Alice Wang

Pyramids and Parabolas I
April 7, 2020

What if geometry were an extraterrestrial technology that humans accidentally discovered long ago to communicate with other worlds? What do Mesoamerican pyramids have in common with radio telescopes? Besides electromagnetic transmissions from outer space, fire balls also occasionally penetrate the Earth’s atmosphere — as one did over the morning skies of Russia on February 15, 2013 that plunged into the city of Chelyabinsk. Weaving together scenes from the movie Contact with 16mm footage shot at the Very Large Array — the radio astronomy observatory in New Mexico, as well as three Mayan pyramids across the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico—Calakmul, Uxmal, and Cobá, Pyramids and Parabolas I is the first of a multi-episodic film series that imagines how geometric forms can function as portals into parallel dimensions. The parabolic shape of modern day radio telescopes—made to listen to signals emitted by celestial objects and events, and similarly the pyramidal shapes of ancient Mayan monoliths—where priests communed with forces beyond the human realm, can both be understood as ways of transiting into alternate universes. As the disembodied voice at the end of the first episode asks: “Is any body out there?”