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Abyssal Seeker is an artwork by Joey Holder which is a deep, speculative realm populated by creatures looking to escape labyrinthine structures of big data and binary classification. It consists of large-scale installation, prints, an immersive film, and a 3D underwater world, newly commissioned by VISUAL Carlow as part of the Speech Sounds programme, curated by Iarlaith Ni Fheorais.
Abyssal Seeker depicts a slow, aquatic journey to a fictional brine lake at the bottom of an unnamed ocean. Protagonists float in and out of the story – semi-fictionalised versions of invertebrates, hybridised and constantly shifting. These arrivants are situated in two scenes: the first contains a photographic installation set in a rocky, arid landscape composed of architectural drawings of panopticons, subtle diagrams of DNA, human evolutionary charts. The landscape itself is formed of these diagrams and symbols of surveillance and categorisation, human interpretation of organic processes.
This work initially might seem to recall Jules Verne’s series of novels set under the sea, which transposed themes from Homer’s Odyssey to the crucible of 19th-century colonial expansion. While the colonial project of exploration employed naming and categorisation to enable ownership, the beings in Holder’s world attempt to evade identification, classification and subsequent commodification. Holder’s brine lake represents a place beyond mapping, the deep sea as a metaphor for the limit of human knowledge, a place beyond categorisation, beyond monetary value, beyond the colonial project of taxonomy.
Abyssal Seeker represents an optimistic speculation of an acceleration to a dark future, an alternative metaphor for escaping surveillance and the cast of the net. This project is about a more positive future, an escape to a dark, safe place beyond data. This work reflects on how life forms remain non-totalizable and maps out ways in which we can become ‘less human’ to confound ratification.
Abyssal Seeker is a project by Joey Holder
commissioned by Seventeen (London), FUTURA (Prague), VISUAL Carlow (Ireland) part of ‘Speech Sounds’ curated by Iarlaith Ni Fheorais, and Gray Area Festival, San Francisco
Creatures and film scenography by Yuma Burgess
Sound Design by 33EMYBW
Web Design/Graphics by PARADYME
Logo by Raphaël de La Morinerie