“Accelerationism is best defined as ... the only way out is the way through.” (Shaviro, 2015)

“Capital is an abstract parasite, an insatiable vampire and zombie-maker; but the living flesh it converts into dead labour is ours, and the zombies it makes are us.” (Fisher, 2009)

Hampus Hoh, 'Auxiliary Scape', 2024. Reinforced glass, door locks, pear wood French horn and trumpet mouth pieces, stainless steel bolts, 190 x 99 x 12.4 cm. 74 ¾ x 39 x 4 ⅞ in. Courtesy of the artist and Rose Easton, London. Photo by Jack Elliot Edwards

Blue Marcus’s debut curatorial project at Rose Easton, Vampire Junkie, consists of four emerging artists Samuel Guerrero, Hampus Hoh, Scott Keightley and Callum Jones, showing three sculptural works and two mounted pieces. Vampire Junkie explores the idea of Accelerationist Aesthetics. In terms of the visual, this manifests in general futurity and machinic Matriphagy, a distinct lack of human presence, and, weirdly, a perverse kind of hope. Matriphagy (the condition) references the mother’s consumption by its offspring. When paired with accelerationism, this produces a dystopia in which humanity is consumed by the technology it birthed.

Accelerationism begins in Nick Land’s office at Warwick University. Between smoking pot, listening to Jungle and taking amphetamines, his vision for accelerationism took on a sadomasochistic tone. Land reaches for capitalism and extols it for its inhuman, violent power. Land dreamt of consumption (more accurately, he dreamt of being consumed). In fully expressing the potentialities of capitalism - social, political and technological - he hopes we will be able to exhaust the inexhaustible and reach a point beyond. What this “beyond” constitutes in the afterlife of capitalism is unclear. For Marx, it was communism - but in 2024, this feels untenable. The show Vampire Junkie grapples with defining a visual language for the accelerationist prophecy.

Scott Keightley, 'Amid a Place of Stone', 2021. UV print on Manhasset music stands, finials, knobs, chandelier crystal, LED stand lights, 163 x 52 x 38 cm. 64 ⅛ x 20 ½ x 15 in (dimensions variable). Courtesy of the artist and Rose Easton, London. Photo by Jack Elliot Edwards

First, to wrestle with Vampire Junkie. Speaking of the afterlife concerning capitalism conjures images of George A. Romero’s slow-moving mall zombies and their desire to consume, which runs with them to the grave. The term “Vampire-Junkie”, however, is more theoretical than literal. Mark Fisher’s essay "A Fairground’s Painted Swings" explains the phrase as follows: “The Vampire-Junkie pursues to the bitter end. It is an unsated addict.” Addicted to what, exactly? To the future, I guess. As Fisher says: “Why would men, given the choice of sex with a monkey, or sex with a robot, always choose the robot?” The robot (think of Stepford Wives) is the ideal partner. Technology, backed by capitalism, is the perfect lover with an artificially enhanced libido. We are junkies, making love to our oppressors. In this light, accelerationist art remains entirely immanent, modulating in one place, enjoying the pleasure of futurist aesthetics and the zombie system it lives under.

Works in Vampire Junkie relish in dominion. In Hampus Hoh’s work, Auxiliary Scape (2024), machinery appears suspended in glass. The structure, caught, captured and pinned to the gallery wall, is - forgive the BDSM reference - the human figure submitted to capital through suspension. Visualising the result of acceleration on humankind (I think of Lady Cassandra, from the Doctor Who episode “The End of the World”, who claims to be the last pure human but is instead a thin, organless piece of skin stretched taught across a metal frame) results in the whittling down of the organic into the mechanic. A fetish is usually an object capable of producing a feeling of both eroticism and disgust, as in Meret Oppenheimer’s 1936 Object (Fur-covered tea cup). Instead, Auxiliary Scape presents us with the debris of neoliberal capitalism as a fetish; reinforced glass, door locks, french horns, trumpet mouthpieces and stainless steel are suspended in thick glass. Hoh has presented the accelerationist fetish for usable, industrial material - the cyborgian over the human. As Deleuze writes, “There is no such thing as either man or nature now”.

Scott Keightley, 'Quintet (Samuel Coleridge Taylor)', 2021. UV print on Manhasset music stands, finials, knobs, LED stand lights, 141 x 51 x 41 cm. 55 ½ x 20 ⅛ x 16 ⅛ in (dimensions variable). Courtesy of the artist and Rose Easton, London. Photo by Jack Elliot Edwards

In Quintet (Samuel Coleridge Taylor), 2021, and Amid a Place of Stone, 2021, by Scott Keightley, objects tesselate across the surface of a music stand. Glass finials, bolts, knobs, and chandelier glass pierce music sheets that are UV printed onto the stand. This detritus resembles the general futurity that’s become synonymous with Accelerationist Aesthetics - spreading across the stand’s armatures like a living, breathing fungus. Unwittingly, it reminds me of the show The Last of Us, a dystopic romp that imagines humanity's destruction by funghi. Consumption is at the heart of Accelerationist Aesthetics - it is a familiar, maybe obvious, metaphor in the age of AI - the music stands crawling with technological bucolic growths represent the collapse of authentic artistry. Keightley nevertheless builds on the theatricality of accelerationism; in their baroque materiality, these works suggest that humanity’s collapse will be operatic.

Samuel Guerrero’s painting, Prayers of the Million Inhabitants (2024), depicts a blurred and sped-up stadium - Humanity is the intended gladiator. As Blue Marcus describes in her accompanying publication, “The stadium urges individuals to sacrifice their bodies and their agency for some blurry ideal”. All sense of perspective and foreshortening is underwritten by this “blur” as with Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner (1982), where a concentration of space in a technocratic dystopia renders distances into a single point - both futuristic vistas decentring the human subject. Given that Accelerationism in verb form means “Go Fast”, it is difficult not to view Prayers of the Million Inhabitants (2024) as a Velodrome surrounding the human subject, who has been accelerated to the point of being rendered an amorphous, gaseous substance right at the centre of the work.

Samuel Guerrero, 'Prayers of the million inhabitants', 2024. Acrylic on canvas, 51 x 111 x 5 cm. 20 ⅛ x 43 ¾ x 2 in. Courtesy of the artist and Lodos, Mexico City. Photo by Jack Elliot Edwards

What’s refreshing about the desire to accelerate is its no-nonsense approach to fantasy. To fantasize, as Lauren Berlant describes in Cruel Optimism, is how people “hoard idealising theories and tableaux” about how they, how the world, may add up to something. Accelerationism rejects false positivity, instead reaching for an attachment to that which will destroy. I’m drawn to imagine an accelerationist aesthetic in the language of H.R. Giger, whose biomechanical style envisions a post-human future ruled by Xenomorphs. The “face-hugger”, a parasitoid who makes contact with the host's mouth for implantation purposes, embodies ideas of mechanic matriphagy. The Exact Moment Kim Deal’s Voice Cracks, by Callum Jones, lacks the futurity associated with Landian accelerationism, partly due to its similarity to an early 20th-century vintage photograph. Low-resolution film stills are exported and printed on layers of etching paper, which buckle under the weight of the image they hold. A hazy, out-of-focus image of a crowd of people, blurred to be unrecognisable, conjures feelings of melancholia. Jones's work seems to ask, as Richard Coyne expressed in Technoromanticism (2000), “When the digital apocalypse ensues, what will remain of the human legacy?”

Callum Jones, 'The exact moment Kim Deal’s voice cracks', 2024. Ink on Hahnemühle Etching Paper, framed, 46 x 59 x 3 cm. 18 ⅛ x 23 ¼ x 1 ⅛ in. Paper size - 39.6 x 53.2 cm. Courtesy of the artist and Rose Easton, London. Photo by Jack Elliot Edwards