Suzanne Treister: From SURVIVOR (F) to The Escapist BHST (Black Hole Spacetime)

Utilising various media, including video, the internet, interactive technologies, photography, drawing, painting and watercolour, Suzanne Treister explores emerging technologies, alternative belief systems and potential human futures through a newly commissioned book and web-based augmented reality work.

Treister’s (b.1958, London UK) multi-part commission comprises an artist’s book and a web-based augmented reality work. The book From SURVIVOR (F) to The Escapist BHST (Black Hole Spacetime) brings together two interconnected projects, SURVIVOR (F), a potential human/non-human survivor of human civilisation, and the newly commissioned The Escapist BHST (Black Hole Spacetime), which follows an inter-dimensional entity journeying through event horizons and spacetime.

Together, these works reconsider established realities, knowledges and networks through psychedelic speculation. The Escapist BHST (Black Hole Spacetime) can be simultaneously accessed via a ring of AR portals located in the sky.

Since the late 1980s, Treister has consistently engaged with emerging technologies and the complex and often hidden networks of power that shape their creation and adoption through her expansive cross-media projects. Combining the world-building strategies of science-fiction with large bodies of archival and historical research, she maps vast links between the occult, scientific, military and corporate through the lens of technological development. Her projects propose alternative visions and interpretations of the histories that have formed our society and which we are only now beginning to comprehend.

From her pioneering fictional video-game paintings and stills of the late 1980s and early 1990s and the early interactive CD-ROM, Time Travelling with Rosalind Brodsky, featuring a delusional time-travelling alter-ego, to the more recent Hexen 2.0 that charts the post-World War II military-industrial complex and its development of cybernetics and Web 2.0, as well as new forms of intelligence and psychedelic experimentation organised and structured as a tarot deck, her work charts the connections between different forms of knowledge across time and space.

The Escapist BHST (Black Hole Spacetime) as a commission exists in multiple forms: a comic strip and series of black-hole portals, as well as new paintings, diagrams and watercolours. The work transforms numerous ways of knowing the world and organising intelligence, such as the diagrammatic Kabbalah Tree of Life, which is reimagined as the Museum of Black Hole Spacetime with 10 black holes, event horizons and inter-dimensional pathways, that combines the ecstatic state of the mystical with the agnostic and iterative nature of the scientific. The black hole itself is the most enigmatic of cosmic entities; little understood in scientific research (only recently was it represented for the first time through a networked telescopic photographic image), it is perhaps the most mythologised.

The Escapist BHST (Black Hole Spacetime) began with Treister’s research into the holographic principle that developed out of HFT The Gardener, another expansive project from 2014–15 where Treister tells the story of a high-frequency trader (HFT) who explores the psychoactive plants, and subsequent research undertaken at CERN as part of the COLLIDE award and residency. In Treister’s subsequent work, <