Bregtje van der Haak / NL, 2018 / 82 min.
The Internet surrounds us more and more, the ultimate aim being to reach everyone, everywhere, all the time. Some people, however, have severe reactions to the radiation emitted by wireless networks and can feel the invisible pulses in their bodies, as this documentary premiering tonight makes clear. Are they the canaries in the coal mine?
At the end of the 1980s, Swedish telecommunications engineer Per Segerbäck was one of the pioneers of the Ericsson smartphone. It was an age of optimism, when brilliant engineers with great expectations of the digital future created invention after invention. Per, however, has been living in the woods for eighteen years now, because the electromagnetic radiation of the new devices made him physically ill. Nowadays he can only be filmed with an old-school, hand-operated Bolex camera, as his body cannot cope with the radiation from a digital camera. Asaka in Japan and Anouk in the Netherlands are also affected by the electromagnetic radiation fields emanated by an invisible web that surrounds us more and more.
Internet giants (Facebook/Google) and mobile phone providers aim to achieve worldwide network coverage, so that we can be connected to the Internet all the time wherever we are. Some people, however, are hypersensitive to the electromagnetic radiation of the web. They physically sense the pulses of Wi-Fi routers, smartphones and telecom towers and have to run from the wireless world. Is there still anywhere to go on this planet, when everything and everybody is set to become connected through wireless networks? Are they perhaps the canaries in the coal mine, alerting us to the invisible networks around us?
a radiant new future
In Ubiquity filmmaker Bregtje van der Haak (VPRO”s “future affairs” programme Tegenlicht) portrays the life of three refugees from the wireless world. The documentary offers an alternative perspective to the alluring images in commercials for smartphones and smart gadgets. How does the world look as seen through the eyes of these electrosensitives? How do these invisible pulses sound in their ears? Is there anywhere they can go now that the world wide web of cell towers is closing in on us? And are they perhaps our sensors in this radiant new future? The documentary Ubiquity makes electromagnetic radiation painfully audible and palpable.
Bregtje van der Haak