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ABOUT THE WORK
SHUNDO ODDISH by Skye Nicolas integrates an extraordinarily elusive virtual creature with nature. Such representations of supernatural beings invading and residing in our physical universe have their aesthetic roots in the classic yōkai scroll art of 16th-century Japan depicting mythical monsters, illustrating a rich heritage of fantastic tales told throughout the Edo period.
In 2016, the artist played the popular augmented reality game Pokémon Go under the name VICIOUSYOUTH. After four years of immersive gameplay, he has encountered, captured, and successfully collected several "Shundo" Pokémon: exceedingly scarce digital creatures, an amalgam of "shiny" Pokémon, a highly rare and sought-after variant, and a "hundo," which signifies it has perfect IVs or individual values, broken down into three statistics: attack, defence, and stamina (HP). These metrics combined make for an almost impossible catch. The work is comprised of a video capture featuring Shundo Oddish, caught on October 5th, 2019 in Santa Monica, California. The elusive grass-type Pokémon is released in a lush physical environment observed through augmented reality (AR)—an idyllic Japanese garden with its carefully curated collection of exotic flora serves as the verdant threshold for the creature. The boundary between tangible nature and the ethereal is breached, compelling us to confront the intricate interplay of existence and simulation.
SHUNDO ODDISH peers beyond the veil of emergent AR technologies, confronting the ephemeral nature of value extracted from the fertile soil of new digital economies, where precious digital assets are anointed as revered treasures. Ultimately, the whimsical yet disarming piece exists as a poignant reflection of our ever-growing collective fascination with the alchemy of augmented experiences. Suspended between dream and reality, we are made privy to a liminal space where the boundaries of the physical and the virtual dissolve and the botanical dances with the digital.
SHUNDO ODDISH echoes Jannis Kounellis’ Untitled/12 Horses, 1969, a seminal moment in postmodern art wherein the incorporation of live animals was essential to the creation of the artwork. Nicolas reframes Kounellis’ gambit with a contemporary context explored through the magical lens of augmented reality, adding new layers of inquiry while exploring the phenomenon of our increasing parasocial relationships with anthropomorphized digital entities and their role within an evolving digital economy.