» Events » “Fear the Night Sky!” Encounters with the Void, the Weird and the Web
“Fear the Night Sky!” Encounters with the Void, the Weird and the Web
In the podcast series Welcome to Night Vale, the show’s host, Cecil Palmer, warns his listeners about the night sky: behind the stars there is only the void, he says, and who knows what might be staring back at us from this nothingness? Who knows what will arrive from out of the dark? “Fear the night sky!” he concludes, for it is unfathomable.
Disregarding Cecil’s impossible but otherwise excellent advice to avoid the night sky at all costs, this seminar explores portrayals of the void in contemporary digital storytelling, focusing on the genre of ‘the weird’. Engaging with podcasts such as Alice Isn’t Dead and Gone as well as a web-series such as Mushroom Land TV, I suggest that the digital weird applies the destabilisation of time and space associated with digital media in general in order to perform a sense of groundlessness that is specific to the genre of ‘the weird’. These performative encounters with abyssal nothingness may reflect contemporary cultural anxieties concerning a world in (supposed) constant yet abstract crisis, e.g. in the case of global warming, but perhaps they also challenge them? The weird void’s indication that the world will always exceed human imagination and thought may be daunting to a western sense of human exceptionalism, but it is also a promise of the existence of impossible things – including a more just world. After all, who knows what stares back at us, and who knows what is on its way?