VERMILLION

Tea Strazicic’s visual narrative goes hand in hand with the eponymous experimental story of a group of friends shedding their individuality in achieving a more genuine interconnection. Join this otherworldly troupe on their psychedelic-futuristic journey and perhaps you too will purge a part of yourself you no longer need.

23:03 Six Heads

Six heads, five slender + one tiny body, frantically prepared to leave Box-APT n2, the one with a balcony. Without any decision or prior planning they ravaged — in and out of rooms, a scramble of fashion, wax, chems and devices, lost, called for, found, and lost again. This was the typical process of departure, an immediate decision regarded as the guiding principle, followed by more immediate decisions to face increasing obstacles, like dishes full of uneaten salad, towards the simple task: to exit through the front door. Leaving was only the first step of the “mission,” rather their sublimated imperative to attend the Vermillion, which was where? The directions and plans were shouted, muttered, whispered as nails and claws clicked away on bright biosilica screenware.

“It literally says ‘undisclosed location’…”

“What does that even mean?”

“What does that even mean?”

Heads were descending the staircase, in flow, looking at devices.

“Melkior said that Lukaš said undisclosed location.”

“Did you ask him where that is?”

“I asked him where The Event was and that’s what he said.”

“I already called a driver.”

“Wait, where’s my device?”

Below their rental apartment complex B.O.X. masked crust punk provoked neon flames by dropping cans of car paint into a burning container. Police helicopters camouflaged by the night sky darted the area with ice cold light, in the rhythm of the sirens. Frosty, rose colored lights, streets of special insignificance, wet fog smells of gas and rubber.

In between the parked cars someone jammed broken scooters. Biodynamic red shuttle appeared silently out of the smoke, leaving behind spiraling flakes of street ash that fell listlessly into its wake.

23:23 Orsat

As the passenger side window slid down, Orsat could see the reflections of themselves and their companions slip from high-definition, flat representations into the smooth silicone boundary of what separated them from whoever would take them to their next location. Broken display inside the shuttle car incorrectly dated to 09:09; 09.09.09. Orsat glanced at it through the corner of their eyes. Vermillion, swollen.

“Where is Melkior?”

Only Lukrecia seemed to care, “Locking doors, putting out candles” she entered the backseat, rated 5.1 star within the shared ride app.

“ Are we all just taking selfies right now?”

“ No, the car is waiting.”

Ignoring the commotion Orsat packed leftover triangles of DPMT-Hito-n-228, the rare expressly more expensive chem of the stone family, into a carotid micro purse, shaped in the form of the representation of his most powerful organ, beating with cheerful, rhythmic positivity in the whirlwind of logistical errors surrounding him. The purse had a pearl handle that made it easy to find, a crystal metonymic heart in the middle of a velvet plush casing. He/She felt gas beginning to collect in his abdomen, with the specific feeling that it would not exit until at least tomorrow.

“ Abbiamo quindici secondi”

Drivers voice resonated,

“Hai trenta secondi!”

“We have to be there at 00:00…”

“How?”

“Look at the time!”

“I can’t find my device…”

A hairless laced head loomed, peering at a screenware illuminating the small, pointed nose of Lukre, whose fingers scratched at the itch of information, her voice descended gently.

“Is this our Driver? The hell is he saying?”

Orsat knew that everyone was dumbed down by recently ingested chem-supper, and indeed no one understood what the driver was saying.

“Yo, can We pay you in Mintcoins?”

“La carabinieri sta arrivando, sali in macchina!”

“ I have Coinyline too”

Orsat panned recorder over the outdoor heads waiting for another cab, edging for the spectacle they were creating in their silly little outfits.

“Melkior get the f* down!”

He screamed while simultaneously live streaming the selfie-cult circus in front of burning piles of trash.

Nuclear winter, nuclear summer. Vermillion swollen opium selling.

Dukat’s vocals shrieked from the bluetooth speaker Lukrecija dragged into the car on the 23rd second. Plastic partitions distorted the cityscape, smoke filled the shuttle car as windows automatically closed. Orsat got stuck halfway through the window trying to give a device back to Constantine who was, unbothered by tear gas, flexing G-string + AR filters.

“ Tre secondi! Due! Uno!”

“ Melllllllllllk!?X Get TT F x innn!”

23:30 Melkior

Synth-mesh footwear, depleted isotope jewelry, material trappings of that expressed wealth in disdain of the need for purpose slid and clattered into action. The pre-War door of Box-APT n02 screamed itself open, shedding the smog dust that had collected on its outer surface. Twelve feet skeleton finally choreographed spider ballet down the spiraling rusted metal staircase, throwing themselves over Turkish shoes and leftover delivery packages from neighbors, curving by trippy plastic kid vehicles that blocked the pathway. As he exited the outer gate, a gust of hot air and embers blew by. In awe, he took his device out to catch an amazing footage of Constantine’s G-string trio stance, but they sensed Orsat’s meeping dissatisfaction and urgency. Obediently giving up gonzo journalism they proceed to install themselves in the car. Lukre whined beneath the wind.

“I’m itchy.”

“I think the cab has coolant systems.” Melkior tried opening the rooftop window but it was jammed.

“If it doesn’t have AC I don’t wanna go.”

“Really?”

“No.”

“ You are so American.”

“Destruction and anarchy.”

23:23, Lukrecija

“Macchina per signora Lucrecia? Ehhhh! Prego! Eh… per favore rapido rapido…”

The driver serves a GTA techno Lento Violento look with a HyperFolk leather jacket. George Michael legacy freshly trimmed beard with cropped, triple-slit sideburns glisters in the city lights. Greased up and ready for the busiest night of the year. Lukre felt the driver’s ego was in line with the occasion, “This Driver is incorruptible. “ she grins while he bows down slightly to open the doors for the lady, “Quindici secondi! Polizia arrivata rapido rapido! Ok…”.

Lukrecia was dressed to kill, Orsat hanged halfway through the car window exposing most of his lingerie. Lukrecija tried to drag him back in from the other side, wielding multiple devices at Constantine, who they were about to splinter with. Melikior entered the car deranged from excitement, police bombed the street and the driver pushed through the smoke barrier. Orsats hand reached through the window, “Baby! I hope you make it to the party…”

Long nails on Constantines hands met him softly, “ Oh, don’t worry sunny, we will!” nails clipping the shuttles window while it’s engine slowly cruised through the parking lot. Message beep came a second later.

“ G-squad is so chaotic. Like, beg my pardon but, Constantine is an idiot, she literally just DM’d me that she doesn’t even have the regulated payment system access validation for the shuttle app. ”

Lukrecija glanced into rearview “ I’d give them 20% chance to make it on time”

“ Don’t bother, I gave them the guest list.” Orsat meeped, squished in the middle.

“ Since when do you have so many GL’s?”

“ I have eternal GL”

“ Hm?”

“ Also we all know Voyček digs us, he is already there with his chiks.”

“ I can’t stand that dude.”

“ Me neither”

Lukrecija squinted at Orsat through the light of a police drone passing by.

“ Wow, Lukre, your make-up is so beautiful”

Orsat blushed at the sight of his friend’s sparkling visage.

23:31 Melkior

Long limb stabbed through the front seat, “Lukre you’ll have to sit on me, my legs don’t fit in the back” Melkior growled, stabbing Orsat in the cheek,

“ Why didn’t you just sit at the shotgun?”

“ It’s illegal now to be in the shotgun seat. “

As the shuttle door slid into place all noise from the outside suddenly ceased. The faint smell of Otherworld plastics and a pleasant cool air dressed the vivid difference between the service they had ordered and the world that they lived in. Brilliant, almost blindingly, a gold watch resting on an uncanningly clean driving glove slid past Melkior’s vision to rest on the passenger headrest.

The driver was now focused on navigation, raising his eyebrow to meet Melkior’s cramped viewpoint from behind and below Lukre’s compacted body…. They almost didn’t realize that the vehicle was accelerating forward while the driver was looking back at them, one eyebrow raised and a charismatic grin pulling on the thin gold chain beneath of his half-unbuttoned dress shirt, his Marlboro jacket glistening with, was it polished leather?

“Demoni del partito, eh? Facevo festa, proprio come te… allora…”

“Orsat do you speak Latin?”

“It’s Italian, nobody speaks Latin”

“Aren’t they the same?”, Lukre opened the shuttle doors

“ I thought Latin was Romanian” Melkior closed the shuttle doors

“ Bambini! c’è un blocco antincendio di fronte Dose!” Driver opened the rooftop window and pressed the shuttle’s main inhalt dispenser, lifting the machine up.

“ Maybe he is like Transilvanian “ Melkior was doubting in Lukrecia’s Incorruptible shuttle app service.

“ Voi vampiri sembrate davvero transilvani, io sono di Firenze” Driver said behind a plexi curtain.

Lukrecija, who had been fumbling inside Orsat’s purse since they entered the vehicle, had drawn six crooked lines on their device, connecting the edges and surrounded by little specks of carelessness. Orsat struggled to level the glowing rectangle onto her balloon-like stubs as Melkior began to mumble something about the driver not even looking at where they were going, before the kick drum of early-twenty-first century house music cut him off.

“You take the line and put half of it in a blue cap, and the other half in a red cap, and then you put one in each nostril and just… ” Lukre tried to make a sniffing sound but ended up squeaking.

“What? I can’t hear you over the”

“YOU TAKE HALF AND PUT IT IN THE BLUE CAP, and THE OTHER HALF IN A RED CAP…” Lukrecia cut the powder from her pendant in a few pieces and added it to the blue capsule. She shoved the content into Orsats nostril.

DHMOT the Behemoth of research chemicals. Once known as Delta variant of DMT,  it hit the streets half a year ago and changed the planet’s consciousness to such extreme that even hundreds of years of sci fi conspiracies wouldn’t have predicted.

Heart shaped box made its way from Orsat back into Lukre’s claws as she rotated 180 degrees to assist her seat, Melkior, with dosage.

“Hold this”

Lukre displaced two glass tubes from her bag, shoved plastic wrap of capsules into Melkior’s left rib, and began alternating between calculating the milligrams, and tinkering with a designer syringe. She shoved something into Melkior’s skull hole.

“Safety first, just in case Vermillion has a ban on research chems…”

The diamond blinking heart disappeared into a gossamer fabric of visual kei couture blouse resting on a boney torso.

“Is this your nose or your ear hole? I always forget”

“Hhhh hhh MM mmm” Melkior growled,

“Nice, got it first try…one second…ok now just sniff this, like really really hard.”

If Melkior had normal eyelids, this would be the moment that he closed them for a second. What he had instead was an eyeliner framing two eggwhite membranes, each size of a halfmoon shaped plate. The objects clattered their way into his ether complex, bouncing off of bones on the way down. He remembered his first message from Behemoth:

“Make Sure That Tonight is The Night.”

23:44, Lukre

At least their ride had air conditioning. Lukrecija got stung by jellyfish, a week ago, on the right arm, next to the vein covered in tattoos. It started itching as the pill slowly released. She tried to find a comfortable position on top of Melkior, but her friend’s discorporate collection of bones suspended in filaments of glowing gas that he called a “body” did little for cushioning. Lukre jerked her discomfort to the left, and one of Melkior’s bones fell to the left, by Orsat’s eggplant-shaped legs. She quickly looked into his white eye sockets, and there was no reaction. She had always wondered how many bones Melkior could do without, if his skull would float on its own…

“Do you guys feel that?”

Lukre turned to her left, where she thought the sound had come from, even though it wasn’t Orsat’s voice, but from the companion in the passenger seat. Orsat was blank-faced, eyes wide open, as if looking at a beautiful sunset.

“Feel what?”

“I didn’t say anything, he did.”

Lukre turned right and looked at the friend crammed beneath Melkior’s right limbs, but instead saw Melkior’s skull, superpositioned with Orsat’s zucchini-shaped arm.

“Orsat, your arm is on this side.”

The arm swayed in a gesture of confusion.

“No it’s not.”

In the distance, Lukre could see the cross-city transit tunnel approaching, or was it close? It was hard to see through the kaleidoscope of the luxury interior melting with the limbs of its passengers. The driver kept looking back at them to remark in smiles, but they could barely hear him over the sound of music, and even if they could, they knew that only he understood.

You can listen to the whole story via soundcloud

(link at the top of the article)

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Bio

Tea Stražičić / Artist and metal vocalist

Best known for distinct character design, Tea is a Berlin-based artist originally from Dubrovnik, Croatia. They finished BA and MA at the “Animation and New Media” department at ALU Zagreb, Croatia. Earned Animation Sans Frontières – EU Development Lab diploma, and a residency at Open Workshop in Viborg, Denmark.

As an animation director they worked for Adriatic Animation, TED ED, Animafest and Adult Swim. In 2019 they partnered with a brand in China and created Skull Slippers and EMO Bunny candles using 3D printing and CGI technology. With their sister Marta they founded the SwS collective, focusing mainly on working with international electronic music artists and festivals, also running an artist residency in Croatia – VRInc.  As a metal vocalist Tea performs under the alias Scylla, continuing their Bleck Metal Artist program started in 2017.  In 2017, in LA, CA  they toured with musician Nick Zhu (@baojiaxiang) as AV duo performing at festivals and events.

Credits

“Vermillion”

Written by: Tea / Teo Strazicic, Nicholas Zhu

Poem “Vermillion Swallen Opiate Seeling” by: Dražen Dukat

Calligraphy by: @JB_23

Audio book narrator:  Cylan Barker

With support from Trauma Bar und Kino, in Berlin, 2021.

Photographer: Joe Clark

Courtesy of Trauma Bar und Kino 

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