Maybe you did not know the actual name of that weird, kind of nameless uncertain feeling thats been gnawing you at 2 in the morning for about four years now, but that’s it, that’s the name; dark euphoria. Dark euphoria is the general cultural sensibility of the decade of the twenty-teens.
We’re in an era of frenetic global networking, in a culture drifting sideways, sliding on the black ice into a cultural and political twilight.
— Bruce Sterling, “Oh! What A Feeling!”, Webstock, 2013
Walking around DARK MOFO, the Hobart chill penetrating aching muscle and bone, struck by the scale and audacity on display. Bass Bath shudders the warehouse landscape around it, eight 2100 horsepower subwoofers linked to a strobing, evocative light show housed inside an industrial scale cool room. Anthony McCall’s Solid Light Works floating tantalisingly close to reality. In the distance a gigantic beam of light curves towards space, an inscrutable message hidden in the staccato flicker, pulses illuminating the clouds pinned motionless against the sea of stars.
Feeling this has all happened before. Attempts at scale and grandeur conjure a façade designed to avoid the sparse landscape of ideas remaining in public. Realising nothing here requires an understanding or interest in art. Show up, stand in you assigned place, let the experience wash over you. Maybe this is a good thing?
Everyone pauses to look at their pocket glass, the FOMO overriding the MOFO as the shadows creep into a silky, frozen blackness, woodsmoke mixing with fogged breath to create a teary haze. The Fire Organ roars into life, a percussive melody ripped from Mad Max, screaming gouts of fire trained against the firmament. A DARK MOFO volunteer tells everyone to stand back because it might get hot.
Marina Abramović jokes about not having any balls, and then segues into a discussion on the role of art and the human spirit. Between sardonic questions, David Walsh stares for too long at his glowing rectangle. A multi-millionaire gambler and gallery owner, the gravity which has caused this gloaming constellation to gather at the edge of the world.
No one wants to talk politics.
The art is for everyone and therefore is for no one; it is base humanism brought to the level of public spectacle, signifying everything and nothing. It asks you to turn your gaze inward, to improve yourself and then hopefully improve everyone else once you’re done. Atomised and fractured, the individual is reduced to individual experiences in a sea of identical individuals.
Write down your fears and burn them in an Indonesian effigy and feel an odd sense of release, but don’t talk about the waking nightmare that has become reality. Listen to an artist dismiss the power of art itself. Have a transcendent experience alone, the hairs on the back of your neck standing to attention, an ancient link awoken by serendipitous interaction.
Everything is awesome and terrible all at once, a Primer-like cycle of realities. Dark euphoria fills the body and overtakes the mind.