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

The Serpent & The Mouse

Nicole Rayburn, The Serpent & The Mouse, 3:31, 2013

The Serpent & The Mouse addresses the understanding of the serpent as inescapably associated to the biblical story of original sin – The Fall – and problematizes the associations of this metaphor. The demonization of the female position in this narrative, namely Eve, who is forever after burdened with the bizarre notions of sole responsibility and eternal implications, is shown to be absurd both through its malleability and its metaphorical construction. The Serpent & The Mouse also shows a mouse being eaten by a snake.

Serpent and the Mouse_Rayburn_Eve is also Tricky

The same footage repeats eight times in various manifestations, playfully using text to complicate the understandings of the imagery, problematize the position of power, and to re-position the serpent with more ‘obvious connotations’.


Selected Screenings:

2016 24HR Cinema Festival, Selection from Athens Digital Arts Festival 2014/2015, Curated by Eirini Olympiou, x-church, Gainsborough, UK

2016 Delete TV, Channel C31 Public Braodcast, Melbourne, Australia

2016 Delete TV, Channel OKTO TV Public Broadcast, Austria

2015 European Media Arts Festival Tour, Ankara International Film Festival, Ankara, Turkey

2015 European Media Arts Festival Tour, City 46, Universität Bremen, Bremen, Germany

2014 European Media Arts Festival Tour, ZKM | Center for Art & Media, Karlsruhe, Germany

2014 European Media Arts Festival Tour, German Culture Goethe-Institute, Paris, France, Curated by Ralf Sausmikat

2014 27th Festival Les Instants Vidéo, Marseille, France

2014 Athens Video Art Festival, Athens, Greece, Curated by Erini Olypmiou

2014 Video Art Festival Miden, Kalamata, Greece.

2014 European Media Arts Festival, Osnabrück, Germany. Curated by Joke Ballentijn, Katrin Mundt, Ralf Sausmikat, and Sebastiaan Schlicher

Video available for distribution through VTape. Please contact:


Nicole Rayburn 2016


Nicole Rayburn, re|signed, Series of 50 Photographs, 2012

re|signed is a series of 50 photographs depicting religious public road signage presented in conjunction with the following text panel. This series highlights the mechanisms of advertising present in contemporary religious signage and adopts this same technique for use in personal artistic promotional material. This series is presented both as photographic prints and as business cards. The cards are a series of 50 and have the photographic images on one side, and the re|signed text panel on the reverse.


Although the images have been aesthetically adjusted and identifying names and addresses have been removed, the contents of the texts are original and remain unaltered. All images were located and photographically documented in Canadian public spaces in London, Ontario.

These signs effectively employ mechanisms of humour, fear, and literary pun, as well as reflections on current events and modern technologies, to target, appeal to, and recruit a new generation of worshippers. I have chosen to appropriate these techniques used by the church for my own advertisement method, which is, rather ironically, the personal artist business card.

I utilize this technique although it is somewhat disingenuous, both in terms of my belief in an artistic practice as a business endeavour, and in reference to my personal rejection of organized religion and its systematic attempts to recruit and convert new followers. The appropriation of such advertisement slogans for use as promotional material in an artistic project, which has little economic benefit, and which is critical of organized religion for both its attempts towards social homogenization and its historical and continued persecution of adherents of other faiths, non-believers, and innumerable ‘others’, is somewhat tongue-in-cheek. Although the method and desire for the spread of ideas in re|signed superficially mimic those of religion, the goal for awareness of socio-political forces and freedom of expression, premised in difference rather than sameness, is of radically different origin. This is a resignation of silence in the face absurdity.

This project, although critical, is not necessarily intended to target a particular religious group – it is meant to function as a catalyst to open discussion on a topic of social relevance where it seems that there is little room.


2013 re|signed. Harcourt House, Front Room, Edmonton, AB (solo)

2012 re|signed. Gallery Connexion, Annex Gallery, Fredericton, NB (solo)


Vue Weekly, Agnieszka Matejko, Looking for a Sign, October 10, 2013

Nicole Rayburn 2015