Art What! Arts Theatre

T:>Works’ #Metazomia Exhibition by Brian Gothong Tan explores realm of NFTs by dreaming up new worlds and futures

Following on from The Swimming Pool Library, multi-disciplinary artist Brian Gothong Tan has completed work on his second commission of T:>works’ Artistic Atelier, this time diving into the world of non-fungible tokens (NFT). In this exhibition, works are in part spawned from and inspired by T:>Works’ new T:>NFT, a dedicated digital platform for NFTs created by artists commissioned and presented by T:>Works, in a collection titled #Metazomia NFTs.

With the #Metazomia exhibition, Brian expands on the initial launch of NFTs, and showcases close to 100 digital images which the NFTs were extracted from, curating them into a single, overarching experience, taking inspiration from James C. Scott’s 2009 epic Zomia hypothesis, after an anthropological and historical study on the large massif at elevations above 300 meters stretching from the Central Highlands of Vietnam to North-eastern India. Combining them with the writings and ideas of bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto and the ideals of bitcoin creation, #Metazomia then imagines new worlds and new ways of living, relating and governing.

The exhibition then showcases a rich imagination from Brian’s mind, as he arranges and presents these works by recontextualising them through worlds that explore genres of cypherpunk, solarpunk and desertpunk. Together with theatremaker Kaylene Tan and other collaborators, the #Metazomia exhibition becomes an opportunity to enter this world, away from normalcy, even if just for a short while.

Entering 72-13, visitors are asked to take a notebook to pen down their thoughts as they walk through the exhibition, encouraging them to dream up their own narratives and realms as they explore the works. Divided across three sections, the first is a collection of images that have been printed onto physical artefacts such as postcards, film slides or booklets. One imagines them as records of actual places and spaces, particularly accompanied by Kaylene Tan’s faux historical text, captioning the images like Instagram poetry, and evoking a specific mood with each one.

Within the space, you’ll also find a scrolling wall of text, where Kaylene Tan has crafted a manifesto-like story about the idea of Utopia, while tiny, 3D-printed models of the actors and collaborators on the project are fashioned into various scenes and dioramas, for visitors to make meaning of – perhaps an almost post-apocalyptic future where we have a chance to rebuild the world into a better place.

Finally, visitors can also interact with the work – by stepping into a circle, five screens will show a randomly selected series of images taken inspired by the Major Arcana of the traditional tarot as reimagined and performed by actors. If one ventures to find the meaning of each of these symbols, one could take the time to reflect on one’s own life, considering what they mean in relation to one’s own journey.

That’s not all though. In a second space, or ‘station’, visitors follow a yellow carpet (inspired by the Yellow Brick Road from The Wizard of Oz) into another world. But this is no Emerald City, and instead, one is surrounded by large scale projections of atmospheric, alien realms, showcasing impossible sci-fi and fantasy worlds all around.

While the main series of images is fixed, stepping into circles allows visitors to trigger additional images to play over the film, featuring actors performing short scenes, or archival clips from MGM’s The Wizard of Oz. Again, there is no actual central narrative, except for visitors to make their own meaning and significance of these images, imagining worlds and stories based off these temporal moments in time.

What #Metazomia then does is to allow visitors a rare space and quiet time to reflect and ponder in the darkness, illuminated by these strange scenarios and perspectives from possible futures or alternate dimensions, to think about the ideal world one wants to be in, free from centralised governments, in a bid to move away from the failures of such institutions. Amidst the noise and flurry of activity taking place throughout January, #Metazomia produces an introspective, interactive cinematic experience, a new art genre for a future world that harnesses imagination to create hope.

Metazomia runs from 2nd January to 20th January 2023, 2pm-10pm at 72-13. Find out more about #Metazomia here and here

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