010
  • 4Video documentation of Slow Action installed at Picture This, 2010


  • 1Film still from Slow Action
  • 2Film still from Slow Action
  • 3Film still from Slow Action
  • 4Film still from Slow Action
  • 5Film still from Slow Action
  • 6Slow Action installed at Picture This, 2010
  • 7production still from Slow Action

Film still from Slow Action


A new work by artist Ben Rivers. Slow Action considers the possible future Utopias evolving on isolated islands.

Slow Action is filmed at four locations around the world: Gunkanjima - an island off the coast of Nagasaki, Japan - an abandoned city built on a rock that was built to house the families of the colliers who once worked the now depleted mines below; Tuvalu - a country in the middle of the Pacific made up of tiny strips of land just above sea level; Lanzarote - one of the driest climates on earth and a mix of beach resorts, dead volcanoes and curious architecture; and Somerset - a possible future Utopia.

The ideas behind this work stem from Ben Rivers' investigation into the field of island biogeography - the study of how species and climates evolve differently when isolated and surrounded by an unlike ecosystem.

16mm cinemascope footage combines with animation and a soundtrack featuring a spoken text developed in collaboration with science fiction novelist Mark von Schlegell.


Year 2010
Duration 44 minutes
Medium 4 screen video projection
Original format Standard 16mm
Screening format
Aspect ratio 2.65:1 Cinemascope
Audio Yes
Colour / B&W Colour & B&W
Screens 2 versions: 4 screen or single screen


Commissioned by Picture This and Animate Projects. Supported by Bristol City Council, Arts Council England, Elephant Trust, Daiwa Japan Foundation and the British Council.

Screening history:

Matt's Gallery, London, Uk
26 January - 20 March 2011

IFF, Rotterdam, NL
26 January -06 February 2011

Courtisane, Gent, Belgium
21 March - 25 March 2011

Dokumentarfilmwoche, Hamburg, Germany
06 April - 10 April 2011

Cinema du reel, Paris, France
22 July 2011

Indielisboa, Lisbon, Portugal
26 April - 06 May 2011

Documenta, Madrid, Spain
06 - 15 May 2011

Ann Arbor FF, Michigan, USA

Jeonju IFF, Jeonju, Korea
28 April - 6 May 2011

LOOP, Barcelona, Spain
11 May - 21 May 2011

Chicago Underground FF, Chicago, USA
02 June - 09 June 2011
(Best Experimental Film)

Onion city, Chicago, USA
23 June - 26 June 2011

Signal + Noise Media Art Festival, Vancouver, USA
23 June - 27 June 2011

Southbank Centre, London, UK
04 July 2011

Related Items:

Ben Rivers

The films of Ben Rivers are rich, cinematic portraits that explore wilderness environments and self-contained worlds.

Ben Rivers Artists Talk
25 November 2009, 6.30pm - 8.30pm

Join us at the Atelier for an informal evening with the artist Ben Rivers who will discuss the ideas behind his two films Origin of the Species and

'Selected': A Screening
26 May 2011, 6:30pm

A touring programme of artists' moving image screening events curated by shortlisted artists for the 2010 Film London Jarman Award.

Islands in the stream

Writing for Sight & Sound, Lucy Reynolds explores the suspense between fact and fiction in Ben Rivers' Slow Action.

JARMAN AWARD 2010 Touring Programme
25 September 6:30pm

Film London and Picture This present a special screening showcasing work by the four artists shortlisted for this year’s prestigious Jarman

Unravel: 16mm workshop
20 November 2010, 12 - 4.30pm, screening at 5pm

Be part of creating the longest hand painted film in Britain.

Picture This commissions in Signal and Noise Festival

Picture This' commissions by Ben Rivers and Hito Steyerl are included in the 'Signal + Noise' Media Art Festival in Vancouver

'Slow Action' listed in films of 2011

This month's BFI Sight & Sound magazine invites 60 international critics to discuss their top-five films of 2011.