Hello wanderer, you've stumbled upon the Gooniverse. Feel free to enjoy your presence here despite (or thanks to) your confusion – this world wasn't made to make sense to you. You're welcomed to soak up Balfua's wildly intricate and layered artistic vision.
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balfua's mask SMLL

In the very beginning, there were four Banthers and they existed in perfect stasis. Then the Time Rip simultaneously birthed Goon and Jartholomew, which are the two Great Entities of the Gooniverse. The Gooniverse is made up of floating continents called scapes that are sometimes filled (and overflowing) with liquid soul vibrations known as jelly that come from the vybanthers, which is how creatures appear. Among them are slollas that inhabit Sayssiworld, a digital spirit world, equally violent and quiet, one of many worlds in the Gooniverse.

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Are you thinking that some of the words above are made up? The zinger is: so is literally any other word in existence. But more to the point. Balfua, (Sam Balfus), is one of 4 main figures behind the aforementioned larger fictional universe called Gooniverse. The opening paragraph very roughly introduces the wonderfully and intricately crafted world Balfua and his friends have fashioned over the years, populated by unique creatures and governed by fantastic laws of physics and evolutionary processes.

The story goes that Balfua and a group of close friends began to lay foundations for Gooniverse already at highschool, about 11 years ago. They would have a band rehearsal at Sam’s parents’ house and after that they would go to the garden to play a game of their own devising, “Hammock Ball”, during which the Gooniverse characters started to take shape. Nowadays, the Gooniverse is a multi-layered, “multi-reality dream-galaxy” and the work on it never ceases. 


The original band is still an inseparable part of the Gooniverse. It’s made up of Pablo Fitten and Ken Arimura, (some of Sam’s best friends from highschool and extremely talented musicians) and Josh Kuperman (an extremely talented multimedia artist and musician that Sam met in college) They call themselves ZNZN KANSHAN and continue to weave the intricate art, music, characters, stories, and mythology from within the Gooniverse. As they’ve known each other for over a decade, at this point, the group has a very intuitive creative flow. As the Gooniverse lore goes, the ancient goontrapping style of znzn was founded by the original znzn masters, and ZNZN KANSHAN is one of the groups belonging to the elite clique of goontrappers. Goons are mystic beasts that arise out of any situation or problem. There are all types of goons; sometimes they are harmless but most need to be trapped – to trap a goon is to alleviate the problem.


Remember the slollas we mentioned earlier? They basically represent Balfua’s art style evolution. Sam comes from a graffiti background so 2D/3D organic shapes are his modus operandi – and once you’re aware of this fact, the bodies of the slollas become more familiar. He has always been inspired by handstyles, particularly very wild, illegible ones and, eventually, his handstyles evolved into these playful creatures. Each slolla is a fluid gesture, like a tag, with its own personality, essential to the Sayssiworld ecosystem. Some are anthropomorphized and have faces or hands, and some are more abstract, taking the shape of plants, birds or clouds.

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Sam makes slollas in a variety of different ways, sometimes 2D with pen on paper or fabricated IRL using traditional sculpting methods or digital techniques such as laser cutting or 3D printing. Recently, most of his slollas have been made via virtual reality using a program called Oculus Medium, which lets him draw and manipulate 3D digital clay. These shapes are exported upon completion and imported into Blender 3D software where he lights them, textures them, and places them within a 3D environment.


Currently, Balfua and other members of ZNZN KANSHAN are working on an impressive encyclopaedia that will contain the entire vast lore and incredible depth of the Gooniverse called “THE ENCHIRIDION OF THE GOONIVERSE”. With the authors’ permission, we would like to present you with a few excerpts below.



About some of the Scapes and Elements 

“Each member of ZNZN KANSHAN belongs to a different element, except for the Goonscape.There are five main elements that govern the gooniverse: bone, water, flame, goon, and lotus. Each element has a physical nucleus and/or power source, known as its vybanther. These vybanthers are spread out in different locations across the gooniverse. The map of the Gooniverse is divided into scapes, each scape surrounding a single vybanther (VYBANTHERS – Each scape has a physical nucleus and/or power source, known as its vybanther). 

The vybanthers produce liquid soul vibrations known as jelly. These vybanthers each breathe a different energy/vibe/chi/lifeblood into their scape, making each scape it’s own unique world/biome, with its own unique flora/fauna, musical genre, and goons. 

The Goonscape is its own anti-element nether world, full of goon spawns (flesh out).

The goon vybanther is the vybanther of UN-, ANTI, VOID, NETHER, CHAOS, ENTROPY.  


About some of the locations

Scroundly Bounders – a shitty Chuck E cheese type scape lol

Backflips of Snake – Hall of backflips of thousands of lines of snakes in the obsidian castle made at the moment of the initial backflip

Fire Island – a weird scape that we find that we think is a scape but it’s a strange being but huge and large enough for us to explore

Deathland – from the Deathspace, ZNZN KANSHAN finds this out on their outing here (this is when we start to uncover the deeper story behind Smooth Scare and Deathspace)

About some of the creatures

Goblubs – sculptural garden creatures, similar to princess Mononoke’s forest spirits with tilting heads

Lemon Goblins – blue and smooth hive-mind guard creatures, tyrannical government, ruled by pH level, sourest goblin is king or queen

Swoop Ghosts – Bone element spirits, poltergeists, big personalities


BIO / Sam Balfus aka Balfua was born in 1994 and gained a BFA in Art & Technology School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2016. Interested in world-building, language, and relationships, he makes personified shapes and objects called “slollas” {pronounced: slah-luhz}, which inhabit a fantastical spirit world called the Sayssiworld. Sam’s work has been shown in galleries and publications across the US, Europe, and South America. He records and performs with the band/art project Znzn Kanshan.



Artworks / Sam Balfus @balfua @znznkanshan 

Interview / Markéta Kosinová @__maarketa__

Text Edit / Františka Blažková @st.feral

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