SIGHT UNSEEN & Red Room Presents:

NOTE: this screening will start promptly after 8:00pm

Directed by Erin Espelie
70 minutes
Cast: Meredith Monk–voice from “Volcano Songs” Jack Loeffler–voiceover


The myth of a so-called ‘black mirror’, which consists of nature’s rarest elements and is an occult tool to see into the future, exists across cultures and ages. A fascinating, historical connection between science, art, politics and poetry, on which the American researcher and film director Erin Espelie has created a subtle cinematic essay where every chapter is based on an element in the periodic table. It is the search of new knowledge that the various disciplines gather around the mysterious black mirror: already in the 17th century, painters such as Claude Lorrain used a similar instrument in their efforts to reproduce natural scenes as accurately as possible. And the charting of the potential of the elements is a polyhistoric project with both industrial, scientific and alchemical perspectives. ‘The Lanthanide Series’ is a deeply original work, which wittily exploits the freedom of art to suggest hitherto unimagined relations. For knowledge is power, and the myth of unlimited access to all the world’s knowledge still exists: the entire film is shot as a reflection of the screen of a defunct tablet computer – the black mirror of our times.


ERIN ESPELIE is a filmmaker, writer, editor, and university lecturer, based in the Colorado Rockies, Durham, North Carolina, and New York City.

As a filmmaker, Espelie works with a range of media, from Super 8 film to high-definition digital video, to make poetic, nonfiction cinema about issues in environmental history, current scientific research, and questions of epistemology.

Her films have shown at the New York Film Festival, the British Film Institute, the Natural History Museum of London, Whitechapel Gallery (London), Skolska 28 (Prague), Videology (Brooklyn), Pterodactyl Gallery (Philadelphia), Crossroads (San Francisco), the Rotterdam International Film Festival, the Edinburgh International Film Festival, the Singapore International Film Festival, The Full Frame Documentary Festival, and more.

Most of her professional career in print has been on the staff of Natural History magazine, where she serves as Editor In Chief and a columnist. Since 2002 her monthly column, “The Natural Explanation,” has highlighted high-caliber wildlife photographers and human influences on the environment. She also freelances for a variety of publications. A scientist by training, Espelie holds a degree in molecular biology and genetics from Cornell University. She has worked in bacteriology and virology laboratories at the University of Georgia, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Cornell.

In 2010 Espelie was awarded a Ted Scripps Visiting Faculty Fellowship in the School of Environmental Journalism at the University of Colorado Boulder and spent the year researching the human microbiome and completing a film about the chytrid fungus.

She has taught at Duke University for the Center for Documentary Studies, the Nicholas School of the Environment, the Department of Evolutionary Anthropology, and the Program in the Arts of the Moving Image, and is currently an assistant professor in Film Studies and Critical Media Practices at the University of Colorado Boulder.

Event location:

425 E 31st Street, Baltimore MD 21218 USA

The Red Room is a volunteer-run space in Baltimore dedicated to mind-expanding experimental culture, headquartered at Normals Books and Records.