UKI, a Scifi Viral Alt-Reality Cinema

Set your electric sheep free range. It is 2060. What do you do with expired humanoids?

UKI’s storyline unfolds as we follow a defunct replicant REIKO dumped on Etrashville—a vast dump for tech—who tries to pull themselves back together with the help of Etrashville’s transgenic inhabitants. Parallel to REIKO’s trajectory is that of an infected city where we are made aware of the reckless schemes of the biotech enterprise GENOM Co.

The three narratives interweave in three film sets: (1) A virtual BioNet owned by GENOM Co. takes human bodies hostage to re-engineer red blood cells into nano-computing self-generated orgasms. BioNet collects enhanced orgasm data through handshake wet-data transmission and ultimately produces orgasmic red pills for mass consumption. (2) A besieged diner in the city where the infected congregate to exchange their own orgasm data for fresher, more intense, mutual orgasms. The diner is also the meeting-place for hackers who traverse time and space, bringing in news of protest and manifestation while uncovering GENOM’s bio-engineering scheme. (3) Etrashville, set in the Deep Continent, where REIKO awakens to find their glitched body undergoing a series of transformations as they encounter the transgenic queer creatures who inhabit Etrashville.

As the plot thickens, REIKO’s body is coded, recoded, and finally collapses to re-emerge as UKI the Virus. Setting back GENOM’s plans, UKI the Virus seems on the brink of swarming through the infected city to liberate the red blood cells. Through virus-becoming and viral love, we find a way to reclaim our viral bodies.

Shu Lea Cheang is an artist and filmmaker who engages in genre-bending and gender-hacking art practices. Celebrated as a net art pioneer with BRANDON (1998–99), the first web art commissioned and collected by Guggenheim Museum, New York, Cheang represented Taiwan with the mixed media installation 3x3x6 at Venice Biennale in 2019. Crafting her own genre of Scifi New Queer Cinema, she has made 4 feature films, FRESH KILL (1994), I.K.U. (2000), FLUIDø (2017) and UKI (2023). In 2023, she toured UKI with screenings at LAS Art Foundation (Berlin), Centre Pompidou (Paris), MoMA (New York), and ICA (London), among other venues. Her recent artworks RED PILL (2023) and UTTER (2023) are respectively shown at HOPE, TECHNO-HUMANITIES (Museion, Italy) and Attention After Technology (Kunsthall Trondheim, Norway). In 2024, she embarks on a series of art and technology initiated projects with Guggenheim Museum New York.