SOURCE: https://www.archyde.com/art-in-the-age-of-reels/THERE WILL BE A BEFORE AND AFTER AGGRO DR1FT, THE NEW DIGI-PSYCHEDELIC FILM BY HARMONY KORINE. INSPIRED BY GTA 5, CREATED WITH AN ARMY OF DESIGNERS, AI ARTISTS, AND VIDEO GAME CREATORS, AGGRO DR1FT IS ALSO AND ABOVE ALL THE SIGN OF THE GAMIFICATION OF ART, IN THE AGE OF TIKTOK AND REELS. BUT WHERE WILL THIS LEAD US?
Photo caption: RAVE CINEMA_ In the film Aggro Dr1ft, Harmony Korine uses thermal cameras borrowed from NASA to film a gamified Travis Scott transformed into an apprentice cyber-assassin. Korine speaks of it as an “aesthetic drug”.
“Tiktok is better than movies. » According to filmmaker Harmony Korine, watching a film would have become as boring as sitting through a speech by Étienne Klein. Because cinema continues, unfortunately, to move away from art to become entertainment marketed like a common box of cereals, a show business where freedom, innovation, and fun have disappeared. But on the Internet and its forums, on Tiktok, or even in GTA 5 (Grand Theft Auto) or Minecraft, a totally free young generation doesn’t care about the dusty conventions of the old world. These young people are creating new popular narrative formats, located on the border between the physical and digital worlds, and still too little considered.
In the game GTA 5 for example, some organize role-playing games where everyone plays a character and follows a narrative. Basically a play across an entire city, and in a game. We can follow the story from the point of view of each character, because each player broadcasts their part on Twitch, while improvising the dialogues. Some play cops, others gangsters, or pretty much whatever they want. Immersion works so well that the French Police use RP on GTA to train our future real-world chickens.
In another genre, there are ARGs (alternate reality games), treasure hunts where the story takes you through different sites or social networks, with a narration blurring the lines between reality and fiction, inviting us to take part. to history. And on Tiktok an entire alternative artistic ecosystem is developing which fascinates generations Z and Alpha. Like the mini-series Skibidi Toilet, which has more than five billion views, and which presents the story of an evil head in 3D who emerges from the toilet bowl (very real), and who wants to conquer the world. Extreme absurdity shot on a daily basis in total freestyle, for fun. It is the freedom of this new generation of creations that inspired Harmony Korine to radically question his cinema, and which is moreover only the symptom of a much broader phenomenon.
To do this, Harmony Korine created EDGLRD (“edgelord”, editor’s note), a “creative factory” focused on innovation and experimentation, installed in a house in Miami. There are 3D animators, skateboarders, fashion designers, video game creators, 3D printers, and a whole bunch of hyper-progressive minds plugged into Tiktok. EDGLRD’s first project, Aggro Dr1ft, is a film resembling a digital LSD trip, which left no one indifferent at the Venice Film Festival. Shot with a thermal camera, the film is visually thought of like a painting, in the sense that the image is ultra-modified and composed of a multitude of digital layers, 3D, AI, etc.
We follow the story of Bo, the “best assassin in the world” – a descendant of Georges Abitbol? – in a Miami that has become a tropical dystopia in infrared. Travis Scott plays Bo’s protégé, and speaks like an NPC (a video game automaton), repeating his lines in a robotic manner. Some people talk about it as a genre of ambient cinema, or one that can be compared to the vaporwave genre. “Vibe is almost everything,” says Korine, who speaks of an “aesthetic drug,” and explains that “the visuals and sounds are as if caught between two worlds.” We find this liminal side, between two realities, on the threshold, even in the name of the collective, Edgelord, translated “the lord of the limit”. But what do Harmony Korine and EDGLRD have in store for us next?
“One of the ideas of the next film is that it won’t have any particular order, it will constantly remix itself, and allow people to remix it (…) A film that has no ending, which we enter, where we choose a character, skins, etc. “, he explained recently about Baby Invasion, an interactive thriller which will be EDGLRD’s second project. Will films soon have extensions like video games?
Fascinated by the intense and direct connection that exists between the creators of Tiktok or GTA with their audience, Korine dreams of an experiential, gamified cinema, where the spectator takes part in the story and makes it evolve. He also uses a new word for this type of creation which goes beyond cinema, “blinxs”. “The blinx is its own medium, and can last a second or a year,” he says.
If he wants to break the barriers of what is done in cinema, Harmony Korine is also tackling technological innovation, since EDGLRD is working on a “dream box”. A machine allowing you to “think and have a result in images, without prompting. Thoughts translated into images. Basically an illustrator of dreams.” If there is currently a creative and intellectual fascination around liminality and transmedia storytelling, we can clearly see the influence of certain pioneers who have experimented with reality, “active”, infinite, and collective works. But the liminal spaces imagined in the 1980s have since been metastasized by social networks, to become the norm of a post-reality world where our daily existences become art.
“I tried to create a living book, a kind of ritual theater, where the spectator momentarily becomes an actor, and where the actor momentarily becomes a spectator,” explains American writer and transmedia artist Joseph Matheny. We then cross an invisible barrier which is located between the audience and the performer, and the narration becomes more fluid. But today, the Internet has psychologically broken this barrier, and everyone wants to be part of the performance, and plays their character all the time.” He created Ong’s Hat in the 1980s, the first alternate reality game, a work of fiction inserted in reality (“liminal fiction”) which was so successful that it turned into a conspiracy theory, becoming out of control.
“LIMINALITY IS THE WHITE SPACE OF MATRIX, THE SPACE OF THE POSSIBLE. » – MOHAMED MEGDOUL
The story revolves around Ong’s Hat, an abandoned town in the USA – which exists – where researchers are gathered and conduct experiments on reality, then end up finding and settling in another dimension. To accentuate the immersion of his liminal fiction, Matheny uses different delivery mediums: “To create a story that lasts, you must make it accessible to all media, and with several entry points.” But when the Internet enters the equation of this transmedia narration designed for immersion, Internet users become interested in it, develop theories, enter the game, and end up believing in it. Some will investigate on site or even create sectarian groups based on the Ong’s Hat “conspiracy”.
If Ong’s Hat and its blurring of the lines between fiction and reality was the beginning of conspiracy movements like Qanon, it also generated many positive things, which are currently re-emerging in progressive artistic circles – like Harmony Korine with EDGLRD. But how does this ambient liminality manifest, and why does it attract us so much?
“Liminality is a bit like the white space of The Matrix. It is the space of the possible, where things have not yet happened, where they could happen, it is the space of pure poetry, which gives us the possibility of conceiving everything, of imagining everything,” explains Mohamed Megdoul, founder of the Immersion magazine. On Tiktok or YouTube, tons of content are created around so-called liminal spaces: empty video game maps, offices, shopping centers, play areas, in short, places of transition that are both empty and strangely familiar. Spaces from dreams, basically.
In this vein, we were able to follow the adventures of the tiktoker @unicosobreviviente, who claims to live in 2027 and to be alone on the planet. We follow his wanderings in a Tiktok remake of Eric and Ramzy’s Seul Two, fragmented, distilled every day and followed by millions of intrigued people, caught up in the game, in the story – as with Ong’s Hat.
LES BACKROOMS_These empty offices called backrooms are an internet mythology, used as the basis for various narratives, and have popularized liminal spaces in recent years. The Kane Pixels video, from which this image is taken, has 14 million views…
The big entertainment capital companies took a while, but are starting to understand that there is something going on with this taste for imitation reality. Netflix or Apple have therefore recently played with the codes of ARG and liminal spaces in the series The Missing and Severance. The Succession series transformed Silicon Valley into a living Loro Piana ad, and the lore – imaginary world – of Barbie brought the cultural mega-wave of Barbiecore to our iPhones this summer. It is now possible to rent a life-size Barbie house in Malibu, and it is accepted to pretend to be Barbie on a daily basis – and that’s very good. Because the whole idea of liminality is being who you want to be. And to do this, we can either create our own universe, or graft ourselves onto an existing lore, a bit like we would choose the imaginary setting of a theater of self-pressionism. In any case, the mind becomes the medium.
“I see social networks, Instagram, as a stage. Choose who you want to play, look whatever you want. Create a persona of your own, because everyone online is fake anyway. (…) people think we’re not real,” one of the two members of 2girls1bottl3, a Tiktok account at the forefront of new-weird, which mixes comedy, mysterious storytelling, Y2K fashion, and cosplay – you will soon see them posing for your favorite brand.
We can also make a link between liminality and the fashion which consists of undermining oneself like a teenager from the 2000s, immersing oneself in a period of transition where everything was possible. We find this idea in the SS24 fashion show by the Barràgan brand, organized in an airport – the liminal space par excellence –, or even at Heaven by Marc Jacobs.
But as with Ong’s Hat, it’s a question of not falling too deep into fiction, as Joseph Matheny reminds us, “if you play all the time, you’re never sincere.” It is here that a new generation of cinema – driven by the success of Everything Evrywere All At Once – and described as metamodernist, finally re-establishes a more natural link between our real people and our cultural references. In metamodernism, we finally reconnect with a certain sincerity, because unlike Pulp Fiction, although full of references, those found here have a direct emotional link with the viewer, since they are Internet memes.
“In the virality of memes, there is an unknown factor, which comes from something very deep, from a collective unconscious which makes us what we are, and which we ignore. When someone does something instinctively, unconsciously, and everyone else reacts just as unconsciously, we have put our finger on a theme,” explains Joseph Matheny. In the age of ultra-connection fueled by algorithms, the community movements of our unconscious interests therefore seem to shape new cultural playgrounds, new common imaginary spaces which are self-nourishing, and located in a world between two . Are we collectively breaking the fifth wall?
By Jean-Baptiste Chiara