Drinking Bird Universe (video still), 2018

Tabor Robak
Drinking Bird Universe (video still), 2018
Digital video with live data; 30 minutes (looped), 6.1 x 183.9 x 105.2 cm
Installation view: Art in the Age of Anxiety, Sharjah Art Foundation, 2020
Courtesy of the artist
Photo: Danko Stjepanovic


Tabor Robak employs computer-generated imaging to create videos of invented worlds. Working with programs such as Unity, After Effects, Photoshop and Cinema 4D, the artist explores a secondary digital reality, rendered in what he calls a ‘Photoshop tutorial aesthetic’ or a ‘desktop screensaver aesthetic’. His meticulously produced and filmed environments are cobbled together from sources both sampled and hand-modelled. The works are appropriative, both in their subject matter and aesthetic, using elements purchased and then edited for his purposes. He adopts the visual vocabulary of contemporary video games in order to isolate and comment upon digital space as an abstract fact, while simultaneously pushing against the increasingly tenuous separation between perceptions of the digital and the real. 

In Drinking Bird Universe (2018), Robak comments on the anxiety induced by the present-day use of smartphones. The work touches upon the around-the-clock newsfeed, consisting of fear-mongering international news and mind-numbing celebrity updates, which stream into the mobile phone. The screen resembles an oversized smartphone that displays live data, including time, date and an RSS feed of the latest news. The video loop is created from a highly detailed fluid simulation, a churning liquid composition of brightly coloured layers. The motion of these layers resembles that of liquid in a jar being constantly shaken, a motion that triggers anxiety and discomfort.

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