• Anna Mladentseva

Silicon Valet x New Art City x Most Dismal Swamp: Dismal Sessions 001-021

Dismal Sessions 001-021 is 6 ½ hours of artist video and audio footage digested into an interactive interface that brims with swampy, marshy and leaky displacements. Episodes of video artworks, soundscapes and ambient virtual reality elements infest the digital environment they were born out of. The implosion of these artworks manifests liminal textures: the heavy-patterned flooring, instead of having the expected amount of three-dimensional quality, is stretched into uncanny flatness.

The visitor gets locked into this post-digital bog by restricting the area in which the mouse cursor is visible and usable. Any attempt to locate yourself through the trackpad will instead result in a change of perspective. To glide your mouse across the screen like you would in standard screen interaction, you’d have to press escape and pull yourself out of the dismal quicksand.

While real-life users are eagerly chasing ways to accustom themselves to the rising pressures of social distancing and telepresence, Dismal Sessions is taking this phenomenon a step further by facilitating co-presence. newart.city borrows its technical language from MMORPGs (massive multiplayer online role-playing games), allowing visitors to try on the skin of a diamond-shaped avatar and use the chatbox function.

Dismal Sessions spawns the user in close proximity to a disused railway tunnel that looks like it has probably already endured an illegal squat rave. Inside of it, Mark Leckey’s Dismal Session 008: The Catyrids are Leaving the City mix bleeds into Body Drift’s Dismal Session 001: Did I Disappoint You, coagulating a post-human soundscape of gothic rock, Deptford reggae and chopped mechanical beats. Both audio-collages are exhibited as screens, occupying their own expanded field through which the avatar moves through, dimming one track through the sickening presence of the other.

(listen to the mixes simultaneously for maxxximum simulation)

Kid Xanthrax’ Dismal Session 011: Hypergnossisy video is spat out somewhere behind the tunnel to the right. It’s an oversaturated hypercollage, jerking with involuntary movements and delusional adverts in an attempt to compensate for the spectacle’s already dead and flaccid imagery. Hypergnossisy is the cooler, danker twin of hypergnosis: a psychoanalytic attempt to define externalised neurosis and an unfairly disproportionate, delusional perception. Media has become a compressed carnival, overridden and overwritten by looped micro-animations, meme logic and late capitalist attempts to formalise it (TikTok?).

Amy Cutler’s and Graham Dunning’s ‘The Cultivator’ from Dismal Session 009 is a fever dream version of H.G. Wells’ short story of a corpse-like and threatening specimen: ‘The Flowering of the Strange Orchid’. This inflorescence becomes a vector for queering the narrator’s orchid-house, eventually overtaking his body (very violently). The botanical subaltern is reclaimed through an audio-visual celebration of all things swampy, nested into its native, dismal environment.

Now it’s time to configure yourself into the swamp. You can currently view Dismal Sessions 001-021 at newart.city/show/dismal-sessions. Special thank you to Wade from Silicon Valet for inviting Fetchish to the press preview.

Complete list of works in Dismal Sessions 001-021:

Session 001: Body Drift — “Did I Disappoint You?”

Session 002: Never Worse — “set 23.11.2019” Session 003: Terence Sharpe — “WHAT LUXURY IT WOULD BE TO DESCRIBE THIS RACE AS CEDED” Session 004: RJM Vanderheyden + Emilie Ruitinga — “Does the knife cry when it enters the skin?” Session 005: IZEY — “Xaptation” Session 006: Sol Bailey-Barker — “Wyrd Lodge: Black Temple” Session 007: Alexandra Koumantaki — “Memories From the Valley of Uncanny” Session 008: Mark Leckey — “The Catyrids are Leaving the City” Session 009: Amy Cutler & Graham Dunning — “The Cultivator” Session 010: Crisis — “View From Nowhere” Session 011: Kid Xanthrax “HYPERGNOSISSY” Session 012: Michelle Hannah — “GPT-3” Session 013: An Trinse — “Ethics of Display” Session 014: Agnese Cebere — “chrome_scan” Session 015: Gerard Carson — “Petrobios 77 Lockdown” Session 016: Lexxi Doomer (whiterose) — “ribs_sinner_lives” Session 017: Sol Ring & billie0cean — “Untitled” Session 018: SWARMM — “KENOPSIA” Session 019: Thomas Yeomans — “Just For Today” Session 020: ¥€$Si Perse Session 021: Anna Mikkola & Pekka Airaxin


Written by: Anna Mladentseva

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