Zero Genie

Zero Genie, Jem Finer & Ansuman Biswas, 2001
Zero Genie, Jem Finer & Ansuman Biswas, 2001

Short film of zero genies and zero gravity

On the surface, a playful attempt to perform feats ascribed to the genies and flying carpets of ancient myth, zero genie was conceived as a response to the structure and history of the space program over the last 50 years.
For millennia people have been travelling to the remotest regions of the cosmos using shamanistic technologies. Can we deride their experiences as being any less valid, any less real, than those of modern astronauts and cosmonauts? Who is to arbitrate on claims of yogic levitation, or persistent conspiracy theories suggesting that the American moon landings were
actually a hoax constructed in a film studio? Judgements of fantasy and reality are conditioned by relationships of power. The vast expanse of space is a political territory, colonised so far by the industrialized, affluent powers. Its exploration is a First World, high investment pursuit, beyond the orbit of all but the whitest, richest individuals.
Ansuman Biswas and Jem Finer, dressed in turbans, jewelled waistcoats, baggy pyjamas and curly toed sandals present a foil to the military industrial complex. In the belly of a plunging Soviet troop carrier, they attempt to smoke a pipe together, play shawms, dance, and ride the mythical flying carpet. The resulting ten-minute film is simultaneously magical and hilarious. It has been shown to great acclaim in many venues around the world.


Project commissioned by The Arts Catalyst
Flight: MIR Flight 001

Selected Screenings

Artists & Cosmonauts, Sadlers Wells, London, UK (Arts Catalyst)
Para-Site, Bridport Arts Centre, Dorset
Glastonbury Festival : short film tent
“Homeland”, Exeter
Le Signal, Biarritz, France
Big Screen, ExchangeSquare, Manchester
Everything Normal, Cecil Sharp House, London, UK (Arts Catalyst)
Rencontres Internationales, Berlin
Dartington College of Arts, Devon
Blowing Up, London
Images Festival, Toronto, Canada
Rencontres Internationales, Paris
Kinofilm festival, Manchester
Tagawa International Short Film Festival, Japan
Crafting Space, Smart Project Space, Amsterdam
Exposures, London
Slightly Shady, London
Planetary Bodies, Brighton
And in the Hayward touring exhibition, 'Magic'


Ansuman Biswas was born in Calcutta and trained in the UK. He is an artist with an international practice encompassing music, film, live art, installation, writing and theatre. He is actively engaged in bridging the gap between science and art. In 2002-2003 he was artist-in-residence at the National Institute of Medical Research. He has an on-going research interest in consciousness studies, in particular the subjective emotional correlates of objective physiological states.
Ansuman has shown visual and time-based art at Tate Modern, South London Gallery, Whitechapel Gallery, the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, IIC New Delhi, Headlands Centre, San Francisco, and many other galleries and museums around the world. He has worked as a composer and musician in a wide range of contexts from jazz to Indian Classical music, pop songs to industrial noise. He has been commissioned by the Sonic Arts Network, the National Theatre, the Royal Ballet, the English National Opera and Guangdong Modern Dance Company in China as well as numerous other ensembles, film makers, theatre and dance companies. His theatre composition credits are numerous as are his film and acting credits.