part of the art house - online residency orogramme provided by Adam Mickiewicz's Institute
online premiere (at Digital Cultures Festival), october 2020
The initial idea for this project emerged during the spring lockdown when, for the first time on such a global scale, we observed how human activities are smoothly moving to the Internet. Remote parties, virtual celebrations, Zoom hangouts with family and friends, home concerts streaming, self-help groups on Facebook; suddenly ideas that seemed too abstract to be taken seriously, became a new dimension of intimacy. Within a few days, online activity almost replaced the physicality of bodies. This transition seemed very interesting to me and I started to wonder about its boundaries. Can we, with the help of vision and sound provided by our personal laptops, truly experience and feel in a sensory way? Searching through Youtube for sensual triggers seemed to me like a pretty good survival strategy during the pandemic.
Suddenly, we found ourselves in a static existence, confronted with silence and timelessness within the walls of our own apartments. It turned out to be bitter in taste and disturbing. What made it bitter was its repetitiveness, its lack of a clearly defined point. The Internet contains the most hidden nightmares of capitalist societies. One of them is a theme, based on repetitiveness – the backrooms. The idea of infinite wandering around the maze of repetitive rooms, of being stuck between the layers of reality, in liminal spaces. The element of familiarity, of everyday life adds to the anxiety. Office rooms, soundproofed with fitted carpet, without windows, illuminated with fluorescent light, turn out to be liminal. Forgotten shopping malls, large-scale facilities which have lost their usefulness overnight. What turns out to be the most nightmarish is a reality deprived of time and presence. In which activity is carried out without purpose.
This new reality has also the hallmarks of primitivism. Suddenly we have become small, in the face of the Inscrutable, we have become subjects of statistics, numbers. Our names ceased to matter, as if we were living in the new Middle Ages. We do not know what tomorrow will bring, we are trembling for our own health. However, the apocalypse subconsciously gives us joy, we are tired of normality. So what is left for us: let’s celebrate this danse macabre until we’re breathless, or – in the Scandinavian style – let's cheerfully play chess with death. In late modernity, when everything has already been invented, told and created, only death has this remarkable spell that can satisfy us.