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Lawrence Lek

Nepenthe Zone

2021, installation with a video and sound environment

AIDOL, 2019, CGI Feature film, 83 min

Named after the medicine for sorrow in Greek mythology, Nepenthe Zone is a sonic environment designed to help the listener forget the troubles of the world. The installation imagines a chill-out club of the near future, where entertainment and culture have become fully automated. Drawing parallels between the aesthetics of healing environments and cultures of wellness, the zone includes the film AIDOL and a new music video featuring ambient soundscapes which operate below conscious awareness.

Lek’s debut feature film AIDOL is set in the year 2065 against a backdrop of increasing tensions between man and machine. We follow Diva, a fading superstar who enlists the help of an AI songwriter for her comeback performance at the eSports Olympics. Fame – in all its allure and emptiness – is set against the contradictions of a post-AI world. In this scenario, originality is no more than an algorithmic trick and machines have the capacity to love and suffer.

Video of the conversation

Lawrence Lek (1982) is a visual artist, filmmaker and musician who lives and works in London. His practice is characterised by creating fictional versions of real spaces that speculate on future geopolitical movements and technological evolution. In his work, he draws from the fields of virtual reality, simulation, architecture and electronic music. His works include, among others, the virtual world Unreal Estate (The Royal Academy is Yours) (2015), the dystopian Brexit simulator Europa, Mon Amour (2016), the video essay Sinofuturism (1839-1046 AD) (2016), the CGI film Geomancer (2017), the site-specific video game 2065 (2018) and the VR simulation Nøtel (2019). He has presented his work in the solo exhibitions Ghostwriter (CCA Prague, 2019), Farsight Freeport (HeK Basel, 2019), Nøtel (Urbane Künste Ruhr, Essen, 2019), AIDOL (Sadie Coles HQ, London, 2019) and 2065 (K11, Hong Kong, 2018). His animated feature film AIDOL (2019) was presented at the Moscow International Experimental Film Festival, the Rotterdam International Film Festival and at transmediale 2020 in Berlin.