Anhedonic entities are strapped to a training chair and fed “content designed to both soothe and inform” in an abstract extension of the universe introduced in Rawle’s short Care More.
‘I Heard Your Name In The Noise’ is the opening track from Truth Serum, the beguiling new project from London producer JQ. His club-adjacent ambient compositions move gently through intricate sound design, tactile textures and dancefloor hum in service of what LA label Post-Geography describes as “five fragmented reflections of the digital experience”. Though consistently gorgeous, JQ’s soundscapes continually verge on the dissociative, and the nervous clicks and compulsive bursts of noise reflect a subdued anxiety and paranoia elicited by track titles like ‘Trapped Inside A Glacial High’ and ‘I Bite My Nails Till They Bleed’. It’s in this dissonance that producer’s work aligns with artist Thomas Harrington Rawle, whose Day-Glo dystopia inhabits a very similar space.
For the video for ‘I Heard Your Name In The Noise’, Rawle extends the universe of his short film Care More, an animated portrait of an anhedonic post-apocalypse that doubles as a potent critique of the atomised commodification of self-care practices that occur in our contemporary landscape of wellness influencers and mindfulness apps. This is a world in which sentient beings are used as fuel for great content machines, music is reduced to its serotonin-inducing constitute parts of bass drops, Shepard tones and sine waves, while spaceships bearing maniac grins whir overhead intoning: “Enjoy yourself. You are all you need.”
In one scene from Care More, which is the first episode of a continuing series, a cast of characters with a varying degree of mental distresses are subjected to a medicalised application of empty encouragement, with hair-dryer-like devices used to pipe nonsensical maxims directly into patients ears. Rawle’s interpretation of ‘I Heard Your Name In The Noise’ serves as an abstract extension of this procedure. “In the video I have my Care More bobble head characters fixed to a training chair,” he explains. “They are brainwashed by an array of screens beaming content designed to both soothe and inform. Occasionally we see the watchful gaze of the ‘Care Corp’ CEO.”
Rawle continues: “The GANs were trained on a set of corporate logos from all of the world but at low resolution so they would be learned in a deliberately lopsided way, the layout and text GAN’s were trained on print ads from the late 70s through to the 90s.” Illuminated by the cold light of the neural network, all content is flattened into nothing, each logo, image and sentiment indistinguishable from each other. In JQ and Rawle’s collaborative universe, the same applies to those consuming the content, as the patients flicker and phase-shift into each other, superimposed yet unconnected, inhabiting the same space, yet unable to share it with each other.
For more information about Thomas Harrington Rawle and his work, you can follow him on Instagram. Rawle will be showing his film Codex Of Care as part of the group show To Be Human, which runs from September 16 – 24 at Zona Mista. You can find JQ on Instagram and Twitter.