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Date Minted: June 9, 2020

Artist Description: Bizarre personal adventure, sums up everything that happened lately.  

CohentheWriter’s Commentary:

I’m not sure 1000 words is enough space in which to adequately discuss Poltergeist. I’m not sure 10,000 words is enough either. Twisted Vacancy’s piece, like all pieces under the Twisted Vacancy moniker, is an intense, densely-layered, hyper-chromatic hodgepodge of collage elements, of people and animals and places, historical architecture, symbolism, futurism, art history, surrealism, layering. It’s Pop. It’s internet-inspired. And like all Twisted Vacancy's works, it's mired in controversy. 

*****THIS is part of a vital conversation around Twisted Vacancy’s work that I feel obligated to mention, namely that Twisted Vacancy, which to my knoweldge is (or was?) actually a 28-person art collective, has been accused of stealing images, color schemes, and styles from other artists, most notably the Indonesian artist Ardneks. This writer has no specific opinion on the matter. Because, however, this piece nevertheless represents an important part of Crypto Art history, regardless of its origins, it's worthy of analysis, and as such, I'll be solely discussing the aesthetics inherent in this piece, as if it’s disconnected from its artist, as if it were stumbled upon in an artistic vacuum.******

But what a beautiful vacuum that would be. Poltergeist indulges in a kaleidoscopic color scheme, with reds and blues and greens and yellow all appearing washed out in places, or saturated up to neon intensity in others. There is no one specific style at play here, but rather a gargantuan collection of influences and separate pieces at play. Images in the Japanese Block-Art style abound: Koi fish and Cranes, Mt. Fuji and the Japanese Rising Sun, Lotus Flowers, and Japanese Kabuki Masks and Hokusai himself. 

But it’s not just historically-significant Japanese imagery thrown into this collage. Futurism and fantasy have an overt place here. A central female figure in a flowing, pink zebra-striped dress kneels down in the middle of the piece, her head covered in a fish-tank-like brain helmet, her skin cut-up and back torn, exposing machine parts underneath, machine parts which stretch down the length of her arm. Elsewhere, a snake with an eyeball in its mouth emerges from the right edge of the screen, lightly animated to appear as if it is looking all up and down the mishmashed proceedings around it. There’s fire. There’s water. There’s a blue brick path heading off into a distant nowhere. There are absentminded patterns. There are flowers and borders and widespread animation. The Koi fish waggles its tail. The eyeball snake bobs up and down. Electricity surges throughout the robot-woman’s body. The Kabuki mask floats menacingly in the air, and every individual pattern is imbued with life to make it spin, flash, or fragment. 

And with so much happening at once, it’s hard to get a single sense of artistic ownership here. The point seems to be that through this pell-mell artistry, a new kind of artistic language emerges, one that both honors the past but doesn’t succumb to it so far that there is no place for irreverence, for play, for juxtaposition with the discordant imagery of the future or of storybooks.

Suffice to say, however, that we are meant to be overwhelmed, ungrounded, and sucker-punched by the sheer amount of information we’re presented with. Aesthetically, there’s something for most everyone to glom onto, intellectually and emotionally, with the overall effect of the disharmonious imagery being that most who approach this piece will find some association, positive or negative, with what’s presented. In that way, I’d argue it can be universally appreciated, for it speaks to us in a decidedly universal language: that of colors and movement, that of animals and nature and technology and art. Bring your pick of interests or passions, and you will likely find it reflected within Poltergeist. Bring even a child’s artistic sensibility, and you’d still be deeply attracted to the deluge of colors and movement.

I’m reminded almost of a video-arcade, one awash in multicolored lights, in a hundred-thousand different sounds, in games from every decade all abutting next to each other, and all the disassociated folks who frequent such places: teenagers and children, the elderly, the middle-aged, the rich, the poor, the disinterested, the addicted. From all those disparate dings and rings and voices and shouts, a unique super-impression appears. The noise of the video arcade is none of these individual things, but the collected sum of the many parts, and as each is taken away, the grandiose whole loses its individuality.

Perhaps the totality of life can only be adequately represented with art that is either intensely minimalist or intensely maximalist, something which provides us a canvas upon which to paint our experiences, or something with enough already on it to mirror something of ours. Poltergeist appears to aim towards totality, obviously through the latter mechanism. Looking at this piece, one can almost hear it crackle. Sitting in front of it, one can almost feel the screen it’s on shaking with excitement, at getting to show so many colors, at getting to move in so many directions, at getting to be so many things at once and still, somehow, appearing cohesive. 

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