Interactive portraits

Zoyander Street

Tokyo

Seven interactive vignettes representing interviews with transgender artists and activists, carried out in Tokyo. To be completed very soon!

Osaka

Currently seeking funding to turn six interviews into interactive pieces, like those above. Contact me if you want to help!

Explanation

This is a series of works that came out of a residency carried out in early 2018 in Tokyo, with the Ministry of Culture-supported Creator Ikusei project. I adopted research techniques from ethnography and history, such as open-ended interviews and participant observation, and developed a method of representing the results of this research in a playful and interactive form that draws heavily from familiar interaction design patterns such as the tamagotchi-style virtual pet and role-playing game multiple-choice dialogue systems.

The lo-fi presentation creates a high degree of anonymity, and allows transgender people to be represented without being subject to the cisgender gaze under which transgender bodies and voices are made into fraught rhetorical objects. The neotenous and nostalgic style reflects common ways that transgender people represent ourselves in online spaces today: perhaps we're attempting to reclaim our lost youth, or maybe we're using cuteness to convey a radical sincerity.

Speaking of lost youth, all of these pieces are made in Pico-8, a simulation of a 1980s computer that never actually existed. Pico-8 is a creative computing project which uses the practice of software emulation as a means for imagining alternate histories of technology, and gives creators exaggerated constraints within which to make their works - for example, the screen resolution is just 128 by 128 pixels! Pico-8's pastel colour palette evokes the "cybertwee" aesthetic movement that aims to make technology cute and feminine, hinting at a timeline parallel to our own in which the tech industry never became so male-dominated and utilitarian.