Carbon and Captivity

A film by Oliver Ressler

4K, 33 min., AT/CH/NO 2020

For decades, nation states and politicians have proven unable to decarbonize the economy. Oil corporations have funded climate change denial for a quarter century while their own scientists plied them with proofs of disaster. At a moment when most people feel the effects of climate change in their own lives, oil corporations have changed their strategies and are now pushing for the generalized use of technological procedures that would allow them to continue extracting oil whilst claiming to be sustainable.

“Carbon and Captivity”, still

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is presented as technofix to prevent catastrophic global warming. The idea is to extract carbon dioxide in the refinery process and to transport and store it in sub-seabed formations. But CCS remains a relatively immature technology: investigations in 2013 showed cracks in North Sea seabed rocks where carbon was stored in field tests. This suggests the likelihood of leakage and the release of carbon into the atmosphere. The technology also requires a huge amount of energy and is therefore far too expensive to be applied on a meaningful scale. The world’s largest facility for testing carbon capture technologies on an industrial scale is the Technology Centre Mongstad (TCM), 67 km north of Bergen in Norway. This film was recorded there. TCM has operated since 2012 and is a joint venture between the Norwegian state, Equinor, Shell and Total.

“Carbon and Captivity”, still

The appeal of CCS for the fossil industries lies in the huge new subsidies it promises. The oil and gas should be left in the ground and a fully funded transition to a post-oil economy begun immediately, but the large-scale introduction of CCS would delay the necessary decarbonization, deepening our dependence on the fossil fuel industry. The film’s title refers to humanity’s “captivity” within the logic of capitalism, which seems to carry extractivism onward to the point of no return.

“Carbon and Captivity” is structured in four chapters, introducing various perspectives through spoken voices. The film interweaves shooting at and around Technology Centre Mongstad with a tour through the site, a poetic-political narration text and a dense sound design.

“Carbon and Captivity”, 33 min., 4K, AT/NO 2020 (excerpt)

Director and producer: Oliver Ressler
Cinematography: Sjur Pollen
Location sound: Sjur Pollen, Oliver Ressler
Editing: Oliver Ressler
Text: Oliver Ressler, Matthew Hyland
Narrator: Tim Goldie
Audio studio recording: John Hannon
Color correction: Rudolf Gottsberger
Sound design and music: Vinzenz Schwab
Title design: Nils Olger

This film was facilitated by Entrée, Bergen, and received support from the Arts Council Norway, Gwärtler Stiftung and Stadt Wien.
Special thanks to: Randi Grov Berger, Alexander Behr, Lisbeth Kovačič, Lenka Kukurova, Ernst Logar, Gregory Sholette, Imre Szeman.

“Carbon and Captivity”, film, 2020 (Installation view: “Stress Rehearsal”, Das Weisse Haus, Vienna; photo: Theresa Wey)
“Carbon and Captivity”, lenticular print on aluminum behind acrylic glass, 80 x 45 cm, 2020
“Carbon and Captivity”, lenticular print on aluminum behind acrylic glass, 80 x 45 cm, 2020
“Carbon and Captivity”, lenticular print on aluminum behind acrylic glass, 80 x 45 cm, 2020