Rel Pham: Electric Dirge

A thousand blades slice through the air, their cacophony reverberating around the room, bouncing off walls and colliding with themselves. The room, thick with heat, vibrates as messages gleam back and forth through a colossal undersea of cables, ricocheting off satellites that float in a vacuum. A glacial shelf collapses into the sea. $DogeCoin is trending. The world’s largest bonfire – an incomprehensibly large inferno; billions of people circling around it endlessly; NASCAR at the Kaaba, each one going a different direction.

The call to prayer plays while children learn a new dance. The border conflict between China and India intensifies. You have been committing microaggressions your whole life without knowing. You drag your finger across the glass.

The exploration of virtual space is not unlike walking through an infinite hallway. A procession through endless messages that confirm, contradict, and confound each other. Any stop offers only temporary respite you’re gestured towards the portal further down the rabbit hole – ‘If you liked that, then you’ll love this’. Digital pilgrimage is laden with intensity, absurdity, and banality.

This is Electric Dirge. A reverie mourning itself as it celebrates its own rebirth. All occurring simultaneously.

Forever twirling towards freedom.

Rel Pham is an designer, animator, illustrator and painter originally from Sydney, Australia but now residing in Melbourne. Known for a strong use of electric, vibrant colours and a penchant for surrealism.  His work combines and contrasts old and new mythology. Whether through surreal portraits or paintings of monoliths, computers and objects that look like alien still lifes. Each piece explores culture and tradition, juxtaposing old world fables and rituals with new stories and ideas.

Electronic Dirge is commissioned by 4A and curated by the Curatorial Assistant for 2021, Marco Rinaldi, as part of 4A’s Digital Curatorship. The 4A Curatorial Assistant Program is supported by the Sally Breen Family Foundation.