by Elliot Davies
Benedict Drew’s multimedia indictment of weapon-grade ambition is a total trip that promises brain-frazzling fun for the whole family.
The Enlightenment – When people stopped believing there [sic] visions.
The Grand Tour – where rich people went travelling to better themselves.
Maybe the counter culture of the 60s was an attempt to imagine the possibility that knowledge could be gained from hallucination.
The utopia of that time quickly died, the hippies turned into billionaires.
Hippies turn into billionaire entrepreneurs. D.I.Y. D.I.Y. .D.I.Y. oligarch space ships crash. Self oscillating. Travelling through space on a dissonant sound wave. TRUST IN THE VISIONS. There is knowledge in the visions. CHANT CHANT CHANT.
The exhibition notes for Benedict Drew’s installation Kaput are printed on three different colours of cheap fluorescent paper. They resemble a Perkus Tooth collage crossed with the sort of desperate screeds that manic street preaches hand out to bemused pedestrians. The salient biographical information has been rendered illegible with a crude “BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH”, and the remaining space is taken up by a confused mess of information, which I’ve transcribed above.
Here is some music:
Like with those original tours of Europe, space travel will provide opportunities for Radical Enlightenment, but only to the very rich and privileged. Space travel can also be a transformative experience, broadening the mind with new knowledge and experiences, including mystical and spiritual experiences.
Richard Branson is a dreamer, and Kaput gives you an opportunity to walk through his latest vision.
As this is the high church of Virgin, Branson’s face dominates the room like a stained glass window. His expression is one of divine wonder. He’s flanked by two screens, on which are projected, intermittently, a squalling sax as played by a topless man.
Branson’s mouth is agape, like he’s gasping. Resonating from his eyes are a series of coloured wires, which are connected to various objects around the room. Directly below, we get to share his vision.
Three screens – one large, two smaller; one displaying images of the moon, the other two stuck in bluescreen mode, with the occasional Virgin spacecraft. Attached jacks generate fuzzy feedback. There’s a lot of feedback going on.
In each corner of the room are some gold foil planets, inside of which are speaker cones tuned to oppressively low frequencies. They’re causing the foil to splutter and dance, adding an alien rasp to the cacophony that sets the teeth on edge.
Lying in the middle of all this is a figure – or what used to be a figure. He appears to be decomposing into a vomit puddle of coloured spaghetti. On either side of what was his head is a speaker, and some controls are within reach of what would have been his hands. It looks as though he attempted to induce total sensory overload, and his body couldn’t take it.
But where we’re going, we don’t need bodies.
Head for the stars and unleash the potential your inner space through surrendering to the mysteries of outer space! If you want to share Richard’s vision, lie back and leave your body behind.
If you’ve got the cash, of course. Some of us still need our bodies. Without them, we can’t work. And if we can’t work, we can’t eat.
We all live in the gutter, but only some of us can afford to look to the stars.
Lead image by Peter Bonnell.