Digital video. 14 mins 48 secs. 2017
Commissioned by Sharjah Art Foundation for Sharjah Biennial 13, 2017
Set in the remnants of hippie trails in India, the video draws from the history of 1960s counterculture groups and their appropriation of spiritual ideas as a phenomenon contemporaneous with the development of the personal computer and cybernetics. No longer as active as they once were, these trails still bear the signs of the techno-fictional — overlaid with ancient spiritual regimens. As computers proposed that machine activity could replace the mind, counterculture considered whether religious or mystical experience could be recreated through technical means, as customisable 'internal technologies'. But however, this imagined ‘Empire of Equilibrium’ - the once-aspired-to state of universal harmony - has now been reduced to psychedelic posters, cheap reworks of surrealist paintings and new-age mixes of religio-techno-fusion music. The hippie trails and their associated symbolism reveal a decaying corpse, but one that has a propensity towards some kind of vampiric animation. The nature of this animation and its resurrectionary special-effects form the central schematic of the video.
The video forms Improvisation Two of the ongoing project Machinic Elixir. The project aims to develop fictions or propositions based on the decay of some of the techno-utopian impulses of the 1960's-70's and the mutations that emerge in the wake of its fallout. Each improvisation of the project examines different aspects of this decaying utopianism and the anomalous processes that power its shape-shifting qualities.