Susannah Gent

Influence of Mars


Output: Digital or Visual Media

The research enquiry explores the human, or mammalian tendency to build territories, to think in terms of dichotomies of self and other, friend and enemy. This is explored through a ten year old boy’s fascination with weapons, and raises questions about the content of computer games as well as traditional toys.

The principal research output is a short film entitled Influence of Mars that aims to show aspects of instinctual human behaviour by utilising a spontaneous approach to documentary filmmaking combined with artistic interventions and digital effects. The narrative spotlights a boy as he describes his arsenal of weapons against a changing green screen background.

The film questions innate psychological tendencies alongside socially manufactured human behaviour. These issues are explored further through academic texts that set the film in the context of an interdisciplinary investigation combining neuropsychoanalysis and creative practice research.

The filmmaking method employs leading questions, however the boy’s freedom to express his enthusiasm for weaponry is afforded by a spontaneous approach to production allowing the subject to perform in a playful and an open ended on-set environment.

The filming and post-production combines documentary and experimental traditions to illustrates the child’s fantasy by using green screen technology. This builds ambiguity that highlights the fluid quality of psychological space and its relation to cinematic space.

That green-screen technology was developed for use in the mainstream media and the fantasy genre is implicit in this film. The film has been internationally disseminated through television broadcast (Arte French / German channel), festival screenings (Hamburg, Oberhausen, Kassel, Warsaw), youth educational programs (Oberhausen, Paris), a creative app (Catalyst Festival of Creativity), and gallery exhibition (Sheffield Institute of Art). The film and wider research context have been further explored in conference contributions in Falmouth and Helsinki.

Research Output

Influence of Mars

This project contains further videos that can accessed via the full case study below.

Research Method

The film and its wider research pose questions including: Can filmmaking be employed to reveal underlying trends in human behaviour? Can a playful and spontaneous method of production reveal underlying behavioural tendencies in the filmed subject?

Key Methodologies:

Full Project Output

REF '21

To learn more about the output, methods and dissemination of this work, explore the full project submission.