UsThemThemUs is a video comprised of statements extracted from sci-fi cinema in which characters attempt to articulate a boundary between humans and non-humans. These declarations of difference desperately seek to establish delineations between human and machine and animal, yet often resort to nebulous-to-define traits such as emotion, belief, or the soul. Rather than establish clear definitions of what the human is or is not, these attempts instead reveal a slippery space of boundary determinations. Also revealed are the anxieties and pejorative associations entangled with notions of difference and otherness, particularly when ‘the other’ begins to become the same…

Nicole Rayburn, UsThemThemUs, 5:38, 2015

The prevalence of films and TV series such as Bladerunner, Terminator, and Battlestar Gallactica reveal the modern-day anxiety surrounding the boundary between the ‘natural’ and the ‘unnatural’. Fragmented sentences extracted from these sources scroll through the video, overlap, become entangled and overwhelmingly incomprehensible at points. The delineations used to define the human – soul, emotion, or belief – are vague and intangible and do little to establish clarity between the human versus the non-human.


The visual fragments are sourced from online videos and show humans somewhat violently interacting with non-humans – in one clip and baby and child are attacking one another, and in another humans kick robots. Historically, humans have defined themselves in contrast to animals, which was also a continually complicated and fluctuating terrain, yet the contemporary threat is clearly becoming the machine. The response of the Robotic Dogs to the human kicks in the video shows the scientific breakthrough of the robot responding to an unexpected change in the environment and immediately adapting and stabilizing itself. This development is significant in the scientific community, yet also veers towards the actual realization of an artificial intelligence that has only been until recently, anxiously dreamed about by writers and filmmakers. As the machine and the human rapidly become closer in capability, we must contemplate the realities of what this new relationship with ‘the other’ will mean, and the potential manifestations that it can take.


Text and audio statements are all direct citations from selected films.

Audio Samples: Timbre & Aran Reginald

Exhibitions & Screenings:

2017 UsThemThemUs, Underneath the Floorboards, Hackney Picture House, London, UK

2016 UsThemThemUs, Jornadas de Reapropiación, Touring Program, Faro Aragón, Mexico City, Mexico

2016 Jornadas de Reapropiación (Journeys of Reappropiation), Centro de Cultura Digital, México City, Mexico

2016 Antimatter [Media Art], Victoria, Canada (upcoming)

2016 Experiments in Cinema v11.4, Albuquerque, USA

2015 FACT (Foundation for Art & Creative Technology, UK) and Channels (Channels Video Festival) Artist Bursary Shortlist, Curated by Soda Jerk, Shona Illingworth, Rory MacBeth, and Sarah Tutton. Screening in MPavilion, Melbourne, Australia

2015 Interventions Fuse Factory, Ohio State University Mansfield Gallery, OH, USA, Curated by Tyler Cann, Amy M. Youngs, Alison Colman, Kate Shannon, and Doo Sung Yoo (group)

Available for distribution through VTape. Please contact:


Nicole Rayburn 2017