Updated: Nov 25, 2020
Teamwork makes the scream work
The dread time beckons. Beastly creatures are lifting wet noses to the air, while grizzly plots are hatched. Munch's are Screaming. Videogames are doing Halloween events.
In Occupy White Walls, that means more of you than usual are neck-deep in gargoyles, dungeons, and haunted abodes. I’ve been wandering the Artiverse, though, and I’ve found nowhere so fearsome as the town of Owwlloween: a sinister and sprawling collaboration between eight separate architects. I even dared to ask some of them about it.
Some say Owwlloween is ancient and predates the folly of modern man. Others say it exists outside of time, and all thoughts of rigid linearity should be renounced as anthropocentric falsehoods. Then again, other others insist the framework was laid down by Shan Snow Celebrindal in October 2019, and added to by Whiterabbit, Digital Dugong, Blackrabbit, and Whitecaps in the days and months that followed. In the last two weeks, Owwlloween saw a fresh lick of (blood-based) paint from Artisan, Heliotrope, and Noice. It is, as Heliotrope puts it, “a time capsule”.
I say you should explore it for yourself before you let me spoil the best bits. I also say you should switch the usual music off and put on the Nightmare Before Christmas soundtrack because it’s far more thematically appropriate and “This Is Halloween” is a banger. It’s also what Shan happened to be watching when he got the idea.
That song is particularly appropriate because its lyrics adorn the tunnel leading to the town proper. They’re embedded and reflected in a near-fluorescent orange tube, along which you must walk and weave before entering civilization. Civilization starts with a menacing orb in a creepy basement.
At this point a coward might heed the sign back at the beginning, informing attentive readers that the street above can be reached with a respawn. A fool, though, might press on, and eventually be rewarded with a dark side tunnel, some sealed-off frogs, and an opening you need to jump up towards before you’re coughed up outside.
THIS is Halloween. Buildings stretch before you, each a different flavoured horror show. You’ve emerged from Whiterabbit’s Hall Of Justice, or a part of you has, but the tour has just begun. To your right lies the Church of Noice, a pillar of neon and devout amphibians. If you creep past the congregation, more horrors lie a-lurking in the basement - but at least there’s also a nice garden. If you can find it.
Across the street, a face screams out from the gloom. Next to it, a lost soul screams out from wooden signs, spelling out a cry for assistance. Beyond them and around them, more surprises await.
Many of OWW’s galleries hold surprises, but few can match the breadth of Owwlloween’s. That’s the joy of it: when asked to create something spooky, every mind runs in a different direction. The result is a patchwork of interconnected nightmares, leaping between gloomy, mischievous, and macabre.
Of course, the town’s creators aren’t blind to that appeal. I asked Heliotrope, who’s own Owwlloween church boasts a competing doctrine to Noice’s, for the part they were most pleased with - and, pleasingly, they told me it was the basement corridor that runs between their building and the rival church, linking them both up to the sewer. There’s a sense of place and purpose, even amongst the surreal.
That’s largely thanks to Shan’s town planning, with a central street offering peeks at bonus art, tucked away in sewer grills. The street leads up to Shan’s manor, looming over Owwlloween like an overstuffed uncle at Thanksgiving. Its twisting halls conceal sneaking goblins, ominous children’s bedrooms, and an unreasonable number of eyeballs - but the best room is the sheep room.
Shan told me this is one of the galleries he’s most enjoyed working with, and it’s not hard to see why. Every individual contribution has flair, but they shine precisely because they don’t sit in isolation. It took Shan a few attempts to get the gang together, but his persistence paid off.