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The Neon Hieroglyph

Pink mature trees congregating together.
Tia Shani
Tai Shani enters the Virtual Factory

Turner Prize winning-artist Tai Shani takes us into the mystic with The Neon Hieroglyph, her first online artwork. It’s the latest premiere in the Virtual Factory digital series imagining the shape of things to come in The Factory, the future year-round home of Manchester International Festival – and you can watch it now for free at
Tai Shani creates worlds that are at once dark yet luminous, both feminist and fantastical – and in The Neon Hieroglyph, she constructs a story-world that draws inspiration from her research into the ergot fungus as a psychedelic catalyst.
Ergot played an important part in the North West’s agricultural, social and medical history. Linked to local crops and breads, outbreaks of ergot poisoning caused mass hallucinations, with the last reported UK incident during the late 1920s in Manchester.
The Neon Hieroglyph uses these experiences to spark new visions and alternative realities. Composed of nine short episodes and featuring a mesmeric soundtrack by Maxwell Sterling, it’s a dreamlike CGI journey that takes us from the cellular to the galactic, from the forests to the subterranean, from the real to the almost unimaginable.
The Neon Hieroglyph is now available to watch for free at, where you can also learn more about other works in the series – and more about The Factory, a world-class cultural space currently under construction in Manchester. A place to create, invent and play, The Factory is where the art of the future will be made.