Artistic Freedom was a comic story that was written by Ryder Windham and illustrated by Kilian Plunkett. This story is part of The Matrix Comics Series 3, was published in The Matrix Comics Volume 1, and later republished in The Matrix Comics: 20th Anniversary Edition.
Outside a small appliance store stood the young potential, "Spoon Boy", looking curiously into the shop window. On display were some selection of TVs all tuned in on a single channel, Channel 11, on the TV program, Culture Beat. The show was doing a segment on art and was particularly doing a piece about the "Nightmare Sculptor", Raven Underwell.
Kitt Pritchard, the show's host, was at the opening of Raven's exhibit at Hednet Gallery where the main feature were the artist's uncanny sculptures of the Machines, mechanical monsters which, according to the correspondent, were enslaving humanity. When a couple of the audiences were interviewed, all that were asked, from a grown man to a young girl and her mother, either openly admitted or, in the case of the girl, expressed and sobbed the feelings of fear the sculptures instilled.
And then Raven herself was introduced onscreen.
I'm an artist, not a nanny.”
If people are disturbed by my work,
that's their problem.
― Raven Underwell[src]
Raven, sporting a dark gothic look, was unbothered by the effects her creations had on people. In fact, she seemed to enjoy seeing people react to her work and excused herself as merely being an artist, having no responsibility to hold the hands of those who were disturbed by her work.
Kitt promptly reported her closing bits and how that night's opening was by invitation only. She then shoved her very own pass in front of the camera for the world to see. At this point, the talented young boy extended his hand towards the TV screen and, magically, was now holding Kitt's ticket. The segment ended with the shocked correspondent looking at her now empty hand.
The boy carefully examined the pass. And then, closely placing it in front of him, read through its underlying code. Then the next moment, the boy was standing in front of Hednet Gallery, staring towards the entrance.
The boy then entered the gallery, presenting the pass to the guard at the entrance. Inside the gallery, the frazzled Kitt was still searching for her disappearing ticket while her cameraman, already wanting to move on and get some appetizers, was telling her not to worry about it. Likewise, the mother and child who were interviewed earlier, with the child still crying, pleading her mom to take her home, were ready to move along and were heading for the exit. Raven, standing before one of her works, a massive and life-sized sculpture of a docbot, was commenting about how she liked such honest responses as they were sure to promote her work. And among the audience standing behind the sculpture, a woman was raising her hand poised to ask Raven a few more questions.
The woman asked about the Machines Raven called "Somnicultos", or sleep guardians, and the inspiration behind them. And thus Raven started telling everyone about her redpill experience. How she dreamt, not realizing that she actually woke up from the Matrix, of being in a pod connected to a brightly lit power plant. Of how she smelled the hot machinery, and how she saw the Somnicultos caring for her and many more humans sleeping in similar pods like hers, all connected to the power plant. Then moving to a smaller yet still massive sculpture of a sentinel, Raven even mentioned seeing such a creature flying through the air and added how beautiful and caring the creatures were.
Somnicultos, or "Sleep Guardians." These simulacra are my creations, but the somnicultos are not. If anything, we may be their creation.”
― Raven Underwell[src]
At this, the woman from the audience asked how that could be considering how frightening her works looked like. To which Raven simply called her ignorant.
Eyeing the young boy who was carefully assessing her works, Raven approached to ask his thoughts about it when, suddenly, a clanking sound was heard behind her. Looking back, she was surprised to see her sculptures coming to life, their machinery humming. The Somnicultos, now able to move, started killing Kitt and her camera man, then the woman from the audience, and then everyone else. Raven, terrified, sprinted to the exit and out towards the streets and where the destruction quickly spilled. Not knowing what was happening as the surrounding people, vehicles, and buildings were all razed, she hears a nearby phone booth ringing. She picked up only to hear some warning. It said that it was not enough to believe what she saw but that she also needed to understand it.
It is not enough to believe what you see. You must also understand what you see.”
― Voice from the phone, Artistic Freedom
Asking back what it was she was supposed to understand, the nearby building walls opened up to show a vast graveyard. Raven closed her eyes in apprehension, muttering the word "caretakers".
When Raven reopened her eyes, she was back inside the gallery, at her exhibit, and everything was back to normal. The woman from the audience asked her if she was okay, commenting how pale Raven looked. Raven answered that she was, in fact, not okay, and apologized for being a fool. At the background, the boy could be seen leaving the gallery while Kitt was complaining to her cameraman about how the caviar was like soup, and asking for some spoons. There were no spoons.
- Spoon Boy
- Raven Underwell
- Kitt Pritchard
- Exhibit characters (the following were present at the exhibit and had interactions)
- Man at gallery (interviewed by Kitt for his reactions to the sculptures)
- Mother and daughter (interviewed by Kitt for their reactions to the sculptures)
- Mother (wanted to prove to her daughter that they were only sculptures but her daughter grew more frightened)
- Daughter (had nightmares since seeing the sculptures in a magazine)
- Unnamed woman (asked Raven questions including her inspiration for her work)
- Kitt's Cameraman (told Kitt not to worry about her missing pass, and that there were no spoons)
- Guard (told the boy to enjoy the show)