Revisiting the Victorian graveyards of North London, reclaimed by feral post-war vegetation and the corpse-devouring stray fox, I can’t stop thinking about the viral recycling of post-neoromantic aesthetics on social media. What makes up the allure of abject decay for our HD, sleekness-obsessed digital culture? To understand how the internet becomes a techno-crypt of ‘Datacombs’[1], I look at the fertility of rot as explored by the online-bred art of mutagenic indulgence.

A spectacular embodiment of the self-proclaimed ‘mutants’ of the Internet can be found in the creative collaboration between queer artist/musicians Arca (real name Alejandro Ghersi) and Jesse Kanda. The two artists met online in their early teens and developed a relationship in chat-rooms such as 4chan, an image-based bulletin board which, although more recently known for harbouring the alt-right, was originally concerned with Japanese otaku and media subcultures, with particular focuses on fetishism, often involving graphic and sometimes violent sex performed by animated monsters.[2] Coming from different parts of the world – Arca growing up in Venezuela and later moving to the USA, and Kanda being of partial Japanese origin but living in a very multicultural Canada – they met for the first time in London after 7 years of online communication via the subtle touch of electronic media perversions, and about a decade ago moved into a flat in Stoke Newington, an area of London renowned for its transgressive immigrant identity. Here, they developed their vision of the digital body consisting of “fungus inspired”[3] sound and visual deformations transforming each other’s human features into monstrous overgrowth and spillage.

In interviews around their 2015 album Mutant, Arca places particular emphasis on the experience of walking in Abney Park cemetery in front of their flat, where men have been meeting for dangerous sex since the Victorian times. In this cult for London queer subcultures, social outcasts were buried for centuries and nowadays the misfit desire of random sexual encounters is intertwined with the patterns of decay. Arca is connecting queer eroticism with “rot, which allows for different fungus and plants and insects to thrive there” and creates “textures of decomposition”[4] as another form of organic life. Arca’s intention is to embody rot patterns with his sound distortions. Also, Kanda’s computer image manipulations of Arca’s body explore new prodigious forms of existence through media decomposition. Their fluid graphics dramatically challenge the integrity of organic structures, but at the same time incorporate animations of the infectious movements of plasmatic bodies, spreading freely fine threads.

Queer fertility is techno-mutagenic par excellence as queers breed by shape shifting their mediatised bodies – abandoning sexual reproduction they replicate via decompositions of their bodies within media environments. In her 2010 book Vibrant Matter, the American philosopher Jane Bennet speculates about vital materialism as ‘one great embryology’[5] that seeks various new forms of replication in its ‘pluripotentiality’. Accelerating in the 21st century, via the Internet and other platforms, queer media offers new formats of families based on social-media communications and creates environs of techno-embryos for quirky breeds of fetishist performances – technologically generated processes of mediation of no-longer-human (mutant) bodies can be considered a form of breeding of queer progeny. This futuristic longing is expressed by Canadian researcher Arthur Kroker in his prediction that “the future belongs to those dwelling at the borderlines, to those who make of their bio-social-ecological abode the hybrid, the intermediation, the splice”.[6] London Internet culture produces stem cells for a new breed of post-human techno-mutants, plugging their media device at the graveyards built for industrial society.


[1] named after Nick Lands ‘Occultures’, from: Nick Land, Fanged Noumena, Urbanomic, Falmouth, 2011

[2] one of the forerunners of 4chan was Anime Death Tentacle Rape Whorehouse board (ADTRW)



[5]Jane Bennett, Vibrant Matter, Duke University Press, Durham, 2010, p.89

[6] Arthur Kroker, Body Drift, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, 2012, p.27