Alice Bucknell: The Alluvials
5511 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA, 90019
Thursday, April 4 at 6:00 PM 9:00 PM
Ends May 4, 2024
From April 4—May 4, Alice Bucknell will present The Alluvials, a solo exhibition at Killscreen. The Alluvials is a video work and playable video game that explores the politics of drought and water scarcity in a near-future version of Los Angeles. Leveraging ecological theory, speculative fiction, and posthuman game design, the project’s narrative is told through a variety of nonhuman and elemental perspectives, including the Los Angeles River, wildfire, a 400-year-old sycamore called El Aliso, and the ghost of the city's celebrity mountain lion, P-22.  //The Project// The Alluvials is a multi-chapter video game and a film shot primarily inside a game engine. Spread across seven chapters, and as many worlds, the film oscillates forwards and backward in time, exploring multiple possible futures and revisited pasts for the region known today as Los Angeles. It draws on game engine worldbuilding, drone mapping, custom stable diffusion “hallucinations”, and cinematic modding inside the GTA 5 engine to conjure a richly layered parafictional world. Synthetic water corporations peddle their wares against a burning Malibu backdrop; the swarm intelligence of wolves prowls a desertified DTLA; a moth dreams of a Joshua tree dreaming of a moth in the dried-out ruins of the Hoover Dam; the River looks on, cooly, having seen this all before.  The video game spans four levels and is set in four different environments. Players take on the agency of conventionally non-playable and nonhuman characters, including wildfire, the LA River, a Yucca Moth and Joshua Tree, and a pack of wolves. The Alluvials is also a game about gaming; each level takes on a different gaming genre (first-person shooter, walking simulator, open world, racing game) and reimagines it through a speculative ecological lens.  Inspired by queer tactics that embrace failure, nonlinear narratives, and ‘difficult games’—or games that uproot conventions of (human) player-centric reward systems and entertainment values to unearth gaming’s other affective capacities—The Alluvials expands on Bucknell's ongoing research into game ecologies. This means how “nature”, ecology and the environment are represented and experienced in game worlds, and how the game engine itself is an ecological system capable of generating new modes of being with the world. Through the interactive capacities of game-as-interface, The Alluvials asks its audience to consider their role in the future of water systems in Los Angeles by looking into the region’s deep past. The Alluvials was commissioned by mudac, the Museum of Contemporary Design and Applied Arts, in Lausanne, Switzerland, with additional support from transmediale and Arts Council England.  //About the Artist// Alice Bucknell is a North American artist and writer based in Los Angeles. Using game engines and speculative fiction, Bucknell’s work explores interconnections of architecture, ecology, magic, and non-human and machine intelligence. Bucknell is generally interested in the limits of scientific knowledge and systems thinking, the weird possibilities of play, and the ecological dimensions of games that can dissolve binaries like humans vs. environment, natural vs. synthetic intelligence, and self vs. world. They are the founder of New Mystics.
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