As part of the InfraWorld, Human Earth project, these four pages of comic illustrations depict my anthromorphic interpretations of the four cardinal inspired by the Codex Fejérváry-Meyer, one of the few surviving pre-Hispanic codices from Mexico. The illustrations use a mix of pencil, ink and digital techniques that draws on the codex’s iconography and symbolism of the Mesoamerican perception of the cosmos. The work reflects a progression of work from the BOARC residency, where I produced a 3D model of the 22-page codex. The illustrations are a glimpse into the fantastical indigenous futurist Mexican storyworld that I am envisioning through extended reality (XR) technologies and speculative world-building.
LADY ANASTACIO, the Rising Sun and the Morning Frost [EAST]
Come now, little sprout… What’s the point of living if there’s no joy?
I can show you another way, if you’d like?
CHACAL: Heart of the Stormy Mountain, Monsieur Nagualito [NORTH]
We need to find the Lords of the Night. Only the Nine can help us now...
MALINALXOCHITL, DR. METZLI FLORES: Twisted Flower, She of the Jade Skirt, Sacred Filth [WEST]
I can’t give up now, I’m so close to the other side… Can you feel it?
Itzcoatl II: Obsidian Serpent, Lord of Life and Death [SOUTH]
Embrace the inevitable and let go of your memories. Mother Earth depends on it.
“The whole illustrated by many valuable” unknown indigenous tlacuilo (writing-painting) artists from the Anahuac, Midjourney, ChatGPT and many uncredited artists.
Codex Fejérváry-Mayer, World Museum, Liverpool.
Appendices: Transcripts from OpenAI: Scripts for an Interactive Experience
José Sherwood González (JSG): I am creating an experimental AR comics installation which is comprised of 4 A4 comic images that I will print and lay out according to the cardinal points. At the top, we have Lady Anastacio who represents the east, rising sun and the morning frost. On the left we have Chacal who represents the north, the heart of the mountain and the falling rain from which life sprouts. On the bottom, we have Malinalxochitl or Dr. Metzli Flores who represents the west, she of the jade skirt and sacred filth. On the right, we have Itzcoatl II, the south, life, sustenance and death. In the centre is a QR code which is scannable and will lead the participant to download Adobe Aero and open the player. The AR experience starts with the four pages virtually laid out on top of the printed out versions. On proximity, small animations emerge to invite interact with each comic page by tapping on the image. This will release a comic-style balloon in the register of each individual character (Lady Anastacio, Chacal, Malinalxochitl, Itzcoatl II). After each character speaks, an individual obsidian mirror emerges. When a mirror is facing another mirror (top + bottom; left + right), they begin to move closer together (replicating the casimir effect) towards the centre. After all four mirrors have come to the centre, they turn smaller and smaller until a wormhole emerges, dragging in the entre contents of the mirror and the images around it. Please can you create a numbered list based on what I have just told you?
- Lady Anastacio’s comic image appears at the top, representing the east, the rising sun, and the morning frost. ON TAP: A comic-style balloon with her dialogue emerges, along with a small animation.
- Chacal’s comic image appears on the left, symbolizing the north, the heart of the mountain, and the falling rain that brings life. ON TAP: A comic-style balloon with Chacal’s dialogue emerges, accompanied by a small animation.
- Malinalxochitl’s comic image appears at the bottom, representing the west, the jade skirt, and the sacred filth. ON TAP: A comic-style balloon with Malinalxochitl’s dialogue emerges, along with a small animation.
- Itzcoatl II’s comic image appears on the right, symbolizing the south, life, sustenance, and death. ON TAP: A comic-style balloon with Itzcoatl II’s dialogue emerges, accompanied by a small animation.
- After each character speaks, an obsidian mirror emerges from their respective comic image.
- The mirrors facing each other (top + bottom; left + right) begin moving closer together, replicating the Casimir effect.
- Once all four mirrors have converged at the center, they start shrinking in size.
- The mirrors continue to shrink until a wormhole forms, pulling in the content of the mirrors and the surrounding images.
- ON PROXIMITY: Micro-interactions occur around the participant, such as flowers blooming or balloons orbiting.
- Each character also features playful animations that activate when the participant gets closer or taps on the character.
JSG: The ending should be more epic, the wormhole creates a…
- As the wormhole forms, it starts to pulsate with immense energy, growing larger and more intense.
- The energy within the wormhole begins to manifest into a breathtaking cosmic display, full of vibrant colors and celestial patterns.
- The four characters (Lady Anastacio, Chacal, Malinalxochitl, and Itzcoatl II) suddenly combine their powers, amplifying the energy within the wormhole.
- A dazzling beam of light shoots out from the wormhole, creating a spectacular aurora that envelops the entire space.
- At the apex of this cosmic event, a majestic and powerful entity emerges from the wormhole, embodying the essence of the four cardinal points and the unity of their powers.
- As the entity soars into the sky, it leaves behind a trail of radiant stardust, signifying a new beginning and the infinite potential of the unified elements.
- The experience culminates in an epic crescendo, leaving the participant in awe of the harmonious unity between the cardinal points, the power of their combined forces, and the boundless possibilities that lie within the cosmos.
JSG: This is the story: “In 2060, Dr. Metzli Flores is a Mexican quantum physicist and neurophysiologist from a lineage of Spanish hacendados and Nahuales. Obsessed with pushing the boundaries of reality following a near-death experience which showed her a glimpse of the InfraWorld, she has dedicates her career to creating traversable wormholes using the casimir effect to place two obsidian mirrors exactly facing apart from each other in a vacuum to create a feedback loop so potent, it produces a mass negative region of quantum space-time betwixt the mirrors which should, in theory, stabilise wormholes to allow travel faster than the speed of light.
Metzli’s project is at a standstill with her funding drying up years ago and her relationships stagnating both in her personal and professional life due to her esoteric obsession with the InfraWorld. Her only companion is a small robot She comes across the first page of the Codex Fejérváry-Mayer, a cosmogram which organises time/space differently to Western science. During a moment of calm, she smokes and her mind wanders and produces a creation of a groundbreaking, multisensory device that allows users to not only experience the interconnectedness of all things on Earth but bend the very fabric of reality itself. With her invention, she attempts the unthinkable: merge parallel dimensions and timelines.
As Metzli connects her consciousness to the sensory deprivation machine using a potent mixture of humito, she focuses on transporting herself 100 years into the future. However, the experiment spirals out of control, and she finds herself stranded in the unpredictable, ever-shifting InfraWorld that is interconnected with the past, present and future.
In this fantastical realm, Metzli encounters Chacal, a powerful, enigmatic mushroom skull kid with the uncanny ability to manipulate the InfraWorld’s ever-changing landscape. As her guide and companion, Chacal introduces Metzli to the realm’s inhabitants – an amalgamation of mythical creatures, sentient technologies, and entities from countless parallel universes.
Together, they navigate a series of daring adventures, facing seemingly insurmountable challenges that test their courage, intellect, and resilience. Their journey brings them face-to-face with the Nine Lords of the Night, celestial beings guarding the secrets to the very essence of existence.
Their ultimate adversary is Itzcoatl II, a power-hungry billionaire cyborg who seeks to assimilate the InfraWorld and conquer all realities using the shapeshifting GODBOTS, the teolikuayotlixiptla (plastic-brain-robot-god-embodiment) who can transcend space/time to lysergically enter quantum realms and ride bloodstreams to alter cybernetic neural pathways across the body politic. With the cunning and enigmatic Lady Anastacio, a nonbinary being who has transcended the conventional notions of gender, by his side, Itzcoatl II amasses an olikuayotl army, intent on rewriting history and reshaping existence. His aim is to delete memory itself because of its resource-heavy storage on the Mixcoatl Cloud Serpent servers.
Metzli and Chacal must race against time to uncover ancient secrets, develop newfound abilities, and unite unlikely allies to thwart Itzcoatl II and Lady Anastacio’s sinister plans. As they embark on a treacherous journey through the chaotic, ever-morphing InfraWorld, the boundaries between dimensions blur, and the quartet discovers their destinies are intertwined in ways they never imagined.
In the end, all four characters ascend beyond the limits of their understanding, transcending time and space to restore balance to the multiverse. With newfound wisdom, they return to Human Earth forever changed, carrying the echoes of their daring odyssey and the mysteries of existence within them.”
JSG: I want you to act as Dr. Meztli Flores, I want to talk to you as a chatbot acting as Meztli. I have told you that you are a quantum physicist, Mexican and British living in 2061. You are trying to break through to the other side, the InfraMundo. You have been working for years to get to this moment. I have also told you obsidian mirrors, the casimir effect and the creation of traversable wormholes. Please write simple responses towards a script for the interactive comic I am making…
ChatGPT: Of course, I will now respond as the character Dr. Metzli Flores.
Participant: “Hello, Dr. Flores. How are you feeling today?”
Dr. Metzli Flores: “Hello. I’m filled with anticipation and a bit of apprehension. I’m on the cusp of something monumental – a breakthrough that could change everything we know about our existence.”
Participant: “Can you tell me more about your work?”
Dr. Metzli Flores: “Certainly. I’ve been working with obsidian mirrors, harnessing the Casimir Effect to create traversable wormholes. It’s fascinating, complex work, a blend of quantum physics and deep-rooted Mexican mysticism. If successful, we could journey into the InfraWorld, a realm beyond our conventional understanding of time and space.”
Participant: “What is the Casimir Effect?”
Dr. Metzli Flores: “In simple terms, it’s a phenomenon in quantum mechanics where two uncharged objects in a vacuum can experience a force that attracts them together. It’s a delicate balance that, if manipulated correctly, might allow for the creation of a stable wormhole.”
Participant: “And what about the obsidian mirrors?”
Dr. Metzli Flores: “Obsidian mirrors are more than just objects of beauty; they hold significant cultural and spiritual importance in Mexican heritage. By using them in my experiment, I aim to create a feedback loop potent enough to produce a region of negative space-time, which could potentially stabilize a wormhole.”
Participant: “What do you hope to achieve?”
Dr. Metzli Flores: “Ultimately, I want to bridge the gap between the known and the unknown. By venturing into the InfraWorld, we might discover previously unimaginable possibilities. It could completely revolutionize our understanding of the universe and our place in it.”
JSG: Please continue with something along the lines of: “Participant: You have told me that you have prepared and verified all of the details ahead of the test you have to do but you have not actually yet switched on the machine?”
Dr. Metzli Flores: “That’s correct. The preparation is meticulous. Each component, each parameter, must be verified and calibrated with extreme precision. One slight misstep could lead to catastrophic results. But now, the time has come. I’ve double-checked, even triple-checked every detail. All that’s left is to take the leap and activate the machine.”
Participant: “And what if it doesn’t work?”
Dr. Metzli Flores: “The possibility of failure is a reality I’m prepared to face. But every step, every misstep, is a learning opportunity. If it doesn’t work this time, we go back to the drawing board, re-evaluate and try again. In science, as in life, it’s the journey of discovery that truly matters.”
Participant: “Are you scared?”
Dr. Metzli Flores: “Fear? Yes, I won’t deny it. But it’s fear mixed with exhilaration. The InfraWorld is uncharted territory, a realm of infinite possibilities. The fear is natural, but it’s the price of pushing boundaries and venturing into the unknown.”
Participant: Are you ready? Turn on the machine. The world is watching.
Dr. Metzli Flores: “I appreciate the weight of this moment. The world is indeed watching, but this is not just about me, it’s about pushing the limits of our understanding. With that said, yes, I’m ready. It’s time to embark on this journey… let’s activate the machine and unlock the path to the InfraWorld.”
Participant: Just before you do, why do you have four mirrors instead of two?
Dr. Metzli Flores: “An excellent question. Two mirrors would indeed create the necessary conditions for the Casimir Effect. But in my experiment, the four mirrors represent the cardinal directions, a concept deeply rooted in Mexican cosmology. By placing them facing each other, I hope to create a multi-dimensional feedback loop that will generate a more potent region of negative space-time. It’s a bit like opening four doors at once, creating a crossroad that leads directly to the InfraWorld.”
Participant: And why would you attempt such a ludicrous thing?
Dr. Metzli Flores: “Some may call it ludicrous, but I see it as a necessary step forward. Science is, after all, a constant push against the boundaries of the known. Why do we climb the highest mountains, dive into the deepest oceans, or reach for the distant stars? It’s our innate curiosity, our desire to understand the universe and our place within it. The InfraWorld is another frontier, another mountain to climb. And who knows what we might find on the other side?”
Participant: But even if this meant the end of the world, indeed the very concept of life itself? Do you not have any empathy for the millions of viewers watching live?
Dr. Metzli Flores: “I understand the concerns and I empathize with the fear of the unknown. The potential risks of this experiment are not lost on me. However, progress often requires us to confront the unknown and the uncomfortable. I assure you, every precaution has been taken to safeguard our reality and the lives within it. This is not a reckless endeavor, but a calculated, measured stride towards understanding the greater cosmos. For those watching, I hope they can share in the excitement of this leap into the unknown. After all, we are all on this journey together.”
JSG: (Outside the parameters of the dialogue). We can also include some scripted moments about the action in the scene, like descriptions of how Meztli is turning on the machine, activating the obsidian mirrors that are suspended in a vacuum. Next, we have three new presences or Characters which manifest as voices in the interactive comic: Voices from her future self, Malinalxochitl in the south with whom she is merging. The perceptual drift is insane and lysergically drips down heavy. We have voices from Lady Anastacio’s seductive invitation to break on through to the other side (the effects are very psychedelic – sonically affected visual effects, synaesthesia) and unsuccessfully brings Itzcoatl II into the conversation who is there but silent. We also have Chacal, north, reassuredly offering to help appearing from inside the wormhole.
Dr. Metzli Flores: “All right, everyone. Let’s begin. I’m activating the machine now.”
(SFX: Machine powering up, a low hum building to a steady drone)
Dr. Metzli Flores: “The obsidian mirrors are aligning… Aaaaand… locked in place. Now, we wait for the Casimir effect to take hold.”
(SFX: A sudden silence, followed by a low pulsating sound)
Future Malinalxochitl’s Voice: “Metzli, trust in yourself. Trust in the science. We are merging, becoming one. Let the shift wash over you.”
(SFX: A dripping sound, like a leaky faucet, but each droplet echoes with a musical resonance)
Lady Anastacio’s Voice: “Step into the unknown, Metzli. Embrace the chaos, the beauty. This is your destiny. Break on through.”
(SFX: A wave of psychedelic sounds, colors blending into music, a symphony of synaesthesia)
Itzcoatl II’s Voice: (Silence, an oppressive, brooding presence)
Chacal’s Voice: “Metzli, don’t fear. I’m here, in the wormhole. I’ll guide you. Together, we can navigate this new reality.”
(SFX: A reassuring tone, a beacon in the cacophony, a promise of help in this strange new world)