Metaverse Madness

Lose yourself in Claire Barrow’s twisted, interactive play park
By Bailey Slater | Art | 19 August 2022

If there’s anyone that’s going to do the Metaverse justice, we’re hedging our bets on Claire Barrow. As the ever-advancing beast that is Web 3.0 promises internet surfers a wealth of new possibilities whilst they doom-scroll their way out of the cost of living crisis and The Summer of Dead Grass, Barrow’s latest online retrospective-slash-website launch leans into the dystopic chaos and emerges victorious.

First teased in the multi-disciplinary artist’s quarterly newsletter (which you can subscribe to here), Barrow implores us to explore this otherworldly terrain and palm through her meaty back-catalogue in both 2D and 3D – though her actual words were “good luck and get lost”. The show is then split across several interactive rooms, including one vacuous yet well-graffitied space set up underneath an empty pool – vaporwave style, leaving us to wade through her pastel-hued Butlins to our heart’s content. 

On your first login, users are greeted by a wonderfully nostalgic GeoCities layout full of hyperlinks and the kind of comically surreal forces of nature found in the virtual worlds of the early 2000s, like eerie fake trees and flat, flashing pools of water. Then we must knock on the door of a Pepto-Bismol pink wendy house, surrounded by webcore-y gifs and icons created by the artist.


A pop-up window then instructs you to drag and click on Barrow’s creations, navigating paintings old and new, indoor jungle gyms populated by giant dice and other settings around this wondrous playpen that house Barrow’s contorted digital sculptures, immersive video works and whimsical soundscapes. There’s no map either, so unless you plan on waiting for Barrow’s own e-tour, you best remember your way back…

Think you’re brave enough to face Barrow’s many twisted apparitions of youth? Then take a peek at ‘Birth Of Another Individual’.


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