Samuel Beckett’s haunting short story “The Lost Ones,” which tells of a group of people doomed to wander forever inside a narrow cylindrical prison, makes Waiting for Godot seem like Little Miss Sunshine. It is also nearly unadaptable since a story driven by the certainty of damnation leaves little room for dramatic tension … until now, perhaps.
This month’s New Scientist has a nice piece up about Unmakeablelove, a 3-D interactive simulation based on “The Lost Ones” in which virtual bodies (created with motion capture, the same technique James Cameron used in Avatar) beat themselves, collide into each other, and slouch eternally towards nowhere, all driven by a force even more implacable than fate: the computer algorithms with which the piece was programmed.
And as with any good work of Existentialist Despair That Dooms All of Humanity to A Future Without Meaning or Hope, this one implicates the audience — spectators can only see inside the exhibit if they station themselves by one of six torches surrounding the 30-foot space. And when they do so, infrared video cameras project their own likenesses into the cylinder. There are no spectators.
Unmakeablelove was created by Sarah Kenderdine and Jeffrey Shaw, and presented at the Hong Kong International Art Fair in May. You can read more about the fascinating nuts and bolts of the project here.
Sheerly Avni is a San Francisco-based arts and culture writer. Her work has appeared in Salon, LA Weekly, Mother Jones, and many other publications. You can follow her on twitter at @sheerly.