The year is 2021, and instead of going to an actual music festival, I’m sitting at my computer doing breathing exercises with a virtual version of the popstar Peaches. “Namaste,” she says, rendered as a multi-limbed goddess. Our meditation session starts, and I inhale for four seconds before slowly exhaling to the count of five; naturally my screen clouds up with breath.
This bizarre video game, a collaboration between Peaches and digital art duo Pusskyrew, is titled Fill The Whole. The work is part of CTM festival, an acclaimed experimental music and art event which usually happens in Berlin, but this year, because of the pandemic, is taking place entirely online. Where other festivals might organize a livestream or two, this one has gone all out; it’s hosting virtual works inside a fully-fledged digital art space called CTM Cyberia alongside other pieces accessible through the site. I also recommend this intense 45 minute CGI video soundtracked by the exquisitely named, Gabber Modus Operandi.
Once Fill The Whole loads in your browser, you’re asked to select a raver-esque avatar before booting into the first globular pink world. It’s got a chunky organic look, full of bulbous shapes which bend at impossible angles. Am I traversing Peaches’ brain — a place soundtracked exclusively by her own music and voice? Who can say, but it’s rendered in perfect high definition and runs at an eye-massaging 60 frames per second. I accelerate through the seemingly cranial landscape, collecting cherries that pop into tiny fluttering hearts; occasionally I hit Q on my keyboard to trigger the game’s extremely well-done slo-mo effect.
The biggest draw is arguably the second area within which the notoriously abrasive Peaches delivers a series of heartfelt monologues. They’re funny and life-affirming, activated by walking into one of six floating orbs. “I worry that you’re thinking, ‘Ooh Peaches has gone soft,’” she admits. But what’s nice is the fact that there’s no in-your-face punchline — these are simply earnest thoughts delivered in a beautifully ethereal environment. “May you feel courageous,” she continues with a mantra-like rhythm. “May you feel whole.” This game won’t change your life, but it offers a welcomingly surreal take on self-care; against all odds, Peaches might leave you in a calmer headspace than which you started.
You can play Fill The Whole for free here.