Consumereality : The Cyberama Gestalt and The Three Stigmata

scene from The Cyberama Gestalt

This is an image from The Cyberama Gestalt, a video/photography project I made in 1993. I was reading a lot of Cyberpunk and related sci-fi at the time and was very influenced by Philip K Dick’s fantastic novel, The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch. The relationships of stimuli inducing materiality (ersatz, virtual, apparent), consumption and drugs questions the very nature of reality in this story from 1964, in which forced colonisation from a rapidly overheating earth leads the colonists into drug induced escapist fantasies. Initially they use a toy-like layout in order to stabalise their transubstantive translation into the hedonistic and ideal virtual world (USA 1960’s) of Perky Pat and her boyfriend, Walt. The colonists are constantly updating their layouts with the latest “fash”, expensive minitures which supplement and elevate their virtual reality experience.

One has to ask the question as to whether this is an extremely sentient articulation of what was to come. We too are trapped to some extent within our self contained masturbatory units, over-consuming trinkets in a vain attempt to provide our increasingly virtual existence some sort of materiality/meaning. We too, by the nature of the financial system, are stuck in a consumereality; an infinite loop of consumption that, because of its mathematical impossibility, must move into the virtual and that takes a conscious effort to escape from, or at least control. In the story, Palmer Eldritch returns from a deep space journey with an alternative drug which apparently frees users from the restrictions of Perky Pat’s domain and allows a god-like creativity….(no spoiler)….

Scene from the Cyberama GestaltThis work was originally made with video and then photographed direct from screen and forms part of a series of works done along these lines and with similar themes. I’ll be posting more from time to time and discussing the ideas that still, I think, hold a genuine resonance.