Gabriel Massan & Collaborators. Third World: The Bottom Dimension. Serpentine North Gallery

Gabriel Massan, Third World: The Bottom Dimension, 2023 [Video Game]. Featuring Castiel Vitorino Brasileiro, Novíssimo Edgar & LYZZA. © Gabriel Massan
Art Martin Cid Magazine

Serpentine is thrilled to present, Third World: The Bottom Dimension, an exhibition, a video game and web3 tokens powered by Tezos.  

The project is conceptualised by Brazilian artist Gabriel Massan in collaboration with invited interdisciplinary artists Castiel Vitorino Brasileiro, Novíssimo Edgar, and vocalist and music producer LYZZA.  

Presented at Serpentine North from 23 June to 22 October 2023, the exhibition will extend the ideas that have driven the creation and development of the mirroring video game. It will offer audiences an opportunity to play the game in a communal setting around site-specific set design, sculptures, sounds and films.

Through the lenses of decoloniality, queerness and decentralisation, Third World will challenge us to rethink the ways in which we understand and orient ourselves in the world. Central themes include ancestral knowledge, healing, ecological awareness, transmutation, and agency. 

Third World: The Bottom Dimension emerges from Massan’s interest in technological, social and economic decentralisation and includes participatory digitaltokens powered by Tezos. Players can record ‘memories’ of their own actions as they play the game, and by minting this record (or snapshot) on the blockchain, build a public archive of multiple perspectives and actions. In addition, a limited-edition collection will bring together Massan, their collaborators and a wider community of web3 artists. 

Gabriel Massan said:“I want to create the experience of walking through possibilities and memories of life and narrative… A work that people can walk inside. The project is a meta-simulation about warped perspectives and an exercise in terms. It’s a critique of a concept that persists in the everyday, more related to our own geographies rather than territories that truly exist.  People are too invested in the idea of systems being something that are impossible to redefine. ‘Third World’ signifies a stratified structure; which ‘level’ of the world are you on? How does this relate to access, connection and maintain Western control over market representation and value?  I call attention to this structure; ‘Third World’; a burden that was given, and itself a fabrication, to allow us to reimagine and rewrite. These divisions of the world and these terms were based on fictional, human concepts that define and decentre the larger part of the world as ‘periphery’.”    

Bettina Korek, CEO and Hans Ulrich Obrist, Artistic Director said: “Third World: The Bottom Dimension, is a dynamic commission powered by Tezos that brings pioneering digital artist Gabriel Massan and their collaborators to the forefront of gaming and cultural communities. Massan’s project not only demonstrates an iterative process in terms of our relationship with the artist – supporting development of concept, game, then exhibition, but also how work like this can exist and engage across fields, building new connections between artists and society.” 

Mason Edwards, Chief Commercial Officer of the Tezos Foundation said: “Massan’s Third World exhibition is an elegant demonstration of how art and gaming can merge in web3 to provide an expanded field for artistic creation and unique, immersive experiences for users. We’re excited to support Serpentine in bringing this powerful in-person experience to the community, to support Gabriel Massan and their collaborators in bringing their artistic vision to life, and for the community to permanently leave their mark on Tezos.” 

GAME  

Alongside Massan’s digital sculptures, textures, concept and narrative development, the game will feature artistic contributions by Castiel Vitorino Brasileiro, Novíssimo Edgar, sound design by LYZZA, and work from Masako Hirano, Marchino Manga, Ralph McCoy, Carlos Minozzi, Iraj Montasham, Alexandre Pina, and Sweet Baby Inc. 

Across interconnected but distinct episodes set across different dimensions, geographies and timescales, the game will invite players to think about ideas of transformation. ‘FUNFUN’, an agent deployed to the ‘Third World’ by a resource extraction organisation and ‘BUBURU’ feature as playable characters.  

As the player navigates the disorienting virtual environments of Igba Tingbo and Sòfo, they not only encounter new lifeforms, languages, and ways of knowing, but a growing state of reckoning with their own actions.  

Expanding Massan’s practice of ‘fictional archaeology’, the game is a fantastical simulation that investigates the converging landscapes and post-colonial complexities of contemporary Brazil and beyond. The project explores the concept of ‘game-as-platform’ and the role of a public arts institution in nurturing a constellation of diverse perspectives. 

Each level or “episode’ in the game is conceptualised by a featured artist, in collaboration with Massan, bringing themes central to their practice to build on the lore of Third World.  

With Igba Tingbo, Castiel Vitorino Brasileiro explores themes of memory, healing and transmutation.  

In Sòfo, Novíssimo Edgar addresses violence, desertification and ecological balance.  

EXHIBITION 

The exhibition will offer visitors an opportunity to experience the ideas, emotions and mechanics of the video game in a hybrid physical-virtual setting and in community with others.  

Echoing the unique shifting sense of time in the game, and the inherent interactivity of games as a medium, the exhibition will feature sound, light and visuals to create a tactile, reverberant, and dynamic setting. Visitors will be invited to play the game in disorienting game rooms, seated inside Massan’s stations. 

Designed in collaboration with Furmaan Ahmed, with  work from artists Castiel Vitorino Brasileiro, Novíssimo Edgar, LYZZA, and more, the space will change in response to visitors’ actions making each visit to the exhibition unique.  

The events programme will include Twitch sessionsperformances, talks and playtesting events.   

The project continues Serpentine Arts Technologies’commitment to experimenting with the role that the art field can play in the development of advanced technologies such as video games, blockchain and AI, and understanding their impact on culture and society. This is achieved through the commissioning and production of ambitious artist-led projects, and a research and development programme that includes Future Art Ecosystems and R&D Labs to prototype protocols and strategies for the future of art and advanced technologies. 

Serpentine North Gallery

W Carriage Dr, London W2 2AR, United Kingdom

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News about art, exhibitions, museums and artists around the world. An international view of the art world. Responsible for the Art Section: Lisbeth Thalberg
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