Futures made of virtual insanity

Futures made of virtual insanity

13 April 2017

A technological spectacle is at the heart of this installation theatre, says Phoebe Graham

Imagine a taped-up cardboard box that’s a little bit battered and tattered around the edges, but still lights up a brilliant electric-blue.

This is my review of Nothing is Coming, the Pixels are Huge.

In a world no longer environmentally habitable, and all is uploaded to cyber space, little future Sim-like people tell us of lives now digitised into pixels of all sizes.

A lightly collective gasp escapes from the audience as the first pixel is placed on the floor and it lights up in colour. And the next. And the next. And the next. Pixelated worlds of trees and apartments and staircases are gradually constructed and begin to blink with the life that once breathed within it. But this is not just a theatrical rendition of Minecraft, macrocosmic and microcosmic memories of familiar lives and infrastructures are built as quickly as they’re forgotten again, and soon start to glitch.

Stage management spikes splash a Pollock painting across the stage, marking where each pixel is to be meticulously placed so careful projection mapping can make some magic happen.

Everything is given all the time it needs to grow and consume, all the air it needs to breath and stretch to its limits, making the most of the astonishing innovation taking place before mesmerised eyes.

The storyline is nothing groundbreaking, but it allows the technological spectacle to radiate at the very centre of the piece. There is absolutely a place for this kind of installation theatre, which is made in order to exhibit cutting-edge visual marvels. And while this is a story about the pretty bleak and probably inevitable future of tech-obsessed humanity, it manages to avoid the didactic attitude commonly seen in dystopian creations like Black Mirror.

Although I was sad that no one threw themselves into the pixel towers.


As the glitch-after-glitch crescendo intensifies to a breathtaking digital mass of colour, sound and light, the entire room is shaking and ready to burst. Then it does. And everything shuts down.

What’s left is obsolete. We fill the murdered pixels with the loss of ephemeral experiences, with how many people we’ve loved, with how many hours we’ve spent worrying, with how many seconds we’ve remembered. Each future impression fades away when they’ve lost everything, deleted to obliteration in an uncertain nothingness.

Theatre is so fucking cool.

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Photo credit: Aenne Pallasca