Every Wednesday, even when my head feels like a ball of static, Itching For More shall appear out of the sky, like a drunk friend of a friend coming into your house and trying to convince you to join the badminton society when you sneak downstairs to grab an orange. This week, digital multimedia archipelago: Dystropicana
Dystropicana, by ★ ąяţǥąʍ€$ ★, is a digital collection of pieces focusing on the disintegration of commercial paradise, an anthology that subverts the traditional image of virtual paradise, placing it within an uncomfortable context.
Dystropicana opens with Dèluge, placing you on an island surrounded by water, statues all facing towards a factory, vending machine and industrial mining machinery. Whilst water kills you, you begin to find a continual loop of using the machinery to activate the factory, each time the statues moving closer to the vending machine, reaching out, multiplying as you erase them from existence. As you reach the vending machine, water rises, slowly covering a statue, its head raised to the sky.
The Vending Machine provides an instant, idyllic and fake paradise, easily purchased and quickly consumed. All the statues are engrossed with it, their faces turned towards it and away from its source — the pollution inducing factory, turned away from the paradise they are surrounded by. Instead, their water destroys them as they cyclically purchase paradise.
Dèluge is a continued grasp for an unneeded product. Person follows person, our heads defiantly staring away from the rising tide of global warming. But it is bigger than just that, Dèluge demonstrates the continued consequences of an attitude of selfish consuming, ignorant to the repercussions of your actions, until you are submerged, overwhelmed, unable to continue, left with the knowledge that we did this, we killed our world, willingly and happily, desperate for a dream that never happened.
Dèluge is followed by SUNSHINE COAST— an excersise in the creation of the aftermath of our destruction. Bright, blinding colours and a glitchy soundtrack overwhelm the viewer as they fly over a flooded landscape full of small islands, some containing man made structures reaching for the space above the flood.
These dead sets of structures masquerade the reason for such a stark landscape — an ignorant world never seeming to acknowledge its rising pain and wrongness, instead building and building higher and higher. All that is left is a mess of meaningless structures on a broken planet devoid of life.
If Dèluge was conveying a message of consumeristic greed, then SUNSHINE COAST provides us with a warning of our potential legacy if continued — a mishmash of unfinished buildings amongst a dead planet, a “Sunshine Coast” without Sunshine, a paradise of death.
The final game in Dystropicana is XOIslands, a flat landscape of palm trees featuring a colour changer and cascade effect on the screen, creating visual effects that rip apart your screen. Whilst Dèluge and SUNSHINE COAST were focused on the cause and destructionary nature of man made paradise, XOIslands provides us with a space to discuss the sterility of such a paradise.
Instead of manufactured destructions of paradise, we have a manufactiured paradise, broken and plastic, there to serve the need for “commercial space station habitats”, a glitchy and soulless mess of the ideal paradise. It lacks heart and mind, instead existing as a commercial ploy to capture those who are ignorant to our Earth’s slowly dying natural paradise.
Paradise is the key word for all of Dystropicana’s pieces. Whilst the games contained a perhaps more abstract approach to our slow destruction of our planet’s beauty, the video “Your Life But Every Time They Say VR It Gets Faster” sets it out explicitly, merging a documentary on the dying coral reef with clips of VR worlds.
It sets out a clear message — that we are obsessed with creating the perfect paradise getaway from our Earth, which whilst feeling great, is a falsehood — we are simply just strange humanoids parading with plastic crowns strapped to our heads, ignorant to the death of our habitat.
This is further emphasised through the ASCII art, “Palms” and the Twitter Bot @cybertropics. Cybertropics plays with the idea of commercialising everything and anything, placing it on an artificial pillar for us to stare at and dream at, adding Tropical to as many words as possible. Palms contains a Paradise made of ASCII art, a thin veil for a fake world, revealing its static nature.
Dystropicana, at its heart is about the commercialisation of paradise and the rise of fake paradises in order to compensate for the slow loss of our earthly ones. As we slowly create more and more pollution, consume more and more, watch more and more species and fauna become extinct, we compensate by creating more immersive Cybertropics, content to sit and stare at screens whilst our world slowly disintegrates, until we are left with an ocean of islands of bricks and no one but ourselves to blame.
Dystropicana is pay-what-you-want, available here