First premiering as a casting performance at Taipei Biennale in 2000, Fluidø has existed in many different forms, including an installation at Sorlandets Kunstumuseum in 2004 and Kunsternes Hus in 2005, as well as other casting performances in Spain, 2008 and Hong Kong, 2010. Following a gestating process of seventeen years and seven years since its last incarnation, creator Shu Lea Cheang has finally brought the cyberpunk insanity of Fluidø to the big screen.
An intensely cryptic yet passionate exploration of human fears, corporate and political corruption, virology, and greed, Fluidø is a sexual sci-fi fantasy unlike anything you've seen before. With enough money shots to make Rocco Siffredi sweat and a puzzling obsession with mathematics and code as futuristic sexual tropes, the world of Fluidø is flashy, yet nearly impenetrable. It would seem that perhaps the intimacies and/or interactivity of the casting performances and installations are lost in film form, as there is little to grasp onto here. Yet as a cinematic celebration and portrayal of homo-, hetero-, bi-, trans- or intersexual love without fuss or taboo, Fluidø succeeds and finds footing.
Set in the year 2060 after the eradication of AIDS, Fluidø follows select individuals who carry a mutated form of the HIV virus that is now a popular street drug. Much like in our own society, corporations and governments have swooped in and are attempting to control the production and distribution of said fluid drugs. An intriguing premise, but without narrative cohesion it fails to work as a story. However, as a kaleidoscopic picture of sexual liberation and freedom, I'm not sure if the story mattered much in the first place.
With technical flourishes such as politically and socially conscious on-screen text, wild costumes, and cheap CGI, Fluidø's visuals are easily its strongest aspect (which also feature an obscure combination of explicit sexuality, early 2000's pop and electronic music aesthetics, and strobe effects).
Ultimately, Fluidø proposes far more than it answers or executes and consequently fails to convey the power of its previous forms to a wholly cinematic one. The end result is a clunky experience rife with stiff dialogue and poor performances. Even with profound conviction and confidence in its vision, Fluidø never achieves the greatness it obviously yearns for.