Many things have been rumored about the artist called Manko since he vanished about a year ago. Some even went so far as to claim he had died. So it was all over the news when Manko came back from out of nowhere and started working on a giant installation for the brand new museum L’Œuvre in Paris.
Zero: ‘Where to begin? We’ve had many discussions in our Lab about the future of the children. The plan was simple: to raise the kids to the physical age to be ‘frozen’ in. Then, to venture into space and reach other places where mankind can live, long after our known world ceases to exist.
Antoine Gill loved the idea of going into space. Our transport was long ready, but we needed many more years to prepare the children, both physically and mentally, for their exodus. What we did not see coming is that Gill simply had no patience to wait any longer. So he released the clearly threatening Nano-trails and initiated the lift-off, only to persuade us all to leave with him at once. He did not count on Bokor and me locking ourselves in the Lab and neither did he foresee Nada and you staying behind because of Askr and Embla.
So he left them in your care and took off with the rest of the children. Right now, they are out there, heaven knows where and there’s nothing we can do to stop him. And I guess there’s no point in that now.
Manko had been here before. Being just thoughts, surrounded by nothing.
He felt glad his thoughts were there, one after the other, so there had to be a form of time and therefore he had to still exist. He wondered about the fact that he was able to observe himself thinking. If he would stop thinking, would he just simply cease to exist? He attempted to stop thinking, but he couldn’t. He contemplated living forever in this immense and unresponsive universe. This time he was not so sure that there would be anyone to wake him up again.
The children looked startled.
‘Leaving?’, Askr asked. ‘But it’s not time yet!’, Embla said.
Manko had no clue of what was going on. Not yet time for what? The red ball turned purple and again a shock went through everyone in the room.
As they went down the elevator shaft, going deeper underground, neither Nada nor Manko spoke a word. To Manko it seemed to take forever.
In his mind, he went over the long conversation they had had at dinner. Zero had finally explained the reason for Manko to be invited. It was almost too crazy to believe, but here he was all the same, on his way with Nada, about to be introduced to these children. The first human beings to live forever, born eight years ago, living two miles underground.
Nada: ‘Did you like it?’
Manko: ‘I have to admit that if this is the starter, I’m not sure I’ll survive the main course.’
Everyone at the table laughed.
Manko: ‘Let me ask you, how is this considered dinner? I did not eat anything.’
Bessy: ‘That’s a good question. We do not really need to feed ourselves anymore. In fact, the soup you ate contained more than enough energy and body-repairing particles to keep you up and running for the next week.’
Now Manko understood why he had felt so energetic after the soup.
Manko blinked. Then blinked again, and again and again. While he did, he went through various layers at once and he was dazzled and amazed, his jaw dropped at all that he saw. He started blinking faster and faster. It didn’t take a long time before he started getting dizzy.
Nada: ‘You better stop blinking, or pretty soon you’ll be throwing up. Bokor, please help him.’
As he blinked, Manko saw all kinds of layers pop out of Bokor’s head. Bokor smiled.
Bokor: ‘Close your eyes. Relax. Do not open your eyes until you feel you are ready for your maiden voyage. It will take patience and skill to navigate these layers properly. Start by exploring them one at a time and enjoy the discovery. It is a magical feeling that you can only experience once in your life. After a while it will just become part of your routine. It will become part of you, part of your nature. Now, when you open your eyes, blink fast three times and slow one time.’
When Nada returned as promised with a small bowl of soup in her hands, Manko was sitting upright with a grumbling stomach. Even now that Manko could see normal again, Nada’s hair was still a red blur. Her green eyes looked at him curiously from under the short bob haircut.
Nada: ‘Ha, you’re staring at my kinetic hairdo.’
She shook her head, which made her hair flash up into a bright red light, as if she was a big matchstick and her head was about to burst into flames.
Nada: ‘Here, this tomato soup will make you feel better. It’s slightly enhanced with nano-tech, as is everything in this place.’
Manko put the bowl to his mouth and eagerly slurped the soup. It did not burn his mouth, so he took a big gulp and a warm stream made its way down his throat and into his rejoicing belly. This must have been the best soup he’d ever had. The warmth did not stop in his belly though, but continued to spread thoughout his body. A mellow warmth that soon reached his arms and leg. As he swallowed the last bit of soup, he could feel it already reaching his fingertips. It was as if he was being filled up like a radiator, hollow on the inside, with hot water filling him up entirely. It was a marvelous feeling.
Manko was completely cut off from everything around him, virtually dead, buried alive inside of his own body. He remembered Zero’s advice not to panic, but to no effect. He had no feedback from his body. He couldn’t even sense any breathing, which freaked him out. Right now in his mind waves of questions tumbled over each other.
Were these people serious about living forever? Was this the way he was supposed to contribute? By being preserved like this? He pondered on the possibility of never being woken up. Even if Zero’s team wanted to revive him, would it not be possible that they would fail to wake him up? How often had they done this before? Were there more people like him in other rooms? Were they trying to bring him back to the world at this moment? Were there any complications? Would they soon give up on him?
The way down was slow and somehow greasy. Total darkness surrounded them. Gill turned on the car radio and the LED’s lit up their faces in a green pulsating glow. ‘Jovi Rocks!’, Gill said. Manko seriously disliked the sloppy song, so when Gill started to violently shake his head to the music, Manko thought it wise to say nothing. The song had almost finished when they arrived at a large underground lobby and as Gill turned off the radio, he sang the last words out loud:
‘They’ll never let us go unless we try
I’m tired of living just to die.
We’re getting out of here
As Manko stepped out of the car, still troubled by Gill’s taste in music, he noticed two men coming towards him. An old man with a grey suit, grey hair, a pair of heavy black eyebrows and a small grey moustache. The other man was quite tall and wore a Lab coat.
Zero: ‘Welcome to our facility, Mr. Manko, my name is Zero, I am in charge of this operation. You cannot imagine how happy I am to see you.’
Last month we discussed how the vacuum played a big role in Manko’s life since he lost his right leg. Soon he developed this idea further, beyond the mere notion of extensions into more abstract notions of what a vacuum is, as we saw in the earlier discussed works ‘Zebra2′ and his later work ‘KM3′. The copyright issues made Manko feel betrayed by the old art regime that did not seem to know how to deal with virtual artworks. There would not be a lot of time to make art while dealing with the various pending court cases.
Then, one rainy day in November, Manko received an invitation at his Paris apartment from a mysterious person simply called ‘O’. The invitation was printed on an ultra-thin sheet of paper that felt like it would crumble in his hands yet proved rather strong. At the top of it was an embossed red geometrical ‘O’ and it had a watermark on it of something that looked like a molecular structure. The invitation read as follows: “Dear Mr. Manko, Your artistic work has come to our attention and we would like you to consider joining our laboratory to work on an innovative project with us. We think you have the relevant mindset we need to complete our team. If you accept this invitation, please flush it down your toilet and we’ll be in touch with you soon. Yours sincerely, ‘O’.”
I should tell you the story of how Manko lost a leg. You need to know about this incident to understand his recent works. So please forgive me, I first have to go back to that unfortunate day, before I continuing where we left off last month.
Manko was 23 years old, and studied sculpture at the time. He was quite impulsive and loved to do things differently than others, just for the sake of it. An example: one day he threw himself through the window of a bus stop, just to know what that would be like, but also because he would know that he had done something than none of his friends would ever do. And he did not do it for them either. He did it to feel special. The consequence of having to pick a hundred tiny splinters of glass from his face only made it more memorable.
In this first review of the works of Manko, we’ll discuss the complex sorts of plagiarism in Augmented Reality art that are typical for our contemporary art scene. This introduces a relevant clue to the later demise of Manko.
By ASTON REVOLA, Paris 21-08-20, for NextNature.net
Last year, in May, Manko released an artistic Augmented Reality (AR) application that showed what the missing arms, legs and even heads of some of the most famous sculptures in art history were supposed to look like. Based on artist sketchbooks he remodeled them in 3D and with the use of the new contact lenses of the museum, visitors could now see the whole picture. It was a huge success and soon enough Manko licensed others to remix these virtual body parts he designed. One of the best remixes was actually done by Manko himself, where he transposed the arms of Milo’s Venus onto Dali’s version, making the arms move and search all the drawers in her chest, frantically and endlessly.