Room with a Coconut View
An automatic and computerised voice, Kanya, receives and guides a tourist, Alex, in a Thailand resort in Bangsaen. It is a way of exploring the specificity of the location through a journey that is immediately much more than a touristic survey. Within a paradigmatic temple for modern vacations, we discover the history and the politics that hide behind the kitsch patina of standardised holidays. A story of corruption and unlawfulness is interestingly intertwined with the story of Thai cinema, and Seanjaroen uses this to introduce an interrogation on the function of film representation.
Alex is actually an automatic and computerised voice himself, and he starts to explore the place alone, going beyond Kanya’s limits, beyond Kanya’s algorithm. The discourse of Room with a Coconut View is no longer a linear one: Seanjaroen’s socio-political criticism intensifies and the animated images of the film switch from the status of a filmic collage to a more complex form of aesthetic self-reflection, where the postcard-like images of tourism are linked to the images that are programmed and digitally elaborated.
With a second dramaturgic shift that relies upon the concepts of disturbance and breakdown – of the image, of the voice, of the story – the socio-political criticism evolves into an existential reflection. The liberating force of the digital connections overcomes the regressive power of digital programming, introducing the motive of the sub-conscious and thus the consciousness of the machine. After having shown the aesthetic panorama of a fully digitised anthropology, Seanjaroen finally conducts a sort of re-humanisation of said digitised anthropology by way of the machine itself.
Room with a Coconut View is a rich, complex, formally interesting essay where the documentary aspect is perfectly combined with a science-fictional reflection on the destiny of our vision and experience through the moving images, both within and beyond the machine.
Text: Giuseppe Di Salvatore
First published: August 22, 2018