3-channel video installation, Garage Contemporary Art Museum, 2021
The work is consonant with the word “fatality,” which stands
for the final stage of finishing off the enemy, different for each character, in the fighting
game Mortal Kombat. Flatality (from the word “flat”) explores various disturbances
in the perception of space and refers to spatial experiences invoked by the pandemic.
During lockdown, for most people the world narrowed to the size of a room, meaning
distance—from home to the local store and from person to person—began to play a
decisive role in their lives. By developing the principle of modeling potential realities,
Flatality addresses modification of the world via physical experience: according to the
artist, “a change in one coordinate in space alters the order of creating a narrative. If we
make ourselves a home in a pipe, we will have to create linear works forever.” Within the
coordinates of the altered, “layering” consciousness, the artist develops a new type of
narrative, a “distance drama” in which the action unfolds not in time but in distance. He
also expands the space-time boundaries of the medium, which is based on the flow of time
(of the author and the viewer) and is created in the virtual space and presented in the real
one. Around ten short videos combine to create three sequences of approximately 36
minutes each, not synchronized with each other. These video sequences are constantly
diverging in the installation space, creating an endless set of combinations like generative
art, thus undermining the usual canon of runtime as the main measure of time-based art
and making use of the plastic characteristics of the space.
The vocalized direct speech reproduces patients’ evidence about pathological sensations of
space connected with a loss of volume, a flattening of the visible picture due to
derealization or with the loss of proprioceptive perception in patients with Kandinsky-
Clérambault syndrome. The almost incomprehensible, incoherently delusional descriptions
of internal states are voiced by speech synthesizers and acquire a detachedly artistic
character: “moveshki” and “Frankogols” make themselves at home in the recognizable
psychedelic style of Maksimov’s 3D animation. The artist finds a visual and spatial
correspondence with the syndromes listed, 1 using a “self-written space flattener” as a plug-
in for a 3D program for creating virtual landscapes. Flatality plunges the viewer into the
speech haze of individual psychopathologies, while also performing as a cartography of
Russian landscapes, from the Murmansk Peninsula to Tuva. A series of alternating
panoramas of flattened spaces grows from an individual’s inner experience into a
diagnostic assessment of the unsettled condition and problematic nature of existence in the
diversity of the country’s spaces. According to the artist, the subjective “inconvenience
inside one head” can be read as an objective “inconvenience inside the country,” even
though we understand that “illness is a personal matter and only health loves to be
I am created a special website for Flatality:
users that became available as a result of a data leak on February 14, 2011 have been used in this work.)
I am grateful to D. Zinchenko and O. Gorpenko for inspiring conversations.
Mikhail Maksimov 2021
A flow of thoughts pierces my head. A hot flow. Thoughts spread over the tree, hide from me, dance in a circle.
My psyche is having fun, one song and then another, and different words.
A red man and woman made entirely of fire take away my whole psyche, my thoughts, order me either to poison myself, or the food smells like a dead person. They take my thoughts away and put their thoughts into my head.
They told me that I am a kept doll, a prosthesis that needs to be oiled, not a human.
I was very constrained, could not scratch and dress myself. Hands down, head down and in this position I feel better, bad thoughts recede.
I also tolerate drugs very badly, drugs cause urinary retention in me, And the Frankogols came up with this idea that I perform rituals in the toilet. First I whisper, then I kiss the floor, the wash basin. And every, every, everything, until I go through the entire bathroom with my tongue, and I need to drink some water, smear feces on my mouth, so that the miasmas, the vapors of my body do not poison the air, so that people feel comfortable with me, so that there is no smell. Such thoughts when I want to have a pee, to defecate. Until I complete the ritual, I will have urinary retention.
I have become so used to performing rituals recently, I woke up at two, at three something in the morning, that I even felt ecstatic, such excitement, look, the walls are floating away, everything is floating away, I see myself from outside. Like a little ray from the subconscious, I watch myself as if in a silent movie, I see myself sidewise and I get lost on the Planet of Red Poppies. Well, the Planet of the Red Poppies is such a planet, I can call my thoughts at will now, I can call Frankogols, I can call Rational Beings, the Dawn People.
I hear a noise in my ears, so very subtle. A tiny voice. And I hear what it whispers to me. These are the Dawn People. It whispers to me that you should not go outside now. I see with my little ray that a whole flock of Furies is chasing me. What is a Fury? It is an octopus that hugs me from head to toe and I find it difficult to breathe. There was a Dragon before, it burned my insides, moved inside my brain, it said that all my brain had melted, that the skull is a stone and I would have a sterile head and protection from infectious diseases.
And Frankogols are creatures that look like both humans and animals, creatures that do everything the other way around. The Dawn People, Frankogols, Rational Beings live in space. Outside my consciousness, they live in the air around us and outside of my consciousness I cannot control them, they subordinate my whole will, my entire psyche, everything. I don’t actually belong to myself.
There are two Is inside me. One I is white, the other I is black. And so far, the black one is defeating the white.
I went to bed and my body was itching, Moveshki, embers from the Russian stove, were crawling out of my skin. They showed me the galaxies. Moveshki are the smoldering embers of the Russian stove. They light the way for me. When I look in any direction, far, far away, and see another civilization, another galaxy.
Once I felt so sick, I looked and saw that the spots moved apart and I saw another planet and I am standing on this planet and such happiness flushed up my face, that I am standing on this planet. I see that the planet is covered with bumps, potholes, the Planet of Red Poppies. On this planet a dried-up river flows, and in the distance there is a whole field of red-cheeked such poppies, that’s why I called it the Planet of Red Poppies. And the main thing that I noticed was that along the bed of the dried river there lay corpses, it’s difficult to say whether they were corpses or not, but skeletal creatures wearing clothes. And some creatures, microbes, green, solid, ball-shaped, iridescent like mercury, ran over them, you know like a snake, ran over them from foot to toe.
These creatures only need our body form, our shell, you know, otherwise they will have nowhere to settle. I feel how they inhabit me, I feel such a roll, transfusion, something pleasant. And I was told that this planet was previously inhabited by the human race, by people, but then, as a result of interplanetary wars, microbes conquered the planet, meaning there is not a single rational creature living there anymore, only skeletons with an outer shell, and they said that they are smart and can take over our world, but generally I disagreed, although it was certainly nice, but I think that I am an inferior being.
The voices tell me that I am not worthy. I don’t know why.
And this does not rise before me as some kind of vague foggy sensation, which appears, as it were, appears, as if the opacity of the air Lost 8 emerge from here and the loss of volume that’s why everything visible gives the impression of a photograph. Also because everything visible is like in the dark I exist In The Darkness as it were the sounds that reach me come from afar and fitness which eventually irritates me somehow I reacts to it appears before me as if slightly from afar That is, it is like to see to see in the mirage it is unreal The main thing is that it was I who left Tofik, who left the outside world And while remaining a person still capable of reflecting on something How I see reality in a distant who has left me forever erased that some secondary feeling of my brightness appeared at the same time appeared the absence of my present and the appearance of some alien and characteristic features of perception when I look at an object the eye seems to protect, it grabs the essential whole this Eco and by the way specific features fall out of the object because I have a constant constant no presence such a such a void appears inside me I mean there is no joy of illumination I mean there is no joy of being at all you understand I mean I do not naturally enter into my such normal historical existence as the toxicosis of the deepening is revealed calmly events the song reached such and such high-quality nagging When some kind of upheaval has already taken place in quality which made my husband appear.
Well, it was Friday, so I went to find the pay-sheet, it changes every month now, we go and put down the new price. I felt quite okay, but was already freaking out, as always. I feel frantic all the time, although I have not drunk since the new year. recently. I had already been here in hospital and just got out. A month and a half has passed, especially since I did not take advantage of the moment, I do not drink. So they paid me off, I come home and feel like I am not alone in the apartment, such a feeling. At first, I did not see anyone, I took off my coat, started checking the rooms, looking, just in case. I checked both rooms, the toilet, the bathroom and the kitchen, I also checked the loggias: there seemed to be no one and still it felt like someone was there. Either the space had slightly changed, or something like that, you know, there was this feeling of anxiety. Suddenly, a man and a woman enter through the front door, which they opened themselves. So, two people come in and begin a conversation, now this is good, this is great, and this is not good, and so on. I began looking closely at what they pointed at, as for me everything seemed to be fine. But I was warned in advance that I should expect guests. Because army intelligence troops held maneuvers there. Camouflage exercises in apartments. So, I started looking closely and indeed, I saw people. But they were disguised as an armchair, a chair, that is, they take the form of, people take the form of a chair. The mount is made from above, the impression is that they narrow down, expand, become rounded, I mean, fully control their physiological capabilities. For example, the woman, her shoulders correspond to the level, her arms correspond to the level, she removes her legs under herself, disguises herself as an armchair, and if you sit down and lean on her, you may not even feel her. Their task is to be disguised, to observe, listen, see. So, women were disguised as a floor lamp. Disguised under the wall, the same color, the same size, all identical. When they focused my attention, I saw them. 8 people. And then a military man with stars turns to me, the epaulettes are very interesting by the way, our foreign friends wear them, they are sort of tall without any corrugation, they are clean and in a single row, senior lieutenant, but their rank is named differently, because these are intelligence army special forces.
He says, we will practice here at your place and then we will talk to you, i.e., there will be a conversation. But for the time being they were changing positions, meaning someone was an armchair but became a panel, the panel turned into a chair, the chair became a floor lamp, for example.
That is, they are working in the meantime. Yes, I saw it, but I tell them, guys, stop fooling around, it might be hard to stay in such a static position for two hours, in this position of an armchair, chair, panel, since you can’t move under the command to “freeze.” So, I proposed to them, comrades, stop fooling around, let’s have some tea, but there was not a word from them, and they continue to do their job, they are working, they don’t hear me.
Born on Herzen Street, in grocery store number twenty-two. A famous economist, by vocation a librarian. Among the people a collective farm worker. A salesperson in the store. A necessary figure in the economy, so to speak. This is a system, as it were… uh…uh… composed of one hundred and twenty units. You take pictures of the Murmansk Peninsula and get Te-le-fun-ken. And the accountant works on a different line, on the line of the librarian. Because there will be no air, there will be an academician! So, you can take a photo of the Murmansk Peninsula. You can become an air ace. You can become an air planet. And you can be sure that this planet will be accepted according to the textbook. This means that physics will benefit from one planet. A magnitude cut off into the field of diplomacy contributes its fluctuations throughout diplomacy. Meanwhile Ilya Muromets contributes fluctuations only to his family. A match in the library does work. They go to newsreels and light up a large sheet in newsreels. Kindle a small sheet in the library. Fire… uh-uh-uh… will be generated much more easily than a solid textbook. And a solid textbook will be more weighty than the grocery store on Herzen Street. And there will be a split textbook on Herzen Street. Then the textbook will pass through Herzen Street, through grocery store number twenty-two and be replaced there by the formula of economic unity. It is in store twenty-two that it can split, the economy! On economists, on dispatchers, on sellers, on the culture of trade… So, the whole economy will move in this direction. The library will move toward the one hundred and twenty units, which will… uh-uh-uh… put an object on top of another object. One hundred and twenty units is the subject of a physician. The light bulb burns from one hundred and twenty bricks, because its structure, so to speak, resembles a brick. Ilya Muromets works at the Dinamo stadium. Ilya Muromets works at home. Here is concrete diplomacy! Open diplomacy is the same. So, we take a TV set, insert it into the Murmansk Peninsula, wind it up there… uh-uh-uh… rye bread all the time… Does it mean that Muromets will grow? Will Ilya Muromets grow out of this?
The whole world seems fake, unreal. it feels like everything is somehow strange, as if you are not in a dream, as if in a dream. That is, everything is like, you look at everything, it is really so, there is no sense of reality everything just seems kind of plastic, strange. Out in the street, at home, everywhere, that’s why you just want to lie and look at one point because everything is somewhat strange. You seem fake to yourself and it is as if I don’t know, what is it? what am I? What’s going on? In general, literally THIS, if there is a word I, then I think: So, I have no idea what it is, I have no idea what’s going on. This is very very weird.
Text is read by:
Acapela tts engine
Google tts engine
15.ai tts tool
Apple Siri tts engine
(Text messages from Megafon mobile provider users that became available as a result of a data leak on February 14, 2011 have been used in this work.)
I am grateful to D. Zinchenko for inspiring conversations.