ArtPortal: Following a ritualistic pre-launch event at the basement of the Studio of Young Artists in Budapest, Hollow’s newest project The Archive is about to launch online. Could you please define what Hollow exactly is, who is behind the initiative, what type of projects you do, and how your new digital platform relates to all these?
Hollow (H): Hollow is a collective avatar embodied by Viktor Szeri, Tamás Páll, and Gyula Muskovics. We have been working together since 2018, combining our visible and immaterial forces with sound – usually produced by András Molnár and Tamás Marquetant – and game mechanics to create immersive environments and cross-reality experiences. Our projects merge the methodologies of choreography and dance with poetics, new media, augmented reality, and live-action role-play to build world prototypes where the dominant systems of common reality can be questioned and modified. In the past, Hollow has provided access in various forms to the land of obscurity, investigating topics and contexts such as queer cruising, the hyperspace, millennial cults, the radicalization of the gamer subculture, eco-anxiety, nature as a black box, and walking as a psychoactive substance.
The Archive is an ongoing and evergrowing meta-project where Hollow’s pre-existing worlds bleed into new ones. The term “bleed” is used in Nordic LARP to describe when the identity of a player and the character the player embodies start to affect or shape each other. In this project, we do not focus only on characters but investigate how Hollow’s previously built and future realities, as well as the outside world into which their fictional environments are embedded, could interact with, and form each other. The Archive is a possibly larger structure to which the majority of Hollow’s characters, stories, and landscapes belong. Most of its elements originate from events that occurred (or could occur) in one world or another, therefore also drawing attention to hidden correlations between – invented as well as given – realities.
Despite what the name suggests, The Archive is actually rather a negation or the antithesis of the traditional notion of archives that store data in rigid and prefixed systems reflecting the prevailing status quo of knowledge in a given society. In return, to borrow the term of the German media archeologist Wolfgang Ernst, your archive rather functions as an “an-archive” that instead of preserving and solidifying already existing structures, rather facilitates the multiplicity of possible new worlds to emerge. How is this anarchi(vi)st artistic approach reflected in your projects?
H.: The Archive in our case is rather a (game) engine that doesn’t capture and store, but dynamically processes our past projects and personas as glimpses into (im)possible new worlds of Hollow that emerge through playful constellations of reference systems.
In our projects, emergence is a key mechanic that we pursue through movement, media, and dialogues between us. This work is an effort to mine this approach, to remap our fictional stories, characters, and worlds, and to play with our own conceptual boundaries. We often use obscurity and speculation, and we merge direct references to events unfolding in common reality with abstract or rather mythopoetic narratives. In The Archive, this double bind between fiction and fact is what creates the project’s own contingency, a continuous recursivity of negation and becoming of both reality and fiction. This is a sort of unworlding of Hollow’s worlds that is channeled through a mesh of web-avatar storytellers.
The Archive is also an imprint of how we work together as a group. In our methods we often rely on intuition, improvisation, and emergent group dynamics, with a lot of trust in each other, resulting in an additive mode of being together and constructing our own fictional worlds. Thus The Archive is also a collection of intuitions, reciprocal associations, and alternative knowledge that enmesh as a multiplicity of mythopoetic and symbolic systems rather than a well cataloged and organized inventory.
Overall, The Archive is a living system, a memory prosthetic of ours as Hollow, that dynamically reshapes and folds on itself, channeling our own shifts in identity and changing feelings regarding a topic or research done in our past.
It seems that alternative worldbuilding, multi-linear storytelling, and pluriversal narratives are not only key aspects of your projects, but also prevalent in the core structure of your platform The Archive as it ruptures the linear and unidirectional logic of time. As if the already and the not-yet-existing future projects could coexist with each other. How the fictitious worlds and characters from the future could inform the here and now? Could they also rewrite or infiltrate the past as well, thus altering and hijacking causal premises pointing toward a potential future?
H.: The first iteration of The Archive was the immersive installation Archive II (The Beyond) shown at the exhibition Mine My Mind in the Art Quarter Budapest (AQB) – preceded by a series of public performances at Placcc Festival – in 2020. The original idea was to make an exhibition version of our 2019 performance Summit, but soon we realized that it would be much more interesting to create something new, as a “continuation” of the project. Summit is an event where people come together to collectively await an undefined Future Event. Although the melancholic atmosphere of the gathering implies that a darker world is about to come, it remains unclear whether it is specifically a death or rather a different kind of existence. If we think in linear time, The Beyond invites the audience into a space-time that follows the Future Event, yet what happened is still unnamed. What one encounters in this beyond reality may retrospectively put Summit into a new light, making the gathering the initial chapter of The Archive.
Following this, we became more preoccupied with the shared consciousness from which we construct Hollow’s worlds. We have started to write subplots and background stories establishing links between these universes. The website we present now aims not only to explore but also to document connections and storylines that were hidden before – in many cases, even to us. The Archive is evergrowing, and we have already included references to events that would take place in Hollow’s upcoming projects. The site most closely resembles a brainstorming, where surprising parallels and connection points emerge. The database, operating on the verge of reality and fiction, follows the non- or multilinear logic of the hyperspace, which is often an important feature of Hollow’s performances taking place in the physical reality, too. This encourages the audience to step out from the here and now, to allow more space for their fantasies while immersed in experiences that do not follow the logic of order and rationality.
The multiplicity of current emergencies whether it be social inequality and injustice, planetary-scale ecological crisis, global pandemics, or the ongoing Ukrainian war where cyberattacks, online propaganda, misinformation, deepfake presidents are all integral parts of military operations, showed us that alternative worldbuilding is not only a route of mere escapism but essential building blocks of our permanent crises and dystopian realities. Is it possible to pivot worldbuilding from poison to cure, turning it from weapon to a politically and aesthetically relevant counter-strategy?
H.: Hollow uses worldbuilding both as a device to create temporary fictional worlds that can bleed into common reality and a means to deconstruct entangled systems and narratives of this reality, like dystopian visions of the future or global pandemics.
Worldmaking, in our case, is a way to construct our own worlding that has a bond with the reality we all perceive. We invite people to participate in this collective mode of hallucination, a game-world where the individual agencies and identities can become temporarily displaced to glimpse into other lives. This dynamic of shedding our own skin, for the time being, is liberating and exciting, verging on escapism. The double bind between our worldmaking and unworlding the very same fiction creates an experiential vibration. This vibration is operating by pulling participants into the void of our fiction and simultaneously leaking back to the common reality, creating a vortex between worlds.
We are not using worldbuilding directly in political means, but to peek into other worldings, where our/your own perception and model of reality can dissolve into a shared fantasy that is both embodied and deconstructed.
For further information about Hollow’s project please visit: https://www.hollow.systems