Photo by Pixabay (CC0 1.0)
Scenes for Survival is a growing collection of short digital artworks that have been created in response to Covid-19. Each piece is curated by a team of creatives and artists to reflect the impact the lockdown has had on individuals. Out of a huge number of films, I chose to watch ‘Naeb’dy’ and ‘Future Perfect Tense’.
‘Naeb’dy’ is a 6-minute film that takes place in the future, where things have reached the extreme. It is made up of video diaries detailing one man’s experience of the virus in a year’s time. Each entry is given a date, starting from 1 May 2021 and ending 31 August 2021, and during this time he seems to be one of the last humans standing. This piece presents what is possibly the worst outcome of the pandemic we know today, imagining that things don’t get better. He talks about not being able to buy milk, being bored, and gradually grows more restless and outspoken as the loneliness becomes less bearable. Each clip is divided by shots of a deserted beach and the sound of waves, which highlight the emptiness of this man’s daily life. He talks as if it’s the end of the world. He sings himself happy birthday, stays in a hotel with no one else in it – seemingly living a life we’ve only seen in dystopian fiction or the like. In the final clip, he says he’s ‘not feeling too good’, breathing slowly and heavily. He says ‘see you later’, and that’s the end, leading us to believe he does not survive. This was an enjoyable, yet brief summary of the intangible nightmare many of us have thought of as a distant possibility – the virus being an uncontrollable force that eventually wipes us out. I think this post-apocalyptic short puts our present situation into perspective, and allows us to feel relief that things won’t come to the unlimited possibilities of fiction.
‘Future Perfect Tense’ similarly has just one character. However, we see this character in three tenses: past, present and future. This piece takes place over a video call where, for the most part, she talks to herself in the future. The situation is comical from the beginning, as the call has the setup of a meeting with an agenda, where the protagonist almost formally asks for solutions to her present problems. Despite the funny elements, viewers might empathise with the present character feeling stressed and overthinking everything from her apartment to her relationships. The girl in the present is made up with make-up and earrings, whereas the same girl in the future looks less put together, with a towel on her head, but she’s the one who speaks the truth. After this call ends, the present character gets a call from her past self, younger, but seemingly stronger and able to take things as they come. Seeing herself as a young girl serves as a reminder that she’ll get through this because she is ‘tough’. This short film presents us with a situation many of us think we would find tempting. Although we might think it would help to speak to our future selves and feel reassured that things will get better, we might not hear what we want to hear, and it might not make things any easier. It is suggested that it’s probably best to just tackle what’s in front of you, and know from your past that you can get through hard times.
I enjoyed watching these digital artworks, and I think they are a great platform to raise money for artists and theatre workers who are struggling because of the current crisis.
You can find these digital artworks here: https://www.nationaltheatrescotland.com/events/scenes-for-survival