The next screening on SCHQ Electric is Helen Marten’s CGI animation Evian Disease, 2012. Made between 2011 and 2012, the film was originally created for a solo presentation at Palais de Tokyo, Paris in 2012.
Structured as a shifting dialogue between six characters, Marten’s digital animation unfolds as a beguiling stream of visual and verbal signifiers, exploiting the glossy pseudo-realism and seemingly banal aesthetic of the medium.
The unseen narrators variously muse on humanity’s conquest of nature as they move through a collage of free-floating, overlapping and interpenetrating simulacra and scenery set forth by Marten – a jellyfish floating in a uniform blue sea; a close up shot of a snooker table, incongruously populated with balls, pieces of sushi and filaments of bark; a virtual-reality living room in all its deadening pristineness; and a sinister avatar-baby who is simultaneously hyperreal and robotic.
As the sequence progresses, imperceptible slippages within the commentaries (which fluctuate from apposite to the absurd), coalesce with the artificial weightlessness and incongruity of the virtual scenery: gradually probing and destabilising the visual and linguistic edifice of meaning. Of Evian Disease, Marten has commented that it ‘reeks of dishonesty… There is nothing to touch, no smell, just this weird rubbery shell that at the same time is both materially dead and data-osmotic. In some ways, it is more code than text – the gender has been stripped out, and with that, a sense of the weight.’