Review: “I Feel Fantastic”

The most interesting thing about artwork on the Internet is how truly occult it can be. There is a level of anonymity afforded to online artists that is totally unprecedented, and the result of this anonymity has been a vast wasteland of pieces whose origins and intentions are largely untraceable. This series will be an exploration of Internet curios without a background story. We are going to play cultural detective and attempt to discern, to the best of our abilities, the meaning and the rationale behind these curios, and hopefully invite some well-deserved critical discourse to them in the process.

Case File #3

Video Title: I Feel Fantastic

Tara the Android

Uploaded by: Creepyblog

Story: By this point, I Feel Fantastic has been fully established as a shadowy classic of the deep-slumber-party genre; a time-tested destination for freaking out the uninitiated and catalyzing foredoomed cycles of folk inquiry. It is perhaps the most archetypal example of “mysterious” internet art, a work so perfectly eerie that it feels that it must be intentional, but so hidden in its origin that it remains legitimately unknowable.

This grained and woodsy artifact consists of a female android named Tara posing and serenading the viewer with a monotonous half-song whose lyrics lend the title its name. A middle break in the video wipes over some disfocused foliage for no apparent reason. The video ends that way it began.

The backyard break

The Mystery: When we began researching into I Feel Fantastic we were surprised to find that so much remains unknown about it. There’s a solid number of articles and forums dedicated to constructing a cohesive origin story but while details and clues abound, nothing straightforward can yet be put together.

The actual mysteries inherent in I Feel Fantastic are obvious and really boil down to one medial question: what is this? Who would make this video, why would they make it, how weird is it actually supposed to be? This video is the stuff that nightmares are made of, but is that the point? Is I Feel Fantastic just an abridged internet Blair Witch Project-style hoax, a Ted the Caver exercise in pseudo-realist horror? Or is it something more?

What We Know: The rabbit hole that is the I Feel Fantastic origin mystery is a fascinating and often disturbing ride. Here are the facts, as provided by Reddit, Blumhouse, certain robot forums, etc.:

I Feel Fantastic was originally uploaded by a user called Creepyblog (it remains the user’s only upload). The video’s description contains an extended meditation on the Greek myth of Pygmalion. For those unfamiliar with the story: Pygmalion was a sculptor who found that no woman on Earth would suit his ideal, so he decided that he would sculpt the perfect woman for himself. When Aphrodite, goddess of love, happened upon the figure he created, she took pity on Pygmalion and brought it to life. The parallels between this myth and the video are obvious and are clearly meant to inspire a sense that the creator of the piece/robot is insane, or at least extremely eccentric. Of course, the name “Creepyblog” makes all this spookiness seem self-aware and, importantly, the user does not take personal credit for the video.

Things get weirder from here. Shortly after the original post, another user named Niyou77 reuploaded the video along with a collection of other shorts featuring Tara the android in a playlist called “my android”. These videos maintained the creep-factor of I Feel Fantastic, and the context migration made the whole affair seem more legitimately bizarre. Video descriptions now came with wacky, tongue-in-cheek origin stories and the claim that Tara was made “by accident” and had supernatural powers.

Niyou77’s playlist

Internet sleuths began to do some sniff-work, and deduced that Tara the Android was the creation of one John Bergeron. An oft-cited link leads to a crudely designed “android forum” run by Bergeron where Tara is listed amongst “smaller android projects”.

It has been established that Niyou77 is not John Bergeron. It is unclear why Niyou77 decided to co-opt the Tara videos and build his own mythos but it seems that Bergeron is the legitimate creator; thanks to some wonderful detective work by the blog mysteriaforthecurious, Bergeron’s original website has been tracked down, and it appears as though Tara was originally a personal project designed to fuse an interest in robotics with an interest in music. Bergeron is still around and Internet sleuthing suggests that he is a seemingly normal music teacher and robo-tinkerer. Seemingly normal…because his entire social media presence shut down the second that someone asked him on Twitter about the I Feel Fantastic video.

The tale does not stop here. Mysteries remain as to the Niyou77 uploads (many of which seem tonally out of sync with Bergeron’s original creation, and are probably from another source), and the lack of conclusive credit has unsettled spectators. In no way do we give credence to these rumors and in no way are we implicating Bergeron in them, but it must be addressed that the failure of anybody to adequately come forward and offer an explanation for the videos has led to a full-blown urban legend about Tara’s “real” creator. The creator of these legends is a serial killer who dresses Tara in his victims clothes and makes her sing and dance for kicks…that, or he was a serial killer that created Tara, only to find her come to life and destroy him (urban legends are, of course, inconsistent). There is no evidence that anything other than harmless weirdness is going on, but it is clear that until an actual answer can be inked in the registry, unseemly speculation will continue to swell.

Final Notes: I Feel Fantastic is a stone cold classic. It is one of the most engaging, creepy, and mystifying works of the 21st century and a perfect example of the kind of exhilarating enigma that an artist can achieve if they understand the Internet fully. The aesthetic is a perfect balance of the uncanny and the real, the concept is unique and disturbing, and the restraint that the creator (whoever it is) has showed has birthed a legitimate urban legend. This is the real folk art of our day, and though it would be satisfying, I hope that we never totally crack the mystery of Fantastic, so that future generations can look back and whisper about the rumors and the shady links and continue to be united in curiosity around this very worthy little oddity.

-MC