Artist, jewelry maker, costume designer, photographer, filmmaker, universe explorer.
Marina Fini is an LA based visionary who has created a truly magical world all her own. Last year I finally got to visit the West coast and link up with the lovely lady alien herself. Besides being one of my favorite people to play dress up with, enjoying her work has been a gift that has added a fresh magic to my life. One of her more recent films, 'Tree Temple' took my breath away and transported me to a cool new place that I didn't know existed. This film addresses 21st century culture in a colorful, progressive, spiritual, and somewhat disturbingly honest way. 'Tree Temple' heightens the senses and opens up our awareness of modern times and the way that we are living within and without nature. Below is the film and a special interview conducted by Emma Hale delving deeper into the messages being portrayed in this visually stimulating work of art!
I could write a thesis on this film. Every detail is infused with such depth and complexity that after watching it through twice I still feel there’s a lot more to absorb from it. Thank you Marina for taking the time to expand on your insights.
To begin with the fundamentals, the deepest message I took from Tree Temple was the importance of balance, which arises from motion between opposite extremes. I was struck by intertwining dichotomies of dark and light, harmony and chaos, destruction and expansion, imprisonment and freedom, and underpinning all, the conflict between nature and technology. Was it your intention to illuminate this concept of balance in the midst of extremes?
With a lot of my work I really like to use the ideals of the yin yang, because there is always on opposite, an extreme version of something else that lives inside itself to maintain balance. Without one or the other, neither would cease to exist. So when I was coming up with the story line for Tree Temple, I really wanted to show a type of worshipping relationship that we have towards computers that ties in with the spiritual side to humans, while showcasing it in a natural opposing environment. The visual of rainbows and yin yangs are very prominent in the story and play symbolic principles in the film. I am continuously inspired by contrast both physically and metaphorically, so having costumes and props that exhibit my vision clearly is very important to me, it’s more than just a costume it’s showing the characters’ internal structure and how they think. I really enjoy taking my viewer on a roller coaster of emotions, so they feel everything at once in a way; I want my audience to relate to what I’m showing them. One moment could be somewhat comical yet have such dark undertones, just like real life. I find it really fascinating how we are progressively turning into people that heavily rely on technology to survive; as if we can’t even imagine what it was like before we had touch screen phones attached to our bodies at all times, always connected, ready to receive and be contacted.
Metaphorically speaking, the story depicts the relationship between computer and human interaction....the manipulation and control that specifically apple has obtained and how computers have trapped mankind with technological addiction. The film entails performers creating an altar space around three computers, dancing in a trance like state, and realizing they control the entirety of apple’s functionality for any computer that exists in our spectrum of reality. I executed this concept using 8 performers representing each color of the rainbow and chakra, in correlation to the rainbow wheel that shows up on Macintosh computers. In order to show the rainbow stream of colors, the performers each have a 5 ft long wig, making this their costume. They also have their entire body painted in white to depict their purity and blank essence of being.
Looking at another set of polarities more closely, that of dark and light, I’m curious to learn more of the significance of the black-haired girl. She seems lost and vulnerable at first, later more aggressive and chaotic. Does the colour of her hair reflect a disconnection from the full spectrum of colour, an absence of spiritual alignment? What is the dynamic between her and the other chakra beings?
A wormhole exists in every moment we blink. Tree Temple exists in a parallel universe but controls the reality that we all know so well. The technological manipulation of instant gratification that has developed over the past 20 years has caused an inherent addiction for anyone with a computer or smart phone. The cult of hippies is trapped at Tree Temple and they perpetuate our usage by maintaining the processing of any apple computer that exists. They are represented as the rainbow wheel that appears when our computers load content, the internal core of Apple’s ability to stay afloat. They are managed by two IT men, who wear patches of the rainbow spiral on their white collar button ups. They ensure that the looping of worship continues and that they all stay inside for eternity of the companies’ existence. The black wigged character represents the darkness that lies in us all and how going into such deep seeded places makes us realize essential internal truth, even if it puts us through emotional turmoil. Her color is separated because it is not aligned in the rainbow or chakra system, but rather a contrast to the whole equation; causing them to see her as an opposition to their controlled reality. She represents the darkness inside them all, the truth that they resist, the nature they once were a part of. This alias of a being creates self realization of mind control to the rest of the group, helping them become aware of their actual purpose and to eventually root back to nature and to ultimately self destruct.
More people are waking up to the idea that the world needs a resurgence of female power. Does your choice of male and female casting in the film speak to the current energy imbalance?
It’s funny, I actually tried to blur the lines of male and females by having them almost nude, with the same length hair, so they were more of a coexisting androgynous unit. It was supposed to be an equal set of male and female characters that were being affected the same way, so I wasn’t trying to have too much say on this subject even though that subject is very important to me. That being said, I am very passionate about equal rights and feminism is a huge part of my life that I continually examine and perpetuate in my other work.
The divinity of many humans is in a state of captivity, imposed in part by the intense expansion of technology. Your film seems to portray technology as a cage, with the chakra beings like pacing locked up animals; yet ultimately liberation comes from their own power, the power that lies within us all. Is it your belief that this is how society may free itself? How much do you think such captivity is self-imposed?
I think saying that it is self imposed is part of it, but in my eyes I see the technological captivity as a global disease that has been engraved in us to be addicted to, purposely. Just as we need food, we need information to be fed to us constantly. It feeds us information that we wouldn't know otherwise very quickly and I think we truly enjoy having an answer to a question instantaneously, as if we are robots. It really builds our egos up, having instagram, facebook and other hosts to our online personas to maintain this sort of gradual ego boost of self importance. I highly believe that humanity is progressively turning into cyborgs every day from the uprise of computer to DNA connectivity, I don’t doubt that most people sometime in the near future will have new forms of technology in their blood stream or implanted to “enhance” themselves. When you begin to think of yourself as an infinite soul, the physical world doesn't seem to matter and your depreciation of the objects that are surrounding you become unimportant. I am a huge proprietor of naturalism and rooting back to organic ways of existing, especially after living in a forest environment for 4 years, it really changed my perspective of how to live happy without certain material desires. The world is hypnotized to believe their well being is based off of their surroundings, specifically technology and the instant gratification that follows. I begin to wonder where my life would have been without this constructive hierarchy of a technological dictatorship that I have been born into. But even as I sit here typing this, I am just the same as everyone else, an addict to computer life. Between the attention deficit disorder that rules everyone around me, and the constant need for acceptance on the internet through alter personas, I realized that I am too, a product of this. I began to break down the core relationship of the company, Apple, and the public, about a year ago. I worked next to an Apple store in San Jose, CA for 8 months, and truly began to witness the power this company had globally and how much money they make by producing the next best thing. The ironic thing is I have been a mac user since I was 4 and still to this day. So self analyzation and criticism is something I continuously explore, since I am a product of my surroundings… I like to apply my theories and commentary of my own life as visual symbolisms through my films. I am my own worst critic.
Watching the spinning apple colour wheel flashing up on screen put me in mind of cycles. The swirling spectrum symbolising the insular circumference of technological circles, while simultaneously drawing attention to the grand cycles intrinsic in nature and celebrated in rituals throughout the ages. The cycle of life, death and rebirth also seems especially present in Tree Temple. Do you think our alignment with natural cycles has in some way been replaced by plugging into virtual ones?
I intentionally related the Apple rainbow spiral to the chakra system to show this odd symbiosis that technology has with spirituality. The sacred symbolism of cycles and infinite spiralling come into play when the rainbow wheel shows up on our computer screens, which has this almost fatal momentum when it appears. I wanted to show how a rainbow can be detrimental and almost sadistic in its nature and how everything, even the most colorful objects, have a dark side. I am so fascinated with taking the purity of rainbows and twisting them to be this horrific subject. The natural cycles of life have gradually become virtual due to our day to day reliance, causing us to practically worship our machines.
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