The Subterranean Imprint Archive, 2021

VR experience for Oculus Quest

The Subterranean Imprint Archive is a co-created roomscale VR experience which seeks to situate the viewer in a counter-archive which traces the legacy of technopolitics in Central and Southern Africa. Drawing on research surrounding nuclearity in Africa from the Atomic Age to the present, it transports the visitor from the immaterial data bank of the cloud down into digital infrastructures embedded in the soil to unearth the contested histories of collaborative discovery and uneven distribution.

The starting point of the work is in the underground of Shinkolobwe mine in the Democratic of Congo, where the uranium used in the Manhattan project to create the atom bomb was extracted. The image of Congolese ore exploding over Japan is a symbol of the earth-shattering devastation whose impact continues to be felt on the African continent.

The project was created by South African artist duo Francois Knoetze and Amy Louise Wilson (Lo-Def Film Factory) in collaboration with young creatives in Cape Town and Congolese researcher Joe-Yves Salankang Sa-Ngol, with contributions from a range of performance, collage and video artists. It maps distant shadows cast by nuclear war and unearths the subterranean narratives at the core of extractive technological processes.


Produced by Electric South (South Africa) and Le Lieu Unique (France)

Created by Lo-Def Film Factory (Francois Knoetze and Amy Louise Wilson)

Research by Joe-Yves Salankang Sa-Ngol

Lead Developer Kyle Marais

Commissioned by Oulimata Gueye for Le Lieu Unique

Sound by Joshua Chiundiza

Additional collage art by Duduetsang Lamola (blkbanaana)

Additional video art by Natalie Paneng

Additional sound by Caydon van Eck

Performances by Gomez Bakwene, Peacemore Patsika, Victor Jakara, Nicole Goto, Phedre N’goua, Billy Edward Langa Voice-over by Paurisia Muhigirwa, Phedre N’goua

Performance workshops by Richard September, Buhle Ngaba


Special thanks to Tshisimani Centre for Activist Education, Congolese Civil Society of South Africa, Oulimata Gueye, Alex Sutherland, Ingrid Kopp, Steven Markovitz, Caitlin Robinson, Antoinette Engel, Kirstin Lee Grey, Taryn Joffe, Rick Treweek

Duration: variable




Based in South Africa, the Lo-Def Film Factory’s (Francois Knoetze and Amy Louise Wilson) work involves archival research, dramaturgy, and visual strategies associated with video art, collage, sculptural installation and Virtual Reality, to explore and create space for collaborative and experimental community storytelling. The Lo-Def Film Factory was created by artist duo Francois Knoetze and Amy Louise Wilson. Francois is a sculptor, performance, and video artist, who creates narrative portraits of the uncertainty in the nervous system of a global digital machine at the brink of collapse. Amy is a writer and performer interested in traditional South African theatre practices as a methodology for research and experimentation. The duo work with digital technologies in a DIY practice which embraces mistake-making.

If you are interested in exhibiting or viewing this artistic VR experience, please send an email to us.