Text by Paul-Émile Bertonèche
On Saturday 14th of May, Sub Rosa will launch the exhibition LFM for TCOBAC (Looking for More for The Citadel of Blossom and Calamity) by Babak Ahteshamipour. LFM for TCOBAC is a sequel to the exhibition Paleontology Of Non-Existence that the artist presented at Sub Rosa in October 2021.
LFM for TCOBAC is built around World of Warcraft’s game play. World of Warcraft is a widely popular multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) video game. It is played online within a virtual environment that enables players to interact with each other. Humanity has collectively spent more than 50 billions hours playing this game.
LFM for TCOBAC is a critical repurposing, in two steps. Firstly, Babak Ahteshamipour appropriates elements of the game that are manifested from ‘virtuality’ to ‘reality’. Secondly, we are programming together with the artist three performances that hone focus within this immersive environment. They are respectively Cataclysm for the Few on May 14th by Babak Ahteshamipour himself, The Third Threat on May 21st by Alizar1ne and Do Ghosts Eat Dumplings? on May 28th by Emily Karasawa Grabill.
LFM for TCOBAC represents a facet of the artist’s broader interest in internet culture, video games and complicit technologies. As users we are implicated and rightly concerned with how the latter thrives within the trajectory of debilitating capitalism and deterministic sciences.
Technologies shape our relationship to the world. They reify our vision. And eventually they affect our brain and body structures. The Internet and online video games hinge on a technology called Information and Communication Technology (ICT). As these technologies are ever-faster developing, we lack retrospective time and adequate conceptual tools to reflect upon these technologies.
The internet itself is physical. It is composed of fiber optics cables, satellites and huge warehouses filled with heating computers. The direct ecological consequences of these are dire in terms of the material waste that they produce: the overproduction of electronics, the desolation of marine habitats, and the electricity needed to maintain these facilities and to keep servers from overheating.
It’s even more difficult to grasp the implications of invisibilising this physical, material network to which humanity is at this point deeply wired. We have dispatched parts of it so far up in the sky, and others so deep in the ocean. Looking up, we think we behold mere blinking stars. Looking into the seas, we think that we merely behold thick water. And yet networks, invisible to us, are staked out in either domain.
The online network hides the body as well. You pretty much surf on the web bodiless. The body may still be involved either through a compressed voice, a lagging image or through alter egos and emojis. As it wires humanity, ICT also isolates us. From each other, from ourselves. Sometimes it feels like the Internet is fed up with solitude. It is keeping us away from the world by replacing it with commodities, simulations and artifices.
LFM for TCOBAC stands as an invitation to enter into these semiotic squares, collapsed binaries, radical diagonal pathways through occultist rituals for the post-internet age.