Theo Triantafyllidis at Chapelle des Trinitaires, Octobre Numérique – Faire Monde, Arles, FR, 2021

Solo show | 6 - 24 October 2021

For his first solo exhibition in France, Theo Triantafyllidis takes over the 17th Century late Gothic Chapelle des Trinitaires in Arles, France to create an immersive environment featuring a series of recent software works. On an invitation by the artistic director of Octobre Numérique – Faire Monde the exhibition explores themes of political radicalization and the representation of nature through the lens of video game culture.

A permanent simulated sunset, together with the architecture of the Chapel itself, create an immersive exhibition space. Within that, two seemingly different worlds collide. Near the Chapel entrance, a pop-up scaffolding structure, as seen in sport games and political rallies, sets the stage for the large projection of Radicalization Pipeline (2021). Deeper into the chancel of the Chapel, the mood shifts and we find a physical hay sandbox installation and Pastoral (2019) a video game that invites the player to frolic in an idyllic landscape and contemplate on the connections between gamification, fantasy, and extremist ideologies that internet culture has accelerated.

In Radicalization Pipeline (2021), a Live Simulation that runs on a gaming PC, two seemingly endless hordes clash into a violent free-for-all, swinging large melee weapons and shouting with distorted voices. A wide range of characters – from citizen militias to fantastical creatures – enter the screen only to kill each other, wave after wave, sinking their virtual bodies slowly into a muddy landscape. Medieval covers of familiar pop songs mixed with sounds of clashing steel complete the soundscape that reverberates inside the stone church walls.

In Smoke Break (2018), a video projection and performance capture of the artist, an Ork character is taking a break after a long day. The gender-ambiguous avatar can be seen in a vulnerable but at the same time dominant posture, puffing virtual smoke and looking at bystanders with an ambivalent attitude ranging from flirty to disinterested.

In Pastoral (2019), Triantafyllidis constructs a virtual expanding landscape, a field of hay brushed by golden sunlight. The player finds themselves as the same muscular Ork character in the middle of the field. The character feels strangely out of place in this setting, seemingly musing or enjoying a short break before yet another battle. Using a standard gamepad, the player can become the Ork and explore the landscape to find idyllic moments under the sound of a melodic lute.

Curated by Fabien Siouffi, with Elisa Klein.