PSYCHO NYMPH EXILE
February 29 2016
In 2016, the New Museum and Rhizome presented PSYCHO NYMPH EXILE, a poetic sci-fi multimedia adventure by artists Porpentine Charity Heartscape, Neotenomie, and Sloane, as part of the New Museum’s First Look online exhibition program. In PSYCHO NYMPH EXILE, a trans woman pilot works through the trauma of a psychosis-inducing breakup with her biomechanical war machine. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a color-coded energy source that props up the universe; people vacation in dying parallel dimensions; and state IDs are tarot decks emanating from their psyches. The user pieces this world together with fragments that are distributed across various mediums. These include a 188-page post-anime gurowave trauma-romance novella about a disgraced biomech pilot and an ex-magical girl, purchasable triple-iris stickers (Sticky Eyes), and online works of hypertext—text that is organized in a nonlinear manner so that it can be read in any order.1
Hypertext was an important inspiration for Tim Berners-Lee’s 1989 proposal of the “WorldWideWeb,” which he described as a “HyperText Project.” Today, most online user experiences are organized around vertical scrolling processes or other sequential browsing formats, with hypertext playing a less central role. However, artists continue to find that the nonlinear structure of hypertext makes for productively fluid relationships among artists, characters, and audiences. The hypertext works presented as part of PSYCHO NYMPH EXILE - some of which require keywords from the novella to activate - make use of such relationships to build empathy, perform identity, and model alternate social possibilities.2
The world of PSYCHO NYMPH EXILE depicts the experience of PTSD as a visceral physical substance, not an invisible, abstract force. According to Heartscape, whose previous work has often used hypertext to reimagine social reality, the work proposes a “trauma revolution to follow the sexual revolution,” in which a massive repressed energy field might be unleashed.3PSYCHO NYMPH EXILE, then, serves as a multimedia survival kit for this other dimension.4
Established in 2012 and co-organized by the New Museum and Rhizome, First Look is a digital art commissioning and exhibition program representing the breadth of art online—from interactive documentary, to custom-built participatory applications, to moving image-based works, and art for mobile VR. Encompassing a substantial array of work that continues to expand, First Look explores the formal, social, and aesthetic possibilities of emerging technologies on the web.