Pandemonium (Do Androids Dream of)
Pandemonium is a VR environment and sound work, with an online dashboard display showing sentiment and emotion analysis of the accompanying Twitter bot @trackn-tracer deployed as a “research assistant” taking the temperature of public debate about the contact tracing app, since Nov 2020, which became a site during the pandemic where many urgent concerns to do with data crystallised, regarding privacy, trust, and agency. Pandemonium nests like a bad weather snow globe, in the heart of a strangely familiar, yet deserted city, inviting you to explore an eerily decimated financial district, reclaimed by a virtual “re-wilding”, way too lively by far – a pandemonium – where the kinds of animal spirits often associated with the markets get re-calibrated to address the climate crisis.
Animal behaviours have long been used to describe the “inexpressible” drive, the life source, of the market. But, whilst the “low animal spirits” of the economist Keynes drive the market through bullish opportunistic behaviours, the critters in Pandemonium roam the deserted financial district, and speak of “zoonotic spillover” – viral jumps between animal and human that exemplify the interdependencies revealed by the pandemic. They evade categorisation by almost becoming their own species, live as kin with their humanoid siblings, point to a nature that is naturally queer, and to a synchronised desire to do things differently – that takes account of contingency to develop fluid data practices that are consensual and oscillate between being in/visible, as necessary.
The project Pandemonium was further developed at ZKM | Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe in the framework of the Beyond Matter artist residency program.