by Clare Healy
Arts & Culture Editor
Since 2011, the Philadelphia-born musician NAH has been sending “his own dynamic synthesis of textured noise”, as STUK’s description of their new exhibition puts it, into the ether. Having taken his drum kit and samplers as far as Johannesburg and Taipei, he's now found his way to Leuven to present his latest genre-bending project — a music video in virtual reality.
“I’m Not Feeling Super Great About Reality Right Now” invites visitors to don a VR headset and navigate an animated hellscape while disjunctive, industrial beats (think Kanye West’s Yeezus, but more menacing) blare from two monster speakers. The virtual environment is relatively simple: you can either walk around a deserted block of apartments or enter a late-night convenience store and rifle through its merchandise (and, inevitably, throw it all to the ground). Or you can stand and watch as a skeleton frenetically dances in front of two police cars engulfed in flames. Your choice. There’s no ostensible objective — the STUK employee assured us there was no way to “win” the game — but it’s a fun romp through the digital realm, particularly for anyone who’s never tried virtual reality before. Given a decently-sized physical space to walk around without bumping into anything, you can get the full experience of being immersed in a video game, which is intensely disorienting both when you put the headset on and after you’ve taken it off.
Distorted faces, kitchen knives, and a whole lot of pigeons leave the viewer mystified, and perhaps wondering what the exhibition is really about.
During your time slot you can also pore over the visual display erected at the far end of the room, a collage of paintings and photos with a similar effect as the music video. Distorted faces, kitchen knives, and a whole lot of pigeons leave the viewer mystified, and perhaps wondering what the exhibition is really about. Though the content may appear to represent nothing more than a bad trip, the motifs of death, anti-authoritarianism, and disease-carrying flying creatures suggest the project may be more topical than it initially seems.
Even still, any visit to a cultural centre at a time like this is a moment of escapism, and with its virtual-reality component, “I’m Not Feeling Super Great About Reality Right Now” is a rare chance to step away from the real world for eight minutes (and relive what it’s like to enter a shop without having to disinfect your hands first). For that reason alone, it comes highly recommended. Tickets, which cost five euro each, have been mostly bought up, but Culture Card holders may still be able to book slots on Thursday March 25. Find out more by visiting STUK’s website.
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