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Illustration

Maria Vorobjova

Slavic cyber sorceress, designer and illustrator based in London. When I’m not building little virtual worlds my freelance work is focussed on flyer design and record artwork. I've been featured in People Of Print and If-Only magazine, and my clients and collaborators include Boiler Room, Keep Hush, En Masse Festival, BRICKS magazine and record label Hypercolour.



𓆸 ȶɦɾєα∂ร σʄ ᴜȶᴏρια, ρʅαყ, ૮αɾє,

𓆸 ຟєαʋιຖɠ ૮ᴏℓℓє૮ιȶʋє ʝᴏყ, รᴏʅι∂αɾιȶყ ⅋ ૮ᴏɱɱᴜຖιȶყ

𓆸 ૮ᴏຖรȶɾᴜ૮ȶιຖɠ αʅȶєɾຖαȶιʋє є૮ᴏรყรȶєɱร, ຖєȶᏇᴏɾƙร ⅋ Ꮗᴏɾʅ∂ร


𓇚 ɱαɠι૮αʅ ⅋ αʅʅєɠᴏɾι૮αʅ ʅαຖ∂ร૮αρєร ຖαʋιɠαȶє∂ ȶɦɾᴏᴜɠɦ ρʅαყ

𓇚 ɾα∂ι૮αʅ ɾєαʅɱ ᴏʄ ɾαʋє

𓇚 єʅєɠια૮ єαɾʅყ ຖєȶᏇᴏɾƙ ɱყรȶι૮ιรɱ

𓇚 รᴏ૮ιαʅιรɱ ιຖ ȶɦє รᴏιʅ


𓇗 ૮ᴏʅʅє૮ȶιຖɠ, ૮ᴏʅʅαɠιຖɠ, ૮ᴜɾαȶιຖɠ + รᴜႦʋєɾȶιຖɠ ʋιɾȶᴜαʅ ⅋ ɾєαʅ ɱαȶєɾια૮ร Ꮗιȶɦ ʋιรᴜαʅ αʅ૮ɦєɱყ

𓇗 ɱαρριຖɠ σʄ ຖᴏຖ-ʅιຖєαɾ єຖϙυιɾყ ႦєȶᏇєєຖ ȶɦєᴏɾყ, αɾ૮ɦιʋє ι૮ᴏຖᴏɠɾαρɦყ ⅋ αɾȶєʄα૮ȶร

𓇗 ຖαʋιɠαȶιຖɠ ȶɦє αȶʅαร ᴏʄ ʅιɱιȶʅєȶรร, єȶɦєɾєαʅ ૮ყႦєɾ ∂ɾєαɱร૮αρєร


ᗩᑎOTᕼEᖇ ᗯOᖇᒪᗪ Iᔕ ᑭOᔕᔕIᗷᒪE



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Sharing a network allows plants and fungi to grow, survive and flourish more easily than their neighbours lying beyond the common network . In building this Wood Wide Web, they are able to free themselves from competition for resources by distributing them amongst themselves, from surplus to scarcity. 

Taking the role of a Mycorrhiza Helper Bacteria (MHB), my animation explores their world through a video game style playthrough and weaves parallels between natural-human ecosystems and ecological-interpersonal bonds. It takes a visual and conceptual influence from the starry-eyed fantasies surrounding the internet communities in the 1990s, envisioning an escape into a boundless digital utopia and radical network of care and mutual aid.

Power Plant (Downstairs)
Power Plant (Downstairs) — Clora Phyllis: ' Hiii petal, welcome to the Power Plant! I’ll give you the rundown - from here, we distribute nutrients across the whole Wood Wide Web network, allowing plants and fungi to grow and flourish collectively! Our Rooter has the best transport links to all the fungal highways with our state of the art cabbage carriages, and you can bet we have the best wifi signal in the whole forest too! '
Power Plant (Upstairs)
Power Plant (Upstairs) — Mike Orhizal: ' Plant networks aren’t neatly linked, but weaved together, like the tapestry hanging behind me! Fungi link plants together like web pages link to other web pages on the internet. Most plants and web pages have few connections, but well connected hubs like ours have a lot of links and make it possible to traverse the network in a small number of steps. This lets us reach out and share our resources with seedlings, saplings, and anyone else in the community who needs our help! '
Rooter
Rooter
Fungi Highway
Fungi Highway
Kinder Garden
Kinder Garden — Shoot Junior: ' Weeee look! The shroomies help that block go here and that one go aaaall the way over there! Do you have any games on your phone or any snacks pleeease do you have any potassium its my favourite I'm so hungy ??? When I grow up I wanna drive a cabbage car too and go really really fast zoooooom '
Flower Showers
Flower Showers — Corypha 'Cory' Palmerston: ' We got each others backs here dude! Totally reminds me of those old school 90s websites man, Geocities, WorldsChat, created by the homies for the homies! They were an escape route from the system dude, where we were free to just collectively vibe in a digital utopia! Now they’re taking away our online space and totally selling us out bro, tryna unravel our communal bonds, burning us out to buy their self care apps, and screwing with mother nature too - not cool ! '
Geocities — GeoCities created communities and then spatialised them as neighbourhoods on the net, your webpage built up as your home. It was the early internet’s agora of vernacular design, when the web was a space to be molded and created by its netizens, where clumsy formatting, broken links, and Backstreet Boys songs you couldn’t turn off amalgamated themselves into a markedly different realm from today’s cyberspace.
WorldsChat — WorldsChat was a 1995 3D chat client, where users could travel to unique platforms and interact with other people there. It exemplified the boundless imagination of an earlier era of the internet, where users could create themselves anew and realise their personal dreamworlds.

Logging onto the World Wide Web used to mean delving down contiguous rabbit holes, leading to mystical and unpredictable destinations.

What does the early era of internet culture, a time when users were creators and not products, have to teach us about the radical possibilities of care and community? 

How does their way of looking at the online as a physical, literal place help us see this? 


A hand woven maximalist weave made of recycled yarns and adorned with the embellishments of digital folklore from the archives of Geocities websites.

We often visualise modern cyberspace as being contained within a minimalist and accountable grid, such as the grids of Instagram or the grids of 5G. What happens if we visualise cyberspace like how it was at its pre-minimalism conception, a realm of complete wonder, unknowing, chaos? Akin to a tapestry, what if we disrupted the bureaucratic form of the grid with an alternative weave structure that breaks down and subverts the boundaries of cyberspace and challenged the reign of minimalist design now that corporations have taken over the net ?


The Digital Folklore Tapestry is woven together from GIFS found on Geocities. Mostly derided as kitsch - or in the most extreme cases as the end of culture itself - these glittering waterfall backgrounds, bitmapped mushrooms and daisy-chain page dividers were in fact an evolving vernacular, created by users for users. This was a beautiful, important yet deeply misunderstood development in new media.

Early netizens of Geocities followed the same logic as the Wood Wide Web, sharing ideas and forging sporadic communities beyond the rigid social structures of the 20th century.

As capitalism degrades the ecological environment around us, it also unravels the bonds between us on an interpersonal level. Recovering these lost relics from the last millennium, the digital folklore tapestry weaves them back together to envision a restored future, a virtual ecosystem of care whose netizens are creators, not products.

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In a post-pandemic world, imagine all the “Bullshit Jobs” no longer exist. What will happen to the buildings that used to house such ‘work’?

My first world building project is based off of Nika Dubrovsky and David Graeber’s ideas and their historic links to Aleksander Bogdanov’s ‘Proletkult’, whereby in a post-pandemic world, derelict ‘bullshit job’ office buildings are converted into Museums of Care – spaces that do not celebrate production of any sort, but rather provide the means for the creation of entirely new forms of interpersonal relations and collective joy which have been crushed by the neoliberal rat race. For example, the manipulation of institutions and work spaces are designed to imply that other people are the ‘problem’ – meetings are inherently boring and frustrating. But facilitating collective joy gives us the potential, at least for a moment, to resist this alienation, and create the utopias we want to see.

I reimagined the Museum of Care as its own virtual, open-world ‘sandbox’ playground, to be explored as an alternate world that values play over work. Subverting the rigid confines of bureaucracy, these derelict structures and symbols of oppression are now spaces of possibility for a new kind of fun, relaxing environment that playfully challenges the visitor.


The bank is a dance floor with food and wine in the vaults, Human Resources has produce grown on the roof, an art lab and a water cooler, which remains as a social checkpoint and symbolic escape from oppressive tasks and cubicles.