I didn't know what 'Cannibal Colony' was but I was working on it. Working on it meaning taking photos of placards announcing the theme before the theme was even known. I was restless...
It seemed like a large expansive computer game, probably close to the kind of computer game I would love to actually play if I could. These are callled 'Adventure Games' and they are perfect for ruinists and dreamers. In essence a virutal landscape is wandered through, being only mapped out as you uncover it (instead of the other way round), staked out according to various (usually) pitfalls and rewards. These lands are also populated and interactions occur. Although you are more likely to meet terrible monsters, cunning bandits or an Ice Queen in passing, there seems no reason why such games could not also contain the chance for you to converse with (or slaughter) a drifting pissed-off Riot Grrl, a robot form of Walter Benjamin, Russian sapphists wandering leisurely to the next Phalansterie or hyper-cute space moss in it's Nth dimensional form. What could be more pleasant on a Sunday afternoon drift around this virtual adventure landscape? One need not bother oneself with finding the Holy Grail, Keys of Tzath, Forgotten Prince (etc, etc) than rather join up with a band of fellow losers and see what's up. Maybe some forest music could be made, or a communal meal could be cooked (space moss is very nutritious if you can catch it) or we could just doze under the two Suns. Another dream of mine is to just find a comfortable tree and lay on a bough observing anything and everything that passes by. These are the kind of games we could write...
I was watching the screen the other day during one of these games and everything was dreamy and pixelated, the colours bright and odd and the sound very loud. There was a warlord passing by, then some dancing minstrels...but no matter how hard I tried to find Xanudu from my vantage point in my sturdy oak tree, nothing in this game seemed to connect. There was a seriousness in the air, 'a fever, a daydream', I lay restless trying to remember the point of my adventure game but it would not come. Something was up. Something had gone wrong, the software turned brittle and my adventure character was now static, immobilised, rigid. With fear. A flash reflection meant I looked at myself in the screen - rictus grin. I couldn't even map the terrain as I was used to...'and the flags were all rotten at the top of their poles'. The landscape rolled over me, I had no control, no choice to N, S,E,W, to 'Open Treasure Chest' nor 'Cast Spell'. I was 'playing' the role playing game called 'Cannibal Colony', otherwise known as watching television.
Welcome To Cannibal Country...
In the year 2005, why on visiting an exhibition of contemporary Chinese art would we also want to buy a Mao-era Chinese shirt and cap? Why on visiting an exhibition of Slovenia art would we also want to buy a Slovenian-made Rex chair?
We have been colonised. We have not been invaded for everything is the same as it was. There is no invading force, only the invasive force of the image and how we reflect in that image. Nothing has changed except everything. What was, has now been Photoshopped, and that seem a perfect metaphor for life in The Colony. Life here under heavy manners of The Colony is the lived opposite of the seriousness in intent (and sheer beauty) of Ernst Bloch's 'I am. We are. That is enough'.
Which way out then? Looking for the start, the escape, the mass break-out. It's a collective independence we seek or none at all, like the music and dancing and the forest meal at the edge of The Colony lands, sharing moss, laughing, edging closer to slipping the border. Bloch continues:
'Now we have to begin. Life has been put in our hands. For itself it became empty already long ago. It pitches senselessly back and forth, but we stand firm, and so we want to be its initiative and we want to be its ends'
Ernst Bloch, Objective in 'The Spirit of Utopia', (1918)
We are Cannibals because we 'eat ourselves as a thing'. We watch ourselves constantly and we eat ourselves constantly. As I said, I didn't yet know what could be said about this Adventureless Game. This automaton, this self-reproducing blob-life but fortune looks after us always...placing better things in our path...gives us short cuts...
'Commodities can only borrow real human powers, human qualities, from the world they pretend to surpass..making commodities desirable is endlesly parasitic on the values of a vanishing sociality. It injects its objects with homeopathic doses of 'community', 'respect for tradition', decency, loyalty, tenderness, naivety, eccentricity, caring - in a word, love. The operation is deadly. It travesties the values it cannibalises...in the process it works endlessly to eviscerate the materials out of which human happiness (and recognition of unhappiness) might still be built'
Retort, from 'Afflicted Powers' (2005)
We Have Not Yet Reached 100%
I dont want to say much more about it. It's a feeling and I hope it's a shared feeling. A revulsion too! But there is autonomy to be made, and to be lost and found, in a circle of adventures. Yes, there is the fear of the future100% image, the complete encapsualtion of self/others in a refelection of pure thingness. Or the future where nothing was or will be, and everything free floats in permanent now. Where we can not make the statement 'I am. We are' without turning it into a question.
But is this possible? I don't think so. Not as long as we remain pissing, shitting, kissing, breathing human beings. Each one of these acts is a moment of denial of the living death (of capitalism) and this, then, is our true adventure game, for each one of these acts is essential. Each action expands the sense that "I am. We are'.
"People become dreamers when they are not satisfied with their reality, and sometimes they don't know what is real until they begin to dream'
Joshua to Kela in Helon Habila, 'Waiting For An Angel' (2002)
In the adventure game 'Exodus' it was possible to win purely by focusing on sensations...
Pictures to follow...grabbing time, grabbing a computer...you know?