OVERPOPULATION | SARA BEZOVŠEK
Overpopulation is the sixth video presented within the program RABBIT HOLE, the fourth edition of DIGITAL VIDEO WALL, an annual project structured in thematic chapters, aimed at promoting the dissemination and experimentation of digital art.
The fourth screening features the work of Sara Bezovšek, Overpopulation (2020, VIDEO, MP4). Sara Bezovšek is a visual artist working in new media, experimental film and graphic design. Her artistic practice involves a meticulous research and archiving process, which she then collapses into interactive visual experiences through specially created Internet pages. Sara intercepts the content of mainstream culture that populates our visual landscape, such as advertisements, TV programmes, films, TV series, internet memes, GIFs, music videos, posts, and much more, to build digital collages that can be navigated over and over again: her interactive web pages are endless scrolls in which the artist depicts a contemporary horror show, in which climate change, overpopulation, and global crises threaten the future of humanity.
Sara Bezovšek’s works are like a series of matryoshkas: images, words, videos, links, can lead to as many pages or online contents, to the extent that her works can literally be defined as a rabbit hole, a deep dive into the innermost meanders of the Internet and pop culture. In this layering of different media and languages, numerous narrative lines branch off, allowing the viewer to freely follow them to create a variety of associations, either related to the acknowledgement of each individual content, or in relation to the overall story. The focus of her raids on pop culture is to be found in an apocalyptic vision regarding humanity’s fate. Sara Bezovšek imagines disastrous situations in the style of The Day After Tomorrow by organizing the material collected online, both visually and thematically, into a series of freely explorable possible futures. The organization of the material, on a narrative level, shares similarities with interactive story games, or gamebooks, a work of paper-based fiction that allows the reader to participate in the story by making choices. The narrative branches out along various paths, usually through the use of paragraphs or numbered pages. Each narrative usually does not follow paragraphs in a linear or orderly fashion. Similarly, in games based on interactive storytelling, the designer creates the setting, the characters and the situation that the narrative intends to address, but the user (or player) experiences a unique story based on their interactions with the world of the story, thus based on their choices.
Overpopulation is part of a larger ever-expanding corpus entitled SND. An Interactive Story Game (2020-ongoing). It consists of the homepage, titled You Are Here, which depicts various apocalyptic scenarios, and multiple still growing subpages, which show what could come after the end of the world. The work selected for the Digital Video Wall fits into this body of work by depicting a dystopian future in which the constant growth of the Earth’s population has inevitably led to its gradual extinction. The HTML page on which the work is hosted opens with a series of images depicting beaches in different parts of the world packed with people, almost as if to create a single organic mass moving in synchrony, like thousands of ants in an anthill. As we scroll through the page, the marine setting gives way to images depicting different types of demonstrations, from religious ones taking place in India, to protests, to sporting events taking place in stadiums. The focus shifts from population to cities, architectural organisms at the point of collapse, which can no longer accommodate their citizens, who are crammed into dwellings reminiscent of the anthill houses of Hong Kong, and finally to a future in which food resources will also become scarce, both because of the huge quantity of waste produced and because of the impossibility of sustaining a production that would feed billions and billions of people on earth. Overpopulation is a photographic and filmic collage in which images alternate with extracts from some of the most popular films released in recent years, such as Ready Player One (2018), through science fiction classics like The Fifth Element (1997), to cult series like South Park (1998-2022). Like a game of Matryoshka dolls, Overpopulation leads the viewer to experience further future scenarios by asking whether they would rather try to save humanity or live in a future where for the common good, a part of the population must be eliminated. Each decision leads to new interactive pages and further narrative lines through which possible yet more future scenarios can be explored, creating a narrative loop that untangles apocalyptic settings, possible utopias, and current dystopias.
© Sara Bezovšek, Overpopulation, 2020, video still, courtesy the artist
Sara Bezovšek | Overpopulation
Digital Video Wall
METRONOM | via Carteria 10 | 41121 Modena
May 9th – June 6th 2023 | h24