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Review | The Curse of Novo Ita | Denver

Black curtains whoosh behind you as you slip between two worlds. The first is a place of average ecstasy: a gallery brimming with cosmic landscape paintings, three-dimensional colour-changing canvases, and psychedelic kaleidoscopes begging you to remember the days when the world was polychromatic on purpose. The second place — your destination — isn’t a place at all.

It’s an intergalactic trail spanning the time-space continuum born in the mind of Spectra Art Space’s CEO and Chief Curator, Sadie Young. After gathering 25+ artists to design, compose, construct, and code Spookadelia 4: The Curse of Novo Ita, Sadie adds the finishing touch by stepping in as your docent. Sadie’s love of the storyline shines through as she ushers you between the curtains, into the rift, and beyond your imagination.

Photo by Eboni J.D. Freeman

The next few rooms take you on an adventure from a space odyssey movie script, to an adventure video game to a glow-in-the-dark fun house. By embracing the eerie sounds crackling from hidden crevices, plushy trinkets begging to be cuddled, and oozing flora seeping through the ceiling, you begin to understand the concept behind the exhibit; the world can be snuggly if you honour your environment. On the other hand, the world can be rotten if you do not take time to explore and care for the living mysteries surrounding you.

With an opening like that, you cannot imagine Spookadelia losing its magical momentum, and yet that is exactly what happens. As soon as you enter the “rift” between the gallery and the immersive exhibit, you are forced to stand and stare at a grainy TV screen for 7 minutes. At first you think the rugged quality of the video is a theatrical element meant to emphasize the long-distance transmission you are receiving from the interplanetary travellers you have been sent to save. However, this hope is quickly dashed when you notice that a 5-second looped video of a gruff woman in animal skins walks the same semi-circle over and over and over every time the video’s narrator starts a new paragraph. The frequency of the looped video causes you to stop listening to the words and ponder, “She seems to be shivering, were there no other animal skins available for her to cover up?” You feel a small sense of shame at your lack of concentration on the lore that is meant to inform the rest of your experience. You snap out of it as the video ends and proceed to the next room.

Photo by Eboni J.D. Freeman

As you walk back into the gallery and proceed towards the exit, Sadie the CEO stops you to expound upon the solarpunk theme radiating throughout the exhibit. She implores you to remember the creatures you met as you re-enter the big city life waiting for you! You look around one last time at the palm-sized creatures bidding you farewell from the glass case beside the exhibit entrance and on your phone’s screen within the Spookadelia mixed reality mobile app. From this day forward, you are the hero of Earth’s comeback story!

Author: Eboni J.D. Freeman

Dates: March 6th, 2022

Venue: Spectra Art Space

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