El Ultimo Grito’s Horizons Deferred at Halle Verriere, Meiseinthal, is the summation of ideas and work developed around the subject of glitch as social displacement. The show represents their multi-faceted practice, with large scale interactive sculpture and installation works showcasing their distinctive social and political engagement and wit.
Horizons Deferred consists of four large-scale works: “The Architectures”, "The Users", "Dialogues" and "Soundscape". These form a city of inflatable sculptures fitted with motion and sound sensors reacting to each other and the visiting public. A ‘controlled demolition implosion’ is triggered, the city falls and is recreated anew - subject to individual interactions.
Horizons Deferred plays with Delueze & Guattari’s notion of “plateau”, encouraging participants to construct a physical artistic representation of their own point of view: the plateau from which we simultaneously view our future and our past.
The horizon is that line between your current reality and your constructed perspective fuelled by your expectations and dreams. By interacting with sensors in the sculptures, the users can start to take control of the system they are in, which is a micro-representation of larger systems.
“The Architectures” are extra-large-scale inflatable sculptures fitted with motion and sound sensors reacting to each other and to the visitor. The works develop El Ultimo Grito’s exploration of the idea of ‘glitch’ - the technological malfunctions in a system that reveal the workings underpinning how that system behaves. By being given a glimpse of these secret mechanisms, we as users can learn to manipulate them and in the microcosm harness some control over our lives.
“The Dialogues” invoke paradoxes to disturb our rational processes and question our decision-making, inviting us to ask if where we are going is really where we want to go. “Capitalism is boring" says one machine - "I am loving it" answers the other.
“The Users” are hand-painted people at large scale, whose tattoos tell real stories (as tattoos used to do). These represent the tension between what you have been and what you are, the plateau before the horizon, the final moment of doubt before the revelation of where the consequences of our actions will lead us: whether toward Utopia or Dystopia.
Delueze & Guattari’s notion of “plateau” is brought into sharp contemporary relevance with El Ultimo Grito’s exploration of the idea of the migrant. The idea of the horizon is revealed in the imagery generated from media representations of contemporary realities. For the people stranded on a makeshift boat the Greek coast is that line that represents the continuation of life. As it is, they are prevented from reaching their destination, they are stranded in that plateau - call it sea, "the jungle", a refugee camp, Ellis Island. Each plateau exists in a ‘stand-by’ state, just before it can materialise and become that new reality in which the migrant can finally immerse.
Meanwhile, that very horizon is changing. The architectural redevelopment of metropolises like London configure them as non-places to be bought up rather than lived in: quickly built and sold out even faster to phantom owners. Social housing is being demolished driven by the pretend horizons of capital. From our existing plateau, consumerism and speculation drive the appearance of Dark Cities of glass, the empty shells of neoliberalism.
Thus in Horizons Deferred the representations of these architectures are structures inflated by air and deflated by a vacuum. Industrial and housing estates are disappearing under controlled demolitions and remodeled as luxury apartments with barista cafes, a city of conspicuous consumption where there seems to be no space for any other model of city life. As in the movie Dark City, urban reconfigurations require a reassignment of every citizen’s role, no longer as individual members of a community but as individual transactors in an economy. As in Ballard’s High Rise, this gives rise to atomisation and the narrowing of the experience of life. Horizons Deferred engages with these themes in a continuing attempt to suggest ways of recovering our agency as individuals in totalising systems.