(videogame playthrough videos in accessibility; immersive installation at HKW Berlin here)

“Many years ago, I went to a witch who guided me through a shamanic trance to find my inner temple and sacred weapons. When I got there it was a cave of black water on a distant moon and my ‘weapons’ were a strand of bowel, a tumor with hair, blood clots, and bits of brain. It’s always made me laugh. Years later⁣ Amazon recommended my own book to me. These two events are of the most mystically uncanny of my life. I don’t think we can talk about the mystical only in terms of transcendence. More often it’s a state of anti-climax, body horror, confusion, doom, and dread, and it is precisely this paradox that makes it mystical.”
—Johanna Hedva

GLUT (a superabundance of nothing), by Johanna Hedva, is an inquiry into the knowings and unknowings of embodiment. It is a sound work composed with divination and AI, which manifests as both an immersive physical installation and videogame. The core of GLUT is a sound composition made entirely of Hedva’s voice, ranging from its rawest expression of screams, to two AI vocal clones that, in order to trick the surveillance tactics embedded in AI, have been manipulated to sound ever more de-human.

Disturbed that proprietary vocal-clone software services reserve the right to sell client voice data to governments and corporations, Hedva worked with artist, musician, technologist, and writer Jessika Khazrik to deceive the software, training it with Hedva’s voice disguised through multiple vocoding processes. Hedva and Khazrik created two vocal clones: Arid and Mud, neither of which are made from an actual human voice and therefore not actual vocal clones. In GLUT, these two AI voices speak a text corpus that Hedva built over four lunar cycles, and synthesized through various divination techniques. The corpus is composed of the writings of medieval mystics (mostly of the apophatic tradition); theoretical physicists, mathematicians, and philosophers writing about black holes, dark matter, night, and nothingness; poets and novelists on sleep, music, and the voice; and the algorithm of amazon.com.

One of the provocations of GLUT is the question of whether Amazon, in predicting our desires and shaping our future, is our latest divining tool, a kind of contemporary mysticism.

The physical installation of Glut spatializes the sound in a subtly eerie, immersive room, large enough for one person only, which has been built into the existing architecture of the HKW Berlin. With a simple bench covered in Anti-Fatigue Foam (a material made specifically to trick workers into not noticing the exhaustion of their bodies), the installation draws on the dissociated “void room” settings in films like Get Out and Under the Skin, a little pocket of a universe that amplifies the limits of the body by simultaneously erasing them. The goal is not for the viewer to transcend the walls, but instead to feel them acutely. The sub woofer and some of the speakers are built into the bench, with the aim to rattle the bones of the viewer. It's a deceptive sensory deprivation chamber, a narrow closet in Hell.

In the Glut videogame, users are a teratoma avatar that drags itself through an environment cheating at non-Euclidean geometry through a series of nesting black holes, intestinal tunnels, glittering caves, and oceans of black water. The videogame is a digital experience that mirrors the physical installation while producing a world that disorients as much as it confirms what knowledges are available to the body.

The physical installation is not permanent nor wheelchair accessible, nor comfortable for some in light of COVID, nor for those with claustrophobia. Because of this Hedva developed the video game, with sign language versions in both ASL and BSL, as well as audio description, which will be available indefinitely. All aspects of the digital version, including accessibility features and this website, were produced by Shape Arts as part of the Adam Reynolds Award Programme, supported by Arts Council England and Garfield Weston Foundation.

In all of its iterations, GLUT is rooted in the premise that AI has existed long before computers in the forms of divination and mysticism, and following this premise, GLUT asks what, how, and where we can know and un-know what we think we do.

The physical installation of Glut is part of the group exhibition, Illiberal Arts, at HKW Berlin, curated by Anselm Franke and Kerstin Stackemeier, on view 11 September - 21 November, 2021.


Supported by Shape Arts, HKW Berlin, Arts Council England, and Garfield Weston Foundation.

Logos for Art Council England, Garfield Watson, and Shape Arts


1. A voice is all you need

2. The universe doesn’t care about our feelings.

3. What other customers bought

4. What draws an apple to the ground also keeps the Moon in orbit about the earth.

5. I enter into a dead end. There, all possibilities are exhausted; the possible slips away and the impossible prevails.

6. With absolute time destroyed, there was also no need for absolute space.

7. The clearer and more obvious divine things are in themselves, the darker and more hidden they are to the soul naturally.

8. The night is precisely where we perish interminably and yet can never die.

9. The dividing line between pleasure and release from pain grows murky.

10. The night offers toads and black dogs and corpses of the drowned.

11. The wound and unwound springs of a clock on the other side of the earth.

12. Black holes have no hair.

13. Approximate the cow as a sphere.

14. If I had not been, there would have been no god.

15. Who has written this book? I in my weakness have written it.

16. Space by itself and time by itself are doomed to fade away into mere shadows,

and only a kind of union of the two will preserve an independent reality.

17. When she prayed
and the divine grace
of contemplation
descended upon her,
all her limbs
gathered together
into a ball
as if they were hot wax,
and all that could
be perceived of her
was a round mass.

18. All while searching for my body within the shit of space.

19. But it's the voice that enters us. Even
Saying nothing. Even saying nothing
Over and over absently to itself.

20. Perhaps that’s the way with music. What’s the point if it doesn’t hurt?

21. [The soul] takes such tiny steps.

22. Was this helpful?

Sources from Text Corpus (full text corpus forthcoming)

2—“The Disordered Cosmos: A Journey Into Dark Matter, Spacetime, and Dreams Deferred” by Chanda Prescod-Weinstein
4—quoting Isaac Newton in “Black Hole: How an Idea Abandoned by Newtonians, Hated by Einstein, and Gambled on by Hawking Became Loved” by Marcia Bartusiak
5—Georges Bataille in “Starry Speculative Corpse” by Eugene Thacker
6—quoting Hermann Minkowski in “Black Hole” by Marcia Bartusiak
7— quoting Saint John of the Cross in “Starry Speculative Corpse” by Eugene Thacker
8—“Night: A Philosophy of the After-Dark” by Jason Bahbak Mohaghegh
10—“The House of the Sleeping Beauties” by Yasunari Kawabata
11—“Night: A Philosophy of the After-Dark” by Jason Bahbak Mohaghegh
13—physics thought experiment
14—Meister Eckhart, quoted in “Mysticism: Christian and Buddhist” by DT Suzuki
15—quoting Mechthild of Magdeburg in “Medieval Women’s Visionary Literature” edited by Elizabeth Alvilda Petroff
16—“Black Hole” by Marcia Bartusiak
17—quoting “The Life of Christina Mirabilis” in “Medieval Women’s Visionary Literature”
18—“The Susurrant Revolution I: On Eclipsing Technocapitalism’s Architecture of Subsumption” by Jessika Khazrik
19—“Life on Mars” by Tracy K. Smith
20—“Real Estate” by Deborah Levy
21—quoting “The Book of the Experience of the Truly Faithful” by Angela of Foligno in “Medieval Women’s Visionary Literature”


Playthrough Videos—Full Game, ASL, BSL

Audio Description—

World 1 (white world, long kafka-esque hallway)

mournful, eerie voices; a gritty tortured growl shoots back and forth, up and down; very high operatic voice drops, then fades

World 2 (smooth black tunnel)

cosmic choir noise; a single voice in shepard tone; mournful operatic voices shooting up like stars then crashing in with heavy noise

World 3 (glittering cave)

cosmic cathedral, open and airy, with screeches and ghosts; a growl falls in and drops; zaps and shepard tone

World 4 (diseased colon)

brutal growling like being inside the belly of a beast; screams in blips and high-pitched wobbles; menacing wet darkness

World 5 (non-euclidean spike tunnel)

scary breathing; haunted cave choir; banshee shrieking

World 6 (vast wave room)

ascending and descending voice in ululating waves; falling howls

World 7 (falling through space)

swells of evil voices fading in and away; ripples of machine-screams