Director Mike Mills Has Seen the Future in His Latest Piece, Project Los Altos

Perhaps this self-evident fact – that the work of brilliant artists is often colored by their own life — veers toward cliché. What's less evident is if that fact contributes, or detracts, from their art.

Mike Mills' films codify transparency. In 2010's The Beginners, Mills detailed how his recently widowed father simultaneously dealt with being single, gay, and terminally ill, at 75-years-old. The son, played by Ewan Macgregor, tries to make sense of this while finding himself debilitated by his own romantic and artistic missteps.

Mills approximates ontological discomforts without attempting an oracular stance. His beginnings as a graphic designer, crafting covers for the likes of Sonic Youth and Air, lends his films a dreamlike melancholy that's rendered in beautiful, lush terms. In spite of their visual acuity, however, each frame has a very specific intention.

In his latest project, Project Los Altos, Mills was recently asked by SFMOMA to investigate a place well-known for its many flights of fancy: Silicon Valley. In Los Altos, once home to Steve Jobs, the director was curious to see if he could locate some of the past in a culture obsessed with progress, and get a sense of where it thought it was going. Interviewing children – the human “components” of technology — Mills discovered a future brimming with light and dark.

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