Radical Infiltrations New Media Exhibition


Amazonia: Jury Prize


United States, 2019
Roger Beebe

Amazonia explores the spaces “where the virtual becomes physical” by investigating the concrete effects of online purchases.

The documentary begins with a look at Amazon’s original four fulfillment centers, which are located in U.S. towns that suffer from the closing of factories and loss of jobs and the opening of “big box” stores that destroy small businesses and also minimize jobs by outsourcing labor to customers.

The fulfillment centers employ thousands of workers, adding even more at Christmas time, who relocate temporarily to work without benefits or prospects of a permanent position.

While Amazonia is a linear narrative, it includes pop-up windows that arrange images in meaningful spatial relationships, adopting the aesthetics of desktop cinema.

The film shows us external views of the fulfillment centers whose internal workings are hidden, effacing their effects on humans.

Simultaneously, the centers’ walls conceal the transformation of our environment through carbon emissions from server farms that power Amazon’s e-commerce and from the army of jets and trucks that deliver purchases to our doorsteps.

Like clicks on Google and trades on BitCoin, as the film makes clear, Amazon reshapes the world and contributes to the climate crisis. In a country where one in 600 citizens works for Amazon, Amazonia asks us to think about people “at the other end of the internet.”

This project received a jury prize.