How to Build a Mountain

Sabrina Labis &

This short film transports the viewer to an idyllic mountain landscape. With the words »I’m going to show you how to create…«, the sound from a Youtube tutorial kicks in, which Sabrina Labis sets to a series of highly disparate visual material. From the initially apparently unrelated images, a symbiosis gradually emerges, creating connections which transcend the individual contents.

Mountains are symbolic of nature’s power. The contrast between natural mountains and the digital images generated by the 3D software Unity calls into question our ideas of nature and technology. It has become normal for us to create or manipulate images of mountains digitally. By integrating recorded images of mining tools and equipment, Labis succeeds in expanding the idea of human manipulation to incorporate our understanding of nature. Human beings dig tunnels, they restructure mountains with explosives and plan the construction of whole mountains to alter the weather.

In the video, stone and earth, symbols of nature, meet with man-made artifacts, raising the question of the boundary between the natural and the artificial, and the relation of human beings to both. Human beings play a marginal role in Labis’ film: we see shots of hands at work and a laborer’s back; another person’s hands appear immersed in bright light. Hands seem here to symbolize the activity of forging and creating; in other sequences, they resemble the hands of a god, capable of detonating an entire mountain with a single click. The place of human beings within a world which is at once natural and artificial is gradually established as the essential theme of the work. How do human beings relate to nature’s creations, now that they are themselves creators? (Theresa Heußen)

About the video

Title How to Build a Mountain
Year 2015
Videonale VIDEONALE.16
Length 00:09:08
Format 16:9
Country Germany,
Language English
Courtesy the artist
Specifications color, sound, single-channel video installation

About the artist

Sabrina Labis
  • 1990 in Zürich, SUI.
    Studied at Hochschule Luzern Design und Kunst, SUI, and at Universität der Künste Berlin, GER