theo triantafyllidis' simulations at spazio vitale explore the absurdity of human existence

theo triantafyllidis' simulations at spazio vitale explore the absurdity of human existence

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spazio vitale presents Sisyphean Cycles by Theo Triantafyllidis

 

On the occasion of Art Verona 2023, the non-profit foundation Spazio Vitale opens to the public for the first time with Theo Triantafyllidis: Sisyphean Cycles, curated by Domenico Quaranta. The exhibition brings together, in an exclusive single set-up, four simulations by the Greek artist, guiding the viewer through an articulated and compelling narrative journey and into as many ecosystems/worlds programmed by him in such a way as to modify themselves according to autonomous behavior. Significant examples of world-building, a creative practice that is the subject of growing interest in both the artistic, philosophical, and literary spheres, Theo Triantafyllidis’ live software simulations bring to life immersive digital environments, sometimes automated, sometimes interactive, that can take various forms and adapt to different displays (from virtual reality to augmented reality to video installation). These are defined as ‘in vitro simulations’, complete systems that the viewer can occasionally observe with scientific coolness or actively manipulate.

theo triantafyllidis' simulations at spazio vitale explore the absurdity of human existence
BugSim (Pheromone Spa) (2022) | live simulation, ultra widescreen display, gaming PC | sound by Holly Waxwing

image courtesy the artist

 

 

using digital and physical media to engage with new realities

 

Born in Athens, Theo Triantafyllidis works with digital and physical media to explore the experience of space and the mechanics of embodiment in hybrid realities. He creates interactions within immersive environments using algorithms and game engines, VR headsets, and experimental performance processes. In Triantafyllidis’s worlds, awkward interactions and precarious physics mingle with uncanny, absurd, and poetic situations, inviting viewers to engage with new realities. Through the lens of monster theory, he investigates isolation, sexuality, and violence in their visceral extremities. The artist offers computational humor and AI improvisation as a response to the tech industry’s agenda — trying to give back to the online and gaming communities that he considers both the inspiration and context for his work by remaining an active participant and contributor. Building on his approach, Theo Triantafyllidis engages this medium in Sisyphean Cycles at Spazio Vitale to critically narrate contemporary reality — highlighting the individual and social consequences of communication technologies on human beings — and to simulate alternative realities that start from radically different conditions.

theo triantafyllidis' simulations at spazio vitale explore the absurdity of human existence
artist Theo Triantafyllidis

 

 

exploring theo Triantafyllidis’ four installations

 

More specifically, the exhibition presents four recent installations, ringed according to a narrative that proceeds from the critique of the present to the construction of alternative worlds: Ork Haus (2022), Radicalization Pipeline (2021), Ritual (2020), and BugSim (Pheromone Spa) (2022). Ork Haus depicts a family of orks in their home environment, as they live a daily existence heavily conditioned by digital technologies, both at the level of interpersonal communication and household management and escape in simulations (video games, VR, streaming video). The ork, elsewhere used by the artist as his alter ego, is a recurring figure in his work. This narrative solution allows him to reduce his characters to a set of elementary and, thus, paradigmatic drives and forms of communication. The protagonists of the simulation appear, each in their way, imprisoned in alternate realities while the world around them seems to be falling apart.

theo triantafyllidis' simulations at spazio vitale explore the absurdity of human existence
Theo Triantafyllidis: Sisyphean Cycles (2023) at Spazio Vitale | image © Michela Pedranti

 

 

 

In Radicalization Pipeline (2021), two seemingly endless hordes clash into a violent free-for-all, swinging large melee weapons and shouting with distorted voices. A wide range of characters — from citizen militias to fantastical creatures — enter the screen only to kill each other, wave after wave, sinking their virtual bodies slowly into a muddy landscape. The mood occasionally lightens with the medieval covers of familiar pop songs that complete the soundscape conceived by the composer and sound designer Diego Navarro. Looking at phenomena such as the rise of QAnon and the US Capitol attack, the artist suggests connections between gamification, fantasy, and political radicalization: the ‘funnel’ structure of social media, which creates discursive bubbles in which we are constantly exposed to like-minded people and to content that confirms our ideas, is analyzed in its political and social implications, emphasizing the role their ‘confirmation bias’ takes in the emergence of cults, the circulation of fake news, and the process of political radicalization.

theo triantafyllidis' simulations at spazio vitale explore the absurdity of human existence
image © Michela Pedranti

 

 

Instead, Ritual (2020) takes us to a seemingly familiar and readymade place appropriated and modified from a Game Engine demo and to an unknown, post-apocalyptic time, in which human life, wiped out by a cataclysm, seems to have been left behind only the ruins. In this situation, a nascent ecosystem of insects and animals gradually manifests according to a repetitive and hypnotic rhythm, as if in some strange ritual. Finally, BugSim (Pheromone Spa) welcomes and explores a slice of microscopic life preserved in an intensive care terrarium. A busy Colony of Ants expands through a moist glass surface and within lush vegetation. Slowly and painstakingly, they are working to form a brittle purple mud into a structure they can call home. From this structure grows an entire forest of tiny flowering plants, calling to be pollinated by buzzing Honey Bee replicas and inhabited by a teeming microfauna. All but self-sustaining, this closed terrarium system is engineered to simulate all the necessary natural cycles for the fragile community of organisms: an experiment in resilience and entropy carefully monitored by a mysterious figure.

theo triantafyllidis' simulations at spazio vitale explore the absurdity of human existence
image © Michela Pedranti

theo-triantafyllidis-spazio-vitale-designboom-full

image © Michela Pedranti

theo triantafyllidis' simulations at spazio vitale explore the absurdity of human existence
BugSim (Pheromone Spa) (2022) | live simulation, ultra widescreen display, gaming PC | sound by Holly Waxwing

image courtesy the artist

theo triantafyllidis' simulations at spazio vitale explore the absurdity of human existence
image © Michela Pedranti

theo-triantafyllidis-spazio-vitale-designboom-full-6

Ork Haus (2022) | live simulation, 4K display, gaming PC | motion capture performance by Rachel Ho, music by Daniel Burley & Gobby | image courtesy the artist

theo triantafyllidis' simulations at spazio vitale explore the absurdity of human existence
Radicalization Pipeline (2021) | live simulation | sound by Diego Navarro | image courtesy the artist

theo triantafyllidis' simulations at spazio vitale explore the absurdity of human existence
image © Michela Pedranti

theo-triantafyllidis-spazio-vitale-designboom-full-12

image © Michela Pedranti

theo triantafyllidis' simulations at spazio vitale explore the absurdity of human existence
Ritual (2020) | live simulation | image courtesy the artist

theo triantafyllidis' simulations at spazio vitale explore the absurdity of human existence
image © Michela Pedranti

theo-triantafyllidis-spazio-vitale-designboom-full-11

image © Michela Pedranti

theo triantafyllidis' simulations at spazio vitale explore the absurdity of human existence
image © Michela Pedranti

theo triantafyllidis' simulations at spazio vitale explore the absurdity of human existence
Ork Haus (2022) | image courtesy the artist

theo-triantafyllidis-spazio-vitale-designboom-full-9

Ritual (2020) | image courtesy the artist

 

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image © Michela Pedranti
image © Michela Pedranti
image © Michela Pedranti
image © Michela Pedranti
image © Michela Pedranti
image © Michela Pedranti
image © Michela Pedranti
image © Michela Pedranti
image © Michela Pedranti
image © Michela Pedranti
image © Michela Pedranti
image © Michela Pedranti
image © Michela Pedranti
image © Michela Pedranti
Radicalization Pipeline (2021) | image courtesy the artist
Radicalization Pipeline (2021) | image courtesy the artist
Radicalization Pipeline (2021) | image courtesy the artist
Radicalization Pipeline (2021) | image courtesy the artist
Ork Haus (2022) | image courtesy the artist
Ork Haus (2022) | image courtesy the artist

project info:

 

name: Sisyphean Cycles

location: Spazio Vitale@spaziovital3, Verona, Italy

artist: Theo Triantafyllidis (slimetech.org) | @theo_trian

curator: Domenico Quaranta

program: Art Verona 2023 | @artverona

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