Electric Lady Land
Electric Lady Land is a video installation comprising CGI footage I captured from the chat software IMVU, found footage from YouTube, and ‘real-life’ footage captured myself. The installation element includes a faux fur zebra print rug (used here as an indicator of feminine luxury), furry pink cushions and a neon blue light-up wire strewn across the rug. There was also a wooden bench for extra seating although my intention was for most viewers to take a seat on the rug to enjoy the texture.
The video has no narrative as such but follows a succession of scenes showing city lights at night, beach and mountain scenes and a pink rabbit in a pink zebra print dress dancing, sipping cocktails and playing with a beach ball. The jazz-funk classic ‘L.A. Night’ by Yasuko Agawa plays as a backdrop.
The heavily edited visuals shift seamlessly from scene to scene; the twinkle of the sea melts into the neon lights of a city, the sunset becomes a tropical blue sky, which shifts through the colours of the rainbow to become nightfall. Viewers described the video as ‘hypnotic’, which reflects my intention for the piece to be a relaxing and enchanting experience, producing a joyful affect within the viewer. It was created intuitively along the basis of what felt good or ‘right’ to me. The blend of computer graphics and ‘real’ footage serves to bring the virtual into the realm of the non-virtual world, blurring the boundaries and making the avatar more tangible. The installation element is an extension of the video in both aesthetics and intention.
I wanted to play with representation in this piece of work; previously my work has featured a direct representation of my own image, which I replaced this time with the pink, bucktoothed rabbit. The lack of a human character displaying any overt ethnicity allows for an element of playfulness, and perhaps a greater degree of universality – things that a direct portrayal of myself may not allow for. The character has no name at this stage and in this work serves purely as a vehicle for the viewer to experience the ‘experience’. The hyperfemininity of her colour palette (‘Barbie pink’) and cartoonish design, choice of outfit and her proportions are reminiscent of a doll a young girl may play dress up with- or of a video game character. Much of my work holds elements of nostalgia such as this, containing fragments of the formative years of millennial women like myself.
The work was a part of the group show P@55w0rD, and shared an exhibition space with the show’s bar. This strategic juxtaposition was successful in that the bar reflected the footage portrayed early on in the video and contributed to the ‘lounge’ atmosphere of the viewing space. A less successful element of the installation was the decision to project the video onto a simple flat wall, especially as it did not fill it. The video is reminiscent of footage that may be looped on a screen in somewhere like a nightclub and this could have been better articulated. I also could have better created a more luxurious environment in the sense that the large space was not well-covered by the rug, and that a smaller, cosier and more separate space would have served the work better. I could also have thought about other items that could have been placed into the space to fabricate meaning.
The work was commissioned by BOM (Birmingham Open Media) as part of the exhibition WE RUN THIS, organised by Florence Okoye of AfroFutures. The show involves black women and non-binary artists working within digital media and deals with a variety of subject matter. (https://www.bom.org.uk/whats-on/gallery/we-run-this/)
WE RUN THIS opened on 10th January and as well as the video projection I included a similar installation element to before with a rug, pink velour bean bags and a neon blue wire.
In addition to Electric Lady Land I produced a digital print based on the video, the composition of which involves scenes from several parts of the video amalgamated to create one long vertical frieze. I wanted the composition and scroll-like nature of the print to be reminiscent of traditional Japanese ukiyo-e (floating world) prints, which depicted beautiful, escapist and sometimes hedonistic scenes.
Digital prints of my MulengaMoji series were also displayed and on sale.