Welcome to Erewhon

In the automated city of Erewhon, inhabitants freed from chores devote themselves to leisurely activities. Purring robots care for the elderly. Cats map out the territory. Vacuum cleaners waken to sensuality. Pigs have their brains enlarged. Erewhonians move about in tubes, live in spas, and experiment with lifestyles in which humans, animals, plants, and machines are connected by a strange kindness.

Episodes from the series Welcome to Erewhon will be released online from December 2018 to June 2019.


Welcome to Erewhon

We are exploring a city that produces itself behind screens: in the advertisements for our technological devices, the videos employees record in call centers, the ones we share when we watch cats playing with vacuum cleaners.

It’s a city where machines are responsible for work, and take care of humans. An engineer’s dream, in which we all participate by watching these videos, and pushing them to the top of platform playlists.

We’re not trying to imagine the future. We are exploring a particular form of our imagination. We are documenting early twenty-first century fantasies of automation. This city exists, but it can’t be located at a specific point on the Earth’s surface, whose geographic coordinates can be clearly identified. It is made up of images circulating on the Internet. Its existence consists of being diffracted within the network.

We are documenting a city that exists today behind our screens. We have not produced any of the images ourselves. We borrow and arrange based on images found on the network. The film’s chapters consist entirely of shots taken from the Internet, of “found footage.”

Yet wandering at random through the warehouses, offices, and streets where automated cars circulate, we soon recognize Erewhon: a city located nowhere (the title is an anagram of this word), discovered by the British explorer Samuel Butler in the travel narrative he published in 1872 – Erewhon. We have carefully reread his novel. There is no doubt that we have stumbled on the same city.

Samuel Butler étudiant
Samuel Butler étudiant

Erewhon has a distinctive feature: machines have a kind of autonomy, they’re subject to evolution that is similar to that of biological species, in which only those individuals best adapted to their environment survive. While they have neither human nor animal consciousness, machines transform themselves in order to adapt to their environment and the living species they come in contact with, especially humans, who they treat with great kindness.

In Samuel Butler’s novel, the inhabitants grow fearful of the evolution of machines and destroy all of them; but in the images we see, machines are now freely pursuing their evolution. This is one of the enigmas that have marked the rediscovery of Erewhon: one hundred and fifty years have gone by, and the city has changed entirely.

How do Erewhonians live today?

Machines are entirely responsible for production. They produce, store and distribute everything that humans consume. They reproduce themselves.

Humans therefore only work toward their own happiness. They are available for games of all sorts. And childhood extends well beyond its usual limits.

Films cités

Tuberides, Acquasplash Franciacorta - Black Hole Waterslide, 2018

Interlake Mecalux - Warehouse solutions, How to build an automated clad-rack warehouse Timelapse Interlake Mecalux, 2016

Wall Street Journal, Automating the Grocery Warehouse, 2016

The British Library, Riding the robots – Inside the British Library, 2015

Automha SpA, Automatic Fabric Rolls Warehouse (The biggest one in the world), 2015

ÜÇGE Depo Raf Sistemleri, UCGE DRS ASRS Box mini-load storage (Highest in Europe!), 2016

Warehouselogistics, Automated Guided Vehicles, Storage and Retrieval Machines, 2XL N.V., Warehouse Automation, 2015

Warehouselogistics, Storage and Retrieval Machine, High-Bay Warehouse, Logistics Software, Vinamilk in Asia, 2014

LogismarketAT, Regalbediengeräte für Paletten, 2014

Witron Logistik, Fully automated picking in the frozen goods warehouse, 2013

Vollautomatisiertes Tiefkühllager mit Shuttles - Effizienz bei -24°C

Vanderlande, Vanderlande Mocroshuttle, 2015

Warehouselogistics, Storage-retrieval machine for bins, cartons and trays – Schäfer Miniload Crane, 2015

SP Tech World,, 2017

Witron Logistik, The Warehouse of the Future – WITRON’s OPM Technology at Meijer in Wisconsin, 2017

Stewart & Tate Construction, Drone Footage of Warehouse Construction, 2016

One2Feed, Feed pusher Double Goats - Automatic feeding, 2016

Racing-46, Storagetek Sun Oracle SL8500 tape library, 2015

Nedap Velos Group housing system for sows

bubbyangel, robot of boobs massage test (patent Original), 2008

Aurrigo Driverless Technology, Aurrigo and JLR's 'Virtual Eyes', 2018

Ikinamo, Sushi Robot and Patisserie Robot _ DigInfo, 2009

Strait Times, Close-up of robot masseur at NovaHealth TCM clinic, 2017

John Chen, Udacity SDC Project 5 project video final, 2017

IPA320, Service robots in nursing homes_ Care-O-bot 3 and CASERO..., 2011

IPA320, Service robots in nursing homes_ Care-O-bot 3 and CASERO..., 2011

Joel Vautour, Home Disco Club, 2012

Kazumichi Moriyama, Riken & Tokai Rubber Industries RIBA-II 1_2…, 2011

Spencer Channel, Real-Time Multi-Modal People Tracking for Mobile Robots in Crowded Environments, 2015

lakshmimanoj, Optical Flow, 2008

Octinion, Strawberry picking robot, 2016

adriss, Dome-Shaped Greenhouse in japan, 2014

feedmixer, NDE 3806 Triple Auger Mixer, 2011

Oppent S.p.A., EVOcart™ - Automated Guided Vehicle for the Healthcare, 2015

AltaTech TR, Warehouse Robotics System, 2015

Kuka - Robots & Automation, Kuka mobile robotics iiwa, 2015

CNet, Doctors, nurses...and robots, 2015

CMC Industries - Ciemmecalabria, Apollo Generation 2 - The Chicken Harvester, 2016

BoumaticRobotics, MR-S1 Milking Robot, 2013

Georgia Farm Monitor, Future Of Agricultural Technology In Development At Georgia Tech, 2015

新闻中国, 看看阿里巴巴这纪录片 就知道马云双十一为什么能卖1207亿了, 2016

TheWeird RemixA, Dropping Camera down the Deepest hole on Earth, 2018

Neil Jones Event Videography and Live Streaming, Grassdale Feedlot aerial view, 2017

Chapitre 2
Samuel Butler