Satisfaction can come from achieving a goal or creating something (‘to satisfy’ literally means ‘to do enough’), but it can also be found in passive experiences, like the oddly satisfying videos and visuals we love to watch. In our productivity-obsessed world, there is something particularly satisfying about disengaging. Clocking out and coasting for as long as we can bear it is a challenge in itself, but the rewards can be great. While many of us are trapped indoors, unable to get away from the space that has become a living-working nightmare, digital art can provide the escape we need.
Swampy GoGo, created by multidisciplinary artist Diana VanderMeulen, is a dream world that lives inside an app. Upon opening the app, you are greeted by a 'flowerling' surrounded by metallic balloon letters. Everything is bathed in a warm pink light that gently ripples. The flowerling is your guide to this cosmic wetland. Some of what you see is familiar, like the grass, the glossy water and the warm hues of the sky at sunset. Gusts of wind send the flowerling (and the 'cosmic pearls' that surround it) tumbling across the scene, rolling over rocky topography, dipping into the pools and up, to float over the scene. The all-encompassing sense of calm created in this realm lifts you momentarily out of reality and opens a window to paradise. The limited interactivity and the lack of objectives force you to go with the flow(erling – sorry): all you can do is watch the ethereal world go by. A contained sense of unpredictability offers the chance to relinquish control, for as long as you like, in a safe space that still manages to be exhilarating.
VanderMeulen created the app in 2019 using Unity, in collaboration with SpekWork and Ah! La Lettre!, building on her previous 2D landscape work by incorporating augmented reality. While it’s no longer available on mobile, you can name your price to download the desktop version here. I hope you can find some satisfaction in un-productivity.