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DESCENT – A meditation on one of humanity’s blackest hours

Created by Peter Burr, Mark Fingerhut, and Forma, DESCENT is an animated film, created in Unity and presented as a downloadable exe. The work is a “spiraling interdimensional narrative”, a meditation on one of humanity’s blackest hours. The film gives the user a brief glimpse of a world descending into darkness – an unrelenting plague indifferent to the struggles of the user.

In 1562, Flemish artist Pieter Bruegel the Elder completed a painting called “The Triumph Of Death”. In this panoramic landscape the sky is blotted out by black smoke; ships and dead fish litter the ocean shore; and an army of skeletons experiment with myriad death techniques. The living are badly outnumbered and the variety of fated tortures seems endless. There is little room for whimsy in this tableaux. Over 200 years earlier, a nasty plague, commonly known as “The Black Death”, left a cruel and massive mark on European civilization, wiping out half of Europe’s total population. This was a quiet pervasion of death – an invisible pathogen carried by herds of tired rats. This plague triggered a series of social and economic upheavals with profound effects on the history of medieval Europe, guiding its survivors into the sort of self-inflicted darkness pictured by the Elder Bruegel.

The work is available for download from Undervolt & Co. This video below is a recording of descent.exe running alongside Fingerhut’s deepdesktop.exe.

UNDERVOLT & CO. is an internet-based collective involved in the circulation of time-based art across varied presentational formats. Founded in 2013, their work has been exhibited widely, often taking the form of installations, screenings, performances, workshops and ongoing online projects. With an emphasis on the immediacy of image and sound, as well as the mutability of technologies, Undervolt & Co. has cultivated a closely-knit network of international artists earnestly challenging the possibilities of their medium.

Project PagePeter Burr | Mark Fingerhut