Digital video (1920 x 1080), color, sound, 10’ 21”, 2019 (Austria)
Created by Total Refusal
January 29 - February 11 2021
Introduced by Matteo Bittanti
Originally conceived as a video installation, Featherfall is presented on VRAL as a single channel machinima. Adopting the format of the video essay, the project began as an investigation of the relationship between game playing and dreaming, a recurrent topic in video game forums. In their psychoanalytic examination sui generis, Austrian collective Total Refusal (Robin Klengel, Leonhard Müllner, Michael Stumpf) suggest that games and dreams have much in common. Featherfall focuses on the archetypal nightmare of falling, which in video games is often exacerbated by a recurring programming error otherwise known as a glitch which causes the player’s alter ego to suddenly disappear beneath the surface, plummeting into a void. This weird phenomenon is known to persist in the players’ subconscious and to resurface in their dreams, like a curse.
Total Refusal is Robin Klengel, Leonhard Müllner, and Michael Stumpf. In their practice, they critically analyze and appropriate digital game spaces and recontextualize them. Playing games but ignoring the intended gameplay, Total Refusal allocates these resources to new activities and narratives, in order to create “public” spaces imbued with critical, even subversive potential. Leonhard Müllner works as an artist in the public and digital space and is currently writing his doctoral thesis at the Linz Art University at the Institute for Art and Cultural Studies. Robin Klengel works in Graz and Vienna as an interdisciplinary artist, illustrator, cultural anthropologist and vice president of the Forum Stadtpark. Michael Stumpf studied philosophy at the University of Vienna and now is an artist, designer and cultural theorist.