Kitbashing, by ABADIR and Nicolò Cervello, is AV subversion of endless algorithmic scrolling

“Kitbashing” is an AV protest, a hard-hitting burst of fresh air, as producer ABADIR and media artist Nicolò Cervello are here to break you out of endless scrolling by transcending its materials. From the fragments of our algorithmic existence comes 17 minutes of liberating sound and light.

We’ve made no secret of our ongoing love of Cairo-born producer [Rami] ABADIR. And lately, he’s had a succession of unique takes on sampling past and present. First, over the summer, there was the stellar “Mutate,” which fused Maqsoum and jungle into a more personal club music (rather than the copy-paste approach so common at the moment):

‘Mutate’ started when I was trying out Maqsoum loops at high bpm blended with Jungle tracks during one of my DJ sets. I noticed that the Maqsoum rhythm complements the Amen break in a refreshing way. The first time I actually tried integrating both in my productions using “call and response” was when Ice_Eyes asked me to remix one of their tracks. The result was the closest to what I had always imagined to be my own club sound.

That was a perfect fit for Shanghai’s ever-innovative SVBCVLT:

This spring, on Amman’s Drowned by Locals, Rami took on the idea of collage in a “non-romantic” frame in Melting. The result is free-flowing critical collage, like following the track of memory and thought. Juxtapositions create discourse – “artistically exploring the effect of late capitalism’s nostalgia and thereby criticizing it.” That work can be listened, end to end, almost like an essay:

“Kitbashing” to is perhaps dreamier — component parts fusing into a new surface, in contrast to the dialectic sense of Melting and the new club cocktail of Mutate. Nicolò Cervello has produced a sumptuous visual world to accompany it, too, deconstructed raw materials floating and jumping in a playful celebration of virtual worlds. Stripped of commerce, the world of scrolling becomes all endorphin rush, minus the depressive crash. Rami’s staccato percussion never feels aggressive, even in its most rapid-fire configuration, and all those hard surfaces (visual and sonic) sit atop a bed of airy pads. It’s like getting a blast of air conditioning from that investor-backed retail out in the sun.

But that doesn’t mean the critical element is lost – even if here, the critical exercise is to repurpose the object of view into some new synthesis. As the creators explain:

In the digital world, users spend an extensive amount of time watching, scrolling, liking, commenting on and sharing content, while feeding tons of data to social media. Platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Tiktok can be fun and informative, or draining and ambiguous. Either way, their algorithms are purposefully designed to lock users in a continuous state of scrolling. The more time spent online, the more our desires, interests and emotions are fed into the algorithm for consumerist purposes.

‘Kitbashing’ is an attempt to break this pattern: a way to subvert the dynamics by feeding on the algorithm instead of only feeding it. Using short audio snippets from Instagram’s reels, suggested posts and sponsored ads, sound objects are cut and meshed together into a collage that provides the base of the whole A/V piece. The tension is built gradually falling into a release, and the rhythm keeps expanding and contracting, simulating the pace of random scrolling on the mobile devices. Under a blanket of lush textures, micro-edited snippets of hacked audio add playfulness to the piece.

Informed by the audio samples, the sound-reactive 3D visuals built in Unreal Engine, are inspired by recurring materials found online; a mesh of objects collected over the years, from metal structures, construction sites and industrial machines. All of these repurposed materials are balanced with organic elements and come together to create a whole new, non-existing virtual world. The video has been performed in real-time, recorded, and edited to retain the best composition and motion.

There’s a perfect narrative arc to its three-act structure, as well, one that finds some easy, if open-ended, arrival point.

It’s beautiful stuff, and also illustrates why we need platforms for media art outside of only corporate backing. (This project is on the European platform 25AV. It’s a collaboration between community projects Kiosk Radio, Radio Raheem, and Radio 80000, plus the EU Creative Europe Programme.)

We’ll be watching for what’s next. And – not scrolling. Scroll CDM, maybe? (I mean – as a thought!)

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