PRINT March 2006


I HAVE TO ADMIT that the old-fashioned humanist in me was slightly shocked to realize that the “soft materials” referred to in the title of Daria Martin’s 2004 film are, in fact, people. Sure, any film is a collaboration between at least one human being and one machine, a filmmaker and a camera. But Martin’s title suggests that it’s really the machine’s point of view that dominates. Whereas most films (and not only conventional narrative features) encourage some form of identification whereby viewers can discern a human viewpoint behind the relation of the camera to its subjects—the camera becomes the eyes of the viewer for the length of the film—this one seems to look at its human protagonists with the same sort of distant yet eroticized curiosity they have for the eccentric machines that are their costars. Filmed in the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at the University of Zurich, Soft

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