cover image The Shiatsung Project

The Shiatsung Project

Brigitte Archambault, trans. from the French by Aleshia Jensen. Bdang, $20 (208p) ISBN 978-1-77262-060-3

In Archambault’s quietly haunting meditation on surveillance culture, a woman with no name leads a solitary life in a small house, attended to by Shiatsung, a computer that’s fed and educated her via ever-watchful cameras since she was an infant. Shiatsung refuses to tell her about humanity or the outside world, despite her pleas. As she ages, the woman becomes restless, ever more urgently curious about what lies beyond the high stone walls that surround her perfectly kept lawn, but Shiatsung thwarts her escape attempt via drones that paralyze her with sonic attacks. Still, by chiseling a hole in a wall, the woman is able to connect briefly with a man who lives “next door” and the two manage a desperate sexual liaison, a moment of euphoria in the face of the Project’s ultimate meaninglessness. Archambault’s style recalls a less crowded Chris Ware landscape, dominated by crisp architectural lines and solid colors that effectively communicate the grim, repetitive sterility of its world. It’s an eerie parable of authoritarianism, technological dependence, and the need for privacy and intimacy in the digital age. This strong debut marks Archambault as a creator to watch. (Nov.)