Oct 15 - Dec 11, 2021

Taka Kono + Taichi Machida + 18virgin/発酵

ATK/0 DEF/10000

Text by rohan mills

part one : Taka Kono

suffering comes to me dressed in white and stands by the door. this casts a long shadow on the floor, stopping right before my feet. though there is no reason to panic, i instinctively reach for the bone card. in an unusual slowness, i experience the movement of my own hand. then the dreaded thought assails me: what if it isn’t there? before this intrusion of doubt can run wild, my fingertips have curled around familiar wrinkled pulp.

here there are no accidents, only ritual. for now i am safe again.

after sleep, i linger on, trying to remember how the bone card came to rest in my possession. it’s a pointless exercise—like movement without temperature. i begin to drift in the direction of weightlessness, but soon i come up against the boundaries of my memory. i close my eyes in a desperate attempt to advance just one step closer toward the mirror of fog. immediately the nausea comes after me, and my senses are overwhelmed by a piercing ring. i feel my stomach turn, as if trying to escape. soon the light leaves my eyes and the ringing noise distorts into a sickening drone.

when the elders ascended they left nothing for us to remember them by except their tools. some say that the strange staves were originally apotropaic, that the elders kept them close during their hunting rituals—believing them to ward off malicious spirits. others say that they were the weapons themselves. many theories have come and gone over time, each as hollow as the last. the only proof we have of the talismans are the bone cards which were harvested from their barbs and ridges. today, even the thought of the runes in their original state causes me to shiver. nobody knows how or why those runes work. all we know is they do, and without them, we’d never get to sleep. and if we’d never get to sleep, how else would we live with the constant presence of the drone?

part two : Taichi Machida

even in sleep he could not escape the fever. what had started as needling tremors in his muscle tissue had boiled into full-blown shudders, jerks now reaching a kinesthetic crescendo. but it wasn’t music—there was something unworldly about this shuddering. it was as if a master marionettist had decided to go against the tradition of making their puppet’s movement seem “believable”. foregoing all previous training and rejecting tradition, they renounced animating the avatar’s limbs in the likeness of humans. perhaps the master was bent on creating one final absurdist performance piece that would distinguish themselves as being the most avant-garde artist of their generation.

he realized that in this configuration between puppet and puppeteer, the marionette’s job is simply to receive. for the puppet at least, it was an unemotional exercise.

though the physicality of his fever was almost comical, he felt its burn growing with each passing moment, breaking each previous record and shattering each previous expectation of what a fever could do to a person. it was almost as if the act of belief in an end would be picked up by the fever, to which it would respond by increasing the intensity of itself. in this sense the fever was very much a living thing. using what he knew about string theory, he imagined there was something with a conscience sprinting through the chutes and ladders of his body, escaping capture, leaving nothing except scalding sensorial graffiti on his inner walls, announcing nothing except the words: "i am here". it was during the appearance of this text that he contemplated naming the fever. he wondered whether it would help as a makeshift, last-ditch effort to establish some sort of control over the creature. but, sometime during this philosophical exercise of naming the thing—a defense mechanism?—his eyes adjusted to the dark, and he realized with a sense of dread that he was somewhere very far away from where he’d fallen asleep. had somebody moved him while he was unconscious?

some time later, the burning and pain had rendered clarity impossible in his observations of anything. all around him was a heavy drone, a mechanical growl stretched beyond recognition. it was punctuated only by the soft click-and-buzz of what felt like a monitor fizzling on and off—but he couldn’t be sure anymore. his cognition had been fried to a permanent low-resolution, a torturous rendering process fated to load but never finish. yet, those words: “an unemotional exercise”—they continued to bother him, though he could not fully say why.

part three : 18virgin curated by 発酵

is this a dream? something has happened to the sun—what day is it? do dreams get this dark? i put my hand to the wall. what’s there isn’t the cold stone i expected. it’s sticky, something thicker—frozen milk? when i remove my hand from the wall, some part of it stays with me, which i find sweet, kind of.

later i am moving again. diagonally, without straight lines. it takes three or four curbs for me to realize that the goal here is climb. in the time it takes for me to realize this, the frozen milk has gone from green to white. under my feet is interesting too. the word i am looking for is between “ripple” and “billow”, but it’s heavier, like feathers fighting and winning, somewhat, against a thin layer of tar. i continue along this upward spiral trajectory by cutting it into a “diagonal infinity”. bad move—the attempt to give this experience language makes me feel immediately more tired. so i keep it simple, and change “diagonal infinity” to “always halfway”. the environment seems to like this, but then it presents me a new piece of information. farther up, the surrounding landscape changes violently enough for me to know that it is a place of interest.

someone has come along and burned it, the river, on which i was supposed to ferry, toward the torso, the body of this mystery.

there’s tar, again. i don’t see it this time, but i smell it. there’s something acidic all along the edges of the river, and something in my chest begins to hurt. yet nothing in my spine tells me that this is the end, so i wait.

i am handed another piece of information, which i receive through listening. it fades in to disguise itself as a naturally occurring event, but i know what it is long before it reaches full volume. the buzzing of flies—hundreds, thousands maybe. each individual buzz feeds into itself, before being interrupted by the next in a process that repeats and consolidates itself. a squirming brick wall. i listen closely and immediately regret doing so, because my ears begin to picture. i see at once a million cross-hatched eyes that become indistinguishable in the mass. then i puke into my hand but when i look at my hand there’s nothing except sand.

the drone inevitably reaches a limit, a tipping point. the wall of flies tip over so i step onto it, not minding the sensation of my bare feet sinking into countless chitinous wings. this wall begins to float. soon i am headed towards the brightest room.

when i arrive, ahead there’s a head. the room says that i must participate, so i instinctively look for the eyes. I find them, and suddenly i see everything. the head’s eyes pierce straight into my own, and it is then and there that i remember the truth of who i am. it’s the last thought i ever have.