Peter Burr with Porpentine Charity Heartscape
Dirtscraper is an interactive installation that simulates an underground structure whose “smart architecture” is overseen by artificial intelligences—spatial and social designers that observe, learn, and make changes to the system. Unaware of the control exerted by these entities, residents move through spaces that reflect varied economies and class hierarchies. In this complex simulation, you’ll find mining zones, areas blazing with advertisements, and luxury terraces adorned with sculpture.
As you navigate the Dirtscraper, you won’t always have control. Periodically, the system will interject one of 48 cinematic interludes that reveal different facets of this dystopian world. As the structure decays, you may encounter the solitary character of Aria End, a janitor and caretaker working within the shifting labyrinth.
Dirtscraper originated as part of a longer collaborative project between Burr, who comes from an experimental film background, and Porpentine Charity Heartscape, an independent game designer, and writer.
Dirtscraper, 2018. Multi-channel media installation. Courtesy of the artists.
John Also Bennett
Programming: Mark Fingerhut
Additional graphics: Brandon Blommaert, Brenna Murphy, and Eric Timothy Carlson
“I typically like to inhabit spheres of ambiguity and reflection so that my work may operate in the more subtle regions of human perception—the details of mysterious, often overlooked cracks. As such, I rely on audiences to formalize the specifics of my works’ declarations themselves.” —Peter Burr
PLEASE SHARE A BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE WORK YOU’RE SHOWING IN DECLARATION.
Dirtscraper emerges from my collaborations with Porpentine—a project called Aria End that uses tools and techniques from the video game industry to build a living labyrinth with a caretaker (named Aria End) lost in its twisted corridors. I’ve created a few artworks over the past 3 years from this partnership, including a room-sized video cube about a custodian lost inside an underground maze called CAVE EXITS and an endless architectural fugue called PATTERN LANGUAGE—both of which have become short films that continue to be shown in film festivals around the world.
Dirtscraper is the third and final multimedia installation to emerge from this project. It is a portrait of a decaying subterranean megastructure. Over the course of a couple hours, visitors may experience the growth and decay of this structure and the many strata of perspectives choosing to inhabit it.
Technically—this piece was built in Unity and combines many levels of generative systems with hand-animated components to build a story that will never end the same way twice.
DO YOU BELIEVE ART HAS SOCIALLY TRANSFORMATIVE POWER?
Of course, yes. I believe social transformation is larger and more mysterious than we could ever claim to know–but emblems for alternative ways of living that engage with the present state of things will work their magic. I know this from personal experience–as a product of others’ spells.
Born 1980, Brooklyn, New York; Lives in Brooklyn, New York
Peter Burr is a multimedia artist who works with digital and new media technologies, creating animations, images, and environments that hover on the boundary between abstraction and figuration.
Burr received his BFA from Carnegie Mellon University and completed programs at Pittsburgh Filmmakers and L’Ecole Superieure d’Art d’Aix in Provence, France. Select screenings and performances: Whitechapel Gallery in London, UK (2016); Institute of Modern Art in Brisbane, Australia (2016); Swiss Architecture Museum in Basel, Switzerland (2016); MIT Bartos Theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts (2016); The American Museum of Natural History in New York (2016); Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Illinois (2015); MoMA PS1, New York (2013); and Modern Art Museum in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic (2013). Select awards: Solomon R. Guggenheim Fellowship (2018), Creative Capital Grant (2016), Sundance Institute’s New Frontier Story Lab Fellowship (2016), Brooklyn Arts Council Commission (2012), and Three Rivers Arts Festival Award (2004).
PORPENTINE CHARITY HEARTSCAPE
Born, 1987; Lives in Oakland, California
Porpentine Charity Heartscape is an artist, writer, curator and self-proclaimed “dead swamp MILF,” working with new media creating hypertext games and interactive fiction built using the platform Twine.
Select solo exhibitions: Compliance Division in Portland, Oregon (2016); and Fauna in Copenhagen, Denmark (2015). Select group exhibitions: Whitney Biennial (2017); Hessel Museum in Annandale-On-Hudson, New York (2016); Voidoid Archive in Glasgow, Scotland (2016); The National Gallery of Denmark (2016); New Museum in New York (2016); and Museum of the Moving Image in New York (2013-2014). Select awards: Tiptree Fellowship (2015), Sundance Institute’s New Frontier Story Lab Fellowship (2016), Creative Capital Fellowship (2016), and Wordplay Festival Award (2014).