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The Gallery Trap by Dan McNeil


Welcome to The Exhibition of Post-Agrarian Psychopathy.

By way of interactive paintings, we trace the evolution of psychopathy from the beginning of the Agrarian Age to the Post-Agrarian and thereafter to our present Age of Eternal Insanity. Throughout, Noirmoutier’s ‘Age of Unreason’ is referenced, with particular emphasis given in Exhibition Hall 3 to the chapter on Spatial Disembowelling.

Please immerse yourself in the paintings and leave feedback!

Necrosis [Man Ray, 2019, $150,000,000 USD]

The first painting approaches you with a nostalgic scent of midsummer fields, a nebulous symphony of eternity that smothers all external sounds. The sophistication of spiral galaxies is rendered to you in stunning clarity, the exhalation of individual stars is the beating of giant wings in your chest, but overriding all of this is the collective and silent screaming that emanates from the only planet upon which conscious life resides. Beyond the lifeless galaxies lie the darkest of voids, and residing there are…what?

The Zero Hour
[Pol Pot, 1977, $300,000,000 USD]

A lone Boeing B-52 appears without warning in the bright blue sky above a frozen lake and flies low over the heads of a carefully assembled crowd. Its silver fuselage glints ominously in the light of an immense black sun, while hundreds of enormously magnified three dimensional images of a smiling Richard Nixon fall from the aircraft’s bomb bay to engulf the cheering crowd. Gigantic billboards entirely encircle the lake, festooned with moving images of politicians, plague victims, priests and psychopaths.

Bienvenue dans l’éternité
[Kurt Bochner, 1895, $475,000,000 USD]

Bochner’s final interactive work immerses us within an obscure gallery, half a mile from the Central Plaza of a nameless town on a distant world, where an uninvited crowd gazes inscrutably at a painting that cannot be described. A swirling ganglious mass, the crowd moves like a multitude of randomly intermittent larvae. Photonic wavelengths of observation flow languidly between the painting and the crowd and the crowd and the painting. Subjectivity and objectivity occasionally collide, and something new is created.

The Curator
[Roberto Fingi, 1969, $677,000,000 USD]

The Curator of a gallery watches a scene from Bienvenue dans l’éternité. The gallery is a glittering beautification of cold silence. The Curator’s exquisite robes shimmer; weirdly displaced photons are refracted, kaleidoscopically distorted, as if the light is tying to penetrate an atmosphere made of broken glass. The Curator’s expression is entirely without meaning. She is murmuring imperceptibly, perhaps into a recording device or a transmitter, hidden within the folds of her collar. There is nothing in the gallery that interests the Curator, save for this scene: that of the crowd watching the painting as, in turn, the painting watches the crowd. The Curator notes this indisputable fact, even before it happens.

The Great Leap
[Hieronymous Bosch, 1969, $800,000,000 USD]

This painting is a demented representation of a painting within a painting of the space probe Pioneer 10 and its long journey from Earth in AD 1972 towards its true but hitherto undisclosed final rendezvous with Aldebaran in AD 2,002, 023. The dark matter that Pioneer 10 traverses is comprised of an infinite number of diseased and rotting corpses, endlessly toiling; achieving nothing. In the alternate timeline of the nested painting, Pioneer 10 has been colonised by an AI paranoid schizophrenic, slowly absorbing the essence of Pioneer 10‘s circuitry. The nested painting is alive; that is to say, it is a dynamic structure, responding to both its subject matter and the observations of the crowd. Inevitably, the path of this painting, as imagined and laid out by its creator, will diverge again and again, with ever increasing frequency.

The Canyon of Infinite Ruins
[John von Neumann, 1973, $975,000,000 USD]

One of von Neumann’s later apocalyptic visions, this fully interactive painting of multiple viewpoints is a masterclass of controlled visual derangement. As the lone figure walks through the street, she/you/she recall(s) it as a concrete canyon, shadowed sunless by the tall buildings on either side. Now there is only rubble; upon closer inspection the rubble is comprised of smoking corpses. The day is silent and wonderful. The familiar greasy smell of Jimmy’s Burger Joint is replaced with the tangy mix of burnt metal, plastics, concrete and meat. You/she/you sidestep(s)a corpse, slam-packed with shards of glass from a destroyed building. The corpse appears to be male, although it is hard to be sure. Feeling hungry, she/you/she scrabble(s)at the corpse, and it relinquishes some dried scraps of flesh, which you/she/you wash(es) down with saliva. Using photonic location techniques, the blind psychopath stares unseeingly into the golden disc of the sun. She/you/she feels no heat whatsoever. Bored already, the blind psychopath whistles herself a song and heads towards the city zoo. In the darkly despairing sky, the robotic progeny of John von Neumann continue their unending acts of mechanistic genocide.

The Healing Room [Hedwige O’Hara, 1947, $1,150,000,000 USD]

Surplus body parts from The Canyon of Infinite Ruins are being used to make soup for the workers as they toil in the Disease Factory. Constantly evolving, the scene is one of ominosity and foreboding, with new pathogenical variants being produced on an almost hourly basis. The latest and greatest is Sub-22R, which the workers intend to release as soon as managerial consent is given. In the background, the children of the workers play in an old fashioned sandpit filled with lethal gamma radiation, bloodied razor blades and precisely one million human skulls; on their smartphones today the firebombing of Dresden plays on a continual loop.

The Minotaur of Arcadia [Iamblichus Chalcidensis, 2023, not for sale]

The man surveys you with bovine incuriosity. There is no attempt on his part or his handler to scan your muscular-skeletal architecture, your veiled psychopathology, your alien neural networks and their meaning, your atavistic vision and your likely career trajectory on this Schizoid Planet. He does not belong here with his municipal appearance and his worthless waffle, none of which address the evolution of art in the post-agrarian age. A volunteer reviewer for a disgusting lower order periodical, he possesses a predictable set of repulsive views on politics, women and gender identity. The load-bearing girders of his sanity have been buckling for some time.

This salivating metaphor.

I take a snapshot and he is frozen in time.

You frame him and wait for the next one.

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