Cyber Odyssey: Exploring Mythic Metaphors in the Digital Age

16/10/2023 - 23/10/2023,
Hackney Showroom,
4 Murrain Road, N4 2BN



The term "myth" originates from the ancient Greek word "mythos," translated as "discourse" or "story." Karl Marx once posited that "All mythology overcomes and dominates and shapes the forces of nature in the imagination and by the imagination." Therefore, traditional myths are, in fact, a form of unconscious artistry by people, shaping and interpreting both natural and societal forms through their imaginative faculties.

However, the concept of "social mythology" proposed by French scholar Roland Barthes has profoundly inspired an interpretative system regarding the rhetoric of myths. He views myths as a communication system and discourse, serving as a carrier of ideologies, detached from the object of information. Myths originate from modes of speech and bear deep historical determinants. These social myths encompass various fields, including politics, economics, and social culture, representing widely accepted ways of life and attitudes to express the interests of individuals, groups, classes, nations, or ethnicities.

This transformation of myths is reflected in specific mythological images. The fate of the character Odysseus in Homer's epic The Odyssey often represents the collective
human destiny and is laden with metaphors for human-nature relationships.
However, in James Joyce's Ulysses, Odysseus's character becomes debased and inept, symbolizing the modern human's spiritual crisis, marking the shift in modernist literature from exploring physical and geographical spaces to delving into the inner realms of human mind.

In contemporary technological society, works such as films, visual narratives, and interactive electronic games have gained substantial attention in the realms of science fiction, fantasy, and artificial intelligence. The advent of the digital revolution allows new media technologies to enable virtually any internet user to become mythologists and creators of mythological narratives, aided by evolving tools and technologies. Simultaneously, the entire society's virtualization embeds the mythological in everyday life. This is evident not only in the transformation of a portion of the human world into cyberspace and virtual environments but also in the infiltration of digital technologies into everyday life. Against this backdrop of paradigm shifts in the digital realm, a unique narrative form has emerged, known as "digital mythology."

In the Generation Z, the focus of spatial exploration has shifted back to the exploration of virtual space, with the term "Odyssey" being used to denote an epic journey. Cyberpunk can be seen as the manifestation of an Odyssey traversing the cyberspace. Apart from embodying the ideological function of social myths as discussed by Roland Barthes, the hardware and software in digital mythology shape virtual space and time, reconstructing reality and amalgamating mythology with the ordinary.

Goblincore is an aesthetic and subculture born out of Generation Z, drawing inspiration from folklore about fairies and gaining widespread attention through online communities and social media. It represents a departure from traditional notions of health and embraces a new, more chaotic visual language. It celebrates the extraordinary and the complex, advocating an aesthetic rooted in forests, moss, swamps, plants, rocks, and mushrooms, extolling ecosystems traditionally deemed less beautiful by conventional standards. To some extent, Goblincore can be viewed as a lifestyle and attitude embraced by the younger generation, rejecting perfectionism and embodying the characteristics of mythology in the digital age.

If ancient myths often portrayed destiny as the embodiment of nature, and social myths as the dominion of society over humanity, in the digital age, technology and machines both enhance human agency and cast a shadow over humanity. This exhibition Cyber Odyssey: Exploring Mythic Metaphors in the Digital Age begins with Goblincore, and artists contemplate how technology shapes modern narratives, transforming traditional myths into digital stories, subverting ancient classical myths and folktales, invoking the mythological model of death and resurrection to heal the wounds of the human heart and connecting past narratives with new perspectives and futures. It also explores the creation of cyberpunk metaverse, reflecting the virtual worlds and post-human images generated by current and future digital technologies and biotechnologies. All of these artistic endeavors employ mythological metaphors to reflect their own, as well as the collective, thoughts and emotions, and to resist conventional norms in society, such as patriarchy and elitism.




Tian Li
Yuqi Ni
Yan Wang
Jiaming Zhao


Filippo Antonello

Jianying Fu

Eleanor Green

Zichu Liu

Daniele Marzeddu

Zahra Massey

2046 Project
Jiage Qi, Lanxin Wei, Jiaxin Huang, Yuhang Liu, Xuanyu Deng
Exhibition View