Viscous Fairy Grottoes
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Viscous Fairy Grottoes: Arcades Project
12 Dec 2020–17 Jan 2021An alternate reality gameworld across digital .space and the physical space of soft/WALL/studsWith artist-gamemasters Chong Lii and Niklas Büscher, Xafiér Yap, Gigi Koh and Aneesha Shetty, Johann Yamin, and Shawn Chua
ℑ𝔫 𝔱𝔥𝔢 𝔟𝔢𝔤𝔦𝔫𝔫𝔦𝔫𝔤, 𝔱𝔥𝔢𝔯𝔢 𝔴𝔞𝔰 𝖘𝖑𝖎𝖒𝖊. All things were part of their nonhuman viscosities, and without them was not anything in form or being. When the Physarocene drew to its end, the slime retreated into hiding, unaccustomed to emerging lifeforms and logics. Bursting asunder from their total, oozing expanse of a body, they scattered themselves within the hearts of newly-formed worlds. There, they congealed into deep slumber, artificing elaborate dream sensoriums that would lie within cyphered datastreams.
In the year 20XX, the worlds had begun their eversion under the noxious airborne event. Their saturated hearts pooled together in singular, instrumental form, mired in a primordial soup of extracted crystal, coltan, and silver. Within this liquid metal fluid, strange orbs blossomed into being, revealing the existence of several dreaming worlds: Of viscous fairy grottoes long lying dormant…
Viscous Fairy Grottoes: Arcades Project is an alternate reality gameworld with artists as gamemasters, where ludic infrastructures (dys)function as platforms for gamic actions. Distending notions of the game, it runs on indeterminate goals, poor graphics, and bad gameplay, where objects glitch through walls or players use cheatcodes to progress. It is a lascivious intermix of pirate acts, queered avatar creation, multiplayer countervisualities, and invocations of dream-seeing worlds. Extending across online slimescapes and physical extrusions at soft/WALL/studs, Arcades envisions gaming as method of organising: As playable nationalisms proliferate, instances of resistance refract through gameful worldbuilding across online spheres, alongside recent pivots toward simulation gaming for community and comfort under pandemic time.
Taking facetiously from Walter Benjamin’s unfinished magnum opus, The Arcades Project, this gameworld corrupts Benjamin’s readings of the 19th century shopping arcade as site of capitalist modernity for Europe, described as “fairy grottoes” radiating across Paris. Instead, interest lies in the site of the video game arcade, sprouting across East and Southeast Asia from the 1970s and 80s. With gaming arcades banned in Singapore from 1983 until the early 90s as a corruptive influence and symbol of Western decadence, the video game serves as a surface of discursive tension, an active mechanism, a corrupted save file lying in wait. Co-locating media archaeologies, digital folklore, and notions of contemporary agency for players and non-players alike, Arcades burrows through rabbit holes, opening up glitchy fairy portals to broken, oozing worlds.
Photos by Godwin Koay and Johann Yamin