‘The building of a house we will never live in – a house for our ghosts where the gothic and the hallucinatory collide.’
Turner Prize winning-artist Tai Shani takes us beyond the merely mortal and into the mystic with The Neon Hieroglyph, her first online artwork. It’s the latest world premiere in Virtual Factory, an ongoing digital series inviting artists to imagine new virtual worlds in response to the physical architecture and artistic ambition of The Factory, MIF’s future home.
Tai Shani creates worlds that are at once dark yet luminous, both feminist and fantastical – and in The Neon Hieroglyph, she constructs a story–world that draws inspiration from her research into ergot, a fungus that grows on rye and other grains from which LSD is derived, as a psychedelic catalyst.
Ergot played an important part in the North West’s agricultural, social and medical history: linked to local crops and breads, outbreaks of ergot poisoning caused mass hallucinations, with the last reported UK incident during the late 1920s in Manchester. The Neon Hieroglyph uses these experiences to spark new visions and alternative realities: a dreamlike CGI journey that takes us from the cellular to the galactic, from the forests to the subterranean, from the real to the almost unimaginable.
Composed of nine short episodes and featuring a mesmeric soundtrack by Manchester-born composer-musician Maxwell Sterling, The Neon Hieroglyph anticipates the kind of extraordinary new art that will be created, produced and presented at The Factory in the coming years.
Adam Sinclair VFX director, 3D Artist, animator
Maxwell Sterling Score and sound design
Molly Moody The Spirit Of
Stefano Tsai Additional CG Artist
Lotti V Closs Additional modeling support
Mika Lapid Production assistant
Recorded at Supersymmetry Studios with thanks to Aurelien and Solène.
Thank you to Emily LaBarge, Pia Borg, Aura Satz, Alison Katz , Jorge Nunes, Rod Hamlin and Edward Mingard.
About Tai Shani
Tai Shani creates large-scale immersive installations, combining experimental texts, performance, film, photography and sculpture. She takes inspiration from disparate histories mined from forgotten sources and transforms them into rich and complex monologues that explore feminine subjectivity.
She lives and works in London. She has exhibited widely in the UK and internationally including Tate Britain; Turner Contemporary, Margate; Hayward Gallery, London; Nottingham Contemporary, Nottingham; Glasgow International, Glasgow; De La Warr Pavilion, UK; Arnolfini, Bristol; Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Turin; The Tetley, Leeds. She was a joint winner of the Turner Prize 2019 and she was shortlisted for the 8th edition of the Max Mara Art Prize for Woman. She is the co-founder and co-curator of artist-led digital film channel Transmissions.
The Neon Hieroglyph will be an ongoing body of work unfolding throughout 2021. Upcoming projects include collaborations with the Serpentine and a major installation at the British Art Show.
The Neon Hieroglyph films are commissioned and produced by Manchester International Festival with in kind support from the Centre for Creative and Immersive XR at the University of Portsmouth. The research and ongoing project is also supported by The British Art Show and Serpentine’s Back to Earth project.