Kapitaal, X-ray public space


In a black environment of shapes and garbled sounds someone is lurking. The viewer walks through an environment which could well be that of a first-person shoot-em-up videogame: a jungle of logos, text, bright displays and signs. It’s not an imaginary place. It is an X-ray image of a public space stripped of any element other than visual stimuli. KAPITAAL , an award-winning animation video by Studio Smack, deals with the theme of being bombarded daily by those stimuli. But unlike works such as Delete! or SeeFree Visual Spam Blocking System , here the signs are not deleted or replaced by something else. On the contrary, they are the only features, proud and white, that define an otherwise amorphous environment. The black space is never completely empty, even though there are almost no other elements defining the shapes. Ads, logos and signs are so many and so thick that they cover the surrounding architecture as if they were a quilt. The sound design, made of overlapping voices and background urban noise, softened and buzzing, interwoven with sharp and shrill peaks, is exhausting and claustrophobic. The continuous change of perspective hints at the restlessness of a tormented eye. If we were really in a shoot-em-up, it would look like the player hadn’t figured out what to shoot at. Does this overabundance of signals leave us indifferent? The ring of an alarm clock at the end, with its flashing full-screen display, seems to suggest otherwise.

Chiara Ciociola