Keiken
Mountain of the Metaverse
6th March - 17th April 2021
Curated by Bob Bicknell-Knight

Mountain of the Metaverse is a solo exhibition by the cross-dimensional collaborative collective Keiken, primarily made up of Hana Omori, Isabel Ramos and Tanya Cruz, alongside a number of other artists and individuals that they have worked with on their creative projects. Based between London and Berlin, they come from mixed diasporic backgrounds (Mexican/Japanese/European/Jewish) and are named after the Japanese for experience. Their practice merges the digital and physical, creating speculative worlds using moving-image, CGI, gaming software, installation, virtual and augmented reality, programming and performance.

The exhibition presents several recent works in an ongoing series exploring and expanding upon a fabricated future, where Earth’s climate has collapsed and lives are lived through multiple different metaverses; digital worlds where one has the ability to seamlessly transfer from one virtual body to the next. Points are earned within these metaverses to support one’s physical body on Earth, or Base Reality as it’s referred to in their first film in the series in collaboration with George Jasper Stone, Feel My Metaverse, originally created for Jerwood Art’s Collaborate! in 2019 and supported by Arts Council England. The film introduces you to three characters within this challenging future as they traverse through multiple realities, including Pome Sector, 068 and Base Reality.

As a collective, Keiken are interested in world-building, the act of constructing an imaginary world. Another work included in the exhibition, Metaverse Messenger, was originally commissioned by Sheffield Doc Fest 2020, supported by Site Gallery and Arts Council England, and expands upon the created universe. It’s a real-time Q&A with a digital avatar filmed inside a sparse metaverse that they had apparently just created. The hour-long discussion contributes to the fleshing out of this future universe, with the avatar speaking about how technology works in the future and how art is interacted with in this predominantly digital space.

Metaverse: We are at the End of Something in collaboration with Ryan Vautier and Sakeema Crook is also included in the exhibition, a recent work co-commissioned by Aspex Gallery, YBAF for Yerevan Biennial 2020/2021, FACT Liverpool and supported by PONToon. The work contemplates the intersection of disparate events, human emotion and ideology in a post Covid-19 world: from social distancing, growing wealth inequality and exacerbated divisions in ideology, to a battle between visions of an egalitarian or hierarchical utopia. Within the work there is a desire for change and a reboot of the current system, one that is fluidly growing and changing, distanced from our current capitalistic reality.

The final work in the exhibition, VIRAL ENERGY was originally produced for Present Futures Festival founded by Colette Sadler, an interactive browser-based game set in a speculative future inside the metaverse. It explores people’s dependency and animistic nature towards screen based devices and how these self-centred technologies evoke connection yet produce loneliness.

The exhibition takes the form of an interactive online experience, enabling audience members to learn more about the fabricated universe, educate themselves about the different metaverses and combat self-centred technologies. If you would like to see the exhibited works without the interactive element, for a more user friendly experience, click here. Both exhibition formats are best viewed on desktop.

The exhibition is supported by Arts Council England.

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The exhibition is part of a six month program consisting of four online exhibitions, culminating in a physical book and online panel discussion. Each exhibition is connected by the overarching theme of Networks, exposing and exploring the underlying architecture of our daily lives, investigating the social, political, digital and hierarchical networks that we reside within.

The program opened in October 2020, ends in April 2021 and is kindly supported by Arts Council England.

Keiken are a cross-dimensional collaborative practice (Hana Omori, Isabel Ramos and Tanya Cruz), whose practice merges the physical with the digital by building online worlds and augmented realities for you to experience, often through face filters hosted on Instagram. The collective are based across London and Berlin, working with virtual reality, augmented reality, performance and gaming engines to explore new fictional presents and futures.