Natalie Yiaxi, Hyperflâneur, video, duration 33:23, 2020.
Natalie Yiaxi, “Massive Hangover”, sound piece, duration 00:31,
from the CD album/ Bookwork What is to be Sung? Answers to the Question by Charlie Barely (2011-2012).
Let everything happen to you
Beauty and terror
No feeling is final.
- Rainer Maria Rilke
Notes, screenshots, and ideas fermenting; my desktop has always been a place where textual fragments socialize, increasingly so, these days. While being indecisive about how to begin this text - maybe because suddenly the work and the gallery text collide- I discover a screenshot on my desktop. I snatched it while watching the film Jojo Rabbit. It contains verse from a poem by Rilke that feels timely and relevant. I type it down. The intro has just written itself, and now I can start talking about what you just saw, or what you are about to see.
Hyperflâneur (2020), the video, appropriates Google Maps screenshots I collected between 2017 and 2019, while working on Hyperflâneur, the hefty, 3-tome bookwork. Both versions track a personal journey, which takes the form of a digital dérive through my smartphone. Drifting in each country, dependent area, and disputed territory of the Blue Marble, I captured around 3,500 screenshots, unknowingly caught by the 360˚ cameras of Google Maps cars, or knowingly uploaded by Google users.
This project never intended to exhaust the world, to become a detailed map that precedes the territory; it rather sought to position the subject in the world and capture the multifaceted nature of now. For the subject speaking to you, experiencing what a random street - and in extend everyday life - might look like across the world has been a way of understanding their privilege, witnessing environmental degradation and tracing the routes of colonialism, while also being moved by sublime nature. The distortion present in these images -fragments of hands, feet blending with the background, disjoined bodies and landscapes- soon lost its novelty, and began acting as a metaphor of how we experience reality.
During the long hours of vigilant hyperflâneuring, emotions and moods shifted constantly. Sometimes my disbelief while facing the screen bore the aftertaste of excitement and surprise, others, of sadness and disappointment. Not being immune to the tediousness of the task itself, I would often find myself 'stuck' in places that felt all too familiar to experience with truly fresh eyes. While editing the video, I realized that transposing the project to a new medium afforded me the ability to address these mood shifts through the audio channel. I began constructing a soundtrack by sourcing unfinished sound projects I dug out of long-forgotten subfolders of folders. I also ‘borrowed’ music from finished sound pieces (Sextilis and Reveries for Trees and Shrubs) and used tracks from the LP Posh Taro, 2014, and the bookwork/CD album What is to be Sung?, 2012.
I initially had the song Massive Hangover playing on repeat over the video credits. In the end, I decided to single it out and present it on its own, as a conclusion, since I feel that we have finally reached that awkward, painful awakening. How will this hangover be remedied -what needs to be rehydrated and how- remains to be seen.
Cited text: Rainer Maria Rilke, The Book of Hours, 1905.