Terra Regis / Terra Neminis
Phoenix Art Centre, Leicester

Computer hardware, web-scrapers, driftwood, insects, aluminium extrusions

Terra Regis / Terra Neminis is a game engine-based artwork commissioned by Phoenix Art Centre in Leicester. Translated literally as ‘land of the king / land of nobody’, the work was made within the context of Leicester and its history, the work responds to the recent unearthing of King Richard III in the carpark of Leicester City Council Social Services. For me this event was too poetic to ignore; I spent much of my time as a “youth” (I hate that term) hanging out, mucking around, tagging stuff, doing donuts in somebody’s shitty Ford Focus, skateboarding and getting high in car parks. For many young people, these liminal non-spaces (not public, but not quite private) are the only places they are welcome, where they can gather without being seen as a threat or a nuisance. They are only accepted in such spaces because of their ‘value’; a carpark generates no capital, it is only an accessory to the creation of value. Likewise, ‘the youth’ are without any inherent value under capitalism; in Britain, until they have been shaped into compliant subjects of our (utterly broken) social system they are simply placeholders for where capital and work may be extracted in future. For those without capitalist value, liminal spaces are the only space that allows some form of freedom.

The discovery of Richard III in a carpark almost seems like a quiet victory to the young me; a recognition of the value of such an overlooked place and the overlooked people who may frequent it. This victory comes in the form of a humorous reversal of the class dynamic that gives some a disproportionate right to property and others no right whatsoever. Terra Regis / Terra Neminis, plays on this reversal, allowing the audience to haunt the virtual space presented to them; as they walk past the work their movement adds impulse to trolleys, causing them to career chaotically across the carpark. As such the virtual car-park becomes a dystopic mirror-world; an in-between space haunted by the ‘real’ people of the ‘real’ world. The funny thing about liminal spaces is that once too many people engage with them, they cease to be liminal. Terra Regis / Terra Neminis forces the liminality to remain by only enabling a partial connection to its space through a twitching awareness of its audience, but no matter how close a viewer gets it always fundamentally remains elsewhere.

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