Eternal Return (2019) is a composite work that uses VR technology, physical objects and performance to explore reality as speculative fiction. The work is composed of a reality matrix consisting of three intertwined digital replicas of historical buildings that are hyper-connected to sculptures and fragmented objects. The installation is reminiscent of a theatre left deserted at night.
Lundahl & Seitl and ScanLAB Projects
Echoing Nietzsche, Eternal Return is an existential waveform, sending humans into cyclic patterns of life and death, moving the energy from one world to another while the matter stays behind. In the exhibition narrative, Eternal Return disrupts the social orders of the world and offers an unexpected opportunity to contact the past and the future of Earth.
The exhibition Eternal Return is accompanied by a science-fiction novel, The Memor by Malin Zimm, which offers an expanded narrative. According to The Memor, waves are the lingua franca of the universe, spoken in all frequencies and amplitudes. The novel tells the story of how we got to know the universe around us as a resounding archive of life on Earth, capable of putting us in touch with the past, as well as the future.
Without a visitor, Eternal Return remains an archive of forms, sounds and scents.
While "full immersion" is the ultimate goal for many virtual environments, Eternal Return makes the visitor aware of their dual presence in the physical and virtual realms. Spaces and glitches in both realities act as ways to interpret concepts like reality, truth and authenticity, as well as the visitor’s own sense of self, and identity. By challenging, manipulating and resisting the mental and sensorial processes of ‘everyday’ time, the visitor is invited to imagine new ways in which these realities could converge.
Objects and scenes in the installation thus take on a multitude of experiential modes: physical, virtual, narrative, and/or emotional. Every object flows in different layers of time, aligned with its digital counterpart inside the matrix: a railing from the Titanic walkway is held up by the weight of a 3.5-billion-year-old microbial mat; a 3D printed door handle floats in mid-air; a Victorian headboard, a chandelier, a desk and a sound-proof door from the Steinway piano workshop also appear. The physics of Eternal Return’s digital point-cloud universe were programmed following the recurring patterns found in earth’s first living organisms, Stromatolites, as well as the temporal structures of Bach’s music.
Without a visitor, Eternal Return remains an archive of forms, sounds and scents. Invisible to the immersed visitors, performers act as living extensions of the work, adding to their sensorial experience of the archive. Intuition, temporal and choreographic structure join forces with VR, text, sculpture, staging, instructions, change in temperatures, spatialised sound, scents, synchronized movement and touch to explore the full possibilities of what an anti-disciplinary total artwork can be.
Eternal Return by Lundahl & Seitl (SWE) and ScanLAB Projects* (UK).
The book Eternal Return - The Memor is written by architect and theorist Malin Zimm.
J. S. Bach’s Fugue in A Minor BWV 543 written for the organ, arranged by Liszt for piano, is performed by Cassie Yukawa-McBurney.
Dramaturgy by Rachel Alexander.
Performers: Pia Nordin, Lena Kimming & Sara Lindström.
*ScanLAB Projects team: Matt Shaw, Max Čelar, Soma Sato, Manuela Mesrie, Reuben Carter, Jacques Pillet, Will Trossell, Dorka Makai.