Event Horizon, Mark Dorf, Skye Nicolas, Amir H. Fallah, Colette Robbins, 3840 x 2160px , MP4, 2022
Event Horizon, the latest NFT release from artist collective Organic Material, resists the restlessness of the internet with a contemplative slow-moving pace. Four works are unified under a shared gesture: to consider the horizon, knowing that it moves away from us at the same speed that we approach.
Event Horizon is a web-based work and the result of an exquisite corpse exercise comprising four digital images individually created by Mark Dorf, Skye Nicolas, Amir H. Fallah, and Colette Robbins, all members of the NFT-focused artist collective Organic Material. Using the prompt “event horizon” and agreeing on a compositional template, the artists used the creative constraints to guide the conclusion of Event Horizon toward an aesthetic assemblage connected by a conceptual through line. The work alludes to various uncertainties and slippages related to everyday experiences in a digital and globalized world: memory, geography, identity, perception, the natural environment, and the increasingly and often problematically blurred separation between the natural and technological. Moreover, the work’s overall visual and mechanical aesthetics and collaborative creative scheme are intentionally antithetical to today’s web culture driven by speed, stimulation, and popularity. The result of the artists’ combined efforts is a respite from the endless scroll of social media platforms like Twitter and a moving stillness that allows one to contemplate this timely and thoughtful work of collaboration and critique.
The four images in Event Horizon are arranged in a carousel display, slowly scrolling horizontally across the site. The pink and maroon hues of the individual, proscenium-like image borders glow in and out of saturation, creating a light hypnotic effect, which offers a rare instance of digital quietude that counters the stimulation of the internet’s restlessness. The group carefully considered an assortment of NFT purchase options also intended to deviate from the exhaustive pace and frenzy surrounding NFT networking and promotion efforts as well as the hyper individualism the internet is designed to foster. Organic Material is offering both editions of the artists’ individual pieces and a 1/1 mint of all four works unified in a single composition revealing the collective gesture of the horizon line.
These decisions highlight the ways in which Event Horizon centers fluidity and plurality, straddling the contradicting and complementary poles that make up the global art world and the internet. Embracing the sensibilities of a creatively, conceptually, and globally diverse collective, the work willingly resists simple categorization. Formally, it is situated between a surrealist creative game — exquisite corpse is derived from the French cadavre exquis — and the long tradition in the East of illustrated handscrolls, which are here adapted to the digital age of storytelling. However, the slowly moving scroll of Event Horizon offers more complexity than that. Though it’s technically accessible on the web, the work isn’t beholden to this format, being a file-based collection of images designed for other outputs. Building on ancient scroll panels, Event Horizon hints at the format of a graphic novel or the mechanics of a side-scrolling video game, but it isn’t interactive: users can’t advance or reverse the direction of the scroll. Further, its horizontal orientation resists the tired vertical positioning characteristic of the internet’s endless scroll. And finally, as an animation of animations, it manages both to augment and challenge the cinematic apparatus, offering enough movement to render the work a moving image but moving so subtly it lightly pulsates as it passes by.
Event Horizon’s content, unified by a few creative constraints, reflects the diversity of the collective as artists working across media, disciplines, creative impulses, and identities. Though its composition is fixed, tonally it shifts from one panel to the next, like an epic story told in four acts. Viewers are faced with optical confusion that feels transfixing rather than upsetting; next, an uncanny landscape playfully comes together through digital iconography and a feeling of nostalgia; then, cultural icons and symbols are neatly collaged in a vivid, jewel-toned palette; and last, a pair of textured, disembodied feet are positioned in perfect symmetry against a mountainous shape. These descriptions merely scratch the surface as each image contains multitudes and requires the time and space the slow scroll provides to unpack its contents, use of symbolism, and allegorical depth. Taken together, the work is thus imbued with a kind of spirituality — a moment of reflection and solace — necessary to engage in meaningful critique but doubtlessly absent from our usual interactions online.
2min 32sec Looped Video
Edition of 1
Mark Dorf’s draws on his background in photography and interest in nature as a site of investigation to at once produce feelings of awe and anxiety as they relate to the alternation between clarity and interference of visual perceptibility. Here, the prismatic, refractive, light-bending surface of glass situated against a forest is a reminder of the always tethered connection between nature and technology. The image is intentionally wholly unresolvable, showing an isolated mechanism of the photographic apparatus, rendering it disruptive of technology’s utilitarian function. Viewers are reminded of the precarity of technology, our natural environment, and the ways in which environmental crises are sometimes visible and other times obscured from view.
Edition of 25
Skye Nicolas creates a darkly playful Metamodernist landscape that offers the sociopolitical address of various urgent issues, such as environmental crises, technological overreach, and global financial greed in Somewhere Over the Rainbow, Skies Are Blue. Its title references a hopeful song from the film The Wizard of Oz, which counters the visual chaos imparted by its multilayered glitch aesthetic, meant to articulate our desire for respite in a world increasingly drowned by the undertow of interminable anxieties. The work appropriates the Windows XP default wallpaper Bliss, the 8-bit video game Pole Position, and uses variations on the smiling emoji in extreme multitudes to convey our satirical modes of communication, while encouraging the nostalgic effect of early memories of technology and its ability to elicit the feelings of a blissful childhood as a temporary means of escape.
Edition of 25
Amir H. Fallah’s preference for highly chromatic, saturated colors across analog painting and sculptural practice translates magnificently to the vibrancy of the digital medium. In Last Prayer, iconic symbols taken from high and low culture are harmoniously arranged by compositional symmetry and pattern but are disrupted by subtle contrasts in meaning, forms, and references. These elements come together to explore the collective impasse we face over various self-created crises and cultural narratives across the globe — immigration, diasporic identity, Eastern and Western art histories, nature, science, and popular culture — signaling a disconnect between human nature and resolution.
Edition of 25
Visual perspectives appear to magically shift in Colette Robbins’ Proscenium. Seemingly placed through and across frames of time, the work evokes an uncertain, ancient past. The central figures — two meticulously textured feet adorned with spiky sea urchin-like shapes — feel strangely human despite their stony, porous surfaces and detachment from the body. Using the language of sculpture, these digital feet occupy a weight, presence, and cultural significance, a certain monumentality imbuing an untold mythological narrative related to time and the traversal through geographic space that leads one home. Home remains unfixed, as polysemic as the reflective surfaces and repeated shapes in the image, and as elusive as the mythological place from which these feet originate.
Edition of 25