Shapes on a screen

12 April 2017

Florence Bell enters the world of the pixels, where everything we know has been reduced to numbers


this is the vertical farm where my brother used to work
this is the floatarium
this is where I got my first apartment pod
this is where they rebuilt the wall

Nothing is Coming, the Pixels are Huge operates in a world of mass redundancy. There is nothing to do. Our lives are reduced down to pixels by Theatre 42. The acting isn’t amazing but that doesn’t really matter because this isn’t an actor-centric show. It’s a show about a concept with some fucking amazing lighting and sound design.

The future has crashed and we use pixels to build the skyline of the city we used to live in. The pixels can represent whatever we want them to. They are different things in the eyes of different people. This isn’t a play about unity, character or cohesiveness. There’s none of that in the ensemble. Nothing is real, everything is pixels except for when it might not be.

Being dependent on pixels turns your brain to mush. When there is nothing left to remember there is nothing left to do but deconstruct what we have done and start again. The world of pixels might be depressing but the real world is a nasty place with bionic humans and meat labs and where people get murdered by AIs. The real world isn’t nice but there’s something uncomfortable about pixel land. Everything feels unreal.

The ways the company position the pixels/the cardboard boxes that represent pixels grows more and more unstable. Instead of neat stacking we get pixels leaning on each other at angles. The world they live in is breaking and we are increasingly realising that these people are virtual representations of their now defunct former selves. People have been reduced to numbers and reality has been reduced to darkness and cubes.

More and more about the reality the show operates in is revealed. People upload themselves to a virtual reality with their world in. Sometimes the system glitches and they have to try to build their memories using rubbish imitations of the pixels that feel real: cardboard boxes. It’s a ritualised mental process that gets repeated as virtual husks of people are left in the dark ether while the servers are down. Eventually the ritual disintegrates from reconstructing memory to conceptualising what it means to have everything real represented by pixels.

this is everyone I ever cared about
this is every sight I saw
this is every sound I heard
this is every mistake I made
this is every promise I made
this is every word I’ve written
this is every friend I’ve made

Every cell, every breath, is reduced down to a cardboard box. Everything that matters can only be represented by a pixel in the uploaded world. Suddenly we realise some of the company have disappeared.

this is everyone I’ve ever loved
this is everyone I’ve ever hated

At the end there is no one left. There’s no one to care.


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Photo credit: Aenne Pallasca