Test render from HD video with sound, by Ash Eliza Smith, July 2018 – July 2019.

Elsewhere’s Rural Residency annually collaborates with contemporary, socially-engaged artists for a year-long, site-specific, project-based explorations in rural regions of North Carolina. The program aims to reconnect artists, raised in the annually selected county, with their hometown and foster collaboration with the people currently living there. Using Elsewhere’s national platform, this curated residency celebrates rural culture, brings awareness to under-acknowledged narratives, and deepens connectivity to contemporary conditions of the South. 

For the 2019 residency Ash Eliza Smith, who works at the intersection of art, technology, and the environment, created a speculative film and research project with local community members. The piece titled Appalachian Futures//Southern Devices examines a rural ecosystem in transformation by the physical internet. Specifically the effect of corporate ‘cloud’ data storage centers and the mineral mining required by tech on bodies and land in Burke, Catawba, and Caldwell Counties. Histories, memories, stories of innovation, resiliency and potential futures are intertwined in an experimental docu-style film, installation, and collaborative public programs.

This project is funded by an award from: 


During the year-long residency period artist, Ash Eliza Smith met with community members, led workshops and researched the area to inform short scenarios for the film, installation and associated public programs. 


Ash Smith is a director, designer and new media artist who grew up in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in North Carolina. Ash incorporates strategies of play and speculation to solve problems, re-imagine systems and build worlds—to create interactive stories, mixed reality experiences, simulations and prototypes of the future. Data, science and/or humor may be used to tell stories for film, stage, and improvisation that may blur the distinction between art & life, fact & fiction, and nature & technology—a liminal space—that considers how myth and history modulate a present reality while simultaneously engendering future dreams. Ash is interested in the dreaming collective and how these virtual shared spaces may bleed into the real and shape our co-existence. Ash also plays music in a few bands and loves to parallel park.

Production Support: Raber Umphenour – Camera and graphic effects, and Eliot Lytle – marketing materials and negative prints co-producer.





Stay up to date and support the film here.

Film and Performance Transcript:





The culminating event took place site-specifically inside a soon to be developed historic Drexel/Alpine Cotton Mill No. 7 spinning room. Ash Eliza Smith,  filmmaker Raber Umphenour, and collaborators from the region along with Elsewhere created an immersive and interactive installation that featured portions of the forthcoming film, solar prints, a 3d scanning area, cinema performance, and live film shoot.

Facebook Event | Eventbrite | Newsletter Announcement



Thanks to the following regional organizations and individuals, who’ve offered their time, insight or resources: