Mark Fingerhut

descent.exe 2017
custom software 6:14

In collaboration with Peter Burr and Forma

executable file

video documentation

In 1562, Flemish artist Pieter Bruegel the Elder completed a painting called The Triumph Of Death. In this panoramic landscape the sky is blotted out by black smoke; ships and dead fish litter the ocean shore; and an army of skeletons experiment with myriad death techniques. The living are badly outnumbered and the variety of fated tortures seems endless. There is little room for whimsy in this tableaux.

Over 200 years earlier, a nasty plague, commonly known as the Black Death, left a cruel and massive mark on european civilization, wiping out half of Europe’s total population. This was a quiet pervasion of death - an invisible pathogen carried by herds of tired rats. This plague triggered a series of social and economic upheavals with profound effects on the history of medieval Europe, guiding its survivors into the sort of self-inflicted darkness pictured by the Elder Bruegel.

Looking back at this historical trajector alongside Peter Burr and Forma I created a spiraling digital virus aptly titled DESCENT - a meditation on one of humanity’s blackest hours. Taking the form of a desktop application, Descent.exe gives the user a brief glimpse of a world descending into darkness - an unrelenting plague indifferent to the struggles of the user. There is a silver lining, however, tucked into the software’s final sweep. An equanimous watcher, reduced to a single eye, looks on as the plague of rats that has infested your desktop destroys itself.

2019 Teatro Gayarre. Pamplona, ES
2019 Fiesp Cultural Center. Sao Paolo, BR
2019 Yeltsin Center. Yekaterinburg, RU
2019 Espaciocenter Canarias. Bilbao, ES
2019 EM-Filmtheater. Stuttgart, DE
2019 Dum Stepanka Netolickeho Gallery. Trebon, CZ
2019 Fundacja Promocji Kultury Artystycznej. Krakow, PL
2019 Drumul Taberei. Bucharest, RO
2019 Hong Kong Polytechnic University School of Design. Hong Kong, CN
2019 One Night Gallery, Bucharest, RO
2019 Central Academy of Fine Arts. Beijing, CN
2019 Kinoteatr Kiev. Kiev, UA
2019 Fundacja Photon. Krakow, PO
2019 Kulturhaus Abraxas. Augsburg, DE
2019 Museum of the Yugoslav Film Archive. Belgrade, RS
2019 Microwave. Hong Kong, CN
2019 Hansen House. Jerusalem, IL
2019 New Chitose Airport. Sapporo, JP
2019 Toshima Center. Tokyo, JP
2019 Sea World Culture and Arts Center. Guangzhou, CN
2018 Prix Ars Electronica Exhibition. Linz, AT
2018 Ars Electronica Animation Festival. Linz, AT
2018 London Art Fair. London, UK
2018 South Kiosk. London, UK
2017 Vector Festival. Toronto, ON
2017 File Festival. Sao Paolo, BR
2017 Squat Gallery. Brooklyn, NY

2018 Prix Ars Electronica Honorable Mention