The Broken World

Tim Etchells


Book, 14.3 x 22 cm, 420 p, language: English, publisher: William Heinemann (The Random House Group Limited), ISBN: 978-0-434-01833-8.
Materials: ink, paper

Collection: Collection M HKA, Antwerp (Inv. no. B 2024/822).

Literary synopsis Writing an on-line 'walk-through' to a computer game of Borgesian complexity can take up a lot of time. So much so, it can be difficult to see things turning sour in the real world. As our narrator grapples with his players' guide, life starts to intrude in troublesome ways. Things aren't going so well with the live-in girlfriend (the one who pays the rent) and the job preparing 'cooked circular food' is getting increasingly hard to stomach. To top it all, the best friend is clearly depressed and acting weirder by the day. But despite all this, his attention is focused on *The Broken World* - an engrossing, possibly addictive, adventure that takes him from town to town in a struggle with zombies, agents, puzzle and mysteries. It's not clear which of these worlds - the real or the on-line - is the more challenging, or where survival tips and peer-support are more urgently needed. What is clear is that he must work out solutions to problems involving life and love and happiness, not just in *The Broken World*, but in the real one too. Relation of the novel to the artist’s practice Tim Etchells moves between forms and media – from projects very much in the space of visual art, to projects in performance and literature. The beginning of his interest in *The Broken World* came from his encounter with computer game walk-throughs – online descriptions of how to win in particular games. Etchells was fascinated by the instructional nature of these texts –highly utilitarian guides on how to behave in fictitious situations. He also liked the way that often the guides were written by amateurs– enthusiasts who often included personal information alongside advice on how to kill zombies. There’s a direct link there to some of his art works like *Surrender Control* (SMS instructions) or *Ways Out* (instructions for gallery visitors delivered by printed cards) or to videos like *Starfucker* or to many of the performance works he has made with Forced Entertainment, which explore virtual world-building and layering of different voices/textual ontologies. In so far as *The Broken World* allows the artist to juggle/juxtapose material from different narratives/genres it also refers to and expands his interest in the idea of fragments and the generative force of their juxtaposition. [Novel website](

Authorship: Artist Author.

Creative Strategy: Artwork-Novel Parallel Lives.

Genre: Science-Fiction.

Publishing: Publishing House.

Theme: Utopian Worlds.

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