Using an abandoned computer game engine from the ’90s, Linus Hillborg explores an eerie simulacrum of his native Stockholm.

Orphan Works is an interactive, audio-visual installation from artist, composer and musician Linus Hillborg. By hacking a long-abandoned computer game engine from 1996, Hillborg was able to repurpose the old technology to create an eerie simulacrum of his native Stockholm. “I’m not particularly interested in ‘retro’ expressions per se, but rather exploring what qualities technologies of recent past are capable of in terms of emotive expression that newer aren’t,” he explains.

“For instance, low-res textures in older games are great at evoking ambiguity,” he continues, “which allows for the beholder to interpret them creatively by intuitively filling in the blanks. This is lost with the technological leap of precise photorealism in 3D-graphics.” It was in the process of working on the installation that Hillborg found himself reflecting on his personal experiences within the virtual world of the game engine.

“While creating the installation, the virtual game world ended up being a fictional manifestation of my home city Stockholm,” he explains, “where my own fractured images and faint impressions of what it could have been, what it could have become and what it could be, existed simultaneously.” It was this deserted version of his native city that became the basis of Orphan Works, which he presented for the first time at Scandinavian electronic and experimental music festival, Norbergfestival.

“The sound material was specific for each location in the game world,” Hillborg continues, “but the resulting music was generative and controlled by whoever was interacting with the installation.” Magelungsverket is a collection of this sound material, “re-imagined as fixed, orchestrated pieces.” “The hope is that these locations when detached from their virtual world could be interpreted in an emotive and imaginative way by whoever is listening,” he concludes, “discerning a Stockholm that never was.”

Magelungsverket is out now on Stockholm’s experimental label Moloton. For more information about Linus Hillborg and his work, you can follow him on Instagram.

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