As everyone was talking about the Metaverse, Radiohead launched their own

Thom Yorke’s band lands on Playstation 5 with “Kid A Mnesia Exhibition,” a digital show that looks like a video game. Rewinding time to the world of twenty years ago.

It all begins in the woods. A sketchy forest, black and white, as if drawn on cardboard. A red glow indicates the entrance to the building. It resembles the trapdoor in Lost. It was in the large room with the pyramid suspended in the middle that you found the QR code. You framed it from your phone, as if it were on a real wall. It linked you to a map of this space, a cross between the gigantic house-museum of an artist living in the middle of nowhere and a depopulated Berghain with no line outside. 

The looks come straight from the beginning of the new millennium, drawings and writings on the walls, some cathode ray tube televisions left on the floor throwing intermittent signals. Every now and then you meet some creature, a shadow or a little demon. But they mind their own business. There are many rooms, thanks to the map you can explore them all. In the background you can hear the echo of Radiohead’s music, from Kid A and Amnesiac, published respectively in 2000 and 2001, the moment that someone recognizes as the peak of their career. 

You walk through a Lynchian tunnel, a motel aisle with flashing lights, and a room suspended between green signs that look like the Matrix. In a small secret cinema you watch a live version of Idioteque. A corridor lights up with colours on the notes of Everything in Its Right Place, pulsing in rhythm with the obsessive electronic whisper “Kid A, Kid A”, and you remember that the visuals during the live version were just like that. 

You wander into an underground forest. float several times into nothingness. follow the map to a place called Ascension, and pass through an abandoned skeletal architecture in the middle of the universe, where you enter an explosion of pixels. How to Disappear Completely. Everything is white. You are no longer there. You are dissolved, disappeared, cosmic mush.

And then you start exploring again.

Radiohead are now on PlayStation and the Epic Games store. Twenty years ago you would never have guessed it, or perhaps you might wonder why not doing it earlier. “Kid A Mnesia Exhibition” is a digital show, an experience similar to that of a video game, but with very little real interaction. We are closer to the so-called walking simulators, and here the journey is into an extremely curated three-dimensional world, deeply coherent to the artwork created by Stanley Donwood for Kid A and Amnesiac, the two “twin” albums published by Radiohead at the beginning of the century and recently reissued as a single disc, Kid A Mnesia, with the addition of b-sides and rarities. Somehow it recalls immersive experiences like the one so much in vogue with Van Gogh paintings. But here you are inside what Radiohead were twenty years ago. 

The British band’s imagery is dark and melancholic. The cover of Kid A put together the climate crisis (yeah, twenty years ago), the war in Kosovo through Photoshop. Amnesiac combined minotaurs, Piranesi and the towers of Tokyo. A piece of our imaginary history that becomes a digital world. The exhibition was initially supposed to be physical and set in a metal carapace made of containers that would take Kid A and Amnesiac’s art around the world. Then Covid changed the plans. And maybe we won’t regret the IRL version that never got made.

The curiosity remains to see if Radiohead will want to add more pieces and layers to their Metaverse, if sooner or later we’ll visit it in multiplayer like when you’re playing Destiny, or if it will remain as it is, carved in bytes ad aeternum, a three-dimensional and melancholic snapshot of what those years represented for the band and the planet.

“Kid A Mnesia Exhibition” is available as a free download for PlayStation 5, PC and Mac. All images are screenshots from the Windows version, on a computer kindly provided by Microsoft.

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