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Maximalism, Horror Vacui, and Addiction:  Filling the Void in CyberSpace.

Because MORE is MORE!

 Produced by Kris Hillquist 


The project is an investigation into the similarities between Maximalism, Horror Vacui and Addiction.  I undertook this research during the times of Lockdown.  It is an odd time, and my resources have been severely limited.  I have relied on the process of Digital Ethnography- and become an accomplished internet sleuth.  Prior to the Lockdown, I had envisioned conducting interviews face to face.  I had planned to investigate related artworks in the flesh.  That was not possible.  I could not even undertake the hour-long train journey to campus to get books from the library.  I do not believe the research is weaker; it is merely different than I planned. 

The initial concept arose from my experience of "Hyberbation" by Pete Jiadong Qiang.  His virtual world engulfed me, and I became fascinated with the form of Maximalism and how it is or could be expressed in virtual worlds and online spaces. 

Further digital exploration led me to the website of the artist Duggie Fields.  His site contained a wealth of information on Maximalism and provided a solid example of what a Maximalist space online could be and embody.  

I immediately drew connections between the simple concept of MORE is MORE and addiction.  There is a saying about addiction "One is too many, and a thousand is never enough".  One drink, one drug, will lead to another, and another, and another.  There will never be enough to fill the void.   If we move from the micro to the macro, we can see that as a society, we always want MORE.   More growth, more holidays, more cars, more money, more life satisfaction, more, more, more- more, MORE!

After speaking to a colleague, I added the connection of the essence of Horror Vacui- the void.  The fear of emptiness and empty space.  The fear of sitting alone, sitting with our feelings, our fears, our thoughts leads us to fill the space with "noise".  That noise can be the internet, shopping, eating, drug and alcohol abuse—anything at all to sedate our minds and fill the empty void.  

As I am working through the lens of Maximalism, I have considered the potential creation of an interactive work of web-based art.   The initial sketches have been produced in P5 JS. I am creatively blending research, documentation, the podcast, and computational art. I envision a new way to present knowledge- the answers are in the puzzle.  The research hides in the layers of the artwork.  By working through the maze, more is revealed.  An ever-evolving work, new sketches and links could be added or removed.  



I have created a podcast detailing this research, and the links between what may at first glance appear to be unrelated subjects with only tenuous connections.  Combining spoken word, and music I wrote myself, the podcast explores and explains how the concept of MORE IS MORE, filling the emptiness and the void, and the spiritual nature of addiction are entwined and enmeshed.  The inherent messiness of the work is unravelled and laid bare.  The podcast below dissects this mess and weaves together the story through a maximalist lens. 



Annotated Bibliography

Fields, Duggie. (Accessed March 2020).

This website provides a wealth of information on Maximalism. Duggie Fields writes on the concepts behind the style and offers many examples through artwork, music and his virtual art gallery. It is a prime example of how Maxmallism can be presented online.  

Soderman, Braxton, Caetlin Benson-Allott, and Eugenie Brinkema. "'Don't Look … Or It Takes You': The Games of Horror Vacui." Journal of Visual Culture 14.3 (2015): 311-16. Web.

The article provides background information and analysis into the concept of Horror Vacui. Horror Vacui is examined on a philosophical level in relation to the fear of emptiness, or the void. Numerous examples of games are provided, and the article offers insight into how the concept could be applied to online worlds and artworks.  

Brand, Russell. Recovery: Freedom From Our Addictions. Pan Macmillan, 2017. 

In this book, Brand explores the concepts behind the recovery programme outlined in many 12-Step programmes. He explores the spiritual connections between addiction and recovery from addiction. He does not go into a clinical diagnosis or medical methodology of addiction. 


 Qiang, J. Pete. (2020). IS71076B Computational Arts-Based Research and theory (2019-2020), Week 13 Notes.[Pete's Notes].  

Retrieved from

Ferreday, Debra. Online Belongings Fantasy, Affect and Web Communities. Peter Lang, 2009.

Ningtyas, S., Ghinintya "Kehidupan"Ideal" Di Ruang Siber Dalsam Novel Kerumunan Terakhir (The "Ideal" Life in Cyberspace in Novel Kerumunan Terakhir). Kandai,14(1), 131-148. (2018). Retrieved from and roughly translated by Google Translate.  

Rachlin, Howard. “Four Teleological Theories of Addiction.” Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, vol. 4, no. 4, 1997, pp. 462–473.

Mawson, Anthony. " Addiction as stimulation-seeking behaviour: Implications for treatment." Integrative Medicine. 2., 1999, pp 27-30. 

Hari, J. (2015, June). Everything you think you know about addiction is wrong. [Video File] Retrieved from

MaMa, Zagreb(2014, May 21). Mark Fisher:  The Slow Cancellation Of The Future.  [Video file] Retrieved from

Thorp, John. "Aristotle's Horror Vacui". Canadian Journal of Philosophy". Volume 2, 1990, pp 149-166. Retrieved from