Grace Connors and Jack Caddy

Born into the year [?], after the corn syrup droughts, after the bandwidth riots. After the flattening. Nation states have dissolved. Corporations as populations. Citizens live with no borders and coexist digitally under the dictatorship of a Youtube gamer in a swivel chair. We are depleted of oil. We have devastated the climate. Overpopulation, desperation, mineral exploitation, greed and hyper corporatisation are globally widespread. Pop culture ended with the millennium. Y2k happened, Gina Rinehart is still alive, but we were too busy playing Wii Fit to notice. The world never made it past it’s reboot, instead we are stuck in the toxic sludge of nostalgia, reflecting to a time when we could all breathe without a gas mask. Looking out the window to the acid rain pouring down and wondering where it all went so wrong.

It’s the remake its the remake is the remake is the remake is the remake film of all remake films. A pop culture thirst trap, aimlessly sending out spam hoping something will stick. A Nigerian prince in your junk folder. Unashamedly and unapologetically asking for your credit card details. Using Hollywood movie references as CAPTCHA’s to prove you’re not a robot. It is a future that’s reductive. Tethered to cheap technology available from your local JB hi fi some thirty years before the concept of an oasis was a mirage on history. You’ve got mail. Like pouring coke and pepsi into the same glass and then microwaving it, and now we lap it up like an emaciated dog chained up in the scorching hot sun.

Ready, Player? 2018. Slide from audiovisual presentation. Image courtesy of the artists.

Traversing space, crossing flatlands. Like dragging snapped ankles through the dry red earth. Skin cracked. Mouth dry. 127 hours covered in your own piss. 3000 feet up with no rope and sweaty palms. Sawing off your arm with a laserdisc only to discover the key is under your eyelid. A game that no one wants to play. Crushing 1500 Warner Brothers intellectual property rights under a hydraulic press, squashed into egg shaped kinder surprises. Ready to be ripped open to find the mangled plastic toy character inside only to discover that it’s all a choking hazard.

Inside the egg, the circles hands clasp together in silent click of the refresh page. Images not related yet co-authored through mutual self discovery. A panda grabs its owners legs and won’t let go. Because you watched, you might like...Transfixed: seven minutes and fifty six seconds into vines that cured my depression. Immobile yet traveling so fast. Six second montages take years to pass like minutes. The circles hands clasp together. Further afield yet closer to where I should of started. It's important to let fate decide where to go. Whatever that means. To see all of earth's magic within seconds that took millions of years to build. A black labrador humps a stranger's leg and feels ashamed. How many links form the chain that feeds itself? Images have never moved like this before.

Cinema is a dark room, a void of cum stains and stale popcorn. It’s your first kiss or public sexual encounter, a collective cheer, your first over the pants hand job. I wonder what the opposite of a Solarium is? It’s a void dark enough as an escape. As an escape from shutter island. Escape from your dishes moulding up in your sink. Two for one movie tickets. Escape from your nagging mother in law. Escape from the looming dread that your relationship is built on nothing more than common movie interests. I can’t believe you haven’t seen The Shining. No one to share your two for one movie tickets with anymore.

Ready, Player? 2018. Slide from audiovisual presentation. Image courtesy of the artists.

You lay sedentary in front of the screen. Radiating in vitamin D deficiency, the warm blood tingeing your translucent skin making you look sunburnt. The recommended video autoplays. You think about stopping it for a second but it's satisfying when loops are completed. The silent click of the refresh page so loud it echoes. Something as small as the flutter of a butterfly's wing can cause a typhoon halfway around the world. By the glow of the screen, you lay motionless, masturbating to compilations of cyst popping videos, you can feel time flowing past you, you can feel the earth rotating slowly as you roll to a more comfortable position. Two entities moving in synchronicity. 

It’s this reflexive trap, it is this mass of virtually indistinguishable yet rapidly circulating differences in modulation, that ensure that nothing ever changes. It’s Hollywood's constant reframing of the underdog vs big business. It’s John Connor vs SkyNet. It’s going to see a film about overthrowing a corporatised dystopian regime whilst a protest over net neutrality rages outside. It’s exploiting our communication as a species and our very efforts to connect and destabilise global capitalism.

“A Couple earned money on YouTube by skinning endangered animals then eating them. A Crocodile kills a pastor during a baptism. Doritos to make 'lady-friendly' chips that don't crunch for women. A lawmaker says recent snowfall was caused by ‘Rothschild’s controlling the climate’, New York Is Literally Running Out of Cheetos. South Park creators can no longer satirise dOnALd tRumP. Pauline Hanson flies a drone. A woman says poop from a passing plane fell onto her face and gave her pink eye. The Great Barrier Reef is dead. Scientists Processed 109 Hours of Oral Sex to Develop an AI that Sucks Dick. A Rat disables an ATM, eats $20,000, then dies.” Jackpot. It’s sucking dick for Evian water. It’s naive. Think about it, take a second look.

By the light of the wretched screen. OLED pixels show an immersive paradise. A vast utopian vista, surrounded on all sides by a barren desert wasteland. A Netflix and Etsy love child. A flagship of entertainment and business, except this one doesn’t ask if you’re still watching. Here virtual credits are real money and online actions have real world consequences. It's a bitcoin ATM. A Darknet shopper. Is it illegal if a bot buys a bag of ketamine on the Darkweb? Like letting your nine year old kid micro-transaction away your life savings in exchange for a new avatar, new handbags, and a plane ticket to Bali, you motherfucker. 

A false sense of civil liberty afforded to desperate humans by plugging them into a virtual utopia, giving them an avatar for them, and only them, and calling it freedom from the wasteland. It’s myopic escapism. It's a wish you were here postcard from your internet service provider. It's holidaying at the Overlook Hotel. It's two kids on each others shoulders inside a trench coat. It’s having a fever dream. It's polishing a window too much with Windex. It’s Rozalla’s Everybody's Free to Feel Good playing in the background. It's paying to make your own burger at McDonalds. It's saying walkies to your dog and then taking a benzo nap. It’s Afterpay. It's making memes about your assigned NSA agent. It's organic food giving you diarrhoea. It’s falling off a cliff to get on Funniest Home Videos. It's taking an ‘are you a replicant test’ on Facebook and getting your identity stolen. It's buying likes for your Instagram photos. It's putting on a skin tight lycra motion capture suit to wear a digital sleeve online. Something about Salon Express. It’s lying during sex. It’s going into room 237. It’s seeing straight through all of it.

Ready, Player? 2018. Slide from audiovisual presentation. Image courtesy of the artists.

An oasis of sponsored reality. It's the common late capitalist conception of freedom becoming one that is synonymous with self-exploitation. It’s where our communications become contributions into an endless stream of sludgy content. Where the only seemingly worthwhile exchanges are regurgitated ‘popular culture’ references. A deterministic algorithm that painfully peels back our agency, autonomy and human decision making. Only to reveal another synthetic wig underneath, we have seen it all before. It’s unknowingly hopping on board Willy Wonka’s boat to nowhere and never being able to get off again.

Celebrate, relish, welcome really good content. It’s like writing a speculative fiction piece around that Bandersnatch episode on Netflix but you die on the first plot choice. The greatest movie that never happened. It’s being on an episode of ‘Hole in the wall’ but you’re the wall. An unstoppable force meets an immovable abject. You’re the force, and the object simultaneously. Adding Blockchain to your name to increase your stock prices. Blockchain tea, long island iced bullshit. Multiple users keeping a Cloud ledger of the scores of the open source card game of Bullshit. What came first, the chicken or the egg ? It’s Jurassic Park if nothing went wrong.

Edging to the player as a contributor to the proliferation of the moving image. Referring to the user in user generated content, casting a virtual scene for gameplay, where we see user versus content versus algorithm in a fight to the death. Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla. The assault rifle from Halo blasts down Duke Nukem and Freddie Kruger in a battle royale. Chloe Sevigny. The killer Chucky doll is weaponised violently stabbing a Stormtrooper’s face. King Kong crushes Kaneda's motorcycle from Akira. The Iron Giant dies in a river of hot lava while giving an endearing Terminator 2 T1000 thumbs up, assuring us it’s all going to be okay.

It’s all going to be okay. When seeing image as almost everything. It's the Second life, where it’s the second skin; or the Power-suit, or the Haptic Power Glove that becomes most important.
The circles hands clasp together. Suggested after suggested video are recommended for you but it’s not really for you, it’s just incremental change in content providing enough interest to keep your hands and feet inside the vehicle at all times. It is this cycle that communicative capitalism relies on, a suspending of narrative, identity, and norms. The moving image fluctuates between the boundaries that the algorithm has set in place. Layers of suggested content forming an impenetrable symbiotic mesh of pleasure and pain that leads to a remediated hell. Explorers in the further regions of experience, don’t forget to ‘like and subscribe’. It’s watching all of your FarmVille crops burn in a dystopian hellfire as the earth crashes into the sun. It's a Foucauldian rhizomatic shit fest.

Subscribe to the shining of a continuous single shard. A simultaneous unplugging, and plugging into the matrix. Pre recognised, and predisposed. Because you watched. Baxter the talking dog says Red Rum. It’s the gentle cut on the tip of a finger. It’s Danny and the Grady twins playing Cluedo. It was Steven Spielberg in the bathroom with a virtual reality axe. A computer generated black and white photograph becomes a reimagining of a reimagining of a reimagining. Split in half and dispossessed like the Parent Trap and glued back together with some Hollywood magic tape and a Lindsay Lohan clone. Imagine having to buy the rights to Jack Nicholson's face. Semiotics is a bloody elevator. Stepping into a Bod Pod feels like taking Peyote and entering a floatation tank and believing that you have eaten a wild goat.

All work and a slow internet connection makes Jack a dull boy.

A cowboy smokes a cigarette in a made for television movie, your father smokes a cigarette in an old photograph, Shelley Duvall sits with Danny at the breakfast table with a lit cigarette in the ashtray. Believing that Robin Williams is still alive while Dr Phil plays on the television. Smoking a cigarette and getting emphysema. Your deepest desire is now an anti aphrodisiac. It’s no longer glamorous, but it’s knowing something is terrible for you and enjoying it anyway.

Inside tab 237, a beautiful lady exits a bathtub and caresses the shoulder of a brute, who relishes the offer until looking into the mirror and seeing her flesh rot. A ‘popular culture’ oasis is a mirage in a barren desert wasteland. A Kmart sponsored WalMart carpark. A gnawing off of your own arm, a NapiSan whitewashed fantasy. Great for removing blood stains from your favourite white blouse. An anxiety towards technology and artificial intelligence taking over the world, taking over our jobs, and taking over our human agency. All manifest in a horror film jump scare. Your heart slamming against your ribs reminds you that the washing is not done. You’re not scared, you’re terrified that the stain won’t come out. A future obsessed with the past written from the present. The flux capacitor has stopped. Her skin sags feeling the force of 40 years of pressure. Peeling flesh from bone like a Xenomorph exploding through her chest. Dermatologists love her. An extreme sports makeover. When has it ever been the same? Will it ever be the same again?

The shape of things past and what is yet to come, a fan fiction nightmare come to life, only visible when you stare at a fluorescent light for too long then stare directly into the sun until you go partially blind. Prioritising spectacle in place of substance to hinder any individual thought or constructive conversation. Like the ones you have in a game of Russian Roulette. Instead, there are no nuanced, or subtle contributions into the stream of content. Only anxieties felt over a loaded pistol hoping that your turn won’t be fatal. Who really lived through the good old days if there ever were any?. Forcing a child to feel nostalgic is like pushing them down a hill with their shoelaces tied, except the shoes have no laces, only velcro straps, and there are no hills here only flatlands.

This is not a kid writing gay fan fiction about their favourite supernatural twincest romance under their covers in the upstairs bedroom. It is a collective of businesspeople of intellectual property rights smuggling three keys of heroin in their rectums through airport security, while deciding how many doors they can unlock with a film budget of $175 million and never get caught. It’s a crime. It’s a spin cycle of the metatext and a corporate infiltration of democratic, participatory spaces. A relinquishing of freedom and capitalising of public open source forums to advertise teeth whitening serum. It’s displaying an ad for five seconds. It is the sparked flint to the gun-powder that shoots you out of the canon and into the fifth dimension, like shooting a chicken carcass into a group of ravenous chickens. Chicken Run as Cannibal Holocaust.

It’s nothing more than a vomitorium of online and offline action, where worlds are left to split, degenerate, and curdle together. It’s Arnold Schwarzenegger saying i'll be back but never returning your call. It’s John Carpenter’s The Thing assuming the shape of your body and making you look hotter. It’s Big Bang Theory if it were a movie. The only limit to imagination in this open-source ‘online utopia’ of user-generated content is trademark law. It’s a $5,000 a head bounty. It’s as if the Soprano’s existed in the age of the internet, whacking the back of your own kneecaps, pouring your own cement shoes.

It’s Pimp My Ride but instead of installing a fairy floss machine in the boot of my car, Xzibit has installed an unease in the back of my mind that it isn’t gonna get much better than this. And this time you can’t resell it at a used car auction. It’s a molotov cocktail in the boardroom of a world hurtling towards corporatisation, insemination, defecation, and autoerotic asphyxiation. We have officially been Pimp’d.

Ready, Player? 2018. Slide from audiovisual presentation. Image courtesy of the artists.